Rūm (Rome) in the Aḥādīth of the Last Days (Part 1)

Which nation does Rūm (Rome) in the Aḥādīth of the Last Days refer to? (Part 1)

One of the blessings that we as an Ummah have is that not only do we know about the stories of our past, but that we have also been given an insight into certain parts of our future by Allah. Just as the Qur’ān and the teachings of the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ teach us about the stories of previous nations and what became of them, so too we are told about what will happen to our nation in the days ahead of us, all the way up until the Last Day. This is a blessing that helps us to prepare for what will soon occur, however it also requires that we be diligent in understanding the correct meanings and implications of these forewarnings and prophesies.

When we look at the signs of the coming of the Last Day we should realise that understanding exactly what is being referred to can sometimes be clear whereas at other times it is almost impossible to properly comprehend until the foretold events occur. An example of a clearly understood prediction which is mentioned in the Qur’ān, in the first few verses of Sūrat Ar-Rūm:

غُلِبَتِ الرُّومُ فِي أَدْنَى الْأَرْضِ وَهُم مِّن بَعْدِ غَلَبِهِمْ سَيَغْلِبُونَ فِي بِضْعِ سِنِينَ
The Romans have been defeated in the nearest land. But they, after their defeat, will be victorious within three to nine years. [30:2-4]

The verse is very clear in stating what will happen and when. The Romans who had been defeated by the Persians would soon overcome the mighty Persian Empire and return their defeat. The time period in which it is said that it will occur is specified with the Arabic term [fī biḍʿi sinīn] meaning within 3-9 years. This event was foretold and later occurred, within the lifetime of the Prophet ﷺ and is thus seen as one of the many miracles of the Qur’ān. In the instance of this prophesy there was no doubt as to what was expected to occur and when it would occur, thus there could be no misunderstanding as to what the verses meant, so this is a prophesy that we can consider to have been very clear and precise to those who read it and heard it. An example however of an unclear prophesy that has come to pass is the following prophecy that was foretold by the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ in the well-known ‘ḥadīth of Jibrīl’ that one of the signs of the Last Day would be:

“That the shepherds of camels will compete with one another in the construction of tall buildings and will boast about them.” [Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 50]

This ḥadīth can be said almost with no doubt to refer to the ongoing phenomenon that began in the last decade in which the people of the Arabian Peninsula have been competing with one another to build the world’s largest tower. In the last 3 years the 2 tallest buildings in the world have been built in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and a third tower also in Saudi Arabia is set to be built which will become the new tallest building in the world once it is completed, stretching an enormous 1km into the sky. What is amazing about these buildings is that due to the rapid growth of the Arabian nations in the last half a century, many of those involved in the construction of the towers came from poor bedouin families who became overnight billionaires. I met one of the construction managers for the Burj Khalīfah in the UAE in 2010 and he told me that he came from a bedouin family and that one of his earliest memories was playing as a barefooted child in the desert while his family looked after their camels and goats. So we see that the exact words of the prophecy were true and have indeed appeared before our eyes in these days, however due to the fact that the prophecy did not contain specific details such as a precise location or a specified period of time in which it would occur, it would have been impossible for someone in the past to have looked at the ḥadīth and to have been able to understand that it would occur in the places or in these specific years in which they came to be in. This difference in the specific details of prophecies of future events means that sometimes matters will be very clear within their words, and that sometimes they will not at all be clear until the events come to pass, and yet a third category can be defined as being those prophecies which are specific about some matters but unclear in all of the matters mentioned within them. Those which fall into this third category may specify names and places but may be unclear as to who the names specifically refer to, or may mention place names that are somewhat vague such as ‘the East’, which may refer to any area from ‘Iraq all the way to Japan or even further to the New World (the Americas), and so whilst it is clear that ‘East’ means a land to the east of Arabia, it would not be clear exactly which eastern land is being referred to. This type of category is one that contains some information that can help us prepare for future events, but requires analysis of the prophecy which may not be clear to all who read it due to unfamiliarity with portents of the prophecy, and may not be understood at all until the event itself occurs. With this understanding of the different types of prophecies, let us begin to look at and analyse the Aḥādīth of the Last Days which make mention of Rūm.

