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Book Review: The Lifespan of Islam on Earth

I came across this book while browsing for historical references about Islam. Let me roll the credits. The given author is Sayyid Rami al Rifai, and the year published is 2016. No publisher is listed, but at the back of the book, it says it is made in the USA. The book is 54 pages in English (Hadith are also written in Arabic) and available online and in some online bookstores.


Essentially, this book is about the end times on Earth. Muhammad was careful to provide signposts of when events would occur and the role two leading players (Jesus and Imam Mahdi) would play. Let's start with the back cover description:


In more than 15 ahadith found in the Sahih of Imam Bukhari, Sunnan of Imam Abu Dawwud, Jami of Imam Tirmidhi, and others, the Prophet said Islam has a specific lifespan on Earth. These ahadith state Allah gave Islam 1500 years. Then relatively soon after this, He would establish the Hour. We are now in the year 1438 H of the Islamic calendar. This book quotes these Ahadith and discusses them, giving specific years for when events are expected to occur according to the Prophet Muhammad.

-Back cover of The Lifespan of Islam on Earth


First, just a quick review of what ahadith are for my readers. According to my book, Muslim Mechanics, each hadith narrates the Prophet Muhammad and what he said or did during specific situations or events in his life. Islamic scholars have researched and verified the quote and description of the Prophet's words and actions approximately two hundred years after their occurrence. Numerous scholars were investigating these hadith, and many (scholars and hadith) did not meet the smell test; in other words, some hadith were patently false. In the Sunni sect, the works of six scholars stood out; their work was so reliable that they rose to canonical levels. These scholars were al-Bukhari, Muslim, Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, ibn Maja, and al-Nasa’l, some of the same names identified in the back cover description. As a side note, the author uses "ahadith" as a plural form of hadith; however, many writers have used "hadiths" to indicate the plural.


Second, the author states that we are in the year 1438 Hijri of the Islamic calendar. The Islamic calendar started in 622 CE when Muhammad and his followers migrated from Mecca to Medina. The Islamic lunar calendar is approximately 10-11 days shorter than a regular Gregorian calendar year. The 1438 H written in 2016 is now 1444/1445 H in 2023. If Islam only has 1500 years on the Islamic calendar, only 55/56 Islamic years are left. That equates to 54 years using a regular Gregorian calendar. That puts Muhammad's prediction for the end times from 27 November 2076 to 26 December 2077. In comparison, a thousand years after Muhammad, Sir Issac Newton, in the 17th century, a theologian, mathematician, and physicist, predicted the year of the end times to be 2060. Many of my readers will still be around, so let's see what you will experience.


Chapter 1: Introduction

A short introduction begins with many warnings found in the Quran. Muhammad predicts the year but cannot predict the Hour of the Judgment. He clarified that the end times would come, and people would be judged on their works and worship. However, he grieves that people live as if no judgment is forthcoming (The Quran, 47:18, 21:1, 62:2).


In this section, Muhammad narrates a hadith that explains some of the final days (Muslim, Book 40, No. 7023):


Christ will chase the Dajjaal ( the false Messiah) and kill him. Jesus will then live for forty years and then die. Then people will live for a further seven years, during which time there will be no rancor between any two persons. After that, Allah will send a cold wind from the direction of Syria. None, having a speck of good in him or faith in Him, will survive on Earth. Only the wicked people will survive.


From this short hadith, there will be a rapture of all the good souls on Earth, leaving the wicked to be judged in the final Hour.


Chapter 2: Time Line of Events

This chapter narrates how Muhammad saw Islamic nations spreading throughout the Earth after his tenure here. He saw their rise and fall and what would come next. Several hadiths reflect his ability to prophesize. While still alive in the seventh century, he foresaw thirty years of Caliphs (Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali) who would apply Allah's book (at that time, no book existed) and who will be just with Allah's converts. The Caliphs would be followed by kings, who would take their revenge, kill men, and choose wealth for themselves. After the monarchs cease will be a period of tyrants ending with the Mahdi himself, leading up to the day of Judgment.


If you look at the list of Caliphates that ruled Islam, you would see the Umayyadd, 7th-8th centuries; the Abbasids, 8th – 13th centuries; the Fatimids, 10th – 12th centuries; the Mamluk, 13th-16th centuries; the Safavids, 14th-16th centuries, the Ottoman's, 16th-20th centuries and the Sokoto, 19th century. The Ottomans ended their reign after World War I, and the era passed into the time of the tyrants. If you consider the time of the Arab Spring, how many tyrants were toppled? A partial answer to that question is Ben Ali of Tunisia, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, and Sadam Hussein of Iraq. The time of the tyrants draws to a close, and the time for Imam Mahdi comes closer.


Chapter 3: The Lifespan of Islam in Sahih Bukhari and Sunan Dawwud

While this chapter focuses on six Hadiths in the Bukhari collection, other scholars' hadiths support Bukhari's findings.


Muhammad narrates a short story where a man contracts to work for another, but the work is so hard that he quits at midday. Another man picks up where the first man left and works till mid-afternoon. A third man is employed to finish and works to sunset. The employer pays the third man the total day wages, including those forfeited by the first two workers (Bukhari, book 37, Hadith 11). There is a similar parable in the Bible (Matthew 20), but it is used to explain God's grace. Here, the first man represents Judaism, and the second represents Christianity. According to Muhammad, Islam, the third worker, will not last as long as Judaism but longer than Christianity. When Muhammad told this story, Judaism was about 2,000 years old, and Christianity was about 600 years old. Muhammad's point in this story is that the Day of Judgment is more than 600 years away but fewer than 2,000 years.


Chapter 4: The Lifespan of Islam in Jamii Tirmidhi and Others

Authentic books of hadith have no narration of the Holy Prophet, stating that Islam will last 1,500 years. However, in some less reliable books of hadith, there are narrations about the duration of this world. One common referral by Ibn Abbas, a scholar during the time of Muhammad, writes that Allah initially gave the Islamic community 1,000 years plus another 500 years if the religion was holding up. Most scholars agree that when the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople in 1453, it warranted Allah extending the Day of Judgment by 500 years.


This chapter also focuses on the family connection of the Mahdi to Muhammad. Muhammad says explicitly, "The world will not come to pass until a man from my family, whose name will be my name, rules over the Arabs" (Tirmidhi and Dawud).


Chapter 5: When Will We See Imam Mahdi and Isa

Here we get into actual predictions.


First, humanity will have reached a stage of great suffering. The awaited Mahdi will appear and rule the Islamic community. He will lead until the false Messiah appears, who will spread oppression and corruption. Bukhari says, "He will be a tall and one-eyed young man. His defective right eye will be like a swollen grape, and the other eye will be blood-stained. His chest will be broad but slightly sunken. He will have a wide forehead with words written between his eyes. Every Muslim will be able to read it whether he knows how to read and write or not. The Dajjaal will have curly hair" (Bukhari, vol. 4, pp. 450).


The false Messiah will remain for a while, wrecking humankind. Then the Messiah Jesus will return and bring justice from heaven. He will kill the Dajjaal, and there will be years of safety and security.


In Summary

The time frame for all this to happen is 47 to 49 years. Let me explain. Jesus will live 40 years on this Earth. After his death, there is a period of 7 to 9 years in which the rapture, as mentioned earlier, will occur. Assuming we are talking about the Islamic lunar years, the fireworks could begin as early as 1451 H or 2029, just six years from now.


There are four more chapters that I did not cover. Those chapters detail the various hadith covered in the book and the author's description of events already happening. We live in exciting times which are about to get more so. For a person grounded in Islamic theology, this would be an interesting book for them to read.

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