Probability and the Coming of Judgment Day
Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani
Taken from Khutbat al-Jumu`ah 08/10/2001 and later talks
Audhu billahi min ash-shaytan ir-rajeem
We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years he says, “O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favor which Thou hast the bestowed upon me and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as Thou mayest approve; and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly I have turned to Thee and truly do I bow (to Thee) in Islam. [46: 15].
Alhamdulillah, nastighfirahu wa nasta`eenahu wa nastadee bihi wa natawakallu `alayh
Wa naudhu billahi min shurruri anfusina wa min sayyi’ati `amaalina
Man yahdillah, fahua al-muhtadi, wa man yudlill falan tajida lahu waleeyin murshidan.
Wa ashadu ann laa ilaha ill-Allah wahdahu laa shareek lah, wa laa matheela lahu fee `uluwi sha’nihi wa `adheemi sultanih wa ashadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa habeebahu wa rasuluh,
arsalahu Allahu ta`ala min arjah il-`arabi meezaanan wa afsahahum bayyaanan
Wa awda` at-tareeqa wa nasah al-khaleeqa salla-Allahu ta`ala `alayhi wa `ala alihi wa sallam
wa `ala khulafa’ihi ar-rashideen al-mahdiyyin min ba`dihi wa wuzara’ihi al-kaamileen fee `ahdih hadaraati Abi Bakrin wa `Umarin wa `Uthmanin wa `Alee dul qadril jalee,
wa `ala baqi`attis-sahaba wat-tabi`een ridwaanullahi ta`ala `alayhim ajma`een
ayyuhalmuminoon al-hadiroon ittaqullah wa ati`yyuh inna Allaha m`a alladheena at-taqaw, wa-alladheena hum muhsinoon
O Muslims, O believers! Alhamdulillah is a word we must repeat at every time and every moment.. Ya rabbana laka al-hamd kama yanbaghi li-jalaali wajhika wa `adheema sultaanika, ya Allah! Ya rabbi laka ash-shukr.
O Allah all praise belongs to You for making us Muslims and followers of the Prophet (s).
As we said many times, this dunya is coming to an end. If it takes one year or one hundred years or one thousand. Whatever time it takes, Allah knows best, but one day it is going to end.
Today's scientists say that there were once different kinds of huge creatures inhabiting the earth - dinosaurs. If we accept what they say, that yesterday dinosaurs lived on earth, then we must ask, “Were are they today?” Did they not come to an end, did they not vanish? Are they not no longer existent? If they were living on this planet - going by what the scientists tell us – then where are they today? They ended, became extinct. Allah took them. As to how He took them – did they die and other creatures came in their place, that is outside the scope of this address. In any case they are no longer here.
If they were in existence, how then did they disappear suddenly? They are now only able to find some of their bones. Their sudden disappearence is also something beyond the ability of scientists to understand.
Some pious ulama say that they were present on earth, and Allah changed their physical characteristics, reducing them in size (al-maskh), as a punishment for their incessant horrific fighting and destruction. They were criminal in their cruelty to each other and they were reduced in size and power as punishment for their fighting and harm. If so, then that is one possibility, one that still means they disappeared.
Let us look at this from the aspect of probability and possibilities. That is a subject which is one of the most complicated in the world, for only very brilliant students can learn and understand this subject and take a degree in statistics from top universities.
If we want to take a scientific approach to the question of man’s life on earth, in terms of probability, there is a probability that the human race will end. Scientists might say “no”, and continue making plans to go on for hundreds of millions of years. It may be the dinosaurs did so as well, for even among the dinosaurs there might have been intelligent ones, saying “we are going to exist for millions of years.” They faced that probability and their existence ended.
Scientists say that five massive extinctions took place in history. They blame volcanoes, they blame climate, they even speculate about a comet or meteor causing these creations to disappear. As in probability and logic - if we go with what they say - as dinosaurs and huge races of creatures came to an end, so too is there is a probability that the human race will end. It might be a small probability. It might be one in ten thousand.
