Forecasting the future of dynasties and nations
52. Forecasting the future of dynasties and nations
This includes a discussion of predictions (malahim) and an exposition of the subject called “divination” (jafr)
This innate desire to know future is especially great with important events. People want to know, for instance, how long the world or certain dynasties are going to last.
Towns have a group of people who strive to make a living out of predicting the future because they know that the people are most eager to know it.
All day long, the women, children, and many weak-minded men ask them to foretell their future.
- Some make predictions from sand writing (geomancy) as astrologers (munajjim). 995
- Others predict by casting pebbles and grains of wheat, as “calculators” (hasib)
- Others predict by looking into mirrors and into water, as “drawers of circles” (darib al-mandal).
These are very common in cities and are reprehensible because:
- they are established by the religious law
- supernatural knowledge is veiled (and hidden) from human beings, except for those to whom God Himself has revealed (certain supernatural knowledge) in (their) sleep or through sainthood.
Rulers and amirs who want to know the duration of their own dynasties show the greatest concern for these things and the greatest curiosity in this respect.
Therefore, the interest of scholars has been directed to predicting the duration of dynasties. Every nation has had its soothsayers, its astrologers, and its saints who do “forecasting” (hadathan).
This forecasting involved talking about:
- wars and battles that were going to occur
- how long the ruling dynasty would last
- how many rulers it would have
The Arabs had diviners such as Shiqq and Satih who interpreted the dream of the Yemenite ruler Rabi’ah b. Nasr. They interpretated as the Abyssinians taking possession of their country, which would later on revert to them. Next, Islam and the Arab dynasty would appear.
Satih likewise interpreted a dream of the Mobedhan. The Persian emperor (Khosraw) had sent information about (that dream) to Satih through ‘Abd-al-Masih. (Satih) told him about the future appearance of the Arab dynasty.998
The Berbers also had such soothsayers. The most famous of them was Musa b. Salih of the Banu Yafran (Ifren), or of the Ghumart. 999 He made forecasts in poems in the native (Berber) idiom. (These poems) contain many forecasts. Most of them are concerned with the royal authority and rule over the Maghrib which the Zanatah were going to obtain. They have had wide circulation among the Berbers.
The Berbers have sometimes thought that Musa was a saint. At other times, (they seem to think) that he was a soothsayer. In their self-deception, a few assert occasionally that he was a prophet, because they think that he lived long before the Hijrah. And God knows better. In this respect, (each) group used to base itself upon the information of prophets, when, as happened among the Israelites, any existed in its own time. Successive prophets (among the Israelites) told them similar things when bothered with questions.
During the Muslim dynasty many such things occurred. Some predictions had reference to how long the world in general would last. Others had reference to a particular dynasty and its particular life.
At the beginning of Islam, predictions were based on statements reported on the authority of the men around Muhammad and, especially, on that of Jewish converts to Islam such as Ka’b al-ahbar, 1000 Wahb b. Munabbih, 1001 and other such persons.
Often, part of the relevant information was obtained from the explicit wording of the transmitted (statements) and permissible interpretations. Jafar as-Sadiq and other members of the family of Muhammad also made many such predictions.
They based themselves, it would seem, upon removal (of the veil, kashf), which they enjoyed on account of (their) sainthood. Things of this sort are not unknown in (the experience of) other saints from among their people and descendants. Muhammad said= “Among you there are men who are spoken to.” 1002 They are the ones who are most deserving of their noble ranks and their gifts of divine grace.
After the early years of Islam, people applied themselves to the sciences and the (various) technical terminologies. The books of the Greek philosophers were translated into Arabic.
The main basis for predictions now were astrological discussions. Matters concerning royal authority and dynasties and all other matters of general importance were considered as depending on the conjunctions of the stars.
Nativities and interrogations and all other private matters were considered to depend on people’s “ascendants”- that is, on the constellations of the firmament at the time when (these matters) were brought up.
Traditionists like as-Suhayli explain how long Islam and the world will last. 1003 He derived it from at-Tabari. It concludes that the world will last 500 years after the coming of Islam. This is not true and the theory has been demolished.
At-Tabari based his theory on Ibn ‘Abbis, which says that this world constitutes a single week of the weeks of the other world. 1004 He did not bring any proof for it.
The statement may possibly mean that this world is to be measured in days corresponding to the days ofthe creation of heaven and earth. They were seven, and each of them is 1,00 years, according to the verse of the Qur’an= “A day with your Lord is a thousand years as you count days.” 1005 He said= Now, it is established in (the sound tradition of) the Sahih 1006 that Muhammad said= “Your term, as compared to the term of those who were before you, (will extend) from the afternoon prayer to sunset.” 1007
He also said= “I and the Hour were sent like these two,” 1008 and he pointed with the index finger and the middle finger. Now, the time between the afternoon prayer and sunset, when the shadow of every object becomes twice as long as (the object itself), is approximately one-half of one-seventh (of the day).
The middle finger is longer than the index finger by about the same amount 1/14th.
