Sunday, January 28, 2018

Shaykh Taqiuddin Nabhani’s Argument for God

By Shafiul Huq
Shaykh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani’s (may Allah have mercy on him) argument for the existence of a creator is best summarised in the brief paragraph below from his concise, yet profound, book, Nidham ul-Islam:
“The reason that things must have a creator, is because the things which are comprehensible by the mind that is man, life, and the universe, are limited, weak, imperfect, and are in need for something other than themselves. Man is limited, because he grows in every aspect to a certain limit that he cannot surpass, so he is limited. Life is limited, because it manifests itself only in individuals, and what is noticed by the senses is that it is concluded with the individual, thus it is limited. The universe is limited, because it is the sum of celestial bodies, and each body is limited; and the sum of limited things is self-evidently limited. Thus, man, life, and the universe are definitely limited. When we ponder on the limited (thing), we see that it is not azali  (eternal – limitless), otherwise it would not have been limited, and therefore, it must be created by something else, which is the Creator of man, life and the universe. This Creator, is either created by someone else, creator of himself, or azali (eternal – limitless) whose existence is indispensable (wajib ul-wujood ). It is absolutely false that he is created by someone else, because he would then be limited. As for being self-created, the ramification of which would be he is created by himself and creating himself simultaneously. This is simply absurd. Hence, the creator must be azali  (eternal – limitless) whose existence is indispensable. He is Allah.”
He makes a more elaborate case in his book Islamic Personality volume 1 (IP1) and instead of merely repeating the same points in their entirety in this post, I would merely like to highlight some important features of his line of reasoning, which give his argument a slightly different, yet a very effective and insightful, angle to most other common arguments we hear of God’s existence.
The important thing is to note how Shaykh Taqiuddin builds a coherent and powerful case in a somewhat unique manner.
Firstly, it does seem from the paragraph quoted above that he uses ontological categories similar to those traditionally used by mainstream sunni schools of ‘aqeedah, such as, contingent, necessary and absurd/impossible.
For example, he describes man, life and the universe as limited, the Creator who is eternal as necessary, and the possibility of a created-Creator as impossible/absurd. However, to establish the contingency of man, life and universe he points to their limitations and dependency, rather than the fact that, rationally, their existence and non-existence are both possible (which is the approach that I’ve come across in my study of some Ash’ari texts). This is not a major difference but as we will come to see a powerful articulation of the true nature of finitude and dependency is central to the Shaykh’s argument.
Islamic Personality Volume 1 - the book in which Shaykh Taqiuddin elaborates on the argument for God initially covered in The System of Islam.
Islamic Personality Volume 1 – the book in which Shaykh Taqiuddin elaborates on the argument for God initially covered in The System of Islam.
Given that the limits and dependence of man, life and universe are sensorially perceivable, the question arises, what do they depend on? Herein, lies the possibility of a significant misunderstanding which must be avoided.
One argument often made is that the universe is a chain of dependencies e.g. A depends on B, B depends on C, and so on and so forth, which can be a problematic affirmation to make. By arguing a chain of dependencies, we then need to refute the possibility of an actual infinite to prove the existence of a Creator. However, this approach has two major problems. Firstly, the dependence of A on B, and B on C, while each of them is limited and finite, is merely a perceived dependence and not real. Secondly, it reduces the Creator to merely being a first cause who initiates the universe and then lets it run its own course based on a relationship of cause and effect.
One does not find Shaykh Taqi claim such a chain of dependency either inNidham or IP1. Rather, he claims that each of these dependent things, even though seemingly complementing each other, actually depends on other than any one of their own kind. Consider the below lines, for example, from IP1:
“Nor should it be said that a thing as it is, is matter and is dependent on matter, thus being dependent on itself and not on something other than itself, and thus (in reality) is independent. This should not be said because even if we concede that a thing is matter and depends on matter, this dependence by matter is dependence on something other than matter not dependence on matter itself. This is so because an entity of matter alone cannot complement the dependence of another entity of matter; rather something other than matter is needed for this dependence to be complemented, and thus matter is dependent on something else and not on itself. For example, water in order to transform into vapour needs heat. Even if we conceded that heat is matter and water is matter, the mere availability of heat is not adequate for water to transform; a specific amount of heat is needed for transformation to take place. So water is dependent on this specific amount of heat. The magnitude of this amount is imposed by other than the water and other than the heat, that is, by other than matter, and matter is compelled to behave according to it. Thus matter is dependent on that which determines the magnitude for it and so it is dependent on other than matter. Hence the dependence of matter on non-matter is a definite fact; thus matter is needy, being created by a Creator. Therefore all sensorially perceivable comprehensible things are created by a Creator.”
The above example is critical. The order, form, proportion, magnitude, timespan, and other factors that delimit everything within the universe and the universe as a whole are not inherent to them but are imposed upon them by other than them. Hence, they stand in need of other than themselves. This negates any interdependence, in any real sense, of a limited thing to another.
The fact of their dependence decisively prove their non-eternality, their finitude, their temporality, and hence their origination, their creation.
Interestingly, no sooner does Shaykh Taqi establish this premise, than he concludes that these dependent things must be created by a Creator. But what about the typical and oft-repeated question – “Who created the creator?”
The standard approach for most theists here is to prove the absurdity of an infinite regress, which might well be a good approach.
However, on this point, the Shaykh does not delve into the most commonly heard arguments against the possibility of an actual infinite. Instead he addresses the issue from a different angle by making a beautiful point about creation, and he merely replies:
“It is absolutely false that he is created by someone else, because he would then be limited.”
