Q&A Tall buildings in Mecca
Are these ḥadith sound? Are the references provided correct and accurate?
When you see the belly of Makkah will be cleft open and through it will be dug out river-like passages (i.e. tunnels) (or water in the road to Makkah), and you see the buildings surpass its mountains, then take care (or beware, or a variant has: then know that the matter is at hand, or then understand that the time of trial (Judgment day) is near at hand).
[Narrated by Al-Azraqi in the Book of reports about Makkah – Kitab Akhbaar Makkah, Hadiyth-1725;
A specific Hadiyth (in fact several related-Hadiyths) which prophesizes about this Tower.
Itha ra’aitun mecca bu’ijat katha’ima, wa ya-tasawa bunyanuha ru’usa jibaliha, faqad athalati as-Sa’atu.
When you see Mecca, its mountain with holes (pierced through them), and its buildings reach its mountain tops, then as-Sa’ah (the Hour) has already cast its shadow.
So when you see in Makkah that channels have already been dug (or tunnels built), and you see the buildings surpass the tops of the mountains, then know that the command (of the Hour) has already cast its shadow over you.
[Narrated by Ibn Abi Shaybah in Al-Musannaf, Hadiyth-124]
These are not Prophetic ḥadith but purportedly statements,mawquf (halted), that have been attributed to two companions, may Allah be pleased with them. Although in the excerpts provided they are referred to as being ḥadith, in none of the narrative channels seen are any of these raised and connected to the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him. Despite this, the wording as sent through above appears to be quoted verbatim in many websites, primarily to do with the building of the clock tower (and other tall buildings) in Mecca.
The mawquf narratives appear in various collections that are detailed below, ostensibly being attributed to the companions Abdullah ibn Umar and Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Aāṣ. However, there does seem to be a semblance of disturbance within the narratives regarding precise attribution for the statements, mixing between Abdullah ibn Umar and Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Aāṣ. Some have opined that this could be the result of a typographical error. Without having the time at present to peruse original manuscripts in this regard, it is not possible for formally determine this.
As standalone narratives, the probative legal value is found to be wanting. Concerning narratives of this type, Ibn Ḥazm writes in al-Muḥalla [Vol. 1, p. 72]:
The mawquf and mursal, do not establish by themselves proof. And like that, no one narrates it, except those that are not trustworthy in relation to their Deen and their memorisation. It is not lawful to leave (or abandon) what has come in the Qur’ān or that which is authentic from the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him, for the speech of a Companion or other than them. Whether it is the narrator of a ḥadith or it isn’t, and the mursal is (containing) an (omitted) narrator between it, or between the narrator and the Prophet peace be upon him. The mawqufis not known as being that which reaches (its line of transmission) to the Prophet peace be upon him.
From a brief analysis of the excerpts provided, the reported statements are to be found primarily, although not exclusively, within the following collections:
- Muṣṣanaf Ibn Abi Shayba [Vol. 5, no. 14289]
- Jāmi al-Aḥādith, al-Suyuṭi [Vol. 37, no. 40002]
- Kitāb al-Fitan [p. 22] Nu’aym ibn Ḥammād
- TafsirAbdar-Razzāq [Vol. 3, no. 2810]
- Akhbār Makkah, by al-Fākihi [Vol. 1, no. 699, Vol. 3, no. 1725 and 1728]
- Akhbār Makkah by al-Azraqi [no. 342]
- Ghareeb al-Ḥadith by al-Ḥarbi [Vol. 2, p. 544]
Each of the narratives will be listed in turn below. Regarding that cited in the excerpt as being ‘Suyuti,’ it has not been possible to locate the tradition carrying the precise wording that has been mentioned. The version that al-Suyuṭi has in Jāmi al-Aḥādith, appears closer in wording to that reported in the Muṣṣanaf of Ibn Abi Shayba.
