16. Paradise, Hell, Their Inmates, the Last Day

The next four books tell us something about Paradise and Hell and their respective inhabitants; they also tell us about the Day of Judgment, and the Turmoils and Portents of the Last Hour.

In book thirty-four, called the “Book of Heart-Melting Traditions” (al-RiqAq), Muhammad tells us that he “stood upon the door of Fire [Hell] and the majority amongst them who entered there was that of women” (6596). On the other hand, “amongst the inmates of Paradise,” women will “form a minority” (6600).

Muhammad says that he has solved all the problems of the believers except the problems created by women. “I have not left after me turmoil for the people but the harm done to men by women” (6604). According to another tradition, he tells his ummah: “The world is sweet and green [alluring] and verily Allah is going to install you as Viceregent in it in order to see how you act. So avoid the allurement of women: verily, the first trial for the people of Israel was caused by women” (6606).


The poor fare better at Muhammad’s hand. “I had a chance to look into Paradise and I found that majority of the people was poor” (6597). If they so wish, the Communists can claim Muhammad as their own, though Paradise may be no more than an “opiate” of the poor.


In book thirty-seven (Al-QiyAma wa’l Janna wa’n-NAr), giving a description of the Day of Judgment, and of Paradise and Hell, Muhammad tells us that on the Last Day “Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, will take in His grip the earth ... and roll up the sky in His right hand and would say: I am the Lord; where are the sovereigns of the world?” (6703).


Muhammad tells us that Allah “created the clay on Saturday and He created the mountains on Sunday and He created the trees on Monday and created the things entailing labour on Tuesday and created light on Wednesday and He created the animals to spread on Thursday and created Adam after ’Asr [the afternoon prayer] on Friday; the last creation at the last hour of the hours of Friday, i.e., between afternoon and night” (6707).


The Last Day—the day of the destruction of the world—is also described. On this day, Muhammad said, “the earth would turn to be one single bread ... and the Almighty would turn it in His hand as one of you turns a loaf while on a journey. It would be a feast in honour of the people of Paradise.” Then he laughed “until his molar teeth became visible”; then he asked his audience whether they would also like to be informed “about that with which they would season it [bread].” “With bAlAm and fish,” he told them. BAlAm is “ox and fish from whose excessive livers seventy thousand people would be able to eat” (6710).


On the Day of Resurrection, while the inmates of Paradise are feasting on the fare described above, “the nonbelievers would be made to assemble by crawling on their faces” (6737).

The believer will be doubly blessed. Allah “would confer upon him His blessings in this world and would give him reward in the Hereafter” (6739). But the next hadIs suggests a more balanced distribution of Allah’s blessings. Allah rewards the nonbeliever in this world and the believer in the hereafter (6740). Thanks to his reward in this world, the nonbeliever “finds no virtue for which he should be rewarded in the Hereafter” (6739).

Either way, it is still not a fair deal. In fact, it is cheating. What is this world compared to the hereafter? Not even “a gnat” (6698). What are all the pleasures of the earth compared to even one distant feel of the hellfire? Nothing. But what can Allah do? The nonbeliever is a bad cost accountant, and heedless. On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will ask the nonbeliever, even the one least tormented, whether, if he possessed all the gold of the earth, he would like to secure his freedom from the awaiting fire by paying all that gold. The nonbeliever will answer yes, but “it would be said to him: You have told a lie; what had been demanded from you was quite easier than this [the belief in the Oneness of Allah] but you paid no heed to it” (6733-6736).


Allah is long-suffering. He shows “patience at listening to the most irksome things.... Partnership is associated to Him [polytheism], and fatherhood of a child is attributed to Him [Christianity], but in spite of this He protects them [people) and provides them sustenance” (6731).


Allah may be patient but not His Prophet. Muhammad simply could not stand the nonbelievers. “When Allah’s Messenger saw people turning back from ‘religion’ he said: ‘O Allah, afflict them with seven famines as was done in the case of Yusuf, so they were afflicted with famine by which they were forced to eat everything until they were obliged to eat the hides and the dead bodies because of hunger’ “ (6719).


Besides the power to curse, Muhammad had other miraculous powers at his command. For example, the “moon was split into two,” one part of it behind the mountain and the other part on this side of the mountain. Muhammad told his companions: “Bear witness to this” (6725).


While Muhammad had power over nature, this power failed him when it came to persuading the Jewish scholars. “If ten scholars of the Jews would follow me, no Jew would be left upon the surface of the earth who would not embrace Islam,” Muhammad declared (6711).