Consequently, the length of the duration (of the world after the coming of Islam) would be one-half of oneseventh of the whole week (of 7,000 years). This would be 500 years. This figure is supported by the statement of Muhammad, “God is indeed not unable to make this nation last longer than half a day.” 1009
This shows that the duration of the world before Islam was 5,500 years. On the authority of Wahb b. Munabbih, it is stated that it was 5,600 years 1010-that is, the period that had passed (before the coming of Islam. On the authority of Ka’b and Wahb, 1011 it is stated that the entire duration of the world is 6,000 years.
As-Suhayli said= “There is nothing in the two traditions to support his (at-Tabari’s) interpretation (concerning the fivehundred-year duration of Islam), and what has actually happened has turned out to be different.
The statement of Muhammad, ‘God is indeed not unable to have this nation last longer than half a day,’ does not imply that a longer period than half a day is excluded. And his statement, ‘I and the Hour were sent like these two,’ refers to the closeness (of the Hour) and to the fact that there will be no other prophet and no other religious law (in the short time) between (Muhammad) and the Hour.
As-Suhayli then turned to another source for determining the duration of Islam, in the hope that he might find the correct answer. He took the letters at the beginning of the surahs, 1012 disregarded repetitions, and thus found that there were 14 letters, which can be arranged to form the sentence ’lm yst’ ns hq krh. 1013
He added up the numerical value of these letters, which comes to 903,1014 to be added to the time which had already passed of the last millennium before the coming of (Muhammad). (The total) then, was the length of the duration of Islam.
As-Suhayli said= “It is not unlikely that this is the information those letters were intended to convey.”
I say= The fact that it is “not unlikely” does not imply that it is evident, or that it must be understood this way. As-Suhayli was influenced by the story of the two sons of Akhtab, one of the Jewish rabbis (who had contact with Muhammad), which occurs in Ibn Ishaq’s Sirah.1015 These were Abu Yasir and his brother Huyayy.
They had heard about the letters ’lm, which belong to the letters at the beginning of the surahs, and interpreted them as indicating, by their numerical value, the length of the duration (of Islam). Their numerical value was 71. They considered that (too) short a period, and Huyayy went to the Prophet and asked him whether there were other such (letters).
Muhammad mentioned ’lms. (Huyayy) asked for more, and Muhammad mentioned ’lr. Again, (Huyayy) asked for more, and Muhammad mentioned ’lmr. (The numerical value of ’lmr) was 271. (Huyayy) considered that (too) long a period and said= “We are in confusion concerning your future, 0 Muhammad. We do not know whether you have been given little or much (time).” Whereupon they (the Jews) left him. Abu Yasir said to them= “How do you know? Perhaps he was given the total of the numerical value of all the letters,namely, 704 years.” 1016 Said Ibn Ishaq= “In consequence, the following verse of the Qur’an was revealed= ‘It contains clearly understood verses that are the mother of the book (and other ambiguous ones … ) .’ " 1017
This story does not prove that the duration of Islam can be estimated at that figure. The assumption that the letters refer to such figures (giving the duration of Islam) is neither natural nor rational. It is merely the result of the conventional and technical procedure which is called hisab al jummal (counting the numerical value of letters).
It is, indeed, an old and well-known procedure, but the fact of the antiquity of a technical procedure does not make it conclusive evidence (for whatever one wants to prove by it). Furthermore, neither Abu Yasir and his brother Huyayy, nor any of the Jewish scholars for that matter, were the sort of men whose opinion with regard to such a matter (as the duration of Islam) could be considered proof of it(s being as they say). They were Bedouins of the Hijaz and did not know any crafts or sciences.
They did not even know their own religious law, nor did they understand their own Scriptures and religion. 1 018 They had picked up this (method of calculating by the numerical value of letters), just as the common people of every religious group pick it up. Thus, as-Suhayli has no proof for his claims concerning (the duration of Islam).
For specific forecasts concerning particular dynasties, Islam has a general traditional basis in the tradition of Hudhayfah b. al-Yaman, 1019 published by Abu Dawud through his shaykh Muhammad b. Yahya adh-Dhuhli, 1020 on the authority of Sa’id b. Abi Maryam, 1021 on the authority of ‘Abdallah b. Farrikh, 1022 on the authority of Usamah b. Zayd al-Laythi,1023 on the authority of a son of Qabisah b. Dhu’ayb,1024 on the authority of his father, who said= “Hudhayfah b. al-Yaman said= ‘By God, I do not know whether my companions have forgotten it or merely pretend to have forgotten it. By God, no leader of a disturbance who had 300 or more (men) with him, up to the end of the world, was omitted by the Messenger of God. He mentioned his name, the, name of his father, and the name of his tribe.’ " 1025
Abu Dawud did not make any remarks critical of (this tradition). Abu Dawud said in his Epistle that everything to which he did not append critical remarks in his book was all right. 1026 If (this tradition) is sound, it still is a general one. In order to explain its general meaning and to indicate what is not clearly expressed in it, one requires other traditions with good chains of transmitters.
The tradition occurs in works other than (Abu Dawud’s) Kitab as-Sunan, in another form. In the two Sahihs, there also occurs the following tradition of Hudhayfah, who said= “The Messenger of God stood up to give us a sermon. He did not omit anything, but talked about everything that would happen in his place here until the coming of the Hour. Some remember it, and some have forgotten it, (but) the men around him who (were present on that occasion) know it.” 1027 Al-Bukhari’s recension reads= “He did not omit, but mentioned everything down to the coming of the Hour.”
