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Seek Knowledge as Far as China… Really?

Amad Abu Reem

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Everyone loves a catchy phrase, especially one that sends us off to the Asian tiger, China. Considering that there isn’t really any knowledge to get for English-speaking folks, either Islamic or secular in nature, perhaps China isn’t the greatest destination? (Excuse the tongue-in-cheek comment)

If there is one so-claimed hadith (Prophetic saying) that has gotten extensive coinage, I have to say it is this one. And though the message of seeking knowledge is consistent with the Prophetic teachings, unfortunately this hadith is likely not Prophetic. It is also somewhat amusing that some of the leading opponents of hadith still love to quote this one… I would call this an ironic form of poetic justice, because it really says a lot about how much these opponents actually know about the sciences of hadith!

Kudos to Hood, who has provided us with this short summarized takhrij (verification) of this not-so-Prophetic-saying.

Imad Shaykh is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Imad is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Avatar

    sonia

    March 11, 2007 at 9:34 PM

    I’m so disappointed!

    • Avatar

      Jeff

      March 26, 2015 at 7:52 AM

      What is wrong in leaving home ( Hijrat) for sake of knowledge. Knowledge is key to social, political, moral, ethical etc. Development of civilizations. Why MUSLIMS came to the USA?

    • Avatar

      robin

      March 9, 2016 at 2:42 PM

      you have to consider, in that time, China was great. they had the massive armada and vast trading network

  2. Avatar

    Ilm Seeker

    March 12, 2007 at 8:52 PM

    Mashallah, awesome blog! Keep it up inshallah.

    For those disappointed, follow up with a better, authentic hadith: Whoever travels in the path of knowledge, Allah will make it easy for them to walk the path to paradise.

  3. Avatar

    Ilm Seeker

    March 12, 2007 at 8:54 PM

    Some of the benefits and blessings of seeking knowledge can be found here, from a class by shaykh Yasir Qadhi: http://www.ilmfruits.com/blessings-of-knowledge/

  4. Avatar

    Philomantis

    March 18, 2007 at 3:46 PM

    Some of the “heavy hitters” amongst classical Hadîth scholars have declared this Hadîth weak, but al-Mizzî who compiled Tahthîb al-Kamâl fî Asmâ’ ar-Rijâl, who is by far the “heaviest hitter” of the scholars of grading narrators has called for caution to be exercised with this Hadîth. He has stated, “Perhaps, its status is rectified to Hasan on account of its wide circulation, ” reasoning that an outright forgery wouldn’t have reached such wide circulation amongst the Muslims.

    Likewise, al-Munâwî cites al-Dhahabî’s Talkhîs wherein he claims that it has numerous weak chains, but some are sound. However, I looked in al-Dhahabî’s Talkhîs Kîtâb al-Mawdû`ât and found that the part cited by al-Munâwî was absent. The fact that a classical work cites another classical work and that citation is no longer extant in the copies we have today is an unfortunately common evidence of the scores of “redactions” that “editors” have exercised upon these books of knowledge.

    One must understand that a Hadîth being Da`îf is not enough to say definitively that it is “not Prophetic”. Imâm Ahmad’s school necessitates appealing to Da`îf narrations (under strict prerequisites) before the application of Qîyâs (deduction), and this was one of the defining differences in his approach to jurisprudence as opposed to the approach of his beloved and respected contemporary Imâm ash-Shâfi`î.

    It would be safer and more wise to say that this Hadîth is correct in its meaning, but many scholars have declared it weak and Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      Parvez

      June 15, 2019 at 10:28 AM

      the additional statement of “going to china” is declared as maudu’ (fabricated) by Imam Ibn Hibban, Ibn al- Jauzi, al-Sakhawi and other scholars of hadith.

      [Al-Da’ifah, no. 416]

      Also Imam al-Bazzaar (d. 292), Ibn Hibbaan (d. 354), and Ibn Adi (d. 364), who lived during the classical era, have unauthenticated the Hadeeth

  5. Avatar

    ibnabeeomar

    March 19, 2007 at 1:20 AM

    from br. hood’s blog:

    Philomantis,
    The only one far greater than all of us mentioned on this page is our Beloved Messenger – May God shed his grace on him – and he is deserving of only the best being related about him and from him.

    After looking your comments at muslimmatters, and additionally that which was mentioned in the link provided by Ibn Ajibah, this is what is seeming to me:

    1- This addition of “seek knowledge as far as China” was as I mentioned above only narrated by “al-Hasan ibn Atiyyah from Abu Atikah Tarif ibn Salman from Anas from the Prophet…”.

    That said this particular chain of the hadith, which begins with “seeking knowledge is an obligation…” and ending with the reference to china is extremely weak, in fact as mentioned before several of the narrators were accused of fabrication.

    This type of narration cannot be supported by way of Isnad, even though its meanings could be substantiated through the generalities of the Quran and Sunnah. An example of this would be the hadith “My Lord taught me character and did so perfectly…” which is weak in isnad but is supported by the texts of the Quran and Sunnah. It is incorrect to narrate it as a direct statement of the Prophet, attributing it to him directly.

    So the first part of the hadith “seeking knowledge..” is supported in meaning by the numerous other narrations, while there is nothing of substance to support in any of the other narrations concerning china. which leads me to my nest point…

    2- Al-Mizzi’s statement was concerning the first part of the hadith, which is narrated from Anas from several different chains. This applying to the portion “talabu l-ilmi faraDatin ala kulli muslim…” seems most likely in that most (if not all) other authors that related al-Mizzi’s statement applied it to the narrations that begin with this phrase, yet do not contain the reference to China in the end (for ex. al-zarkashi and al-kattani apply his statement to this portion, not the china reference).

    Therefore this portion of the hadith is supported by the other narrations. This however has no bearing on the latter part about china. Hajj Gibril mentions this himself in the above link, although the manner in which he does so may be misleading to a non-specialist or someone not exposed to the science of takhrij.

    3- Hajj Gibril – May Allah guide him to what is best in this life and the next – states that his hadith is mashur, being a hadith with 5 to 9 narrators at each level of the chain.

    Upon cursory examination of the asa_ni_d containing the reference to china, there seems to be less than five at several levels of the chain back to anas, al-Bayhaqi says of this hadith that it is “shibhu mashur” (i.e. sort of) and therefore it is likely that the scholars who referred to this hadith as Mashur possibily meant the other meaning of mashur, i.e. that this is a popular hadith and is well known by the people. al-Sakhawi and al-’Ajluni including this in their books would support this, in that his book is an examination of hadith which are popular but may or may not be authentic.

    All in all the hadith seems to be extremely weak.

    And Allah knows best.

