[ by Charles Cameron — hadith, Aden-Abyan, Abu M. al-Maqdisi, major dream of young bin Laden, role of narration 1 month after his death, any comments? ]
I was trying to follow up on a hadith which declares:
An army of twelve-thousand will come out of Aden-Abyan. They will give victory to Allah and His messenger. They are the best between myself and them.
There’s an extensive discussion of it on Somalinet offered by Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi [teh Sheikh Abu M al-Maqdisi?] and posted on June 4 of this year, but it doesn’t answer my question as to how this narration fits in with the various narrations about the army from Khorasan.
While reading in and around this topic, however, I ran across this account of a dream on the young bin Laden, which appears on a number of sites favorable to jihad around June 4, 2011, i.e. after bin Laden’s death, and which I have not seen discussed on those analysts’ sites that I manage to follow.
It’s extremely interesting to me not only because dreams are potentially important vehicles for divine guidance in Islam, but also because it ties bin Laden specifically to the Khorasan / black banners hadith, and to the Mahdi. In this dream, I( don’t think it’s going too far to say that bin Laden himself plays a preparatory role with regard to the Mahdi that we can perhaps understand in the west as equivalent to that of John the Baptist in preparation for Christ.
If this dream narrative has been explored in the open source analytic literature, I would be very interested to see what has been said. In the meantime, I will simply post the narration as I found it:
This incident was narrated to me by a student of knowledge who spent more than 20 years in the company of scholars acquiring knowledge. He told me about a dream that Shaykh Osama bin Laden had when he was 9 years old, which indicated that Allah swt was preparing Shaykh Osama bin Laden, may Allah have mercy on him, since childhood, for battles against the Crusaders.
He told me that once he was sitting with a companion and discussing the deplorable condition of the Ummah but that all the incidents taking place in the Muslim Ummah are going according to Allah’s plan and that it is certain that the victory of Allah the Almighty will come. He will surely send a Leader and a Guide from amongst our Ummah who will deliver the humiliated and pitiful Ummah to the enlightened path of ascent and loftiness. We started thinking that who could be such a person!
Immediately, the thought of Shaykh Osama bin Laden came to our minds, since he has made innumerable sacrifices for the sake of the Ummah. On this, my companion smiled and said, “I will narrate to you a dream of Shaykh Osama bin Laden; you will be pleased to hear it, and your love for the mujahideen will only increase.”
He said, I was in al-Madinah al-Munawwarah at the house of a Scholar who used to lecture at the Prophet’s masjid. We had just arrived at his house when someone knocked on the door. The Shaykh returned with a person of luminous and honorable appearance who was about 80 years old.
The host welcomed him and requested the Tafsir of a few verses from the Qur’an. We quietly listened to him while the guest Shaykh recited a few verses, and then he gave the Tafsir of those verses. By Allah, I had studied a number of Tafsirs, but that Shaykh was a sea of knowledge. When he completed his lesson, the host invited him for a meal, but he declined politely, and we came to understand that he was fasting.
Eventually, the guest asked for permission to leave, but the host insisted, ‘Until you narrate to us the dream of Shaykh Osama bin Laden once more, you will not get the permission to leave.’
The Shaykh smiled and asked, ‘The dream that Shaykh Osama bin Laden had when he was 9 years old?’ The host replied in the affirmative.
This is how that Shaykh narrated the incident:
I was a close friend of Muhammed bin Laden, the father of Osama bin Laden. Many times I would be in his company. And many times, I used to visit his house regarding work related to construction. During the discussions, our talk would be disturbed by the playing of his children, and then he would ask them to go out and play.
But I was surprised to see that he would always ask one particular son to sit beside him. I asked him, “Why don’t you let this son of yours to play with his other brothers? Is he sick?”
Mohammed bin Laden smiled and said, “No, there something special about this son of mine.”’
When I asked his name, he said, “His name is Osama, and he is 9 years old. Let me share with you something strange which happened a few days ago. My son woke me up few minutes before the morning prayer and told me, ‘Dear father, I want to tell you about a dream that I had.’ I thought he must have had a nightmare. I made ablution and took him along with me to Masjid.
On the way, he told me, ‘In the dream, I saw myself in a huge, flat area. I saw an army mounted on white horses moving towards me. All of them were wearing black turbans. One of the horsemen, who had shiny eyes, came up to me and asked me, “Are you Osama bin Muhammed bin Laden?” I replied, “Yes.” He then asked me again, “Are you Osama bin Muhammed bin Laden?” I again replied, “Yes, that is me.” He again asked, “Are you Osama bin Muhammed bin Laden?” Then I said, “By Allah, I am Osama bin Laden.” He moved a flag towards me and said, “Hand this flag over to Imam Mahdi Muhammad bin Abdullah at the gates of Al-Quds.” I took the flag from him, and I saw that the army started marching behind me.’
Muhammed bin Laden said, “I was surprised at that but, due to business at work, I forgot about the dream. The next morning, he woke me up just before the morning prayer and narrated the same dream. The same thing happened on the third morning also. Now, I began to worry for my son. I decided to take him with me to a knowledgeable person who can interpret dreams.
Accordingly, I took Osama to a person of knowledge and informed him about the whole incident. He looked at us with surprise and asked, ‘Is this your same son who had the dream?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He kept staring at Osama for some time. My concern multiplied. He comforted me and said, ‘I will ask you a few questions. I am sure that you will answer them truthfully.’
He asked Osama, ‘Son, do you remember anything about that flag which that horseman gave you?’ Osama replied, ‘Yes, I remember it.’
He asked him, ‘Can you describe it, how it was?’
Osama said, ‘It was similar to the flag of Saudi Arabia, but its color was not green but black, and there was something written on it in white color.’
He then put the next question to Osama, ‘Did you ever see yourself also fighting?’
Osama replied, ‘I commonly see such dreams.’ He then asked Osama to go out of the room and do recitation of the Qur’an.
Then that person of knowledge turned towards me and asked, ‘Where is your ancestry from?’
I replied from Hadramawt in Yemen. Then, he asked me to tell him something about my tribe. I replied that we are related to the tribe of Shanwah which is a Qahtani tribe from Yemen. He then cried out the Takbir loudly and called in Osama and kissed him while crying. He also said that the signs of the hour are near.
‘O Muhammed bin Laden, this son of yours will prepare an army for Imam Mahdi and for the sake of protecting his religion, he will migrate to the region of Khurasan. O Osama ! Blessed is he who will do Jihad by your side and undone and disappointed be he who leaves you alone and fights against you.’
It is notable that this account appears to have surfaced in the English-language literature about a month after the Abbottabad raid of May 2. At least in this English-language form, it seems to be a posthumous account, hagiographic in tone, and directly linking bin Laden and those who fought with him to the fulfillment of Mahdist prediction.
My questions would be whether anyone knows of an earlier appearance of this narrative, perhaps in Arabic — and if it indeed is first found after bin Laden’s death, how the readers of signs, both Islamist and Western-analytic, read this particular text.
I have seen this narrative featured on sites relating to the Netherlands, Egypt, Somalia, South Africa, Kashmir, and Pakistan — and as a text video with nasheed accompaniment on YouTube – so it seems to have spread pretty rapidly, which suggests it “fits” powerfully with the needs of the jihadizing internet shortly after bin Laden’s death.