4.3. THE SIGNS OF THE END
4.3.1. Al-Dajjal (the Antichrist)
Muslims also expect the advent of the Antichrist, whom they name the “Great Deceiver” or the “Impostor Messiah” (Romanized Arabic: Al-Masikh al-Dajjal). The (Romanized) Arabic word dajjal means “to deceive” and it is used in religious contexts to designate false prophets or messiahs. Muhammad said that there will be around 30 dajjals ("antichrists") (Sahih Al-Bukhari 9:237). But Al-Masikh al-Dajjal, written with definite article and capital letter, refers to the “Imposter,” the Antichrist, a unique cunning entity, who will be the last and most powerful of antichrists. He will appear toward the end of civilization, before Judgment Day, will defy God and will make a deceiving interpretation of the scriptures. He will speak beautifully and will fool the world to follow his teachings, saying that Hell is Heaven and vice versa (Sahih Al-Bukhari 4:554). He will appear pretending he is the Jewish messiah and the returned Jesus Christ, but the real Jesus will descend from heaven and will kill him (Sahih Muslim 7023).
Al-Dajjal is believed to appear somewhere between Syria and Iraq, approximately at the same time with the return of Isa (Jesus) on the clouds of heaven and the coming of the Mahdi. Al-Dajjal will travel the entire world preaching his false teachings, but Allah will forbid him to enter Mecca and Medina (Sahih Al-Bukhari 3:105). The hadiths offer details regarding the look and the actions of al-Dajjal, so that he can be identified by believers:
The Prophet mentioned the Massiah Ad-Dajjal in front of the people saying, ‘Allah is not one eyed while Messiah, Ad-Dajjal is blind in the right eye and his eye looks like a bulging out grape. While sleeping near the Ka’ba last night, I saw in my dream a man of brown color the best one can see amongst brown color and his hair was long that it fell between his shoulders. His hair was lank and water was dribbling from his head and he was placing his hands on the shoulders of two men while circumambulating the Ka’ba. I asked, ‘Who is this?’ They replied, ‘This is Jesus, son of Mary.’ Behind him I saw a man who had very curly hair and was blind in the right eye, resembling Ibn Qatan in appearance. He was placing his hands on the shoulders of a person while performing Tawaf [Islamic rituals of pilgrimage] around the Ka’ba. I asked, ‘Who is this?’ They replied, ‘The Masih, Ad-Dajjal’” (Sahih Al-Bukhari 4:649).
The hadiths say that al-Dajjal will have his right eye damaged (or blind), curly hair and something wrong with his legs. He will initially pretend that he is a prophet sent by God, but when he will gain enough power and a large number of adepts he will claim that he is God. He will have with him the illusion of a hellfire and a paradise. The people who will refuse him will be forced to enter this hellfire; but practically it will be cold and safe. It is also said that he will have written on his forehead the word “disbeliever” (Romanized Arabic: Kafir) (Sahih Muslim 7008). He will gather the army of the deceived and he will lead them in war against Jesus, who will be accompanied by the army of the righteous.
The advent of al-Dajjal will be preceded by the following signs: the spread of disbelief and its appreciation as a virtue, the spread of dishonesty, the abandonment of faith for material goods, the legitimation of bribery and usury, the spread of stupidity and the taking of power by fools to the detriment of the wise, the spread of corruption especially within leaders, wars and riots that will result in shedding of innocent blood, the spread of hypocrisy, adultery will become an uncontrollable social phenomenon and eventually will be accepted, women will dress as men and men like women, liars and cheaters will be respected, there will be an acute famine at the moment of his advent.38
It is not clear where the power of al-Dajjal comes from, if he is or not a creation of the devil (Satan). In Islam Satan is the parent of demons and he was made by Allah from smokeless fire. But when Allah created Adam, Satan refused to prostrate to him because he was made of clay. Due to this act of rebellion, Allah expelled Satan from Eden, but the latter asked the Creator for an adjournment, an extension of his life until Judgment Day, when he will be destroyed.39
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