Par metanoia1 le 12 Février 2011 à 20:11
INSIGHTS INTO THE ISLAMIC
‘Abd al-Haqq Isma‘il Guiderdoni
With God’s help, we would like to present some brief
insights into the Islamic eschatology, on the basis of
the texts of the Holy Koran and Prophetic Tradition
(Δadoeth). As a matter of fact, it would be more appropriate to
speak about the teachings of Islam on an eschatology that is
common to Jews, Christians and Muslims, as well as to all human
The central principle of Islam is the tawΔoed, the affirmation of
the absolute uniqueness of God. This metaphysical statement is at
the heart of all the traditional doctrines, in spite of the diversity of
their prospects. However, the God of monotheistic religions is not
an abstract God: He has a personal relationship with the human.
He creates and reveals Himself through His speech. Because God
created the human to be worshipped by it, our worship in this world
(al-dunyå) gets its final meaning at the moment of the passage into
the Other World (al-åkhira), and of the sight of God’s Face. This
is the reason why the faith in God and the faith in the ineluctable
return to Him (al-ruj‘å) are so intimately linked.
Surely we belong to God and to Him we shall return (Innå
li-Llåhi wa innå ilayhi råji‘¨n).1
The Koran announces the advent of the Last Day, The Day of
Resurrection (yawm al-qiyåma) and of Judgement according to
Religion (yawm al-doen), when the men and women will stand
1. Kor. II, 156.
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up from their graves and will be led to their Lord, and judged for
their deeds. The Koranic Revelation presents itself as the ultimate
recall (dhikr) of this eternal truth that comes a brief amount of
time before Doom’s Day. The Prophetic Tradition teaches that
Islam is set in God’s plan for the world as the time that spans
between the afternoon prayer (ßalåt al-‘aßr) and the sunset prayer
(ßalåt al-maghrib).2 Muslims see themselves as the last ones that
have been called upon to work according to God’s words, in a
Prophetic Tradition that parallels the Evangelic parable of the
Workers of the eleventh hour. As for the last Hour (al-så‘a), it is
called so because it comes «very quickly» to us (the root of the
Arabic word for «hour», så‘a, also means «to hast», tas‘å).3 Prophet
MuΔammad (may God’s Peace and Benediction be upon him)
once said to his companions:
We were sent, me and the Hour, like that» and he made a
sign by joining two of his fingers.4
There is no purpose in trying to know when this Hour will
come, because the knowledge about it only belongs to God. The
Prophet, when he was asked about it, once said:
Who is questioned about it does not know more than who
And the Holy Koran adds:
They will question you concerning the Hour, when it shall
come. Say: ‘The knowledge of it is only with my Lord; none
shall reveal it at its proper time, but He. Heavy is it in the
heavens and the earth; it will not come on you but
3. Ibn ‘Araboe, Al-fut¨håt al-makkiyya, trans. Les Illuminations de La Mecque,
dir. by M. Chodkiewicz, Sindbad, Paris, p. 173.
However, although the Hour is a divine mystery, Prophet
MuΔammad announced some of its precursor signs. More specifically,
its coming is marked by the increase of social problems and
moral confusion. In the prospect of Islam, the outer events are
the signs of inner reality. The disorders of society bear witness of
the disappearing of spiritual life. Prophet MuΔammad announced
to his companions:
I do not fear for you that you associate somebody to God,
but I fear for you this world and that you begin to quarrel
about me. It will be your loss in the same way as your
predecessors went to their loss.7
Anyone looking at the world as it is now can see the accomplishment
of this Prophetic sentence. The Islamic community is
breaking out into political and theological streams that are more
interested by nationalism, rationalism, or technical progress, than
by the sense of sainthood and the quest for knowledge.
