The Years of Earthquakes – signs of the Day of Judgement and martydom for those who die

The Years of Earthquakes - signs of the Day of Judgement and martydom for those who die

Earthquakes are one of the signs of the Hour

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said,

عَن أبي هُرَيرةَ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنه قال: قال رَسولُ الله صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّم: ((لا تَقومُ السَّاعةُ حَتَّى يُقبَضَ العِلمُ، وتَكثُرَ الزَّلازِلُ، ويَتَقارَبَ الزَّمانُ، وتَظهَرَ الفِتَنُ، ويَكثُرَ الهَرْجُ، وهو القَتْلُ القَتْلُ … )) . البخاري ومسلم.

“The Hour (Last Day) will not be established until (religious) knowledge will be taken away (by the death of religious learned men), earthquakes will be very frequent, time will pass quickly, afflictions will appear, murders will increase and money will overflow amongst you.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

In this authentic narration the Prophet (peace be upon him) indicated that the Day of Judgement will be preceded by signs, among these events earthquakes will be frequent, time will pass quickly, afflictions will strike, murders will increase and money will overflow in society.

Recently we have been saddened by the earthquake that struck Morocco, and before that the series of earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. We have also seen devastating floods in Libya causing a huge loss of life. All of these are signs of the Day of Judgement.

There are many narrations warning the Ummah about these signs. One of these narrations, narrated by Ahmed, Darimi and Ibn Hibban mentions that the years before the end of time will be the Years of Earthquakes. They will not be one off – they will come frequently.

Ibn Hajar (may Allah be pleased with him) mentioned:

“There is a clear indication in the narration that most of the earthquakes are among the signs of the Hour.”

He also said that many earthquakes have occurred in many northern, eastern, and western regions, but what is meant by ‘increase’ is their prevalence and persistence.

Salamah bin Nufail Al-Sakuni (may Allah be pleased with him), who was one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), stated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

وعَن سَلَمةَ بنِ نفيلٍ السكونيِّ -وكان من أصحابِ النَّبيِّ صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّم-: أنَّ رَسولَ الله صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّم قال: ((بينَ يَديِ السَّاعةِ مُوْتانٌ شَديدٌ، وبَعدَه سَنَواتُ الزَّلازِلِ)) أحمد والدارمي وابن حبان.

‘Before the Hour, there will be two severe deaths (or calamities), and then years of earthquakes.'” (Ahmad, Ad-Darimi, and Ibn Hibban)

In this hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is foretelling two major calamities or events that will occur before the Day of Judgment, followed by a period of increased earthquakes.

Tribulations in life

Ibn Rajab (may Allah be pleased with him) said in his explanation of the hadith:

“The increase in earthquakes refers to tangible earthquakes, which are the shaking and movement of the Earth. However, it can also be interpreted as metaphorical earthquakes, which are the increase in disturbing trials that shake people’s hearts. The former interpretation seems more apparent, as it eliminates the need to mention the appearance of trials.”

Ibn Rajab was suggesting that the earthquakes can refer to both physical seismic events and metaphorical disturbances or trials that affect people’s hearts. The physical interpretation seems more likely.


Imam Suyyuti (died 910 AH) collated a record of earthquakes and after him his students continued to note them.

As we have had thousands of earthquakes and numerous natural disasters and the death toll is very high, we always wonder how those who died in the earthquake will be classified. Though it is tragic, the good news is that the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned that those who die under rubble are martyrs (shuhada).

Causes of martyrdom

Being a martyr on the battlefield earns the highest level of reward but there are other causes of death which are also classified as martyrdom.

Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (may Allah be pleased with him), the great muhaddith said: “Many noble forms (of martyrdom) have been gathered for us from various sources, more than twenty types, including: the one bitten by a venomous creature, the one who is bitten by a snake, the one devoured by a lion, the one who falls from a mount, and the one drowned in the sea who experiences vomiting, and those who fall from mountain peaks.”

