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Why Islamic Views of the End Times Matter Today


Today there is growing concern over events rapidly developing around the world. As Christians, we recall the words of Jesus who foretold that there would come anguish and perplexity of nations as people faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world. Nonetheless, he told his followers: “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:25-33, NIV). The Bible is unlike the scriptures of any other major world religion, in that one-fourth of it consists of hundreds of prophesies that have already been fulfilled or are in the process of being fulfilled.


Islam appeared in the Middle East six centuries after the time of Christ and its holy book, the Quran, mentions by name Bible characters like Moses, Abraham, and Jesus (whom it calls Isa) far more than it even does its own prophet, Muhammad. So, it is not surprising that Islam contains its own version of the End Times that has many elements found in the Christian view of the End Times and speaks of a Day of Judgment.


In both Christianity and Islam there are three main characters who appear in the End Times. In the Christian view, one finds the Antichrist, the False Prophet who helps him, and Jesus who returns in power from heaven to oppose them, while in the Islamic view, one finds the Mahdi (Guided One), Isa (the Muslim Jesus) who returns from heaven to help him, and the Dajjal who opposes them. These figures are complete opposites of each other in the two faiths, as we will see below.[1] Although Islamic organizations in the West downplay Islamic eschatology, Pew Research, published in 2012, found that 50% or more of the people surveyed in Muslim-majority countries believe that the Mahdi will return in their lifetime, and up to as many as 83% in Afghanistan!


Let’s compare the Islamic and Christian views of the End Times:


  • Islamic traditions say that the Mahdi will be victorious and rule the world with great political and military power while leading a revolution to establish a new world order. Iranian Muslims believe that they can hasten the return of the Mahdi through an apocalyptic event, such as the destruction of Israel, and that it is the responsibility of the government to prepare the way for him.[2] The Bible, on the other hand, speaks of the Antichrist (1 John 2:18) (the first “beast”) who will be a powerful political and military leader with authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation (Revelation 13:4-7).

  • The Islamic Mahdi will also be the leader of a worldwide religious movement forcing non-Muslims to convert to Islam and Isa will help him. On the other hand, the Bible says that the Antichrist will be a false religious leader who will lead the whole world astray and that the False Prophet (the second “beast”) will help him (Revelation 13:8-17, 19:20).

  • Islamic tradition says that the Mahdi will make a peace agreement, mediated through a Jew, for a period of seven years, after which Islam will be the only religion practiced on the earth. However, the Bible also speaks of a covenant for seven years that leads to desolation for Israel (Daniel 9:26-27).

  • The Mahdi has a special calling to convert Christians and Jews to Islam and kill them if they do not accept. However, the Bible says that it is the Antichrist who will target those who resist his plan to establish his own religion and that he will have temporary power to “wage war on God’s holy people and to conquer them” (Revelation 13:7 NIV).

  • Islamic traditions speak of the Mahdi attacking Jerusalem and making it the center of Islamic rule. The Bible, however, speaks of an evil ruler who will attack Jerusalem (Ezekiel 38:9-12) and set up his throne in the Temple (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

  • Moreover, Islamic traditions say that the Mahdi will seek to enforce Islamic shariah religious law throughout the world, which is based on the Islamic calendar. The book of Daniel, however, speaks of an evil ruler who will “try to change the set times and the laws” (Daniel 7:25 NIV).

  • Islam claims that the Muslim Jesus (Isa) was not crucified but taken up to heaven alive and will return to help the Mahdi conquer the world, defeat the Dajjal and persuade many Christians and Jews to convert to Islam. However, the Bible says that it is the False Prophet who will deceive many and try to lead people away from Jesus Christ (Revelation 13:15-17).

  • Lastly, Islam tells us that its villain, the Dajjal, will claim to be Jesus Christ and defend Israel against the Mahdi and Isa, and that he will deceive many Muslims into leaving Islam. However, the Bible tells us that it is Jesus who makes salvation possible for those who put their faith in him, even while Satan seeks to destroy Christ’s followers. Jesus is appearing even now to many Muslims in dreams and visions leading them out of Islam and into a life-giving relationship with God.

Imagine the confusion if the Islamic Isa were already here on earth claiming to be Jesus when the real Jesus Christ appears, and Muslims claim that he is the Dajjal! It is important to remember that the Bible clearly says that the Last Days will be filled with deception (Matthew 24:3-4, 10-11, 24-25). Notably, while the Christian view of the End Times is based upon the divinely inspired writings of the Bible, the Islamic view is not even found primarily in the Quran itself. Rather, it is largely developed from contradictory oral traditions in what are called hadith collections.


Realizing this, it is important to help Muslims understand that indeed there is a Day of Judgment coming (Revelation 20:11-15). However, Christians who have put their trust in Jesus, will not have to fear. This is not true for Muslims, however, who have no assurance of salvation in Islam. Comparing the Islamic and Christian views of the End Times may help them to see that Christianity holds the only true promise for eternity: Jesus Christ has done it all! Never underestimate the power of the gospel: “It is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16, NIV).


[1] See the Answering Islam website for references to some of the Islamic sources about the End Times: https://answering-islam.org/Authors/JR/Future/ch04_the_mahdi.htm

 

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