Hadith Ghazwa-e-Hind: Invasion of India?
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful
In light of recent political events, people are circulating hadith traditions which allegedly foretell the invasion of India. Are these narrations authentic? If so, how can they be understood?
There are three traditions on this topic narrated by Imam al-Nasa’i in a chapter on the invasion of India. They are narrated in other collections as well, but here they are consolidated. The first two traditions in the chapter are similar and both are inauthentic. Abu Huraira is reported to have said:
وَعَدَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم غَزْوَةَ الْهِنْدِ
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, promises us we would invade India.
Source: Sunan al-Nasā’ī 3173
This tradition was ruled to be weak (da’if) according to Shaykh al-Albani in Da’if al-Nasa’i 3173 and 3174. Al-Dhahabi also ruled it to be peculiar (gharib) in Tarikh al-Islam 1/379 and rejected (munkar) in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 2/59. Al-Dhahabi is particularly critical of Jabr ibn ‘Abidah, on whose authority both traditions are narrated, writing:
جبر بن عبيدة عن أبي هريرة بخبر منكر وحديثه وعدنا بغزوة الهند
Jabr ibn ‘Abidah narrated a rejected report from Abu Huraira. His tradition is: We have been promised the invasion of India.
Source: Mīzān al-I’tidāl 1/388
Shaykh al-Arna’ut likewise commented on these traditions, writing:
وفي الباب عن أبي هريرة بأسانيد ضعيفة
There are traditions narrated on this topic from Abu Huraira with two weak chains.
Source: Takhrīj Musnad Aḥmad 37/82
The third tradition is narrated on the authority of Thawban:
عِصَابَتَانِ مِنْ أُمَّتِي أَحْرَزَهُمَا اللَّهُ مِنَ النَّارِ عِصَابَةٌ تَغْزُو الْهِنْدَ وَعِصَابَةٌ تَكُونُ مَعَ عِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ عَلَيْهِمَا السَّلاَمُ
Two groups of my nation will be protected by Allah from the Hellfire: a group that invades India, and a group with Jesus the son of Mary, upon them both be peace.
Source: Sunan al-Nasā’ī 3175
Although some scholars have argued that this tradition is authentic, there is reason to doubt it. This tradition was included by Ibn ‘Adi in his collection of weak narrators in Al-Kamil fi Du’afah al-Rijal 2/408. Shaykh al-Arna’ut also commented on this tradition, writing:
وفي إسناده ضعف
There is weakness in its chain.
Source: Takhrīj Musnad Aḥmad 12/30
And in another places, Al-Arna’ut writes:
حديث حسن وهذا إسناد ضعيف من أجل بقية وهو ابن الوليد لكنه قد توبع وباقي رجاله موثقون غير أبي بكر بن الوليد الزبيدي فهو مجهول الحال
It is a fair tradition but this chain is weak due to Baqiyah, who is Ibn al-Walid, although some follow him. The remaining narrators are reliable except for Abu Bakr ibn al-Walid al-Zubaydi, whose status is unknown.
Source: Takhrīj Musnad Aḥmad 37/81
Because of the multiple chains, Al-Arna’ut does say that the tradition is fair (hasan) but that it is not at the level of authentic (sahih). It contains at least two narrators whose status is doubtful. Hence, all of the transmissions of this tradition contain weakness and thus it is not an appropriate proof in matters of theology or law.
If, for the sake of argument we say the tradition of Thawban is authentic, does it apply to current political events like those in Kashmir? It seems likely that the tradition would refer to the activities of the earliest Muslims, such as Rightly-Guided Caliphs who engaged the Indian frontier according to the Islamic principles of just war, which protect civilians and strictly limit the scope of violence. It definitely does not refer to some Muslim empires in history or modern terrorists who committed transgressions in India.
Moreover, the tradition should be interpreted as descriptive and not prescriptive. That is, it describes a group of Muslims who fight a just war against Indian forces according to the strict guidance of the Quran and Sunnah. It does not mean that war against India is desirable or good in itself.
That said, the way many people have circulated and applied these traditions to current political events is inappropriate. Every believer should want injustices to be resolved with the least amount of violence and harm possible, and it is even more dangerous that two countries in tension are armed with nuclear weapons of mass destruction.
We ask Allah to relieve innocent believers and civilians of suffering and oppression, and to guide us to ways of reconciliation and cooperation.
Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.