Muhammad robbed Satan of his divinity but evidently not of his power for mischief, particularly in the matter of sowing dissension among the believers. “Verily, the Satan has lost all hopes that the worshippers would worship him in the peninsula of Arabia, but he is hopeful that he would sow the seed of dissension amongst them,” Muhammad declared (6752).


Muhammad did not believe that everyone has his own god but he did believe that everyone has his own devil. “There is none amongst you with whom is not an attache from amongst the jinn [devil]. The Companions said: Allah’s Messenger, with you too? Thereupon he said: Yes, but Allah helps me against him and so I am safe from his hand and he does not command me but for good” (6757).

This concept is known as qarIn in Islamic theology. Literally, the word means “the one united” (pl. quranA), and it refers to the demon that is joined inseparably to every man. The concept is mentioned in the QurAn (“We assign unto him a devil who would be his mate,” 43:36; also see 41:25), but it finds its full development in the Sunnah. In the QurAn, the demons are only attached to infidels; in the Sunnah, they are intimately joined to Muslims also.

A Gnostic theology sees a secret Godhead in man; a prophetic one, a devil. The former is pantheistic in approach and temper; the latter is pandaimonic or, more precisely, pandemonic.


Abdullah b. Mas’Ud tells us that “Allah’s Messenger did not deliver us sermons on certain days fearing that it might prove to be boring for us” (6775). A practice worthy of emulation by most sermonizers.


The thirty-eighth book is called “The Book of Paradise; Its Description, Its Bounties, and Its Inmates”; but two-thirds of it really is on Hell and its inmates. In the Prophet’s eschatology, Paradise and Hell go together. In the QurAn, the word “Paradise” (jannat) appears 64 times, less than the word “Hell” (jahnam), which appears 76 times. An-NAr, “the Fire,” the QurAn’s pet name for Hell, appears with still greater frequency—121 times.

In Paradise, there is a tree under the shadow of which a rider of a fine and swift-footed horse would travel for a hundred years without covering the distance completely” (6784).

The inhabitants of Paradise show their happiness by telling Allah: “Why should we not be pleased, 0 Lord, when Thou hast given us what Thou hast not given to any of Thy creatures?” (6787). The pleasure of seeing others denied Paradise is in fact greater than the pleasure of seeing even one’s own self rewarded.

Paradise has its own version of a beauty salon, a street to which the inhabitants “would come every Friday. The north wind will blow and would scatter fragrance on their faces and on their clothes and would add to their beauty and loveliness” (6792). A constant Bower of Bliss.


Paradise is not without its hierarchy, with rather exclusive quarters for the apostles. The inhabitants of the lower regions of Paradise “will look to the upper apartment of Paradise as you see the planets in the sky” (6788). The ranking in Paradise will follow the ranking on earth. “The first group of my Ummah to get into paradise would be like a full moon in the night. Then those who would be next to them; they would be like the most significantly glittering stars ... then after them others in ranks” (6796).


In religions where theology is supreme, moral action occupies a secondary place. A man is justified by faith; he is already one of God’s elect or damned long before he is even born. Muhammad anticipates Luther and Calvin by a thousand years, “None amongst you would attain salvation purely because of his deeds,” Muhammad says (6760). “Observe moderation” in your doings, he advises; but if you fail, “try to do as much as you can do and be happy for none would be able to get into paradise because of his deeds alone” (6770). It is not God’s grace that wins salvation but either the atoning death of His only son or the intercessory power of His last Prophet.


Muhammad tells us the height of the inhabitants of Paradise and, incidentally, the height of Adam and even of God. The immeasurable is measured. “Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, created Adam in His own image with His length of sixty cubits.... So he who would get into Paradise would get in the form of Adam, his length being sixty cubits.” Muhammad adds that the people who came after Adam “continued to diminish in size up to this day” (6809).


For his habitation in Paradise, the believer will have a “tent of a single hollowed pearl, the breadth of which would be sixty miles from all sides” (6805).

The inhabitants of Paradise will cat and drink but they will “neither pass water, nor void excrement, nor will they suffer from catarrh, nor will they spit” (6795). Then what will happen to the food they cat? The whole catabolic process will change. “They will belch and sweat (and it would be over with their food), and their sweat would be that of musk” (6798). “Their combs would be made of gold and the fuel of their braziers would be aloes and their sweat would be musk and their form would be the form of one single person according to the length of their father sixty cubits tall” (6796).


