Islamo-Biblica in Islamic Messianism, Eschatology and Apocalyptic.

Islamo-Biblica in Islamic  Messianism, Eschatology, Apocalyptic and associated literatures.

Stephen Lambden

In progress and under revision - 10-03-2016.

Much of Islamic messianism, eschatology and apocalyptic is rooted in biblical texts and post-biblical traditions as detailed  and expounded by numerous Jewish, Christian and other writers. The central importance of Muslim belief in the twin concepts Allah wal-yawm al-akhira ("God and the last Day") is underlined by being more than twenty times mentioned in the Qut'an  (see Kassis, Concordance,130ff). While messianism is virtually absent in the Q. therein is a complex and detailed eschatology. Post-qur'anic Islamic eschatological traditions and literatures greatly expanded the circumstances of an anticipated messianic parousia, a latter-day apocalyptic collapse of the cosmos and the "signs" associated with these events. They record much that pertains to apocalyptic eschatology and messianism, matters pertaining to ma'ad, (eschatological "return"), to end time fitan (tests, trials, turmoils) and malāhim ("apocalyptic conflagration'). The ever increasing number of the "signs of the "hour", of the yawm al-qiyama (Day of resurrection) and of the yawm al-dīn ("Day of Judgement"), are set out and commented upon in a massive repository of Islamic sources.

Though barely hinted at in the Q.  (see XXX ) messianism came to have a major place in Islam and especially in Shī`īsm. This   even though the Q.  neither explicitly  mentions the Mahdī (cf. Q. XXXX) nor of  the Sh ī`īte Qā’im. The hope for ultimate justice and of a messiah who would establish universal Shī`ism was the prayerful hope of the pious masses. Messianic and eschatological traditions are legion and are frequently rooted in Judaeo‑Christian pre‑Islamic scripture and tradition. A specific  example would be the red frizzy hair  characteristic of the Islamic pesudo‑Christ, the Anti‑Christ or  Dajjāl  (Syr. Deceiver), a proto‑Christlike motif in that messianic archetype king David is said in XXX to have had red hair!             

Biblical and post-Biblical eschatological and apocalyptic concepts are reflected in the Q. and early entered Islamic literatures. Numerous qur'anic "signs" of the end time and an eschatological theophany are anticipated in both the Bible and the Q. where it is pictured as a liqa'-Allah (Encounter with God) (Q. 2:???, etc cf. ). Preceding or accompanying this beatific vision are terrible catastropes referred to in several ways, including, al-haqqa ("The Inevitable [Calamity] Q.69), al-qar'ia ("the [catastrophic] Blow" Q. 101 ), al-tamma ("the Catastrophe", Q. 79:34); al-faza al-akbar ("the Great Terror" Q. 21:103), faqira, etc. Q.101; 79:34). They are associated with the "Day of God" (yawm Allah) and numerous attendant eschatological "signs". In an article 'Eschatology1, "The "Last Day" Chittick has pointed out that these matters are "a basic article of Islamic faith" (IS ll:[378-409] 20).

The Arabic fitna (pi. fitan) can indicate a "trial", an eschatological "testing". From the early Islamic centuries sections within Sünnî and Shī'ī hadīth compilations and other texts came to be entitled K. al-fitan or K. Al-fitan wa'l-malahim. These writings often detail latter-day tribulations, calamity and apocalyptic eschatology. Towards the end of the Sahih of Bukhārī, for example, is a section 'On the Afflictions at the End of the World' (IX. 88.172-250). Similarly books 39-41 towards the end of the Sahīh of Muslim pertain to the Resurrection (al-qiyama), Paradise and Hellfire (al-jannat wa'l-nar), and the '[Eschatological] Conflagration and Portents of the Final Hour (K. al-fitan wa asharatal-sa*ah) including the "ten signs" of the end. These ten "signs" or portents" are [1] the smoke, [2] the Dajjāl, [3] the Beast, [4] the rising of the sun from the west, [5] the descent of Jesus Son of Mary [from heaven], [6] the appearance of God and Magog, [7] three Landslides;  1. in the east, 2. in the west and 3. in Arabia where a Fire would burn from the Yemen and [10] the driving and assembling of people to the place of eschatological assembling.

