The Sharing Group Discussion: Did the Prophet (s.a.w.) Know the Hour?

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following was posted, on the Sharing Group, on the 15th December 2017: “Did the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) knowledge of the unseen include knowledge of the Hour?”

Sister Nur Nadiah Zailani: I am not versed, but as to what I understand, even he did not know the Hour - for that matter is only known to Allah (s.w.t.).  This question was raised to him before and I believe he answered in a similar manner, but gave some sign posts?  He might not know the exact Hour but he may know the sign posts?  I am uncertain.

I personally would not want to think too deeply about the Hour, but rather use that vague knowledge about its existence to drive me in reflecting about the hours I have now and how I am using it.

Brother Faizaan Gagan: No.  I was faced with this question Imam ar-Razi (r.a.) said that he would be given its knowledge before it arrives: Israfil (a.s.) will blow the trumpet, so would be given the knowledge of the hour before its commencement.  At that moment, the Prophet (s.a.w.) also will be given its knowledge at that time

Brother Wajahat Hussain Al-Hanafi: Imam Abu Manswur (r.a.) also believed that this knowledge is not given to anyone.  It is only with Allah (s.w.t.).

Brother Jimy Shahid: Yes. Knowledge granted of everything up to the hour and beyond.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Where would be the basis of that?

Brother Jimy Shahid: In one hadits, ‘Umar (r.a.) stated that, one day, the beloved Prophet (s.a.w.) stood before them, and informed us the knowledge of how the world was Created, up until he described when the people would enter Paradise and Hell.  He who was able to remember this account remembered it.  He who forgot it, forgot it.  This is recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari, with a similar narration in Swahih Muslim.  Now, Paradise and Hell follow the Hour.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: That alone is inconclusive.  It could easily be interpreted that the Prophet (s.a.w.) was merely describing what he saw from the Isra’ wa al-Mi’raj without knowing the exact time of the end of the world.

Brother Jimy Shahid: If the hadits mentioned the Prophet (s.a.w.) describing Paradise and Hell only, then perhaps we could consider it events of the Night Journey.  However, how would we deal with the words, “informed us the knowledge of how the world was Created ....”?  Also, similar narrations here too, specifically mentioning all incidents until the Hour.

It is recorded, in Mishkat al-Maswabih, that ‘Amr ibn Akhtab (r.a.) narrated the same as above, but further added, “He informed us of all incidents that will occur until the Day of Judgement.  So, the most learned from us became the person who memorised and remembered this.”  Th

It is recorded in ash-Shaykhayn that Hudzayfah (r.a.) said, “Everything from this time until the Day of Judgement was elucidated by the Prophet (s.a.w.).  Nothing was left out by him.”

It is recorded in Sharh al-Mawahib al-Ladunniyyah, that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Indeed, Allah has Raised the entire world before me.  Thus, I see this dunya and whatever will occur in it until Judgement Day just as how I see this hand of mine.”

So, please try and think about this.  How is it possible now for the Prophet (s.a.w.) to not have the knowledge of when Judgement Day will occur?  Knowledge of the end of one of two adjoined things is the beginning of knowledge of the other.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: There is nothing in any of the matn of any of these narrations that specifically state that the Prophet (s.a.w.) knew explicitly the time when the world would end, only that he knew the events leading up to it.  That aside, it would contradict the Qur’an:

They ask thee of the (destined) Hour, when will it come to port.  Say, “Knowledge thereof is with my Lord Only.  He Alone will Manifest it at its proper time.  It is heavy in the Heavens and the Earth.  It cometh not to you save unawares.”  They question thee as if thou couldst be well informed thereof.  Say, “Knowledge thereof is with Allah Only, but most of mankind know not.” (Surah al-Aaraf:187)

I do not believe that any hadits can abrogate the Qur’an.

Brother Jimy Shahid: So, a few initial points.  Where in the ayat does it say that the Prophet (s.a.w.) has not been granted knowledge of Judgement Day?  It merely says that Almighty Allah Possessed it.  Whether it has been Bestowed or not is not mentioned.

It is the disbelievers and, in particular, the idol worshippers who are asking the question.  The message for them is to shun the partners they associate with Allah (s.w.t.) and accept and worship only Allah (s.w.t.) Alone.  Parting the knowledge of the hour to the disbelievers is not exactly productive.  This verse is before the giving of the knowledge of Judgement Day by Allah (s.w.t.) to His Beloved Prophet (s.a.w.).

