Assalamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I know that the signs of the Last Day are divided into major and minor however, I’m not sure what the criterion for distinguishing between the minor and major signs is?
Wa ‘alaikum as-salaam,
The criterion is that the major signs are (i) extremely near in time to the Day of Resurrection, (ii) occur in quick succession “like pearls falling off a broken necklace” (hadith in Sunan al-Tirmidhi), possibly even “in the last hour of a single day” (al-Sha`rani, al-Yawaqit wal-Jawahir chapter 65), and (iii) are mostly “khilaf al-`ada” (Abu al-`Abbas al-Qurtubi the teacher of the great mufassir), i.e. what we would call supernatural.
Furthermore those major signs are only 10 and the rest are all “early” or “middle” signs.
Those ten signs as listed by Shaykh Yusuf al-Nabhani in his 100-page abridgment of Sayyid Muhammad b. `Abd al-Rasul al-Barzanji’s 400-page al-Isha`a li-Ashrat al-Sa`a are:
1. The emergence of the Masih al-Dajjal (preceded by that of al-Mahdi, upon him peace)
2. The descent of `Isa (upon him peace)
3. The emergence of Ya’juj and Ma’juj
4. The ruin of Madina which precedes the Day of Resurrection by 40 years.
5. The destruction of the Ka`aba and theft of its adornments
6. The rising of the sun from the West
7. The emergence of the Beast
8. The emergence of the Smoke
9. A sweet wind will seize the lives of all the believers and spare only the unbelievers
10. The Qur’an will be lifted from the books and the hearts.
May Allah grant us and all believers safety here and hereafter.
Hajj Gibril Haddad