End of Days: A Jewish View..

Posted: June 3, 2016 in Muslim Views

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What are your thoughts on the “end of times”?

Q. What are your thoughts on the “end of times” brother Ben Abrahamson?

A. The end time, end times, or end of days is a time period described in the eschatological writings in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. This is a known, specific period mentioned in the Torah: “Gather yourselves together and I will tell you that which will happen to you in the latter days” (Genesis 49:1).

From a Jewish point of view there are three aspects to this.

1) Prophecy is a set of analogies which can be stretched to fit many situations and circumstances. In any story there is Beginning, Middle and End. In literary terms there are five steps: Exposition or Introduction, Rising action, Climax, Falling action, Dénouement or resolution. In mystical literature it is expressed in even greater resolution, in ten steps: Conception, Wisdom, Understanding, Plan, Generalization, Specification, Balance, Resource, Talents, Action, and Completion. By finding the corresponding points between a prophecy and human events, one can find meaning and purpose in history. (Note finding meaning is the main purpose of Prophecy, not foretelling the future). Each Divinely revealed prophecy is applicable at each level: personal, community, national and at a world level. The “end times” is often concerned about how prophecy applies at a world level, but one should not loose sight that to a lesser degree it also applies during the lifetime of each individual, and may apply during multiple epochs of world history.

2) As more and more Scripture was revealed and explained by Prophets and Sages, we accumulate more and more information about the nature of this universal “end of days”. This does not mean that we know more than the Sages, or even Adam (pbuh). It simply means that what they knew instinctively and intuitively, we now know conceptually and intellectually. During the days of Moses (pbuh), it was assumed that the final redeemer would be like Moses (pbuh). During the years of the Joseph (pbuh), the Prophets and Sages told us that there would be a period of suffering and occultation of the Messiah. During the years of David (pbuh), further knowledge was added by the Prophets and Sages when they told us that the Messiah would be a King like David (pbuh), etc. Most of the expectations “end times” that we have today, for Muslims, Jews and to a lesser degree Christians, are derived from events during the pivotal period between 610CE to 680 CE, from the Persian Invasion of the Holy Land led by the son of the Exilarch, to the tragedy of Karbala. From the point of view of the Jews, Nehemiah ben Hushiel fulfilled the expectation of Messiah and Heraclius fulfilled the expectation of the anti-Messiah. From the point of view of the Byzantines, the reverse was true.

3) Lastly there is an aspect of Symmetric Diversity. It is taught within Judaism that there are “seventy nations” in the world that correspond to the seventy children of Noah (pbuh). Each of these communities have a world view which is shaped by their birth, land and language (These are the same categories the define citizenship today). In the Torah, it is described how God made different covenants with different nations according to their understanding and mission. Each nation was given exactly the commandments that it needed to fulfill the mission which God had given them. This teaching is also mentioned by Allah SWT in the Qur’an. Allah SWT could have made a single Ummah in the world, but he did not. “To each among you have we prescribed a Shariah (law) and Minhaj (custom). If Allah had so willed, He could have made you a single Ummah (people), but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues.” (Al Maeda 5,48) “And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours: verily in that are Signs for those who know.” (Surat Al-Room 30,22) Although all the Prophets (pbu them) speak the same message, it must be interpreted as fitting each community.

This teaching can be used to explain the minor differences between faiths. In Islam, for example, the main characters in the end times are the Mahdi (pbuh), Messiah (pbuh) and Dajjal. In Judaism the main characters are Elijah (pbuh), Messiah (pbuh) and Armelus. In Islam the Mahdi (pbuh) plays the lead role in world redemption and the Messiah (pbuh) has a relatively minor role. In Judaism the Messiah (pbuh) plays the lead role in world redemption and Elijah (pbuh) has a relatively minor role. One could propose that these are the same events, but viewed from a different perspective.

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