Commenting on this ayat, Tafsir asw-Swawi states, “It is necessary to bring iman on the belief that before the Prophet (s.a.w.) left this world, Allah Almighty Revealed to him (s.a.w.) all those unseen things that shall occur in this world and in the hereafter, exactly in the way they will transpire.  This is because a hadits states, ‘The world was placed before me.  Thus, I see it just as how I see this hand of mine.’  It has also been reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.) was informed of Jannah and its merits as well as Jahannam and its severity.  Besides these, there are many other mutawatir traditions.  However, he was ordered to conceal some branches of knowledge.

Tafsir al-Khazin states that this verse means, “They ask you as if you are very benevolent and will inform them.  However, this is one of the Divine Secrets that cannot be divulged to the unworthy.”

It can be concluded that the Prophet (s.a.w.) had knowledge of Judgement Day but was not permitted to reveal it.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Refer to the Arabic, the word, “innama” used means the sentence can be better translated as "Allah and Allah Alone", which is unequivocal and explicit.  So, no, the Prophet (s.a.w.) was not Granted the knowledge of the exact time of the Hour, but he was Granted knowledge of the signs of it, and that is his purpose.

It is irrelevant who was asking in this context, whether believer or disbeliever.  It is conjecture that giving them this knowledge is not “productive”.  Also, who amongst us has knowledge of the exact moment?  No Muslim, no wali, has given an exact date.  A lot of dates have been proposed, and they have all come and gone.  And that, in itself, is anecdotal proof as well.

I assume you are referring to Hashiyat asw-Swawi ‘ala Tafsir al-Jalalayn, which is not a tafsir by itself, but a commentary of an existing tafsir.  It states the Sunni position that the Prophet (s.a.w.), during the Isra’ wa al-Mi’raj, was Given the amanah of Creation and the state of things to come.  He was Granted knowledge of events.  Again, there is nothing here that states the Prophet (s.a.w.) knows the exact date of the Hour.  I have never read Tafsir al-Khazin, so I cannot adequately comment on it.  But a singular tafsir by itself is merely the opinion of a scholar, and one in an ecstatic state at that.

In the Hadits of Jibril (a.s.), when the Prophet (s.a.w.) was asked about the time of the Hour, he said that the asker knew as much as the one being asked.  That would mean, either both of them knew and were not telling, or none of them knew.  No hadits cited states explicitly that knowledge of the Day of Judgement is known.

Brother Jimy Shahid: The Prophet (s.a.w.) did not refute having the knowledge.  Rather, he negated having excessive knowledge.  Otherwise he could have said “Laa ‘alumu,” “I do not know.”  What need was there to say something so long?  Thus, his statement means, “O Jibril!  In this matter, your knowledge and mine are equal.  You and I both know when it will occur. However, to divulge this secret in this open gathering is not suitable.”

When Jibril (a.s.) heard this answer, he submitted: “Then at least tell me of its signs.”  The Prophet (s.a.w.) then mentioned a few signs.  What is the point of asking a person who has absolutely no knowledge of Judgement Day to relate its indications?  Only a person who knows is asked about signs and indications.

It is recorded in Mishkat al-Maswabih that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Judgement Day will occur on no other day but Juma’ah”.  Then, joining his index and middle finger together, and said, “Judgement Day and I have been Sent joined like this.”

The Prophet (s.a.w.) also revealed numerous other signs of that Day and never left out a single matter from it.  Even today, it can be said by oath that Judgement Day cannot occur right now because Dajjal has not appeared, ‘Isa (a.s.) and Imam Mahdi (a.s.) have not returned, the Sun has not risen from the West, and so forth.  These signs have absolutely cleared Judgement Day.  

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Your first point is speculation.  It contradicts the Qur’an, that only Allah (s.w.t.) Knows, and it contradicts your earlier assertion that the verse in Sural al-A’araf was before Allah (s.w.t.) Granted the Prophet (s.a.w.) knowledge of the time of the Hour, when the events of the Hadits of Jibril (a.s.) occurred before the Revelation of that verse.

Your second point is conjecture and non-sequitur.  Knowledge of the signs is not conclusive proof of knowledge of the time of the event.  We know the signs of a pending volcanic eruption.  That does not mean we know exactly when it would erupt.  We know the signs of labour.  We have no say in it except as Allah (s.w.t.) Wills.

Sister Samra Hussain: Does the final hour, the first sounding of the trumpet, affect just those alive at the time it happens or also those who have died?

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Only those alive.  They will die.

Sister Aaminah Shiah: Jesus (a.s.) talked about the Hour, and he did not know when it would be either.  Based on the assumption that God never changes, I do not see why He would Tell one prophet, and not the others.  God Said He is Keeping that knowledge to Himself.  I do not see any reason why He would suddenly change His Mind.