To begin it should be made clear that the only Aḥādīth attributed to the Prophet ﷺ that we accept are those that are authentically narrated from him [Ṣaḥīḥ], if a ḥadīth is not proven to be authentic then it cannot be used as an evidence in Islam nor can we attribute it to the Prophet ﷺ as being one of his sayings. Therefore only authentic narrations regarding Rūm and the Last Days will be discussed, as any narration that is not authentic cannot be used as evidence in Islam and must be disregarded by the Believers due to its inauthenticity. Much of the confusion about future events that people have is due to the proliferation of inauthentic and fabricated sayings falsely attributed to the Prophet ﷺ. Once we know that a ḥadīth we have heard is not authentic then we must not narrate it to others claiming that it is authentic nor giving the impression that it is authentic, to do so is an error and a sin that we seek to avoid.

Rūm [الرومِ] when mentioned in the Qur’ān and the events contemporary to the lifetime of the Prophet refer to what is called in our days the ‘Byzantine Empire’. This name is taken from the ancient name of their capital city which was ‘Byzántion’ and later came to be known as Constantinople. The Byzantines however did not ever call themselves by this name, rather they called their empire the ‘Roman Empire’ [Basileia Rhōmaiōn] as they were by all means the continuation of the Roman Empire which began as a kingdom in the city of Rome in 753 BC, located in the Italian peninsula. The Roman Empire which was based in Rome expanded throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and due to its large size was split into 2 administrative regions, the Western Empire which was based in Rome and was Latin speaking, and the Eastern Empire which was based in Constantinople and was Greek speaking. The Western Empire ended in 476 AD when it was defeated by Germans who had invaded their land, and so the Eastern Empire was what remained of the Roman Empire, and it continued to call itself the Roman Empire despite the fact that city of Rome itself was no longer part of it. Historians later began calling this the Eastern Roman Empire to differentiate it from the earlier Roman Empire which comprised both the Latin West and the Greek East, over time to clarify it even further the name ‘Byzantine Empire’ was applied to the Eastern Empire even though this name was never used by the Romans themselves. In Arabic the Empire was simply called Rūm. A ḥadīth narrated by Ibn ʿAbbās clarifies the fact that Rūm in Arabic undoubtedly referred to the (Eastern) Roman Empire based in Constantinople, in which the details of a letter sent by the Prophet ﷺ to the leader of Rūm are mentioned, the opening part of the letter states:

إِلَى هِرَقْلَ عَظِيمِ الرُّومِ
“To Heraclius the leader of Rūm” [Tirmidhī 2717]

It is understood from this letter therefore that Rūm at the time of the Prophet ﷺ was the Empire which was based in Constantinople and had Heraclius as its leader. History records that Heraclius (Flavius Heraclius Augustus) was the ruler of the Roman Empire from 610-641 which corresponds to the lifetime of the Prophet ﷺ, and so we can be sure that Rūm specifically referred to the Roman Empire based in Constantinople. The clarification must be made that Rome was not always part of the Byzantine Empire yet the Arabs continuously referred to it still as Rūm (the city of Rome itself was reconquered by the Byzantines and remained in their power intermittently throughout their rule) and thus Rūm does not refer to the city of Rome but rather to the Empire based in Constantinople which inherited the title of the Roman Empire upon the fall of Rome to the Germans. All of the lands which were under the control of the Roman Empire were referred to as Rūm by the Muslims, for example the island of Rhodes which is in the Mediterranean Sea was mentioned in a ḥadīth in which some of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ narrated:

كُنَّا مَعَ فَضَالَةَ بْنِ عُبَيْدٍ بِرُودِسَ مِنْ أَرْضِ الرُّومِ
“We were with Faḍālah bin ʿUbayr at Rhodes which is in the land of Rūm” [Abū Dāwūd 3219]

The island of Rhodes which is currently located in Greece was at the time part of the Roman Empire, and therefore was mentioned as being part of Rūm. All of the lands that were part of the Roman Empire were called Rūm, and if they were to be lost then they would no longer be considered to be part of Rūm. The concept of what Rūm was according to the early Muslims is not then to be understood as a purely geographical description, as it neither referred to the city of Rome from which it took its name nor did it permanently apply to any specific lands throughout all times, rather if a land belonged to the Roman Empire then it was called Rūm, and if it were lost by the Empire it would no longer be called Rūm. Therefore the entity of Rūm was understood to be the land that was controlled by the Roman Empire at the time, meaning that
if a land was conquered by the Roman Empire it would become part of Rūm and if it were lost then it would no longer be a part of Rūm. The description of which lands belonged to Rūm was therefore an entirely political description, it was any land which Rūm controlled.

