“Say, [O Muhammad], ‘I do not tell you that I have the depositories [containing the provision] of Allah nor that I know the unseen, nor do I tell you that I am an angel. I only follow what is revealed to me.’” [al-An‘ām 6: 50]
Only the Creator of time, as we know it, is not restricted by it. Only God has full access to the forgotten past and unseen future. Supposed psychics and fortune-tellers either speak in ways that carry a thousand potential interpretations (from which the most “accurate” is claimed after the fact) or get exposed as frauds over time (as eventually, their guesses are more often wrong than right). As for predicting specifics about the future while never erring, that is only possible for the Knower of the Unseen, and whoever He may grant partial access to the unseen world. “[He is] Knower of the unseen, and He does not disclose His [knowledge of the] unseen to anyone—except whom He has approved of messengers…”
[al-Jinn 72: 26-27] Al-Qāḍi ‘Eyāḍ (d. 1149) says, “The hadith
(s) in this regard are a bottomless ocean and an unending stream. They are one of his miracles which are undeniably established, transmitted to us by tawâtur
(abundant recurrence), due to their many narrators and the concordance of their meanings, all corroborating the fact that he ﷺ was privy to [some of] the unseen.”1
In this paper, we will take a dive into this bottomless ocean, exploring its wonders, namely some of the events foretold by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ which are among the greatest testimonies to his prophethood.
1. The Byzantines will Rebound
Despite being isolated by seemingly endless deserts, and largely unaffected by the power struggles of the world’s superpowers, the Qur’an boldly foretold the most unexpected events that would transpire between Persia and Byzantium in a few short years. “The Byzantines have been defeated. In the nearest land. But they, after their defeat, will triumph. Within three to nine years.” [ar-Rūm 30: 2-4] From 613-619 CE, the Byzantines were absolutely decimated by the Persian Empire, losing the territories of Antioch, then Damascus, then Armenia, then their most cherished Jerusalem, then Chalcedon, and finally Egypt. In his book, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon says, “At the time when this prediction is said to have been delivered, no prophecy could be more distant from its accomplishment, since the first twelve years of Heraclius announced the approaching dissolution of the empire.”2 Everyone saw Byzantium as on its deathbed; thus opponents of the Prophet
ﷺ like Ubayy b. Khalaf mocked this “preposterous” foretelling in the Qur’an. However, not long after, Heraclius led the Byzantine Crusade like a dagger into the heart of the Persian Empire, fulfilling the amazing prophecy 6-8 years after it was uttered.
The verses that immediately follow this prediction say, “The decision of the matter, before and after [these events], is only with Allah. And on that Day, the believers (i.e., Muslims) will rejoice in the victory of Allah.” [ar-Rūm 30: 4-5] Abu Ḥayyān al-Andalūsi (d. 1344) lists in al-Baḥr al-Muḥīṭ four reasons for this rejoicing, of them being that the miraculous prophecy unfolding would further validate their belief in his prophethood. Another reason, which involves another prophecy, is the Muslims would at that time find themselves celebrating their own victory: a long-awaited triumph against the Meccan oppressors in the Battle of Badr happened in 624 as well. It suddenly becomes quite clear why God seals Sūrat ar-Rūm by saying, “So be patient. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth. And let them not unnerve you who are not certain [in faith].” [ar-Rūm 30: 60]
2. The Abode of Abu Lahab
In the moments following the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ first public call to Islam, his own uncle, Abu Lahab, scoffed at and chastised him. In his defense, God immediately revealed: “May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined is he. His wealth will not avail him or that which he gained. He will burn in a Fire of [blazing] flame.” [al-Masad 111: 1-3] It is astonishing that for the next nine years of Abu Lahab’s life, despite hearing these verses being recited, his pride still kept him from a potential golden opportunity to discredit the Qur’an. Had Abu Lahab simply professed faith, even disingenuously, that could have brought into serious question the truth of this Revelation. Of course, He Who revealed this knew Abu Lahab would never do so.
3. The Globalization of Islam
Amidst the fiercest persecution and abuse that the Muslims faced in the earliest Meccan period, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ would stand without wavering and convey to his followers God’s promise of Islam spreading all over the world. Tamīm ad-Dāri (rA) reports that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “This matter will certainly reach every place touched by the night and day. Allah will not leave a house of mud or [even] fur except that Allah will cause this religion to enter it, by which the honorable will be honored and the disgraceful will be disgraced. Allah will honor the honorable with Islam and he will disgrace the disgraceful with unbelief.”3
In another narration, reported by Thawbān (rA), “Indeed, Allah gathered up the earth for me so that I saw its east and its west; and indeed the dominion of my nation will reach what was gathered up for me from it.”4 The fact that these predictions were made at a time when Muslims were a powerless handful, and Islam was expected to be buried in its cradle, is nothing short of miraculous. At that point, presuming that the faith would even survive would be considered by most nothing short of a pipe-dream. But to predict that Islam would not just survive, but grow to thrive globally, was at that point inconceivable. For us nowadays, witnessing a quarter of this planet’s population as subscribers to Islam makes it clear that this was no presumption, but instead another prophecy inspired by the Divine.