Brother Jimy Shahid: The most that can be said is that he did not reveal the particular year in which the Day of Judgement will occur.  For this, it must be remembered that the Hijri calendar was not formulated in the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) time, but rather during the Caliphate of ‘Umar (r.a.).  Hijrah occurred in Rabi’ al-Awwal, but the Hijri calendar commences from Muharram.  In fact, it was the rule of those times to ascribe the year to the most major event that occurred in it.  For this reason, how could he have revealed the Hijri year?  After revealing the day, can a person who knows so many detailed signs not have knowledge of its occurrence?

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: The Prophet (s.a.w.) could have given an indication and say, for example, “This will happen 12,465 years from now, in the morning.”  We have nothing of that sort, so your point is inadequate.

As for the rest, you are simply rehashing the same points, that have already been addressed.

Brother Jimy Shahid: And you very well know why it would not be appropriate to reveal the exact year!

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: An irrelevant point.  The contention is whether there is explicit, irrefutable proof that the Prophet (s.a.w.) knew.

Brother Jimy Shahid: It is not irrelevant at all.  Not revealing the exact year is actually pretty fundamental point.  There are ahadits which I've shown.  But you think they contradict the verse in the Qur’an.  That is your understanding of this topic.  Other scholars have accepted and reconciled the Qur’an and these narrations in the way I have shown.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: It is not the narrations that contradict the Qur’an, but your interpretation that they indicate the Prophet (s.a.w.) knew the time of the Hour, which is speculation since that is not found in the narration.

Most scholars, in Sunni Islam, believe that the Prophet (s.a.w.) did not know of the Hour.  The only major group that believes he does is the Barelvi, the followers of Imam Ahmad al-Qadri (r.a.), and the Barelvis have some very strange ideas about ‘aqidah, distinct from the mainstream.

Brother Jimy Shahid: You would do well, if you have not already done, to read Imam Ahmad Ridha al-Qadri’s (r.a.) work on this topic, in his “The Makkan Treasure in the Subject of the Unseen.”

‘Ala Hadhrat Imam Ahmad Ridha al-Qadri’s (r.a.) wrote that Shaykh al-Muhaqqiq Imam ‘Abd al-Haqq ad-Dihlawi (r.a.) stated, “In this world, from Adam (a.s.) until the Last Hour, when the Trumpet will be blown, Almighty Allah has Shown everything to His Messenger (s.a.w.), so much so that he has witnessed every happening from start to end.”

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: I have read his works. I am not a fan of Imam Ahmad al-Qadri (r.a.).  The quote above also does not mention the time, only the series of events, which is the same point raised above.

Brother Jimy Shahid: ‘Ala Hadhrat Imam Ahmad Ridha al-Qadri’s (r.a.), in the above-mentioned book, also wrote, “As far as this is concerned, Allah Almighty Knows best and by His Divine blessing and information, His Beloved Rasul (s.a.w.) knows.  Hence, this fact is explained in the ayah of Qur’an as follows:

"He (Alone) knows the unseen, nor does He make any one acquainted with His Mysteries ― “Except a messenger whom He has chosen …” (Surah al-Jinn:27)

Imam Ahmad al-Qasthalani and others have commented that the above mentioned ‘ghayb’ refers to qiyamah.”

So, now you will have to refute Imam al-Qasthalani (r.a.), Imam ad-Dihlawi (r.a.), Imam at-Tibrizi (r.a.), Imam az-Zurqani (r.a.), and Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.).

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: I am aware.  It is ikhtilaf, albeit theirs is a minority position; and we can agree to disagree since I see no evidence that the case has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Brother Faizaan Gagan: After studying theology and Hanafi muswthalah al-hadits, I also have found some problems with the Barelvi approach to ‘aqidah, though it is seen as the orthodox school of Sunni Islam in India.

Brother Marquis Dawkins: I would say no, he did not, as that is knowledge only reserved for Allah (s.w.t.).  In Christianity, it is the same for Jesus (a.s.) as well.  That being said, both Muhammed (s.a.w.) and Jesus (a.s.) were Given knowledge of the signs of the Hour, and when it was near.

A further point that is more speculative would be that these “Hours” could be multiple in nature.  For example, a major shift for Judaism and Christianity was the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.  Then the reign of Constantine which ushered in the Eastern Roman Empire was another.  In Islam events have happened as well: the various caliphates, the Ottoman empire and such.  None of these were the final “Hour” but they were major shifts in history tied to it.

Brother Mohammad Zabid Akhter: To my understanding of the Prophet(s.a.w.), I strongly believe that there is nothing in this life and the hereafter that he is not aware of.  This is my own opinion only.  Anyways, Brother Terence, how would you interpret this hadits?

As recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari, Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) said, “I have memorised two kinds of knowledge from Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.).  I have propagated one of them to you and if I propagated the second, then my throat would be cut.”

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: How is this any different from the points above?


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