Qiyamah is one of the important topics in the Islamic belief system. As such, it is discussed in many verses of the Holy Quran as well as in narrations. In this article, we discuss Signs and Events Before Qiyamah which includes signs that announce the coming of this day in the world and also barzakh (بَرزَخ), a place where people go after they die but before Qiyamah that is usually known as the purgatory in Christian tradition.
The following topics are discussed in this article:
What are the Major Signs of the Coming of This Day?
Before this day arrives, certain events will take place in the world. Some of these events that herald Qiyamah have been mentioned in various verses of the Quran such as in surah Inshiq.
1. The Blowing of the Trumpet
وَنُفِخَ فِي الصُّورِ فَصَعِقَ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَن فِي الْأَرْضِ إِلَّا مَن شَاءَ اللَّـهُ ۖ ثُمَّ نُفِخَ فِيهِ أُخْرَىٰ فَإِذَا هُمْ قِيَامٌ يَنظُرُونَ ﴿68﴾
And the Trumpet will be blown, and whoever is in the heavens will swoon and whoever is on the earth, except whomever Allah wishes. Then it will be blown a second time, behold, they will rise up, looking on! 1
The trumpet will be blown twice before Qiyamah; the first time so that all living creatures die and the second time so that they come back to life. 2
According to narrations, the angel who will blow the trumpet is known as Isrāfīl (اسرافیل).
All human beings and creatures will die when the trumpet is blown. Therefore, when the verse says: except whom Allah wishes, it is expressing Divine power. That is, if God wished and when all have died, He can keep some alive.
In some narrations, the angels Gabriel, Isrāfīl, and Mīkā’īl (میکائیل) or the martyrs have been named as some of those who will remain alive when the trumpet is blown. 3
2. The Falling Apart of the World as Part of the Signs and Events of Qiyamah
Many verses in the Quran refer to the falling apart of the world and all this is within it like the skies, the mountains, the earth, the destruction of the sun, moon and stars, and so on. We will indicate a few instances below.
The Sun and Moon
یسْأَلُ أَيَّانَ يَوْمُ الْقِيَامَةِ ﴿6﴾
He asks, ‘When will be this “day of resurrection”?!’
فَإِذَا بَرِقَ الْبَصَرُ ﴿7﴾
But when the eyes are dazzled,
وَخَسَفَ الْقَمَرُ ﴿8﴾
he moon is eclipsed,
وَجُمِعَ الشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ ﴿9﴾
and the sun and the moon are brought together, 4
As indicated in the verse the moon will be eclipsed and this refers to the fact that it will lose its light. The coming together of the sun and moon could refer to both their loss of light or it could be that they are merged. 5
The Skies and Stars
فَإِذَا النُّجُومُ طُمِسَتْ ﴿8﴾
وَإِذَا السَّمَاءُ فُرِجَتْ ﴿9﴾
When the stars are blotted out. And the sky is cleft. 6
The word ‘tamasa’ (طمس) means to disappear and it could possibly mean that the light of the stars will disappear as mentioned in surah Infiṭār.
‘Faraja’ (فرج) means to split. The sky will split apart and be torn before Qiyamah arrives. 7
The Earth and Mountains
إِذَا رُجَّتِ الْأَرْضُ رَجًّا ﴿4﴾
When the earth is shaken violently,
وَبُسَّتِ الْجِبَالُ بَسًّا ﴿5﴾
and the mountains are shattered into bits
فَكَانَتْ هَبَاءً مُّنبَثًّا ﴿6﴾
and become scattered dust, 8
The earth, which is a place to rest, bury our dead, and upon which we walk, on that day will experience a terrible shaking; so intense that God hails it as great.
The mountains with all their heaviness and the roots they have deep into the earth will be uprooted from their place and crash into one another and turn to particles. These particles will be turned to bits like carded wool and scatter into the wind like dust. 9
Signs and Events before Qiyamah: What Is Barzakh?
عَلِّي أَعْمَلُ صَالِحًا فِيمَا تَرَكْتُ ۚ كَلَّا ۚ إِنَّهَا كَلِمَةٌ هُوَ قَائِلُهَا ۖ وَمِن وَرَائِهِم بَرْزَخٌ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ ﴿100﴾
That I may act righteously in what I have left behind.’ ‘By no means! These are mere words that he says.’ And before them is a barrier until the day they will be resurrected. 10
Barzakh is something that takes place before the Hereafter and is part of the signs and events before Qiyamah.
Barzakh literally means a barrier between two things. In Islamic teachings it refers to the world of the grave in which people will live after death and before the Hereafter. 11
The time of barzakh starts from the first night one enters the grave and lasts till Qiyamah when all will be raised to face their final accounting. It is a realm which is between complete immateriality and the material world.
This world is one where the body and soul are separated and as such, is not a place of action, that is, we cannot perform good or bad actions to change our status. However, the good actions performed by others like giving charity on our behalf, or the good deeds that our children perform would increase our weight of good actions. Similarly, if we left behind a bad legacy, that too would affect us in this realm.