4. Undeterred by Time or Distance
Regarding the night prior to the Battle of Badr, ‘Umar b. al-Khaṭṭāb (rA) said, “The Prophet ﷺ showed us where those [enemies] at Badr would die. He would place his hand somewhere on the ground and say, ‘This is where so-and-so will die tomorrow, by God’s will, and this is where so-and-so will die.’
I swear by the One who sent him with the Truth, none of them fell other than exactly where the Prophet’s hand had touched.”5
Anas (rA) reported that, as the Battle of Mu’tah was taking place in Jordan, the Prophet ﷺ had informed the people in Madinah of the martyrdom of Zayd b. Ḥāritha, Ja‘far b. Abi Ṭālib, and ‘Abdullāh b. Rawāḥa. While 600 miles away, the Prophet ﷺ said, “Zayd took the flag (as commander) and was killed, then Ja‘far took the flag and was killed, then Ibn Rawāḥa took the flag and was killed.”
Anas describes that as the Prophet ﷺ was telling them this, “his eyes were shedding tears.” He ﷺ continued, “Then the flag was taken by one of God’s swords (Khālid b. al-Walīd), and Allah made him victorious.”6 That army eventually returned to Madinah, with eyewitness accounts that matched exactly what the Prophet ﷺ had described.
Abu Ḥumayd as-Sā‘idi (rA) said, “When we reached Tabūk, the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘There will be a strong wind tonight and so no one should stand and whoever has a camel should fasten it.’
So we fastened our camels. A strong wind did in fact blow at night, and a man stood up and was consequently blown away to a mountain called Ṭay’.”7
Sahl b. Sa‘d (rA) reports that as the Prophet ﷺ and his Companions returned to camp after a day of battle, he overheard people celebrating the valor of a man “who vanquished every enemy that faced him; none outdid him today.” To the shock of those present, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Rather, he will be in the Hellfire.”
One man said, “I will shadow him,” and closely followed him at every turn. Soon thereafter, this man came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, “I testify that you are indeed the Messenger of Allah!” He ﷺ said, “Why [do you say] that?”
He said, “The people were astounded when you said this man would be in the Hellfire, so I followed him until he was badly wounded and sought to hasten his death; he placed the handle of his sword on the ground and its tip between his chest, then leaned on it and killed himself.” Explaining that this mortal sin was an indicator of prior insincerity undetected by others, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Certainly, a man may perform the deeds of the people of Paradise, in terms of what is apparent to the people, while [in reality] he is among the people of the Hellfire. And a man may perform the deeds of the people of the Hellfire, in terms of what is apparent to the people, while [in reality] he is among the people of Paradise.”8
5. Six in Sequence
During the Battle of Tabūk, the Prophet ﷺ said to ‘Awf b. Mālik (rA), “Count six signs before the Hour; my death, the conquest of Jerusalem, two mortal plagues that will take you [in great numbers] as the plague of sheep [depletes them], then wealth will be in such surplus that a man will be given a hundred gold coins and still be unsatisfied, then there will be a tribulation that will not leave an Arab home without entering it, then there will be a truce between you [Muslims] and Banu al-Aṣfar (Byzantines) which they will betray, and march against you under eighty flags, and under each flag will be twelve thousand [soldiers].”9 Jerusalem was conquered five years after his death ﷺ, in the year 15H, followed by the plague of ‘Amwās in 18H which took the lives of many Companions. An unprecedented surplus of wealth was then experienced during the caliphate of ‘Uthmān (rA), 23H, as a result of conquests on every front. As for the tribulation that would spare no Arab home, this took place following the assassination of ‘Uthmān, 37H, for it resulted in dissent and chaos everywhere. As for the truce and scourge of the Byzantines, traditional scholars seem to agree that this is a prophecy about the end-times.
6. Counting the Conquests
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ foretold a multitude of Muslim conquests, including those of Rome, Persia, Egypt, Yemen, India, and Constantinople. None of these prophecies were described vaguely or with equivocation, but rather with an air of absolute certainty.
Jābir b. ‘Abdillāh (rA) reports that while digging the trench outside Madinah to repel an approaching army, a massive boulder obstructed them that no ax would break. With time running out, and with people’s fears and hunger eating away at them, the Prophet ﷺ walked over and picked up the ax. He said, “Bismillah (In God’s name),”
and hammered the boulder, reducing a chunk of it to rubble. He said, “Allāhu Akbar (God is Great)! I have been given the keys to Shām; I can see its red palaces at this very moment.”
Then he shattered another chunk and said, “Allāhu Akbar (God is Great)! I have been given the keys to Persia; I can see Madain’s white palace.”
