I don’t know why certain memories just stick in our consciousness. In 2010 I took part in a news presenter course at Al-Jazeera Training Centre here in Qatar. The instructor was the Al-Jazeera veteran Ali Al-Dhaferi. Mr. Al-Dhaferi told us as presenters it was important to have a strong grasp of public opinion, and the best way to achieve that is simply by asking and listening to people from all walks of life their opinion on current events.
When the blockade on Qatar started I did just that with almost all my friends. I asked them their opinion on the blockade. One answer in particular stood out. A random friend, who’s an Arab expat, not politically inclined, nor particularly religious, replied, “These are the end of days, when sedition becomes widespread.”
Islam shares with Judaism and Christianity the belief of the end of days. The remark my friend made is in no way unique, rather he was quoting from a Prophetic Hadith (transmission), Islam’s primary source on how the signs and events of the end of days will unfold.
What I do find unique is the recent phenomenon of Muslims who have memorized by heart the signs of the end of days. This obsession with mankind’s end is not exclusive to Muslims if you take film and Hollywood in particular as an indicator, in the past two decade the number of films that focus on the annihilation of mankind are numerous “Independence Days”, “The Day After Tomorrow”, “2012”, and “War of The Worlds” to name a few.
What gets me every time though is when speaking with fellow Muslims about the end of days, despite their impressive knowledge of the Prophetic Hadith and the signs is their neglect of the most important and relevant part of the Hadith. After the Prophet (PBUH) finished revealing all the signs a companion asked the Prophet (PBUH), if one of us is alive during the end of days what should they do. Foresight would have him say “If one of you has a sapling in his hand, and he’s planting it, let him plant it.”
Upon reflecting on this particular advice from the Prophet (PBUH) I have come to the following conclusion. Many things in life will be out of our own control, in this particular case the end of our species is the exemplar. But what one does control is their own actions, and we are instructed to do good till our last day on Earth, which in all likelihood will be long before the end of days. Not only are we instructed to do good, but to build a better tomorrow that in all likelihood we won’t be a part of. It is this type of positivity that the world needs now more than ever, people collectively building towards a better tomorrow. I hope my words just stick in your consciousness and serve as a reminder to all our call to action.