On the May 4, 2023, episode of Blogging Theology, host Dr. Paul Williams gave a talk at the Islamic Society at Cambridge University. During the Q&A, someone asked him the following question.

“You mentioned earlier there were a few things in the Bible which kind of raised doubts and questions. I know you mentioned the Divinity of Jesus, but what were some of the other ones?”

In response, Dr. Williams cited chapter 13 of the Gospel of Mark. In this passage, Jesus is claimed to have made a prophecy of the temple’s destruction and his second coming and that this was all to happen within a single generation. He further explained that since this clearly did not happen, therefore, he doubted the Bible.

For reference, here is the passage from the Gospel of Mark.

1As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. 28 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.

While listening to the interview, I found it strange that he considered the false prophecy mentioned in Mark 13 as a critical piece of evidence that shook his faith in the Bible. This was because earlier in the interview, around the 23-minute mark, he had mentioned that what drew him to Islam was the prophet’s history, as documented in his biographies compiled by Hadith sources.

Ironically, the Hadith makes a similar false prophecy regarding the coming of the Hour, yet this doesn’t seem to shake Dr. Williams’s faith regarding the Hadith.

According to the most authentic Hadith sources, it claims that the prophet Muhammad thought that the end of the world was to happen in the next few generations. In the following narrations, it states that the Hour will occur within 100 years.

Jabir b. ‘Abdullah reported: I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying this one month before his death: You asked me about the Last Hour whereas its knowledge is with Allah. “And I swear by Allah, not there will be any living soul on earth in a hundred years.”

حَدَّثَنِي هَارُونُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، وَحَجَّاجُ بْنُ الشَّاعِرِ، قَالاَ حَدَّثَنَا حَجَّاجُ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ، قَالَ قَالَ ابْنُ جُرَيْجٍ أَخْبَرَنِي أَبُو الزُّبَيْرِ، أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ جَابِرَ بْنَ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَمُوتَ بِشَهْرٍ ‏ “‏ تَسْأَلُونِي عَنِ السَّاعَةِ وَإِنَّمَا عِلْمُهَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَأُقْسِمُ بِاللَّهِ مَا عَلَى الأَرْضِ مِنْ نَفْسٍ مَنْفُوسَةٍ تَأْتِي عَلَيْهَا مِائَةُ سَنَةٍ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Sahih Muslim 2538a

وَأُقْسِمُwa-uqsimuAnd I swear
بِاللَّهِbillahiby Allah
عَلَى‘ala[is] on
الأَرْضِal-ardithe earth
مَنْفُوسَةٍmanfusatinthat is free [to move]
تَأْتِيta’ti[and] comes
عَلَيْهَا‘alayhaupon it
مِائَةُmi’atunone hundred

Notice that this Hadith, Muhammad’s response is similar to Jesus’s response in Mark 13:32 where it states that the knowledge is only with God, but then continues to give a timeframe of 100 years.

‘Abdullah b. Umar reported that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) led us ‘Isha’ prayer at the latter part of the night and when he had concluded it with salutations he stood up and said: Have you seen this night of yours? For a cap of one hundred years from it, none who is upon the surface of the earth will remain. Ibn Umar said: People were (not understanding) these words of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) which had been uttered pertaining to one hundred years. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) in fact meant (by these words) that on that day none from amongst those who had been living upon the earth (from amongst his Companions) would survive (after one hundred years) and that would be the end of this generation.