And so the question now arises – If Rūm referred only to the Roman Empire, then who should Rūm be understood to refer to in prophecies concerning our times and the Last Days? The remnants of the Roman Empire eventually fell to the hands of the Muslims when Muḥammad Al-Fātiḥ conquered the city in 1453, destroying the Roman Empire which had lasted for many centuries. If it were not for the mention of Rūm in the prophecies of the Last Days one would normally would assume that Rūm effectively ended with the fall of Constantinople and the end of the Empire in 1453, however the fact that the Prophet ﷺ mentioned Rūm in future events means that without doubt Rūm will exist in the Last Days and in fact never ceased to exist but rather was continued by another entity. Just as the Western Roman Empire was destroyed and thus the Byzantine Empire inherited the title of Rūm, so too with the fall of the Byzantines Rūm was inherited by another entity and would continue to exist until the Last Days. Who then inherited the title of Rūm, who is Rūm today and will they be the same Rūm mentioned in the prophecies of the Prophet ﷺ?

I am surely not the first to ask these questions nor the first to discuss this matter, in fact I can safely assume that many of you reading this will have asked yourself this question in the past and may have even heard various opinions as to whom Rūm refers to from others. I am familiar with the various opinions and understandings as to who Rūm refers to in the prophecies, and I am aware that there is much differing on this subject and no agreed conclusion to the question about the identity of Rūm. This is due to the nature of the prophecies being as I described above clear in some areas yet unclear in other areas. The identity of Rūm is never specifically tied to any group or location and due to this many of the classical scholars assumed that Rūm would refer to the same Roman Empire that they knew in their times, and this would be the most obvious conclusion to draw so long as one expected the Roman Empire to last until the time of the prophecies, however once the Roman Empire fell and ceased to exist, the identity of Rūm thus became unclear which is why there are no agreed upon understandings of who Rūm will be and how we are to know who they are in our times. Before analysing the various opinions as to who Rūm is I will first let you know that I do have a very strong opinion on whom Rūm is and after looking at the opinions of others I will explain why I hold this opinion and leave you to decide for yourself if you agree or disagree. What must be understood however is that I am not claiming without doubt that I am right and others are wrong as the nature of the prophecies is unclear and thus we can only make conclusions based upon our understandings, and we should not insist that our conclusions are correct as the matters are yet to occur and we should be cautious about claiming to know what will happen in the future, this is why I will state that I have an opinion about which I strongly support based upon the evidences which I will present, but in no way do I claim that what I support is going to be correct beyond doubt, we always say about such matters of the future ‘Allāhu Aʿlam’ (Allah alone knows best). With that said, here are some of the most common opinions regarding the identity of Rūm, I will save my own opinion for later on in the piece after these opinions are discussed.

1. Italy – This opinion relies on the fact that Italy is where the Roman Empire was founded and its capital city is Rome. In an example of synecdoche ‘Rome’ in political parlance is understood to refer to the Italian Republic, just as ‘Washington’ refers to the government of the USA and thus the entire nation. Therefore Rūm should be understood to mean Italy as Rome in our times refers to Italy.

Why this opinion is weak – As mentioned above, the city of Rome has nothing to do with defining Rūm. The Byzantine Empire was known as Rūm even when it did not control the city of Rome, and culturally Rūm had very little in common with the city Rome. The fact is that the title of Rūm was inherited by the Byzantines and at no point did it revert back to the city of Rome or to any entity in the Italian peninsula.

2. Russia – This opinion relies on the conclusion that since the majority of Russians belong to the Orthodox church which was the official denomination of Rūm upon the time of its fall that Russia having the largest Orthodox population on Earth are therefore the inheritors of the title of Rūm. Further to this, upon the fall of the Roman Empire many Russians began to refer to Moscow as the ‘Third Rome’, implying that it was the successor of the Roman empires based in Rome and Constantinople (which is called by them the ‘second Rome’).