The SahIh Muslim allows the believers only two spouses each in Paradise, less than on earth; but they will be so beautiful that “the marrow of their shanks would be visible through the flesh” (6797).


The SahIh Muslim is rather niggardly in its description and promise. Let us therefore add a few more details to the scanty picture of Paradise by referring to the QurAn and some other traditions and commentaries.

The QurAn promises the believers and mujAhidsrivers of water incorruptible; rivers of milk whose taste does not change; rivers of wine, a joy to those who drink; rivers of honey pure and clear” (47:15). For food, “they will have fruits, any that they may desire” (56:20-21). They will be “reclining on raised thrones; and the shades of the Garden will come low over them; the bunches of fruits will hang low. And amongst them will be passed round vessels of silver and goblets of crystal; they will drink of a cup of wine mixed with ZanjabIl [ginger], and there would be a fountain called SalsbIl. And around them will be youths of perpetual freshness [viludAnum mukhaladUn], youths of such beauty that you would think them scattered pearls; upon them will be green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade, and they will be adorned with bracelets of silver” (76:13-21). Young slaves (ghilmAn) like “hidden pearls” will wait on them (52-54).


Houris are promised, houris with swelling bosoms, retiring glances; houris “unfailing and unforbidden, on lofty sofas and of a rare creation, for ever virgins, beloved and equal in age” (56:33-40).

What is denied on earth is promised in Paradise: silk dresses, wine, golden vessels. One would have thought that the believer’s provision of women in this world was pretty generous, but apparently any restrictions in the matter were irksome, so he will have women galore in Paradise.

We can only mention the subject here, but for a fuller account the reader can refer to the following verses in the QurAn: 2:25, 4:13, 9:111, 10:9-10, 47:15, 52:17-24, 55:46-76, 56:15-40, 66:8, 76:12-22, and others.


Other traditions, quoted in commentaries like the Tafseer MazaharI, the Tafseer QAdarI, and the Tafseer HaqqAnI, and reproduced in the QurAn Parichaya, describe the sensual delights of the celestial region with greater abandon. For example, in every corner of the believer’s tent of a single hollowed pearl, which we have already mentioned, will dwell his wives, with whom he will make love successively. According to ’Abdullah b. ’Umar, Paradise will have a bazaar for the exclusive sale and purchase of beauty and beautiful faces. A man will be able to procure any beautiful woman he desires from that market. The believers will recline on lofty couches (according to some commentators, “couches” means “women”).


According to a tradition narrated by the same authority, even the least of the inhabitants of Paradise will have one thousand slaves waiting on him. According to Anas, the number of slaves is ten thousand. According to AbU Sa’Id, “the least amongst the people of Paradise shall have eighty thousand slaves, and seventy-two women.”


Anas stinted on women. According to ’Abdullah b. ’Umar, every inhabitant of Paradise will have at his disposal five hundred houris, four thousand virgins, and eight thousand women who have known men. He will have the strength to have intercourse with them all.

AbU Huraira increases the number, though rather mathematically expressed, still further. According to him, every Muslim will own a mansion of pearls; every mansion will have seventy houses of rubies; every house will have seventy rooms of emeralds; every room will have seventy couches; and every couch will be covered with seventy carpets of every color, and a houri will be sitting on each carpet; every room will also have seventy tables laid out; and on every table there will be seventy dishes of seventy colors; every room will also have seventy maid-slaves. Every believer will have the capability of copulating with each of these houris and maids.


According to AbU Sa’Id, these women will put on see-through dresses. Each houri will have seventy garments, but her lover will be able to look through all of them and see the marrow of the bones of her legs, and she will have a crown on her head, the meanest pearl of which would give light between the east and the west. According to another tradition, when a believer embraces any such houri, each of them will have seventy thousand boys waiting on her, holding the train of her robe. According to a tradition mentioned by Aldous Huxley, in the Muslim Paradise, every orgasm will last for six hundred years.1


It has been observed that faithful Muslim females are denied the analogous reward. Gibbon says that Muhammad did not give any specifics about the male companions of the female elect because he did not want to arouse the jealousy of the husbands or to disturb their felicity by inducing them to have suspicions about everlasting marriages in Paradise.

Sir William Muir makes the psychologically significant observation that Muhammad’s more voluptuous accounts of heaven derive from the period when he was living in a monogamic relationship with KhadIja, a woman of threescore years and also fifteen years his senior. But as his harem swelled, the sexual delights and orgies became subdued. In the SUras from this period, the houris of old are replaced by “pure wives” (QurAn 2:25, 4:57).