Then he shattered the last chunk and said, “Allāhu Akbar (God is Great)! I have been given the keys to Yemen. By Allah, I can see the Gates of Sana‘a at this very moment from here.”10
Regarding Egypt, he ﷺ took its conquest for granted, knowing his Lord’s promise was true. Abu Dharr (rA) narrated: The Prophet ﷺ said: “You will certainly conquer Egypt; a land in which [a currency] called al-qīrâṭ is customary. When you conquer it, be gracious to its people, for they are entitled to a covenant and [the right of] family bonds. And when you see two men disputing over the place of a brick, then leave [Egypt].”11 The Prophet ﷺ accurately spoke in the second person here, foretelling that none other than his personal Companions would conquer Egypt. Then he ﷺ instructed them to honor their peace treaty with the Egyptians and reminded them that their grandmother (Hājar; the mother of Ishmael) was from this land. In this same narration, Abu Dharr (rA) adds, “I witnessed ‘Abdur-Raḥmān b. Shuraḥbīl b. Ḥasana and his brother, Rabī‘a, disputing [in Egypt] over the place of a brick, so I left.”
Regarding Constantinople, which is presently called Istanbul, the Prophet ﷺ determined that it would become a Muslim land nearly a millennium prior to that happening. ‘Abdullāh b. ‘Amr (rA) reports that they were once sitting with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and writing, he ﷺ was asked, “Which city will be liberated first; Constantinople or Rome?” He said, “Indeed, the city of Heraclius will be liberated first,”12
meaning Constantinople. An entire 800 years later, the Ottoman sultan, Muhammad al-Fātiḥ, accomplished this great feat. In another hadith
, “Constantinople will certainly be liberated, and how excellent a leader will its leader be, and how excellent an army that army will be.”13
Some scholars hold that this second hadith
may refer to a second liberation of Constantinople which was also prophesied, but has not yet taken place.
7. Security will Prevail
‘Adi b. Ḥātim (rA) narrates: As I was with the Prophet ﷺ [prior to accepting Islam], a man came to him complaining of poverty, and then another came to him complaining of highway robbery. He ﷺ said, “O ‘Adi, have you seen al-Ḥīra (in Iraq)?”
I said, “No, but I have been told about it.” He said, “If you live long [enough], you will see a woman travel on camelback from al-Ḥīra till she circles the Ka‘ba while not fearing anyone but Allah.”
I said to myself, “Where then would the bandits of Tay’ who have pillaged these lands be?” He ﷺ continued, “And if you live long [enough], the treasures of Chosroes, the son of Hurmuz, will be conquered.”
I said, “Chosroes, the son of Hurmuz?” He confirmed, “Chosroes, the son of Hurmuz. And if you live long [enough], you will see a man walking out, hand filled with gold or silver, seeking someone to accept it but he will not find anyone to accept it.”
Later in his life, ‘Adi said, “I have [in fact] seen a woman travel on camelback from al-Ḥīra till she circled the Ka‘ba while not fearing anyone but Allah, and I was among those who conquered the treasures of Chosroes, the son of Hurmuz. And if you live long [enough], you will see what the Prophet ﷺ—Abul Qāsim—said regarding a man walking out, hand filled…”14 Historians confirm that the inability to find someone eligible to accept charity took place during the reign of the Umayyad caliph, ‘Umar b. ‘Abdil‘Azīz (d. 91H).
8. The Last Emperors
When the Quraysh tribe embraced Islam, they feared being blocked from their trade routes to Greater Syria (Shām) and Iraq as a result, since these territories were under Byzantine and Sassanid rule and both had rejected the call to Islam. Jābir b. Samura (rA) reports the Prophet ﷺ addressing this concern by reassuring Quraysh that those empires would soon vanish from both regions. He said, “When Chosroes dies, there will be no Chosroes after him. And when Caesar dies, there will be no Caesar after him. And I swear by the One in whose hand is Muhammad’s soul, their treasures will be spent in the path of God.”15
Imam ash-Shāfi‘i (d. 820) and al-Khaṭṭābi (d. 988) explained that this meant there would never be another Caesar in Greater Syria, nor any other Chosroes in Iraq (Sassanid Persia). Indeed, the final Chosroes who rose to power during the Prophet’s ﷺ life was Yazdegerd III (d. 651), and he, in fact, became the 38th and final king of the Sassanid Empire. The final Caesar during the Prophet’s ﷺ life was Heraclius (d. 641), and Byzantium did in fact collapse and lose Christendom’s holiest site of Jerusalem during his reign. After those individuals, neither empire maintained any presence in those two regions.16
9. A Whisper in His Daughter’s Ear
‘Âisha (rA) narrates that, as the Prophet ﷺ lay on his deathbed, with all of his wives present, his daughter Fāṭima (rA) came forward, walking just as the Messenger of Allah ﷺ would walk. He ﷺ received her, saying, “Welcome, my dear daughter.”
