Signs following one another like the pieces of a necklace falling one after the other when its string is cut. (Tirmidhi)
There are distinct environmental signs detailed in the Qu’ran and hadith that foretell the coming of the Day of Judgement (Qiyamah). These signs fall into two categories, major and minor, and some of these relate to contemporary green issues.
We are currently living in the second period of signs, with the first period ending with the death of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the third starting at the onset of Qiyamah which will be declared with a global earthquake.
“On the day (when the first blowing of the Trumpet is blown), the earth and the mountains will shake violently.” (An-Nazi’at:6).
Of the lesser signs described, two could be attributed to climate change; increasing earthquakes and the ratio of men to women falling to 1:50.
“Or do you feel secure that He, Who is over the Heaven, will not cause the earth to sink with you, then behold it shakes (as in an earthquake)? Or do you feel secure that He, Who is over the Heaven, will not send against you a violent whirlwind? Then you shall know how (terrible) was My Warning.” (Al-Mulk:16-17)
It is hard to prove whether the frequency and severity of earthquakes appear to be increasing, due to the lack of historical seismic data prior to the 19th Century, or if there is a genuine surge in earthquake activity. Although there has been a steady increase in the number of large earthquakes (measuring a magnitude of over 7 on the Richter scale) over the last hundred years, geologists would argue that this could be due to the advancement in detection and availability of global seismic data. What is indisputable, however, is that the level of destruction and loss of life from earthquakes and other meteorological events, such as storms and tropical cyclones, is increasing.
Ratio of men to women
Narrated Anas (RA) the Prophet (SAW) said: “Women will increase in number and men will decrease in number so much so that fifty women will be looked after by one man.” (Bukhari)
There tends to be more males born than females amongst human population and the current human sex ratio is commonly thought to be 106 boys to 100 girls. Scientists report that cold weather is an environmental stressor which results in an increased number of the weaker male foetuses being naturally aborted. There are other factors such as environmental pollution and the rise of genetically modified food which point to altered sperm production. Some scholars maintain that it’s not the actual number of males that are decreasing but rather the level of masculinity. There is research to suggest that the feminisation of male fish species is a result of the increased levels of oestrogen from contraceptive pills entering water systems. Of course, the fall in male numbers could equally occur due to other non-environmental factors such as war.
Dukhan – the smoke
The Qur’an mentions one major sign that relates to our global environment – the passing of a great smoke or ‘dukhan’ over the earth.
Then watch for the day when the sky will bring forward a visible smoke. (Ad-Dukhan:10)
Although the appearance of this particular environmental occurrence is said to be specific to the onset of Qiyamah, it is worth noting that humankind has already experienced the detrimental effects of a lesser pollution of our skies. Human exploitation has caused substantial changes to the earth’s atmosphere resulting in high levels of environmental pollution leading to global warming. This warming is the alleged aggressor of hydrological disasters such as coastal flooding, droughts, cyclones and hurricanes. Some ahadith state however that the sign of dukhan has already passed during the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)’s lifetime.
Rivers and streams through Arabia
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also said that: “The Last Day will not come until rivers and streams flow through Arab lands.” (Ash-Sharani, Mukhtasar Tazkirah al-Qurtubi, p. 471)
Recent satellite images taken of the deserts in Arabia show natural greening due to increased rainfall returning it back to its original landscape of 12,000 years ago. Modern watering technologies have allowed agriculturalists to utilise natural underground water reserves to grow crop circles on naturally arid land in places such as Wadi As-Sirhan Basin in Saudi Arabia.
Guardianship of the earth
Whether you conclude that these signs and climate change would occur regardless of human intervention or that the Day of Judgement is too far away to be concerned with these issues, it remains the duty of individual Muslims to safeguard the world that has been created for us.
He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth….and when your Lord said to the angels, I am going to place in the earth a khalif. (Al-Baqarah:29-30)
Allah has placed the responsibility of ‘khalif’ or guardianship of the Earth on every individual human being above other sentient creatures, not only to protect it but also to test us in our steadfastness to challenge its corruption.
It is He Who hath made you (His) agents, inheritors of the earth: He hath raised you in ranks, some above others: that He may try you in the gifts He hath given you. (Al-An’am:165)
If we are to take our role as guardians seriously then we should work actively, either individually or collectively, to protect and care for the environment that has been gifted to us. These green signs will continue to serve as a reminder from Allah that Qiyamah is coming. What we do about these signs is up to us.
Sazida Desai is a married mother of two boys from the North West of England. She works part-time as a press officer to a British member of Parliament. In her spare time, she likes to sew, garden, blog and knit.