Muhammad’s accounts of Hell are equally intimate. In caloric heat, the fire we know here on earth is only “one-seventieth part of the Fire of Hell” (6811). “There would be among them those to whom Fire will reach up to their ankles, to some up to their knees, to some up to their waists, and to some up to their collar-bones” (6816).

Stones will hurtle down on the inmates of Hell with great force. AbU Harair reports: “We were in the company of Allah’s Messenger when we heard a terrible sound. Thereupon Allah’s Apostle said: Do you know what is this? We said: Allah and His Messenger know best. Thereupon he said: This is a stone which was thrown seventy years before in Hell and it has been constantly slipping down and now it has reached its base” (6813).

The hunger of Hell is inexhaustible. “The sinners would be thrown therein and it would continue to say: Is there anything more?” (6825).

In Hell, “the molar teeth of an unbeliever will be like Uhud [a hill just outside Medina] and the thickness of his skin a three nights’ journey” (6831). The idea of investing the unbeliever with such a thick skin is that he “should be able to suffer the torment of the Hell-Fire for a long time,” as the translator explains (note 2999).

Those who tampered with the pure religion of Ishmael, the son of Abraham, the legendary progenitor of the Arabs, are severely punished. “I saw ’Amr b. Luhayy b. Cam’a b. Khinzif, brother of BanU Ka’b, dragging his intestines in Fire,” Muhammad tells AbU Huraira (6838). According to Muslim thinking, ’Amr was the first Khozaite king (AD 200) who set up idols brought from Syria.

Similarly, Muhammad also “saw ’Amr b. Amir al-KhuzA’i dragging his intestines in Fire.” He was the first to dedicate animals to deity. There are two kinds of the animals to be dedicated: al-bahIra, animals which are left unmilked except for the idols; and as-sA’iba, animals which are not loaded and are let loose for the deities (6839).


After the believers and the unbelievers are sifted and sent to their respective abodes, the chapter is closed forever. “Allah would admit the inmates of Paradise into Paradise and the inmates of Hell into Hell. Then the Announcer would stand between them and say: O inmates of Paradise, there is no death for you. O inmates of Hell, there is no death for you. You would live forever therein” (6829).


The punishment of the unbelievers does not wait till the day of Resurrection. It begins immediately after their death. The Prophet and his Companions sighted five or six graves during a journey. Muhammad asked if anyone knew in what state their occupants had died. “As polytheists,” somebody replied. “These people are passing through the ordeal in the graves,” Muhammad revealed (6859).

Muhammad let the dead bodies of the unbelievers who fought and died at Badr lie unburied for three days. Then he sat by the side of the bodies, and addressing each of them by name, said: “Have you not found what your Lord had promised you to be correct? “ The bodies had decayed, and ’Umar wondered how the Prophet could hold a discourse with them. “By Him in Whose Hand is my life, what I am saying to them, even you cannot hear more distinctly than they, but they lack the power to reply,” Muhammad told him. Then he had the bodies (twenty-four in number) of the “non-believers of Quraish ... thrown into the well of Badr” (6869-6870).


While delivering a sermon one day, Muhammad said: “Behold, my Lord commanded me that I should teach you which you do not know and which He has taught me today.... Allah looked towards the people of the world and He showed hatred for the Arabs and the non-Arabs, but with the exception of some remnants from the People of the Book. And He said: I have sent thee [Muhammad] in order to put you to test and put those to test through you. And I sent the Book to you.... Verily, Allah commanded me to burn [kill] the Quraish. I said: My Lord, they would break my head ... and Allah said: you turn them out as they turned you out, you fight against them and We shall help you in this.... You send an army and I would send an army five times greater than that. Fight against those who disobey you along with those who obey you” (6853).


There is a hadIs, narrated by ’Aisha, that should be of interest to Freudians. The Prophet revealed: “The people would be assembled on the Day of Resurrection barefooted, naked and uncircumcised.” ’Aisha asked in alarm, or perhaps in mischief: “Allah’s Messenger, will the male and the female be together on the Day and would be looking at one another?” The Prophet sagaciously replied: “Aisha, the matter would be too serious for them to look to one another” (6844).


On the Day of Resurrection, there will be two kinds of reckoning: an easy one and a thorough one. The easy reckoning is merely formal and is for the believers, whose faults Allah wants to overlook. But woe unto the unbeliever, for his accounts will be closely scrutinized. “He who is examined thoroughly in reckoning is undone” (6874).


