Friday, May 17, 2013

Learning About the Antichrist

I know, the title seems a bit sensationalistic, but earlier this week I received a text message from FANAR, the Islamic Cultural Centre, informing me that there would be a lecture Friday night. As for what the lecture was about, here's the text (emphasis in original):

Join Sheikh Samir Abu Hamza – THIS WEEKEND - as we unlock the mysteries of "THE ANTICHRIST" . . . .

Well, how am I going to turn that down?

I had never really thought about Islamic views in terms of the Antichrist. I know Muslims believed in the Armageddon or The End Times, and that Jesus would return to help fight evil, but I didn't recall anything about the Antichrist. Clearly they do since there was going to be a lecture about it.

So off to the cultural centre I went.

The lecture started just after the Maghrib prayer and the lecture hall was pretty crowded, I estimate 300 to 400 men and an unknown number of women were in attendance (the women's area is on the mezzanine while the men sit on the ground floor so the men can't see the ladies). Sheikh Samir Abu Hamza arrived and sat down in a chair on the stage. He looked pretty much like I expected, a gentleman in a thobe with a big, bushy beard.

He started the talk with a few sentences/blessings in Arabic before switching to English at which point I became somewhat surprised. The accent was unmistakable.

Sheikh Samir Abu Hamza is Australian.

No, it doesn’t really matter and yes, Australians can be Muslims too, but the whole while it was like Paul Hogan was teaching you about the Antichrist. Kind of surreal.

Anyway, here’s a synopsis:

After a brief discussion establishing belief in the unseen and that only Allah knows the future we moved onto a description of the Antichrist. According to Hadiths:

• he is human
• he is short
• he is blind in his right eye and his left eye bulges
• he has curly hair
• he has some sort of markings on his forehead
• he will appear pious (but he is a great liar and deceiver) and will eventually claim to be a Prophet of God

To tell you the truth I was pretty impressed with the detailed description Islam has of the Antichrist, the Bible doesn't really have much of a description, certainly not to that level of detail.

There was a brief discussion of the end times and how some of the minor signs are coming true, such as cross-dressing, killing of innocents, riba (interest) everywhere, everyone respecting people who like etc. Cross-dressing was listed first, not sure why.
Also something about Muslims conquering Rome as one of the signs. There will also be three years where rainfall will steadily reduce until last year when there is no rain at all, by which point there will of course be a massive famine.

Much of the rest of the lecture was spent telling people that they must be closer to Allah, pray more, etc. Certainly nowhere near the level of "fire and brimstone" common with many fundamentalist Christian preachers, just Sheikh imploring people to read the Qur’an more and to live a more pious life. Barely any mention of burning in Hell at all. Prayers are your weapons against the Antichrist.

One thing of note is that Muslims also believe that Jesus will return during the end times to fight the Antichrist. I recall this from the Qur’an and I don't know how many Christians realize that Muslims hold this belief as well.

After an hour the lecture was over. I suppose for me the most informative bit was finding out just how detailed the descriptions of the Antichrist are.

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