  6. Avatar

    Haitham Hamdan

    March 20, 2007 at 11:28 AM

    The scholarly rulings which were quoted in the original article should be sufficient to prove the weakness of this Hadeeth. Not only are we certain that the prophet PBUT did not say this statement, we are also certain that none of the Sahaba did either.

    Bother Philomantis’ reply is filled with inacurate information. For someone to think that Al-Mizzi is a “heavier hitter” than earlier scholars such as Ibn Adi, Al-Bazzaar and Ibn Hibbaan is a shame, to say the least.

    There are tens of authentic Hadeeths encouraging us to seek knowledge. There were books written to compile such Hadeeths. So we are in no need of such weak Hadeeth.

    Someone who is giving a speech on the importance of seeking knowledge could still mention this statement but without attributing it to the Prophet PBUH. He/she could say: It was said … or: a wise man once said …

    So, there is no reason to be disappointed!

    • Avatar

      kashif

      February 2, 2015 at 7:59 AM

      The reason probably for the disappointment is that those who refer to this hadith make a point that knowledge other than shariyh is also to be sought contrary to those who discard this hadith and refuse to acknowledge that anything other than shariyah is knowledge at all.

  7. Amad

    Amad

    March 20, 2007 at 3:10 PM

    jazakAllahkhair Sh. Haitham for stopping by and commenting on this.

    I’d like to introduce the Sheikh to those who don’t know him. He is the admin of the Multaqa-ahl-hadith, one of the most popular Islamic forums in Arabic on the net, with many students of knowledge and many transcripts (see this post). He is a Masters Student in at the American Islamic University (AIU).

  8. Avatar

    Philomantis

    March 23, 2007 at 2:04 PM

    Haitham Hamdan, jazâkullâhû khayr(an) for your response, but I’m afraid you’ve resorted to a bit of “my daddy is bigger than your daddy”. To call my opinion that al-Mizzî is one of the “heaviest hitters” in grading Hadîth narrators “a shame” is in itself ad hominem in nature and just plain untenable. His work on Rijâl is sufficient testimony to this. Also, how can 4 paragraphs be “filled with inacurate (sic) information”? Certainly, its not too lengthy for you to cite examples, is it? Please elaborate, if we could be so honored to read from you on this.

    Finally, we are not “certain” that the Prophet (sallallâhû `alayhî wa sallam) did not say this and for you to make such a statement is not consistent with the modus operandi of Hadîth scholarship…unless you can quote a single Muhaddith of repute from the classical era of Islamic scholarship who said, “The Prophet (sallallâhû `alayhî wa sallam) did not say this for an absolute fact”.

    w-Allâhu a`lam. was-salâm

  9. Avatar

    ِAbu Bakr

    March 23, 2007 at 7:26 PM

    – ” اطلبوا العلم ولو بالصين ”
    قال ابن عراق : (قال ابن حبان : حديث باطل لا أصل له ) .
    وقال ابن الجوزي في الموضوعات: بعد أن رواه بسنده (هذا حديث لا يصح عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم…)

    http://www.ahlalhdeeth.com/vb/showthread.php?t=17984

  10. Avatar

    Philomantis

    March 23, 2007 at 7:56 PM

    لا يصح عن رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) يعني أسانيدها ليست بصحيحة كما قيل عن كلّ أحاديث دون الأحاديث الصحيحة…والله تبارك وتعالى أعلم

  11. Avatar

    Philomantis

    March 23, 2007 at 8:02 PM

    I also want to make even more clear regarding what I quoted in English from al-Mizzî. His comments regarding the Hadîth’s wide circulation being a testimony in its favor appears to be speculation on his part. This can be seen from the language he used:

    ربما يصل بمجموعها إلى الحسن

    The fact that he started his sentence with “rubbamâ” meaning “perhaps” is an indication that he was speculating. I didn’t want anyone glossing over the “Perhaps” in my previous translation as this is a very important part of it.

    w-Allâhû A`lam

  12. Avatar

    Haitham Hamdan

    March 24, 2007 at 6:06 PM

    Dear brother Philomantis,

    You said in #4: “al-Mizzî … is by far the heaviest hitter …”.

    But when you referenced this statement in #8, you said: “al-Mizzî is one of the heaviest hitters”.

    The difference between the two statements is clear. You can not be trusted in referencing your own quotations!

    I take great issue with your first statement, and still consider it shameful!

    Another contradiction is that you asked me to “quote a single Muhaddith of repute from the classical era of Islamic scholarship”.

    It is strange that someone like you says this. You believe that al-Mizzi, who lived nowhere near the classical era (d. 742), is “by far the heaviest hitter”!

    Heavier than al-Bazzaar (d. 292), Ibn Hibbaan (d. 354), and Ibn Adi (d. 364), who lived during the classical era, and all three unauthenticated the Hadeeth.

    There are other problems in your posts with regards to: the contributions of Imam al-Mizzi, the relationship between Ilm al-Rijaal and the authentication of a Hadeeth, Imam Ahmad’s school … etc.

    I’m sorry to say that your thinking process is not yet scientific enough to be a good student of Hadeeth!

    Wallahu A’lam.

  13. Avatar

    philomantis

    March 26, 2007 at 1:09 PM

    Haitham, I find it very unfortunate that you find it necessary to behave this way, but it is, alas, of no surprise to me at all. If, in fact, I believe that al-Mizzî is the greatest scholar in the area of `Ilm ar-Rijâl this is hardly something “shameful”! You have not addressed a single point, but only said there are “problems” without citing a single one.

    If you want to discuss this matter like in a mature manner by addressing the evidences then I would enjoy such a discussion. Brother Hood has done this eloquently and thoroughly and it is a testimony to the fact that he is of another league altogether (وفقه الله).

    I make it a policy not to sully myself with pejorative laden disputation so I’ll have to leave discussion with you and wish you well. was-salâm

  14. Avatar

    Moiez

    March 27, 2007 at 9:26 AM

    Where is the Hadith?

  15. Avatar

    nuqtah

    March 28, 2007 at 6:58 AM

    Jzak Allahu khair sidi philomantis for maintaining proper decorum!

  16. Avatar

    Abu h

    March 28, 2007 at 7:44 AM

    I think Brother haitham only say that brother philomontos’s statement about Mizzi is shameful in the sense of hadith literature, not attacking him personaly.

    And Brother haitham also provided some proofs, because Brother philomontis forgot the classical scholars, and used later scholars for his argument, in this sense.

    Also, what was arabic translation for what Brother abu bakr said?

  17. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    March 28, 2007 at 8:31 AM

    “what was arabic translation for what Brother abu bakr said?”

    to summarize:

    ibn hibbaan said the hadith is baatil, and ibn al-jawzi mentioned this hadith in al-mawdoo’at (ie book of fabricated hadiths) and said that this hadith is not authentically related from the prophet (saw)..