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ رَافِعٍ، وَعَبْدُ بْنُ حُمَيْدٍ، قَالَ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ رَافِعٍ حَدَّثَنَا وَقَالَ عَبْدٌ، أَخْبَرَنَا عَبْدُ الرَّزَّاقِ، أَخْبَرَنَا مَعْمَرٌ، عَنِ الزُّهْرِيِّ، أَخْبَرَنِي سَالِمُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، وَأَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ سُلَيْمَانَ أَنَّ عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عُمَرَ، قَالَ صَلَّى بِنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ذَاتَ لَيْلَةٍ صَلاَةَ الْعِشَاءِ فِي آخِرِ حَيَاتِهِ فَلَمَّا سَلَّمَ قَامَ فَقَالَ ‏ “‏ أَرَأَيْتَكُمْ لَيْلَتَكُمْ هَذِهِ فَإِنَّ عَلَى رَأْسِ مِائَةِ سَنَةٍ مِنْهَا لاَ يَبْقَى مِمَّنْ هُوَ عَلَى ظَهْرِ الأَرْضِ أَحَدٌ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ ابْنُ عُمَرَ فَوَهَلَ النَّاسُ فِي مَقَالَةِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم تِلْكَ فِيمَا يَتَحَدَّثُونَ مِنْ هَذِهِ الأَحَادِيثِ عَنْ مِائَةِ سَنَةٍ وَإِنَّمَا قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم لاَ يَبْقَى مِمَّنْ هُوَ الْيَوْمَ عَلَى ظَهْرِ الأَرْضِ ‏.‏ أَحَدٌ يُرِيدُ بِذَلِكَ أَنْ يَنْخَرِمَ ذَلِكَ الْقَرْنُ ‏.‏

Sahih Muslim 2537a

فَإِنَّfa’innāThen indeed
رَأْسِra’sithe cap of
مِائَةِmi’atia hundred
مِنْهَاminhāfrom it
يَبْقَىyabqāit remains
مِمَّنْmimmanany whom
هُوَhuwahe is
ظَهْرِẓahrithe surface of
الأَرْضِal-arḍithe earth

Both the above Hadith are clear that this will impact all life on Earth. Yet, the narrator of the second Hadith attempted to cope by stating that the mention of 100 years in the Hadith was only about the companions of that time, despite the Hadith clearly not stating “none of you” but instead that “none would survive on the surface of the earth” which implies that this was about all of mankind.

In another narration, it states that the youngest child among the prophet would not live to old age before the hour was to come.

Anas reported that a person asked Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as to when the Last Hour would come. He had in his presence a young boy of the Ansar who was called Muhammad. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: If this young boy lives, he may not reach an old age till the Hour arises.

وَحَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا يُونُسُ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ، عَنْ حَمَّادِ بْنِ سَلَمَةَ، عَنْ ثَابِتٍ، عَنْ أَنَسٍ، أَنَّ رَجُلاً، سَأَلَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم مَتَى تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ وَعِنْدَهُ غُلاَمٌ مِنَ الأَنْصَارِ يُقَالُ لَهُ مُحَمَّدٌ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ إِنْ يَعِشْ هَذَا الْغُلاَمُ فَعَسَى أَنْ لاَ يُدْرِكَهُ الْهَرَمُ حَتَّى تَقُومَ السَّاعَةُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Sahih Muslim 2953a

يَعِشْya’ishhe lives
الْغُلاَمُal-ghulamu[the] boy
فَعَسَىfa’asathen may
يُدْرِكَهُyudrikahuhe reaches him
الْهَرَمُal-haramuthe old age
تَقُومَtaqumaarises / established
السَّاعَةُal-sa’atuthe Hour.

Some traditionalists attempt to ration out of this Hadith by stating that the word “fa’asa” ( فَعَسَى ) implies that the prophet was unsure. They interpret this to mean that the boy may live past an old age, but it is clear in the reading that the uncertainty was that the boy most likely will not reach old age before the Hour is established. This sets a cap, similar to the previous Hadith that by the time the boy is old, the Hour will be established.

In another Hadith, we see a similar statement, reinforcing that the Hour would be established in an even shorter time horizon.

Narrated Anas: A bedouin came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! When will The Hour be established?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Wailaka (Woe to you), What have you prepared for it?” The bedouin said, “I have not prepared anything for it, except that I love Allah and H is Apostle.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “You will be with those whom you love.” We (the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) ) said, “And will we too be so? The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Yes.” So we became very glad on that day. In the meantime, a slave of Al-Mughira passed by, and he was of the same age as I was. The Prophet (ﷺ) said. “If this (slave) should live long, he will not reach the geriatric old age, but the Hour will be established.”

