Thus spoke Ruwaybidah?
Are we witnessing one of the portents relating to the final hour? The aḥādith of the ‘Ruwaybiḍah’ is often mentioned in various contexts and has been feature of traditional Islamic works of ‘Fitan,’ relating to signs before the day of judgment, including before the arrival of the cursed false ‘messiah’ – the Dajjāl. Textually, the traditions do not relate to a legal topic. As such, when cited they are not utilised in relation to developing or substantiating jurisprudence (fiqh). Rather, depending upon authenticity, the text relates to a possible description of a future state of events, where deception reigns. A fixed moment in time is not specified, but rather a period prior to the coming of the Dajjāl.
Some in the contemporary era have given a rating of fair or good (ḥasan) to a particular narration that mentions the ‘Ruwaybiḍah,’ others to the set of traditions overall. Partly this seems to be on the basis that there are other channels of reporting which it is held offer some form of attestation. Individually though, some of the reported traditions are not wholly without difficulties. Notable authorities are on record commenting upon the status of various narrators appearing in the lines of reporting.
Concerning the reported text (matn) itself, there doesn’t appear to be any immediate difficult points. Depicting future events where a role reversal seems to occur: the truthful being regarded as liars; treachery being commonplace, the deceitful assuming the place of speaking for the masses. Even to the casual observer, most modern politicians of all political stripes would certainly seem to fall within that designation.
Narratives and Authenticity
Out of the six commonly known books of aḥādith, only Ibn Mājah records one tradition regarding the ‘Ruwaybiḍah’ in the book of tribulations (Kitāb al-Fitan), purportedly narrated upon the authority of Anas ibn Mālik.
حدثنا أبو بكر بن أبي شيبة حدثنا يزيد بن هارون حدثنا عبد الملك بن قدامة الجمحي عن إسحاق بن أبي الفرات عن المقبري عن أبي هريرة، قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم سيأتي على الناس سنوات خداعات يصدق فيها الكاذب ويكذب فيها الصادق ويؤتمن فيها الخائن ويخون فيها الأمين وينطق فيها الرويبضة قيل وما الرويبضة قال الرجل التافه في أمر العامة
Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shayba narrated to us Yazid ibn Harun narrated to us from Abdul-Malik ibn Qudāma al-Jumaḥi from Isḥāq ibn Abi al-Furāt from al-Maqburi from Abu Hurayrah, he said the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said:
There will come to the people years of treachery, when the liar will be regarded as honest, and the honest man will be regarded as a liar; the traitor will be regarded as truthful and the truthful will be regarded as a traitor, and the ‘ruwaybiḍah’ will decide matters. It was said: And who are the ruwaybiḍah? He said: Vile and base men who control the affairs of the people.
Again, out of the six-commonly known books of ḥadith, the narrator in this tradition, Abdul-Malik ibn Qudāma al-Jumaḥi only appears in one other narration, which is again also cited in the collection of Sunan by Ibn Mājah. This is problematic, because he is regarded as weak (ḍaef), by several authorities, including Ibn Ḥajar [Taqreeb al-Tahzeeb no. 4204, p. 364]. Other scholars have said similarly regarding this narrator: for example, Abu Ḥātim said: ‘Weak (ḍaef) in ḥadith, he is not strong; he narrates disclaimed narrations from trustworthy narrators.’ Al-Nasā’i also said he was not strong [Ibn Ḥajar, Tahzeeb al-Tahzeeb, Vol. 6, p.].
Regarding Isḥāq ibn Abi al-Furāt, al-Dhahabi marks him out as being unknown [al-Kāshif fī Maʻrifah, Vol. 1, no. 316, p. 238]. This is also confirmed by Shu’ayb al-Arnā’uṭ†in his summary comments in Musnad Aḥmad which also has this tradition from the same isnād. After the citation of the tradition he says: ‘This isnād is ḍaef, its weakness (is) due to Abdul-Malik ibn Qudāma and the obscure status of Isḥāq ibn Bakr ibn Abi al-Furāt.’ Al-Ḥākim also cites this tradition via this specific channel in several places in his work, al-Mustadrak [Vol. 4, no. 8439, p. 629, p. 512 and no. 8629, pp. 683/684]. But both channels contain Abdul-Malik ibn Qudāma al-Jumaḥi and the former narrator, Isḥāq ibn Bakr ibn Abi al-Furāt. Despite this, he comments that the isnād is Ṣaḥīḥ. Al-Dhahabi providing the follow up comment, also as Ṣaḥīḥ in his work al-Talqees.