Muṣṣanaf Ibn Abi Shayba
حدثنا غندر عن شعبة عن يعلى بن عطاء عن أبيه قال كنت آخذا بلجام دابة عبد الله بن عمرو فقال كيف أنتم إذا هدمتم هذا البيت فلم تدعوا حجرا على حجر؟ قالوا ونحن على الإسلام؟ قال ونحن على الإسلام، قلت ثم ماذا؟ قال ثم يبنى أحسن ما كان فإذا رأيت مكة قد بعجت كظائم، ورأيت البناء يعلو رؤوس الجبال فاعلم أن الأمر قد أظلك
Ghundar narrated to us from Shu’ba from Ya’la ibn Aṭā’ from his father, he said: I was taking the harness reigns (on behalf) of Abdullah ibn ‘Amr and he said: How would you be if you demolished this house and did not leave one stone upon another? They said: We are upon al-Islam. He said: ‘And we are upon al-Islam,’ he said ‘and then what?’ He said: Then the best of what was built will be built. So when you see in Mecca that channels have already been dug (or tunnels built) and you see the buildings surpass the tops of the mountains, then know that the command (of the Hour) has already cast its shadow over you.
Jāmi al-Aḥādith, al-Suyuṭi
عن يعلى بن عطاء عن أبيه قال قال عبد الله بن عمرو وكيف أنتم إذا أهدمتم هذا البيت فلم تدعوا حجرا على حجر قالوا ونحن على الإسلام قال ونحن على الإسلام قالوا ثم ماذا قال ثم يبنى أحسن ما كان وإذا رأيت مكة قد بعجت كظائم ورأيت البناء يعلو رؤوس الجبال فاعلم أن الأمر قد أظلك
From Ya’la ibn Aṭā’ from his father, he said Abdullah ibn ‘Amr said: How would you all be if you demolished this house and did not leave any stone upon another? They said: We are upon al-Islam. He said: And we are upon al-Islam. They said: And then what? He said: Then it will be built as good as it was. And if you see Mecca swamped like a rainy day and you see the building rising on the tops of the mountains, then know that the matter has already cast its shadow over you.
Kitāb al-Fitan, Nu’aym ibn Ḥammād
حدثنا جرير بن عبد الحميد عن يزيد بن أبى زياد عن مجاهد عن ابن عمر رضى الله عنهما أنه رأى بنيانا على أبى قبيس فقال يا مجاهد إذا رأيت بيوت مكة قد ظهرت على أخاشبها وجرى الماء في طرقها فخذ حذرك
Jarir ibn ‘Abd al-Ḥumayd narrated to us from Yazeed ibn Abi Ziyād from Mujāhid from Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, that he saw a building on Mount Abu Qubays,and he said: O Mujāhid! When you see the houses of Mecca appearing on its rugged mountains and the water coming through its lanes, then beware!
نا عبد الرزاق عن معمر عن يزيد بن أبي زياد عن مجاهد عن عبد الله بن عمرو قال إذا رأيت البناء ارتفع إلى أبي قبيس وجرى الماء في الوادي فخذ حذرك
Abdar-Razzāq narrated to us from Ma’mar from Yazeed ibn Abi Ziyād from Mujāhid from Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, he said: If you see the buildings rise (to the level of Mount) Abu Qubays and water streaming in the valley, then beware.
Akhbār Makkah, by al-Fākihi
حدثنا سلمة بن شبيب قال ثنا عبد الرزاق قال أنا معمر عن يزيد بن أبي زياد عن مجاهد عن عبد الله بن عمرو قال إذا رأيت البناء قد ارتفع على جبال مكة وسال الماء فخذ حذرك
Salamah ibn Shabeeb narrated to us he said Abdar-Razzāq narrated to us he said Ma’mar reported to us from Yazeed ibn Abi Ziyād from Mujāhid from Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, he said: If you see the buildings rise (to the level of) the mountains in Mecca and water streaming in the valley, then beware.