Now modern scientists are saying and fearing that as many as half of all living species will become extinct within this century. So human beings - are they not also a living species? Does that probability not also apply to them?
Probability can be one (1) or it can be zero (0). Zero probability means there is no possibility whatsoever that something will happen. Probability of one means there is absolute certainty that something will take place. So for any possible event there is a probability between 0 and 1 that it will take place. Statistics and probability is an empirical science based on counting the occurrence of something over time. We saw so many before, that leads to estimate or intelligently predict this will happen again in the future with a probability of so much. This science is used to apply to many areas of practical knowledge, including quantum physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, weather, population, and even to predicting the stock market going up or down. Everything which cannot be precisely predicted by a mathematical formula, may be subject to probability.
They believe they invented probability - scientists of today. If they will look in Quran however, they will find that it is there, mentioned 1400 years ago. 'La`alla' - 'perhaps'. This word indicates a possibility, a probability, and is used in Quran, "... perhaps the Hour is close at hand?" [42:17]. While in Allah's knowledge the Hour's timing is known precisely, yet Allah in expressing "perhaps" here, is telling today's scientists through the perfect eloquence of the Quran, "even if you don't accept it, it is still a possibility that the Judgment Day is very close."
As Muslims, we accept that everything mentioned in Holy Quran happened or took place on faith. When Allah informed Nuh that a flood would be coming, prepare a ship, he did so based on faith. For Believers such predicted events are inevitable, but for modern intellectuals predictions are not based on belief, they are based on assumptions. Thus through this well-known story, Allah has created a paradigm for the people of latter times, including the skeptics and disbelievers of today, with which to demonstrate to them that even without faith, but from a scientific point of view, there is a probability that a flood would occur and water will reach the ship Nuh built. As if to say, “Let us go to your belief, and go with the rules of science. Even though there is no way to imagine that the sea will reach that area, yet scientific theory states that there is a probability that a flood will occur and cause that ship to float, flooding from rivers or springs.”
Similarly, there is a probability that a Judgment Day will transpire and people will become accountable for their actions. At that time, if they have not prepared themselves for that day, there will be no escape from the doom that awaits them. As Nuh (as) prepared himself for the day of the flood, so must they prepare themselves for that day. That story is a sign that life is not forever. Here Allah is addressing them from their own intellectual methodology demonstrating that there is a possibility of their destruction taking place.
Similarly for Sayyidina Musa, who obeyed Allah's orders to flee from Pharoah and his army towards the sea. Despite knowing that he and the Children of Israel would be cut off by the sea, he put full faith in Allah’s orders, knowing that by doing so, Allah would provide an escape. Viewing it within a scientific, probabilistic paradigm, Allah is again showing here that, “Yes, there is a probability, according to the laws of chance, that the sea would part and create an escape for Musa and his people.”
So according to probability there is a chance. Even if you don’t believe in Allah, your science, and its “laws of probability” say there is a chance that mankind will be brought for Judgment. An unexpected event might occur and bring about the complete destruction of mankind who will then come before Allah to account for their actions. This is seen in the action of earthquakes, volcanoes, floods and many other “acts of God” which take place without warning, and which remain unpredictable except through the laws of chance, taking away people, animals and homes.Why do people take out insurance against all these events, unlikely as they are? For just the same reason Nuh (as) built the Ark and Musa (as) fled with Bani Isra’il to the Red Sea – seeking protection and safety.
For Allah, there is no probability. Probability is for those lacking in knowledge of a thing, it is an empirical tool used to measure the chance of something taking place or not. For someone who has perfect knowledge of what has passed and what is to come, there is no chance – it is already known. Allah is al-`Aleem, the Absolute Knower, and thus for Allah, all things are known with perfect knowledge, precision and certainty, “wa kulli shayin `indahu bi-miqdar.” Everything is counted and is encompassed in His knowledge. And for those to whom Allah reveals these realities, there is also no probability, for they are acting according to certain knowledge.
