As the human experience continues on planet earth, the time will come when the entire universe will become extinct. The term for the end of the world according to the Qur’an is al-Sa’ah or The Hour. The Hour of each person occurs at time of death where the soul is transitioning from one medium of life to another called al-Barzakh. Al-Barzakh or the world of the grave is what separates the world of matter (this world) from the world to come. The barzakh is a barrier that lies between the temporal and eternal place.
Allah (SWT) repeatedly reminds us, “Every soul shall taste death, and then you will be returning to Us.” (al-‘Ankabout, 29:57) The decreed time for each person is determined by Allah and when the time comes no one can delay it nor advance it. “If God were to take people to task for the evil they do, He would not leave one living creature on earth, but He delays them until an appointed time. When their time comes they cannot delay it for a single hour nor can they bring it forward.” (al-Nahl, 16:61)
A similar ayah affirms this notion, “God takes the souls of the dead and the souls of the living while they sleep. He keeps hold of those whose death He has ordained and sends the others back until their appointed time. Truly, there are signs in this for those who reflect.” (al-Zumar, 39:42) The appointed time, in Arabic ajal, is known only to Allah.
There are three other types of ajal, pl. aajaal, for a total of four types of periods where only Allah knows their end. The ajal of a baby in the womb of its mother is the second type, “And We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for a specified term.” (al-Hajj, 22:5) Indeed, no one knows exactly when a mother delivers her baby except Allah (SWT).
The third type is the end of nations. The ajal of a community or a nation is the time of respite Allah grants to it before sending His punishment. “For every nation there is a set time, and when (the end of) their term comes, they can neither delay it by a single moment, nor can they hasten it.” (al-A’raf, 7:34) Communities and nations of the past such as the nation of Nuh, ‘Aad, Thamud and Lut, among other nations of the past met their fate by utter doom and destruction.
Finally, the final appointed time is the ajal of the whole world commonly referred to as al-Sa’ah, The Hour. “They ask you (O Prophet) about the Hour, ‘When will it come to pass?’ Say, ‘Verily! The knowledge of it is with my Lord. He alone will reveal it when its time comes,’” (al-‘Araf, 7:187). Allah (SWT) confirms, “Verily, Allah (alone) has the knowledge of (when the last) Hour (will come).” (Luqman, 31:34)
What is the Hour? Generally speaking, the Arabic word sa'ah signifies a short period of time or a short duration. However, sa’ah is a unit of time. An hour represents a period of time equal to 60 minutes which occurs 24 times a day. Time is relative. An hour on the moon is not equal to an hour on earth. Once every 24 hours the earth makes one full revolution as it takes 24 hours to rotate once on its axis. The duration from sunrise to sunrise on earth is 24 hours. Therefore, sa’ah in the nakirah form (without the definite article ‘the’ (or ‘al-’ in Arabic)), means ‘a short period of time’ as cited in the Qur’an. “On the Day He gathers them (the people) together it will be as if they have stayed (in the world) no longer than a single hour of the day.” (Yunus, 10:45)
On the other hand, al-Sa’ah, in the ma’rifah form (with the definite article ‘al-’), is The Hour referring to the Last Hour of existence, as well as for the day when all creation shall be revived and presented before the Lord of all creation.
Al-Sa’ah, The Hour, is ‘the short period of time’ when earth-shattering and catastrophic events take place causing the world to end. It is the last hour before the end of the universe when the serial time ends. Physicists refer to it as the Big Crunch.
In scientific terms, the Big Crunch is a contraction of the universe to a state of extremely high density and temperature, hypothesized as a possible scenario for its demise. The Big Crunch is one of the theories predicted by scientists regarding the possibility of the end of the universe.
This theory is mentioned in the Qur’an as a fact; one based on unseen knowledge. As we know, there are two types of knowledge, acquired and revealed knowledge. The discourse on the Hour is based on Qur’anic and prophetic prophecies that are based on unseen realities. The first trait of a true believer as described in the beginning of surat al-Baqarah which states that they, “believe in the unseen,” (2:3) vis-à-vis revealed knowledge. In other words, they believe in the things that are beyond the reach of human perception.
In fact, this Big Crunch scientists speculate is mentioned in the Qur’an. Unfortunately, “They do not measure Allah with His true measure. On the Day of Resurrection, the whole earth will be in His grip and the heavens (the dimensions of the universe) will be rolled up in His right hand. Glory be to Him! He is far above the partners they ascribe to Him.” (al-Zumar, 39:67) Certainly, some people have underestimated the power of Allah (SWT).
The word al-Sa’ah appears in the Quran a total of 39 times. There are countless sayings that mention the hour. All prophets of Allah warned their people about the Hour. This illustrates the importance of the subject. Certainly Musa (AS) and all the prophets after him talked about the Hour. While conversing with Musa (AS), Allah informed him “Verily! The Hour is coming. I have willed to keep the time of its coming hidden.” (Taha, 20:15)
Not one verse can be found in the Old Testament that mentions the word the hour, however, the word hereafter, akhirah, is mentioned four times in the Old Testament, (Isiah, Ezekiel and twice in Daniel) and ten times in the New Testament. On the other hand, the word The Hour is mentioned in the New Testament mainly in the four gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John (13 times). It is also mentioned in Acts and twice in Revelation. But not as frequently as one may find in the Qur’an.