The work of at-Tirmidhi includes the tradition of Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, who said= “The Messenger of God said the afternoon prayer with us one day in the daytime. Then he stood up to give a sermon. He did not leave anything out, but informed us about everything that will happen down to the coming of the Hour.
Some remember it, and some have forgotten it.” 1028All these traditions must be referred to the traditions concerning the disturbances (of the Last Day) and the conditions governing it, as they are established in (the sound tradition of) the Sahih. They do not refer to anything else.
This is what is expected from the Lawgiver (Muhammad) when he speaks in such generalities. The additional information Abu Dawud supplies, and which he stands alone in transmitting, is unusual and not to be approved of. Moreover, the religious leaders hold different opinions concerning the personalities (mentioned by Abu Dawud).
Ibn Abi Maryam said regarding Ibn Farrukh that his traditions are not approved of. Al-Bukhari said= “Some of his traditions are acknowledged, and others are not.” Ibn ‘Adi said= “His traditions are not to be retained.”
Usamah b. Zayd has traditions of his published in the two Sahihs, and he was considered reliable by Ibn Main. However, al-Bukhari published traditions of his only in order to support (the reliability of traditions). Yahya b. Sa’id and Ahmad b. Hanbal considered him weak. Abu Hatim said= “His traditions may be written down, but they may not be used as evidence.”
The son of Qabisah b. Dhu’ayb is little known.
Thus, the additional information occurring in Abu Dawud in connection with the tradition mentioned, is weak in all these respects, in addition to the aforementioned fact that it is unusual.
As a basis for specific forecasts concerning dynasties, one uses the Kitab al-Jafr. 1029
People think that it contains information about all these things in the form of traditions or astro(logical predictions). They do not (think) beyond that, and they do not know its origin nor its basis. It should be known that the Kitab al-Jafr had its origin in the fact that Harun b. Sa’id al-‘Ijli,1030 the head of the Zaydiyah, had a book that he transmitted on the authority of Ja’far as-Sadiq.
That book contained information as to what would happen to the family of Muhammad in general and to certain members of it in particular. The (information) had come to Ja’far and to other ‘Alid personages as an act of divine grace and through the removal (of the veil, kashf) which is given to saints like them. (The book was) in Ja’far’s possession.
It was written upon the skin of a small ox. Harun al-‘Ijli transmitted it on (Ja’far’s) authority. He wrote it down and called it al-Jafr, after the skin upon which it had been written, because jafr means a small (camel or lamb). (Jafr) became the characteristic title they used for the book.
The Kitab al-Jafr contained remarkable statements concerning the interpretation of the Qur’an and concerning its inner meaning. (The statements in it) were transmitted on the authority of Ja’far as-Sadiq. The book has not come down through continuous transmission and is not known as a book as such. Only stray remarks unaccompanied by any proofs (of their authenticity) are known from it. If the ascription to Ja’far as-Sadiq were correct, the work would have the excellent authority of Jafar himself or of people of his family who enjoyed acts of divine grace.
It is a fact that Ja’far warned certain of his relatives about accidents that would occur to them, and things turned out as he had predicted. He warned Yahya, the son of his uncle Zayd, about his impending debacle, but he disobeyed him, revolted, and was killed in alJuzajan, as is well known.1031 If acts of divine grace occur also to others, they should all the more occur to (members of Muhammad’s family), in view of their knowledge, their religion, the tradition of Muhammad’s prophecy (which they represent), and God’s concern for the noble root (Muhammad) which extends to partiality for its goodly branches.
Much of this material is reported among members of the family of Muhammad, but it is not attributed to the Jafr (just mentioned). In the history of the ‘Ubaydid(-Fatimids), there is much of it. An illustration is the story reported by Ibnar-Ragiq 1032 about a meeting between Abu ‘Abdallah ash-Shi’i and ‘Ubaydallah al-Mahdi, who was with his father Muhammad al-Habib. 1033 (Al-Mahdi and his father) discussed matters with (Abu ‘Abdallah) 1034 and sent the latter to Ibn Hawshab, their missionary in the Yemen. (Ibn Hawshab) ordered Abu ‘Abdallah to go to the Maghrib and spread (Fatimid) propaganda there. He did so in the knowledge that the (‘Ubaydid-Fatimid) dynasty would materialize in (the Maghrib).
Later on, when ‘Ubaydallah was building al-Mahdiyah in Ifriqiyah and their dynasty was flourishing, he said= “I am building this city so that the Fatimids may find protection in it for one hour of a (certain) day,” and he showed the (people around him) the place within the city where “the Man of the Donkey” would stop.
(‘Ubaydallah’s) grandson Ismail al-Mansur heard of this story, and when “the Man of the Donkey,” Abu Yazid, came to besiege him in al-Mahdiyah,1035 al-Mansur always inquired where he had last stopped. Eventually, he was informed that Abu Yazid had reached the place his grandfather ‘Ubaydallah had indicated. Now, he was sure of victory. He went out of the town, routed (Abu Yazid), and pursued him as far as the region of the Zab, where he defeated and killed him. (The ‘Alids) have many such stories to tell.
Astrologers use conjunctions, especially those of Saturn and Jupiter, to predict royal authority and dynasties. Those two are in conjunction once every 20 years.