They don’t measure probability in 100ths, as it does not give enough figures of precision. They say one over 1000, one over 10,000, one over 1,000,000. The probability of the human race becoming extinct might be 1/10000th or 1/1000000th. And for Allah one second or one year or one hundred years is the same. Even one million years are the same to Him. So one second is no different than one million years to Allah, for it comes to an end.
Thus if we say in their time, there was a probability the dinosaurs would be come extinct, then today there is a probability that mankind will come to an end. We can see that human beings appeared around 7,000 years ago. The maximum age of what they found of apparently human remnants is 50,000 years. So the probability of the human race lasting on and on is much less than it was for the dinosaurs. The age of mankind is so short relative to that of the dinosaurs. Even the ones who existed 50,000 years ago were different from today’s humans. Those who lived 50,000 years ago, where are their relics? Even the Stone Age relics, their maximum age was 7,000 years.
7,000 years ago was the Stone Age. What was before the Stone Age? Where are the relics of those they claim to be 50,000 years old? Why did they disappear suddenly? Whatever relics we are finding that are clearly remnants of humans are no older than 5000 or 7,000 years.
So our probability of disappearing is so much higher than it was for the dinosaurs. So since there is a probability that we are going to disappear, there is a probability that we will face a destiny. Either we are going to be extinct, nonexistent, as scientists and others believe, or as religions say, we are going to face an account. If we are extinct then we will be like others before us. But there is a probability that we will face an evaluation, a judgment.
Let us take the two cases: either we are going to be extinct, our existence to end finally and completely or we are going to come before Allah and face an accounting. These are the two possibilities. Are there any others? No. So there are two possibilities. If all things are equal then the probability is one half, (1/2) or point five, or 50 percent as scientists say, that one or the other will take place.
Now if there is a probability that by investing in a certain stock you will become rich, will you try when the probability is 10%? No. 20% - it is not likely. 30% - when it reaches 30% you begin to think, “Perhaps I will be lucky.” But if the probability is 50% to get rich on that stock, you might borrow a lot of money invest in it.
That is for this life. That is for a worldly gain, which you might win, or you might lose. What about the next life. This life, if we say you are going to live 100 years, how does it compare with the next? Eternity. No end. Everlasting. We can compare 100 to 1 million and understand there is a big difference. But we cannot grasp 100 years compared to eternity. It is outside our comprehension.
So there are two possibilities, each with a probability of one half: that human being will become extinct, never to return or that we will return and be accounted.
So what are you going to answer? If that probability comes to pass, what will be your answer?
We saw many perfect human beings came, if we wish to speak scientifically, then we can say that many came before us and said, “We are messengers of Allah the Creator.” And they told us what we are going to face. In religion there were prophets and messengers who informed us of a coming evaluation. So if there is going to be an evaluation, what are you going to tell Allah? If there is an answer to be given, prepare yourself for that answer.
Yesterday in the news there was a man, his brother and sister and child, standing on a corner in New York City. And a car passed by. It hit them and they died. Those four people may have been expecting to live forever. They lost it all in one moment. They lost their property - they can’t take it with them. They lost their bank accounts. They lost themselves. They lost their children.
So we are running, running, running, saving, saving …. And what is happening, we give it to kids that have no value for it, or we give it to a dog club or a cat club, so they can raise dogs and cats, but forgetting to give to Allah swt. Those who say we have nothing, we are safe, we are not leaving one penny for our children to take, they must check their `amal, their deeds. You may be less responsible materially, but how are your actions going to be accounted for, in Allah’s Hands. This is what I fear most and that is what all fear most. How are we going to come before Allah and He evaluates our deeds?
Everyone made sins, everyone made a lot of errors in his or her life. But Allah said, “Repent, I will forgive you.”