Prophet MuΔammad used to say:
Rabbi zidnoeî ‘ilman, My Lord, increase me in knowledge.8
Who is now asking God to give him knowledge, in a truly
contemplative life that is not the opposite of action, but its complementary
side? Prophet MuΔammad used to repeat:
Allåhumma lå ‘aysha illå ‘ayshu-l-åkhira O my God,
there is no like except the life of the Hereafter.9
6. Kor. VII, 187.
7. Bukhåroe and Muslim.
8. Kor. XX, 114.
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Who still believes in his return to God, with the sense of
responsibility that this return actually implies? On one side, nobody
thinks that this life is going to end and that it takes a meaning
from the Afterlife. On the other side, many desecrate the genuine
attraction by God and the sense of sacrifice for others, and transform
them into a profane, political violence.
The traditional doctrine of the cosmic cycles teaches us that
these things have necessary to happen. As a matter of fact, everything
that is possible has occurred, is occurring or will occur. The
lower possibilities correspond to a larger ontological distance
from the perfect Principle, and can appear only at the end of the
temporal cycle. After the uprooting of the relation between God
and the human that has been caused by the rise of materialism,
we are now seeing the period of psychical dissolution, when the
human opens to destructive forces coming from below. The
communities of all religions must follow a similar way that brings
Other troubles are still to come. The Prophet once warned his
Since the creation of Adam, till the day of the Hour, there
is not event that is more serious than the rise of the Impostor
And the Prophet added:
Do you want me to speak about him as no prophet has
ever spoken to his followers? He is blind in one eye. He
is going to bring with him an image of Heavens and an
image of Hell. The one he will pretend it is Heavens will
be Hell in reality.11
11. Bukhåroe and Muslim.
The Impostor will bring wealth around him to those who will
believe in him. And, according to the companions who reported
At some time the Prophet minimized the importance of the
Impostor, and at some time he amplified it, to a point that
we began to believe he was already in our palm-groves.12
Alas, the precursor signs of all that are visible. According to
the Hour will not occur before one sees about thirty impostor
rise, and each one will pretend he is God’s Messenger.
Already false prophets are coming to sell their so-called methods
of personal realization. Various sects and movements propose
a cacophony of false gnosis and miracle recipes. Others reduce
religion to a simple political force in the fight triggered by those
who wish a clash of civilisations.
But Prophet MuΔammad warned us:
God is not blind in one eye. Well the Impostor is blind in
the right-side eye.14
But the right-side eye is, according to the Tradition, the eye
that is looking at God. It is an obvious sign. Prophet MuΔammad
used to say about the Impostor:
He is too weak to be allowed by God to deceive the believers
by apparent miracles.15
14. Bukhåroe and Muslim.
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However, it would be dangerous to be too self-confident about
it. At the end, more and more discrimination is needed to make
the difference between Good and Wrong, between Truth and Falsehood.
We, believers of these last times, are attempting to be faithful to
God through the message of Revelation. We now have a peculiar
responsibility. We should not revolt against the state of the things
in the modern world. Revolt is not a virtue. Does not God say, in
a Δadoeth qudsoe:
Curse not time for God is Time (al-dahr)?16
Our duty is to bear witness of the spiritual legacy of which we
are the heirs, to say the Truth and to manifest God’s Mercy.
The Muslims are waiting for the return of Jesus Christ, Sayyidunå
‘‹så (Peace be upon him), who is the Anointed, that is, the Messiah
(al-MasoeΔ), and God’s speech (Kalimat Allåh). They share this
messianic expectation with the Christians, and, under different
forms, with the believers of all traditions, especially the Jews.
According to the Islamic Tradition, Sayyidunå ‘‹så is not dead. He
is alive and has been called by God. He will come back. This is
the reason why Prophet MuΔammad warned solemnly:
I swear by Who is having my soul in His Hands: very
promptly the Son of Mary will get back to you as a righteous
As the Seal of the Saints (khatm al-awliyå’), Sayyidunå ‘‹så represents
the inner dimension of religion, the one of the right intention
(al-niyya) that manifests the purity of the heart (al-ikhlåß) and
vivifies the actions. According to the Δadoeth,
17. Bukhåroe and Muslim.
there are no actions except by the intentions,18
and ‘‹så is the Master of inner life. However, the Spirit (al-r¨Δ), the
breath of divine life that God put into Adam at the moment of the
creation of the human, is progressively drawing back from the
world. Or, more accurately, we are progressively getting more and
more unaware of the presence of the Spirit in us. The bodies and
ritual forms are loosing their symbolical transparency and become
opaque to the Spirit. Whereas they are the containers of spiritual
influences, these forms now are considered as empty shells that
can be left over on the shore during the final dissolution. Prophet
How will you act when the Son of Mary will come back
among you and your leader (imåm) will be one of yours?19
The hearts will be checked by the rise of the Messiah. According
to the Δadoeth,
There will be nobody among the People of the Book that
will not believe in him (the Messiah) before his death,
and, in the day of the Resurrection, he will be witness
Sayyidunå ‘‹så will be «the Sign of the Hour». The Δadoeth tells
us how he will act:
The Messiah will strike the Impostor so heavily that the
latter will melt as salt melts in water.21
The world is surviving in an unstable equilibrium. Only God
knows when this equilibrium will cease, but the full manifesta-
20. Kor. IV, 157.
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tion of the Spirit is inevitable, and the coming of the Messiah illustrates
the irresistible force of Truth. There will be only a single
Cry (ßayΔa wåΔida), a Word from God brought forth by the
Spirit, under the symbolic form of the Breath of the Angel of Judgement
into the Trumpet (al-ß¨r). The Day of Resurrection will be
a new Creation (khalq jadoed) similar to the first one. It will be
the day when the hidden meaning of the things will appear at
last, when the mystery (al-ghayb) will be unveiled. It will be the
day of the «turning around» (inqilåb), when the inside (bå™in)
becomes the outside (Σåhir), and when the outside becomes the
inside, when the invisible appears and the visible hides. Then the
human beings will be judged according to the faithfulness of their
hearts and the conformity of their acts to God’s words, that is the
«righteous balance» (al-moezån). The Islamic Tradition teaches that
Prophet MuΔammad will resurrect and get access to a specific
station, called the Station of Praise (maqåm maΔm¨d), where
he will become an intercessor for the whole mankind, because,
according to the Koran, he was sent «as a Mercy for the worlds».22
The tales that report on these events are symbolic. But they are
not allegories without any consistence. The symbolised events
already have their full actuality in the World of subtle forms (‘ålam
al-mithål) where the Prophetic vision (al-ru’yå) has deciphered
them. They already exist in the eternal present of divine Knowledge
that encompasses the universal All-Possibility.
How can I rejoice, Prophet MuΔammad said, when the
Angel with the Trumpet has already risen it, and has heard
the order to blow into it? When will he blow?23
The symbols must necessarily manifest in the development of
time, the stream of which unfolds the immutable realities of the
22. Kor. XXI, 107.
invisible world. Nobody knows how these things will occur. All
what we can tell about them is included in the symbolic expressions
reported by the Koran and the Δadoeth.
Surely the earthquake of the Hour is a mighty thing (inna
zalzalata-l-så‘ati shay’un ‘aΣoem).24
A prophetic saying advises those who will live when the Impostor
comes to read on him the first verses of Chapter 18, «The Cave»
(s¨rat al-kahf). The Islamic Tradition considers it as a polar sura,
because it is located exactly in the middle of the Koranic text. It
includes three tales that have a deep spiritual meaning, as they
teach us the mysteries of the doctrine of the cycles. Let me mention
the last one first, the story of Dh¨-l-Qarnayn (Peace be upon him),
a prophet and hero who is sometimes identified with Alexander
the Great, and who builds walls of iron as a protection against the
waves of the Ya’j¨j and Ma’j¨j (Gog and Magog).25 It is a clear
announcement of the final dissolution.
The second tale invites us to ponder upon the meeting between
Moses, Sayyidunå M¨så (Peace be upon him), and a mysterious
character who lives at the confluent of two sees (majma‘ albaΔrayn),
the one of this world and the one of the Hereafter.26
The Islamic Tradition calls him al-Kha∂ir (Peace be upon him), a
name that evokes the perpetual turning green of vegetation.
