A Fire Is Seen From The East

 

A big flame will occur in the east for 3 or 7 days in a row, followed by darkness in the sky and a brand new redness unlike the usual color of red spreading over the sky. A proclamation will be heard in a language Earth can understand. (Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Rasul Barzanji, Al-Isha`ah li-Ashrat as-Sa`ah, p. 166)

 

 

In its section on the signs of the Mahdi's emergence, the book Iqd al-Durar states: "The emergence of a big flare, which is seen in the east, in the sky for three nights. Sighting of an extraordinary redness, not as red as the usual color of the dawn, and its spread over the horizon." (Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Al-Burhan fi `Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir az-Zaman, p. 32)

 

 

"This is a hadith narrated by Abu Ja`far b. Muhammad b. Ali (ra). When you see a flame rise in the east for three or seven days, then wait for the emergence of Al-i Muhammad; God will proclaim from the sky uttering the name of the Mahdi and everybody, whether in the east or the west, will hear that voice." (Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Al-Burhan fi `Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir az-Zaman, p. 32)

 

 

"I swear that a flame will engulf you. That flame is presently in an extinguished state at the valley called Berehut. That flame swallows up people with terrible pain inside it, burns down and destroys people and property, and spreads all over the world by flying like a cloud with the assistance of winds. Its heat at night is much higher than its daytime temperature. By going as deep as the center of Earth from above the heads of people, that flame becomes a terrible noise, just like the lightning between the ground and the sky," he narrated. (Mukhtasar Tazkirah al-Qurtubi, p. 461)

 

Here we give a brief explanation of this flame, as follows:

Some people wait for this flame as a sign that comes suddenly and for no particular reason, that never goes out, and that everyone in the world can see. Since the trial continues during the occurrence of these signs, just because people will see them does not mean that they will understand them. Thus, people will make their decisions by using their intellect, mind, conscience, and will. If the End Time signs had been narrated in full detail (e.g., how, when, and where they will occur), everybody would have to accept them. Thus, no differences of degree would be left among the people. For this reason, these hadiths have been communicated in a semi-implicit manner.

The sign concerning the flame must be evaluated in this manner. A flame is the result of an accident and neglect, or of a deliberate action. The hadith does not say that it must occur as a very strange and extraordinary sign. What really counts is its occurence in compliance with the properties of the flame described in the hadiths and the time of its occurrence. To do this, first we must consider its properties.

In July 1991, after Iraq invaded Kuwait, a huge fire spread throughout Kuwait and the Persian Gulf as the Iraqis fired Kuwait's oil wells. This is how this fire was covered in the media:

- The burning oil in Kuwait led to the deaths of people and animals. According to experts, half a million tons of oil went up into the atmosphere as smoke. Every day, more than 10,000 tons of soot, sulfur, carbon-dioxide and large quantities of hydrocarbons with their carcinogenic properties hang suspended over the Gulf. It is not just the Gulf but, on its behalf, the world is burning.1

- Two wells that were set alight produced as much oil as Turkey does in one day, and the smoke from them were even seen from Saudi Arabia, 55 kilometers away.2

- Hundreds of oil wells set alight in Kuwait are still burning fiercely. Experts say it will be "exceedingly difficult to put those fires out," and it is said that the fires may affect a wide area from Turkey to India for the next 10 years.

The fire and smoke coming from the wells constantly polluted the atmosphere. Daytime resembled night in Kuwait. The brown smoke that rose together with the flames reminded one of the sky as the autumn turns into winter� It has been stated that it would take at least a century for Kuwait to be completely habitable again. The smoke that rises with the flames is visible from miles away, totally blocking out the sky and making the country unfit to live in. The wealthy are abandoning Kuwait.

According to a statement by Abdullah Dabbagh, director of the research institute in Dhahran, in the New York Times, 106 species of fish, 180 species of mollusk, and 450 animal species living in the region struggled to survive because of the pollution in the Persian Gulf. It has been stated that smoke rising from 600 oil wells has spread to neighboring countries, and that smoke containing such carcinogenic substances as sulfur has turned into acid rain and reduced agricultural productivity.3

 

I swear that a fire will enfold you. That fire is currently lying extinguished in the valley known as Berehut [which is the name of a valley or a well].. (Mukhtasar Tazkirah al-Qurtubi, p. 461).4

 

In July 1991, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and its firing the Kuwaiti oil wells caused great fires in Kuwait and the Persian Gulf. Upon Saddam's command, soldiers fired Kuwait's oil wells.

The first part of the hadith says that the flame "is presently in an extinguished state." Given that the flame is the result of burning an inflammable substance, what waits in an extinguished state is not the flame itself but rather the material to be burned by the flame. In this context, this may mean underground oil. Berehut is the name of a well. This can be considered as an oil well. When the time comes, oil extracted from these wells will become a fire ready to be burned.

"That flame swallows up people with terrible pain inside it." That flame is not merely a burning flare, but also one that deprives people of their lives and possessions, making them miserable and sorrowful, and contaminating the surrounding environment.

"That flame burns down and destroys people and property." That flame causes the death of certain people. In addition, it burns down property, causing material damage and, by polluting the surrounding environment, destroys what people need in order to live.

" spreads all over the world by flying like a cloud with the assistance of winds." This particular element of the flame is the smoke that it produces. Thus, this metaphor indicates that the smoke will reach as high as the clouds and spread in all directions due to the wind.

"Its heat at night is much higher than its daytime temperature." In other words, the flame will burn around the clock.

"By going as deep as the center of Earth from above the heads of people, that flame makes a terrible noise, just like the thunder between the ground and the sky." Attention is drawn to the facts that the flame will climb very high into the air and cause a very strong noise and explosions resembling a thunder.

" a brand new redness unlike the usual color of red spreading over the sky" This part of the hadith points out that the incident will occur at night, for the flames of a large explosion occurring at night leads to a very strong illumination. The red illumination caused by such red flames is very different from the red "dawn" redness with which people are familiar. Such an illumination at night, which is very similar to daylight, is an extraordinary phenomenon.

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1. M. Necati Ozfatura, Kurtlar Sofrasında Ortadogu (The Middle East at the Wolves' Supper), 175.
2. Hurriyet (A Turkish Daily), January 23, 1991
3. Ozfatura, Kurtlar Sofrasında Ortadogu, 171.
4. Qamus Translation, vol. 1, p. 550

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