He then sat her down beside him and uttered a secret to her which caused Fāṭima to weep. He then uttered another secret to her, making her laugh. I asked her what made her cry, but she said, “I would never disclose the Messenger of Allah’s ﷺ secret.” I had never seen a joy and grief so closely as I saw on that day, so I said to her when she wept, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ privileges you with his words, and not us, and then you weep?” I asked her again what he said, but she responded, “I would never disclose the Messenger of Allah’s ﷺ secret.” When he ﷺ died, I asked her [again], and she said he told her that “Gabriel used to review the Qur’an with me one time each year, and he reviewed it twice with me this year. I do not see this [to mean] except that my time has arrived, and you will be the first of my family to catch up with me.”
Fāṭima said, “I cried at this, and so he discreetly said to me, ‘Are you not pleased to be the queen of the believers [in Paradise]?’
And that is what caused me to laugh.”17
As Imam an-Nawawi (d. 1277) points out, this is actually two prophecies in one. The first is that he ﷺ foretold in this sickness, and not in any other illness before it, that his time had come, and that the young Fāṭima—in her early twenties at that time—would die before any other member of his family.
10. The Longest Arm
‘Âisha (rA) also narrates that when the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was presented with the question, “Which of your wives will be reunited with you first [in the hereafter]?” he ﷺ responded, “The fastest of you in catching up with me will be the one with the longest arm among you.”
Due to that statement, ‘Âisha (rA) reports that his wives used to speculate, and even measure against the wall, which wife had the longest arm. Sawada b. Zam‘a (rA) was the tallest of them, but when Zaynab b. Jaḥsh (rA) died first, they realized “longest arm”
meant most charitable. ‘Âisha (rA) says, “Zaynab had the longest arm among us, because she used to work with her hands and donate [her earnings].”18
11. The Martyrdom of ‘Umar and ‘Uthmān
Abu Mūsā al-Ash‘ari (rA) said, “I was with the Prophet ﷺ in one of the gardens in Madinah, then a man came and requested that the door be opened. The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Open [it] for him, and give him the glad tidings of Paradise.’
I opened [it] for him, and it turned out to be Abu Bakr, so I gave him the glad tidings of what the Prophet ﷺ had said. He praised Allah, and later another man came and requested that the door be opened. The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Open [it] for him, and give him the glad tidings of Paradise.’
I opened [the door] for him, and it turned out to be ‘Umar, so I gave him the glad tidings of what the Prophet ﷺ had said. He praised Allah, and later another man came and requested that the door be opened. He ﷺ said, ‘Open [it] for him, and give him the glad tidings of Paradise due to a calamity that befalls him.’
It turned out to be ‘Uthmān, so I informed him of what the Messenger of Allah ﷺ had said. He praised Allah, and then he said, ‘Allah is sought for help.’”19
In another narration, Anas b. Mālik (rA) reported that when the Prophet ﷺ ascended Mount Uḥud along with Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthmān, the mountain shook beneath them. So the Prophet ﷺ tapped it with his foot and said, “Be firm, Uḥud, for upon you are none other than a Prophet, a Ṣiddīq, and two martyrs.”20
Both ‘Umar and ‘Uthmān attained martyrdom by being assassinated during their respective caliphates. With ‘Uthmān in particular, the Prophet ﷺ gave further details: “O ‘Uthmān, Allah—the Mighty and Majestic—may garb you in a shirt. If the hypocrites demand that you remove it, do not remove it until you meet me.”21
It was this very accusation, that ‘Uthmān was unfit to “wear that shirt” (i.e., to be the caliph), which the mobs repeated before laying siege to and then storming his house and killing him.
12. Inevitable Infighting
Sa‘d b. Abi Waqqâṣ (rA) narrates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ once visited the mosque of Banu Mu‘âwiya. “He ﷺ entered, performed two units of prayer, which we prayed with him, and then he invoked his Lord for a long time. Then, he ﷺ turned to us and said, ‘I asked my Lord for three things; He granted me two and withheld one. I asked my Lord not to destroy my nation with a widespread famine, and He granted me that, and I asked Him that He not exterminate my nation by drowning, and He granted me that. And I asked Him that He not let their aggression be against one another, but He withheld that from me.’
In another narration, “Indeed, Allah has gathered the earth for me until I saw its east and its west, and the kingdom of my nation will reach whatever has been gathered for me of it. And I have been given the two treasures; the red and white (gold and silver). And I asked my Lord that He not destroy it with a widespread famine, and that He not empower against them an external enemy that will annihilate them. My Lord said, ‘O Muhammad, when I decree a matter, it cannot be repelled. I have granted you, for your nation, that I not destroy them with a widespread famine, and that I not empower against them an external enemy that annihilates them—even if those from its (the earth’s) every corner unite against them, but they will ultimately kill one another, and enslave one another. Once the sword is drawn within my nation, it will not be removed from them until the Day of Resurrection.’”23
13. Tensions Among The Prophet’s Household
Abu Rafi‘ (rA) reported that the Prophet ﷺ said to ‘Ali, “There will be an issue between you and ‘Aisha.”
He said, “Me, O Messenger of Allah?!” He said, “Yes.”