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said,

“Five are regarded as martyrs: They are those who die because of plague, abdominal disease, drowning or a falling building etc., and the martyrs in Allah’s Cause.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Severe pain

The severe pain at the time of death means that the rank of one who died is elevated. Ibn Hajar and Imam Nawawi (may Allah be pleased with him) were of the opinion that those who experience deaths which are accompanied by severe pain are martyrs.

We ask Allah to classify those passed away in the earthquake and floods as martyrs.

A means of purification before the Day of Judgement

Ibn al-Teen (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

All of these deaths involve a severity in which Allah favours the Ummah of Muhammad (peace be upon him) by making them a means of purifying their sins and increasing their rewards, thereby elevating them to the ranks of martyrs.

There are two types of martyrs: the martyr of this world and the martyr of the Hereafter. The martyr of this world is someone who is killed in battle against disbelievers, advancing without hesitation, sincerely. The martyr of the Hereafter, on the other hand has a similar reward to those martyrs, but did not experience the same kind of death.

Therefore we hope that a Muslim who dies due to illness, a car accident, or similar situations involving suffering and pain will be considered among the martyrs in the hereafter.

“Indeed, whoever dies in such a state of monotheism, we hope for them to attain the reward of martyrdom, even if they were lacking in some obligations or committed some prohibited actions, for the mercy of God is vast, and His grace is immense.”

Responsibility for death

These earthquakes and floods are painful events but they have been destined by Allah, and we should accept them but we should also look at the reasons behind the huge number of casualties. It is not just the earthquake and the death toll which is distressing it is also the corruption which increased the death toll. Had the buildings been strong there would not have been so many deaths.

Although we believe your life span is written before your birth by the angels there are reasons which lead to the death and if the cause of death was someone who drove recklessly for instance we do not excuse their actions on the ground that Allah had predestined the death.

We should prosecute the reckless drivers in this case. And against corrupt rulers and politicians and those who are in charge in of our community when they cause loss of life.

Our hearts go to our brothers and sisters wherever they are and give them comfort and mercy and give them shuhada in the highest level.

Are you prepared to meet Allah?

What about us? Death can come in any form to any one of us. Are we prepared? If you are hit by such a calamity, are you ready? Speaking on behalf of myself, I know I am not ready. Those who left their homes in the morning did not think they would die in the flood that day. Those who were sleeping in their beds did not think they would be killed by an earthquake. But have you done your homework and are you ready to meet Allah? When you sleep you say, ‘By your Name, I live and I die’ because you might not wake up in the morning.

Are you prepared for this? We need to be prepared. Put the akhirah before the dunya, because the dunya is already leaving and we are leaving the dunya. No one can deny that we will meet Allah Almighty. Let’s prepare and keep our brothers and sisters in Morocco and Libya in our duas and ask Allah to help and support them. Ameen.


Ubaidullah bin Mihsan Al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Whosoever begins the day feeling family security and good health; and possessing provision for his day is as though he possessed the whole world.” [Tirmidhi]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said whoever wakes up safe, with sufficient food to eat and has good health should be grateful because it is as if they have the whole world. We ask Allah to grant us more favours and make us from the shakireen.

Dua for a good death

Approaching the departure to the abode of the Hereafter,

So, make my God the best part of my life.

For if You show mercy, You are the Most Generous of those who show mercy,

And the oceans of Your generosity, my God, are abundant.

Grant me comfort in my nights in the graves and my solitude,

And have mercy on my bones when they remain buried.

For I am the destitute one whose days

Have passed laden with burdens that have become continuous.

Take care of him with kindness at his end,

O Owner of the Kingdom and Lord of the Hereafter.

 Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani

Related posts:

Dua for a good death

Dua for the deceased

How to pack for the afterlife

Lies – a sign of the Hour

Time passing quickly – a sign of the Hour

Five signs of the Day of Judgement


The first thing you will be asked about on the Day of Judgement is your salah


Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.