حدثنا أبو بشر بكر بن خلف قال ثنا المؤمل قال ثنا شعبة قال ثنا يعلى بن عطاء عن أبيه قال قال عبد الله بن عمرو بن العاص رضي الله عنهما إذا رأيت مكة قد بعجت كظاما ورأيت البناء قد علا على رءوس الجبال فاعلم أن الأمر قد أظلك
Abu Bishr Bakr ibn Khalaf narrated to us he saidMu’amil narrated to us he said Shu’ba narrated to us he said Ya’la ibn Aṭā’ narrated to us from his father, he said Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Aāṣ may Allah be pleased with him said: When the belly of Mecca will be cut open and through it will be dug out river-like passages (or tunnels) and the buildings of Mecca will rise higher than its mountains, when you observe these signs, then understand that the time of trial is near at hand.
حدثنا بكر بن خلف قال ثنا المؤمل قال ثنا شعبة قال يزيد بن أبي زياد عن مجاهد قال قال عبد الله بن عمرو رضي الله عنهما يا مجاهد إذا رأيت الماء بطريق مكة ورأيت البناء يعلو أخشبيها، فخذ حذرك
Bakr ibn Khalaf narrated to us he said Mu’amil narrated to us he said Shu’ba narrated to us he said – Yazeed ibn Abi Ziyād from Mujāhid from Abdullah ibn ‘Amr may Allah be pleased with him, he said: O Mujāhid, if you see water on the road to Mecca and buildings (rising) upon its rugged mountains, then beware.
Akhbār Makkah by al-Azraqi
وحدثني جدي عن مسلم بن خالد عن ابن خثيم عن يوسف بن ماهك قال كنت جالسا مع عبد الله بن عمرو بن العاص في ناحية المسجد الحرام إذ نظر إلى بيت مشرف على أبي قبيس فقال أبيت ذلك؟ فقلت نعم فقال إذا رأيت بيوتها يعني بذلك مكة قد علت أخشبيها وفجرت بطونها أنهارا فقد أزف الأمر
And my grandfather narrated to me from Muslim ibn Khālid from Ibn Khuthaym from Yunus ibn Māhak he said I was sitting with Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Aāṣ at the side of Masjid al-Ḥarām, he looked towards a house upon the Mount of Abu Qubays, so he said: That house? I said yes. He said: When you see its houses, that are (located) in Mecca, upon its rugged mountains and its belly with river-like passages, take heed of the coming matter.
Ghareeb al-Ḥadith by al-Ḥarbi
حدثنا عثمان حدثنا أبو معاوية عن الأعمش عن مجاهد عن عبد الله بن عمرو إذا ظهرت بيوت مكة على أخاشبها فخذ حذرك
Uthmān narrated to us Abu Mu’āwiya narrated to us from al-‘Amash from Mujāhid from Abdullah ibn ‘Amr: If the houses appear on the rugged mountains of Mecca, then beware.
Comment on Narrators
As can be seen from all the narratives, they are not expressly raised or connected by way of authentic channels of reporting to the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him. Hence, they are not considered Prophetic statements or indeed from the revelation. Regarding the reporting channels that contain the narrator Yazeed ibn Abi Ziyād, it is known among the leading authorities that he is ḍaef.
Concerning the narrator Muslim ibn Khālid, many of the scholarly authorities have weakened him, some considerably. Al-Dhahabi in Mizān al-I’tidāl [Vol. 4, no. 8485] records the assessment of several leading authorities, which is very negative: ‘al-Bukhāri said: munkar al-ḥadith; Abu Ḥātim said: His ḥadith are not relied upon, and Abu Dāwud said: he is ḍaef.’ Al-Ḥāfiz seems to take a balancing approach for him in al-Taqrib [no. 6625, p. 529] writing that he is ‘truthful but with a great many delusions.’ In al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kubra [Vol. 5, no. 2643] Ibn Sa’d says:
His name was Muslim ibn Khālid ibn Sa’eed ibn Jurja. His family was from Syria. He was a mawla of the family of Sufyān ibn ‘Abd al-Asad al-Makhzumi. It is said that it was based on alliance and there was no emancipation involved. Abu Bakr ibn Muḥammad ibn Abi Murra al-Makki reported to us that the complexion of Muslim ibn Khālid was white mixed with red. ‘Al-Zanji’ was a title that he was given when he was young. He had a lot of ḥadith, but there were many mistakes and errors in his ḥadith.
