Citation for Day of Judgment

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"Day of Judgment." In The Islamic World: Past and Present. Ed. John L. Esposito. Oxford Islamic Studies Online. May 19, 2022. <>.


"Day of Judgment." In The Islamic World: Past and Present. , edited by John L. Esposito. Oxford Islamic Studies Online, (accessed May 19, 2022).

Day of Judgment

One of the five articles of the Muslim faith, called aqidah, is belief in the Day of Judgment. This term refers to the end of time, when all human beings will appear before God to account for their actions on earth. God will weigh their sins and good deeds and determine whether each person will be rewarded in paradise or punished in hell.

The Qur'an does not specify when the Day of Judgment will come, saying that only God knows. The Islamic depiction of Judgment Day is similar to that given in the Bible. The day will be announced by the trumpet of the angel Israfil. Cataclysmic events will occur, including earthquakes, the moving of mountains, and the splitting open of the sky. The heavens will roll back and the sun will stop shining. Stars will fall to earth and oceans will boil over. The earth will crack open, and the dead will rise from their graves.

Although people will try to flee from God's power, they will all bow before Him and await His judgment. Each person's actions during life will have been recorded in his or her “book of deeds,” which God will use to determine the individual's reward or punishment. If the book is placed in the person's right hand, the reward will be paradise. But if the book is placed in the person's left hand, the punishment will be the eternal fires of hell.

Islamic tradition—taken from the hadith and other writings, but not mentioned directly in the Qur'an—says that Judgment Day will be preceded by a great cosmic battle fought between Satan's forces (led by false messiah Dajjal) and the forces of God (led by the Mahdi, “rightly guided one,” and Jesus). Dajjal, known as the deceiver, will spread corruption and oppression over the earth and will mislead humans with false teachings and miracles. The forces of God will fight to bring justice and true belief to all humanity.

Before the coming of Islam, Arabian belief in an afterlife was virtually nonexistent. When Muhammad first preached to the Arabian tribes about the Day of Judgment, many reacted with scorn and rejected his teachings. Nevertheless, he continued to preach the Qur'an's message of the complete power of God to resurrect and judge all people on the last day. The Day of Judgment symbolizes the ultimate and absolute power of God over human destiny, and it symbolizes the responsibility that individuals bear in following God's laws. The Qur'an teaches that God alone is the judge and master over both life on earth and the afterlife.

The Qur'an contains many poetic descriptions of both paradise and hell. It depicts hell as a fire having seven gates, which has led many theorists to believe that hell has seven levels, each for different categories of sinners. The Qur'an also describes the boiling waters, black smoke, and scorching wind of hell, and it states that those who are sent there will suffer eternally without any release. When their skin burns off, they will grow new skin so that their pain can continue indefinitely. Their thirst will be so great that they will drink foul liquids, only to become more parched. Boiling water will be poured over their heads, melting their insides, and iron hooks will drag them back if they try to escape.

In paradise, however, God's faithful will live in peace and contentment, enjoying gentle speech and pleasant shade in fragrant and harmonious gardens. They will eat delicious foods and drink from a clear, running stream. They will recline on couches adorned in rich fabrics and be waited on by servants. In addition, men will enjoy the attentions of the divine maidens called huris. Those who spend their lives doing good instead of evil; who are dutiful, truthful, and sorry for their misdeeds; who feed the poor and take care of orphans; and who have faith in the revelations of God will reach this paradise.

Islamic teachings about the afterlife emphasize the connection between one's actions in this world and one's fate in the next. Muslim traditions also point out that certain signs may foretell the coming of the Day of Judgment. In recent times, some scholars see the apparent moral degradation of contemporary society as a sign that the Day of Judgment is near. Others believe that humanity's significant social progress is a sign that the last day will arrive soon. See also Afterlife; Creed; Death and Funerals; Pillars of Islam.

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