Why this opinion is weak – The definition of Rūm had never been understood to be a religious definition. In fact the Roman Empire was originally pagan and worshiped the Greek and Roman gods. Further to this, the religious denomination of Rūm at the time of the Prophet ﷺ cannot be described as belonging to the Orthodox Church as the schism between the Western Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Christians did not occur until 1054. During the lifetime of the Prophet ﷺ, Rūm was still under the patronage of the Pope based in Rome. After the schism it is true that Constantinople became the head of the Orthodox Church which was the state religion of the Roman Empire, however the seat of the Orthodox Church until today remains in Istanbul (the modern name for Constantinople), never was the authority of the Church transferred to Russia. Another point worth noting is that Russia was never part of the Roman Empire nor did they inherit anything from the Roman Empire in any way, and as has been proven already the title of Rūm is inherited by those who control the Roman Empire and not merely by professing the same religion.

3. The Orthodox Christian Nations – The reasoning for this is the same as point number 2, except expanded to include all Orthodox Christian peoples.

Why this opinion is weak – Similar to the opinion on Russia above, it relies on the notion that having a shared religion with the Roman Empire at the time of its fall implies that they inherit the status of Rūm. Like with Russia, this definition is incorrect, and if Rūm were to have been defined by a people belonging to its the state religion then all Orthodox nations would have been called Rūm by the Muslims throughout time but this was never the case. The Orthodox Christian people outside of the Roman Empire were never referred to as being part of Rūm and thus this opinion is not correct.

4. Europe/EU – This opinion relies on the suggestion that Europe as a whole is the cultural successor of the Roman Empire. The predecessor of the EU which was called the EEC was founded in the city of Rome with the Treaty of Rome which is still used by the EU today. Also, the Germanic nations formed an alliance which called itself the ‘Holy Roman Empire’ in 962 which was seen as being the cultural successor of the Western Roman Empire.

Why this opinion is weak – Whilst it is true that the Western Roman Empire was the foundation for much of European culture, we must remember that Rūm was not at all a European empire, in fact most of its land was outside of Europe, divided between the Middle East and North Africa. The culture of Rūm was very different to that of Europe today and the 2 have very little in common. In no way did Europe inherit the title of Rūm nor does the EU even attempt to claim this. At the time of the Prophet the majority of Europe was not part of Rūm and thus Europe has very little do with Rūm except in the minds of those trying to create a European unity based on the myth of a shared culture founded primarily upon the influence of the Western Roman Empire. The Germanic-dominated ‘Holy Roman Empire’ existed at the same time as Rūm and therefore could not be an inheritor of the title of Rūm. Further to this, there was nothing Roman at all about the empire, it was simply a case of Germans appropriating the name ‘Roman’ trying to seek legitimacy with the Catholic Church against the Eastern Roman Empire. The reality as described by the European writer Voltaire was that the Holy Roman Empire was “Neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.”

5. The USA & the Western nations – This opinion is similar to number 4, in that it is suggested that ‘Roman culture’ did not just influence Europe but also the USA which was founded by Europeans and therefore the USA and the European-influenced Western nations in general are the cultural successors of Rome. The USA often builds its government buildings in Roman styles and uses the Latin language for its national and state mottoes.

Why this opinion is weak – Western culture has very little to do with Rūm which was primarily an Eastern and not Western entity. Even though the USA has some parts of its culture that are taken from the Western Roman Empire, most of its modern culture has nothing to do with the Eastern nor Western Roman Empires. Neither the USA nor any Western nation ever claimed to be the successors of Rome, nor did they inherit anything from Rūm in any way.

6. Christianity – This opinion suggests that since Christianity was the religion of Rūm that the Christian world in general should be seen as the successors of Rūm in our days.

