Last Days, Many Ways
Not every religion has an End Times scenario, but most do speculate about what the future holds. Even if one person's Judgment Day is another person's Golden Age, each major faith has something to say about what will happen in the world to come (even if that world is another version of this one). Below, check out our handy chart to see what Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Jews believe about Last Things.
In keeping with cycles of creation and destruction, some believe the Buddha's teachings will gradually fade away, but that in time, a new Buddha will be born and offer a path to nirvana. Others believe, however, that such future speculation is irrelevant; for them, the only time is now.
All Christian traditions teach that Jesus will return in glory at the end of time. Today, it's mostly Protestant evangelicals who speculate a lot about specific End Times events. Many think true believers will be raptured (taken into heaven). Then, Jesus Christ will return before, during, or after a great Tribulation, which will be followed by 1,000 years of peace before the Final Judgment. For Catholics, the End Times means the Last Judgment. Jesus will return to earth, and all the dead will be resurrected to appear bodily at his tribunal, where he will judge between those who will suffer for all eternity in hell and those who will join him in eternal bliss. This world will pass away, to be replaced by a new heaven and new earth ruled by Jesus.
Hindus believe that time is cyclical, with each cycle divided into four eras, or yugas. Most Hindus believe we are currently in the final cycle, Kali Yuga, which began in 3102 B.C.E., will last for 432,000 years, and is marked by an absence of virtue. Some believe that this yuga will end when the god Kalki, an avatar of Vishnu, destroys the wicked and saved the good. After Kali Yuga passes, the world returns to the first era in the cycle, Satya Yuga, a golden age.
Just before the Day of Judgment, people will fall further away from Allah: zakat (charity) will be a burden, women will outnumber men, lying and alcohol use will increase as modesty and shame decrease. Christians will begin to rule the world. Then a great leader known as Imam Mehdi will appear, after which Jesus shall reappear on earth as well and urge his followers to become Muslims. The Dajjal, or anti-Christ, will appear and lead a great army against the Muslims. Ina great war, Muslims (and Christians who believe in Jesus after his return) will conquer Christians and non-Muslims. But before the trumpet is blown signifying the end, Muslims will also suffer, with the Ka'ba being destroyed and the Hajj pilgrimage ending. On the last day, when the trumpet is blown, only the true faithful will survive.
Traditional Jewish sources teach that in the end of days the Messiah, a descendent of King David's dynasty, will return to usher in an era of permanent world peace, recognition of God, and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem and the resumption of worship there. Some ancient and medieval rabbinic sources speculate that the Messiah will not come until all Jews return to traditional observance, while others believe it will follow a period of catastrophe. The liberal Jewish movements generally do not believe in a Messiah figure but do emphasize a future messianic era of peace and togetherness.