Tuesday, December 23, 2014

More Than You Probably Wanted to Know About the Black Banners of Khorasan

As Sami Yousafzai wrote last week, ISIS is setting its sights on Khorasan, a region that includes Afghanistan and parts of several countries around it. The article cites a hadith calling on believers to follow those who come from Khorasan bearing the black flags of war. The translation of the hadith used in the article, which I edited, actually comes from Ali Soufan's book, The Black Banners, which also has a map of Khurusan (as Soufan spells it). 

Sami included with his file an extensive explanation of the hadith from the "Islam for Mankind" site, which offers an alternative translation of the saying as recalled by the companion Thawban. This sort of exegesis is important to today's jihadis, especially the absolutists of the so-called Islamic State, so it's worth reading the sayings of the Prophet, weak though they may be, which inspire some of the group's infamous brutality:

Abdullah son of al-Harith, son of Juz' al-Zubaydi said,

"The Prophet (S) said, 'A people will come out of the East who will pave the way for the Mahdi.'"
(Ibn Majah.)

"Pity poor Taliqan (a region in Afghanistan) that at that place are treasures of Allah, but these are not of gold and silver. There are people who have recognized Allah as they should have. They are the supporters of the Mahdi in the End Times."
(Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Al-Burhan fi Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir al-zaman, p.59)

On the authority of Thawban, the Messenger of Allah (upon whom be blessings and peace) said:

The Prophet Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam said: "Before your treasure, three will kill each other -- all of them are sons of a different caliph but none will be the recipient. Then the Black Banners will appear from the East and they will kill you in a way that has never before been done by a nation." Thawban, a companion said: 'Then he said something that I do not remember 

"If you see the black flags coming from Khurasan, join that army, even if you have to crawl over ice." 

by heart' then continued to say that the Prophet, praise and peace be upon him, said: "If you see him give him your allegiance, even if you have to crawl over ice, because surely he is the Caliph of Allah, the Mahdi. If you see the black (meaning war) flags coming from Khurasan (Afghanistan), join that army, even if you have to crawl over ice, for this is the army of the Caliph, the Mahdi and no one can stop that army until it reaches Jerusalem."
(Son of Majah, Al Busiri, Al Hakim, Ahmad Nuaym, Ad-Daylami, Hasan, son of Sufyaan, and Abu Nuaym.)
Note: This hadith is considered to be weak by some, partly due to one of its transmitters as well as because of its use to give support to Abu Muslim's Abbasid revolution in 749 CE, when he raised armies, carrying black banners from Khurasan. It's use was hence used to support the idea that the Mahdi would come from the family of Abbas. This has led others to doubt its authenticity, or at least believe that it was tampered with in support of the Abbasid cause.

However, as there are other hadiths, which say pretty much the same thing, it must therefore be regarded as "tampered with in support of the Abbasid cause". Based on other hadiths, we can see that the nature of this tampering, is that it was made to say that the Mahdi himself would come from Khurasan, when in fact, it was only his main army of supporters that are said to. As we shall see later, there are other hadiths that distinguish between the Abbasid's black banner army from Khurasan, and the Mahdi's black banner army from Khurasan. They also specify that the one who leads the Mahdi's army.

In more recent times, we see others in Khurasan region, who carry black flags in Khurasan, such as Usama bin Ladin's fighters over there, as well as the former Taliban regime:

Mullah Muhammad Umar has stated: "The crusaders have changed this this plan by calling for their own destruction. Insha'Allah first we will see America's end and then the black flags will march to Philasteen!..."

This is obviously a reference to this very hadith, and although it may just be for the Taliban's morale in light of the American invasion of Afghanistan (which is also part of Khurasan), it may also prove to be a fulfillment of it, as the characteristics, and circumstances, are consistent with the black banner army that supports the Mahdi (as we shall see later).

The treasure in which they fight over, can be said to be the Euphrates' treasure. This would put that Battle of the Euphrates in the context of happening just before the black flags from Khurasan, led by the Mansoor, appear.

Related by Abu Hurayrah:

The Prophet Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam said: "(Armies carrying) black flags will comefrom Khurasan (Afghanistan). No power will be able to stop them and they will finally reach Jerusalem where they will erect their flags." (Tirmidhi)

Narrated 'Ali son of Abu Talib

“The Prophet said, ‘A man named al-Harith son of Hirath will come from Transoxania (Tajikistan). His army will be led by a man named Mansoor. He will be pave the way for and establish the government of the family of Muhammad, just as the Quraysh established the government of the Messenger of Allah. Every believer will be obliged to support them.’” (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 36, No. 4277)

Note: The two above sayings (as well as the third one, narrated by Thawban) are claimed by some to be of weak/fabricated narrations, while others claim they have reliable chains of narration. However, their consistency with other related narrations (as well as current events), have prompted me to endorse them.

