𝐓𝐫𝐮𝐞 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐡𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐡𝐞𝐭 𝐌𝐮𝐡𝐚𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐝 𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐛𝐞 𝐮𝐩𝐨𝐧 𝐡𝐢𝐦
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
It is alleged that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) made some false prophecies and two are discussed here. Before we look at those two prophecies, this snide remark is interesting:
There are hundreds of prophecies attributed to Muhammad in the hadith literature, but I want to focus on the two I think are the best case for a probable false prophecy. Vast majority of these other “prophecies” are either extremely vague and generic (ie. “There will be a lot of killing” Bukhari 7062) or are attributed to Muhammad in the early period of Islam,
in later Sunni sources (Bukhari, Muslim and other books of hadith), these prophecies allegedly describe events soon after Muhammad’s death, many of them vague, but some more specific (ie. the conquest of Jerusalem, which happened in AD 636, worth remembering that Bukhari died in AD 870, 250 years after Muhammad).
The Hadith being criticised is found in Sahih al-Bukhari and the future incident is from the 630s. If Imam al-Bukhari had included a forged narration about the conquest of Jerusalem (as implied by the snide remark), then he could have amended the Hadith under question and ‘corrected’ it.
Since the narrations were from before the incidents taking place and he compiled narrations after the incidents took place, he should have had the complete desire and motivation to play around with the narrations to make them fit to actual events.
One may counter that by saying that the emphasized part above is not a sneaky remark but something else and just an ‘FYI’ for the readers’ attention and that Imam Bukhari did not forge, amend, or fabricate anything then addressing the criticism becomes more justified even though the justification is not reasonable. One should refrain from passing jabs and focus on the main point.
No more Caesar and Khosrau
هَلَكَ كِسْرَى ثُمَّ لاَ يَكُونُ كِسْرَى بَعْدَهُ، وَقَيْصَرٌ لَيَهْلِكَنَّ ثُمَّ لاَ يَكُونُ قَيْصَرٌ بَعْدَهُ، وَلَتُقْسَمَنَّ كُنُوزُهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ
Khosrau will be ruined, and there will be no Khosrau after him, and Caesar will surely be ruined and there will be no Caesar after him, and you will spend their treasures in Allah’s Cause. (Bukhari 3027)
After quoting this Hadith, the Finn states the following:
I am willing to admit Muhammad was in fact correct about the destruction of Yazdegerd III, and there was no ruler in the Sassanid Empire after him, as the Empire was annexed by the Rashidun Caliphate.
Imam ash-Shāfi‘i (d. 50 years before Imam al-Bukhari) and al-Khaṭṭābi explained that this meant there would never be another Caesar in Greater Syria, nor any other Khosrau in Iraq (Sassanid Persia). Indeed, the final Khosrau 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.
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 Roman and Persian rule and both were enemies of Islam. Jābir b. Samura reported the Hadith of the Prophet (ﷺ) who addressed this concern of the new Muslims by reassuring them that those empires would soon vanish from both regions.
This is indeed a true prophecy but what is even more astonishing is that the Muslims at the time were severely weak and in no position to challenge the two major powers of the world and that too simultaneously and alone. The Prophet (ﷺ) giving the weak people the good news that they will shatter the Roman and the Persian Empires when he said you will spend their treasures in Allah’s Cause is nothing less than a miracle.
The Hour will be established when the Romans are the majority of mankind
رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ “ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ وَالرُّومُ أَكْثَرُ النَّاسِ”
The Messenger of Allah – peace and blessings of Allah upon him – said: “The Hour will be established when the Romans are the majority of mankind” (Muslim 2898)
After quoting the Hadith, the Finn argues the following:
this is talking about the Byzantine Empire, and there is no justification for the modern view that it is talking about “Europeans”, Muhammad was wrong about when the Day of Judgment will occur, as the Byzantine Empire was destroyed in AD 1453.
To justify this stance, he performs an interesting trick when he states the following:
they (the Romans) have the power of tolerance amongst people at the time of turmoil and restore themselves to sanity after trouble, and are good amongst people so far as the destitute and the weak are concerned.
Notice the bold parts? ‘Amr ibn al-‘As says the ROMANS have positive qualities, this makes no sense if “the Romans” is anyone but the Byzantine Empire who were the contemporaneous empire, the behavior of which ‘Amr had seemingly observed, it’s clear the reference to THEM in the text refers to those ruling in the time of ‘Amr.
I may have misunderstood this statement: the reference to THEM in the text refers to those ruling in the time of ‘Amr and so I will give benefit of doubt to the Finn. From the apparent text, it appears that the rulers of the Romans are being referred to.
This is plain wrong as the rulers are always a tiny minority as compared to the people they rule over. Moreover, the full Hadith is quoted as follows and it clarifies that the Romans refers to the people who lived in what is now Europe:
I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: The Last Hour would come (when) the Romans would form a majority amongst people. ‘Amr said to him (Mustaurid Qurashi): See what you are saying? He said: I say what I heard from Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ). Thereupon he said: If you say that, it is a fact for they have four qualities.