After 20 years, their conjunction reoccurs in another sign of the same triplicity 1036 (but) in trine dexter,1037 and again (twenty years later) in another (sign). This is repeated in the same triplicity twelve times.
It takes 60 years (for three conjunctions) in the three signs (of the first triplicity), and another sixty years each for a second, third, and fourth time. The 12 repetitions in the triplicity, with four recurrences, thus take 240 years. The movement (of the conjunction) in each sign is toward the trine dexter. It moves on from the one triplicity into the adjacent triplicity, that is, into the sign that is adjacent to the sign of the triplicity in which the conjunction had last taken place.
The conjunctions of the two superior planets are divided into great, small, and medium. 1038 The great conjunction is the meeting of the two superior planets in the same degree of the firmament, which reoccurs after 960 years. The medium conjunction is the conjunction of the two superior planets in each triplicity with its 12 repetitions. After 240 years, they move on to another triplicity. The small conjunction is the conjunction of the two superior planets in the same sign; after 20 years, they have a conjunction in another sign in trine dexter at the same degree and minute.
For instance, if the conjunction occurs in the first minute of Aries, it will reoccur after twenty years in the first minute of Sagittarius, and then again after twenty years in Leo.1039 All the (signs) mentioned are fiery, and all the conjunctions are small ones.
The conjunction then reoccurs in the beginning of Aries after sixty years.
This is called “the cycle of the conjunction” or “the reoccurrence of the conjunction.” After 240 years, (the conjunction) moves on from the fiery (triplicity) to the earthy (triplicity), which comes after (the fiery one). This, then, is the medium conjunction.
Then, the conjunction moves on to the airy and watery triplicities, and then reoccurs in the beginning of Aries after 960 years. This, then, is the great conjunction.
The great conjunction indicates great events, such as a change in royalauthority or dynasties, or a transfer of royal authority from one people to another.
The medium conjunction (indicates) the appearance of persons in search of superiority and royal authority. The small conjunction (indicates) the appearance of rebels or propagandists, and the ruin of towns or of their civilization. In between these conjunctions, there occurs the conjunction of the two unlucky planets (Saturn and Mars) in the sign of Cancer once every 30 years. It is called ar-rabi` (the fourth). 1040
The sign of Cancer is the ascendant of the world. It is the detriment 1041 of Saturn and the dejection 1042 of Mars. This conjunction strongly indicates disturbances, wars, bloodshed, the appearance of rebels, the movement of armies, the disobedience of soldiers, plagues, and drought. These things persist, or come to an end, depending on the luck or ill luck (prevailing) at the time of conjunction of (the two unlucky planets), as determined by the direction of the significator in it.
Jirash b. Ahmad al-Hasib 1043 said in the book that he composed for Nizam al-Mulk= “The return of Mars to Scorpio has an important influence upon the Muslim religious group, because it is its significator. The birth of the Prophet took place when the two superior planets were in conjunction in the sign of Scorpio.
Whenever the conjunction reoccurs there, trouble is brewing for the caliphs. There is much illness among scholars and religious personalities, and their conditions are reduced. Occasionally, houses of worship are destroyed.
The conjunction occurred at the deaths of ‘Ali, of the Umayyad Marwan, and of the Abbasid al-Mutawakkil. If such judgments are taken into consideration, together with the judgments based upon the conjunctions, they are exceedingly reliable.”
Shadhan al-Balkhi 1044 mentioned that Islam would last 310 years. This has proved to be wrong.
Abu Ma’shar 1045 said= “(Islam) will have many differences after the 150’s.” This was not correct.
Jirash said= “I have seen in the books of the ancients that the astrologers informed Khosraw that the Arabs would gain royal authority and the prophecy (of Muhammad) would appear among them. The significator of the Arabs is Venus, which was then in its exaltation. The royal authority of the Arabs would last 40 years.”
Abu Ma’shar said in the Book of Conjunctions= “When the section 1046 reaches the twenty-seventh (degree) 1047 of Pisces, in which Venus has its exaltation, and when, at the same time, the conjunction occurs in Scorpio, which is the significator of the Arabs, then the Arab dynasty will make its appearance, and there will be a prophet among them. The power and duration of his rule will correspond to the remaining degrees of the exaltation of Venus-that is, approximately eleven degrees of the sign of Pisces. That will be a period of 610 years. Abu Muslim 1048 appeared when Venus moved on, and the section occurred in the beginning of Aries, with Jupiter ruling the field.” 1049
Ya’qub b. Ishaq al-Kindi said that Islam would last 693 years; he said, ‘because in the conjunction that dominates Islam, Venus was in 28 ° 42’ 1050 of Pisces. The remainder, thus, was 11 ° 18’. There are sixty minutes to the degree.
Thus, it will be 693 years.” He said (further)= “This is the duration of Islam as generally agreed upon by the philosophers. The figure is supported by the letters that occur at the beginning of certain surahs, if one omits the repetitions and counts the numerical value of the letters.” I say= This is what was mentioned by as-Suhayli. Themost likely assumption is that al-Kindi was as-Suhayli’s source for the remarks we reported on as-Suhayli’s authority. 1051
Jirash said= “The sage Hurmuzdafrid 1052 was asked about the duration of the rule of Ardashir and his children, the Sassanian rulers. He replied= ‘The significator of his rule is Jupiter. Jupiter was in exaltation (when Ardashir appeared).