Most notably, the latter narration regarding al-Harith and the Mansoor, is of particular interest. Earlier, there was a quote, that mentioned 3 Mahdis. These individuals can be said to be the first 2. Later, we shall see them mentioned in more detail. This hadith compares the situation to being similar to that of Prophet Muhammad's. As we know, when Qurayshi followers of the Prophet arrived in Yathrib during his time, as his forerunners, the Prophet had already been a Prophet and receiving revelation for several years.

If we apply this to the Mahdi's situation, we'd also have to conclude that when the black flags appear in the east, preparing the minds of the Muslims to accept the Mahdi before he comes, that the Mahdi would also have already been the Mahdi for several years.

This also means that those first few years before his Caliphate, his mission, like the Prophet's, would be largely spiritual, while when he becomes the Caliphate, it would also, like the Prophet's, become largely political.

So when we see his forerunners coming from Taliqan in Khurasan with black flags to accomplish this task for him, we'll know that the Mahdi is already here as the Mahdi. Or else, why would they come in his support, unless they knew for a fact that he was already here? And how would they know for a fact he was already here, unless he had already been inspired as the Mahdi by that time?

And so, based on that, it can be surmised that the Mahdi would live 40 years after his emergence, the last 20 of which he would be the Caliph, and ruling the world with equity and justice for the last 7 with Prophet 'Esa :saws: to help and succeed him in doing so.

In his first 20 years, we would have his 2 proxies/forerunners ruling in his place; al-Harith ibn Hirath the Hashimite, and then the Mansoor; Shu'ayb ibn Salih al-Tamimi.

Reported by Abu Said Al Khudri:
"A man from my nation will come who speaks with my Sunnah and Allah, the Mighty, the Glorified will send showers of rain from the heavens so that the earth will produce its blessing. Through him the earth will be filled with fairness and justice just as it had been filled

"The black flags will come from the East, led by mighty men, with long hair and beards."

by oppression and injustice. He will govern this nation for seven years, and go to Jerusalem."
(Abu Dawud, Al Hakim, At-Tirmizi, Ahmad, son of Hibban, Muslim, Al Tabarani, Al Barudi and Abu Nuaym)

Note: Following that immigration to Jerusalem, Medina will be destroyed and become the shelter of the savage people.

Abu Abdullah Nuaim Ibn Hammad on a chain of transmission on the authority of Al Zuhari who said,

"The black flags will come from the East, led by mighty men, with long hair and beards, their surnames are taken from the names of their home towns and their first names are from a "Kunya". If the people of the black flag divide, then the people of the yellow banner will attack, they will gather in the canal of Egypt and the people of the East and the West will fight for seven (days or months or years)..."
(Asmal Masalik Lieyyam Mahdiyy Maliki Li Kull-id Dunya Biemrillah-il Malik, Qalda bin Zayd)

Az-Zuhri said:
"The black banners will meet in battle with the yellow banners, and they will fight each other up to Palestine. Then the Sufyaani will come out against the people of the east, and when the people of the Maghrib settle in Jordan, their ruler will die. So they will split into three groups; one group that will return to where they came from, one group that will go to the Hajj, and one group that will stay and against whom the Sufyaani will fight. He will defeat them, and they will enter his obedience."(Nu'aym ibn Hammad, Kitab al-Fitan, No. 54)

Note: Both of those ahadith talk about the black flags and yellow flags fighting each other. If they are referring to the same conflict, then this takes place before Shu'ayb leads them to Jerusalem to establish his power for the Mahdi, as they appear after the Sufyaani and not before. Here, the people of the east, are those of the black banners, and the "people of Maghrib" are those of the yellow banners.

Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman said to a group of people from Egypt:
"When there comes to you a document from the east that will be read out to you as: "From the slave of Allah, 'Abdullah, Amir al-Mu'minin," then await another document coming to you from the west that will be read out to you as: "From the slave of Allah, 'Abd ar-Rahman, Amir al-Mu'minin," then by He in Whose Hand is Hudhayfah's soul, you will fight them near al-Qantarah, and they will expel you far, far away from the land of Egypt and the land of ash-Sham, and an Arabian woman will be sold at the stairs of Damascus for twenty-five dirhams."
(Nu'aym ibn Hammad, Kitab al-Fitan, No. 52)

Narrated from Ka'b:

"There will be, after the fitnah in ash-Sham, the eastern one which will be the destruction of the kings and the humiliation of the Arabs, until the people of the Maghrib come out."
(Nu'aym ibn Hammad, Kitab al-Fitan, No. 53)

Narrated Abdullah ibn Hawalah al-Azdi:
"The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) 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 (i.e., Palestine), 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.' (Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Jihad (Kitab Al-Jihad), Book 14, Number 2529)

Ammar, the son of Yasir, may Allah be pleased with both of them, said:
"When As-Sufyaani reaches Kufa and kills the supporters of the family of Muhammad, praise and peace be upon him, the Mahdi will come and the bearer of his Banner will be Shuayb, the son of Salih."
Muhammad, son of Al Hanaffia, said:
"The Black Banners will come out for the children of Al Abbas. The other black banners will come from Khurasan. Their turbans will be black and their clothes white. At their front will be a man named Shuayb, the son of Salih, from Tamim. They will defeat the companions of The Sufyaani until he comes to the House of Jerusalem where he will establish his power for the Mahdi, and he will be supplied with three hundred (men) from Syria after his arrival and the matter will be settled for the Mahdi in seventy-two months (six years)."

Note: Here it says that the matter will be settled for the Mahdi in 6 years. The "matter" that is settled, is quite possibly in reference to the establishment of his Caliphate. Th 6-year period mentioned here, is the time between when the Black Banners arrive in Jerusalem, to when the Mahdi becomes the Caliph. The Mansoor mentioned earlier, is again mentioned here, with the name of "Shu'ayb son of Salih", descending from the Banu Tamim (Tamim tribe). However, we see no mention of Al-Harith, and so we must conclude that at this point, he would have been martyred.

'Abdullah, the son of Abbas, may Allah be pleased with both of them, said to Mujahid: "If I had not heard that you are like the people of this House I would never tell you this." Whereupon Mujahid said: "It is surely in secret, I will not mention it to someone you hate." So Ibn Abbas told him: "There are four people from the House, from us is As-Saffah, and from us Al Mundhir, and from us the Mansoor, and from us is the Mahdi." So Mujahid said: "Clarify these four for me." He answered: "As for As-Saffah, perhaps he will kill his supporters and forgive his enemy. Al Mundhir will give away plenty of wealth, he will be humble and keep but a little of his rights. The Mansoor, will be given victory over his enemy and part of what was given to the Messenger of 

Women will be taken prisoner, and men will have their throats cut like sheep.

Allah, praise and peace be upon him, and that is that his enemies were frightened away from him the traveling distance of two months, whereas the enemy of the Mansoor will be frightened away from him the traveling distance of one month. The Mahdi will fill the earth with justice just as it has been filled with transgression -- livestock and foxes will live together peacefully. And the earth will bring forth that which is hidden from its depths -- they look like cylinders of gold or silver."
(Found in reference to 'Ali ibn Abu Talib)

Note: In the above narration, it mentions the Mansoor as being from the Prophet's household, whereas the Mansoor; Shu'ayb son of Salih, isn't even from the Qur'aysh, but descends from Banu Tamim. Therefore, we must conclude that there are two different Mansoors. This Mansoor can be said to be the Mansoor from the Ahl ul-Bayt, is the same as the one that is given bayah long after the Mahdi (as we shall see later).

Said son of Al Musayyab reported:
"The Black Banners will come from the East from the children of Al Abbas. Then there will remain whatsoever Allah wishes. Then, small Black Banners will come to fight a man from the children of Abu Sufyaan from the East. They will give their allegiance to the Mahdi."(Nuaym son of Hammad.)

Al Hasan Al Basri said:

"A man of medium stature will come from Ar-Ray (a far-eastern town). He will be dark and from the children of Tamim -- a Wasaj, named Shuayb son of Salih with four thousand men. Their clothes will be white and Banners black, and at his front is the Mahdi. He meets no one that he does not defeat and scatter."

Note: The children of Al Abbas have indeed carried black banners in revolt against the Umayyad dynasty. This occurred in 749 CE.
Abdullah, the son of Shuraykh, said:
"With the Mahdi is the marked Banner of the Messenger of Allah, praise and peace be upon him."

Note: According to the website http://islamicweb.com/history/mahdi.htm Allah has said that the Jews will master the world two times (It states we are currently living in the first one) and the Mahdi will appear between those two periods and will rule through the last one, though it does not list it’s references.