Events in Barzakh
The state of a person in barzakh is a prelude to his state on Qiyamah and in the Hereafter. This means, if a person was good, his grave would be a pleasant place and if he was bad, the grave would be an unpleasant and painful place.
It is narrated regarding Barzakh: the grave is either a garden from the gardens of Paradise or a pit from the pits of Hell 12
Signs and Events before Qiyamah: Questioning in the Grave
According to narrations, on the first night in the grave, we will be visited and asked questions by two angels known as Munkar (مُنکر) and Nakīr (نکیر). The angels will ask each person questions regarding the following which we will all have to answer:
- Who the Lord is whom we worship?
- The prophet who was sent to us?
- The religion we follow and according to which we worship God?
- The prophet who we follow?
- The Divine book we follow?
- The Imam whom we follow and love?
- How we spent our lives?
- Where we got out wealth from and how we spent it? 13
Embodiment of Actions
Multiple verses of the Quran bear witness to the embodiment of actions in the Hereafter.
What does embodiment of actions mean? It means that our actions or their consequences and effects themselves constitute our fate and form things that may be pleasant or unpleasant, good or evil for their owner. On Qiyamah everyone will be able to see the form that their actions have assumed.
This means that the punishments and blessings of hell and heaven are direct consequences of our actions and our actions form them. 14
One of the verses which indicate this matter is the following:
يَوْمَ تَجِدُ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَّا عَمِلَتْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ مُّحْضَرًا وَمَا عَمِلَتْ مِن سُوءٍ تَوَدُّ لَوْ أَنَّ بَيْنَهَا وَبَيْنَهُ أَمَدًا بَعِيدًا ۗ…
The day when every soul will find present whatever good it has done; and as for the evil, it has done, it will wish there were a far distance between it and itself… 15
Signs and Events Before Qiyamah: Embodiment of Actions in Barzakh
Although we do not have verses which prove the embodiment of actions in barzakh; we do have narrations that prove that it will happen.
Ali bin Abi Taleb (peace be on him) narrates:
On the last day of his worldly life and the first day of his entry into the world of the hereafter, man will see his wealth, children and deeds. Thus, he will address his wealth and say: ‘I put myself into great hardships for your sake and was greedy. What help can you render to me today?’ His wealth will reply: ‘Take your burial shroud from me.’ Then, he will address his children: ‘I had been fond of you and throughout my life I took good care of you. What help can you render to me today?’ They will reply: ‘We will give you a proper burial.’ Then, he will ask his deeds: ‘I was shortcoming in observing you and you were difficult for me. What will do about me?’
His deeds will reply: ‘We will be there with you in the grave and on the Judgment Day till you are presented before your Lord.’ Thus, if he is a friend of Allah (i.e. a believer), a fragrant, handsome and a well-dressed person will appear and say: ‘Glad tidings to you of ‘happiness and bounty’ (Rooh wa Raihan) and Paradise. Blessed be your arrival. You are welcome!’ The man will ask: ‘Who are you?’ He will be replied: ‘I am your good deeds. I have come with you from the world and I will accompany you till Paradise. 16
Things that will help in Barzakh
Although barzakh is not a place for action, there are some things that could affect the record of deeds and their punishment and rewards in the grave. These have been mentioned in narration and are the following:
- A righteous child who prays for his salvation
- The copy of Quran from which he used to read
- A well which he had dug for the public
- Trees that he had planted
- Canals of water that he had endowed as charity
- The good practice, which he had established and which people continue to follow
- Knowledge from which people benefit. 17
Summary of Signs and Events before Qiyamah
Before the Day of Judgment arrives, certain signs and events will take place that will herald this day. A couple of the major signs are the blowing of the trumpet and the falling apart of the material world.
Another one of the events that happens before the Hereafter is barzakh, a realm which is between the worldly life and Qiyamah. Certain events will take place in this time and a person will face the consequences of their actions and get a taste of what awaits him in the Hereafter.
- [39: 68]. Qarai translation
- Tafsir al-Mizan. Vol. 17, p. 443
- Tafsir Nur. Commentary of Surah al-Zumar. Verse 68
- [75: 6-9]. Qarai translation
- Qarashi, A. A. (1377). Tafsir-i Ahsan al-Hadith. Bethat Publications. Vol. 11, pp. 449-450
- [77: 8-9]. Qarai translation
- Tafsir Nur. Commentary of Surah al-Mursalat. Verses 8-14
- [56: 4-6]. Qarai translation
- Tafsir Nur. Commentary of Surah al-Waqi‘ah. Verses 1-6
- [23: 100]. Qarai translation
- Tafsir al-Mizan. Vol. 15, p. 97
- Bihar al-Anwar, 2nd ed. (1403 AH). (Research by a group of researchers). Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi. Vol. 6, p. 205
- Al-Amāli (lilSaduq), 6th ed. P. 504
- Tafsir al-Mizan. Vol. 1, p. 144
- [3: 30]. Qarai translation
- Resurrection (Maʿad) in the Quran. Chapter: Purgatory (Barzakh), part: Aim of Punishment and Rewards of Barzakh.
- Ibid. Chapter: Purgatory (Barzakh), part: Perpetual Charity
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