[Thirteen years ago, as an addendum to the discussion in Muhakemat-i Bedi‘iye, which was published thirty years ago, the draft of twenty ‘Matters’ was written about the Barrier of Dhu’l-Qarnayn, Gog and Magog, and the signs of the end of time. This has now been corrected for the sake of a dear friend, and been made the Fifth Ray.]
NOTE: So that the purpose of the Introduction may be understood, the ‘Matters’ following the Introduction should be read first.
A point about the verse, “But already have come some tokens thereof” (Surat al-Muhammad, 18) was written in order to protect the belief of the mass of believers and preserve it from doubt. Like allegorical verses of the Qur’an, some Hadiths about the events of the end of time have profound meanings. They cannot be expounded in the same way as incontestable verses, and not everyone can understand them. Rather than being expounded, they are interpreted.
According to the verse, “But none save Allah knows its final meaning (ta’wil). And those who are deeply rooted in knowledge”, their meaning, interpretation and what is intended by them is understood only after the event, so that those firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in it; the whole [of the divine writ] is from our Sustainer,”(Surah Al’Imran, 7) and they disclose those hidden truths.
This Fifth Ray contains an Introduction and twenty-three ‘Matters.’ The Introduction consists of five ‘Points.’
Since belief and accountability are a test, a trial, a competition within the bounds of man’s will, matters that are obscure, profound, and in need of careful study and experiment cannot obvious. They should not be so compelling that everyone has to affirm them willy-nilly. For in this way the Abu Baqr’s may rise to the highest of the high and the Abu Jahl’s descend to the lowest of the low. If there is no will, there is no accountability. It is because of this mystery and wisdom that miracles are displayed only rarely, and in this realm of accountability, like some allegorical verses of the Qur’an, the signs of the end of the world, which will be visible and seen, are obscure and open to interpretation. Since when the sun rises in the west it will be so clear everyone will be compelled to affirm it, the door of repentance will be closed and repentance and belief will no longer be accepted. For the Abu Bakr’s and the Abu Jahl’s will be equal in their affirmation of it.
In fact, although when Jesus (Peace be upon him) comes he himself will know he is Jesus, not everyone will know. Similarly, fearsome figures such as the Dajjal and Sufyan (Antichrist) will not know themselves to be such.
Some of the matters of the Unseen, outside the realm of man’s perception, that were made known to the Prophet (saas) were made known in detail. These he could in no way alter or interfere with, like the incontestable verses of the Qur’an and ‘Sacred’ Hadiths. (Hadith Qudsi: A saying of the Prophet (saas) imparted to him by revelation or inspiration, the wording of which was his own. [Tr.]) Others, employing his eloquence, he would illustrate and explain in detail or in allegorical form suitably to the wisdom of man’s accountability. For example, one time when conversing with some people, a deep rumbling was heard. He said: “That is the sound of a rock which has been rolling down hill for seventy years and has at this moment come to rest in the very pit of Hell.”(Muslim, Janna, 31, No: 2844; Musnad, iii, 341.) Five minutes after he made this strange announcement, someone came and said: “Such-and-such a dissembler has died. He was seventy years old, and has gone to Hell,” showing the meaning of the Prophet’s eloquent words.
NOTE: Minor future events not included among the truths of belief were considered unimportant by the Prophet (saas).
Because in the course of time ordinary people attached literal meanings to some Hadiths which had been narrated in the form of comparisons and allegories, such Hadiths are apparently not conformable with reality. Although they are pure truth, they appear not to be so.
Some Hadiths refer to the majority of Muslims, or to the Islamic State, or to the centre of the Caliphate, but they were understood to refer to all the people in the world. Although being particular in some respect, they were supposed to be universal and general.
Just as for numerous reasons and instances of wisdom hidden matters of ‘the Unseen’ like death and the appointed hour remain secret, so the end of the world, which is its death and the appointed hour of mankind and that of the animal kingdom, has been left secret for many good reasons.