  18. Avatar

    ِAbu Bakr

    March 28, 2007 at 3:38 PM

    Al-Mizzi’s work is primarily a compilation of the statements of the earlier Imams of Rijal. These Imams, amongst whom are ibn ‘Adi, ibn Hibban, and many others such as al-Bukhari, Abu Hatim, and Abu Zur’ah did not merely compile the statements of scholars concerning the narrators to reach a conclusion as to his status. They compiled the narrations of each narrator and compared their narrations with the narrations of their peers to distinguish mistakes from correct narrations.

    To illustrate, Imam Yahya b. Ma’in gathered the hadiths of Hammad b. Salamah, one of the important classical narrators from 18 different routes. Upon being asked the reason for doing so, he said, “I found mistakes in the narrations of Hammad so I wanted to distinguish his mistakes from the mistakes of his students.”

    This is something very difficult for later scholars, if for no other reason, because they did not have access to the sheer volume of narrations that the earlier scholars did. This, by far, makes them the “heaviest hitters” in the field of Rijal.

  19. Avatar

    Husam

    May 29, 2007 at 1:51 AM

    Wahhabis have it in their best interest to exclude China, since they want everyone to gain knowledge in Najd. Everything has to center around Saudi Arabia, otherwise it _must_ be a fake hadith! lol

  20. Avatar

    ibn abi 'Abdirrahman

    July 15, 2007 at 6:58 AM

    Brother Husam,

    your statement makes no sense at all. Many past and contemporary Salafi scholars are from ASh Shaam and not An Najd. Ibn Qayyim, Ibn Taimiyyah, Al Albaani and many more are all from Ash Shaam.

  21. Pingback: Authenticity of ‘Seek knowledge even as far as China’ « Islam in China

  22. Avatar

    R.S

    November 6, 2007 at 6:26 PM

    Why is it that the best hadiths are always considered weak while the stupid ones which doesn’t make any sense considered authentic. hmm..

  23. Avatar

    Abu Bakr

    November 6, 2007 at 6:44 PM

    If it is an authentic hadith, then please tell us its isnad and which major works of hadith it is reported

  24. Avatar

    Ismail sini

    November 13, 2007 at 4:50 PM

    It was said that sahaba Saad ibn waqqas was buried in China.I guess someone will doubte this.Whether you can verify this,if you can find results in Shaykh Ibn Ibn Taimiyyah’s works,it would be highly appreciated.But if you really can find the results in the works of Al Albaani,maybe most chinese muslim would be doubtful.

  25. Avatar

    TuhfaSino

    June 17, 2008 at 5:41 PM

    Interesting!

    Maybe we should focus on the reason for the widespread of this narration (I won’t call it hadith) and learn something from it.

    It basically contained the essential ingredients of a viral campaign: to show off.

    So, Chinese Muslims use this narration to their advantage, and non-Chinese Muslims use it too to show off that Islam is inclusive.

    Also, China as a destination of knowledge and civilization is another good point to make this narration spread. Just like quoting, hey do you know our prophet (SAW) said, “Seek knowledge even in Harvard or Oxford.”

    So, brothers and sisters, as with many other discussions about religion or politics, try to be nice and save your opponent face.

    IMHO, most of the people who quote this narration don’t want to declare it as unauthentic, (maybe it’s not as much as asking a priest to say trinity is wrong, but more like retracting the thing they showed off for years)… suddenly they are no longer cool, suddenly their PR slogan is attacked… Again, I’m not talking about scholars, I’m talking about regular people who blindly copy/pasting their favorite opinion just because that fits their comfort zone.

    As for authenticity: Was the word “China” or “Seen” known to Arabs at the time of the Prophet (SAW)? Check some old maps and you will be surprised.

    May Allah reward all of you and gather us again in Jannah

    Your Chinese brother who of the opinion that we shouldn’t attribute this narration to the Prophet (SAW) when we have so much doubts

  26. Avatar

    Sharif

    June 18, 2008 at 12:04 AM

    It doesn’t even sound like a hadith of the prophet (saw).

  27. Avatar

    Suhail

    June 18, 2008 at 12:46 PM

    what is this have to do with chinese and non chinese muslims. It has only to do with the authenticity of this narration.

  28. Pingback: Islam in China » Blog Archive » Authenticity of China Hadith

  29. Avatar

    Dr. Imam Khan Makhtum

    May 26, 2010 at 6:11 AM

    THREE HADITH ON CHINA, INDIA, TURKEY

    Ancient China and India were respectively known to the Arabs as As-Sin and Al-Hind respectively, with whom they had trade connection both on land and sea-routes, mainly on silk-routes. There were sea-silk routes too.
    About the need to go to China even, to educate is a genuine hadith and it is much popular among the Arabs and Persians to abouth this hadith of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and they really believe it is shahi/genuine hadith. Look:

    Mohd. Sharif Khan, 1986, Islamic Education, New Delhi: Ashish Publishing House, page, 15- quoted the hadith on the authority/ reference of Ibn Adi (925 AD) and Abul Fazl Baihaqi that :

    “Obtain Knowlwdge even if in China”
    (Ibn Adi & Behaqi).

    It will be a great disservice if you, in lack of knowledge and research, try to discredit this hadith. Prophet (pbuh) only stressed on secular education, which is much essential to know the Holy Quran in letter and spirit. Some Anogo-American, and European authours try to discredit this hadith, thus trying to belittle the all round achievement of early Chinese education. We also find a hadith that “Heaven smells from the East (India?)”.

    Another Hadith: “Learn the language of the Turks, for they will have a long reign” (Muhammad al-Kashghari, 940 AD).
    (see the “Bulletin of the School of African and Oriental Studies”, University of London London, vol XLI, part
    1, 1986, page 69).

    see the Seljuk Turk who arose out of Abbasid Empire/Baghdad of the Turks in c. 1056 AD from whom the Ottoman Empire (1299-1924 AD) sprung up which ruled much of SE Europe, N. Africa, Arabia, ex-Ummayad and ex-Abbasid domains.

    Don’t be surprised by such Hadith. The Rashidi Khalifs ruled in 632-661 AD only, Ummayad in 661-750 only and Abbasid in 750-1258 AD only. Take the single example, Ottoman/Usman Empire that ruled for more than 600 years, when Musatafa Kamal Pasha abolished the Caliphate in 1924. Even today, Turkish role in Islamic Affairs is paramount. Its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was recently conferred the Arab Nobel Prize for Service to Islam by king Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Even OIC General Secretary is Ecmeleddin Ishanoglu, a Turk. How true the latter Hadith is which the Prophet spelt out in his lifetime!!!!!