Why this opinion is weak – As has been established already, the definition of Rūm was not a religious definition but was rather defined as being the nation which inherited the power from the Roman Empire. The Prophet ﷺ never referred to the Christians that he interacted with as being Romans, nor did he refer to Christianity in any way to have anything to do with Rūm, so to therefore claim that every Christian belongs to Rūm would be an error. If we were to claim that Roman meant ‘Christian’ then the companion of the Prophet ﷺ Ṣuhayb Al-Rūmī (Suhayb the Roman) would surely not have continued to refer to himself by this name as it would have implied that he were a Christian! Rather the definition of Rūmī in his name is that he came from the lands controlled by Rūm. During the time of the Crusades in which the Christians invaded Palestine and its surrounding areas, Rūm still existed and the European Crusaders were actually opposed to the Eastern Roman Empire and attacked the city of Constantinople, this shows that the European Christians were in fact enemies of Rūm and had little in common with them and did not consider themselves to be Romans in any way despite their shared religion. In addition to this, the Muslims never referred to the Crusaders as being Romans, rather they called them ‘farānj’ (Franks).

7. Romania – This opinion suggests that since the name of Romania is derived from the name ‘Rome’ that it qualifies to be called Rūm. The country was traditionally known as Rumania, meaning the land of the people of Rum.

Why this opinion is weak – As has been shown above, there is no evidence to suggest that simply having the name Rome implies that a nation has inherited the title of Rūm. If this were the case then any country could rename itself ‘Rome’ and claim to be Rūm but this is not at all how the inheritance of the name of Rūm works, as explained above.

These are the seven main opinions that are common in our times and represent the many different reasonings for why some believe that each qualifies to be Rūm in our times. There may be other opinions present however they are not often discussed nor well-known and thus there is no reason to mention them especially as each of them uses a reasoning similar to one of the seven above which all fall short in correctly identifying Rūm. An example of this would be to suggest that the Gypsies are Rūm because the name which they use for themselves is ‘Roma’ which sounds like Rome. Such reasoning is not correct and is dismissed as weak and baseless.

What should be clear is that the definition of Rūm and which nation may inherit its name is that Rūm at the time of the Prophet ﷺ earned the name as it was the political successor of the Roman Empire founded in the city of Rome, therefore political succession of the original Roman Empire is what defines a nation as being Rūm. The first major succession occurred when the Roman Empire transferred its capital to ‘New Rome’ which was the city of Constantinople and the Eastern Roman Empire was formed. As soon as the Western Empire fell and ceased to exist then the Eastern Empire became Rūm as they were the political successors of Rome and the holders of the remnants of the land of the Roman Empire. It should be made clear also that a nation does not need to be Christian to be called Rūm as it has been established that Ṣuhayb, the Muslim companion of the Prophet ﷺ was named Rūmī despite being a Muslim. So with the understanding that Rūm is defined by political succession and acquisition of the remaining land of the Roman Empire the answer to who the successor of the Byzantine Empire was is very clear – The successor to the Byzantine Empire and thus the inheritor of the title Rūm was the Ottoman Empire.

With the Muslim conquest of Constantinople, the Ottoman Empire successfully defeated Rūm and wiped the Byzantine Empire from the world maps. The entity which held the name Rūm since the time of the Prophet ﷺ had been defeated and ceased to exist, not controlling any land nor having any power. The last piece of land which Rūm held had been conquered by the Ottomans, as the rest of their land had been in the decades previous to the fall of Constantinople. Upon the defeat of the Romans the Muslim ruler Muḥammad Al-Fātiḥ began to refer to himself as the Caesar of Rome [Qayṣar Al-Rūm] and openly acknowledged that his nation was the ‘new Rome’ and inherited the title from the Byzantines. The land which we refer to as Anatolia (which makes up most of modern-day Turkey) continued to be called Rūm by the Muslims for many centuries. Even before the fall of Constantinople, the areas which the Muslims conquered in Anatolia which used to be part of Rūm were still referred to as Rūm. An example of this is the Saljuq Sultanate of Rūm which covered most of Anatolia (but not Constantinople) and eventually fell to the Ottomans who went on to fully defeat the Roman Empire. The Muslim inhabitants of the newly-conquered Constantinople and Anatolia called themselves Rūmī and there are numerous examples of famous Islamic figures who carried this name.

It should therefore be very clear that the Ottoman Empire became Rūm upon the fall of the Byzantine Empire. The Ottomans were the political successors of the Byzantines, taking over their capital city and conquering all of the land which they controlled. The Ottomans openly considered themselves to be the successors of Rūm, their leader called himself the ruler of Rūm and the Ottoman people living in Constantinople and Anatolia called themselves Rūmī (Romans). This shows that the Ottomans fulfil the criteria as the successors and inheritors of Rūm and no other nation or people can claim what the Ottomans did.

