Thursday, 1 July 2021

When Caesar Dies There is No Caesar After Him

 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

اللهم صلى على سيدنا ومولانا محمد

وبارك وسلم وصلى عليه

Sayyidina Abi Hurairah رضى الله عنه narrated the following prophecy from the holy Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم

إِذَا هَلَكَ كِسْرَى فَلاَ كِسْرَى بَعْدَهُ وَإِذَا هَلَكَ قَيْصَرُ فَلاَ قَيْصَرَ بَعْدَهُ وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَتُنْفِقُنَّ كُنُوزَهُمَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ

When Chosroes dies there is no Chosroes after him and when Caesar dies there is no Caesar after him. By Him in Whose Hand is my soul, you will spend their treasures in the path of Allah

(Sahih al-Bukhari)

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was referring to the Chosroes (Persian emperor) and Caesar (Roman emperor) of his time, namely, Khosrow II (d. 628 CE) that is Khosrow Parviz son of Hormizd IV, and Flavius Heraclius (d. 641 CE).

However, historically speaking, when Khosrow II was executed after a coup that enthroned his son Sheroe or Kavad II, there were several successive Persian emperors, beginning with Kavad II, then his son Ardashir III, then Shahrbaraz, then Boran daughter of Khosrow II, then finally the last Sasanian emperor was Yazdegerd III.

Likewise, Heraclius was not the last Byzantine emperor.

How then do we understand the prophecy “When Chosroes dies there is no Chosroes after him and when Caesar dies there is no Caesar after him”? The classical scholars and exegetes explained this apparent difficulty. For instance, Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani said:

وَقَدِ اسْتُشْكِلَ هَذَا مَعَ بَقَاءِ مَمْلَكَةِ الْفُرْسِ لِأَنَّ آخِرَهُمْ قُتِلَ فِي زَمَانِ عُثْمَانَ وَاسْتُشْكِلَ أَيْضًا مَعَ بَقَاءِ مَمْلَكَةِ الرُّومِ وَأُجِيبَ عَنْ ذَلِكَ ‌بِأَنَّ ‌الْمُرَادَ ‌لَا ‌يَبْقَى ‌كِسْرَى ‌بِالْعِرَاقِ ‌وَلَا ‌قَيْصَرُ ‌بِالشَّامِ ‌وَهَذَا ‌مَنْقُولٌ ‌عَنِ ‌الشَّافِعِيِّ

As for the difficulty in that the Persian Empire remained and their last [emperor, Yazdegerd III] was killed in the time of Uthman, and likewise the difficulty with the remaining of the Roman Empire, the answer to that is the meaning [of the Hadith] is Chosroes will not remain in Iraq and neither Caesar will remain in the Levant, and this is the statement of ash-Shafi’i (Fath al-Bari; v.6 p.625, published by Dar al-Ma’rifah)

Ibn Hajr also quoted the explanation of al-Khattabi:

قَالَ الْخَطَّابِيُّ مَعْنَاهُ فَلَا قَيْصَرَ بَعْدَهُ يَمْلِكُ مِثْلَ مَا يَمْلِكُ

Al-Khattabi said: It means there will be no Caesar after him who will rule as he ruled (ibid; p.626):

And this Hadith is relevant to the controversy around the finality of Prophesy. The Hadith with similar wording “there is no Prophet after me” should not be interpreted literally just as the Hadith “when Caesar dies there is no Caesar after him” should not be interpreted literally. Rather, as al-Khattabi explained, when Caesar dies there is no Caesar who will rule as he ruled, and likewise, after the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم there is no prophet who is like him, in the sense of being a prophet delegated with legislative authority.

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