The Prophet’s Warning about Chaotic Times

The Prophet’s Warning about Chaotic Times


Hadīth

(This write-up is prepared by the Hadith Cell of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi)

عن عبد الرحمن بن عبد رب الكعبة قال دخلت المسجد فإذا عبد الله بن عمرو بن العاص جالس في ظل الكعبة والناس مجتمعون عليه. فأتيتهم فجلست إليه، فقال: كنا مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في سفر فنزلنا منزلا، فمنا من يصلح خباءه ومنا من ينتضل ومنا من هو في جشره. إذ نادى منادي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم الصلاة جامعة. فاجتمعنا إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم. فقال: إنه لم يكن نبي قبلي إلا كان حقا عليه أن يدل أمته على ما يعلمه خيرا لهم وينذرهم ما يعلمه شرا لهم. وإن أمتكم هذه جعلت عافيتها في أولها وسيصيب آخرها بلاء وأمور تنكرونها وتجيء فتن يرقق بعضها لبعض. وتجيء الفتنة، فيقول المؤمن: هذه مهلكتي. ثم تنكشف وتجيء الفتنة، فيقول المؤمن: هذه هذه. ثم تنكشف. فمن أحب أن يزحزح عن النار ويدخل الجنة، فلتأته منيته وهو يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر وليأت إلى الناس الذي يحب أن يؤتى إليه. ومن بايع إماما فأعطاه صفقة يده وثمرة قلبه، فليطعه ما استطاع، فإن جاء آخر ينازعه، فاضربوا عنق الآخر.

'Abd al-Rahmān ibn 'Abd Rabb al-Ka'bah said: I entered the mosque when 'Abdullāh ibn 'Amr ibn al-'Ās was sitting in the shade of the Ka'bah and the people had gathered around him. I approached them and sat listening to him. 'Abdullāh said: I accompanied the Messenger of God (sws) on a journey. We rested at a place. Some of us began to set their tents right, others began competing one another in target shooting, and others began to graze their animals.[1] Suddenly, an announcer of the Messenger of God (sws) announced that the people should gather for prayers;[2] so we gathered hurrying towards the Messenger of God (sws). The Prophet (sws) said: It was the duty of every prophet who has preceded me to guide his followers to what he knew was good for them and to admonish them against what he knew was bad for them.[3] And [as a part of this duty, I am warning you that] this group of yours has its days of peace during its initial period, and in the latter period of its existence it will be afflicted with trials[4] and with matters that you will find disagreeable and strange.[5] [In this latter phase of the life of this group], there will be tremendous trials one after the other, each making the previous one seem insignificant.[6] When they are afflicted with a trial, the believer will say: This is going to bring about my destruction. When this [trial] is over, they will be afflicted with another trial, and the believer will say: This surely is going to be it. Then it will be over too. Thus, whoever wishes to be delivered from the fire and admitted to the garden [of Paradise], death should come upon him while he believes in God and the Last Day[7] and he should treat people as he wishes himself to be treated by them.[8] Whoever pledges allegiance to a ruler[9] – laying his hand [on his hand][10] and pledging the sincerity of his heart to him – he should then remain obedient to him, to the best of his abilities. Then if another person comes and tries to snatch the rule away from him, break the neck of that other person.[11]

Summary

It is the duty of every prophet of God to not only guide and persuade his followers towards what is good for them, but also to warn and admonish them against all the pitfalls. One of the pitfalls that Muhammad (sws) warned about was that after the initial time of peace, harmony and unity, the Muslims will be faced with many afflictions and trials – each harder and graver than the previous one – on the political front, when people start fighting each other to take over the rule for themselves. When this time comes, every person who desires to be successful in the hereafter must remain steadfast on the belief in one God and in that of the Day of Judgment and must behave with his fellow human beings in the most suitable manner. With reference to the collectivity, every individual must remain obedient and submissive towards the Muslim rulers, to the best of his abilities. Furthermore, when the Muslim state is united under a single rule, any person who tries to overthrow the ruler, to snatch the rule away from him and to establish himself in the throne of authority through unconstitutional means and, thereby, divides the Muslim citizens of that state into factions, such a person is guilty of spreading mutiny and unrest in the land. According to the Prophet (sws), such a person should be subjected to the death penalty. This narrative clearly makes an application of the Qur'ānic directive of subjecting such people, who are guilty of spreading unrest in the land(فساد في الأرض), to a painful death (The Qur'ān, 5: 33).