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#Islam

Lesson 13 From Surah Al -Kahf

Last verses of Surah Kahf

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

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Surah Kahf

Alhamdulillah last session we were able to cover the meanings of verses 83-98. InshAllah tonight we’ll explore the meanings of verses 99-110, which will bring us to the end of this noble and beautiful Surah. Just as a quick reminder, the last set of verses related the story of Dhul Qarnain, who was an upright and God-conscious ruler who ruled over the entire known world of his time. He was a righteous servant of Allah to whom Allah granted might, power and sovereignty over the world along with knowledge and wisdom. He was a special servant of God. We’re told about his journeys to the east, west, and north as well as his building of a huge wall to prevent Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj from escaping. This story highlighted the fitna and trial of might, power, leadership, and authority and showed us that the way to deal with it is through faith and sincerity. Dhul Qarnain was tested with a lot of wealth and power but it was unable to corrupt him because of his faith and sincerity. The Surah follows the story of Dhul Qarnain with a scene from the Day of Judgment.

Verse 99: And We shall leave them, on that day, to surge over one another like waves. And the trumpet shall be blown, and We shall gather them together.

The first part of this verse is referring to Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj and the second part refers to resurrection, when the Angel Isrāfīl will blow into the horn bringing all creation back to life. On that day, is referring to the day near the end of times when Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj will break through the barrier and surge down the mountains like waves upon humanity destroying everything in their way. As Allah ﷻ tells us in Surah Al-Anbiya, “Until when [the dam of] Gog and Magog has been opened and they, from every elevation, descend…” They will wreak havoc for a period of time known to Allah until they will be destroyed.

As we’ve covered before there will be two instances when the trumpet will be sounded. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has appointed the Angel Isrāfīl to blow into the trumpet. This will happen twice. The first time every single thing will be destroyed. The second time every single thing will be brought back to life. This is how the day of Resurrection will start. The sūr, which is a trumpet or a horn, will be blown and all of mankind will rise from their graves and come towards the plain of judgment. That’s what Allah ﷻ is mentioning here in this verse, “And the trumpet shall be blown, and We shall gather them together.”

The Surah then describes a scene from the day of Judgment that’s specific to the non-believers. Those who received the message and consciously chose to reject it and rebel against God and His messengers.

Verse 100-101: And We shall present Hell, on that Day, as an array before the non-believers, those whose eyes were veiled from the remembrance of Me, and could not hear.

Meaning on the Day of Judgment Allah ﷻ will show the non-believers Hell Fire, exposing it to them so that they can see it with their own eyes. They will see it with their own eyes and hear its raging and frightening sounds even before entering it. Allah then describes the non-believers with 3 characteristics, which are essentially three reasons why they will be punished in the hereafter:

1) “Those whose eyes were veiled from the remembrance of Me, and could not hear.” They weren’t able to understand the truth when it was presented to them because they were spiritually blind and deaf. They were blind to the signs of Allah’s existence and power all around them spread throughout the universe, so they never thought or reflected over them. On top of that, they weren’t able to understand what was being recited to them. Meaning, they consciously chose to ignore the message and turn away from it. Here Allah is contrasting their condition in the hereafter to their condition in the life of this world. In this world, they chose to turn away from belief in the fire and in the hereafter, they won’t have the option to turn away. The veil over their eyes will be removed and they will see the consequences of their choice.

2) The second is that they worshipped others besides Allah.

Verse 102: Do those who disbelieve reckon that they may take My servants as protectors apart from Me? Truly We have prepared Hell as a welcome for the disbelievers!

Allah is scolding them and showing them their mistake. Did they really think or believe that they could take created beings or inanimate objects as protectors apart from Me? Did they really believe that worshipping idols, angels or people would benefit them or help them in any way? There’s no help or protection except with Allah, who deserves to be worshipped alone without any partners. As Allah ﷻ says in Surah Maryam, “No! Those “gods” will deny their worship of them and will be against them opponents [on the Day of Judgment].” Allah then tells us that their punishment is Jahannam, which has been prepared as a resting place for them. “Truly We have prepared Hell as a welcome for the disbelievers!”

3) The third quality that the non-believers are described with is that they are fools for thinking that their actions in this world will be of any benefit to them in the Hereafter.

Verse 103-104: Say, “Shall We inform you who are the greatest losers in respect to their deeds? Those whose efforts go astray in the life of this world, while they think that they are virtuous in their works.

In this verse, Allah ﷻ is addressing the Prophet ﷺ directly and he’s telling him to pose this question to the non-believers. “Shall We inform you who are the greatest losers in respect to their deeds?” Do you want to know who the greatest and biggest losers are with respect to their deeds? They are the ones who did good deeds and put in effort, but all of it went to waste. Those individuals who were misguided in the life of this world so their actions were guided by their wants, desires, and pleasures. Their actions were misplaced and not guided by faith in Allah. The reason why all of their efforts will go to waste is their disbelief or absence of faith. As Allah says,

Verse 105-106: They are those who disbelieve in the signs of their Lord, and in the meeting with Him. So their deeds have gone to waste, and on the Day of Resurrection, We shall assign them no weight. That is their recompense, the Jahannam, for having disbelieved and for having taken My signs and My messengers in mockery.

The greatest losers with respect to their deeds are those who reject the signs of Allah in this world. Those who refuse to accept the oneness, might, power and magnificence of Allah, those who refuse to believe in life after death and accountability. Their deeds will go to waste and on the Day of Judgment, they won’t have any weight. We know from multiple verses and narrations that our deeds are going to be weighed on the Day of Judgment. And on the Day of Judgment, it’s not about the number of deeds but the quality. That’s why on the Day of Judgment our deeds won’t be counted but they will be weighed. It could be that the weight of one action or deed is more than a thousand other deeds.

Those actions that are devoid of faith and sincerity will have no weight whatsoever. As Allah ﷻ says in Surah Al-Furqān, “And We will regard what they have done of deeds and make them as dust dispersed.” Their recompense is the fire of Jahannam, and that is the ultimate justice and fairness. They get punishment as recompense because of their rejection and disbelief and mockery of Allah’s signs and His messengers. Allah ﷻ then contrasts the punishment of the non-believers with the reward of the believers in Paradise.

Verse 107-108: Those who believe and perform righteous deeds, theirs shall be the Gardens of Paradise as a welcome. Abiding therein forever, they don’t seek any change from it.