This seems more like a claim rather than a well-reasoned argument. But as one may increasingly realise, scholars of immense intellectual depth often pack profound messages in terse expressions.
Let’s look back at his statement, “It is absolutely false that he is created by someone else, because he would then be limited.”
So, the claim is essentially this – a limited thing cannot possibly create! But why not?
Firstly, as we have seen above, limited things, although dependent, cannot be dependent on each other because none of them, by themselves, can completely fulfil anyone’s need (including their own) in order to sustain themselves in existence, let alone bring something – anything – into existence. Hence, there is in fact no “chain of dependencies” to begin with and therefore no need to disprove the possibility of an infinite “chain of dependencies”. All limited things, by virtue of the reality that neediness and dependence entail, can only possibly depend, directly and solely, on the one who is completely independent of any need – the Creator.
"Limited things, although dependent, cannot be dependent on each other because none of them, by themselves, can completely fulfil anyone’s need (including their own) in order to sustain themselves in existence, let alone bring something – anything – into existence. Hence, there is in fact no “chain of dependencies” to begin with and therefore no need to disprove the possibility of an infinite “chain of dependencies”."
“Limited things, although dependent, cannot be dependent on each other because none of them, by themselves, can completely fulfil anyone’s need (including their own) in order to sustain themselves in existence, let alone bring something – anything – into existence. Hence, there is in fact no “chain of dependencies” to begin with and therefore no need to disprove the possibility of an infinite “chain of dependencies”.”
Moreover, a limited thing cannot create merely because of what the meaning of creation entails. Creation means to bring into existence from nothing. By “nothing” we mean no prior substance or pre-established “laws of nature” and the like.
What we witness within the universe is merely changing of forms (e.g. in the example above, water turning into vapour). Certain pre-existing substances coming together in certain conditions to transform into a different form is merely transformation of things from one state to another. Even when we invent things, we do so using pre-existing matter, and relying on phenomena that we have become accustomed to through repetitive observation. Nothing within this universe can bring something totally different into existence out of nothing.
It is not possible that whatever we see being produced, invented, or formed within this universe does not even remotely have any prior similitude or example. At the very least the one common denominator that every existent being in this universe shares is the fact of them being delimited within time and space. Therefore, nothing in this universe is actually able to create in its true sense.
In contrast, the finitude of the universe means that it came into existence after not having existed before in any way, shape or form. Matter, time and space came into existence after not having existed at all in any way, shape or form. Therefore, their origination takes place from “nothing” in the sense described above. And this, in fact, is creation.
Shaykh Taqi explains in IP1 why a thing that cannot create in its true sense must be limited and temporal, while someone who creates must be eternal and not dependent upon anything else to create:
“…the things that exist in this world do not have the capability of creating or originating (anything) from nothing, whether individually or collectively; the ‘thing’ is incapable of creating or originating from nothing. If another thing complements it in one or more aspects, it will still be, together with the other thing or things, incapable of creating or originating. Its inability to create or originate from nothing is clearly perceivable. This means that it is not eternal, because an eternal (thing) must not be characterised with incapability; it must be characterised with ability to create and originate from nothing, that is, the effected things must depend on it in order for it to be deemed eternal. Consequently, the world is not eternal nor is it timeless because it is incapable of creating or originating. The inability of something to create from nothing is definite evidence that it is not eternal.
“…If the Creator did not create the sensorially perceivable, comprehensible (things) from nothing, he would not be the Creator, because he would be incapable of creating things on the basis of his will alone; he would rather be subject to requiring some thing with him with which he can form (things). He would thus be incapable and not eternal, because he is incapable of creating (things) by himself, rather is needy of external support: and the one who is incapable and who needs (something) is not eternal. In addition, as a matter-of-fact, the meaning of the ‘Creator’ is the one who creates (something) from nothing. The meaning of being a Creator is that things rely on him for their existence, and that He does not rely on anything. If he did not create things from nothing, or was incapable of creating when (other) things did not exist, he would be dependent on things in creating (things), then the things would not be solely dependent on him. This means that he is not the sole Creator and thus not a Creator (at all). So, a Creator must create things from nothing in order for him to be a Creator and has to be characterised with capability and will, independent of any thing; He should not depend on anything, and things should depend on him for their existence. Hence, for fiormation to be creation it must be formation from nothing, and for the one who forms to be a Creator, he must form from nothing.”
From the above paragraphs we understand the meaning of absolute neediness of creation and the complete independence of the Creator. This meaning is beautifully captured in one of the most beautiful names of Allah – Al-Qayyum (the Self-Subsisting One). Imam Ghazali explains it as below:
“If there is in existence an existent whose essence is self-sufficient, whose subsistence does not come from one other than it, and the perpetuity of whose existence is not conditioned by the existence of one other than it, (certainly) this existent is absolutely self-subsistent. Furthermore, if every other existent would subsist by means of it in such a way that the existence and the perpetuity of the existence of things are inconceivable except by it, then it is Al-Qayyum because it subsists by its own essence, and the subsistence of everything is by means of it. That one is no other than Allah Most High.” [Maqsad al asna]
To conclude, the limits imposed upon the universe prove its dependence on other than itself. This dependency necessarily implies its non-eternality, hence its origination from nothing i.e. its creation. A dependent thing cannot possibly fulfil the need of another dependent thing. Therefore, the Creator must necessarily be independent of all needs and the One on whom all things depend.
Shafiul Huq is a student of Classical Arabic and interdisciplinary studies covering the humanities and social sciences.

