When we discuss preparing our children for the future, we think about their careers, their potential spouses, and their financial stability. Rarely do we focus on their spiritual health, and the impending trials that may shake their faith in times ahead. While preparing them to achieve success in the real world is important, it is even more crucial that they solidify their tawakkul, or trust in Allah. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, spent a grievous amount of time advising his companions about what was to come before the Day of Judgement and how to prepare for it. He taught his followers to be firm in their convictions and increase their good deeds when the Hour drew near. We can do the same for our families by implementing some easy Sunnahs at home.
Learning to Recognize the Signs
There is a tendency in pop culture to make a mockery of stereotypical religious fanatics holding up a sign that reads “The End is Near!” While this trope often appears in movies, television, and even cartoons, as Muslims we should know that the warning is true. As cliché as it may sound, the Hour is near and that is a statement confirmed by our Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, who said:
"The time of my advent and the Hour are like these two fingers," while pointing with his index and middle fingers.
There are other signs of the coming of the Day of Judgement that have manifested themselves during our generation and will continue to affect generations to come. They are known as Ashraat al-Saa'ah al-Sughra, or the minor signs of the Hour. According to several authentic narrations, these include the following:
1. Naked, destitute, barefoot shepherds will compete in building tall buildings. (Sahih Bukhari, Vol 1: book 2: 47)
We see this in the Middle East, where countries that were once very poor, control massive amounts of wealth and continuously build towering structures in their quest to dominate the region through tourism and entertainment. One current example is Qatar and their preparations to host the 2022 World Cup.
2. The slave-woman will give birth to her master or mistress. (Sahih Bukhari, Vol 6: book 60: 300)
This hadith may be referring to children who feel a sense of entitlement and dominance over their parents, while their parents satisfy their every whim.
3. A trial (fitnah) will enter every Arab household. (Sahih Bukhari, Vol 4: book 53: 401)
The fitnah this hadith is referring to could arguably be globalization, the entertainment industry, and/or the media and its global influence on public opinion. Even the Muslim world is not immune to external influences. Just recently, there were images floating around social media of Halloween celebrations in none other than Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - something that would have been unheard of a few years ago.
4. Knowledge will be taken away (by the death of people of knowledge), and ignorance will prevail. (Sahih Bukhari, Vol 1: book 3: 80)
Unfortunately, we are witnessing more and more how our great scholars and academics are passing away, while far less experienced “celebrity sheikhs” and social media influencers become the dominant voices in our communities. It is imperative that our children know the difference between the two and that they are encouraged to seek out knowledge, so they are not easily swayed by ignorant speakers.
5. Wine (intoxicants, alcohol) will be drunk in great quantities. (Sahih Bukhari, Vol 1: book 3: 80)
There is no doubt that alcohol consumption is a problem all over the world. Now, with the legalization of marijuana in certain regions and the youth having easy access to it and other types of intoxicants, parents must be extra vigilant.
6. Zina or illicit sexual relations will become widespread. (Sahih Bukhari, Vol 1: book 3: 80)
Living in the western world especially, we witness this played out in real-time, as traditional marriage is forgone for illicit relationships, divorce rates skyrocket, and same-sex unions are promoted as an acceptable alternative.
7. Earthquakes will increase. (Sahih Bukhari, Vol 2: book 17: 146)
We have yet to experience this phenomenon even though it may seem like there are more earthquakes happening around the world. According to the United States Geologial Survey (USGS), fluctuations in seismic activity leading to earthquakes are normal. Their earthquake tracking catalog contains an increasing number of earthquakes in recent years, however, they state that it is “not because there are more earthquakes, but because there are more seismic instruments,” thus making it possible to record more earthquakes. (For more info, visit: USGS.gov)
8. Time will pass more quickly. (Sahih Bukhari, Vol 2: book 17: 146)
Have you asked yourself lately, “Where does the time go?” More and more, it seems like there are not enough hours in the day to complete simple tasks. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, predicted that time would pass more quickly. This may be due to our extra busy schedules, technological advancements like high-speed internet, smart devices, and quicker modes of transportation. But, there is also a scientific explanation. According to reports in NPR and other news outlets, the Earth is spinning faster than usual. Scientists recorded the shortest day ever on June 29, 2022, running less than a typical 24 hours by 1.59 milliseconds. Their guess is that it is either due to climate change or earthquakes. (See: https://www.npr.org/2022/08/04/1115541992/the-earth-is-spinning-faster-than-ever-and-its-making-our-days-shorter)
9. Tribulations (fitan) will prevail. (Sahih Bukhari, Vol 2: book 17: 146)
Wars, political corruption, poverty, famine, oppression, racism, and pandemics - these are all examples of the tribulations people are facing globally. If there is any doubt that we are living in a time of fitnah, we need only turn on the news.
10. Bloodshed will increase. (Sahih Bukhari, Vol 2: book 17: 146)
Similar to the fitan that is prevailing in our time, violence has become increasingly rampant in our society. One highly debated issue in the U.S. is whether there should be laws in place to curb gun violence due to a surge in mass shootings. School shootings, in particular, are especially frightening due to their direct impact on our children. Whenever we see these tragic events unfold on the news, aside from comforting our youngest family members, we can take it as an opportunity to remind them that these are signs of the approaching Hour. We should return to Allah and seek refuge in Him for protection.
The minor signs are those that will appear during a lapse prior to the major signs that occur closer to the Hour. Great care should be taken to point these out to our children when it is age-appropriate, for these reasons:
- So, they can bear witness to the truthfulness of our Holy Book, the Quran, and praise Allah.
- So, they can realize that the teachings of our beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, are accurate and relevant to our time.