حَدَّثَنَا عَمْرُو بْنُ عَاصِمٍ، حَدَّثَنَا هَمَّامٌ، عَنْ قَتَادَةَ، عَنْ أَنَسٍ، أَنَّ رَجُلاً، مِنْ أَهْلِ الْبَادِيَةِ أَتَى النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ مَتَى السَّاعَةُ قَائِمَةٌ قَالَ ‏”‏ وَيْلَكَ وَمَا أَعْدَدْتَ لَهَا ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَ مَا أَعْدَدْتُ لَهَا إِلاَّ أَنِّي أُحِبُّ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ إِنَّكَ مَعَ مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَقُلْنَا وَنَحْنُ كَذَلِكَ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ نَعَمْ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَفَرِحْنَا يَوْمَئِذٍ فَرَحًا شَدِيدًا، فَمَرَّ غُلاَمٌ لِلْمُغِيرَةِ وَكَانَ مِنْ أَقْرَانِي فَقَالَ ‏”‏ إِنْ أُخِّرَ هَذَا فَلَنْ يُدْرِكَهُ الْهَرَمُ حَتَّى تَقُومَ السَّاعَةُ ‏”‏‏.‏ وَاخْتَصَرَهُ شُعْبَةُ عَنْ قَتَادَةَ سَمِعْتُ أَنَسًا عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏.‏

Sahih al-Bukhari 6167

ArabicTransliterationWord-by-word Translation
هَذَاhadhathis (the slave’s life)
فَلَنْfalanthen not
يُدْرِكَهُyudrikahuwill reach him
الْهَرَمُalharamuthe old age
تَقُومَtaqumait will be estsblished
السَّاعَةُassa’atuthe Hour

Another argument is that traditionalists claim was that, no one thought the world was going to end in that time frame. Except based on the commentary by the narrator of these Hadith, they were unsure what to make of this statement, so they resorted to clever revisionism of interpretation to cover the contradiction. It is expected that since these compilations were put into books 200+ years after their supposed statement, the compilers were well aware that the Hour did not pan out like it was prophecized. Hence, they needed to find reasoning to reconcile this as their entire life’s work depended on this. Yet if we look at the history of Tabari (839–923 CE), who came after the publications of these Hadith, we see that even among such imminent scholars, they believed that the end of the world was upon them.

In the History of al-Tabari, Volume 1, p. 183-184, Tabari calculated, based on Hadith, that the lifespan of the Earth to Muhammad was 6,500 years, and from the coming of Muhammad to the End of the World would be another 500 years, ~1132 CE.

There are only one of two possibilities. Either these narrations are correct, and the prophet provided a false prophecy, or the most sound Hadith are wrong, and the prophet never made such statements.

Question to Dr. Williams

If Mark 13 was reason enough for Dr. Williams to doubt the authenticity of the Bible and the religion it promotes, then why wouldn’t the same apply to the authenticity of the Hadith and the religious laws that the Hadith promotes? Why continue to consider the Hadith as an authentic source for religious law when it is so unreliable on something that we can all witness was not true? Why the double standard for the Bible and not for the Hadith?

Discussion starts @ ~53min mark

One thought on “Blogging Theology: Mark 13 & Hadith

  1. From the Desk of the Imamaa: Brother’s and sister’s Shalaamun Alaykum may Allaha guide you in everything you do! Please find attached here a response to a young woman who just accepted to follow Islam, may Allah forgive her and guide her to his true Deena Al-Haniffiyah, Millata Ibrahima Hanifaa! Please read and respond: @Sade Shakur, Salaamun Alayk sister I am Imamaa Bilal. I am writing you because I see in this post that uninformed people are suggesting to you un-Qur’anic things to read such as Hadith’s and Sunna. Allah told the believers that His book, the Qur’an is complete, perfect, and fully detailed, Surah 6, Ayat 114 Allah says “Nothing have We omitted from the Book and they (all) shall be gathered to their Rabb (Lord) in the end”. Allah, the Knower of all things, the Cognizant, knew that after the death of the Prophet Muhammad people would invent lies about the prophet and call it Hadith and Sunna. Allah uses the word Hadith in the Qur’an. Allah gave His true believers (Hanifa Mu’mina) a strong, clear, and easy-to-understand book starting with the word Hadith and Hu told us which Hadith we should accept, the HADITH OF Allah ONLY the Qur’an! The word Hadith has been used several times in the Qur’an (31 times in different forms, 18 of them with the exact word HADITH). Sister, not a single Hadith in the Qur’an refers to what Muslims nowadays believe is Muhammad’s Hadith. The word Sunna in the Qur’an never refers to “Muhammad’s Sunna”, in fact, it is called Sunnata Allah!