There are Ṣaḥīḥ aḥādith which cover the matter of prophecies relating to the construction of tall buildings as a portent of the coming of the final hour. But these traditions are not limited to a city, such as Mecca, but are wider in scope referring to ‘the Arabs’ in general. Notably these prophecies appear in the Ṣaḥīḥ aḥādith commonly known as the ḥadith of Jibreel (the angel Gabriel), where he appeared and asked a series of questions to the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him. The narrations are reported by several companions, including Ibn ‘Abbās, Abu Hurayrah and notably Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with them all. Although abridged here for the sake of brevity, two of the notable traditions can be mentioned to illustrate the point. The first, as narrated with an authentic channel of transmission in the Musnad of Imām Aḥmad:
Abu Naḍr narrated to us Abdul-Ḥameed narrated to us Shahr narrated to us Abdullah ibn ‘Abbās narrated to me he said: The Messenger of Allah peace and blessings be upon him sat in a gathering of his and Jibreel came to him and sat in front of the Messenger of Allah, placing his hands on the knees of the Messenger of Allah. He said: O Messenger of Allah, tell me about Islam…
He said: O Messenger of Allah, tell me about the hour. He said: Subḥānallah! There are five matters of the unseen which no one knows except him – ‘Verily Allah is he with whom is the knowledge of the hour; He sends down the rain and he knows what is in the wombs and no one knows what he shall earn on the morrow and no one knows in what land he shall die, surely Allah is knowing, aware’ [sic. Qur’ān, 31: 34]. But if you wish, I will tell you some of the signs of its approach. He said: Yes, O Messenger of Allah tell me. The Messenger of Allah peace and blessings be upon him said: When you see the slave woman give birth to her mistress or master and you see the shepherds competing in the construction of lofty buildings and you see the barefoot, hungry dependents become prominent figures among the people – those are signs and portents of the hour. He said: O Messenger of Allah, who are the shepherds and the barefoot, hungry dependents? He said: The Arabs.
The wording as reported in one of the channels recorded in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, narrated upon the authority of Ibn Umar is as follows:
He (the inquirer) again said: Inform me about al-Iḥsān. He (the Prophet) said: That you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, for though you don’t see him, verily he sees you. He (the enquirer) again said: Inform me about the hour. He (the Prophet) remarked: One who is asked knows no more than the one who is inquiring (about it). He (the inquirer) said: Tell me some of its indications. He (the Prophet) said: That the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress and master; that you will find barefooted, destitute goat-herders vying with one another in the construction of magnificent buildings.
A summary analysis of these aḥādith together with the channels, references and variant wording is covered in the book of Tawḥeed, the relevant chapter being available for perusal here.
The criminal elites who wield power within the Gulf are not shy of competing with one another in construction projects borne of vanity, despite the authentic noble words that are reported from the Messenger of Allah peace and blessings be upon him. With specific regards to Mecca, it is true that these constructions tower over the skyline and even the Masjid itself. But the crimes of the ruling elite in Arabia specifically stretch much further than just these buildings. Focusing only upon this issue with the narratives above to the exclusion of a litany of crimes is not acceptable. And these crimes are indeed a litany, whether that be instituting a monarchy, allying with the enemies of Islam to facilitate the invasion and occupation of Iraq, to dealing in usury in the financial system, these are well noted, historic and not mere aberrations. Most recent to be added is the promotion of drug-fuelled mass raves in Riyadh, while formally instituting the abandoning of the Sunnah for the sacred Masjid at Mecca and the Prophet’s Masjid, notwithstanding severely restricting access for coming up to three-years now.