They have the patience to undergo a trial and immediately restore themselves to sanity after trouble and attack again after flight. They (have the quality) of being good to the destitute and the orphans, to the weak and, fifthly, the good quality in them is that they put resistance against the oppression of kings.
The full narration makes it clear that the Romans are not just those ruling in the time of ‘Amr.
This narration has a context and for that I have linked a book in the footnotes. In brief, a common enemy of the Muslims and the West, who is situated next to Roman (European) territory, would have attacked the West severely causing them immense destruction and this is why the companion was very shocked as to how the Romans (i.e. Westerners) will recover from such a setback. I have decided not to go into that much detail here and have linked the book at the end.
Now, who are the Romans today? In Arabic, they are known as Banu Asfar (the descendants of yellow) and this yellow may have originated from how the Arabs saw their skin colour or their blonde hair. This is besides the point but the point here is that this race did not exterminate and still exists. Even if their empire died out, the people were not exterminated and continue to live today.
Hugh N. Kennedy, in ‘The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In’, states on pg. 7-8:
Historians are accustomed to talking about the Byzantine Empire to describe the Eastern Roman Empire. It is a convenient term to designate the Christian, Greek-speaking and –writing empire of the seventh and eighth centuries. It is also completely out of touch with the language of the people at the time. No one at that or any other time ever described themselves in normal life as ‘Byzantines’.
They themselves knew that they were Romans and they called themselves as such, though they used the Greek term Romaioi to do so. Their Muslim opponents also knew them as Rum, or Romans, and this term was often extended to include the Latin Christian inhabitants of North Africa and Spain. Despite the violence it does to the language of the sources, I have, with some reluctance, accepted the general scholarly usage and refer to Byzantines and the Byzantine Empire throughout.
Read more here. The explanation above is from Western sources; the Prophet (ﷺ) and his companions also defined Rome and Romans as what we now consider the West and the Westerners [*].
The Persian Empire does not exist today and died out during the early Islamic years. Moreover, the Prophet (ﷺ) himself stated on one hand that there will be no more Khosrau while he also stated that the Persians will oppress the Muslims near the end times:
Abu Nadra reported: “We were in the company of Jabir b. ‘Abdullah that he said it may happen that the people of Iraq may not send their qafiz and dirhams (their measures of food stuff and their money). We said: Who would be responsible for it? He said: The non-Arabs would prevent them. He again said: There is the possibility that the people of Syria may not send their dinars and mudds.
We said: Who would be responsible for it? He said this prevention would be made by the Romans. He (Jabir b. Abdullah) kept quiet for a while and then reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) having said there would be a caliph in the last (period) of my Ummah who would freely give handfuls of wealth to the people without counting it. I said to Abu Nadra and Abu al-‘Ala: Do you mean ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-Aziz? They said: No (he would be Imam Mahdi).
According to Imam Nawwawi, the non-Arabs in the Hadith are Persians and they would seize control of Iraq while Romans would take control of Syria making the Muslims unable to benefit from the resources there. We see this collaboration between the Romans and Persians in our times where they both outwardly appear to be at war with each other but also cooperate at the same time.
This is a very detailed topic and an article will not do justice. I recommend this book to give this topic its due justice. Copy/pasting the entire book would not be wise.
The above should be sufficient to address the faulty understanding of the Finn; however, several more references and essays can be provided as well, if required.
References and footnotes:
 Al-Yaqu’bı calls the ethnic groups in Western Europe, such as the Basque and the Franks, by their names because they had a sub-distinction. We do that in daily use as well when we say, for example, that US and Canada played a good ice hockey match. In this context, we separate them and identify them by their countries but when we discuss a particular culture or something bigger, we use words like The West or Western civilisation and so on. The early Muslims did identify even the French as Romans as well as the British and Germans.
 Imam Nawwawi was a giant Hadith scholar and his view is not an ordinary statement, neither is it without evidence. From a careful study of Hadiths, we find that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم (meant certain specific areas when he mentioned a general east and that he meant certain specific people when he mentioned non-Arabs. He has explicitly used the word Turk, Roman and so on;
however, for Persians, he simply called them non-Arabs because the Persians, in the past and present, have had a number of races under their broad control and influence. Imam Nawwawi, through his expertise, narrowed down the non-Arabs to be Persians who may include other ethnic groups under them such as Arabized non-Arabs of Lebanon and Iraq, and Khurasan further north-east.
At the time of Imam Nawwawi, the Persians were orthodox Muslims and such a thing would have been difficult to understand; however, Imam Nawwawi states that they will apostatize at the end of time. [This is not to be taken as a blanket statement of apostasy for all Shias but it means that their political and religious elite belong to something other than Islam.]
 The Prophet (ﷺ) said: There will be a treaty between you and the Romans but they will betray you and will march against you with eighty banners, under each of which there will be twelve thousand troops. The Prophet (ﷺ) did not say that they would be a united single group or empire or that the Romans will unite again under the Roman Empire but he knew that they will be various countries who will unite for a cause and that would be to fight Islam.
 Mahdi: The Promised Caliph: http://amzn.to/2ovE1US (US), http://amzn.to/2Cp6u79 (UK)