Just as Hell is a “welcome” for the non-believers, Paradise is a true “welcome” for the believers. Meaning, those who believe in the existence and oneness of Allah, believe in the Prophet ﷺ and life after death and that faith expresses itself through their actions, their reward will be Gardens of Paradise. Again we see this formula being mentioned, faith + righteous deeds. This is the simple formula to achieve success in this world and the next. Our faith has to be real and practical; it has to translate into action. If we do so then our reward will be Jannah al-Firdaws, which is the highest and most virtuous level of Paradise. The Prophet ﷺ said, “When you ask Allah for Paradise ask Him for Al-Firdaws. It is the highest level of Paradise, the middle of Paradise and the rivers of Paradise flow from it.”

  • إذا سألتم الله الجنة، فاسألوه الفردوس، فإنه أعلى الجنة، و أوسط الجنة، و منها تفجر أنهار الدنة.

In another narration, the Prophet ﷺ said, “In Paradise, there are a hundred levels, what is between every two levels is like what is between the heavens and the earth. Al-Firdaws is its highest level, and from it the four rivers of Paradise are made to flow forth. So when you ask Allah, ask Him for Al-Firdaws.”

  • “‏ فِي الْجَنَّةِ مِائَةُ دَرَجَةٍ مَا بَيْنَ كُلِّ دَرَجَتَيْنِ كَمَا بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالأَرْضِ وَالْفِرْدَوْسُ أَعْلاَهَا دَرَجَةً وَمِنْهَا تُفَجَّرُ أَنْهَارُ الْجَنَّةِ الأَرْبَعَةُ وَمِنْ فَوْقِهَا يَكُونُ الْعَرْشُ فَإِذَا سَأَلْتُمُ اللَّهَ فَسَلُوهُ الْفِرْدَوْسَ ‏”‏ ‏.

They will be in Paradise for all of eternity, enjoying all of its pleasures and not wanting or desiring anything other than it. Allah (swt) then tells us about the extent and vastness of His knowledge. That his knowledge is infinite. This is also a description of the greatness and status of the Qur’ān.

Verse 109: Say, “If the ocean were ink for the words of my Lord, the ocean would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like thereof to replenish it.”

“The words of my Lord” may be a reference to Allah’s infinite knowledge or wisdom or the meanings of the Qur’ān. Meaning that if the oceans were turned into ink and the words of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) were to be written with this ink, then the ink would run out and the words of Allah (swt) would still be left, even if more ink were to be brought. This is an example to make us understand the vastness of Allah’s knowledge, wisdom, and secrets. This example is being given to make us as human beings recognize the infinite nature of Allah’s knowledge as compared to or finite and limited knowledge.

The ocean is the largest and richest creation known to us as human beings. It takes up more than 70% of the surface of the Earth. And we use ink to document and record our knowledge, which we think is vast and amazing. So Allah gives this example of the ocean as ink being used to write and record His words. The entire ocean is used up and then it’s replenished but the words of Allah are still being written. This example is trying to help us comprehend the difference between the infinite and the finite. “And if all the trees on earth were pens, and if the sea and seven more added to it were ink, the words of Allah would not be exhausted. Truly Allah is Mighty, Wise.” This example should allow us to recognize the greatness and magnificence of Allah ﷻ as well as humble us as human beings as well.

We as human beings should never be deceived or fooled by our own intellect and abilities. No matter how much we learn and how advanced we become scientifically and technologically, it’s nothing compared to the infinite knowledge and wisdom of Allah ﷻ. Our knowledge compared to the knowledge of Allah is like a drop of water compared to all the oceans. Allah ﷻ then ends the noble Surah by reminding the Prophet (saw) about humility and us about the path of true salvation.

Verse 110: Say, “I am only a human being like you. It has been revealed to me that your God is one God. So whosoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let him perform righteous deeds and make no one a partner with his Lord in worship.

Allah ﷻ is speaking directly to the Prophet ﷺ. He’s telling him to tell his nation, his community, that he is a human being just like them. He’s not an Angel nor is he divine in any way. He eats, drinks, walks, talks and sleeps just like them. The only difference is that he ﷺ receives revelation from above from the Most High. It has been revealed to him that there is only one God, alone without any partners. So whoever believes in the meeting with their Lord, meaning they believe in the last day, resurrection, accountability and judgment. They know that the life of this world is temporary and finite and that the life of the hereafter is eternal and infinite, should “perform righteous deeds and make no one a partner with his Lord in worship.”

Righteous deeds include fulfilling all of our obligations, obeying the commands of Allah and staying away from His prohibitions. It includes all voluntary acts of worship such as praying, fasting, reading Quran, making dua, dhikr and charity. It includes being kind to our parents, spouses, children, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers. It even includes smiling at someone. There are multiple paths of righteousness in Islam.

We’re then reminded to not associate partners with Allah in our worship; to not commit shirk. There are two types of shirk: al-shirk al-akbar and al-shirk al-asghar. Al-Shirk Al-Akbar is associating partners with Allah; it’s an act of disbelief. Al-Shirk Al-Asghar refers to ostentation and showing off or not having sincerity in acts of worship. The Prophet ﷺ referred to ostentation as “the lesser idolatry.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “I do not fear that you will worship the sun, the stars and the moon, but I fear your worshipping other than Allah through ostentation.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “What I fear most for my community is doing things for other than the sake of Allah.” Ibn al-‘Arabi quotes his shaykh, “Let not the hours of your dear life pass away confronting contemporaries and socializing with friends. Watch out! Allah concluded His statement on the following verse…”

Alhamdulillah that brings us to then end of this noble and beautiful Surah. A Surah that has a special and unique status because the Prophet ﷺ encouraged us to recite it specifically on Fridays. Through four stories the Surah focuses on four different types of trials we’re going to face in this world and how to respond to them.

1) The story of the people of the cave represents the trial of faith. And we’re taught that one of the best ways to deal with it is through good company; surrounding ourselves with people of faith and righteousness.

2) The story of the owner of the two gardens is representative of the trial of wealth. And we’re taught the most powerful way to deal with it is by recognizing the reality of the life of this world.

3) The story of Musa (as) with Khidr is representative of the trial of knowledge and the way to deal with it is through seeking knowledge and humility.

4) The last story, the story of Dhul Qarnain is representative of the trial of power. The solution is sincerity and righte

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Qur’an Contemplations: Openings of Timeless Truths | Sh Abu Aaliyah Surkheel

Shaykh Abu Aaliyah Surkheel

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From the outset, the Qur’an establishes a link between worshipping Allah and knowing Him. The first half of the ‘Opening Chapter’ of the Qur’an, Surat al-Fatihah, states:

.‎الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ. الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ. مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ. إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ

All praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds. The All-Merciful, the Compassionate. Master of the Day of Judgement. You alone we worship, and Your help alone do we seek. [Q.1:1-4]

The first three verses teach us who Allah is, so that hearts may love, hope, fear and be in awe of Him. Only then does Allah ask us to declare our singular devotion and worship of Him. It is as if the Qur’an is saying: ‘You can’t worship or adore whom you don’t know.’