Yes, if the appointed hour of death was specified, the first half of life would be passed in absolute heedlessness, and the second half in absolute terror, as every day a further step was taken towards the gallows. This would destroy the wise and beneficial balance of hope and fear. Similarly, if the end of the world, its death and appointed hour, had been specified, the Early and Middle Ages would have been virtually unaffected by the idea of the hereafter, and the later ages would have been passed in terror. No pleasure or value would have remained in worldly life, nor, as an act of will, would the worship of Allah, between hope and fear, have held any importance or purpose.
Also, if the death of the world had been specified, some of the truths of belief would have been clearly obvious and everyone would have affirmed them willy-nilly. The mystery of man’s accountability and the wisdom and purpose of belief, which are tied to man’s choice and will, would have been negated. It is for numerous benefits such as these that matters related to the Unseen remain secret. Everyone therefore continually bears in mind both his death and his continued life, and he works both for this world and the hereafter. He is also aware that the end of the world may occur in any age, or that it may continue, and so works for eternal life within the transitoriness of this world, and strives to build the world as though he was never going to die.
Also, if the occurrence of calamities had been specified, the man who expected one would suffer a calamity perhaps ten times greater than the actual calamity. Divine wisdom and mercy have therefore veiled the time of their occurrence and left it secret, so that the man does not suffer the misfortune.
It is because most hidden cosmic events are tied to such instances of wisdom that to give news of the Unseen or to foretell events has been prohibited. In order not to be disrespectful and disobedient in the face of the principle None knows the Unseen save God, those who with dominical leave even, give news of the Unseen other than concerning man’s accountability and the truths of belief, have done so only allusively and indirectly. In fact, the good tidings about the Prophet Muhammad (saas) in the Torah, Gospels, and Psalms, are veiled and obscure, in consequence of which some of the adherents of those scriptures put various meanings on those passages and did not believe them. However, since the wisdom in man’s accountability necessitates that the questions included among the tenets of belief are communicated explicitly and repeatedly, the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition and its Glorious Interpreter (Peace and blessings be upon him) tell of the matters of the hereafter in detail, and of future worldly events only in summary fashion.
Also, since the wonders of both the antichrists (Dajjal), which are related to their centuries, have been narrated in connection with them, those wonders have been imagined to proceed from their persons and this has led to the narrations becoming allegorical and their true meanings being concealed. Like, for example, his traveling by aero plane and railway train.
And, for example, it is well-known that when the Islamic antichrist dies, the satan who serves him will shout out the news to the whole world11 from ‘Dikili Tas,’ the obelisk in Istanbul, and everyone will hear its voice saying that he is dead. That is to say, the news will be broadcast by radio, which is wonderful and leaves even demons in amazement.
Also, since the strange circumstances and fearsome activities of the Antichrist’s regime, and the covert organization and government that he founds, have been narrated as referring to his person, their true meaning has remained obscure. For example, “He will be so powerful and long-lived that only Jesus (as) will be able to kill him; nothing else will be able to.” That is, it will only be a revealed, elevated, pure religion that will be able to overturn his way and rapacious regime, and eliminate them. Such a religion will emerge among the true followers of Jesus (pbuh), and it will follow the Qur’an and become united with it. On the coming of Jesus (pbuh) and emergence of the true Christian religion, the antichrist’s irreligious way will be wiped out and will cease. The antichrist’s person could otherwise be killed by a mere germ or by influenza.
Also, the explanations and statements of some narrators, made through their own exertions and interpretations, which are open to error, have been mixed up with the words of the Hadith. Their words have been supposed to be part of the Hadith, and the meaning has been obscured. It does not appear to be conformable with reality and in a way has become allegorical.
Also, in early times the social collectivity and its collective personality had not developed as it has at the present and the idea of the isolated individual was predominant, the extensive attributes and wide scale actions of the community, therefore, were ascribed to the persons who led them. In order to be worthy and fitting for superhuman, universal attributes, those persons had to have gigantic bodies and be of vast stature and have colossal power and strength a hundred times surpassing their own, so that is how they were depicted. This was not conformable with reality, and the narration became allegorical.
Also, although the circumstances and attributes of the two Antichrists differ from each other, they have been confused in narrations that have come down to us in absolute form; one has been supposed to be the other. Also, the circumstances of the Great Mahdi do not fit the narrations alluding to the earlier Mahdis, and these have become allegorical Hadiths. Imam ‘Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) mentions only the Islamic antichrist.