He said, “Me?!” He said, “Yes.”
He said, “Then [in that case] I would be the worst of them (all people).” He said, “No, but when this occurs, return her to her safe quarters.”24
Just prior to her clash with ‘Ali (rA), when ‘Aisha (rA) heard dogs barking near Basra at a place called Haw’ab, she said, “Perhaps I must return home, for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to us (his wives), ‘Which one of you will be barked at by the dogs of Haw’ab?’
Hopeful that her presence would effect a resolution, and that this was only a prophecy and not a prohibition, ‘Aisha (rA) decided not to abort her journey.
14. The Fate of ‘Ammār
Abu Sa‘īd al-Khudri (rA) narrated that, as the Muslims were building the mosque in Madinah, ‘Ammār b. Yāsir (rA) would carry two bricks at a time while others lifted one. When the Prophet ﷺ saw him, he began removing the dust [from ‘Ammār] with his hands and said, “Woe to ‘Ammār! He will be killed by the transgressing party; he will be inviting them to Paradise and they will be inviting him to the Fire.”
To that, ‘Ammār replied, “We seek refuge with Allah from the trials.”26
When the Battle of Ṣiffīn took place, three decades after that prophecy, ‘Ammār was killed by the army of Shām who transgressed against the Muslim ruler (‘Ali) while seeking to avenge the murdered caliph (‘Uthmān). Interestingly, the army of Shām did not claim that this hadith
had been fabricated (which proves that forging hadith was unfathomable by the Companions), but rather argued that those who called him to fight were the “transgressing party” ultimately responsible for his death. Thus, there was no question about the authenticity of the prophecy; they differed only in how to interpret it.
Finally, moments before the Battle of Ṣiffīn, as a glass of milk was passed to ‘Ammār (rA), he smiled and said, “The Prophet ﷺ told me that the last thing I would drink before dying would be some milk.”27 Then he rose to meet the promise of his Prophet ﷺ and fought until his death.
15. ‘Ali Suppressing the Khārijites
In another foretelling of this turbulent period, Abu Sa‘īd al-Khudri (rA) narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said, “A dissenting faction will splinter at a time of disunity between the Muslims, and they will be fought by the more correct of the two parties.”28
Again, it was the army of Kūfa (led by ‘Ali), not Shām (led by Mu‘āwiya), who fought the Khārijite rebels in the Battle of Nahrawān in the year 37H, making them the “more correct” and non-transgressing party. Regarding the roots of the Khārijites, the Prophet ﷺ was once accused by a hypocrite known as Dhul Khuwayṣira of inequity. The Prophet ﷺ told those seeking to punish this man for his insult, “Leave him be. He will certainly have companions (progeny) whom one of you would belittle his own prayer [when compared] to their prayer, and his fasting [compared] to their fasting. They will recite the Qur’an, but it will not pass beyond their throats [to their hearts]. They will exit the religion as an arrow passes through a game animal, whereby one would look at the arrowhead and not see any traces [of blood] on it; one would look at the binding which fastens the arrowhead to the rod and not see any traces on it; one would look at the rod and not see any traces on it; one would look at the feathers and not see any traces on them. It would go straight through the bowels and the blood. Their sign will be a black man whose limbs will appear like a woman’s breasts, or like a disfigured lump of flesh. They will emerge at a time when the people are disunited.”
The narrator, Abu Sa‘īd (rA), adds, “I testify that I certainly heard this hadith
from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and I testify that ‘Ali b. Abi Ṭālib fought them, and that I was with him. He instructed that we search for this man. He was eventually found and brought to ‘Ali, and I saw that that man [appeared] exactly as the Prophet ﷺ had described him.”29
16. Repairing the Rift
Abu Bakra ath-Thaqafi (rA) narrated that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ brought his grandson, al-Ḥasan (rA), out one day and ascended with him to the pulpit. Then, he ﷺ said, “This son of mine is a chief, and perhaps Allah will use him to reconcile between two [disputing] factions of Muslims.”30
In truth, al-Ḥasan singlehandedly mended a long and tragic split between the Muslims of Kūfa and those of Shām upon becoming caliph, by abdicating his caliphate to Mu‘āwiya b. Abi Sufyān (rA). By doing so, he unified two great factions of believers and allowed the progress of Islam to regain its momentum for decades. The Prophet ﷺ also foretold that at this precise point the Muslim nation would transition from a caliphate to a kingdom; “The caliphate will be for thirty years, then there will be a kingship after that.”31
Abu Bakr ruled for approximately two years, then ‘Umar for ten, then ‘Uthmān for twelve, then ‘Ali for five, before al-Ḥasan within months abdicated it to Mu‘āwiya who founded the Omayyad dynasty. Ibn al-‘Arabi (d. 1148) says, “And the promise of the Truthful ﷺ came to pass… [the period of the caliphate] neither exceeded nor fell short a day, so glory be to the All-Encompassing; there is no other Lord but He.”32
17. Cycling Back to Virtue is Promised
In an explicit hadith
