Thursday, 4 February 2021

Messiah Shall Descend Upon Jerusalem

 

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

اللهم صلى على محمد وآل محمد وبارك وسلم وصلى عليه

Most Muslims who believe in the literal second advent of the Messiah Jesus of Nazareth على نبينا وعليه السلام tend to believe he shall descend from Heaven to the east of Damascus, near the White Minaret.

Commenting on the Hadīth about the Messiah descending to Damascus:

إِذْ بَعَثَ اللهُ الْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ، فَيَنْزِلُ عِنْدَ ‌الْمَنَارَةِ ‌الْبَيْضَاءِ شَرْقِيَّ دِمَشْقَ، بَيْنَ مَهْرُودَتَيْنِ، وَاضِعًا كَفَّيْهِ عَلَى أَجْنِحَةِ مَلَكَيْنِ، إِذَا طَأْطَأَ رَأْسَهُ قَطَرَ، وَإِذَا رَفَعَهُ تَحَدَّرَ مِنْهُ جُمَانٌ كَاللُّؤْلُؤِ، فَلَا يَحِلُّ لِكَافِرٍ يَجِدُ رِيحَ نَفَسِهِ إِلَّا مَاتَ، وَنَفَسُهُ يَنْتَهِي حَيْثُ يَنْتَهِي طَرْفُهُ

Allah will send the Messiah, son of Mary. He will descend at the white minaret on the eastern side of Damascus, wearing two garments lightly dyed with saffron and placing his hands on the wings of two Angels. When he lowers his head, there will fall beads of perspiration from his head, and when he raises it up, beads like pearls will scatter from it. Every Kāfir (i.e. disbeliever) who smells the odor of his body will die and his breath will reach as far as he is able to see (Sahīh Muslim)

Imran N. Hosein writes: “This writer finds it strange and perplexing that the miraculous return of Jesus should occur in Damascus rather than Jerusalem” (An Islamic View of Gog and Magog in the Modern World, p.116)

The Salafi muhaddith, al-Albāni explained that the idea that the Messiah shall literally land on top of this minaret is erroneous. The correct meaning is that the Messiah shall descend near the White Minaret in the east of Damascus:

And they think that Jesus, عليه الصلاة والسلام, will come down at that minaret and they interpret that previous hadith, “He will descend by the white minaret, [in the] east[ern part] of Damascus …” they explain this hadith [by saying that it is referring to] the minaret which is present today east of the Amawi mosque–and this is an incorrect explanation. That is because the Prophet, صلى الله عليه وسلم, said, “He will descend by the white minaret …” and not from the [actual] minaret, and there is a big difference [between the two]. They say, “He will descend in the minaret, then he will come down to the mosque from the minaret,” and the Prophet, صلى الله عليه وسلم, says, “He will descend by the white minaret …” Neither did he say, “East of the mosque …” but rather, “… [in the] east[ern part] of Damascus …” it is obligatory upon us not to add to the sayings of the Prophet, صلى الله عليه وسلم, that which is not from it.

(al-Fatāwa al-Muhimmah lil-Allāmah Muhammad Nāsir ud-Dīn al-Albāni, of Salāh ud-Dīn Mahmūd as-Sa’īd; pp.290-291)

However, there is another Hadīth which states that the Messiah shall descend to Mount Afīq:

فَعِنْدَ ‌ذَلكَ ‌يَنْزِلُ ‌أَخِى ‌عِيسَى ‌ابْنُ ‌مَرْيَمَ ‌مِنَ ‌السَّمَاءِ ‌عَلَى ‌جَبَل ‌أَفِيقٍ إِمَامًا هَاديًا وَحَكَمًا عَادِلًا عَلَيْه بُرْنُسٌ لَهُ مَرْبُوع الْخَلْقِ أَصْلَت سَبط الشَّعْر بِيَدهِ حربَةٌ يَقْتُلُ الدَّجَّالَ فَإِذَا قَتَلَ الدَّجَالَ تَضَعُ الْحَرْبُ أَوْزَارَهَا وَكَانَ السِّلْمُ فَيَلْقَى الرَّجُلُ الأَسَدَ فَلا يُهَيجُهُ وَيَأخُذُ الْحَيَّةَ فَلا تَضُرُّهُ وَتُنْبِتُ الأَرْضُ كنَبَاتِهَا عَلَى عَهْد آدَمَ وَيُؤْمِنُ بِهِ أَهْلُ الأَرْضُ وَيَكُونُ النَّاسُ أَهْلَ ملَّةٍ وَاحدَةٍ

(Tarīkh Dimashq; v.47, p.505):


However, this Hadīth, which explicitly states that the Messiah shall descend from Heaven, is weak. Ibn Asākir did not cite it’s full chain from him connecting it to sayyidinā Ibn Abbās رضى الله عنهما narrating from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم

Nu’aim bin Hammād reports a narration which states that the Messiah shall descend, not to Damascus, but to Jerusalem:

حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ وَهْبٍ عَنِ ابْنِ لَهِيعَةَ وَاللَّيْثِ بْنِ سَعْدٍ عَنْ خَالِدِ بْنِ يَزِيدَ عَنْ سَعِيدِ بْنِ أَبِي هِلَالٍ عَنْ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو قَالَ يَخْرُجُ الدَّجَّالُ بَعْدَ فَتْحِ الْقُسْطَنْطِينِيَّةِ قَبْلَ ‌نُزُولِ ‌عِيسَى ‌ابْنِ ‌مَرْيَمَ ‌بِبَيْتِ ‌الْمَقْدِسِ

Abd Allāh bin Amr said: The Dajjāl shall emerge after the conquest of Constantinople, before the descent of Jesus son of Mary to Bait al-Maqdis (al-Fitan; v.2, p.253, #1468)

حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ وَهْبٍ عَنِ ابْنِ لَهِيعَةَ، وَاللَّيْثِ عَنْ خَالِدِ بْنِ يَزِيدَ عَنْ سَعِيدِ بْنِ أَبِي هِلَالٍ عَنْ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا قَالَ إِذَا ‌نَزَلَ ‌عِيسَى ‌بَيْتَ ‌الْمَقْدِسِ وَقَدْ حَاصَرَ الدَّجَّالُ النَّاسَ فِي بَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ مَشَى إِلَيْهِ بَعْدَمَا يُصَلِّي الْغَدَاةَ يَمْشِي إِلَيْهِ وَهُوَ فِي آخِرِ رَمَقٍ فَيَضْرِبُهُ فَيَقْتُلُهُ

(ibid; v.2, p.559, #1563):



Another Hadīth indicates that the Messiah shall descend to Jerusalem and not Damascus:

هُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ قَلِيلٌ وَجُلُّهُمْ بِبَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ وَإِمَامُهُمْ رَجُلٌ صَالِحٌ فَبَيْنَمَا إِمَامُهُمْ قَدْ تَقَدَّمَ يُصَلِّي بِهِمُ الصُّبْحَ إِذْ نَزَلَ عَلَيْهِمْ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ

On that day they [Arabs] will be few, and most of them will be in Jerusalem, and their leader will be a righteous man. When their leader has stepped forward to lead them in the morning prayer, Jesus son of Mary will come down to them (Sunan Ibn Mājah; #4077)

The muhaddith, Uthmān al-Dāni (d.444 H), brought out another narration:

لَا تَزَالُ طَائِفَةٌ مِنْ أُمَّتِي تُقَاتِلُ عَنِ الْحَقِّ حَتَّى ‌يَنْزِلَ ‌عِيسَى ‌ابْنُ ‌مَرْيَمَ ‌عِنْدَ ‌طُلُوعِ ‌الْفَجْرِ ‌بِبَيْتِ ‌الْمَقْدِسِ يَنْزِلُ عَلَى الْمَهْدِيِّ، فَيُقَالُ لَهُ تَقَدَّمْ يَا نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ فَصَلِّ لَنَا فَيَقُولُ إِنَّ هَذِهِ الْأُمَّةُ أَمِينٌ بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ لِكَرَامَتِهِمْ عَلَى اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ

A faction of my Ummah will not cease fighting upon the truth until Jesus son of Mary descends, at the dawn of Fajr, in Jerusalem. He will descend upon the Mahdi, so he will say to him: ‘Lead us in the prayer, O Prophet of Allah’. But he will say, ‘Allah has honored this Ummah, some over others’ (al-Sunan al-Wāridah fil-Fitan wa-Ghawā’ilihā wal-Sā’ah wa Ashrātihā; v.2, p.1236, #686):



I personally lean toward the view that the Messiah shall descend not to Damascus but to Jerusalem. This is an ancient prophecy found in the Hebrew Bible:

וְעָמְד֣וּ רַגְלָ֣יו בַּיֹּום־הַ֠הוּא עַל־הַ֨ר הַזֵּתִ֜ים אֲשֶׁ֨ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י יְרוּשָׁלִַם֮ מִקֶּדֶם֒

On that day, He will set His feet on the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem on the east (Zechariah 14:4)

It is a distinct possibility that the narration about the Messiah descending to Damascus is an error of one or some of the narrators. Because Jerusalem and Damascus are both in the land of Shām (the Levant), and because Shām is primarily associated with Damascus, it is possible that the prophecy of the Messiah descending to Jerusalem was mistakenly transmitted as him descending to Damascus. The prophecy in Zechariah 14, clearly a Messianic prophecy, speaks of the Mount of Olives in the east of Jerusalem. Interestingly, the Hadīth about Damascus says that the Messiah shall descend to its eastern part. This is another indication that the original prophecy still has traces found in the Hadīth, except that it has erroneously substituted Damascus in place of Jerusalem. The Hadīth also speaks of the White Minaret. Most Muslims imagine this is the White Minaret of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, but it appears that what is meant is a white minaret or tower in the Old City of Jerusalem. It may even possibly refer to a future project of the Jordanian government to build a minaret on the eastern part of the Temple Mount overlooking the Mount of Olives.

According to the Christian text Acts of the Apostles: “And when he [Jesus] had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey” (Acts 1:9-12)

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