Explanation of the hadith prophesying Al-Quds as the future capital of the Khilafah

There are two similar hadith narrated in the book Tarikh Dimashiq (History of Damascus) by Ibn `Asakir al-Dimashqi al-Shafi`i al-Ash`ari (1106–1175) related to the future capitals of the Khilafah. These are:
قَرَأْتُ بِخَطِّ أَبِي الْحُسَيْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ الرَّازِيِّ ، أنا أَبُو الْحَسَنِ أَحْمَدُ بْنُ عُمَيْرِ بْنِ جَوْصَا ، أَنْبَأَنَا أَبُو عَامِرٍ مُوسَى بْنُ عَامِرٍ ، أَنْبَأَنَا الْوَلِيدُ بْنُ مُسْلِمٍ ، أَنْبَأَنَا مَرْوَانُ بْنُ جَنَاحٍ ، عَنْ يُونُسَ بْنَ مَيْسَرَةَ بْنِ حَلْبَسٍ ، قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ
: ” هَذَا الأَمْرُ كَائِنٌ بَعْدِي بِالْمَدِينَةِ ، ثُمَّ بِالشَّامِ ، ثُمَّ بِالْجَزِيرَةِ ، ثُمَّ بِالْعِرَاقِ ، ثُمَّ بِالْمَدِينَةِ ، ثُمَّ بِبَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ ، فَإِذَا كَانَ بِبَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ فَثَمَّ عُقْرُ دَارِهَا ، وَلَنْ يُخْرِجَهَا قَوْمٌ فَتَعُودَ إِلَيْهِمْ أَبَدًا “
 . يَعْنِي بِقَوْلِهِ بِالْجَزِيرَةِ : أَمْرٌ مَرْوَانَ بْنَ مُحَمَّدٍ الْحَمَّارَ ، وَبِقَوْلِهِ بِالْمَدِينَةِ : بَعْدَ الْعِرَاقِ ، يَعْنِي بِهِ الْمَهْدِيَّ يَخْرُجُ فِي آخِرِ الزَّمَانِ ، ثُمَّ يَنْتَقِلُ إِلَى بَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ وَبِهَا يُحَاصِرُهُ الدَّجَّالُ ، وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ
The Messenger of Allah  said: “This matter (the Caliphate) will be after me in Madinah, then in Al-Sham, then in the Peninsula, then in Iraq, then in the City, then in Bait ul-Maqdis. If it is in Bait ul-Maqdis, its home country is there, and no people will be able to remove it, so it will return to them forever.” Ibn Asakir, Tarikh Dimashiq 368