Book 35 of the Sunan of Abu Dawud is a K. al-fitan wa'l-malahim, a book on the [Eschatological] Tests and Conflagrations'. This is followed by a 'Book about the messianic Mahdl" (36) and another.entitled K. al-malahim (The Final Conflagration'). The popular later compilation of al-Khatīb al-Tibrīzī (8th/14 cent.) entitled Mishkāt al-Masābīh (The Niche of Lights') similarly contains a lengthy section entitled K. al-fitan (111:1480-1528; tr. Robson 11: 1120 -1385). Numerous Shī'ī texts and traditions of the Imams are likewise full of detailed eschatolgical and messianic predictions. Many examples can be found in certain volumes of Majlisi's Bihar al-anwar and his pupil, al-Bahrānī's Awalim.

One of the last works of the Akhbārī Shī'īte Radī al-Dīn Abu'l-Qasim Ibn Tawus (d.664 /1266) completed shortly after 663 /1264 was variously entitled al-Tashrīf bi'l-minan fi'l-ta'rifbi'l-fitan and (The Bestowing of Benediction through the Comprehension of Fitan') or al-Malahim wa'l-fitan [fī uhūr al-ghā'/b al-muntazar] (The Conflagration and the Upheavals [through the manifestation of the Expected Hidden One]'). It is basically a compilation of extracts from earlier books entitled K. al-fitan. Much cited is the K, al-fitan of Nu'mayn b. Hamrnad (d. 228/843) which contains traditions dealing with the downfall of the 'Abbāsids and the advent of the Mahdī (GAL 1:104-5; Kohlberg, 1992:168-9 No.154), the K. al-fitan of Abū'l-Sālīh al-Salīlī (fl. early 4th/10th century) and the now lost K. al-fitan of Zakariyya b. Yahya al-Naysābūrī (d. 298/911). The K. al-Malāhīm of Ibn Tawus himself incorporated as a kind of appendix his K. Multaqat (Book of Gleanings) which again consists of stories and traditions relating to fitan. (Kohlberg 1992:60-61, No. 54;168-9 Nos. 155 and No. 156). The now lost Kitab al-fitan of Abū'l-'Alā al-Hasan al-'Attār al-Hāfīz al- Hamadhānī (d. 593/1173) who has been considered a Sunnī and a Shī'ī writer, is also cited in this same work of Ibn Ṭawus. It supports the tradition that the advent of the Mahdī would be preceded by an angelic proclamation of his name, a tradition known to the Bāb (Kohlberg, 1992:168 No.153).

In the Islamic middle ages Malahim (sing. malhamat  'conflagration', cf. Wehr :861) apparently indicated "a writing of a divinatory character" (XXXX El2) but came also to signify a divinatory prediction, eschatological prophecy or an "apocalypse' since it contained details of apocalyptic conflagrations (Kohlberg, 1992:143). Among the Islamic pseudepigraphal writings are various versions and recensions of a Kitab al-malāhim li Daniyal.  The Book of the Conflagration of Daniel'. A number of Shī'T recensions of this work exist among them one with an introduction by Majlisī's pupil Ni'mat-Allah al-Jaza'in (d. 1112/1701) and another by Ibn Tawus. One Shī'ī version has it that knowledge of the cryptic predictions in the Malhamat Daniyal induced Abo Bakr and 'Umar to gain successorship instead of 'Alī after the passing of Muhammad (see Fodor 1974:85ff; Kohlberg 1992:143).

 

Islamic portents of the Hour” (al-sa`āt), latter-day fitān (“tribulations”)[1] and malāḥīm (“apocalyptic conflagration”),[2] as well as Messianisms and Apocalyptic Eschatology. .

Both the Bible and the Qur’ān are full of latter-day “signs” and motifs expressive of apocalyptic eschatology. The central importance of Muslim belief in the twin concepts Allāh wa’l‑yawm al‑ākhirah  ("God and the last Day") is underlined by being more than twenty times enunciated in the Q.

             Numerous post-qur’ānic Islamic traditions expound in detail the anticipated messianic advent(s) and an apocalyptic collapse of the cosmos with its dire consequences on the fearful yawm al-qiyāma (“Day of Resurrection”). Islamic sources record much that pertains to the Day of the Lord” and relates to ma`ad, ("return"), to the latter-day fitan and malāḥim.  Islamic messianic and millennial traditions are obviously Islamo-biblical, expressions of Isrā’īliyyāt.  In the light of biblically rooted Jewish and Christian millennial speculations  (see        ), a multitude of Muslim sources have it that a 6,000 or more year era should precede the onset of the eschaton (see       ).  Miscellaneous signs  and portents of the "Hour", of  the yawm al‑qiyāma  (Day of resurrection)  and of  the yawm al‑dīn  ("Day of Judgement")  are mentioned in numerous biblical and post‑biblical apocalyptic texts.  Biblical and qur’ānic-Islamic parallels are frequent.