Thus in the first verse, Allah describes Himself as rabb – ‘Lord’. In the Quranic language, rabb is Master, Protector, Caretaker, Provider. And just as water descends from above as blessings and rises again to the skies as steam or vapour, so to the sending down of divine blessings and gifts; they are transformed into declarations of loving thanks and praise that ascend to the Lord of the Worlds. Reflecting on Allah’s care and kindness to us, as rabb; as Lord, then, nurtures an abiding sense of love for Allah in our hearts.

Allah then reveals that He, by His very nature, is al-rahman – the All-Merciful, and by dint of His divine act is al-rahim – the Compassionate. It has been said that al-rahman is like the blue sky: serene, vast and full of light; a canopy of protective care over us and over all things. The divine name, al-rahim is like warm rays, so to speak, touching, bathing and invigorating lives, places and events with this life-giving mercy. Those who flee from this joyous warmth, and opt to cover themselves from the light, choose to live in conditions of icy darkness. Knowing Allah is al-rahman, al-rahim, invites optimism; it instils hope (raja’) in Allah’s impulse to forgive, pardon, pity, overlook and, ultimately, to accept what little we offer Him as needy, fragile and imperfect creatures.

The Prophet ﷺ and his Companions once saw a woman frantically searching for a person among the warn-out and wounded. She then found a babe, her baby. She picked it up, huddled it to her chest and gave it to feed. On seeing this, the Prophet asked if such a woman could ever throw her baby into a fire or harms way? They all resoundingly replied, no; she could never do that; her maternal instincts of mercy would never permit it! The Prophet ﷺ went on to tell them:

 لَلَّهُ أَرْحَمُ بِعِبَادِهِ مِنْ هَذِهِ بِوَلَدِهَا – ‘Allah is more merciful to His creation than that mother is to her child.’ [Al-Bukhari, no.5653]

The final name of Allah that we encounter in this surah is: Malik – Master, King, Owner of all. It is Allah as Master, as King of Judgement Day, who stands at the end of every path. All things come finally to Him to be judged, recompensed and given their final place for the beliefs that defined who they are, the deeds that defined what they stood for and the sins that stand in their way. To know Allah as Malik, therefore, is to be wary, as well as apprehensive. It is a reason for hearts to be filled with a certain sense of fear (khawf) as well as trepidation concerning the final reckoning and one’s ultimate fate.

The Prophet ﷺ once visited a young boy on his death bed and asked him how he was. The boy replied: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I am between hoping in Allah and fearing for my sins.’ To which the Prophet ﷺ said:

‎لاَ يَجْتَمِعَانِ فِي قَلْبِ عَبْدٍ فِي مِثْلِ هَذَا الْمَوْطِنِ إِلاَّ أَعْطَاهُ اللَّهُ مَا يَرْجُو وَآمَنَهُ مِمَّا يَخَافُ

‘The like of these two qualities never unite in the heart of a servant except that Allah grants him what he hopes for and protects him from what he fears.” [Al-Tirmidhi, no.983]

Only after being made aware of these four names of Allah which, in turn, instil in hearts a sense of love, fear and hope in Allah, are we led to stating: You alone do we worship, and Your help alone do we seek. In other words, the order to worship comes after the hearts having come to know Allah – the object of their loving worship, reverence and adoration.

The surah concludes by teaching us to give voice to the universal hope, by asking to be guided to the path of Allah’s people and to help steer clear of the paths of misguidance and perdition:

‎اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ. صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ. غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّالِّينَ

Guide us to the Straight Path; the path of those whom You have favoured; not of those who incur wrath, nor of those who are astray. [Q.1:5-7]

Ameen!

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Lesson 12 From Surah Al-Kahf

Tafsir of Verses 83-98

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

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Alhamdulillah last session we were able to explore the meanings of verses 71-82. InshAllah tonight we’ll cover the meanings and lessons of verses 83-98. Just as a quick reminder the last passage of the Surah dealt with a very unique and interesting episode from the life of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him); the story of his encounter and journey with a man of God known as Khidr or Khadir. There are a number of very beneficial and practical lessons that we can learn from this particular story. That’s why it’s important for us to recite it, reflect over it and try to relate it to our daily lives.

In this next set of verses, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us the story of Dhul Qarnain, a just and righteous king who ruled over the entire known world of his time. He was a righteous servant of Allah to whom Allah granted might, power and sovereignty over the world along with knowledge and wisdom. He was a special servant of God. We’re told about his journeys to the east, west, and north as well as his building of a huge wall to prevent Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj from escaping. This narrative is the answer to the third question that the Quraysh asked the Prophet ﷺ after consulting with the Jews of Madinah. If you remember at the beginning of the Surah we talked about the sabab al-nuzūl or the circumstances and background in which the Surah was revealed.

Ibn ‘Abbas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that the Quraysh sent two men, Al-Nadr ibn Al-Hartih and ‘Uqbah ibn abi Mu’ayt, to the Jewish scholars of Madinah. The Quraysh told these two men to ask the Jews about Muhammad (saw), his characteristics and to inform them about some of his teachings because they knew more about Prophets since they were people of the book. So they arrived in Madinah and told the Rabbis about Muhammad (saw), about his characteristics, his message and his teachings. They said ask him three questions; if he answers them correctly then he is a prophet and a messenger. If he doesn’t answer them then he is a fake.

  • سلوه عن ثلاث، فإن أخبركم بهن فهو نبي و إن لم يفعل فالرجل متقول

Ask him about the young men who left their city in the distant past and what happened to them, because this is a unique event. Ask him about the person who traveled the East and the West and what happened to him. Ask him about the spirit and what it is.

So they came back and posed these three questions to the Prophet ﷺ. The Prophet ﷺ told them that he would reply to them the next day expecting Allah ﷻ to send down revelation, but he forgot to say inshAllah. Allah ﷻ didn’t send down any revelation for the next fifteen days (one narration says 3) and the Quraysh began to assume that he didn’t know the answers and that his claims to prophethood were false. After 15 days Allah ﷻ revealed the entire Surah and reminded the Prophet ﷺ to always say InshAllah.

This is the fourth story mentioned in the Surah after the story of the people of the cave, the owner of the two gardens and the story of Musa (as) and Khidr. Allah ﷻ introduces the story by saying,

Verse 83: They ask you about Dhul-Qarnain. Say, “I shall now recite to you an account of him.”

Meaning the Quraysh asked you about Dhul Qarnain after consulting with the Jews of Madinah so tell them you will now recite some of his story to them that will answer their question.