In Fatḥ al-Bāri, Ibn Ḥajar mentions that the ḥadith of ‘ruwaybiḍah’ is reported by Aḥmad, Abu Ya’la and al-Bazzār with a good (jayyid) isnād [Vol. 13, p. 106]. These lines of reporting are through to three-different companions: Anas ibn Mālik, Abu Hurayrah and ‘Auf ibn Mālik, may Allah be pleased with them all. Looking at each of them in turn, the first appears in the Musnad of Aḥmad bin Ḥanbal:
حدثنا عبد الله حدثني أبي ثنا يونس وسريج قالا ثنا فليح عن سعيد بن عبيد بن السباق عن أبي هريرة قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: قبل الساعة سنون خداعة يكذب فيها الصادق ويصدق فيها الكاذب ويخون فيها الأمين ويؤتمن فيها الخائن وينطق فيها الرويبضة قال سريج وينطق فيها الرويبضة
Abdullah narrated to us my father narrated to me Yunus and Surayj narrated to us, they said Fuleeḥ’ narrated to us from Sa’eed ibn ‘Ubayd ibn al-Sibāq from Abu Hurayrah, he said the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said:
Before the hour, will be years of deception. The truthful is regarded as a liar, and the liar regarded as truthful and there is betrayal. The trustworthy will be considered treasonous and ruwaybiḍah will speak therein. Surayj said: And ‘ruwaybiḍah’ will speak.
Commenting upon the narration, Shu’ayb al-Arnā’uṭ said its isnād is ḥasan. An alternate channel is cited in Musnad Aḥmad upon the authority of a different companion, Anas ibn Mālik differing slightly in wording, placing the course of events before the arrival of the Dajjāl:
حدثنا أبو جعفر المدائني وهو محمد بن جعفر حدثنا عباد بن العوام حدثنا محمد بن إسحاق عن محمد بن المنكدر عن أنس بن مالك قال، قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إن أمام الدجال سنين خداعة، يكذب فيها الصادق، ويصدق فيها الكاذب، ويخون فيها الأمين ويؤتمن فيها الخائن، ويتكلم فيها الرويبضة. قيل: وما الرويبضة؟ قال: الفويسق يتكلم في أمر العامة
Abu Ja’far al-Madā’ini and he is Muḥammad ibn Ja’far narrated to us ‘Abbād ibn al-‘Awwām narrated to us Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq narrated to us from Muḥammad ibn Munkadir from Anas ibn Mālik he said, the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said:
Indeed, before the Dajjāl are deceptive years – the truthful one will not be believed, the liar will be believed, the trustworthy one will be accused of betrayal, the treacherous one will be trusted, and the ‘ruwaybiḍah’ will speak. They said: And what is the ruwaybiḍah? He said: The base wicked-doer, he will speak in relation to the affairs of the general public.
Ibn Kathir makes mention of this narration in his famous work on great battles and tribulations (al-Nihāya fil’Fitan wal’Malāḥim). After citing this tradition, he commented: ‘And this isnād is good, Aḥmad was alone in citing it from this channel.’ In a similar manner, Nu’aym ibn Ḥammād, cited the following tradition upon the authority of Abu Hurayrah in his work on Fitan:
ابن وهب عن يزيد بن عياض عن سعيد بن عبيد بن السياق قال سمعت أبا هريرة رضى الله عنه يقول قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يكون قبل خروج المسيح الدجال سنوات خدعه يكذب فيه الصادق ويصدق فيها الكاذب ويؤتمن فيها الخائن ويخون فيها الأمين وتتكلم الرويبضه الوضيع من الناس
Ibn Wahb from Yazid ibn ‘Ayyād from Sa’eed ibn ‘Ubayd ibn al-Siyāq he said I heard Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him saying the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said:
Before the emergence of the false messiah the Dajjāl there will be years of treachery, in which the truthful will be called liars and the liars truthful, and the traitor will receive trust, while the reliable one will be accused of treachery. Mean contemptible ones (ruwaybīḍa), among the people will speak forth.