            An eschatological theophany is anticipated in the Bible and the Qur’ān where it is indicated as the liqā’‑ Allāh  or “Encounter with God” ( Q.  ADD REFS. ). Preceding or accompanying the beatific vision is a terrible catastrope(s) (al‑q ār`ia; al‑ṭāmma; fāqira,  etc. Q. 101; 79:34) associated with the "Day of God" (yawm Allāh)  and numerous attendant eschatological "signs".  Even though the Q.  neither explicitly  mentions the Mahdī (cf. Q. XXXX) nor of  the Shī`īte Qā’im (“Ariser”), forms of messianism came to have a major place in Islamic eschatology. The hope for ultimate justice and the establishment Islam universally through messianic jihād (“holy war”) was the prayerful hope of the pious masses as it had been among the biblically grounded possibly Essence Qumran community who produced the so-called `Dead Sea Scrolls’ (see IQS the War Scroll, etc).

. Messianic and eschatological traditions are legion and are frequently rooted in Abrahamic, pre‑Islamic scripture and tradition. A specific example would be the red frizzy hair characteristic of the Islamic pesudo‑Christ, the Anti‑Christ‑ the Dajjāl  (Syr. Deceiver) figure. This proto‑Christlike motif was evident in the archetypal messianic king David who was said in XXX to have had red hair.               

             Among the Islamic pseudepigraphal writings are various versions and recensions of a K. al‑malāḥim li D āniyāl (`The Book of the Conflagration of Daniel’). A number of Shī`ī recensions of this work exist. Among them one with an introduction by Majlisī’s pupil Ni`mat‑Allāh al‑Jazā’irī  (d. 1112/1701) and another by Ibn Ṭāwūs.  One Shī`ī version has it that knowledge of the cryptic predictions in the Malḥamat Dāniyāl   induced Abū Bakr  and `Umar to  gain successorship instead of Imām `Alī after the passing of Muhammad (Fodor 1974:85ff; Kohlberg 1992:143; Kister 1972:235).

 

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[1] The Arabic fitna  (pl. fitan)  can indicate a "trial" or an eschatological "testing". From the earliest Islamic centuries numerous ḥadīth and other compilations came to be entitled Kitāb al‑fitan and later sometimes al-fitan wa’l-ākhira  (“the conflagrations and the ultimate things”).   A division of several of the major Sunnī canonical collections of ḥadīth  was entitled K. Al‑fitan or K. Al‑fitan wa’l‑malāḥim.  They largely have to do with latter‑day events, tribulations and apocalyptic eschatology. Towards the end of the Saḥīḥ  of al-Bukhārī, for example, is a section `On the Afflictions at the End of the World’   (IX.88.172‑250). Similarly, books 39‑41 towards the end of the Saḥīḥ  of Muslim pertain to the Resurrection (al‑qiyāma), Paradise  and Hellfire (al‑jannat wa’l‑nār), the `[Eschatological] Conflagration and Portents of the Final Hour (K. al‑fitan wa asharat al‑sa`ah) including the "ten signs" of the end. Book 35 of the Sunan of Abū Dāwūd is a K. al‑fitan wa’l‑malāḥim, a book on the [Eschatological] Tests and Conflagrations’ which is followed by a `Book about the messianic Mahdī’ (36) and another entitled K. al‑malāḥim  (`The Final Conflagration’). The later popular compilation of al‑Khaṭīb al‑Ṭibrīzī ( 8th/14 cent.) entitled Mishkāt  al‑maṣābīḥ (`The Niche of Lights’) also contains a lengthy section entitled K. al‑fitan  drawn from these and other sources (III:1480‑1528; tr. Robson II:1120‑1385).

[2] In the Islamic middle ages malāḥim  (sing. malḥamat = `lit.`conflagration’) apparently indicated "a writing of divinatory character" (XXXX EI2) through it came to signify a divinatory prediction, an eschatological prophecy or apocalyptic conflagration (Kohlberg, 1992:143).