Thus, Jupiter gives (the Sassanians) the longest and best years, that is, 427. Then, Venus will rule and be in exaltation. Venus signifies that the Arabs will come to power,1053 because the ascendant of the conjunction is Libra, and it is ruled by Venus, which, at the time of the conjunction, will be in exaltation. This indicates that (the Arabs) will rule 1,060 years.”
Khosraw Anosharwan asked his wazir, the sage Buzurjmihr, about the transfer of royal authority from the Persians to the Arabs. Buzurjmihr informed him that the founder of Arab rule would be born in the forty-fifth year of his reign. He would take possession of the East and the West. Jupiter would turn over the rule to Venus, and the conjunction would move on from the airy (triplicity) into Scorpio, which belongs to the watery (triplicity).
(Venus) is the significator of the Arabs. All the indications mentioned imply that Islam will have a duration corresponding to the period of Venus, that is, 1,060 years.
Khosraw Aparwez asked the sage Ulyus 1054 about the same matter, and Ulyus gave a reply similar to that which Buzurjmihr had given (to Khosraw Anosharwan).
Theophilus was 1055 the Byzantine astrologer of the Umayyad period. He said that the Muslim dynasty would have the duration of the great conjunction, that is, 960 years. When the conjunction occurs again in the sign of Scorpio, as it had at the beginning of Islam, and when the position of the stars in the conjunction that dominates Islam has changed, it will be less effective, or there will be new judgments that will make a change of opinion necessary.
Jirash said= “They are agreed that the destruction of the world will come through water and fire. Water and fire will gain preponderance until all created things have perished. This will take place when Regulus crosses 24°, (thus entering) the field of Mars. 1056 This will be the case after 960 years have passed.”
Jirash mentioned that among other gifts, the ruler of Zabulistan-that is, Ghaznah-sent his sage Dhuban to alMa’mun. (Dhuban) made for al-Ma’mun astrological elections that favored al-Ma’mun’s going to war against his brother and appointing Taeir as commander-in-chief. AlMa’mun thought highly of (Dhuban’s) wisdom, and asked him how long the (‘Abbasid) rule would last. (Dhuban) informed him that the children of his brother (al-Mu’tasim), and not his own descendants, would rule, and that the nonArab Daylam would gain control over the caliphate. At first they would exercise good government, for 50 years.
Then, their condition would deteriorate. Eventually, the Turks would make their appearance from the northeast. Their rule would extend to Syria and the Euphrates.1057
They would conquer the Byzantine territory. Then, there would happen what God would want to happen. Al-Ma’mun asked (Dhuban) where he got his information from, and (Dhuban) replied that he had it from the books of the philosophers and from the astrological judgments of the Indian Sassah b= Dahir, the inventor of chess. 10 58
I say= The Turks to whose appearance after the Daylam (Dhuban) referred, are the Saljtigs. The (Saljuq) dynasty was destroyed at the beginning of the 13 century.
Jirash said= “The conjunction will move on into the watery triplicity in thesign of Pisces in the year 833 of the era of Yazdjard.1059 From there, it will move on to the sign of Scorpio-where there had occurred the conjunction under which Islam (originated) 1060 -in the year (8)
53.” He said= “(The conjunction) in Pisces is the beginning of the movement, 1061 and the conjunction in Scorpio will produce the indications applying to Islam.” He said= “The revolution of the first year of the first conjunction in the watery triplicity will be (completed) on Rajab 2, 868 [March 11, 1464].” 1062 He did not discuss this matter more fully.
With regard to individual dynasties, the astrologers base themselves on the medium conjunction and the constellation of the firmament when it takes place. In their opinion, it indicates the origin of a dynasty, its forms of civilization, the nations that will support it, the number and names of the rulers, the length of their lives, the sects and religions (that will be found in that dynasty), the customs of the rulers, and the wars they will wage. This was mentioned by Abu Ma’shar in his Book of Conjunctions.
Such indications may (also) be derived from the small conjunction, if the medium conjunction indicates (such a course). The discussion of dynasties is thus derived from (these conjunctions).
Ya’qub b. Ishaq al-Kindi, astrologer to ar-Rashid and alMa’mun, composed a book on the conjunctions affecting Islam. The Shi’ah called the book al-Jafr, after the name of their own book, which is attributed to Ja’far as-Sadiq. In his book, al-Kindi is said to have made complete forecasts concerning the ‘Abbasid dynasty. He indicated that the destruction of (the ‘Abbasid dynasty) and the fall of Baghdad would take place in the middle of the 13 century and that its destruction would result from 1063 the destruction of Islam.
We have not found any information concerning (alKindi’s) book, and we have not seen anyone who has seen it. Perhaps it was lost with those books which Hulagu, the ruler of the Tatars, threw into the Tigris 1065 when the Tatars took possession of Baghdad and killed the last caliph, al-Musta’sim. In the Maghrib, there exists a fascicle considered to belong to (al-Kindi’s) book. It is called the Small Jafr.
But it is obvious that it was composed for the Banfi ‘Abd-alMu’min, for it mentions in detail the early Almohad rulers. The forecasts of the work are right with respect to the preceding period, and they are wrong for the later period.