حَدَّثَنَا الْوَلِيدُ بْنُ مُسْلِمٍ ، عَنْ مَرْوَانَ بْنِ جَنَاحٍ ، عَنْ يُونُسَ بْنِ مَيْسَرَةَ الْجُبْلانِيِّ ، قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ :
 ” هَذَا الأَمْرُ كَائِنٌ بِالْمَدِينَةِ ، ثُمَّ بِالشَّامِ ، ثُمَّ بِالْجَزِيرَةِ ، ثُمَّ بِالْعِرَاقِ ، ثُمَّ بِالْمَدِينَةِ ، ثُمَّ بِبَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ ، فَإِذَا كَانَتْ بِبَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ فَثَمَّ عُقْرُ دَارِهَا ، وَلا يَخْرُجُ مِنْ قَوْمٍ فَيَعُودُ إِلَيْهِمْ “
The Messenger of Allah  said: “This matter (the Caliphate) will be in Madinah then in Al-Sham, then in the Peninsula, then in Iraq, then in the City, then in Bait ul-Maqdis. If it is in Bait ul-Maqdis, its home country is there and never will a people be able to remove it so it will return to them forever.” Ibn Asakir, Tarikh Dimashiq 266
The matn (text) of both hadith is the same so we will use hadith 368 for the explanation since it contains the complete isnad (chain of narration) and also a commentary by Ibn Asakir on what he believes the capital Al-Jazeera (The Peninsula) is referring to.
The hadith chain of narration (isnad)
There are a number of questions relating to the isnad which a muhaddith would examine before reaching a decision on whether the hadith is hasan (good) or not. We will deal with these in turn.
  1. How can Yunus Ibn Maisarah who never met the Prophet ﷺ, narrate a hadith from him?
Yunus bin Maysarah Al-Hamiri (12-132AH) resided in Damascus. He was born after the Prophet ﷺ passed away and so never met him. However, Yunus Ibn Maisarah did meet, accompany and learn from a number of sahaaba and so this makes him a Taabi’. When a hadith isnad starts with a Taabi’ and misses out the name of the sahabi who heard the hadith directly from the Prophet ﷺ then we call this hadith Mursal (hurried).
Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Abdullah said: “the absence of the mention of the Sahaabi from the Sanad (chain) of the Hadeeth does not make it Da’eef and invalid to be used as evidence. That is because the Sahaaba (rah) are not in need of evaluation of their trustworthiness (Ta’deel) as Allah Ta’Aalaa has praised and commended them and the Messenger of Allah ﷺ did likewise. As such the Mursal At-Taabi’iy is used as evidence as long as it is not contradictory to or in opposition to a Hadeeth that is stronger than it.”
Imam Abu ‘Abdullah al-Haakim said:  There is no difference of opinion among the shaykhs of hadeeth that the mursal hadeeth is one which the muhaddith narrated with a complete isnaad back to the Taabi’i, and the Taabi’i says, “The Messenger of Allah  said.”

  1. Which sahaaba did Yunus Ibn Maisarah meet and narrate from?
There are many hasan hadith found in Sunan Ibn Majah and Abu Dawood narrated from Yunus Ibn Maisarah which are not mursal and mention the name of the sahabi who Yunus heard the hadith from.
The sahaaba in Damascus who Yunus Ibn Maisarah met and narrated from were Mu’awiyah bin Abu Sufyan, Abu Sa’eed Az-Zuraqi and Wathilah bin Asqa’. Some of these hadith are below.
حَدَّثَنَا هِشَامُ بْنُ عَمَّارٍ، حَدَّثَنَا الْوَلِيدُ بْنُ مُسْلِمٍ، حَدَّثَنَا مَرْوَانُ بْنُ جَنَاحٍ، عَنْ يُونُسَ بْنِ مَيْسَرَةَ بْنِ حَلْبَسٍ، أَنَّهُ حَدَّثَهُ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ مُعَاوِيَةَ بْنَ أَبِي سُفْيَانَ، يُحَدِّثُ عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ أَنَّهُ قَالَ ‏ “‏ الْخَيْرُ عَادَةٌ وَالشَّرُّ لَجَاجَةٌ وَمَنْ يُرِدِ اللَّهُ بِهِ خَيْرًا يُفَقِّهْهُ فِي الدِّينِ ‏”‏
It was narrated that Yunus bin Maisarah bin Halbas said: “I heard Mu’awiyah bin Abu Sufyan narrating that the Messenger of Allah said: ‘Goodness is a (natural) habit while evil is a stubbornness (constant prodding from Satan). When Allah wills good for a person, He causes him to understand the religion.’” Ibn Majah: Book 1, Hadith 226