In the Musnad of Abu Ya’la very similar wording is reported, although via a slightly different channel of reporting, but again upon the authority of Anas ibn Mālik:
حدثنا إسحاق بن أبي إسرائيل حدثنا عبد الله بن إدريس عن محمد بن إسحاق عن عبد الله بن دينار عن أنس بن مالك قال، قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إن بين يدي الساعة سنين خوادعة يصدق فيها الكاذب ويكذب فيها الصادق ويؤتمن فيها الخائن ويتكلم فيها الرويبضة قالوا: يارسول الله وما الرويبضة قال الفويسق يتكلم في أمر العامة
Isḥāq ibn Abi Isrā’il narrated to us Abdullah ibn Idris narrated to us from Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq from Abdullah ibn Dinār from Anas ibn Mālik, he said the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said:
Indeed, near to the hour are deceptive years: the liar is considered truthful, the truthful a liar and the treacherous entrusted, and al-ruwaybiḍah will speak. They said, O Messenger of Allah, and what is al-ruwaybiḍah? He said: The base wicked-doer speaking in relation to general affairs.
Commenting upon this narration Ḥussein Asad said: ‘Its men are trustworthy.’ Also, narrated upon the authority of the companion Anas ibn Mālik, al-Ṭabarāni records the following tradition in Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ [Vol. 6, no. 3258]:
حدثنا بكر قال نا عبد الله بن يوسف قال نا أبن لهيعة قال نا عبد الله بن عبد الرحمن بن معمر عن عبد الله بن ابي طلحة عن أنس بن مالك عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال بين يدي الساعة سنون خداعة يتهم فيها الأمين ويؤتمن المتهم وينطلق فيها الرويبضة قالوا وما الرويبضة قال السفية ينطق في أمر العامة
Bakr narrated to us he said Abdullah ibn Yusuf narrated to us he said Ibn Lahiya narrated to us he said Abdullah ibn ‘Abdar-Raḥman ibn Ma’mar narrated to us from Abdullah ibn Abi Ṭalḥa from Anas ibn Mālik from the Prophet peace be upon him, he said:
Towards the hour are years of deception; the trustworthy are accused and the accused entrusted, therein speaks ruwaybiḍah. They said, and what is ruwaybiḍah? He said: Foolishness speaking in the general affairs.
Notable within the isnād is Ibn Lahiya and he is regarded as ḍaef. In the Musnad of al-Bazzār [Vol. 7, no. 2740], another channel is cited, this time upon the authority of ‘Auf ibn Mālik:
حدثنا أبو كريب محمد بن العلاء قال أخبرنا يونس بن بكير عن محمد بن إسحاق عن ابراهيم بن أبي عبلة عن أبيه عن عوف بن مالك رضي الله عنه قال، قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ان بين يدي الساعة سنين خداعة يصدق فيها الكاذب ويكذب فيها الصادق ويؤتمن فيها الخائن ويخون فيها الأمين وينطق فيها الرويبضة قيل يا رسول الله وما الرويبضة؟ قال الأمور التافه يتكلم في أمر العامة
Abu Kareeb Muḥammad ibn al-‘Alā narrated to us he said Yunus ibn Bukeer reported to us from Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq from Ibrāhim ibn Abi ‘Abla from his father from ‘Auf ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, he said the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said:
Indeed, before the hour are years of deception: when the liar will be regarded as honest, and the honest will be regarded as a liar; the traitor will be considered as faithful, and the faithful regarded as treacherous. And ‘ruwaybiḍah’ will determine matters. They said, O Messenger of Allah, and what is the ‘ruwaybiḍah’? He said: The petty-minded speaking upon general affairs.
In Majmu’ al-Zawa’id, al-Haythamy mentions the tradition of Anas ibn Malik. With regards to al-ruwaybiḍah, the wording has the Prophet peace be upon him saying: The evil doer (fāsiq) speaking in relation to the general affairs. He then comments: ‘It is narrated by Aḥmad, Abu Ya’la and al-Ṭabarāni in al-Awsaṭ. Within it (the isnād) is Ibn Ishaq and he is muddalis; in the isnād of al-Ṭabarāni is Ibn Lahiya and he is layyin.’ Al-Haythamy mentions the second tradition of ‘Amr ibn ‘Auf, then comments as follows: ‘Ibn Isḥāq said – and Abdullah ibn Dinār narrated to me from Anas from the Prophet peace be upon him mentioning it. It is narrated by al-Bazzār, Ibn Isḥāq has stated with hearing from Abdullah ibn Dinār and the rest of its men are trustworthy. I said: Some of this comes in the signs of the Hour.’
There is no reason to suspect any misrepresentation in reporting (tadlis) here by Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq. The other narratives provide substantiation for this quite evidently. For more upon the status of the narrator, Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq, author of the famous biography of the Prophet (peace be upon him), one can refer to the detailed discussion regarding him in the seminal work produced on the Constitutional Agreement of Medina [section: Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq ibn Yassār, leader of the believers in ḥadith].
