In the Islamic tradition, they are known as Ya’juj and Ma’juj, who are believed to be two corrupt forces that will cause mass destruction and devastation in the world before the Hour is upon us. In fact, their emergence on earth is one of the main signs of Yawm al-Qiyamah (The Day of Judgment). There is also no doubt that these two disbelieving tribes are amongst the descendants of Adam. They will rise swiftly and wreak havoc amongst mankind- leaving nothing behind. It will be like an infestation. In the Holy Quran, Allah (SWT) says:
"When Ya'juj and Ma'juj are let loose (from their Barrier) and they will swiftly swarm from every mound..." (Quran 21: 96)
Thousands of decades ago, during the reign of ‘Dhul-Qurnayn’- a pious and just king, the barbaric and brutal tribes of Ya’juj and Ma’juj were imprisoned behind an iron wall for spreading mischief and disruption amongst the people. Their account is given in detail in Surah Kahf of the Holy Book of Allah (SWT).
The imprisonment of Ya’juj and Ma’juj was at the hands of Dhul-Qurnayn himself, who was a God-fearing man and believed in Allah (SWT) and Allah (SWT) alone. He was endowed with exceptional character and strength in order to carry out the tasks before him. His rule extended to numerous countries and his mission was to extend his rule and conquer more lands so he could establish the laws of Allah (SWT) throughout the world.
On one of his Eastern expeditions, he came across two mountains surrounding a piece of land in between, which was being used as a passageway by people. Here, he encountered a tribe who brought his attention to the barbarous tribes of Ya’juj and Ma’juj, who, at the time, inhabited the territory between the two mountains where they were known for their acts of plunder, bloodshed, and cruelty. The people sought Dhul-Qurnayn’s help and pleaded him to build a barrier between them and Ya’juj and Ma’juj, to safeguard their people and lands from their corruption and brutality. Hence, Dhul-Qurnayn took it upon himself to build a robust iron wall, which essentially imprisoned Ya’juj and Ma’juj and restrained them.
Ya’juj and Ma’juj tried to escape and pierce the barrier with all their might but alas, all their efforts were to no avail. The iron wall was impenetrable. Hence, they began to dig under it and they will continue to do so until it is time and Allah (SWT) allows them to come out before the Hour is near. When Allah (SWT) decrees it, one day, Ya’juj and Ma’juj will escape and spread out and wreak havoc in this world; killing people, plants and everything in their path.
The account of these events is testified by the words of Allah (SWT) Himself, in the Surah Kahf of His blessed book, which leaves no room for doubt regarding the existence of Ya’juj and Ma’juj and validates the iron barrier built to keep them out. In the Surah, Allah (SWT) says:
“Until, when he reached between two mountains, he found, before (near) them, a people who scarcely understood a word.
They said, ‘O Dhu’l-Qarnayn! Verily! Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj are doing great mischief in the land. Shall we then pay you a tribute in order that you might erect a barrier between us and them?’
He said: ‘That (wealth, authority and power) in which my Lord has established me is better (than your tribute). So help me with strength (of men), I will erect between you and them a barrier. Give me pieces (blocks) of iron,’ then, when he had filled up the gap between the two mountain-cliffs, he said, ‘Blow,’ till when he had made it (red as) fire, he said, ‘Bring me molten copper to pour over it.’
So they [Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj] were made powerless to scale it or dig through it.
(Dhu’l-Qarnayn) said: ‘This is a mercy from my Lord, but when the Promise of my Lord comes, He shall level it down to the ground. And the Promise of my Lord is ever true.’”(Quran 18:93-98)
The emergence of Ya’juj and Ma’juj is one of the major signs of Qiyamah. They will emerge once Eesa (PBUH) has killed the Dajjal (The Anti-Christ). According to Prophetic traditions, their numbers (Ya’juj and Ma’juj) will be massive and they shall drink up the lake of Tiberias, in Palestine. Eesa (peace be upon him) and his followers will seek refuge from their disruption and harm in Mount Tur, until Allah (SWT) vanquishes Ya’juj and Ma’juj by sending worms that will eat their necks and thereafter, rain will wipe away their bodies into the sea, ridding this world of even their odor. This can be accounted for in the following hadith narrated by Al-Nawaas ibn Sam’aan (RA):
The Prophet (peace be upon him), while describing the signs of the Day of judgement said: “… and Allah will send Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj, swiftly swarming from every mound. They will pass the lake of Tiberias [in Palestine] and will drink everything that is in it2. Then the last of them will pass by and will say, ‘There used to be water here once.’ The Prophet of Allah, Eesaa (Jesus), and his companions, will be besieged until a bull’s head will be more precious to one of them than a hundred dinars are to any of you today. Eesaa (Jesus) and his companions will pray to Allah, and Allah will send a kind of worm (like that found in the noses of camels and sheep) on their (Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj) necks, and they will fall down dead, all at once. Then Eesaa (Jesus) and his companions will come down out of the place where they were besieged, and they will find hardly a hand span of land that is not filled with the stench (of Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj), so Eesaa (Jesus) and his companions will pray to Allah, and He will send birds like the necks of camels to carry them away and throw them wherever Allah wills.” (Sahih Muslim 18:68).
However, one of the ahadith, reported by Zaynab bint Jahsh (RA) indicates that the time of their emergence may be nearer than one would think. She reported that one day the Holy Prophet (PBUH) came to her in a state of fright and said:
“Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah, woe to the Arabs from an evil that has approached! Today a hole like this has been opened in the barrier of Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj,” and he made a circle with his thumb and forefinger. Zaynab bint Jahsh said: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, will we be destroyed even though there are righteous people among us?’ He said, ‘Yes, if evil becomes overwhelming.’” (Sahih Bukhaari, 3097)
Scholars believe this hadith could essentially pose as an indication that the gates of evil have been opened already and the release of Ya’juj and Ma’juj into the world has begun- or at least that their release has been set in motion.
Another authentic warning of the existence of Ya’juj and Ma’juj and their tireless efforts to escape every single day is a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah, who said:
“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said that Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj are digging every day until they can almost see sunlight, then the one who is in charge of them says, “Go back, we will dig again tomorrow.” Then Allah restores (the barrier) and makes it stronger than it was. (This will continue) until the appointed time. When Allah wishes to send them against the people, they will dig until they can almost see sunlight, then the one who is in charge of them will say, “Go back, we will dig again tomorrow, in sha Allah.” This time he will say “in sha Allah”, so when they come back (the next day), they will find it as they left it, so they will dig their way out and emerge to attack the people. They will dry up water (by drinking it, because of their great numbers), and the people will seek to protect themselves from them in their fortresses. They will fire their arrows into the sky, and the arrows will come back down covered in blood (as a test for them), and they will say, “We have defeated the people of the earth and have gained the upper hand over the people of heaven.” Then Allah will send worms on the napes of their necks, which will kill them. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, the beasts of the earth will grow fat from their flesh.” (Sahih Ibn Maajah 3298)
Hence, these Quranic indications and prophetic traditions leave little room to doubt the actual reality of this world and the existence of Ya’juj and Ma’juj, whose emergence into the world is now only a matter of time. As time is passing, the signs of Qiyamah are starting to uncover themselves, one by one. Hence, this world may not have as much time as we would like to believe.
After the destruction of Ya’juj and Ma’juj, the final signs of the Day of Resurrection will follow shortly, one after the other, until the very end, when the trumpet is blown and the world as we know it today, will cease to exist.