As was also noted in regard to Paradise, the treatment of Hell is more detailed in the QurAn than in the SahIh Muslim, and similarly the QurAnic Hell is more sizzling than the Hell of the HAdIs.

Though Muhammad does not refrain from holding out the threat of hellfire to his followers, hell is essentially a place reserved for the unbelievers, i.e., those who disbelieve in his apostleship and mission.

Hell has many names, and the Prophet dwells on them lovingly. The name he most loved to call it by is An-NAr, “the Fire.” Seven other names are also frequently mentioned, and the scholars of the QurAn turned them into seven separate regions of Hell, each with its own potency, thermodegree, and inmates. Though the least of these hells would burn any man a thousand times over, that is not considered good enough punishment for many degrees of infidelity and unbelief. So hells increasingly more smoky, more blazing, and more scorching are conceived.


Curiously enough, even Muslims must go to Hell. “Not one of you but must enter it [Hell]; this is Lord’s decree that must be accomplished,” reveals the QurAn (19:71). In order to fulfill the letter, if not the spirit, of Allah’s command, a region in Hell is conceived which is least oppressive. It is called Jahanam. It is Hell only in name and is in fact a purgatory for Muslims, even a passage or bridge (sirAt) to heaven. Muslim theologians assure us that it will be pretty cool and pleasant for Muslims unless they have committed some great sins.

The real regions of Hell and their real torments are reserved for unbelievers, infidels, and polytheists of different hues and degrees. The blazing fire of LazA, which leaves nothing unconsumed, is for the Christians; the still more intense fire of Hutamah is for the Jews. Similarly, there is Sa’Ir for the Sabians, Saqar for the Magi, JahIm for idolaters, and HAwiyah for the hypocrites. The last are those who saw through Muhammad and no longer believed in his mission but were afraid to admit it openly. They paid him only the prudential homage due to one who is powerful.

Muhammad is very ready to send unbelievers to hellfire, fire which “permits nothing to endure, nor leaves anything alone” (74:28). In the SUra GhAshiya (“The Overwhelming Event,” i.e., the Day of Judgment), Muhammad promises a sorry plight indeed for unbelievers of all shades: Jews, Christians, polytheists, idolaters, hypocrites. “Has the tidings reached thee of the Overwhelming Event? Some faces that Day will be humiliated, toiling, weary.... No food will there be for them but a bitter zarI which will neither nourish nor satisfy hunger” (88:1-7).

ZarI is a bitter and thorny plant, loathsome in smell. In other SUras (e.g., 56:52, 17:60, 44:43-46), another terrible food, the “Tree of ZaqqUm,” is mentioned; in the language of the last SUra, it “will boil in their [eaters’] inside like molten brass, like the boiling of scalding water.”

There are other traditions in the same vein. “If the infidels complain of thirst, they shall be given water like molten copper ... which shall burst their bowels ... which shall dissolve everything in their bellies.” According to some commentators, the water is so hot that even a drop of it is capable of melting away all the mountains of the world.

The fire in Hell knows no rival in fierceness. “It burnt a thousand years so that it became red, and burnt another thousand years till it became black and dark, and never has any light.” This hadIs derives from AbU Huraira and is quoted in the Tafseer MazaharI. According to the same commentary, the infidels will be surrounded by a wall of fire so wide that it would take forty years to traverse the distance.

The QurAn asks you to “fear the Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, and which is prepared for those who reject Faith” (2:24). Some commentators have explained that the men and stones referred to in the verse are none other than the polytheists and the idols they worship.

Another tradition tells us that Hell will have seventy thousand jungles, each tree there having seventy thousand branches; every branch will house seventy thousand serpents and an equal number of scorpions. All these are the tormentors of the infidels and the hypocrites. The swelling of one bite of a scorpion will last for forty years.

Hell is an important limb of Islamic theology, referred to throughout the QurAn and other Islamic canonical literature. In these texts the misanthropy and hatred of Muslim theology for mankind has found a free scope.


The thirty-ninth book pertains to the “Turmoils and Portents of the Last Hour” (Al-Fitan wa AshrAt as-SA’ah). The subject is closely related to Paradise and Hell.

