No one has the knowledge of Qiyamah. However, there are some signs that will occur in this world, which will be an indication that Qiyamah will be setting in soon. The signs are of two kinds: Minor and Major. The Minor signs are connected with the behaviour of the people and the Major signs are related to the specific signs that will appear before Qiyamah.
Without going into many details, we will Inshallah briefly discuss about one or two of the Major signs. However, there is a note of caution. Regarding the Major signs that will appear before Qiyamah, since most of them is beyond our understanding and many at times, they do not make sense to us, we will notice that some people have the tendency of interpreting them in their own ways.
Unfortunately, even some learned people have also been carried away in this tide in our contemporary times. For example, one of the signs that have been mentioned is ‘the rising of the sun from the west’. Some people have hastily interpreted this by saying that: ‘It refers to a power that will emerge in the west’, and they refer this to the United States of America. The same goes for Dajjal. According to prophetic traditions, Dajjal will be a one-eyed evil person who will be powerful and dreadful, and who will emerge before Qiyamah taking control of the world. Some people have hastily interpreted this as the existing most powerful currency or some kind of similar power. Today, it has been proved that a one-eyed person (with an eye on forehead) can be born and birth of such a person in Russia has already been established.
Two greatest signs of Qiyamah that have already appeared in this world are:
One sign is of the coming of the last Prophet, i.e. Prophet Muhammad (saww) and the revelation of the final book of guidance for mankind, which is Quran. “Do they wait anything except that the Hour should overtake them suddenly? Certainly, its signs have already appeared”. (47:18)
According to Mufassireen, and what is true, the meaning of Ashraat (signs) is in reference to the Holy Prophet (saww) and the revelation of the Holy Quran. The proof of this is the most popular Hadith of the Holy Prophet (saww), in which he (saww) has said, “My coming and the day of Qiyamah are like these two”. He (saww) then showed his fingers of Shahadah and the middle one together. (Payaam-e-Quran) Imam ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (as) has said, “Verily Allah made Muhammad (saww) a sign of Qiyamah, one who gives glad tidings about Paradise and cautions about the Hellfire”. (Nahjul-Balaghah)
And the second major sign that has already appeared is that of Shaqqul-Qamar meaning ‘Splitting of the Moon’. “The Hour has drawn near and the moon has split”. (54:1)
This verse is talking about one of the greatest miracles that happened in the days of the Holy Prophet (saww), and both Shia’ and Sunni Mufassireen have agreed upon this miracle! What happened? It is narrated that five years before the Holy Prophet (saww) migrated from Makkah to Madina, a group of people from the tribe of Quraysh came to him and said, “O Muhammad! If you are really a Prophet and a Messenger, bring to us a miracle to establish this fact”. When the Holy Prophet (saww) asked them what did they want? In an effort to complicate matters for him, they said, “Split the moon for us”. The Holy Prophet (saww) stood supplicating to Allah (SWT) to help him and render him with victory in this hard situation. Allah (SWT) inspired him to sign towards the moon with his finger. Immediately, the moon split into two parts standing far from each other for several hours then cling back together. The pagans claimed that Muhammad (saww) practiced witchcraft on them. Quran then says: “When they see a sign, they turn away and say: An incessant (Powerful) magic”. (54:2)
At this point some wise men said, “If this is magic, it can only effect people who are present here and not on everybody”. So the pagans hurried to the border of Makkah and waited for the travellers who were coming back from their journeys. As soon as the first group entered, they asked them, “Did you see anything extra-ordinary about the moon?” They said, “Yes! We saw the moon on such and such night split and remained asunder for sometime and then reattached”. Hearing this, some people believed and some rejected. (S V Mir Ahmad Ali) So these are the two major signs of Qiyamah, which have already appeared.
The third major sign that will appear before Qiyamah is that of Dukhaan. Dukhaan means ‘Smoke’. “So watch out for the day when the sky brings on a manifest smoke. Which will envelope the people. This will be a painful punishment”.” (44:10-11) It is narrated that a companion of the Holy Prophet (saww) asked him, “What is this smoke?” The Holy Prophet (saww) recited the above verse and then said, “This is such a smoke that will envelope the entire world from east to west, and it will remain for 40 days and 40 nights. A believer will experience the uneasiness of cold (like hay fever), whereas the smoke will come out of the nose and ears…of a disbeliever”.] (Payaam-e-Quran)
The effect of this smoke will be such that Quran says that all people will cry and pray to Allah (SWT) saying: “O our Lord! Remove from us this punishment. Indeed we have believed”. (44:12) Allah (SWT) will reduce the punishment but after it is totally lifted, again some people will go back to what they were.