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ شُعَيْبٍ، أَخْبَرَنِي سَعِيدُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الْعَزِيزِ، حَدَّثَنَا يُونُسُ بْنُ مَيْسَرَةَ بْنِ حَلْبَسٍ، قَالَ خَرَجْنَا مَعَ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الزُّرَقِيِّ – صَاحِبِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ – إِلَى شِرَاءِ الضَّحَايَا ‏.‏ قَالَ يُونُسُ فَأَشَارَ أَبُو سَعِيدٍ إِلَى كَبْشٍ أَدْغَمَ لَيْسَ بِالْمُرْتَفِعِ وَلاَ الْمُتَّضِعِ فِي جِسْمِهِ فَقَالَ لِي اشْتَرِ لِي هَذَا ‏.‏ كَأَنَّهُ شَبَّهَهُ بِكَبْشِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏.‏
Yunus bin Maisarah bin Halbas said: “I went out with Abu Sa’eed Az-Zuraqi, the Companion of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, to buy animals or sacrifice.” Yunus said: “Abu Sa’eed pointed to a ram that had some blackness around its ears and jaw, and was neither too big nor too small, and said to me: ‘Buy this one for them, as it seems to resemble the ram of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.’” Ibn Majah: Book 26, Hadith 3249

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الدِّمَشْقِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا الْوَلِيدُ بْنُ مُسْلِمٍ، حَدَّثَنَا مَرْوَانُ بْنُ جَنَاحٍ، حَدَّثَنِي يُونُسُ بْنُ مَيْسَرَةَ بْنِ حَلْبَسٍ، عَنْ وَاثِلَةَ بْنِ الأَسْقَعِ، قَالَ صَلَّى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ عَلَى رَجُلٍ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ فَأَسْمَعُهُ يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّ فُلاَنَ بْنَ فُلاَنٍ فِي ذِمَّتِكَ وَحَبْلِ جِوَارِكَ فَقِهِ مِنْ فِتْنَةِ الْقَبْرِ وَعَذَابِ النَّارِ وَأَنْتَ أَهْلُ الْوَفَاءِ وَالْحَقِّ فَاغْفِرْ لَهُ وَارْحَمْهُ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ ‏”
It was narrated that Wathilah bin Asqa’ said: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ offered the funeral prayer for a man among the Muslims and I heard him say: ‘O Allah, so-and-so the son of so-and-so is in Your case and under Your protection. Protect him from the trial of the grave and the torment of the Fire, for You are the One Who keeps the promise and You are the Truth. Forgive him and have mercy on him, for You are the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” Ibn Majah: Book 6, Hadith 1566

  1. Isn’t the isnad broken because there is a gap of 150 years between the first narrator in the chain Muhammad bin Abdullah Al-Razi and Ibn Asakir?
This is answered by Ibn Asakir at the beginning of the hadith chain.
قَرَأْتُ بِخَطِّ أَبِي الْحُسَيْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ الرَّازِيِّ ، أنا أَبُو الْحَسَنِ أَحْمَدُ بْنُ عُمَيْرِ بْنِ جَوْصَا ، أَنْبَأَنَا أَبُو عَامِرٍ مُوسَى بْنُ عَامِرٍ
“I (Ibn Asakir) read the handwriting of Abi Al-Hussein Muhammad bin Abdullah Al-Razi, (which read) I am Abu Al-Hasan Ahmad bin Umair bin Jawsaa, Abu Amir Musa bin Amir narrated to us…”
Therefore Ibn Asakir read one of Muhammad bin Abdullah Al-Razi’s handwritten books rather than heard from him directly. Muhammad bin Abdullah Al-Razi is a thiqah (trustworthy) narrator of hadith and famous scholar who resided in Damascus.