One is not sure whether by the Last Hour the Prophet means the last hour of Arabia or of the ummah or of the whole world. In some ahAdIs, he prophesies the destruction of Arabia. “There is destruction in store for Arabia because of turmoil which is at hand,” he said (6881). He climbed up a battlement and told the Medinans: “You do not see what I am seeing and I am seeing the places of turmoil between your houses as the places of rainfall” (6891). “Rainfall” here means “catastrophe.” He prophesied for them a period “in which the one who sits will be better than one who stands and the one who stands will be better than the one who walks and the one who walks will be better than the one who runs” (6893).


Muhammad tells us: “Allah drew the ends of the world near one another for my sake. And I have seen its eastern and western ends.” After this apocalyptical vision Muhammad asked Allah three things and, “He granted me two.... I begged my Lord that my Ummah should not be destroyed because of famine and He granted me this. And I begged my Lord that my Ummah should not be destroyed by drowning [deluge] and He granted me this. And I begged my Lord that there should be no bloodshed among the people of my Ummah, but He did not grant it” (6904, 6906).

While killing unbelievers is meritorious and wins Paradise for the believers, killing another believer is heinous and earns the punishment of hellfire. “When two Muslims confront each other with their swords, both the slayer and slain are doomed to Hell-Fire” (6899).

But this does not apply to the early Muslim heroes who engaged in internecine wars. The translator assures us: “This rule does not apply in case of the confrontation between Hazrat ’AlI and his opponents. Both the slayer and the slain are doomed to Hell-Fire only when the enmity is based on personal grudges and material interests, but in the case of Hazrat ’AlI and his opponents it was the higher ideal which actuated most of them to come into conflict with one another” (note 3009).


The great turmoil “which would emerge like the mounting waves of the ocean” (6914) will be preceded by many signs. “The Last Hour would not come unless the Euphrates would uncover a treasure of gold” (6920). It will not come “until fire emits from the earth of HijAz which would illuminate the necks of the camels of Busra” (6935). It will not come “until the people have [again] taken to the worship of LAt and ’Uzza(6945).

Before the Last Hour comes, the “Ka’ba would be destroyed by an Abyssinian having two small shanks” (6951). According to the translator, this refers to either the Christians or the polytheists of Abyssinia. Before this Hour jizyA will stop coming and the people of Iraq will “not send their qafIz and dirhims [their measures of foodstuffs and their money]” (6961).

The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them and until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him.” Only a very thorny tree known as the gharqad, which is painful to touch, will be loyal to the Jews and not reveal their identity, “for it is the tree of the Jew” (6985). Another sign of the approaching Hour will be that “the sun would rise from the West” (7039).


Muhammad prepares Muslims for the coming Hour. “Hasten to do good deeds before six things happen: the rising of the sun from the West, the smoke, the DajjAl.” (7039). DajjAl is mentioned in many ahAdIs. He is a kind of Antichrist, blind in the left eye and red in complexion, with the word kAfir inscribed on his forehead. He “would be followed by seventy thousand Jews of IsfahAn wearing Persian Shawls” (7034).


A very interesting story is told about one Ibn SayyAd (6990-7004), who was believed to be DajjAl by the Companions of Muhammad. He disputed Muhammad’s apostleship. “Don’t you bear witness that I am the Messenger of Allah?” Muhammad demanded of him. But he replied: “I bear witness to the fact that you are the Messenger of the unlettered.” Then there was a competition between the two. SayyAd had to guess what was in Muhammad’s mind. SayyAd could only say dhukh when the word in Muhammad’s mind was really dukhAn (smoke). “He only chanted dhukh, dukh, and the hollowness of his claim stood exposed,” the translator tells us (note 3037).

According to another story, Muhammad and his Companions met SayyAd sitting in the company of some children. The children stood up but not SayyAd. Muhammad “did not like it,” and he said to him: “May your nose be besmeared with dust, don’t you bear testimony to the fact that I am the Messenger of Allah?” SayyAd denied this and, in fact, made the very same claim for himself, asking Muhammad to bear witness to his status. “Thereupon ’Umar b. KhattAb said: Allah’s Messenger, permit me that I should kill him.” Muhammad replied: “If he is that person who is in your mind [DajjAl], you will not be able to kill him” (6990). Muhammad had many toughs at his beck and call, ready to do his bidding. That gave point to his claim.

Like the early Christians, Muhammad expected the Last Hour to come at any time. Pointing to a young boy, he told his followers: “If this young boy lives, he would not grow very old till the Last Hour would come to you” (7052).


1Aldous Huxley, Moksha (London: Chatto & Windus, 1980), p.112.