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Common Word, Common Lord

Common Word, Common Lord

Must the World End?

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Most Merciful

Now that the world has not ended, and we have survived the coming of the Rapture, and Mr. Camping has once again been discredited, a question arose in my mind: must there be an end to the world? Must there be a Rapture? Or a Judgment Day? Or a Final Reckoning?

Indeed, most, if not all, religious traditions talk about an end to the world, where all will come again before God for judgment and reckoning. The Qur’an is full of vivid references to the Day of Judgment, such as this:

O men! Be conscious of your Sustainer: for, verily the violent convulsion of the Last Hour will be an awesome thing! On the Day when you behold it, every woman that feeds a child at her breast will utterly forget her nursling, and every woman heavy with child will bring forth her burden [before her time]; and it will seem to thee that all mankind is drunk, although they will not be drunk – but vehement will be [their dread of] God’s chastisement. (22:1-2)

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Here is another example: 

WHEN THE SUN is shrouded in darkness, and when the stars lose their light, and when the mountains are made to vanish, and when she-camels big with young, about to give birth, are left untended, and when all beasts are gathered together, and when the seas boil over, and when all human beings are coupled [with their deeds], and when the girl-child that was buried alive is made to ask, for what crime she had been slain, and when the scrolls [of men’s deeds] are unfolded, and when heaven is laid bare, and when the blazing fire [of hell] is kindled bright, and when paradise is brought into view: [on that Day] every human being will come to know what he has prepared [for himself]. (81:1-14)

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Why?

Why must there be a day when the “seas will boil over”? Why must there be a day when the earthquake “will be an awesome thing”? Why must there be an hour when “Heaven and earth shall pass away” (Matthew 24:35)? 

The Qur’anic passages give the answer: “[on that Day] every human being will come to know what he has prepared [for himself].” On that Day, the cruelty of this world will be reconciled; the iniquity of many shall be recompensed; the deeds of the wicked shall be called to account. On that Day, all will be made whole, and everyone will answer for what he or she have wrought.

In fact, it is the cruelty of our world that – in my mind – necessitates a Last Day. All over our world, it seems that good people are punished and made to suffer while truly wicked people are left to roam free. Parents – who try to be good people and live good lives – suffer from watching their children battle cancer and other horrific diseases. Parents – who try to be good people and live good lives – watch their children die before their eyes. Natural disasters wipe out entire cities – taking thousands of people with them – seemingly without rhyme or reason.

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If our world was “it,” and there was no Last Day, no Judgment, no Hour, it would not make any sense at all. Yet, along with the belief in an All-Powerful, All-Beautiful, All-Merciful God comes the belief in a Last Day, when all will be made whole. And this Last Day will be the beginning of a new era where everything will finally be right, and whole, and proper. No more cruelty; no more injustice; no more unbalance. That is why this world must end, although no one knows when this end will be, despite the predictions of many to the contrary.

Yet, with the belief and knowledge that the world will end, does this mean that we should just remain passive and do nothing to effect change? If the Lord our God is in charge – which he is – then should we just live our lives with no concern for what is happening around us?

To Be Continued…

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