Dr. Jalali: The rise of Dajjal is regarded as one of the signs of the appearance of the Mahdi. He has been described in the traditions as a disbeliever who does not have more than one eye which is located on his forehead and shines like a star. On his forehead is written the following: "He is a disbeliever," which every person, literate or illiterate will be able to read. There will be an abundance of food and a
1 Abu al-Faraj Isfahani, al-Aghani, Vol. 16, p. 171.
2 Ta'rikh Tabari, Vol. 7, p. 25.
river of water with him at all the times. He will ride a white donkey whose each step will span a mile. At his command the sky will rain and the earth will grow vegetation. The earth will be at his discretion. He will bring the dead back to life. He will cry out in a loud voice that will be heard all over the world saying: "I am your almighty god who created you and who sustains you. Run towards me!"
It is said that there was a person during the Prophet's time who was called 'Abd Allah or Sa'd b. Sayda. The Prophet and his companions went to visit him in his house. He claimed to be a god. 'Umar wanted to kill him but the Prophet restrained him. He is still living and at the End of Time will emerge from Isfahan in the village of Yahudiyya.1
It is reported from Tamim al-Dari, a Christian convert to Islam in the 9 AH/630 CE, who said: "I saw Dajjal in chains and fetters on one of the islands in the west."2
Mr. Hoshyar: In English, Dajjal is known as the 'Antichrist', that is the one 'against' or the 'enemy' of Christ. The name Dajjal is not a proper noun of an individual, In Arabic any impostor or a deceiver is called 'Dajjal'. In the Bible also the word 'dajjal' can be seen in the same sense. In the First Letter of John 2:22 it is written:
Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, who denies the Father and the Son.
In another place in the same letter, 2:18, it is written:
Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come, therefore we know that it is the last hour.
And in 4:3, it says:
And every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already.
In the Second Letter of John, verse 7, it is written:
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men
1 Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 52, p. 193-197; Muslim, Sahih, Vol. 18, p. 46 to 87; Abu Dawud, Sunan, Vol. 2, p. 212.
2 Muslim, Sahih, Vol. 18, p. 79; Abu Dawud, Sunan, Vol 3, p. 214.
who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
From these references in the Bible it is evident that the word dajjal ('antichrist') is used in the meaning of a 'deceiver' and a 'liar.' Moreover, the story of the rise of the antichrist was well known among the Christians who awaited his rise.
It appears that Jesus (peace be upon him) had mentioned the emergence of the antichrist and had warned people about his sedition. Accordingly, Christians awaited him. In all probability, the antichrist mentioned by Jesus was the false messiah, a certain man named Dajjal, who appeared some five centuries following Jesus Christ and falsely claimed to be a prophet. It was he who was crucified and not Jesus, the Prophet. In Islam also there are a number of traditions about the existence of Dajjal. The Prophet used to warn people against the sedition of Dajjal, saying: "All the Prophets who came after Noah used to warn their community about the sedition of Dajjal."1
The Prophet is reported to have said: "The Day of Judgement will not take place until thirty Dajjals emerge claiming to be a prophet."2
'Ali b. Abi Talib said: "Be afraid of the two Dajjals who will be born of the descendants of Fatima. A Dajjal ('imposter') will arise from Dijla at Basra who is not from me. He will be the forerunner of a number of Dajjals ('deceivers')."3
In another tradition the Prophet said: "The Day of Judgement will not commence until thirty liars and Dajjal-like persons appear and ascribe falsehood to God and His Prophet."4
In still another tradition the Prophet is reported to have said: "Before the rise of Dajjal, more than seventy Dajjals ('impostors') will precede."5
From all these traditions it appears that 'Dajjal' is not the name of a specific person. Like the word 'antichrist' it is generally applied to any deceiver, imposter, and fraudulent person. In short, the roots of the story of Dajjal must be searched in the Bible and among the Christians. Thereafter, most of the hadith-reports on the subject, with all of their details, are to be found in the Sunni books and were transmitted by
1 Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 52, p. 197.
2 Abu Dawud, Sunan, Vol. 2, p.
3 al-Malahim wa al-fitan, p. 113.
4 Abu Dawud, Sunan, Vol 2, p.
5 Majma' al-zawa'id, Vol 7, p. 333.
their narrators. It is quite possible that the actual events concerning Dajjal, as foretold in some traditions, might be true. However, all the details about his features and character do not have the stamp of authenticity on them, since the majority of these descriptions, published in Bihar al-anwar and other books, are reported by unidentified narrators.1 Consequently, even if it is hypothetically admitted that the actual instance of the appearance of Dajjal is authentic, the details that are provided have certainly been colored by fictitious stories. We can maintain this much without difficulty: that in the Last Days and close to the emergence of the twelfth Imam, a man will be found who will be singularly a deceiver and an imposter, surpassing in wickedness all the previous Dajjals. He will mislead a group by his nihilistic claims. He will present himself to the people as if he is in control of their bread and water. People will become so delinquent in moral discernment that they will begin to believe that the entire universe is within his control. In his deceitful communication he will introduce good works as bad and bad as good. He will show hellfire as paradise, and paradise as hellfire. But his disbelief will be evident to all literate and illiterate persons.
However, there is no evidence to regard Sa'id b. Sayd as the promised Dajjal or to believe that he continues to live since the time of the Prophet. For, apart from the weakness in the chain of transmission, the Prophet is reported to have said this about Dajjal: "He will not enter the two cities of Mecca and Medina." On the contrary Sa'id b. Sayd had entered these cities. He died in Medina and some people were witness to his death.2 If it is hypothetically accepted that the Prophet did name Sa'id as Dajjal, he must have used the word in its common meaning as a 'deceiver' and a 'liar' rather than as the Dajjal who is part of the signs of the appearance of the Mahdi. In other words, when the Prophet met Sa'id he introduced him as a personification of an antichrist to his companions. Following that, when he informed the people about the emergence of Dajjal in the Final Days, those who heard him thought the reference was being made to
1 For the detailed chain of transmission and the problem of unknown reporters in that chain see: Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 52 where the traditions are reported with full documentation made up of some unidentified narrators.
2 Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 52, p. 199.
Sa'id b. Sayd whom he had called a Dajjal, and it is this Dajjal who would appear as one of the signs of the Last Days, akhir al-zaman. The tradition about Dajjal being alive and possessing a long age comes from this incident.