The Dabbat al-ard
Question: Regarding the Dabbat al-ard, which is an animal that will emerge before Doomsday according to a Qur’anic verse and Prophetic utterances, some people say, “Since the Dabbat al-ard will talk, it may refer to telephones, radios, or televisions. What is more, one of the meanings of the word dabba is writhing, which brings to mind the vibrating alerts in mobiles.” On the other hand, in the past there were people who said, “Dabba is not an animal, but the disease of AIDS.” It is unknown what they will fabricate in days to come. Some others claim that when the Mahdi appears his appearing will be announced not by angels, but by telephones, radios, and televisions. According to such people, whatever our master the Prophet stated about the Dabba should be twisted and interpreted into different things. Or else these signs contradict the mind and science. Again according to such people, it is impossible for such a big animal to be created and for this animal, which is 30 meters in height, to stamp people as Believers and disbelievers. But is Allah impotent to create it? By saying so, aren’t such people in an act of questioning Allahu ta’ala’s omnipotence? Of course, mu’jizat and karamat contradict the mind, so how can one deny them?
When Hadrat ‘Isa said that he was a prophet, Jews wanted him to display a mu’jiza (miracle). They said, “Heal this sick person.” When he rubbed his blessed hand on him, the sick person made a full recovery. Then they said, “Now heal this blind person.” When he rubbed his blessed hand on him, he gained sight. Upon seeing whatever they wanted was fulfilled, this time they wanted him to perform a more arduous and an unachievable task. They said, “Bring those dead people back to life.” When Hadrat ‘Isa said a prayer, those dead ones were brought back to life. Afterwards, they thought an even more arduous task. They said, “Make a bird out of clay. It should be a mammal, have teeth, experience menstruation, and give birth to babies.” From their point of view, it was impossible for such a bird to exist. When Hadrat ‘Isa breathed into the figure of a bird that he made out of clay, it became an animal (a bat) with the qualities they specified. (Surat Al-i ‘Imran 49)
As it is seen, one who does not have the intention of believing does not believe, though he brings the dead back to life. It means that unusual events are not contrary to the trial.
Is Allahu ta’ala, who created the first human from soil and that bat from clay, incapable of creating the beast called Dabba? To say that there cannot be such an animal comes to mean that Allahu ta’ala cannot create such an animal. Allahu ta’ala mentions in the Qur’an al-karim that Dabba is a beast. He does not say that it is a disease or an instrument. He says clearly that it is a talking beast. The following is the purport of the Qur’anic verse that has been discussed:
(When that Word befalls them [when Doomsday approaches], We will bring forth for them a Dabba [a beast] from the earth. That Dabba will tell them that humans did not firmly believe in Our âyât.) [Surat an-Naml 82]
What descriptions did our master the Prophet give us about the Dabba, which is mentioned in the verse? Of the hadith-i sharifs written in the books Faraid-ul-fawaid, Mukhtasar-i Tadhkira-i Qurtubi, Magharib-uz-zaman, and Al-Qawl Al-Mukhtasar fi Alamat Al-Mahdi Al-Muntazar, a few are as follows:
(Dabbat-ul-ard has four feet like the feet of a camel and wings like a bird. Its head is like the head of an ox. Its ears are like the ears of an elephant. Its tail is like the tail of a ram.)
(People will get away from that beast. Some people, being afraid of it, will begin to perform salat. The beast will come up to him and stamp his face, saying, “O the person, are you performing salat now?” Thus Believers will be distinguished from disbelievers, and they will be recognized.) [Will people escape from telephones and begin performing salat?]
(Dabbat-ul-ard will touch a Believer with the staff of Musa. Then “He is destined for Paradise” will be written on his forehead, and his face will glitter. It will hit a disbeliever with the seal of Sulaiman. Then “He is destined for Hell” will be written on his forehead, and his face will blacken.) [Tirmidhi]
Hadrat Imam-i Qurtubi states:
If the Dabba were something ordinary or a human, unusualness would not be its attribute, and it would not possess the signs that were listed in hadith-i sharifs. If it were a human that would struggle against disbelievers, would he be called a beast instead of a scholar? That is not the way of wise people. The truth is that the Dabba is an animal. (Jamiu-li-Ahkam)
They have not been able to concoct different interpretations for the Dabba’s camel-like feet and wings. Maybe in days to come they will interpret them as the legs of a table on which a telephone, a radio, or a television is put. They may fabricate something else for its wings as well. They may say that since sounds and images displayed on telephones, radios, and televisions fly from one city to another, the wings [of the Dabba] refer to them. There appeared even people who inferred that Paradise and Hell were in this world. Then what is left that is not interpreted into different things?
