The signs of the final Hour are many, and they vary from minor to major. Some are related to the earth, like landslides and famines, some are to do with the sky, heavens and celestial signs like the smoke, and others are to do with people and morals like Imam Mahdi. In this article, we will look at:
- What is meant by the smoke?
- Has the major sign of the smoke happened already?
- What is the wisdom behind this occurrence?
The basic principle with regards to this sign of the Hour is the passage in which Allah says:
فَٱرْتَقِبْ يَوْمَ تَأْتِى ٱلسَّمَآءُ بِدُخَانٍ مُّبِينٍ – يَغْشَى ٱلنَّاسَ ۖ هَـٰذَا عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ – رَّبَّنَا ٱكْشِفْ عَنَّا ٱلْعَذَابَ إِنَّا مُؤْمِنُونَ – أَنَّىٰ لَهُمُ ٱلذِّكْرَىٰ وَقَدْ جَآءَهُمْ رَسُولٌ مُّبِينٌ
Translation of Surah Dukhan verses
“Then wait for the Day when the sky will bring a visible smoke, covering the people; this is a painful torment. [They will say], “Our Lord, remove from us the torment; indeed, we are believers.” How can they be reminded when a messenger has already come to them, making things clear.”
Different views on the Smoke referred to in the Quran
There are two scholarly opinions concerning the matter of the smoke:
- Some scholars are of the view that this smoke is what befell the Quraysh of hardship and hunger when the Prophet SAW prayed against them as they didn’t respond to him. They started to lift their gaze towards the sky but they didn’t see anything except something like smoke. And this was due to the severity of the hardship they were going through. This was the view of Abdullah ibn Masood RA and many of the earlier generation followed him in this view.
Hadith supporting this view
Masrooq ibn Al-Ajda RA narrates:
“We were sitting with Abdullah ibn Masood RA, when a man came to him and said, ‘O Abu Abdur Rahman, there is a storyteller by the gates of Kindah who is telling stories. He claims that when the sign of Al-Dukhan (the smoke) appears, it will take the souls of the kuffar and it will afflict the believers with something like a cold.’
Abdullah RA sat up angrily and said, ‘O people! Fear Allah! Whoever among you knows something, let him say what he knows, and whoever does not know, let him say: Allah knows best, for it is a greater sign of knowledge for one of you to say, when he doesn’t know, Allah knows best.
Allah said to His prophet SAW:
قُلْ مَآ أَسْـَٔلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ أَجْرٍ وَمَآ أَنَا۠ مِنَ ٱلْمُتَكَلِّفِينَ
“Say, [O Prophet], “I do not ask you for any reward for this [Quran], nor do I pretend to be someone I am not.”
When Nabi SAW saw people turning away from him, he said: “O Allah, seven like the seven (years of famine) of Yusuf.” Then they were afflicted with a famine which forced them to eat anything, even animal skins and dead meat, because of hunger. One of them would look at the sky and see something like smoke.”Bukhari and Muslim
Explanation of this Hadith
When Nabi SAW said: “O Allah, seven like the seven (years of famine) of Yusuf,” a famine befell the people who turned away from him. They were compelled to eat dead meat, animal skins and animal bones. Abu Sufyan and some others from among the people of Makkah came to him SAW and said, “O Muhammed, you claim that you have been sent as a mercy and now your people are dying; pray to Allah for them.”
Nabi SAW prayed for them, and rain descended and continued for seven days. Then the people complained that there was too much rain, so the Prophet SAW said, “O Allah, around us and not on us.” The clouds shifted from above his head and rained on the people around them.
The punishment which came upon these people was the same that came to the people of Yusuf AS.
قَالَ تَزْرَعُونَ سَبْعَ سِنِينَ دَأَبًا فَمَا حَصَدتُّمْ فَذَرُوهُ فِى سُنۢبُلِهِۦٓ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِّمَّا تَأْكُلُونَ – ثُمَّ يَأْتِى مِنۢ بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ سَبْعٌ شِدَادٌ يَأْكُلْنَ مَا قَدَّمْتُمْ لَهُنَّ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِّمَّا تُحْصِنُونَ
[Joseph] said, “You will plant for seven years consecutively; and what you harvest leave in its spikes, except a little from which you will eat. Then after that will come seven years of great hardship which will consume whatever you have saved, except the little you will store [for seed].
Ibn Masood RA also said: “Five things have come to pass: The inseparable, permanent punishment, the Romans, the seizure (punishment), the moon, and the smoke.”Bukhari and Muslim
5 things mentioned in this Hadith
- The inseparable, permanent punishment is mentioned in the verse:
قُلْ مَا يَعْبَؤُا۟ بِكُمْ رَبِّى لَوْلَا دُعَآؤُكُمْ ۖ فَقَدْ كَذَّبْتُمْ فَسَوْفَ يَكُونُ لِزَامًۢا
Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “You ˹all˺ would not ˹even˺ matter to my Lord were it not for your faith ˹in Him˺. But now you ˹disbelievers˺ have denied ˹the truth˺, so the torment is inevitable (inseparable, permanent punishment).”
- The Romans, which is a reference to the verse:
الٓمٓ – غُلِبَتِ ٱلرُّومُ – فِىٓ أَدْنَى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَهُم مِّنۢ بَعْدِ غَلَبِهِمْ سَيَغْلِبُونَ
“Alif, Lām, Meem. The Romans have been defeated, in the nearest land (Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine). But they, after their defeat, will be victorious.”
- The seizure is a reference to the verse:
يَوْمَ نَبْطِشُ ٱلْبَطْشَةَ ٱلْكُبْرَىٰٓ إِنَّا مُنتَقِمُونَ
“The Day We will strike with the greatest assault (greatest seizure), indeed, We will take retribution.” This greatest seizure was the Battle of Badr.
- The moon is mentioned in the verse:
ٱقْتَرَبَتِ ٱلسَّاعَةُ وَٱنشَقَّ ٱلْقَمَرُ
The Hour has come near, and the moon has split [in two].
- The Smoke
Second view on the smoke referred to in the Quran
Many scholars are of the opinion that the smoke is one of the awaited signs that have not come yet, and it will happen close to the Day of Judgement. This was the view of Ali ibn Abi Talib RA, Ibn Abbas RA and Abu Saeed al-Khudri RA.
Some scholars say that the two views can be reconciled, and they said that there are two smokes: one of them has already appeared and another will occur at the end of time. The smoke that the Quraysh saw was the first one, but it wasn’t the real smoke which will come along with the other major signs of the day of resurrection.
Correct view on The Smoke
The correct opinion is that the smoke is one of the awaited signs that haven’t happened yet. Allah says in the Quran, Ad-Dukhaan [44:10]:
فَٱرْتَقِبْ يَوْمَ تَأْتِى ٱلسَّمَآءُ بِدُخَانٍ مُّبِينٍ
“Then wait for the Day when the sky will bring a visible smoke…”
This means it will obvious and visible smoke which will appear in the sky, and will be seen by everyone.