In the ‘Abbasid dynasty, there were astrologers and books on forecasts after al-Kindi. One may compare the story reported by at-Tabari in the history of al-Mahdi on the authority of Abu Budayl, one of the followers of the dynasty. (Abu Budayl) said= 1066 “Ar-Rabi’ and al-Hasan sent for me, when they were on an expedition together with ar-Rashid during the days of (ar-Rashid’s) father (al-Mahdi).
I came to them in the middle of the night. They had with them one of the dynasty books’-that is, (a book of) forecasts. The duration of al-Mahdi’s reign was given in it as ten years. I said= ‘This book will not remain unknown to al-Mahdi, and there have already passed (that many) years of his reign. When he sees (the book, it will be as bad as if) you (were to) announce his own death to him.’ They asked me what might be done, and I called for the copyist ‘Anbasah, a client of the family of Budayl, and said to him= ‘Copy this leaf, and write forty instead of ten.’ He did so, and, indeed, if I had not seen the ten on that leaf, and the forty on this one, I would not have doubted that it was the same (original leaf that formed part of the manuscript).”
Later on, works in poetry and prose and in rajaz verse dealing with forecasts concerning dynasties were written in considerable quantity. Much of it found its way into the hands of the people. It is called “predictions” (malahim). Some of these works concern forecasts about Islam in general. Others are about particulardynasties. All of these works are attributed to famous persons.
But there is nothing to support ascribing them to the persons on whose authority they are transmitted. One such prediction work is the poem by Ibn Murranah 1067 in the meter tawil with the rhyme on r. 1068 It has a wide circulation among the people in the Maghrib. The common people think that it has to do with general forecasts, and they apply many of its forecasts to the present and the future. But our shaykhs informed us that it refers in particular to the Lamtunah (Almohad) dynasty, since its author lived shortly before (the dynasty came to power).
In (the poem), he mentioned that the Lamtunah took Ceuta out of the hands of the clients of the Hammudids 1069 and that they gained control of the Spanish shore.
Another prediction work in the hands of the inhabitants of the Maghrib is a poem called at-Tubba’iyah, which begins:
A bird in captivity may also feel happy. I do not (feel happy) because of something entertaining that I see, But because I am remembering something. (This poem) is said to contain about five hundred or a thousand verses. In it, (the poet) mentioned much about the Almohad dynasty, and he referred to the (expected) Fatimid and other things. It is obvious that it is a forgery. Another prediction work in the Maghrib is a zajal “playpoem” (mal’abah) 1071 which is attributed to a Jew. (The poet) mentioned in it the judgments of the conjunctions of the two superior, the two unlucky, and other planets for his time. He mentioned that he would die a violent death in Fez, and people think that that actually happened. (The poem) begins: The color of that blue 1072 one leaves no choice. O people, understand this indication!
The planet Saturn shows this mark And has changed its whitish color, 1073 that meant wellbeing. A blue sash instead of a (whitish) turban, And a blue cape instead of a (whitish) cloak. At the end of (the poem, the poet) says: Completed is this rhyming by a Jewish man, Who will be hanged on a holiday at the river of Fez, Until people come to him from the desert, And he will be killed, 1074 O people, in a riot. 1075
(The poem) comprises about five hundred verses. They are concerned with judgments based on the conjunctions referring to the Almohad dynasty.
Another Maghribi prediction work is a poem in the meter mutaqarib with the rhyme on b, which deals with forecasts concerning the Almohad Hafsid dynasty in Tunis. It is attributed to Ibn al-Abbar. The judge of Constantine, the great preacher, Abu ‘Ali b. Badis, 1076 who knew what he was saying and who was versed in astronomy, told me that this Ibn al-Abbar was not the hadith expert and secretary who was killed by al-Mustansir.1077 He was a tailor in Tunis, whose identity became confused with that of the hadith expert. My father used to recite me verses from this prediction poem, and some of them have stuck in my memory. (The poem) starts:
Let my excuse be a fickle time, Which deceives (people) with its flashing, toothy (smile).(Other verses of the poem,) mentioning al-Lihyani, the ninth Hafsid 1078 ruler, are: He will send a leader from his army, And he will remain there on a lookout, News about him will reach the shaykh, And he will advance like a mangy camel. The justice of his ways will become apparent. That is the policy of a person who knows how to attract others. (Other verses of the poem) deal with general conditions in Tunis: Do you not see that institutions have been wiped out And the rights of persons of position are not observed? Therefore, start leaving Tunis!
Say goodbye to its familiar places, and go! Disturbances will eventually take place there. They will affect the innocent as much as the guilty. In the Maghrib, I came across another prediction work concerning the Hafsids in Tunis. The poem mentions the famous Sultan Abu Yahya (Abu Bakr), the tenth Hafsid ruler, and it mentions as his successor his brother Muhammad.
