An army in Sham, an army in Yemen, and an army in Iraq

[ by Charles Cameron — uh-oh, it’s Mahdi time again.. giving a little wide-angle context, then passing along a hadith of possible current interest — also an aside about an end-times Shiite trinity ]

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a ShiaChat map of one end times scenario: the Sufyani will attack Iran, black banners come from Khorasan

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We live, as everyone pretty much agrees, in some place called “here” (although that shifts) at a particular moment called “now” (although that shifts too) in a medium often called “spacetime” in honor of Albert Einstein.

The Game-changing Coming Ones of many religions and sects – and even their secular variants, the Game-changing Coming Ideologies and Leaders) – are situated in another area of the same “spacetime” continuum for their respective believers: next up after “wars and rumors of wars” or “come the revolution” or “when the Mayan Calendar runs out” or “next year in Jerusalem”…

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When:

My old friend Stephen O’Leary suggests there’s a shifting “window of opportunity” for people who preach “soon comings” – if you warn people that the world will end in a couple of thousand years, or with the heat death of the sun, or even that sea levels are liable to rise precipitously over the next few decades unless remedial action is taken, the view is long-range enough to seriously diminish your impact. Conversely, if you announce the end of the world will occur three minutes from now, nobody has time to get scared or prepared – or to propagate your message.

So “soon coming expectations” generally predict the coming is a little ways around the corner, close enough to matter but no close enough to sell all that you possess and climb Mt Ararat this week.

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Where:

The “where” is interesting, though. We have news cameras focused 24/7 on the Mount of Olives to catch the Second Coming of Christ, although most observant Jews won’t be expecting that Christianity will be finally vindicated as the true inheritor of Judaism’s mantle there any time soon, and many Muslims expect he’ll descend at one of the minarets of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.

And the Mahdi? Two popular points of anticipated arrival are beside the Kaaba in Mecca, or out of the well behind the Jamkaran mosque, not too many miles from Qom.

But Islamic apocalyptic geography doesn’t end with either place – it extends, minimally, from Khorasan (Iran or Afghanistan) to Jerusalem, with a possible side-expedition to India (the Ghazwa-eh-Hind) and with possible tributaries from Africa and who knows where else… and in at least some Shia strands of apocalyptic thinking, the city of Kufa in Iraq will be the Mahdi’s seat of government.

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And now, the hadith:

All this is simply to provide some context for a specific hadith that my friend Aaron Zelin pointed to me today, as recorded yesterday on the Kavkaz Center webpage:

Hadith about Syria, Iraq and Yemen

Publication time:

30 October 2012, 14:58

Sham – the territory of Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon

Abdullah ibn Hawalah [Allah's blessings be on him] narrated from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) that he said:

"Matters will run their course until you become three armies: an army in Sham, an army in Yemen, and an army in Iraq".

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