The Signs of the Age of Fitnah (by Mufti Taqi Usmani)
"Until recently the people were not able to understand the real meaning of this Hadith, but now the meaning has become quite clear to them. It is narrated by Sayyidina Abdullah bin Umar that:
"When the belly of Makkah will be cleft open and through it will be dug out river-like passage (i.e. tunnels) and the buildings of the Holy City of Makkah will rise higher than its mountains when you observe these signs, then understand that the time of trial is near at hand"
Ibn `Umar when he saw people building houses on Abu Qubays and he said, “O Mujahid, when you see water in the road to Makka and you see buildings all on top of its mountains, then beware.” A variant has: “then know that the matter is at hand.” Ibn Hajar mentioned it in Fath al-Bari (Kitab al-Hajj, bab ayna yusalli al-zuhra yawma al-tarwiya) and he sourced it to al-Fakihi’s Tarikh Makka.
Nu`aym b. Hammad narrated it with its chain in Kitab al-Fitan (1:43 no. 59). Also Ibrahim al-Harbi in Gharib al-Hadith because of the word used for mountains (akhaashib).
"This Hadith has continued on records of the last fourteen centuries. The commentators of the Hadith felt baffled, while explaining this Hadith as they could not understand how belly of’ the Holy City of Makkah could be cleft asunder nor could they understand the meaning of digging out river like passages. It was really very difficult to imagine the sense of all these predictions. But by seeing today’s Makkah one feels that the Holy Prophet s.a.w. made these predictions, as if he e was actually seeing with his own eyes today’s Makkahtul-Mukarramah. Previously the commentators (Muhaddithin) interpreted this Hadith by saying that in their times Makkah was a dry and mountainous city, but in some future age Allah may cause rivers and canals to flow in that city. However today one feels by seeing these (underground) tunnels how the belly of Makkah has been cleft asunder.
The other sentence which the Holy Prophet spoke out in this Hadith is that the buildings of the Holy City of Makkah will rise higher than its mountains. A few years ago none could imagine that buildings would be built in Makkah which would rise higher than its mountains, as the city was surrounded by mountains on all sides. But go to Makkah and see for yourself how (high-rise) buildings higher than mountains have been built there.
It appears from this Hadith, as if fourteen centuries ago the Holy Prophet s.a.w. had seen these changes and conditions with his own eyes. All these things had been shown to him clearly through revelations and light of Prophetic knowledge which Allah had granted him The Holy Prophet s.a.w. has clearly mentioned one by one what trials and tribulations the Muslims will have to face in the times to come. He has also mentioned simultaneously what the Muslims should do at such a time.
(Source: http://www.central-mosque.com/signs/signsT.htm Adapted from Discourses On Islamic Way Of Life, Justice Mufti Taqi Usmani, Vol 7, page 233-235)