by: Z A Rahman
The advent of Islām and the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) ushered light into a world filled with darkness and hope to a people filled with dejection. He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was indeed the bearer of glad tidings. Yet the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) also informed us of events that will befall this Ummah (the Muslim community). Some of these narrations speak of the evil that will occur which would distance us from Allāh – the Most High – and make us weak in front of other nations. We are, today, witnesses to many of these events. In such periods, it is sometimes easy to forget and overlook the good that is also due to transpire of a future where power and honour will be for the Muslims who are well-established in the land.
When we look to the example and life of the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), we see that he was a hopeful and optimistic person. Much like the onset of his messengership, which came to the darkest place on earth during the darkest age of human history, we find that the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would inspire the believers with hope. During his life, when all seemed at a loss – when the citadel of darkness had been stormed by the forces of evil and treachery – he stood firm like a mountain in the hurricane of fear, unrelenting in his mission. The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was always optimistic.
Prophecies in times of hardship
When the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and Abū Bakr (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) were making hijrah (migration) from Makkah to Madīnah, they were pursued by the Quraysh headed by their most skilled tracker, Surāqah b. Malik. A bounty was placed on their heads and Surāqah was hopeful of that bounty. He was, in fact, the only one to come close to catching the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and Abū Bakr (radiy Allāhu ‘anhu). But whenever Surāqah would come upon them, his horse would suddenly sink knee-deep into the sand. When this had happened three times, he understood that the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was protected and that he would not be able to capture him. He asked the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) to ask Allāh to let him go and, in return, he would tell the Quraysh that they too would not be able to capture them as they were under the protection of Allāh. The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) asked Allāh, and Allāh accepted his request. Surāqah asked the Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to give him a written note as a means of security, which the Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) provided. During this, the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was looking to the day when the mighty Persian Empire would crumble. The Persian Empire was one of the most powerful of the ancient empires. At the time that Islām came to the scene, the Persian Empire had already been around for hundreds of years. As a military power, there simply was no comparison. Yet the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) turned to Surāqah and said, “How will you feel when you are wearing the bracelets of Kisra (the King of Persia)?” 
Within a decade or two after the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) had passed away, the Muslims conquered Persia. Amongst the booty sent to the Khalīfa of the time, ʿUmar b. al-Khattāb (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu), were the bracelets of Kisra. Recalling the words and prophecy of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), ʿUmar called for Surāqah, who by now was elderly and had embraced Islām during the conquest of Makkah. ʿUmar (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) handed Surāqah the bracelet and other items of Kisra for him to wear. With this, the vision of the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was fulfilled.
Some years after the migration of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), the Battle of Khandaq (the trenches) took place. It was also known as Ahzāb (the confederates) because, along with the Qurayshi polytheists, local Jewish and Arab tribes and groups came together in order to attack the Muslims in Madīnah.
The Muslims dug trenches to keep out the enemy. In the midst of all this, some were terrorised by fear at the fact that the whole of Arabia had gathered against them. The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) remained optimistic and reiterated the promise of Allāh. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) struck a rock three times, and each time he struck a bright light would spark. In another narration, it is said that this spark was like a light in the middle of a dark night; this is evidence that the three sparks came up with each strike. The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:
“Allāhu Akbar! I was given the keys of Damascus. I swear by Allāh that I see the red palaces of Damascus now!” On the second strike, he said “Allāhu Akbar! I was given the keys of Persia. I swear by Allāh that I see the city of Madayin of the Chosroes and his white palace!” Then, on the third strike he said: “Allāhu Akbar! I was given the keys of Yemen. I swear by Allāh that I see the gates of San’ā now!” 
The hypocrites amongst the Muslims would highlight and dwell on the reality that they were under siege, and yet the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) talked of leading the world. These glad tidings served to boost the īmān (faith) of the believers, and made clear to them that whatever happened during the upcoming battle, the Ummah was destined for greater things. Of course, we know that within about two decades, the vision of the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was fulfilled, and all the places mentioned above steeped then in darkness had come under the light of Islām.
At other times, the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) made decisions that were not for his time, but for a future generation. This can be exemplified by looking at the Miqāt (the point/boundary at which the Iḥrām can commence).  The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) made Dhul-Hulaifa the Miqāt for the people of Madīnah; Al-Juhfa for the people of Shām; Qarn al-Manazil for the people of Najd; and Yalamlam for the people of Yemen. At the time that these Mawāqīt were set by the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), there was no Muslim community in the direction of Persia, Syria, or Yemen. Yet the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) showed that he was a visionary and believed that a time would come when Islām and Muslims would reach every corner of the earth.