Who was Dhul Qarnain?

The Quran doesn’t tell us the exact identity of Dhul Qarnain, why he was given that name, and what time period he lived in or the exact location of his travels and rule. All these details are extra and unnecessary and immaterial; no aspect of our belief or action depends on knowing these details. However, the commentators do get into discussions regarding these details in an attempt to present historical facts. So we’ll go through a brief discussion about who he was and his time period.

Some historical narratives mention that there were four people who ruled over the entire known world of their respective times, 2 believers and 2 non-believers. Throughout history, there have been a few people who were given the name Dhul Qarnain and interestingly they all had the title Alexander as well. Some people held the opinion that the Dhul Qarnain mentioned in the Quran is the famous Alexander the Great, the Greek who had Aristotle as his teacher. Although he fits the description of having ruled the East and the West he can’t be the Dhul Qarnain mentioned in the Quran because he was a non-believer. This is the conclusion of ibn Kathīr.

According to ibn Kathīr, Dhul Qarnain lived during the time period of Ibrahim (as) and he also mentions that Khidr was his minister. Other researchers are of the opinion that the Dhul Qarnain mentioned in the Quran is the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great. In modern times this theory has been given more weight because of supporting evidence. As for the name Dhul Qarnain, it literally means “the person with two horns”. The name is due to his having reached the two ‘Horns’ of the Sun, east and west, where it rises and where it sets” during his journey. The following is what the Quran tells us about him.

Verse 84: Surely, We gave him power on earth and gave him means to (have) everything (he needs).

Meaning, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gave him all the material instruments and resources, knowledge, insight, and experience needed to be an effective ruler. Allah gave him everything he needed to maintain just rule, establish peace and extend his area of influence.

Verse 85-86: So he followed a course until when he reached the point of sunset, he found it setting into a murky spring, and found a people near it. We said, “O Dhul-Qarnain, either punish them or treat them well.”

He traveled towards the West until he reached where the sun sets, to the extreme west beyond which there was only an Ocean, which was most likely the Atlantic. There he found the sun setting into dark, muddy spring, meaning that it looked as if the sun were setting into the Sea. Depending on our own geographic location the sun seems to set into different places within the horizon. For example, from our perspective sometimes it looks like the sun is setting into the ocean, or behind a mountain or into the sand.

At this location, there was also a nation of disbelievers. So Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) told him through Ilham (inspiration) that he has a choice. He can either punish them for their disbelief or he could deal with them kindly, invite them to the truth and teach them. Then reward those who believe and punish those who choose to disbelieve. He chose to invite them to belief first and then reward the believers and punish the non-believers.

Verse 87-88: He said, “As for him who does wrong, we shall punish him, then he will be sent back to his Lord, and He will punish him with severe punishment. As for the one who believes and acts righteously, he will have the best (life) as reward, and we shall speak to him politely in our directions.”

This is an expression of his justice; Dhul Qarnain was a just ruler who ruled according to the dictates of faith, belief, and righteousness. Those who were presented with the truth, Islam, and then chose to consciously reject it would be punished in this world and then Allah will punish them in the next. And as for those who accept Islam, who affirm faith in Allah, His prophets and the last day and do righteous deeds will be rewarded. When those who do well in the community, pursuing a fair line of action in all their pursuits, receive a good reward for their actions, and when the unjust and oppressors receive a fair punishment and humiliation, then the whole community is motivated to follow the line of goodness. But when matters go wrong, and the unjust, oppressor and corrupt people are the ones who enjoy favor with the ruler, while those who are good and fair are persecuted, then the ruler’s power becomes no more than a tool of corruption and misery for the whole community. Nothing remains fair. The whole society sinks into chaos. He established peace and justice and this location and then decided to travel towards the East.

Verse 89-90: Thereafter, he followed a course until when he reached the point of sunrise; he found it rising over a people for whom We did not make any shelter against it.

Then he travelled towards the East and there he found a group of people who were not used to the ways of advanced people. They didn’t have homes or shelter or clothes to protect against the sun. These people were also non-believers so he dealt with them in the same way as he dealt with the previous people. He employed the same policy of fairness and justice and building a society on faith.

Verse 91: Thus it was, and Our knowledge fully comprehends whatever (wealth and equipment) he had with him.

Ibn Kathīr writes that the early commentators Mujahid and As-Suddi said, “This means that Allah knew everything about him and his army, and nothing was hidden from Him, even though they came from so many different nations and lands. For, ﴿لاَ يَخْفَى عَلَيْهِ شَىْءٌ فِي الاٌّرْضِ وَلاَ فِى السَّمَآءِ﴾ truly nothing is hidden from Allah in the Earth and in the heaven. After establishing justice and peace he decided to move north.

Verse 92-93: Thereafter he followed a course until he reached between the two mountains, he found by them a people who were almost unable to understand anything said.

Then he traveled towards the North until he reached a point between two mountains. There he found a nation of people who were barely able to understand what he was saying because of their foreign language. They said to him through a translator or through some other means.

Verse 94: They said, “O Dhul-Qarnain, the (tribes of) Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj (Gog and Magog) are mischief-makers on the earth. So, should we assign a payment for you on condition that you make a barrier between us and them?”

These people recognized that Dhul Qarnain was a fair and just ruler so they asked him for help against the menace of Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj. Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj is the name of a tribe of people. There’s a lot of speculation regarding who exactly they are and what area or region they’re from, but nothing can be said with certainty. They complained to Dhul Qarnain saying that they spread mischief and corruption in our lands by killing and destruction. If we pay you some money will you build a barrier between them and us to prevent them from reaching our town?

Verse 95: He said, “What my Lord has (already) given in my control is better (for me than the payment you are offering to me), so help me (only) with strength, and I shall make a barrier between you and them.

Basically, he told them that he doesn’t need their money, but he will need their help. Meaning, Allah ﷻ had given him such great wealth and power that he had no need of what they could offer him. He would provide this service simply for the sake of righteousness and doing good.

Verse 96: Bring me big pieces of iron.” (They proceeded accordingly) until when he leveled (the gap) between the two cliffs, he said, “Blow.” (They complied) until when he made it (like) fire, he said, “Bring me molten copper, and I will pour it upon this.”

So they brought pieces of iron and filled the space between the two mountains with it. Then they made this iron really hot and poured molten copper over it making a huge metal structure.

Verse 97: So they (Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj) were not able to climb it, nor were they able to make a hole in it.

They weren’t able to climb it because of its height nor were they able to make a hole in it because of its depth and strength. After building this giant barrier Dhul Qarnain said,

Verse 98: He said, “This is a mercy from my Lord. Then, when the promise of my Lord will come, He will make it leveled to the ground. The promise of my Lord is true.”