Notes on the Text of the Narrative

This narrative, with some variations, has been reported in Muslim, Nos. 1844a, 1844b and 1844c, Nasā'ī, No. 4191, Ibn Mājah, No. 3956, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Nos. 6503 and 6793 Bayhaqī, Nos. 16469 and 16470, Ibn Abī Shaybah, Nos. 37109 and Nasā'ī's Al-Sunan al-Kubrā's Nos. 7814 and 8729.

In some narratives, as for instance in Ahmad ibn Hanbal, No. 6503, the words فاجتمعنا إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم. فقال... (so we gathered hurrying towards the Messenger of God (sws). He said…) have been reported as فاجتمعنا. فقام رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فخطبنا، فقال... (So we gathered [around the Prophet (sws)]. The Prophet (sws) stood up and addressed [the people], saying…. ).

In some narratives, as for instance in Ahmad ibn Hanbal, No. 6503, the words إلا كان حقا عليه أن يدل أمته (except that it was binding upon him to guide his followers) have been reported as إلا دل أمته (except that he guided his followers); in some narratives, as for instance in Ibn AbīShaybah, No. 37109, these words have been reported as إلا كان حق الله عليه أن يدل أمته (except that it was made binding by God upon him to guide his followers).

In some narratives, as for instance in Muslim, No. 1844a, the words على ما يعلمه خيرا لهم (on that which he knows to be good for them) have been reported as على خير ما يعلمه لهم (on all the good which he knows for them); in some narratives, as for instance in Ibn Abī Shaybah, No. 37109, these words have been reported as على ما هو خير لهم (on that which is good for them);

In some narratives, as for instance in Ahmad ibn Hanbal, No. 6503, the words ينذرهم(admonish them) have been replaced with يحذرهم (warn them);

In some narratives, as for instance in Muslim, No. 1844a, the words ما يعلمه شرا لهم (which he knows to be bad for them) have been reported as شر ما يعلمه لهم (all the bad that he knows is for them).

In some narrative, as for instance in Bayhaqī, No. 16469, the words وإن أمتكم هذه جعلت عافيتها في أولها (and this group of yours has its days of peace during its initial period) have been reported as ألا وإن عافية هذه الأمة في أولها (Hear! The days of peace for this group are in its initial period).

In some narratives, as for instance in Muslim, No. 1844a, the words جعلت عافيتها (its peace has been made) have synonymously been reported as جعل عافيتها.

In some narratives, as for instance in Ahmad ibn Hanbal, No. 6503, the words وسيصيب آخرها بلاء وأمور تنكرونها (and in the latter period of its existence it will be afflicted with trials and with matters that you will find disagreeable and strange) have been reported as وإن آخرها سيصيبهم بلاء شديد وأمور تنكرونها (and indeed in its later period they will be afflicted with extreme trials and matters that you will find disagreeable and strange); in some narratives, as for instance in Ibn Abī Shaybah, No. 37109, these words have been reported as وإن آخرها سيصيبهم بلاء وأمور تنكرونها (and indeed in its later period they will be afflicted with trials and matters that you will find disagreeable and strange); in some narratives, as for instance in Nasā'ī, No. 4191, these words have been reported as سيصيبهم بلاء وأمور ينكرونها (they will soon be afflicted with trials and matters that they find disagreeable and strange); in some narratives, as for instance in Ibn Mājah, No. 3956, these words have been reported as إن آخرهم يصيبهم بلاء وأمور تنكرونها (indeed in their latter period they will be afflicted with trials and matters that you find disagreeable and strange); in some narratives, as for instance in Bayhaqī, No. 16469, these words have been reported as سيصيب آخرها بلاء وفتن يدفق بعضها بعضا (its latter time will be faced with trials and afflictions one spilling from the other).