When the truth is spun, to be lies
Taking the narratives as a whole, what does the reported Prophetic wording inform us of? That prior to the commencement of the final hour and before the arrival of the cursed false messiah:
- Deceptive years will descend
- The truthful will be regarded as liars
- The liars will be accepted as being truthful
- Treachery, betrayal, becomes commonplace, the traitors being perceived as faithful
- The vile evil doers, the contemptible, will claim to speak for the general public.
Rather worryingly, these features or characteristics set out in the Prophetic narratives do seem to strike a tone with what has been witnessed for quite some time now. And this is even before the arrival of the tremendous trial that the false messiah will bring. Dictatorial political leadership in certain Muslim lands are openly bringing their secret ties with the enemies of Islam into the public domain under the guise of ‘making peace.’ Others are actively collaborating with the oppressors of Muslims. And now with the insidious drive for the ‘great reset,’ too many seem quick to point out as lies the insidious contradictions underpinning government narratives. There is even surprise when the general commandment to check and verify information, as outlined in the Qur’ānic verse [49:7], is mentioned and used to encourage others not to accept wholesale the words of politicians, who are most often known to be liars or that their policy pronouncements can ever be taken as a baseline standard of truth. This is particularly pertinent where government narratives have been deliberately used to stoke fear of death and hide their own outright criminality.
Other authentic Prophetic narratives also seem to lend weight to the substance of the wording reported. Amongst the many examples that could be highlighted, two seem especially pertinent. Recorded in the Ṣaḥīḥ of Muslim, is the authentic tradition mentioning the flag that will be used on the day of judgment to designate the traitors:
حدثنا زهير بن حرب حدثنا عبد الصمد بن عبد الوارث حدثنا المستمر بن الريان حدثنا أبو نضرة عن أبي سعيد قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لكل غادر لواء يوم القيامة يرفع له بقدر غدره ألا ولا غادر أعظم غدرا من أمير عامة
Zuhayr ibn Ḥarb narrated to us Abdus-Ṣammad ibn Abdul-Wārith narrated to us al-Mustamir ibn al-Rayyān narrated to us Abu Naḍra narrated to us from Abu Sa’eed he said the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said:
Every traitor will have a flag on the day of judgement to identify them according to the level of their treachery; and there is no treachery more serious than the one committed by the ruler of men.
There is also the tradition reported in Bukhāri of the Bedouin who wanted to ask the Prophet peace be upon him when the final hour would occur. The Prophet peace be upon him said: Where is the questioner, who inquired about the hour? He said: I am here O Messenger of Allah. Then he said: When honesty is lost, then wait for the hour. He asked, ‘How will that be lost?’ He said: When the power or authority comes in the hands of unfit persons, then wait for the hour.
Stranger in a Strange Land
Truth cannot be abandoned while the situation that engulfs us seems to worsen by the day. In several notable verses of the Qur’ān, Allah informs us that the believers will ultimately prevail [see: 23: 1; 5: 56; 58: 21]. Darkness cannot vanquish the night, just as falsehood cannot ever be a substitute for truth. But holding fast to the revelation invariably entails trials. Those trials may be difficult, they may require great sacrifice. To simply succumb to events is not going to alleviate anything, nor is it going to demonstrate being steadfast to the truth.
In the end, what will nourish hearts to endure these difficulties will be the unwavering reliance upon Allah; holding fast to the revelation of the Qur’ān and Prophetic Sunnah, and not being the cannon-fodder of the false messiah, the Dajjāl. We may well be witnessing the advent of the ‘Ruwaybidah,’ but the call to Islam, the final revelation sent to mankind by the best of creation, continues.
We all must decide upon which side ultimately, we wish to be, as the allies of Allah or with the party of Shaytān.
يا أيها الذين آمنوا من يرتد منكم عن دينه فسوف يأتي الله بقوم يحبهم ويحبونه أذلة على المؤمنين أعزة على الكافرين يجاهدون في سبيل الله ولا يخافون لومة لائم ذلك فضل الله يؤتيه من يشاء والله واسع عليم
إنما وليكم الله ورسوله والذين آمنوا الذين يقيمون الصلاة ويؤتون الزكاة وهم راكعون
O you who believe, if any of you go back on your faith, Allah will soon replace you with people He loves and who love Him, people who are humble towards the believers, hard on the disbelievers, and who strive in Allah’s way without fearing anyone’s reproach. Such is Allah’s favour. He grants it to whoever He wills. Allah has endless bounty and knowledge.
Your true allies are Allah, His Messenger, and the believers– those who keep up the prayer, pay the prescribed alms, and bow down in worship [5: 54/55]