Last Jum`uah we spoke of the Last Days. One of the signs we mentioned was that from the desert, barefooted Bedouins will be competing to build high-rise building. The Prophet (s) mentioned it 1400 years ago. And the Prophet (s) mentioned that when you build above the third level, that is for shaytan. Can you find any nation in which there are buildings lower than this? Consider then the famous hadith of Jibreel (as), in which he (s) said that one of the signs of the Last Days is that the barefooted and naked Bedouins are going to compete in building high rises (yatataawaloona fil-bunyan). And he (s) said from the East, pointing in the direction of Najd [which lies due East of al-Madina], will arise the two horns of Shaytan.
If one lives on the 3rd level, that is for Shaytan. So what about 100 stories? And now we are seeing that in one Gulf country, there are competing to build two highrises that will be the tallest buildings in the world, taller than the skyscrapers in Malaysia. At 384 meters they will be taller than the World Trade Center, taller than the Sears Towers, taller than Japan’s tallest building, and they are being built in the desert. And so what the Prophet (s) said is precisely taking place.
If we want to discuss this scientifically, then the probability for this to occur must be analyzed. As the Prophet said in the hadith, “yatatawaloona fil bunyan.” – “competing in raising taller buildings.”
So even in probability we say that 1400 years ago, that there is a tiny probability that someone would predict such a thing. That is, if anyone at that time had made such a prediction, which itself is very unlikely. So Islam showed them, “All your discoveries are present in Quran and hadith.” Don’t imagine they are not present in hadith - they are there but in a hidden way.
The Prophet (s) mentioned the building of highrises by Bedouins as a Sign of the Day of Judgment. When an unbeliever read this, say one hundred years ago, they would have rejected this prediction, saying, “How could it happen that barefooted, naked, primitive shepherd will build tall buildings?”
Believers however accept it on face value and simply wait for that to transpire. Believers who doubt that the Judgment is near, or say, “It is yet far off”, or their faith in that event is weak, should reconsider their expectations, for even the science of probability shows that it might happen and it might happen at any time.
The law of probability says that anything can happen, but the chance of it happening is measured in terms of occurrences within a period of time. If not once in one hundred years, then once in one thousand years, or once in one million years...For example, today 'intellectuals' and scientists say humans came from monkeys. Now an intelligent man’s intellect cannot accept this will occur. But their theory says that it can happen, based on probability and random occurrences, and using that theory they were able to build an entire science which they consider an actuality, despite the fact that it is built on pure chance. Even though the probability of even one instance of one species changing into another is extremely remote in the time frames they envision, yet they built up a vast and complicated theory to say, “this is how it happened”, through the theory of probability. And while it remains only a theory, they treat this as if it were a fact.
If what they say, remote and incredible as it sounds to the rational intellect, they accept without question, why is it so remote to accept something which has already happened many times already?
O Muslims, as the Last Days are approaching we see today taking place that which the Prophet said, “barefooted naked Bedouins competing to build highrises.” So why do we say Judgment Day is far off? It will be here: either today or tomorrow.
He (s) said, “I am the seal of the messengers.” And he (s) said, “I have been brought forth near the Judgement Day like kahatyan,” and raised the sababa and the finger beside it. After 1400 years this is about to come to pass.
Let us say skyscrapers being built by Bedouins is one of the Signs of the Judgment Day – a sign which just took place. Then we must confess that Judgment Day is near. Perhaps the remaining signs will take place very quickly, one after the other.
Let us take heed. Let us prepare for that Day. The smallest probability that it will occur should be enough to make us careful of ourselves.
All that anger and impatience we are showing each other. All this backbiting we are committing. These feelings that “I am not given enough respect” and so on… That does not matter. What matters is to always be smiling. A smile is charity. Don’t be rude. Make yourself a laughing smiling joyful person. We ask Allah to forgive us.
was-salaat was-salaam `ala ashraf al-mursaleena Sayyidina Muhammadin wa `ala alihi wa sahbihi ajma`een