Recent events and the Prophecy of Hind (India)
The recent events in Kashmir brings to light the weakness of the Ummah’s position. In this situation, it is very easy to become despondent. However, we learn from the above examples that the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) would use such times to inspire hope, and it is therefore an opportune time for us to recall the prophecies regarding Hind/India prior to the Day of Judgment.
Thawbān (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu), reported that the Messenger of Allah (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), said:
“Two groups of my Ummah Allāh has protected from the hellfire: a group that will conquer India and a group that will be with ‘Isa b. Maryam, may peace be upon him.” 
Na’im b. Hammad reports in al-Fitan that Abu Hurayrah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said that the Messenger of Allah (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) mentioned India and said:
“A group of you will conquer India, Allāh will open for them [India] until they come with its kings chained – Allāh having forgiven their sins – when they return back [from India], they will find ibn Maryam in Syria.”
Abu Hurayrah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) also narrates:
“The Messenger of Allah (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), promised us [the Muslims] the conquest of India. If I was to come across that I will spend my soul and wealth. If I am killed then I am among the best of martyrs. And if I return then I am Abu Hurayrah the freed.” 
In another narration reported by Ahmad, Abu Hurayrah says, “I was told by my khalīl (beloved), the truthful and believed in, the Messenger of Allah, sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam, that there will be in this Ummah an expedition sent to Sind and Hind (India).” The rest of the narration is the same but it has the following addition: “… then I will be released from the Hellfire.” It is said that this addition explains what is meant by “the freed” in the previous narration.
Points to note:
Looking through the history of Islām, we learn that neither a godly leader nor a brave liberator emerged except that there were pious individuals and scholars around to teach and guide them to face their struggles.
The obvious example is the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and the sahābah who he had cultivated and nurtured. Leadership has many facets, all of which were possessed by the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam). Amongst these was the ability to motivate, inspire, and give hope – a particular ingredient missing in many today.
We find this aspect of leadership woven through all great characters in the history of Islām. Take as an example Salāhuddīn. He was nurtured by the scholar and ruler Nūruddīn Zenghi, who laid the foundations for the liberation of Al-Aqsa and inspired Salāhuddīn. Just as the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) set the Miqāt for a future purpose, Nūruddīn built an exquisite and elaborate minbar in Aleppo around 1154. This minbar, built over thirty years before the liberation of al-Quds at the hands of Salāhuddīn in 1187, was to be placed in Masjid al-Aqsa. Once the liberation was completed, the minbar was placed inside the masjid.
Later in life and after the death of Nūruddīn, Salāhuddīn was motivated by the scholar Behr-addīn b. Sheddād to complete the liberation and was accompanied by him in the battles along the way.
Another example is Muḥammad Al-Fātiḥ. This was a man who, from the age of 12, made the word of Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) ingrained and inculcated in his heart. In particular, the ḥadīth of liberating Constantinople was instilled in his very being by Sheikh Shamsuddīn such that it changed his life forever. He conquered Constantinople and, with it, effectively commenced the glorious reign of the Ottoman Caliphate. Sheikh Shamsuddīn, like those before him, accompanied Muḥammad al-Fātih in the battles along the way.
During the time of the crusades, Ibn Asākir authored his magnum opus, Tārīkh madīnat Dimashq (History of the City of Damascus). This was the largest biographical dictionary ever produced in the medieval period. With 74 volumes, and an additional 6 volumes of indices, it is one of the treasures of Islamic historiography. It celebrated the holiness of Syria by documenting the lives and achievements of notable men and women who lived in this region. The principle purpose of Ibn Asākir compiling this work and emphasising the sacredness of the land was to inspire Muslims to protect it from the Crusaders.
There is much debate among the scholars of Islam as to whether the prophecy concerning India has already come to pass with the liberation of India by Mahmud Ibn Subutagin of Ghazni or whether it relates to a period towards the end of times. As there is some uncertainty, we need scholars today to similarly educate the masses on the virtues of this prophecy and the fact that it potentially remains yet to be fulfilled. We need to inspire the Ummah to greatness once again and, perhaps then, Allāh will send amongst us great men such as those mentioned above.
If indeed the hadith that are considered to be weak are true, then what we also learn is that we cannot run from destiny. Whilst the Muslims of previous times spent nearly 800 years attempting to liberate Constantinople simply to fulfil the prophecy set by the Messenger of Allah (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), Muslims today have forgotten the prophecies yet to be fulfilled. We find that even if we do not have the same zeal as previous Muslims to bring a prophecy to effect, the environment is being set for us such that it will be forced upon us whether we like it or not.
 Life of the Messenger of Allāh, Dr Sallabi
 The state a person enters into to perform the pilgrimage