- So, they can prepare accordingly.
When a man asked the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, about the Hour, the Prophet responded:
"What have you prepared for it?" The man said, "Nothing, except that I love Allah and His Messenger." The Prophet said, "You will be with those whom you love."
We do not know the exact date or time of the Hour, but the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, taught us that is irrelevant. It is unlikely that any of us will experience the final moments on Earth before the Day of Judgement, but we will all draw our last breath at some point. What have we prepared for the Hereafter? This is a reminder for every member of our family, including our children.
Discussing the Day of Judgement
There are minor and major signs of the coming of the Day of Judgement mentioned in the authentic collections of hadith. It may seem like the end of times is something from the movies or an event that we may never see in our lifetimes, but belief in the “Last Day” is one of the pillars of iman. Although there is an impending Doomsday ahead, no human being knows exactly when it will occur. Allah says in the Quran:
They ask you, [O Muḥammad], about the Hour: when is its arrival? Say, "Its knowledge is only with my Lord. None will reveal its time except Him. It lays heavily upon the heavens and the earth. It will not come upon you except unexpectedly." They ask you as if you are familiar with it. Say, "Its knowledge is only with Allah, but most of the people do not know."
(Surah Al-A’raf, 7:187)
If your children ask you about the Day of Judgement and the moments leading up to it, then be prepared to answer using this verse and other evidence from the Quran and Sunnah (like the hadith mentioned above). Follow up the discussion with what we, as Muslims, should do to prepare for it. The Last Day is a frightening thought, especially for youngsters, but we can reassure them by letting them know that there are things we can do to feel safe. Allah instructs the believers in the same chapter of the Quran about how to avoid certain harm by preoccupying themselves with good work while maintaining their faith. He says:
“Be gracious, enjoin what is right, and turn away from those who act ignorantly. If you are tempted by Satan, then seek refuge with Allah. Surely, He is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.”
Reading Surah Al-Kahf
Every Friday Muslims around the world open their copies of the Quran and turn to Chapter 18, Surah Al-Kahf. We have been taught it is a Sunnah act to perform specifically on this day based on the following authentic hadith of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him:
It was narrated on the authority of Abu Sa‘eed Al-Khudri, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Whoever reads Surat Al-Kahf on Friday will have a light that will shine for him in the interval between that Friday and the next.” (Al-Bayhaqi and Al-Haakim)
Aside from the tranquility and satisfaction reading the Quran provides, this beautiful narration is reason enough for us to flip to the middle of our mushaf, where Surah Al-Kahf is located. However, there is another critical reason why it is necessary to revisit this chapter at least once weekly. The companion, Abu Darda, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever memorizes ten verses from the beginning of Surat Al-Kahf will be immune to the False Messiah.” In another narration, the Prophet said, “From the last ten verses of Surat Al-Kahf.”
The coming of the Masih al-Dajjal, or the Antichrist or False Messiah, is one of the major signs before the Day of Judgement, but the minor signs either lead up to or are directly tied to his emergence. Anas ibn Malik reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Verily, preceding the False Messiah will be years of deception, in which the truthful are belied, the liars are believed, the trustworthy are discredited, the treacherous are trusted, and the disgraceful speak.” It was said, “Who are the disgraceful?” The Prophet said, “Little wicked men who speak about the affairs of common people.”
Seeking Refuge from the Dajjal
The Dajjal is a man who will emerge to spread lies and mischief on the Earth to confuse people and tempt them to go astray. He will perform many feats like traveling long distances in a short span of time, appearing to bring the dead to life, making the sky rain, or causing the earth to produce vegetation in times of famine. There are certain characteristics that we can use to recognize the Dajjal, as taught by the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. He said:
“Dajjal will be a young man with very curly hair with one eye protruding (with which he cannot see)… He who amongst you survives to see him, should recite over him the opening Ayat of Surat Al-Kahf (i.e., Surat 18: Verses 1-8). He will appear on the way between Syria and Iraq and will spread mischief right and left. Oh slaves of Allah! Remain adhered to the truth.''
(Riyadh As-Saliheen, 1808)
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, also taught his followers how to supplicate daily for protection against the trial of the Dajjal. This is a supplication that can be made following every prayer daily and it can easily become a habit for ourselves and our children. He said:
"When any one of you pronounces the Shahadah, let him seek refuge with Allah from four things, and let him say: O Allah, I seek refuge with You from the punishment of Hell, from the punishment of the grave, from the trials of life and death, and from the evil of the tribulation of the Dajjal."
There are many ahadith describing the trails of the Dajjal and other signs, both minor and major, that will occur before the Day of Judgement. It is important to remind ourselves and our families about these great trials and their significance because their precursors are happening all around us. Even Muslims are not immune to the temptations of the Dajjal, so it is our duty to prepare our children to recognize the signs and seek protection in Allah. As we focus on their future in this world, it seems pessimistic to think about the End of Times. However, helping them get ready for this inevitable reality will secure their future in the Afterlife.
“Whoever ˹truly˺ believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good, there will be no fear for them, nor will they grieve.”
The signs mentioned, and others, are listed here: https://www.islamicfinder.org/news/48-signs-of-qiyamah/
Wendy Díaz is a Puerto Rican Muslim writer, award-winning poet, translator, and mother of six (ages ranging from infant to teen). She is the co-founder of Hablamos Islam, a non-profit organization that produces educational resources about Islam in Spanish (hablamosislam.org). She has written, illustrated, and published over a dozen children’s books and currently lives with her family in Maryland. Follow Wendy Díaz on social media @authorwendydiaz and @hablamosislam.