The poet says: Afterwards, Abu ‘Abd-allah, 1079 his brother, Who will be known as al-Waththab .. . (Thus it is found) in the original manuscript. 1080 However, the person mentioned did not succeed his brother as ruler of Tunis, though it was his ambition to become ruler until he died. Another Maghribi prediction work is a “play-poem” attributed to al- Hawshini. It is written in the vulgar language, in the “local meter.” 1081 It begins: Leave me alone, O my incessant tears. The rains have slowed down, but you have not. All the rivers are full. But you continue to fill and become like a pool [?]. The whole country is wet, And you know how (bad) are the times. The summer and the winter have gone by [?], And the fall and the spring are passing. They 1082 replied, seeing that the claim (to be sad) was sound: Let me weep! Who could give me an excuse (not to weep)! Oh, look at these times.
This period is a difficult and bitter one. It is a long (poem), which the common people of Morocco know by heart. It is most likely a forgery, because nothing that is said in it is correct, unless it is provided with a twisted interpretation by the common people, or with a fanciful one by the educated people who accept the poem. In the East, I came across a prediction work attributed to Ibn al-‘Arabs al- Hitimi.1083 It consists of a long, enigmatic discussion. Its interpretation is known only to God. The work is interspersed with magic squares, mysterious hints, complete outlines of animals, separate heads, and strange representations of two animals.1084 It contains at the end a poem rhyming on l. The most likely assumption is that the whole work is incorrect, because it has no scientific basis,astrological or otherwise.
I 1085 heard some distinguished 1086 people in Egypt transmit a remarkable statement from a prediction work by Ibn al-‘Arab[. The work may be different from the one (just mentioned). Ibn al-‘Arab[ speaks about the horoscope of the foundation of Cairo. According to that horoscope, he gives the city a duration of 460 years, which would take us down to the 830’s [1426-35]; for, if we convert the 460 years, which are solar years, into lunar years, figuring three years more for each century, we shall have to add altogether fourteen years. Thus, it would come to 474 years, which have to be added to 358 , the year Cairo was founded. That would take us to the year 832 [1428/29].
Consequently, (Cairo will be destroyed at that time) if the statement by Ibn al-‘Arab[ is correct and the astrological indications are true. An 1087 Egyptian whose knowledge I trust mentioned to me on the authority of Ibn al-‘Arabi’s prediction work, that (the years are to be figured) from the 320’s, or 303, or 313, or 320. And God knows better about all this.
I have also heard that in the East there are other prediction works. They are attributed to Avicenna and Ibn’Aqb. 1088 They contain no indication whatever that (their contents) are correct, because (correct predictions) can be derived only from astral conjunctions.
The 1089 prediction works by Ibn Abi 1-‘Aqb are not authentic. In the biography of Ibn al-Qurayah, Ibn Khallikan quotes from the Kitab al-Aghani to the effect that Ibn Abi 1-‘Aqb-that is, Muhammad b. ‘Abdallah b. Abi1-‘Agbbelongs to things that are well known but have no outside existence, such as Majnun Layli and Ibn al-Qurayah. 1090 And God knows better.
In the East, I further came across a prediction work with forecasts concerning the Turkish dynasty. The work is attributed to a Sufi called al-Bijarbaqi. 1091 The whole is a letter puzzle. It starts as follows: If you want to discover the secret of al jafr, O my intimate, The science of the best of legatees, the father of alHasan,1092 Be understanding and comprehend letters and their numerical value, And the description, and act as a clever and intelligent person would act. I shall not mention what was before my age.
But I shall mention the time that will come. Baybars will be given a h to drink after the five of them 1093 And a h-m with restlessness, sleeping in blankets [mountain dens?]. Further verses are: A sh, which has a trace (of something) under its navel, Has the power (to decide), the power, that is, of a benign person. And Egypt and Syria, together with the land of the ‘Iraq, belong to him, And Azerbaijan, as his realm, down to the Yemen.
Further verses are: And the family of Nawwar, when its outstanding (man) 1094 The intrepid, the sharp one, who is meant by the branch, obtained . . . [?] Further verses are: Remove a happy one [Sa’id?], weak of age. An s has come, Not a l-’, and a q and an n, which got stuck in a quiver. Brave people who have intelligence and considered opinions And will be given a h to drink, and where then will be the owner of abranch?
Further verses are: After a b of years, he will be killed. The m of the realm, the eloquent one, will follow the disgraced one. This is the lame Kalbite [?]. Be concerned with him! In his time, there will be disturbances, and what disturbances! From the East, the Turkish army will come, which will be preceded by A q free from 1095 the q, which will be attracted by the disturbances. Before that-Woe until all Syria!
Show grief and mourning for the people and the country! Behold, suddenly, alas, Egypt is shaken by an Earthquake, which will remain unsettled for a year. T, t, and ‘ayn will all be held captive, And they will perish, and he will spend money freely. The q will send a q toward the most praiseworthy of them [their Ahmad?]. Do not worry about him, for that fortress is strong.
Further verses are: They will set up his brother, who is the best of them [their Salih?], <Lam,> lam-atif, sh is repeated for that. Further verses are: Their rule will materialize with the h. None Of the sons will ever come close to the rule. There is another verse, which is said to be a reference to alMalik az-Zahir Barquq 1096 and the coming of his father to him to Egypt.