Meaning his ability to build such a strong and impenetrable barrier was a mercy from Allah ﷻ; it had nothing to do with his own strength or ability. The “promise of my Lord” is referring to the onset of the events that will lead to the Hour; the Day of Judgment. This includes the trials of Dajjāl and the return of ‘Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). One of these events will be that the barrier will crumble to dust and Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj will wreak havoc across the Earth. And once their barrier is opened and they’re let loose they will descend from every elevation, attacking humanity from every single corner and angle. They will come rushing down the mountains in huge groups like waves crashing down upon the people while destroying and killing everything in sight.

There are many sings of the Day of Judgment mentioned in the Quran and Ahādīth of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Some of them are minor and some of them are major. Some of them will happen further away from the Day of Judgment and others will happen very close to the Day of Judgment. For example, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) being appointed the last and final Messenger is one of the signs that the Day of Judgment is near. As the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) told us, “I and the Last Hour have been sent like this and (he while doing it) joined the forefinger with the middle finger.”

  • عَنْ أَنَسٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ بُعِثْتُ أَنَا وَالسَّاعَةُ كَهَاتَيْنِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ وَضَمَّ السَّبَّابَةَ وَالْوُسْطَى ‏.

Hudhaifah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that once the Companions were sitting together in the middle of a discussion and the Prophet (saw) came and asked what they were talking about. They said they were talking about the Day of Resurrection. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Indeed the Hour will not come until you see 10 signs before it.” He mentioned the smoke, Dajjal, the beast, the rising of the sun from the west, the return of ‘Isa ibn Maryam (as), Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj and three land-slides (sink holes); one in the East, one in the West and one in the Arabian Peninsula, at the end of which fire would burn forth from Yemen, and would drive people to the place of their assembly.”

Two of the greatest trials, greatest fitnahs, this Ummah will face before the Day of Resurrection is the fitnah of Dajjal and the attack of Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj. Both of these are major signs of the Day of Judgment and will happen very close to each other. There’s a very lengthy hadīth recorded in Sahīh Muslim narrated by Al-Nawwās ibn Sam‘ān raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) that gives the details of these two specific trials, meaning the trial of Dajjal and Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj. Basically, the narration tells us about the details of the fitnah of Dajjal; his description, how long he will stay and how exactly he’s going to test us. He will stay in this world for a period of forty days; but the first day will be equivalent to one year, the second day to one month and the rest of the days will be normal. He will move extremely swiftly across the Earth spreading his mischief and asking people to believe in him. He will continue to misguide and test people until ‘Isa (as) is sent back to this world. ‘Isa (as) will search for him until he catches up with him at the eastern gate of Ludd, located in Palestine, where he will kill him.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will then reveal to him, “I have brought forth from amongst My creatures people against whom none will be able to fight. Take My servants safely to mount (Tūr).” Then Allah will send Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj, as Allah says: “And they, from every elevation, will descend.”

Another narration from Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) describes what they will do when they descend upon the people. They will be seen coming down from the mountains like waves of people overwhelming humanity, killing and destroying everything in sight. ‘Isa (as) along with his companions will take refuge on Mount Tūr and the other Muslims will retreat to their own cities and strongholds. They (Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj) will drink all the water of the land until some of them will pass a river and drink it dry, then those who come after them will pass by that place and will say, “There used to be water here once.” Then there will be no one left except those who are in their strongholds and cities. Then one of them will say, “We have defeated the people of the earth; now the people of heaven are left.” One of them will shake his spear and hurl it into the sky, and it will come back stained with blood, as a test and a trial for them.

The narration of Al-Nawwās tells us that while this is happening, ‘Isa (as) and his companions will turn to Allah asking him to remove their distress. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will answer their prayer and send an epidemic that will completely wipe Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj out. Allah will send some sort of insect that will attack their necks, and in the morning they will all perish as one. Then `Isa and his companions will come down and they will not find a single spot on earth that is free from their putrefaction and stench. Then `Isa and his companions will again beseech Allah, and He will send birds with necks like those of Bactrian camels, and they will carry them and throw them wherever Allah wills. Then Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will send rain continuously for forty days to cleanse and purify the earth. The earth will be washed clean until it looks like a mirror. Then it will be said to the earth: bring forth your fruit and restore your blessing. On that day a group of people will be able to eat from one pomegranate and seek shade under its skin, and everything will be blessed. A camel will give so much milk that it will be sufficient for a whole group of people, and a cow will give so much milk that it will be sufficient for a whole clan, and a sheep will be sufficient for an entire household. (This period of extraordinary peace, protection, and blessings will last for forty years) At that time Allah will send a pleasant wind which will reach beneath their armpits and will take the soul of every Muslim — or every believer — and there will be left only the most evil of people who will commit fornication like mules, and then the Hour will come upon them.”

From other narrations, we learn that Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj have already made a hole in their wall. Zainab bint Jahash raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that once the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) woke up from sleep saying, “There is no being worthy of worship except Allah; there is a destruction in store for Arabia because of turmoil which is at hand, the barrier of Gog and Magog has opened so much. And Sufyan made a sign of ten with the help of his hand (in order to indicate the width of the gap) and I said: Allah’s Messenger, would we perish in spite of the fact that there would be good people amongst us? Thereupon he said: Of course, but only when the evil predominates.”

  • عَنْ زَيْنَبَ بِنْتِ جَحْشٍ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم اسْتَيْقَظَ مِنْ نَوْمِهِ وَهُوَ يَقُولُ ‏”‏ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَيْلٌ لِلْعَرَبِ مِنْ شَرٍّ قَدِ اقْتَرَبَ فُتِحَ الْيَوْمَ مِنْ رَدْمِ يَأْجُوجَ وَمَأْجُوجَ مِثْلُ هَذِهِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ وَعَقَدَ سُفْيَانُ بِيَدِهِ عَشَرَةً ‏.‏ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَنَهْلِكُ وَفِينَا الصَّالِحُونَ قَالَ ‏”‏ نَعَمْ إِذَا كَثُرَ الْخَبَثُ ‏”‏ ‏.

In a narration recorded in Tirmidhi Abu Hurairah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (saw) said: Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj continue digging through the wall built by Dhul Qarnain. Every day the dig so much that they reach the farthest part of the iron wall. They’re so close that light from the other side is almost visible. But at that point, they stop digging and decide that they will complete the task the following day. However, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) makes the wall just as thick and strong as it was before so when they come back they have to start all over again. This cycle of digging and re-building will continue as long as Allah wills. Then one day when it has been decreed for them to be released they will dig all the way to the end and say, “If Allah wills we will cross it tomorrow. So when they return the next day they will find the wall just as they left it and break through wreaking havoc on the Earth.

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