The Prophet (SAW) in a hadith stated, “Indeed from among the signs of al-sa’ah (the Hour) is that knowledge will be taken away, and ignorance will prevail.” Indeed, the knowledge about the Hour has disappeared. To most people, the topic of “the Hour” is science fiction, thanks in part to secularism.
People throughout the ages asked, when is the coming of the hour? The Jews used to challenge Allah’s last and final Prophet and Messenger. They would ask him about the Hour, the spirit (ruh) and Zul Qarnain. The Quraish of Makkah, by way of mockery, would also ask the Prophet (SAW) when the Hour of doom was to occur of which he used to warn them so often. “They ask you (O prophet!) ‘When will the hour be established?’ Say, ‘My Lord alone has knowledge of it. He alone will reveal it when its time will come.’” (al-‘Araf, 7:187) Similarly, one finds in surat al-Nazi’at, “They ask you about the Hour, ‘When will it come?’ In what (position) are you that you should mention it? The ultimate end of it is (known only) to your Lord.” (79:42-44) “Surely, Allah (alone) has the knowledge of the Hour.” (Luqman, 31:34)
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in the famous hadith, hadith Jibril, he was asked by angel Jibril himself who came to him in the form of a man, when is the Hour to occur? The Prophet replied, “He who is questioned knows no more than the questioner.” There are those who spend time searching for the exact timing of the Hour. In essence they are speaking on behalf of Allah without confirmed knowledge. How can they predict what an archangel like Jibril (AS) and Muhammad (SAW), the last messenger of Allah, did not know?
What we know is that the Hour is coming. “The Hour will come without a doubt, and God will raise those who are in the graves.” (al-Hajj, 22:7) A confirmation with stronger emphasis is found in surat Ghafir, “Verily! The Last Hour is for sure coming without a doubt. Yet most people don’t believe (it).” (40:59)
When the Hour comes, “It will lay heavy on the heavens and the earth.” (al-‘Araf, 7:187) It will be demanding and burdensome on the heavens, earth and the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth.
When it comes the sky will be ripped apart, “When the sky is torn apart” and “When the stars are scattered (in disorder)”“When the sun is shrouded in darkness, and when the stars are dimmed.” Similarly, the Hour will lay heavy on the earth, “When the seas burst,” and in another place, “When the seas boil over” and “When the graves turn inside out.” Imagine how burdensome these events are going to be on the heavens and the earth that served man for centuries.
The Hour will also lay heavy on the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth including angels, humans and jinn. Everything will perish, angels as well as humans and Jinn. All forms of life will expire and all of creation will cease to exist. “All that exist (in the universe) shall perish. And all that remains is the Face of your Lord, full of majesty, and Glory. ” (al-Rahman, 55:26)
When the Hour occurs it becomes heavy on the hearts of people just as a person dying of cancer or other disease feels the weight of death. It will become evident that the Day of Judgment is near and that we will be meeting our Lord. On that day, “Each soul will then know what it sent forth and what it left behind.” (al-Infitar, 82:5) Every person will acknowledge their good and evil deeds.
The coming of the Hour is going to be dreadful, shocking and frightful. “O people! Be mindful of your Lord, verily, the earthquake of the Hour will be a mighty thing.” (al-Hajj, 22:1)
Consider this fearsome scene, “On the day when you see it, every nursing mother will neglect her suckling baby and every pregnant woman will miscarry. You will see people drunk when they are not drunk. Then again Allah´s torment is severe.” (al-Hajj, 22:2) It becomes apparent that we will be heading toward Judgment Day, the day of reckoning.
The earth as we know it will change as will the sky. His promise will be fulfilled, “On the Day when the earth will be replaced by another earth and so will the heavens and (all people) shall appear before God, the One, the Irresistible.”(Ibrahim, 14:48)
Unquestionably the hour is coming, “The Final Hour is sure to come, without doubt, but most people do not believe it.” (Ghafir, 40:59) One may ask, are we ready and prepared for it? God-conscious and God-fearing people know very well that no advance notice will be given when it occurs. “It will not come upon you except suddenly.” (al-A’raf, 7:187) It is a divine secret which shall disclose itself unexpectedly.
The Prophet (SAW) said, “The Hour will start suddenly for the people while one is mending his watering hole, giving water to his cattle, setting his goods in the market or lowering his scale and raising it.” It is clear from this hadith that the Hour will occur suddenly among people who are going about their daily affairs. It will come so sudden the Prophet (SAW) swore, “I swear by the One in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, the Hour will commence while a man has raised his hand with a bite to his mouth, but will not eat it.”
Allah made it very clear, “Verily! The Hour is coming. I would keep it hidden so that each soul may be compensated according to the measure of its endeavor.” (Ta Ha, 20:15) Perhaps the wisdom behind keeping it hidden is to keep us in a state of suspense and anxiety. A feeling only a believer understands. A true believer is always fearful of its dreadful events and consequences, thus rushing into performing good deeds. Indeed, only they are in awe of it. “Those who do not believe in it seek that it should come soon, while the believers are fearful of it and know that it is the Truth. Unquestionably, those who dispute about the Hour have gone far, far astray.” (Fatir, 42:18)
We may once again ask ourselves, are we ready for the horrors of the final hour?