In some narratives, as for instance in Muslim, No. 1844a, the words تجيء فتن يرقق بعضها لبعض (trials will afflict, each succeeding one making the earlier seem desirable) have been reported as تجيء فتنة فيرقق بعضها بعضا (trials will afflict, so one will make the other seem desirable); in some narratives, as for instance in Nasā'ī, No. 4191, these words have been reported as تجيء فتن فيدقق بعضها لبعض (trials will afflict, so one will make the other seem small); in some narratives, as for instance in Ibn Mājah, No. 3956, these words have been reported as تجيء فتن يرقق بعضها بعضا (trials will afflict, one making the other seem desirable).

In some narratives, as for instance in Ibn Mājah, No. 3956, the words وتجيء الفتنة (and trials will afflict) have been omitted from the sentence وتجيء الفتنة، فيقول المؤمن: هذه مهلكتي (and trials will afflict in such a way that a believer would think, this will bring my destruction); in some narratives, as for instance in Bayhaqī, No. 16469, these words have been reported as تجيء الفتن (trials will afflict).

In some narratives, as for instance in Bayhaqī, No. 16469, the second occurrence of the phrase وتجيء الفتنة (and the trial will afflict) has been reported as وتجيء (and it will afflict/come [again]).

In some narrative, as for instance in Ahmad ibn Hanbal, No. 6503, the words فيقول المؤمن: هذه هذه (then the believer would say: This surely is going to be it) have been reported as فيقول المؤمن: هذه (then the believer would say: 'This [is it]); in some narratives, as for instance in Nasā'ī, No. 4191, these words have been reported as فيقول: هذه مهلكتي (then he would say: this is my destruction);

The words ثم تنكشف (Then it would be over too) after the words هذه، هذه(this is surely going to be it) have been reported in Ahmad ibn Hanbal, No. 6503.

In some narratives, as for instance in Ahmad ibn Hanbal, No. 6793, the sentence ثم تجيء فيقول هذه هذه ثم تنكشف (then it will afflict [again] and he would say: this is surely going to be it. Then it would be over too) has been repeated a third time after the its first two occurrences, as reported in the preferred text.

In some narratives, as for instance in Ahmad ibn Hanbal, No. 6503, the words فمن أحب أن يزحزح عن النار (Thus, whoever wishes to be delivered from the fire) have been reported as فمن سره منكم أن يزحزح عن النار (thus, whoever among you is happier that he be delivered from the fire); in some narratives, as for instance in Nasā'ī, No. 4191, these words have been reported as فمن أحب منكم أن يزحزح عن النار (thus, whoever among you wishes that he be delivered from the fire).

In some narratives, as for instance in Ahmad ibn Hanbal, No. 6503, the words ويدخل الجنة(and entered into the garden) have been reported as وأن يدخل الجنة(and that he be entered into the garden).

In some narratives, as for instance in Ahmad ibn Hanbal, No. 6503, the words فلتأته منيته (death should come upon him) have synonymously been reported as فلتدركه موتته; in some narratives, as for instance in Nasā'ī's al-Sunan al-Kubrā, No. 8729, these words have synonymously been reported as فليدركه موته.

In some narratives, as for instance in Nasā'ī, No. 4191, the words وهو يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر (while he believes in God and the Last Day) have been reported as وهو مؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر (while he is a believer in God and the Last Day).

In some narratives, as for instance in Ibn Abī Shaybah, No. 37109, the words وليأت إلى الناس الذي يحب أن يؤتى إليه (and he should treat people as he wishes himself to be treated by them) have been reported as وليأت إلى الناس الذي يحب أن يأتوا إليه (and he should treat people as he wishes them to treat him).

In some narratives, as for instance in Ibn Mājah, No. 3956, the words فأعطاه صفقة يده (hitting his hand [on his hand]) have been reported as فأعطاه صفقة يمينه (hitting his right hand on his)

In some narratives, as for instance in Muslim, No. 1844a, the words ما استطاع (as much as he can) have been reported as إن استطاع (if he can).

In some narratives, as for instance in Nasā'ī, No. 4191, the words فاضربوا عنق الآخر (break the neck of that other person) have synonymously been reported as فاضربوا رقبة الآخر.




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