about the forms of governance the Muslim nation would experience, Ḥudhayfa b. al-Yamān (rA) reported that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Prophethood will remain amongst you for as long as Allah wishes. Then Allah will remove it whenever He wishes to remove it, and there will be a caliphate upon the prophetic methodology. It will last for as long as Allah wishes it to last, then Allah will remove it whenever He wishes to remove it. Then there will be an abiding dynasty, and it will remain for as long as Allah wishes it to remain. Then Allah will remove it whenever He wishes to remove it. Then there will be tyrannical (forceful) kingship, and it will remain for as long as Allah wishes it to remain. Then He will remove it whenever He wishes to remove it, and then there will be a caliphate upon the prophetic methodology.”33
18. Asmā’ Sends A Tyrant Home
For confronting the tyranny of al-Ḥajjāj b. Yūsuf, ‘Abdullāh b. az-Zubayr (rA) was crucified in front of the Sacred House in Mecca, and his body was thrown into the graveyard of the Jews. Then al-Ḥajjāj marched to his mother’s house, ‘Asmā’ b. Abi Bakr (rA), the Prophet’s ﷺ sister-in-law. He said to her, “What do you think of what I have just done to the enemy of Allah?” referring to her son, ‘Abdullāh b. az-Zubayr. Though al-Ḥajjāj was trying to strike fear in her heart, lest a person of her position inspire more rebellion, this was a woman strengthened by a prophecy she had heard directly from the Prophet’s ﷺ lips. Her response was, “I think you have destroyed his worldly life by destroying your own afterlife… The Messenger of Allah ﷺ has certainly told us that emerging from Thaqīf would be a liar and a murderer; the liar we have seen, and as far as the murderer is concerned, I have no doubt that you are him.” Without saying a single word, al-Ḥajjāj rose and exited in disgrace.34 Hadith
commentators agree that the liar from Thaqīf was al-Mukhtār b. Abi ‘Ubayd, who claimed prophethood.
19. Um Ḥarām’s Date with Destiny
Um Ḥarām b. Malḥān (rA) heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say, “The first army from my nation to ride the sea have guaranteed themselves [Paradise].”
Um Ḥarām said, “O Messenger of Allah, will I be among them?” He said, “You will be among them.”
Later, he ﷺ said, “The first army from my nation to march in battle to the City of Caesar (Constantinople) will be forgiven.”
She said, “Will I be among them, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “No.”35
During the reign of Mu‘āwiya (rA), Um Ḥarām b. Malḥān rode in the first Muslim naval fleet, accompanying her husband, and died upon falling off her mount in enemy lands.36
Imam aṭ-Ṭabarāni and others report that the whereabouts of her gravesite on Cyprus Island were known.37
Ibn Ḥajar said, “This contains multiple prophecies by the Prophet ﷺ of what would take place, and it all occurred just as he said, and hence is considered among the signs of his prophethood. Of them is that his nation would remain after him, and that among them are those who would be strong, formidable, and a consequential force against the enemy, and that they would conquer territories until the army rides the sea, and that Um Ḥarām would live until that time, and that she would be with that army who rides the sea, and that she would not live to see the second military campaign [to Constantinople].”38
20. Preempting the Questioner
Just as the Qur’an cites Jesus telling others about the secrets they concealed in the depths of their homes [3: 49], it was common for the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to address the inner thoughts of those he interacted with. For instance, Wābiṣa b. Ma‘bad (rA) narrated: I came to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and he said, “You came to ask about righteousness and sin?”
I said, “Yes.” He ﷺ closed his hand, tapped on my chest, and said, “Consult your heart. Consult your heart. Consult your heart. Sin is what discomforts your soul and wavers in your chest, even if the people continue to advise you [otherwise].”39
Similarly, ‘Aisha (rA), the Prophet’s wife, reports that he ﷺ once told her, “You will either tell me, or the Most Subtle, the Most Acquainted, will inform me… Did you think that Allah and His Messenger would shortchange you?”
She responded, “Whatever people conceal, Allah knows... Yes, indeed.”40
Imam an-Nawawi comments that all the manuscripts attribute “Yes, indeed”
to ‘Aisha (it was not an inquiry which the Prophet responded to in the affirmative), so it was as if she was agreeing with herself about the reality she had just attested to.41
21. An Unforgettable Sermon
Ḥudhayfa b. al-Yamān (rA) and ‘Amr b. Akhṭab (rA) report that the Prophet ﷺ once delivered a sermon, from dawn until sunset, in which he mentioned all the [major] things that would take place between then and the Day of Resurrection. Ḥudhayfa (rA) says that he sometimes forgot parts of it, until he saw those events unfold before his very eyes.42
22. The Emergence of Selective Textualism
Miqdām b. Ma’d Karib (rA) reports that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Indeed, I have been given the Qur’an and something similar to it along with it. But soon there will be a time when a man will be reclining on his couch with a full stomach, and he will say, ‘You should adhere to this Qur’an; what you find that it says is permissible, take it as permissible, and what you find it says is forbidden, take it as forbidden.’ But indeed, whatever the Messenger of Allah forbids is like what Allah forbids.”43
To this day, there continue to arise different groups of people who attempt to delegitimize the Sunnah (prophetic tradition) in order to escape the definitive interpretations it provides of the Qur’an.