Sayyidunå M¨så is upset by al-Kha∂ir’s actions that seem incoherent.
But the reasons of the things finally appear to M¨så, and
al-Kha∂ir explains how important patience (ßabr) is to grasp something
of divine knowledge. May our Lord grant us a good deal of
this patience among the chaos of the final period.
The third tale proposes the parable of the young People of
the Cave, a Koranic version of the Christian tradition of the Seven
24. Kor. XXII, 1.
25. Kor. XVIII, 98-99.
26. Kor. XVIII, 60-82.
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Sleepers of Ephesus. These young men take refuge in the Cave
where God makes them sleep for 309 years. Then God wakes
them up as a sign of Resurrection.
We made [people] stumble upon them, that they might know
that God’s promise is true, and that there is no doubt about
The Sufis see this Cave as a symbol of the heart where the
believers listen to the words of their Lord, in a total commitment
to God. According to the Koranic words:
Take refuge in the Cave, and your Lord will unfold to you
His mercy, and will furnish you with a gentle issue of your
affair. And you might have seen the sun, when it rose, inclining
from their Cave toward the right, and, when it set, passing
them by on the left, while they were in a broad fissure
of the Cave. That was one of God’s signs; whomsoever
God guides, he is rightly guided, and whomsoever He
leads astray, you will not find for him a protector to direct.
They would have thought them awake, as they lay sleeping,
while We turned them now to the right, now to the
left (wa nuqallibuhum dhåta-l-yamoeni wa dhåta-lshimål).
As the Men of the Cave follow the motion of the sun by the
swinging of their bodies, the believer’s heart follows the succession
of the divine irradiations (tajalliyåt ilåhiyya) by turning
around constantly (taqloeb, a word with the same root as al-qalb,
the heart), in a total commitment to God. God unveils Himself
through the veils of the things along the unfolding of time in a
creating act that is constantly renewed. The human mind is unable
to follow the succession of the divine manifestations through the
mutations of the phenomena. Only the intellect that is traditionally
located in the heart is able to do so, when it empties itself from
27. Kor. XVIII, 21.
28. Kor. XVIII, 16-18.
the world. This is why God says, in a Δadoeth qudsoe:
My heavens and My earth embrace Me not, but the heart
of My believing servant does embrace Me.29
Keeping after one’s heart is one of the mysteries of the pole,
the invariable centre where the believers of all religions will seek
refuge during the final unfurling of the psychical waves.
All the Traditions recommend to multiply the invocation of
God’s Names during the events of the end of times. «Surely the
invocation of God is greater (Wa-la-dhikru-Llåhi akbar)»30, the
Koran says. During their ritual gatherings, the Sufis perform the
invocation of God’s name in the formula Lå ilåha illå-Llåh, «there
is no god but God», and reproduce the motion of the bodies on
the right and on the left under the breathe of the Spirit, according
to the example of the Men of the Cave submitted to the action
of the divine Grace.
Nobody knows whether he will live during the messianic times.
But we are sure of the existence of our personal eschatology. We
have tried to bear witness about it today. Beyond our ignorance
and the limits due to our human nature, this faith in God is an
anticipation of a knowledge that will be certainty. Because,
although there is no doubt about our death, the Koran also tells
us that certainty (al-yaqoen) will come after death.31 It is God’s
promise and «God’s promise is true», as the Koran says. May this
tradition of the Men of the Cave help us keep our hearts from
the confusion of the world, and give us the patience to wait for
the return of the Messiah (Peace be upon him) who will be able
to gather all of us in the shining Beauty and Majesty of the Unique
God. Wa-Llåhu a‘lam, and God knows better.
29. This Δadoeth, often quoted by Ibn ‘Araboe, is not in the canonical collections.
30. Kor. XXIX, 45.
31. Kor. CII, 3-7.
INSIGHTS INTO THE ISLAMIC ESCHATOLOGY
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