    Sister read the Qur’an, a review of the use of the word Hadith in the Qur’an can show any sincere believer that Allah wants us to follow no other Hadith but His Hadith, the QUR’AN. Allah says this in the Qur’an about Hadith. The words are clear and easy to understand but those who insist on defying Allah cannot see it, understand it, or feel it.

    Surah 7, Ayat 185: “Have they not looked at the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all the things Allah has created? Does it ever occur to them that the end of their life may be near? Which HADITH, besides this (Qur’an) do they believe in?

    Surah 31, Ayat 6: “Among the people, there are those (Muslims) who uphold baseless HADITH, and thus divert others from the path of Allah (Sabil Allah) without knowledge, and take it in vain. These have incurred a shameful retribution.

    Surah 39, Ayat 23: “Allah has revealed herein the BEST HADITH; a book that is consistent and points out both ways. The skins of those who reverence their Rabb (Lord) cringe therefrom, then their skins and their hearts soften up for Allah’s message. Such is Allah’s guidance; he bestows it upon whomever He wills. As for those sent astray by Allah, nothing can guide them.

    Surah 45, Ayat 6: “These are Allah’s revelations (Qur’an) that we recite to you truthfully. In which HADITH other than Allah and His revelations do they believe? Surah 52, Ayat 34: “Let them produce a HADITH like this (Qur’an) if they are truthful.

    Surah 68, Ayat 44: “Therefore, let Me deal with those who reject this HADITH(Qur’an); we will lead them on whence they never perceive.

    Surah 77:50: “Which HADITH other than this do they uphold?

    Sister you may ask yourself, “Why did Allah permit these man-made Hadiths? Allah answer’s your question in the next Ayat.
    Surah 6, Ayat 112-113: “We have permitted the enemies of every prophet – human and jinn devils – to inspire in each other FANCY WORDS, in order to deceive. Had your Rabb (Lord) willed, they would not have done it. You shall disregard them and their FABRICATIONS. This is to let the minds of those who do not believe in the Hereafter listen to such FABRICATIONS, and accept them, and thus expose their real convictions”.

    Should we believe Bukhari, Muslim, and the other fabricators of man-made Hadith?! No indeed, several writers have informed us of this: Ibn Saeed Al-Khudry reported that the Messenger of Allah had said: “Do not write anything from me EXCEPT QURAN. Anyone who wrote anything other than the Quran shall erase it.”

    Ibn Hanbal: “Zayd Ibn Thabit (The Prophet’s closest revelation writer) visited the Khalifa Mu’aawiyah (more than 30 years after the Prophet’s death), and told him a story about the Prophet. Mu’aawiyah liked the story and ordered someone to write it down. But Zayd said. ” the Messenger of Allah ordered us NEVER to write anything of his hadith (facts about him),”

    In the famous book, “Taq-yeed Al-Ilm”, Abu Hurayra said, the Messenger of Allah was informed that some people are writing his hadiths. He took to the pulpit of the mosque and said, “What are these books that I heard you wrote? I am just a human being. Anyone who has any of these writings should bring it here. Abu Hurayra said we collected all these and burned them in fire.”

    Ibn Hanbal in his Musnad book, narrates a hadith in which Abdullah Ibn Omar said, “the Messenger of Allah one day came out to us as if he was going to depart us soon and said, “When I depart you (die), hold to the book of Allah, prohibit what it prohibits and accept as halal what it makes halal.”

    Lastly sister, in the book “Taq-yeed Al-Ilm”, Abu Saeed Al-Khudry said, “I asked the messenger of Allah a permission to write his hadiths, but he refused to give me a permission.” Sister be careful, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the path to heaven/Paradise is found in obedience to Allah as ordered in the Qur’an! I ask Allaha to guide you away from misbelief and disbelief, accept the message of the Qur’an Alone! Salaamun Alaykum


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