Friday, 20 January 2017

A Beast from the Earth (27:82)

Regarding the reality of the Beast, the Holy Qur’an says:

وَإِذَا وَقَعَ الْقَوْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ أَخْرَجْنَا لَهُمْ دَابَّةً مِنَ الْأَرْضِ تُكَلِّمُهُمْ أَنَّ النَّاسَ كَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا لَا يُوقِنُونَ

And when the Word is fulfilled against them, We shall bring out from the earth a Beast to them, which will speak to them; because mankind believed not with certainty in Our Signs

(Sura 27:82)

The phrase “beast of the Earth” is mentioned in several places throughout the Holy Qur’an (6:38; 11:6; 11:56; 16:49; 16:61; 34:14; 35:45; 42:29), and, generally speaking, these are references to land animals.

However, what makes Sura 27:82 so unique is that it is a prophecy of the coming out of a “Beast from the earth”, which is not an ordinary beast, as it will possess the capacity for speech, and speak to the people. In other words, the “Beast” spoken of here is in fact a human being, who due to certain “beastly” characteristics, has been described as a “Beast of the Earth”. There has been much controversy over the reality of this “Beast” among the Muslims. Many of them, generally speaking, attribute fanciful notions to this “Beast” without understanding apocalyptic language.

Let the reader ponder over the special quality mentioned regarding this “Beast”, which is that he shall speak. This “Beast” is therefore not some four-legged animal, or some kind of mythical or monstrous creature. He is an evil human being, or in Qur’anic terminology, a beast that has the ability to speak, and thus deceive people with his tongue.

The Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation discuss quite extensively the reality of the “Beast of the Earth”. I believe it is no coincidence that the Holy Qur’an has used the same phrase “Beast of the Earth” in referring to this apocalyptic figure. The Hebrew Bible mentions four such Beasts: “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth” (Daniel 7:17). The fourth of these four beasts is particularly terrifying, described as devouring and breaking to pieces (Daniel 7:19). The attribute of speech is likewise associated with this fourth beast: “And he shall speak great words against the most High” (Daniel 7:25). The Christian Book of Revelation elaborates: “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:11-17)

Apparently confirming the Book of Revelation, Islamic prophecy tells us about two eschatological figures: the Dajjal (Antichrist) and the Beast of the Earth. Apparently, these two figures are associated with each other, one being an agent for the other, perhaps serving as his “false prophet”.

The Mark of the Beast is something confirmed in various Ahadith, for example:

تَخْرُجُ الدَّابَّةُ فَتَسِمُ النَّاسَ عَلَى خَرَاطِيمِهِمْ , ثُمَّ يَغْمُرُونَ فِيكُمْ حَتَّى يَشْتَرِيَ الرَّجُلُ الْبَعِيرَ , فَيَقُولُ : مِمَّنْ اشْتَرَيْتَهُ ؟ فَيَقُولُ : اشْتَرَيْتُهُ مِنْ أَحَدِ الْمُخَطَّمِينَ

“The Beast will emerge and will mark the people on their noses. Then those who are marked will live among you until a man buys a camel and will be asked, ‘From whom did you buy it?’ He will say, ‘From one of those who are marked on the nose.’”

(Musnad Ahmad)

This Hadith reveals the fact that the mark which the Beast of the Earth places on the faces of people is for the purpose of buying and selling, like in the Book of Revelation: “And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark”.

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