23. A Horrific Wildfire
Abu Hurayra (rA) narrates that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “The Hour will not take place until a fire emerges from the lands of Ḥijāz (central Arabia) that illuminates the necks of camels in Busra (Syria).”44
As numerous scholars—such as Ibn Ḥajar, Ibn Kathīr, and an-Nawawi—confirm, this enormous fire erupted in the city of Madinah on Friday, 5th
of Jumāda Thāni, 654H, and lasted for an entire month. The great historian, Abu Shāma, experienced it firsthand and documented much of its details, including its visibility from hundreds of miles away, and how the Madinans sought refuge in the Prophet’s Mosque and collectively repented from the vices they had been engaging in. Historical records seem to indicate that this was a volcanic eruption, and the lava fields around Madinah remain observable until today.
24. Prosperity and Hedonism Before the End-Times
Abu Hurayra (rA) reports that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The Hour will not commence before wealth becomes abundant and overflowing, to the point that a man brings out the Zakāt (charity due) on his wealth and cannot find anyone to accept it from him, and to the point that Arabia’s lands revert to meadows and rivers.”45
While acknowledging earlier manifestations of this prophecy about unprecedented affluence, current lifestyles in today’s “first world” illustrate that they live in greater luxury than 99.9% of recorded human history. Even those financially struggling enjoy recliners at home that are cozier than any ancient king’s royal throne, climate controls in every room, and access to modes of transport that have turned an excruciating month-long journey into a few entertaining hours. Perhaps even more intriguing is the Prophet ﷺ mentioning the agricultural transformation of Arabia in the same context as the surplus of wealth. Fourteen centuries ago, the extensive irrigation methods just invented through modern technology were downright inconceivable. In fact, we are the very first generations privileged to witness this geological phenomena (see: NASA Sees Fields of Green Spring up in Saudi Arabia).
Regarding how material prosperity will be a sign of the end-times, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “And if you see the barefoot, naked, shepherds of camels competing [for praise] in the construction of high-rise buildings, then this is from among the signs [of the Hour].”46
In a similar hadith
about this egotism infesting the mosque atmosphere, he ﷺ said, “The Hour will not commence before people boast of their mosques.”
Ibn ‘Abbās (rA), the narrator, added, “You will ornament your mosques just as the Jews and Christians did with their temples.”47
This intense competition will involve exploitation of others, and thus we find parallel prophecies of hedonism and exploitation in the prophetic tradition as well. In the hadith
of Miswar b. Makhrama (rA): “By Allah I do not fear poverty overtaking you, but I fear that you will have abundant wealth at your disposal as it became at the disposal of the nations before you, causing you to compete in it as they competed in it, and then it destroys you as it destroyed them.”48
25. The Unavoidability of Ribā (Interest)
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ also foretold that ribā
(interest/usury), which is one of the most unethical and exploitative transactions, would become inescapable. Abu Hurayra (rA) reports that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “A time will come over the people when they will consume ribā.”
They asked him, “All of them?” He said, “Whoever does not consume it will [still] be reached by its dust.”49
Whether for purchasing a property or vehicle, or simply for developing credit in today’s world, interest-bearing clauses have permeated every dimension of contemporary financial dealings.
26. An Increase in Brutality and Killing
When people’s greed causes them to see people’s wealth as violable, seeing their lives that way is simply the next step on that continuum. Thus, the Prophet ﷺ said, “Beware of oppression, for oppression will result in darknesses on the Day of Judgment. And beware of greed, for greed is what destroyed those before you; it drove them to spill each other’s blood, and violate each other’s sanctities.”50
The past century has seen atrocities in modern warfare, cycles of genocide, abusive policing, and senseless violence at large, that are incomparable anywhere in human history and all traceable to selfish interests.
Abu Hurayra (rA) narrates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “By the One in whose hand is my soul, this world will not end until a day comes over the people where the killer has no idea why he killed, nor the killed why he was killed.”
It was said, “How will that be?” He said, “Chaos.”51
In another hadith
, “The Hour will not commence until knowledge is removed, earthquakes become frequent, time narrows, turmoil surfaces, and anarchy increases— namely killing, [lots of] killing.”52
Again, the 21st century has been the bloodiest in human history. Even without the recent and ongoing nightmares of Bosnia, Iraq, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Palestine, Syria, and Burma; World War I alone claimed the lives of 65 million people, and World War II another 72 million. As for time passing rapidly, how often do people complain nowadays of time “flying” between gadgets and devices engineered to distract? As for knowledge becoming scarce, one can ask themselves what the average Muslim knows about their religion, and what kind of clarity the democratization of knowledge on the internet has offered.