  1. Are all the narrators in the chain trustworthy?
The full list of narrators in the chain is below. The names used are their well-known names so will differ slightly from those mentioned in the isnad.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ —> Sahabi (omitted) —> Yunus bin Maysarah Al-Hamiri—> Marwan bin Janaah Al-Amwi —> Al-Waleed bin Muslim Al-Quraish —> Musa bin Abi Al-Haitham Al-Miri —> Ibn Jawsaa Al-Damishqi —>  Muhammad bin Abdullah Al-Razi (book) —> Ibn Asakir
A summary of the narrators is below. The muhaditheen would refer to the hadith biographies for a more detailed explanation on each person so they can decide according to their criteria if the narrators are reliable or not.
NameYunus bin Maysarah Al-Hamiri
LevelThiqah (trustworthy)
Death12-132AH
ResidencyDamascus
GenerationTaabi

NameMarwan bin Janaah Al-Amwi
LevelTruthful
Death?
ResidencyDamascus, Kufa
GenerationAssume Taabi Taabi

NameAl-Waleed bin Muslim Al-Quraish
LevelThiqah.
Death121-194AH (739-810CE)
ResidencyDamascus

NameMusa bin Abi Al-Haitham Al-Miri
LevelTruthful
Death255AH, 869CE
ResidencyDamascus

NameIbn Jawsaa Al-Damishqi
LevelTruthful but he had some oddities
Death?
ResidencyDamascus

NameMuhammad bin Abdullah Al-Razi
LevelThiqah
Death347H, 958CE
ResidencyDamascus
All the narrators resided in Damascus and they met each other or in the case of Ibn Asakir read the handwritten book of the first narrator Muhammad bin Abdullah Al-Razi as explained earlier. Therefore, this hadith is reliable in giving good news to the Ummah that the blessed city of Al-Quds will return to the hands of Muslims once again.

The text of the hadith (matn)
Having established that this hadith has a reliable change of narrators we can move on to the text itself. The Arabic sentences in this hadith are informative (khabariya) and there are no commands. This hadith is simply good news to the ummah and not commanding us to move our capital to a particular location. The placement of the Khilafah’s capital is up to the ijtihad (opinion) of the Khaleefah and throughout Islamic history the Khilafah had many capitals.
  1. What were the capitals of the Khilafah in Islamic history?
There were 13 capitals of the Khilafah in Islamic history. These are listed below in chronological order.
CapitalKhilafah
Madinah MunawwarahRightly Guided Caliphs – Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman
Kufa (Iraq)Rightly Guided Caliphs – Imam Ali, Imam Hassan
Damascus (Al-Sham)Umayyads – Muawiya
Makkah (Arabian Peninsula)Abdullah ibn Zubair
Damascus (Al-Sham)Umayyads – Abdul-Malik bin Marwan…
Harran (Turkey)Umayyads – Marwan II
Kufa (Iraq)Abbasids – Abul Abbas al‐Saffah
Baghdad (Iraq)Abbasids – Al-Mansur
Raqqa (Syria)Abbasids – Harun al‐Rashid
Samarra (Iraq)Abbasids – Al‐Mu’tasim…
Baghdad (Iraq)Abbasids – Al‐Mu’tadid…
Cairo (Egypt)Abbasids within Mamluk Sultanate – Al‐Mustansir II…
ConstantinopleOttomans – Salim…
  
  1. How can we reconcile the actual capitals with those mentioned in the hadith?
There will inevitably be difference of opinion on interpreting this hadith and which cities it refers to. This is similar to the many different interpretations we find among people on the signs before the day of judgement.
The capitals of the Khilafah mentioned in the hadith are:
  1. Madinah
  2. Al-Sham
  3. Peninsula
  4. Iraq
  5. Madinah or The City
  6. Bait ul-Maqdis
Ibn Asakir in his notes on this hadith says,
يَعْنِي بِقَوْلِهِ بِالْجَزِيرَةِ : أَمْرٌ مَرْوَانَ بْنَ مُحَمَّدٍ الْحَمَّارَ ، وَبِقَوْلِهِ بِالْمَدِينَةِ : بَعْدَ الْعِرَاقِ ، يَعْنِي بِهِ الْمَهْدِيَّ يَخْرُجُ فِي آخِرِ الزَّمَانِ ، ثُمَّ يَنْتَقِلُ إِلَى بَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ وَبِهَا يُحَاصِرُهُ الدَّجَّالُ ، وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ
“He means by his saying ‘in the peninsula’: Marwan bin Muhammad Al-Hammar*, and his saying ‘in the city’, after Iraq, means the Mahdi comes out at the end of time, and then moves to Bayt ul-Maqdis and is surrounded by Dajjal, Allah knows (best).”
* This is Marwan II who was nicknamed Al-Hammar (donkey). He was the last Umayyad Khaleefah before the Abbasids took power from him. He moved the capital to Harran in Turkey. Since Anatolia is technically a peninsula this is why the sheikh is giving this opinion.
Al-Waie magazine said that the second reference to Al-Madinah doesn’t mean Madinah Munawarrah but means the city Constantinople.
There are 6 capitals mentioned in the hadith and 13 actual capitals in Islamic history. If we take the hadith to mean dynasties then we get the following matches and Allah knows best.
  1. Madinah – Rightly Guided Caliphs
  2. Al-Sham – Umayyads
  3. Peninsula – Abdullah ibn Zubair
  4. Iraq – Abbasids
  5. The City (Constantinople) – Ottomans
  6. Bait ul-Maqdis – Future Mahdi and Rightly Guided Caliphs

  1. Are there any other similar hadith alluding to Al-Quds being the future capital?
حَدَّثَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ صَالِحٍ، حَدَّثَنَا أَسَدُ بْنُ مُوسَى، حَدَّثَنَا مُعَاوِيَةُ بْنُ صَالِحٍ، حَدَّثَنِي ضَمْرَةُ، أَنَّ ابْنَ زُغْبٍ الإِيَادِيَّ، حَدَّثَهُ قَالَ ‏:‏ نَزَلَ عَلَىَّ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ حَوَالَةَ الأَزْدِيُّ فَقَالَ لِي ‏:‏ بَعَثَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم لِنَغْنَمَ عَلَى أَقْدَامِنَا فَرَجَعْنَا فَلَمْ نَغْنَمْ شَيْئًا وَعَرَفَ الْجُهْدَ فِي وُجُوهِنَا فَقَامَ فِينَا فَقَالَ ‏:‏ ‏”‏ اللَّهُمَّ لاَ تَكِلْهُمْ إِلَىَّ فَأَضْعُفَ عَنْهُمْ، وَلاَ تَكِلْهُمْ إِلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ فَيَعْجِزُوا عَنْهَا، وَلاَ تَكِلْهُمْ إِلَى النَّاسِ فَيَسْتَأْثِرُوا عَلَيْهِمْ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ ثُمَّ وَضَعَ يَدَهُ عَلَى رَأْسِي – أَوْ قَالَ ‏:‏ عَلَى هَامَتِي – ثُمَّ قَالَ ‏:‏ ‏”‏ يَا ابْنَ حَوَالَةَ إِذَا رَأَيْتَ الْخِلاَفَةَ قَدْ نَزَلَتْ أَرْضَ الْمُقَدَّسَةِ فَقَدْ دَنَتِ الزَّلاَزِلُ وَالْبَلاَبِلُ وَالأُمُورُ الْعِظَامُ، وَالسَّاعَةُ يَوْمَئِذٍ أَقْرَبُ مِنَ النَّاسِ مِنْ يَدِي هَذِهِ مِنْ رَأْسِكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو دَاوُدَ ‏:‏ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ حَوَالَةَ حِمْصِيٌّ
Narrated Abdullah ibn Hawalah al-Azdi: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ sent us on foot to get spoil, but we returned without getting any. When he saw the signs of distress on our faces, he stood up on our faces and said: O Allah, do not put them under my care, for I would be too weak to care for them; do not put them in care of themselves, for they would be incapable of that, and do not put them in the care of men, for they would choose the best things for themselves. He then placed his hand on my head and said: “Ibn Hawalah, when you see the caliphate has settled in the holy land (أَرْضَ الْمُقَدَّسَةِ), earthquakes, sorrows and serious matters will have drawn near and on that day the Last Hour will be nearer to mankind than this hand of mine is to your head.”
Abu Dawud said: ‘Abd Allah b. Hawalah belongs to Hims. Sunan Abu Dawud 2535