It runs: His father will come to him after an emigration And a long absence and a hard and filthy life. The poem has many verses. The likelihood is that it is a forgery. In ancient times, forgeries of poems of this type were numerous and widely practiced. The historians of Baghdad report that in the days of alMuqtadir, there lived in Baghdad a skillful copyist by the name of ad-Daniyali. 1097 He gave leaves the appearance of being worn and wrote upon them in an ancient handwriting. In his (forgeries), he referred to the men of the dynasty, under letters from their names, and hinted at the high positions and ranks to which he knew they aspired. (He gave the impression) that (his forgeries) were prediction works. In this manner, he obtained from them the worldly goods that he was after.
In one of the documents, he wrote an m repeated three times, and he went with the document to Muflih, alMuqtadir’s client, who was an important official, and said to him= “This refers to you. It means Muflih, the client (mawla) of al-Muqtadir.” In this connection, he mentioned the government position to which, he knew, (Muflib) aspired. For (Muflih’s benefit), he had invented telltale allusions from Muflih’s generally known circumstances. (Ad- Daniyali) thus deceived (Muflih), and (Muflih) gave him a fortune. Later on, the wazir al-Husayn b. al-Qasim b. Wahb, who was out of office (at the time), got in touch with Muflih. 1098 He had similar leaves prepared for him and referred to the name of the wazir with such letters and allusions fixed (beforehand). He said that (Ibn Wahb) would become wazir to the eighteenth caliph. Under his direction, the affairs (of the government) would be in order. He would defeat his enemies, and the world would be highly civilized in his time. (Ibn Wahb) let Muflih see the leaves. He (had also) mentioned in them other events and predictions of the same kind,things that had already happened and others that had not yet happened. The whole he attributed to Daniel. Muflih liked the work and let al-Muqtadir see it. Al- Mugtadir’s attention was directed through all these allusions to Ibn Wahb, because they obviously fitted him. Tricks of this sort, which were completely based on falsehood and on ignorance of such puzzles, were the reason for (Ibn Wahb’s) becoming wazir.
The prediction work that is ascribed to al-Bajarbagi is a work of this kind. I asked Akmal-ad-din, 1099 the shaykh of the non-Arab Hanafites in Egypt, about this prediction work and about the Sufi (author), al-Bajarbagi, to whom it is attributed, since he was informed about the Sufi orders. He said= “Al-Bajarbaqi belonged to the Sufis known as Qalandariyah, who practice the innovation of shaving their beards. He was talking about what was going to happen by means of the removal (of the veil, kashf), and was hinting at personalities whose identity he knew. He referred to them cryptically with letters that he made up freely. (He did this) for whomever of them he saw.
Occasionally, he put that (material) into poetical form and from time to time produced a few verses. These verses were later on circulated in his name. People were eager to get them. They considered them an enigmatic prediction work. The verses were then constantly added to by forgers of this type, and the common people occupied themselves with trying to decipher them. But it is impossible to decipher them, because only previously known or established rules can lead to the decipherment of such puzzles. In this (particular case), the only clues to the meaning of the letters are in the poem itself.” 1100 The statement quoted from so excellent a person (as Shaykh Akmal-ad-din) is to me an altogether adequate answer to the problem that, I felt, was posed by the prediction work of al- Bajarbagi.
“We would not be persons who are guided aright, had God not guided us.” 1101 Later on, 1102 I came across the History of Ibn Kathir. 1103 It was in Damascus where I stopped with the Sultan’s cavalcade in the year 802 , at a time when I was chief Malikite judge in Egypt. In the biography of (al-Bajarbaqi) relative to the year 724 , Ibn Kathir says= “Shams-ad-din Muhammad al-Bajarbaqi. He is considered the founder of the unorthodox sect of the Bajarbagiyah, which is known for its denial of the Creator. (Al-Bajarbaqi’s) father, Jamal-ad-din
Abd-arRahim b. Umar al-Mawsilt, was a pious Shafi’ite who taught in Damascus colleges. His son grew up among jurisconsults. He studied a little and then turned to mysticism. A group of people who believed in him and followed his order adhered to him. Later on, the Malikite judge condemned him to death, and he fled to the East. He then was able to prove that those who had testified against him were hostile to him, and the Hanbalite (judge) reversed the former judgment. (AlBajarbagi) remained in al-Qabun (near Damascus) for a number of years. He died during the night of Wednesday, Rabi` II, 16, 724 [night of April 11/12, 1324].
Ibn Kathir says= Al-Bajarbagi composed a jafr poem which runs as follows: 1104
“Listen and comprehend letters and their numerical values, And the description, and be understanding, like a clever and intelligent person.
The Lord of the heavens will tell, concerning Egypt and what is to be in Syria Of good things and of tribulations.Baybars will be given a goblet to drink after the five of them, And a h-m with restlessness, sleeping in blankets [mountain dens?]. Alas, Damascus -what descended upon its territory!
They destroyed a mosque of God. How (beautifully) had it been constructed!
Woe unto it, how many acted wrongly with regard to the religion! How many did they kill! How much blood, of scholars and lowly people, did they shed! How much (noise) could be heard, and how many captives there were! How many did they rob And then burn, of young men and old; Existence is dark, and the land is blacked out.
Even the pigeons there mourn on the branches. Oh, (poor) creatures, is there no helper for the religion? Get up (all of you) and go to Syria, from the plains and the rugged hills! The Arabs of the `Iraq and of Lower and Upper Egypt are coming. The firm resolution is to bring death to unbelief in (Damascus).