The hadith-i sharifs give physical descriptions as regards to the Beast down to the smallest detail, and even its feet, ears, wings, tail, and head are described. While Allahu ta’ala and His Messenger described it as an animal and while Ahl as-Sunnah scholars described it without any interpretation as “It is not a human or something else. It is an animal,” can it be said that it is not an animal but the disease of AIDS or telephones or radios or televisions? How can such an ugly thing be claimed as if our master the Prophet had said, “If I say an animal, understand it as something else like a radio”? Then there would be no such thing as Islam. Did Allahu ta’ala and His Messenger talk in code, in riddles (never!) lest people should understand? They explicitly said that it was an animal. To claim the contrary is to reject the Qur’anic verses by way of interpretation. This is the way of the sect of Batiniyyah; that is, it is to reject the true meanings of the Qur’anic verses by saying, “The Qur’an has secret, interior meanings.” Similarly, those who draw from the Qur’an conclusions that are incompatible with our religion maintain, “Salat means supplication. Namaz has no place in our religion; there is supplication. There is no such thing as a mosque. It is necessary to supplicate Allah in the mosque of the heart.” Thus they reject the namaz and mosques. Today those who emulate the adherents of the sect of Batiniyyah say that the Dabba is not an animal, but something else.
Just as Allahu ta’ala stated that He would bring out the Dabbat al-ard from the earth, from soil, so He stated that He created humankind from soil. That is, it cannot be said either that Allah created humankind from water and the Dabba from soil. It is declared in the following Qur’anic verses that humankind, too, was created from soil:
(In the sight of Allah, the case of ‘Isa is like the case of Adam. Allah created him from soil and then said to him, “Be!” and he was.) [Surat Al-i ‘Imran 59]
(That He created you from soil is one of His proofs [of His existence].) [Surat ar-Rum 20]
(He created you from the earth [from soil] and made you live thereon.) [Surat Hud 61]
(From the earth [from soil] did We create you, and into it [soil] shall We return you.) [Surat Taha 55]
In a hadith-i sharif written in Kutub-i Sitta and narrated from Abdullah ibn Burayda, our master the Prophet showed the place the Dabbat al-ard would come out from. Abdullah ibn Burayda stated, “At a place that was close to Mecca and was surrounded by sand, our master the Messenger of Allah said, ‘The Dabbat al-ard will emerge from this place.’ The place pointed to was a span in width and a span in length.” (It cannot be said that a telephone or a radio or a television is a span in width, for the hadith-i sharif states that what is a span in width and length is not the Dabba, but the place from which it will emerge. That a span-long place may split open and a huge beast may emerge from it.
How can one who claims that the Dabbat al-ard has emerged say that there are 80-90 years for the sun to rise in the west? The truth of the matter is that our master the Prophet stated that they would appear one right after the other. A hadith-i sharif relates:
(The first of the signs of Doomsday is the sun’s rising from where it sets and the emergence of Dabbat al-ard to people at forenoon. Of them, whichever appears first will immediately be followed by the other.) [Muslim, Abu Dawud]
If one says that such a huge animal cannot come into being, it means rejecting the major signs of Doomsday. In fact, all of the major signs of Doomsday are unusual events, so it is not possible for disbelievers to accept them.
The 158th verse of An’am Sura declares, “On the day when some of the signs of your Lord come, believing then will be of no avail to a person who did not believe before, or who did not earn some good through his faith.” Our master the Prophet explained this verse as follows:
(When these three things appear, believing then will be of no avail to a person who did not believe before or who did not earn some good through his faith: the sun’s rising in the west, the Dajjal, and the Dabbat-ul-ard.) [Muslim, Tirmidhi, Bayhaqi]
If the major signs of Doomsday already took place, believing would be of no avail anymore. Then why do such interpreters try to persuade atheists to believe in Allah? Hadrat Imam-i Rabbani states as follows on this issue:
“The beast called Dabbat al-ard will appear, and the sky will be covered with smoke. That beast will reach all people and hurt them; due to its pain everybody will pray, ‘O our Rabb! Remove this torment from us. We now believe in You'” (Vol. 2, Letter 67).
As it is seen, when the Dabbat al-ard emerges, everybody will believe, but belief will not be accepted anymore because of the emergence of the major signs.