[By Muslim Debate Initiative]
In short Eschatology is a part of Theology concerned with Death, Judgement Day and the Final Destination of the Human Soul.
In Abrahamic Faiths Eschatology has a common theme with fairly distinct differences in their respective narratives.
Why does eschatology matter for Muslims?
Eschatology matters because it is one of the major events that a Muslim MUST have faith in. The Judgement Day is culmination of the mankind’s journey before Akhirah. The Quran and Hadith is filled with verses where Allah promises due compensation for all of our deeds.
Allah says in the Quran:
““Truly pious are those who believe in Allah and the Last Day.” [Al Baqarah:177]
Now for over a millenia the Final Hour has been a topic of fascination for the scholars and laity alike and many books and essays have been penned regarding them.
And throughout the millenia and through many crisises people have prematurely predicted the Final Hour and as such many Ahadith had been fabricated, attributed and exaggerated.
Some scholars do it to captivate their followers. To instill Imaan in them.
– There have been cases where documentaries with wild conspiracy theories and fabricated Ahadith had changed many people into becoming more practicing. Example: The Arrivals.
Some do it to incite people into rebellion.
– In more recent times Juhayman Al Otaibi incited some Muslims to rebel against Saudi regime by telling them that the end times are upon us. He took over the Masjid Al-Haram and claimed that he had the Mahdi with him. Much violence and bloodshed followed.
– On more than one occasion the Al-Qaeda had been hailed as the fabled army of Mahdi from Khurasan by certain activists. Their speeches were so convincing that it duped many Muslims into looking past the atrocities perpetrated by these organizations.
Some do it to legitimize the action of certain regimes.
– Back in the day it was to defend the reign of the Ummayads against the Abbasid insurrection.
– Nowadays it’s certain scholars (self-proclaimed or otherwise) attempting to put their own spin in the Syrian Civil War. Some tried to legitimize the actions of ISIS. Some tried to legitimize the actions of the Syrian-Russian coalition.
Regardless of how Eschatology is used it has a powerful effect on Muslims and religious people in general. And that is why it is extremely important for Muslims to have a proper understanding of the Islamic perspective on Eschatology so that we don’t fall into the traps that are often employed by certain individuals.
When the Final Hour will come, Allah knows best. It is important that we remain true to our Islamic ethos and not make rash decisions simply because someone says, “the hour is nigh.”