Now then the question arises, since the Ottomans were the successors and inheritors of Rūm, who then is Rūm in our day? The answer is simple – Who are the successors and inheritors of the Ottoman Empire? The answer should be very clear, the successor of the Ottoman Empire is the Republic of Turkey.

Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) was a commander in the Ottoman Army in the period in which the empire became weakened and was ready to fall to the European powers. He successfully defended the Ottoman lands in Anatolia and its surrounding areas ensuring that the lands would not be lost entirely. It was in this period that the Ottoman Empire came to an end at the hands of the Turkish Nationalists who overthrew the empire and established the Republic of Turkey in its place. The Sultanate was abolished and Mustafa Kemal became the leader of the new republic. Turkey as a new nation succeeded the Ottoman Empire and took control of the former Ottoman lands, including its capital city Istanbul. Despite being a secular state which was opposed to the Islamic Ottoman Empire, the Turkish Republic adopted many of the symbols of the Ottomans such as the national flag which was red with a white crescent moon and star. This symbol in itself predates Ottoman usage and was used by the Eastern Roman Empire as the flag of the city of Constantinople, it was adopted by the Ottomans when they conquered Rūm and ever since it became associated with the Ottoman Empire and consequently its successor state – Turkey. It is worth noting as well that genetically, the inhabitants of Turkey are more closely related to the Roman/Byzantine inhabitants of Rūm than to the Turks of Central Asia from whence their name came. The Turkish people are essentially the descendants of the Byzantines and are more closely related to Europeans, Circassians and Caucasians than to the Mongols or Turks.

Since the Turkish acquisition of the title of Rūm from the Ottomans, no nation has completely defeated the Turkish nation nor been able to acquire their political power or land. Therefore Rūm in our times continues to be the Republic of Turkey and will have been the only nation of Rūm that most of us have ever known (except for the very few who lived in Ottoman times). It is not foreseeable in the near future that Turkey should fall to any of the European powers who for the time being are favourable towards Turkey and some wish to see it join the EU. Rather the only current threat to Turkey is on its southern borders, and this is where the relevance of Turkey being Rūm in the Last Days becomes clear. Up until this point I have only provided evidence that analyses why Turkey is Rūm according to inheritance of the title and land from the Byzantine Empire. However, to properly understand why Turkey is Rūm we now must look at the relevant Aḥādīth concerning Rūm in the last days to see how Turkey fits in to our current situation.

One of the first confusions that one may find in looking at the Prophetic Aḥādīth is that there are many mentions of ‘Turks’ and some become confused and incorrectly associate these Aḥādīth with the Republic of Turkey. In order to understand why these Aḥādīth are not relevant to the discussion of Rūm this must be explained lest there remain any misconceptions as to who the Turks are that were mentioned by the Prophet.

دَعُوا الْحَبَشَةَ مَا وَدَعُوكُمْ وَاتْرُكُوا التُّرْكَ مَا تَرَكُوكُمْ
Leave the Abyssinians alone as long as they leave you alone, and leave the Turks alone as long as they leave you alone. [Abū Dāwūd 4302]

In this Ḥādīth the word ‘Turk’ is used to identify a specific group, and the general identity of this group was known at the time of the Prophet just as the identity of the Abyssinians was known. The ‘Turks’ were a people located to the east of Persia, and to the west of China. They extended all the way up into Northern Siberia and covered most of Central Asia. The early Muslims referred to the area which they inhabited as Mā Warā’ An-Nahr [ما وراء النهر ] which means ‘The land beyond the river’, in this case referring to the Oxus river which is located along the border of modern-day Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The people who lived in this land spoke the Turkic language, the oldest known examples of which are found written around Eastern Mongolia as well as East Turkestan which is located in present-day China.