Ammar, the son of Yasir, may Allah be pleased with both of them, said:
"The bearer of the Banner of the Mahdi is Shuayb, the son of Salih."

Narrated by Umm Salamah:
The Prophet said, "Disagreement will occur at the death of a ruler and a man from the people of Medina will flee to Mecca. Some of the people of Mecca will come to him, bring him out against his will and swear allegiance to him between the Corner and the Maqam. An army will then be sent against him from Syria but will be swallowed up in the desert between Mecca and Medina. When the people see that, the eminent saints (Al-Abdal) of Syria and the best people of Iraq will come to him and swear allegiance to him.

Then a man from Quraysh whose mother is from Kalb will appear and send against them an army which will be overcome by them, and that is the Battle of Kalb. Disappointed will be the one who does not receive the booty of Kalb. He will divide the property, and will govern the people by the Sunnah of the Prophet. He will remain seven years, then die, and the Muslims will pray over him." (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 36, No. 4273)

Note: In this hadeeth, it suggests that the ruler of Syria at the time, and the Sufyaani are two different people. This hadeeth is considered to be "weak", so the actual differentiation between the ruler of Syria and Sufyaani may not be accurate. However, prior to the Mahdi it mentions a "disagreement" occurring after the death of a ruler. This is significant, as we have seen in other hadeeths, that people would be fighting over the (Saudi???) kingdom/Caliphate before the Mahdi comes, so this part of the hadeeth has some merit to it, especially in relation to current events. So the weakness of this hadeeth may not mean it is "fabricated" as much as it simply not being narrated correctly.

Narrated by Hudhayfah:
The Messenger of Allah said, "When the dark people come after the Arabs they will be defeated and thrown into the lowest part of the earth. While these circumstances exist, The Sufyaani will come with three hundred and sixty riders until he reaches Damascus. After a month, he will be followed by thirty thousand from Kalb, so he will send an army to Iraq and kill a hundred thousand in Az-Zawra. Then they will go to Kufa and pillage. When this occurs a banner will come from the east led by a man from Tamim called Shuayb, the son of Salih who will restore what is in their hands from the captured people of Kufa and he will kill them. Then, another army from The Sufyaani will go to Medina and pillage it for three days and thereafter proceed towards Mecca until they find themselves in a desert. Then, Allah will send Gabriel and say to him, 'Chastise them!' So he will beat them with his leg once and Allah will cause them to be swallowed up. None will remain except two men who will return to The Sufyaani to inform him of the swallowing-up of his army, but this will not scare him. Several men from the Quraysh will escape to Istanbul and The Sufyaani will send to the leader of 

O people, surely Allah prevents dictatorship, tyrants and their followers for you and gives leadership to the best of the nation of Muhammad.

the Romans who will return them to him and he will slit their throats together with their followers. At that time a voice will come from Heaven saying: 'O people, surely Allah prevents dictatorship, tyrants and their followers for you and gives leadership to the best of the nation of Muhammad. So join him in Mecca -- he is the Mahdi!"
Then, Hudhayfah asked: 'O Messenger of Allah, how shall we know him?'
He replied: "He is a man from my children, he looks like the men from the children of Israel, upon him are two white cloaks with frayed edges. His face is like a colorful, glittering star, upon his right cheek there is a black mole and he is forty years old. The Abdal and those looking like them will come to him from Syria. An-Nujaba will come to him from the dwellers of Egypt and groups of dwellers from the east, and those looking like them until they all gather together in Mecca and so they will pledge their allegiance to him between Al Rukn and Al Makam. Then he will direct himself towards Syria with Gabriel at his front and Michael at his middle and the dwellers of Heaven and Earth will be joyful because of him. Water will be plentiful in his country and the river will be spread and treasures found. When he reaches Syria he will slay The Sufyaani under the tree, the branches of which grow in the direction of Lake Tiberias and he will kill Kalb. So the loser of that Day of Kalb is he who does not gain even a rein."
Hudhaybah asked: 'O Messenger of Allah, praise and peace be upon him, how is it permitted to kill them when they believe in the Oneness?'
The Messenger of Allah, praise and peace be upon him, replied: "O Hudhayfah, they are at that time apostates, they claim that wine is permitted and do not pray."
(Found in the references of Abu Nuaym, At-Tabarani, and Abu Amru Ad Dani.)
'There will be a city called Zawra between the Tigris and the Euphrates. There will be a great battle there. Women will be taken prisoner, and men will have their throats cut like sheep.' (Muntakhab Kanzul Ummal, vol. 5, p. 38)

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