27. The Plunge into Immorality
Abu Hurayra (rA) narrates that the Prophet ﷺ foretold that there will emerge in the future “women who are clothed yet naked, walking with an enticing gait, with something on their heads that looks like the humps of camels, leaning to one side. They will never enter Paradise or even smell its fragrance, although its fragrance can be detected from such and such a distance.”53
Is it not remarkable how the Prophet did not only describe “provocative dress,” but even predicted women’s hairstyles?
The Prophet ﷺ also stated that even Muslim communities would participate in some of these trends; “There will be in the end of my nation men who ride chariots who are [in reality] pseudo-men; they will drop off their women, at the gates of the mosques, who are clothed [and yet] naked. Upon their heads will be the likes of a lean camel’s hump.”54
‘Abdullâh b. ‘Umar (rA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ also predicted the consequences of a hypersexualized popular culture; “And fornication never becomes prevalent among a people, to the degree that they practice it openly, except that epidemics become rampant among them which had never before existed in their ancestors.”55
The link between sexual permissiveness and sexually transmitted diseases is not something any sensible person in our times can deny. Perhaps the unhinged pursuit of sexual gratification without liability is behind this next prophecy as well; “A woman will [one day] be taken and have her stomach cut open, then what is inside her womb will be taken and discarded, out of fear of having children.”56
According to an extensive survey published in Guttmacher Institute Journal, the “fear of dramatic life changes” is by far the most common reason for abortions today, with more than half of those surveyed citing single motherhood as the reason for that fear.
Finally, ‘Abdullah b. ‘Amr (rA) narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said, “The Hour will not commence until people mate in the streets just as donkeys mate.”
I asked, “Will that really happen?” He said, “Yes, it most certainly will happen.”57
Though this was stated as one of the last signs before the Day of Judgment, following major apocalyptic events, many of our modern cultures are clearly moving towards that degree of shamelessness, if not experiencing it already.
28. Muslims Becoming Easy Prey
The Prophet ﷺ also prophesied that carnal pursuits would not only infect his nation but would be the cause of their downfall and devastation. Thawbān (rA) reports that the Prophet ﷺ said, “The nations will soon invite one another to devour you, just as diners are invited to a dish.”
It was said, “Will it be because of our small number on that day?” He said, “No, rather you will be many on that day, but you will be [weightless] foam, like the foam on the river. And Allah will remove the fear of you from the hearts of your enemies, and will cast weakness into your hearts.”
Someone said, “O Messenger of Allah, what will this weakness be?” He said, “The love of this world, and the hatred of death.”58
Reinforcing this point, Anas (rA) narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Once my nation considers five things permissible, then destruction will befall them: when cursing one another appears, wine is drunk, silk is worn [by men], musical instruments are played, and men suffice themselves with men and women suffice themselves with women.”59
Certainly, Muslims today are not insulated from the ideologies demanding the acceptance of same-sex acts in the world around them. This is even imaginable for a practicing, mosque-goer Muslim, if they allow their religiosity to be reduced to a cultural identity, as the Prophet ﷺ said in a hadith
narrated by ‘Abdullah b. ‘Amr (rA), “An age will surely come when people gather and pray in the mosques, while there is not a single believer amongst them.”60
29. The Immortality Of This Ummah
In a multitude of reports, the Prophet
ﷺ declared, “There will never cease to be a group from my nation victorious upon the truth, unharmed by those who will oppose them, until Allah’s decree comes to pass while they are like that.”61
Despite the corruption and moral degradation, true believers will endure, even if their challenge is tantamount to holding onto a burning coal. They will be people who value their faith over their lives, and hence the Prophet ﷺ further described them by saying, “The Hour will not commence until a man passes by the grave of his brother and says, ‘I wish I were in his place.’”62
Ibn Baṭṭāl (d. 1057) explains that this will not be due to any suicidal ideations, but rather an anxiety that the prevalent evils and the strength of their adversaries may cost them their religion.63
30. Never Thought You Would Speak
Abu Sa’īd al-Khudri (rA) reports that the Prophet ﷺ said, “By the One in whose hand is my soul, the Hour will not commence until predators speak to people, and until the tip of a man’s whip and the straps on his sandals speak to him, and his thigh informs him of what occurred with his family after he left.”64
One can only assume how difficult these statements were for a seventh-century desert dweller to process, but the astronomical strides in electricity and electronics since then have now delivered us to these developments. In TIME’s Best Inventions of 2002
, a Japanese toy-maker is showcased for creating a dog translator
; a device on its collar that interprets its yelps, growls, and whines into phrases such as “I can’t stand it”, “how boring”, and “I am lonely.” In November of 2006, the New York Times published an article entitled “These Shoes Are Made for Talking
,” hailing in a new age of futuristic sports training. In January of 2010, a security camera app
was released which transformed the smart-phones on our hips and in our pockets into windows into our homes. Perhaps these are what the Prophet ﷺ intended, or perhaps other phenomena which we have yet to experience.