The first Turkic empire was the Göktürk Empire which spoke the Turkic language and this was the empire that existed during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad and was known to the Arabs as the Turks. During the lifetime of the Prophet this empire stretched all the way from Northern Persia to Eastern Mongolia. It must be noted however that at no point did the Turks reach the area of Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) nor did they reach ant of the areas close to it. The Turk empire covered almost all of Central Asia and Mongolia as well as large parts of South-Eastern Russia and Northern China. In the year 1206 the Mongol Empire was founded and the Mongols (who were not Turks but spoke a closely related language) quickly conquered the Turks and began to invade the Muslim lands. As the Mongol Empire spread eastwards towards the Muslims the bulk of their soldiers were the Turks who they had recently conquered, and the eventual clash between the Mongol led Turks and the Muslims was described in the prophecy of the Prophet:

لاَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ حَتَّى يُقَاتِلَ الْمُسْلِمُونَ التُّرْكَ قَوْمًا وُجُوهُهُمْ كَالْمَجَانِّ الْمُطْرَقَةِ يَلْبَسُونَ الشَّعَرَ وَيَمْشُونَ فِي الشَّعَرِ
The Last Hour would not come until the Muslims fight with the Turks, a people whose faces would be like hammered shields wearing clothes of hair and walking with shoes made of hair. [Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2912]

This Ḥadīth undoubtedly refers to the Mongol-Turkic army that the Muslims fought and defeated in what was the largest assault ever witnessed upon the Muslim lands until today. The Ḥādīth is amazing in that it even specifies the specific type of shoes that the Mongols would wear, something that is amazing since the Mongol invasion occurred 6 centuries after the life of the Prophet, yet he mentioned even down to the finest details how this army would be. The ‘Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire’ (Atwood, 2004) mentions that the traditional footwear of the Mongols and their people at the time of the Mongol Empire was made out of the hair of cows, and on some occasions sources mention that also the hair of camels would be used.

So we see that the prophecies of the Turks referred to the Mongols and Turks of Central Asia and therefore are irrelevant to the discussion about Rūm, as the Republic of Turkey has nothing to do with the Turks mentioned in the Aḥādīth of the Prophet. The reason that the Turkish nation adopted this name is that when the Turkic culture of Central Asia spread along with the Mongol invasion, the Western Turkic languages became spread all the way to Anatolia, and eventually became the primary language of the area. The inhabitants of Anatolia however as discussed previously are not genetically related to the Turks, except for small traces found in some of the eastern villages of Turkey. The majority of the population of Turkey today are more closely related to the Eastern Europeans, the Kurds and the inhabitants of Syria than the Turks. The similarity in name is only due to a loose linguistic relation and was rarely used even during Ottoman times, when the term ‘Turk’ referred to villagers, primarily in Eastern Anatolia and was seen as a degrading term. Mustafa Kemal however embraced this term and used it for the Turkish Republic in order to distance the nation from Europe to their east and the Arabs to their south, and tried to promote a ‘Turkic identity’ through the shared linguistic relationship with the Turks of Central Asia.

(To be continued – The second part will focus on the Aḥādīth about Rūm in the Last Days, and how they relate very clearly to the Republic of Turkey, and how we should therefore prepare ourselves for what will eventually happen. If for any reason you are still unsure about the possibility of Turkey being Rūm, the next part inshā’Allah will make things easier to understand)

About the author: Musa Cerantonio is an active Islamic activist, who reverted to Islam at the age of 17. He is well-known for his appearance on international Islamic TV Shows, such as ‘Iqra TV’ & ‘Ask the Sheikh’.

You can follow him on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/MusaAbuAisha

Note: Views expressed in the piece do not necessarily represent those of Proposition Revival.

Published by TheMuslimIndependent

The Muslim Independent was created with the aim of providing unique insights in Islamic discourse, trends & philosophies relevant to the Islamicate & Muslim intellectual space in the 21st century context & arena. It is managed by Tarek 'Abdur-Rahman, who is currently a teacher of Qur'an at a school in Sydney. He studied recitation & memorisation with the esteemed Qari Fedaur-Rahman for 2.5 years. He studied Arts/Education at UNSW. Completing his undergraduate Arts degree with a Major in History & Minor in English. He has an avid interest & enjoys reading 7 studying a wide variety of topics including the Islamic sciences, Arabic, Philosophy, History, Ethics, Politics, Orientalism, Psychoanalysis, Critical Theory, Critical Race Theory & other topics.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: