BY ; Mugheerah Luqman
A Muslim’s heart trembles when witnessing the blessed land of Syria bleeding and being torn apart. The atrocities that have inflicted this region are countless. It cuts even deeper when a Muslim realizes that it is no ordinary piece of land, rather it is one of the most beloved parts of this Earth to our creator; Allāh جل جلاله . The virtue of this land is evident by numerous Aḥādith (narrations) of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم about it. These narrations add up to such a number that scholars have compiled books on them. One example of such book is ‘Virtues of Syria and Damascus’ (in Arabic: والدمشق الشام فضائل ,(compiled by Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī bin Muḥammad al-Raba‘ī, who compiled those specific narrations that were transmitted about the virtues of Syria in general and Damascus in particular. According to Shaykh Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī, around 119 of these narrations are included in the mentioned compilation. Some of these narrations are from the Aḥādīth of the Prophet while others are from companions, Jewish and Christian texts. It would be rather difficult to mention all those narrations here and infer the virtues that they withhold. However, it is worth noting that not only do these narrations assert the virtue of this land but also prophesize the atrocities in the form of wars that it would bear. The Prophet of Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “A group of my nation will not seize to exist upholding the rule of Allāh جل جلاله .No opposing group will be able to harm them, and it will continue to fight its enemies; each time the battle ends, another would be ignited… they are the people of Al-Shām.” Based on the mentioned narration, it can be asserted, just like the beloved people of Allāh جل جلاله are tested the most in this world, the lands that are beloved to Allāh جل جلاله are also inflicted with greater trials and tribulations. Indeed the people of Al-Shām are amongst the best of the nations. The Prophet of Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم said about them: “When the inhabitants of Al-Shām become corrupt, then there is no good left in you.” In other words, the corruption of people of Al-Shām represents the corruption of the whole Muslim nation. In the seventh century, Al-Shām was not confined to the modern day Syrian territory; rather it included Palestine as well. Politically, the Syrian region consisted of two provinces. It stretched from Antioch (somewhere near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey) and Aleppo in the north to the top of the Dead Sea. To the west and south of the Dead Sea laid the province of Palestine. Therefore, throughout this booklet the word Al-Shām is used rather than Syria. It is interesting for Muslims to note that all these lands still suffer great ordeals to this current day. What makes it more significant is that throughout Islamic History, these trials didn’t seize to exist. This is what this book is all about. It is a brief narrative of Aleppo’s suffering in the post-Islamic period. This book is mainly the translation of Arabic book ‘Aleppo over the Course of History (i.e. in Arabic: ع حلبــخ التار and was published by the research department of a renowned website: www.dorar.net (الدرر ة%$الس .( Along with minor additions, I have added small chapters in the beginning and in the end by the names ‘The Muslim Conquest of the Levant’, ‘The Future of Syria in the Light of Prophetic Narrations’ and ‘A Beacon of Hope’ to make it more comprehensive and understandable for the reader. In compiling this brief booklet, mainly the works of famous Muslim Historians were consulted. The following is a list of some major books used: • بغية الطلب فى تاريخ حلب – لإبن العد • تاريخ الإسلام ووفيات المشاهير والأعلام – لإمام ا%هبي • تاريخ الرسل والملوك – لإمام الطبري • البداية وال,اية – لإمام ابن كثير • المنتظم فى تاريخ الأمم والملوك – لإمام ابن الجوزي This book was purposefully kept brief in order to highlight the main events and allow the reader to grasp an overall idea of what Aleppo went through during the post-Islamic period. Moreover, I have tried my best to use modern day names for the cities and people where possible (which I have managed for the majority); the remaining I have transliterated for the reader’s ease. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the numerous people who assisted me in this task, in terms of editing, designing, proofreading, and moral support. May Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم bless them all and accept this little effort we made sincerely for His noble Dīn.
The Islamic Conquest of the Levant
Al-Shām was under the rule of Byzantine Empire (Roman Emperor) in the 7th century (i.e. time of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم (before it came under the Muslim rule in between 634 to 640 AD (i.e. 12th to 18th year of Islamic Calendar). The conquest towards the region of Al-Shām began during the life of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم , resulting in the famous Battle of Mu’tah in 639 AD. However, it was conquered later at the time of first caliph, Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq under the command of the great Muslim commander, Khālid ibn al-Walīd in the famous battle known as أجنادين معركة) The Battle of Ajnādayn) in Palestine. This Muslim conquest is known as ‘The Islamic Conquest of the Levant’ (in Arabic: للشام 3لا2 .(الفتح الإس In the mid-seventh century, the Umayyad dynasty, rulers of the empire, placed the capital of the empire in Damascus. Syria was divided into four districts: Damascus, Homs, Palestine and Jordan. The Islamic empire expanded rapidly and at its height stretched from Spain to India and parts of Central Asia; thus Syria prospered economically, being the center of the empire. Early Umayyad rulers such as ‘Abd al-Malik and AlWalīd, constructed several splendid palaces and mosques throughout Al-Shām, particularly in Damascus, Aleppo and Homs. Syria flourished in the hands of Muslims. Great monuments and architecture from the early periods have endured for centuries until now, but in light of recent modern warfare it would seem the region has been desecrated beyond repair. As for Aleppo – nicknamed al-Shahbā (meaning white colored) – in particular, mass genocides can be traced back to the fourth century of the Islamic Calendar. Several groups and nations have preyed upon the land and fulfilled their worldly pursuits by carrying out atrocities against the people there. Both the external threats and internal unrest and instability have caused significant damage to the region.
Aleppo during Hamdanid Dynasty
The Hamdanid dynasty or Ḥamdānīyyūn (in Arabic: حمدانيون) was a Shī‘ah-Muslim Arab dynasty. ‘Alī Sayf alDawlah (Sword of the State) ruled Northern Syria from Aleppo. His court was a center of culture, thanks to its nurturing of Arabic literature, but it lost its status after the Byzantine conquest of Aleppo. The Byzantine Assault
The Christian Romans invaded Ḥalab (Aleppo) in 351 AH under the command of the Roman Emperor alDumastiq and invaded the city with two hundred thousand militants. In an attempt to defend the city, Sayf AlDawlah bin Ḥamdān approached with whatever number of militants he had, but was overcome due to the sheer size of the opposing Roman army. The majority of Sayf Al-Dawlah’s men were killed and others captured in their attempt to flee from the Roman onslaught. After his victory, the Roman king decided to occupy the residence of Sayf Al-Dawlah thereby enslaving the women and children who inhabited the palace. Thereafter, he besieged the city walls of Aleppo and inflicted a major catastrophe to the city dwellers. After he conquered the city walls a great number of Muslims were slaughtered, Women were raped, wealth and properties were taken, Masājid were burnt down, and any survivors were captured. He gave orders for the remaining captives – numbering near two thousand – to be rounded up and executed by ruthlessly beheading them in front of him.
Siege of Aleppo by Shī‘ah Fatimids (Al-Fāṭimiyyīn)
When Sa‘d Al-Dawlah al-Ḥamdānī, the ruler of Ḥalab died, Abu al-Ḥasan al-Maghrabī, the vizier went to the Fatimid Governor of Egypt and incited him to raid Aleppo. As a result, in 381 AH, the governor of Egypt dispatched a huge army to Aleppo under the command of Manjūtakīn, who besieged Aleppo City. The ruler of Aleppo sought the Roman king’s help, who in response sent his army of fifty thousand men to Antakya. When Manjūtakīn came to know of Roman army, he turned to them and defeated them. Thereafter, he marched to Antakya and destroyed the city and burned it. Thereafter, he returned to Aleppo and besieged it again. He did not stop there; however, once completed, he then proceeded to march towards Damascus. When the Governor of Egypt came to know about it, he detested his commander’s move and ordered him to return with his troops to Aleppo which he did. The siege of Aleppo remained for about 13 months as it weakened the city’s resistance and cut-off the food supplies. The ruler of Aleppo once again sought the Roman king’s help, so in response the king sent his armed forces to Aleppo again, but this Roman army was much better prepared and was advanced in artillery. Until then, Manjūtakīn had already been drained of resources and had given up on Aleppo. The Roman king swiftly approached and landed on the door of the city, thus restoring its rule.
Liberation of Aleppo from Ismā‘Ili Fatimid Dynasty
In 415 AH Ṣāliḥ bin Mirdās, founder of the Mirdasid Dynasty took control over Aleppo by liberating it from the Fatimids after besieging its fortress for a long time. Thereafter, he and his progeny became its rulers, defending it for many years from foreign invasions. In 421 AH, the Roman Emperor left Constantinople with three hundred thousand soldiers for Al-Shām until he reached Aleppo. As it was summer, the troops required water to quench their thirst. Among his followers there were those who had their eyes on his throne after him. When the emperor came to know about it, he shackled a group of them but this caused dispute among his troops; therefore he was forced to decamp and march forward. The Arabs and other people who surrounded Aleppo followed and attacked them. Many of Constantinople’s men died out of thirst and only the emperor himself with a few of his men survived; all his wealth and whatever valuables he carried were plundered. As Allāh جل جلاله said: “And sufficient was Allāh جل جلاله for the believers in battle, and ever is Allāh جل جلاله Powerful and Exalted in Might.” However, some have stated other reasons for his return from Aleppo. In 440 AH, Fatimids approached Aleppo with a great army and besieged it. In order to defend the city, Mu‘izz al-Dawlah Abū ‘Ilwān Thimāl bin Ṣāliḥ bin Mirdās al-Kilābī came out of the city and fought vigilantly for three days. When the Fatimids encountered such resilience from Thimāl, they started to retreat as they were not expecting anyone to show such resistance to their strength. In the year 452 AH, Fatimid Troops raided Aleppo under the command of Nāṣir al-Dawlah. This time, the battle was between him and Maḥmūd bin Shibl al-Dawlah Naṣr bin Ṣāliḥ bin Mirdās, at the outskirts of Aleppo City. But once again, he was defeated and returned to Egypt unsuccessful while Maḥmūd continued to rule Aleppo. In the year 463 AH, King Alab Arsalān sent a letter to Maḥmūd bin Thimāl bin Ṣāliḥ bin Mirdās, the ruler of Aleppo, asking him to cease support for the Fatimid Caliph Mustanṣir and to call for the support of the Abbasid Caliph in Aleppo instead, which he did and as a result the Fatimids never returned to Aleppo.
Aleppo during Seljuq Dynasty
The Saljūq Dynasty (Persian: سلجوق آل (was a Sunni-Muslim Dynasty and carried the Turko-Persian tradition. The Seljuqs established both the Seljuq Empire and Sultanate of Rome, which at their heights stretched to Anatolia (modern day Turkey) through Iran and were the targets of the First Crusade. Liberty of
Aleppo from Ismā‘Ili Fatimids
Riḍwān bin Tāj al-Dawlah Ṭuṭush bin Alab Arsalān, ruler of Aleppo lived an extravagant life and because of his excessive indulgence, he was dependent on the Bāṭinī Fatimids in political affairs. When he died, his son Alab Arsalān al-Akhras inherited the throne in the year 507 AH. The elite class of Aleppo urged him to get rid of the Fatmids and crush them once and for all. Al-Akhras did as he was urged and captured their leader Abū Ṭāhir al-Ṣā’igh with all his comrades and executed them. The rest of the Fatimids who survived were banished, their wealth and properties confiscated.
French Inclination towards Aleppo
When the French invaded the city of Tyre in the year 518 AH, Al-Shām could not remain unnoticed. Thereafter, a man named Dabīs bin Ṣadaqah from the Ḥillah city of ‘Irāq went to them and incited them to raid Aleppo. He urged: “The inhabitants of Aleppo belong to Shī‘ah school of thought and I have their loyalty because of our common religious views, so whenever they see me, they welcome me to their city. My loyalty is to you and I am here as your representative.” They agreed to march with him and besieged the city and carried out a massacre. Thereafter, they occupied it for a long period of time. They did not depart until it had come under their complete rule. They even began to build their colonies for the permanent stay. When the citizens of Aleppo observed this, they became afraid and lost hope in their ruler Tamurtāsh because of his incapability and fear. He was too weak to face them so they began to plan to replace him. They found none other than Al-Barsaqī al-Turkī, the ruler of Mosul (i.e. city of ‘Irāq) who could assist them and liberate them from the Europeans. They sent for him and offered their city in return for his help. He responded positively and set out to battle the French. While he was on his way, he said to the citizens of Aleppo: ‘I cannot approach you while the French are engaged in battle with you, except that you surrender the fortress to my commissaries so that I have support from within. I do not know what Allāh جل جلاله has planned for my encounter with the French. So if we are defeated and Aleppo is not in the hands of my people and my army and I do not get any internal support, no one among us would survive.’ They did what he asked for and submitted the fortress to his deputies. As soon as Al-Turkī’s commissaries took charge of the fortress, he joined forces with them. When the armies took control of the fortress, the French troops started moving away from the Fortress. Militants that were stationed in the front of the army wanted to attack them when seeing them retreat, but he forbade them and said: “Their evil is averted from us and we have protected our lands from them. It is better not to engage with them until Aleppo is back on its feet again and has started moving towards success. Once we have enough then we will deal with them.” When the French left their stations, the citizens came out to greet Al-Turkī and his troops. He stayed there for some time until the affairs were settled.
Denunciation of the Ruler by the Citizens
In the year 505 AH, the Roman Emperor sent a Messenger to the ruler of Aleppo to provoke him against the French and to wage war against them. Moreover, he urged him to defend his lands from them. The citizens of Aleppo rebuked their ruler for not taking action and said: “Aren’t you afraid of Allāh جل جلاله and ashamed that the Roman Emperor has more zeal than you about Islām so much so that he has asked you to perform Jihād against the French.”
Aleppo during Ayyubid Dynasty (Al-Ayyūbiyyūn)
There were series of raids by the son of Leon from Armenia, Lord of the Passes, on the region of Aleppo. He plundered, burned, took prisoners and slaves. The ruler of Aleppo, Al-Ẓāhir Ghāzī, son of Saladin (Ṣalāḥ alDīn), assembled his troops in the year 602 AH, and asked for assistance from other princes. He gathered many horses and foot soldiers and left Aleppo to march against the son of Leon. The battle lasted for a long period of time between the Muslims and the Armenians and the Muslims suffered many casualties at the hands of the enemy, many were killed or captured. The Muslims likewise inflicted many losses on the Armenians. The Armenians returned to their lands with their plunder and sought the protection of their mountains and fortresses.
The Roman Emperor’s Desire to Conquer Aleppo
In the year 615 AH, Kaykā’us Kaykhusrū, the Sultān of Rūm, marched towards Aleppo for the conquest and Afḍal bin Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn accompanied him. His advisors had advised him earlier that he would not be able to succeed in his conquest unless someone from the house of Ayyūb (Ayyubids) accompanied him. And there was no better choice than Afḍal who had already proved his loyalty to the Sultān of Rūm. Thereupon; he called Afḍal to assist him in his conquest in return of control over Aleppo and its affairs with a condition of his loyalty to him. Afḍal agreed to assist in return of what he promised. They marched toward the central lands of the Island (i.e. Arabian Islands or the Lands of Euphrates) that were already conquered by Al-Malik al-Ashraf, like Ḥarrān and al-Rahā (i.e. Edessa, present day part of Turkey). They were part of the Island and Kaykā’us had claimed them for himself. He made them pledge their allegiance to him and gathered more troops from there and continued his conquest. Thereafter, they conquered the Raghbān Fortress, which Afḍal took under his control and the inhabitants agreed to surrender themselves to both of them. Then, they both marched towards Til-Bāshir Fortress (i.e. Turbessel, in Turkey) which was under the rule of Badr al-Dīn Dildaram al-Yārūqī’s son. They besieged it and plundered it from him. Kaykā’us claimed it for himself and did not offer it to Afḍal who detested him for it; so Afḍal thought to himself: “This is the first deception,” and he feared that if Kaykā’us conquered Aleppo, he would claim it as well and it would be like uprooting his own house for someone else. So Afḍal decided against assisting Kaykā’us in his conquest further. As for the ruler of Aleppo, he feared that Afḍal would besiege Aleppo because he observed that the citizens and the army officers were loyal to Afḍal; therefore, he sent a Messenger to Al-Ashraf ibn al-Malik al-‘Ādil, the ruler of the Island and other parts and sought his aid against Afḍal-Kaykā’us alliance. He even named coins after him to urge people to support him. Apart from naming coins after him, he gathered an army and presented it to Al-Ashraf which included Arab tribesmen of Ṭai’ and other known warriors and camped in front of Aleppo in order to defend it. When Kaykā’us conquered Til-Bāshir, Afḍal had initially insisted on advancing to Aleppo before it could gather its troops and prepare for its defense. But as a result of his earlier dissatisfaction with Kaykā’us, he instead advised that they should advance towards Manbij (i.e. city of modern day Aleppo) and other parts so that they don’t leave any area behind them unconquered.” As a result, from Til-Bāshir they marched to Manbij, and consequently Al-Ashraf got the chance to follow them with his troops. Al-Ashraf ordered the Arabs to be stationed in the front line of his army as he attacked Kaykā’us’s troops. The attack was severe and the Arabs managed to capture and kill many of Kaykā’us’s soldiers. After defeating Kaykā’us, he marched to Raghbān and besieged Til-Bāshir and the army of Kaykā’us that defended it. He captured the fortress, banished them and handed over the control of Til-Bāshir and other parts of Aleppo to the ruler of Aleppo, Shihāb al-Dīn. He had intended to follow Kaykā’us and infiltrate his lands, but the news of his father’s death approached, so he was forced to return and abandon the chase. In the year 638 AH, Al-Khawārizimiyyah or the Khwarezmids attacked and destroyed the Ja’bar fortress (in modern day Syria) and killed a great number of people therein. Those who survived the attack, managed to flee to Aleppo and Manbij. Badr al-Dīn Lu’lu’, the leader of Mosul dominated the battle and as a result, the khwarezmids joined Badr al-Dīn. With their forces united, their numbers grew up to twelve thousand. Thereafter, they marched toward Aleppo where they confronted the army of Aleppo. But regrettably, the army of Aleppo did not have enough power to bear the attack for long, so they gave up soon after which the Khwarezmids plundered whatever they could and forced them to seek refuge inside the city. Therein, they committed every vice that they could with women, children and killed many innocent civilians. Then they struck the citizens of Manbij killing countless people and committing the worst of the crimes therein. However, after two years, the citizens of Aleppo managed to fight back and liberated themselves from the Khwarezmids. Not only did they defeat and drive them out, but they also managed to gather huge amount of war-loot.
Aleppo during Mamluk Dynasty
In the year 657 AH, the Mongol invader, Hulagu Khan approached Ḥarrān and conquered the Island and with it, Ḥarrān itself. Later, his son Ashmūṭ marched towards Al-Shām and commanded for the obstruction of Euphrates and the invasion of Al-Shām. The report about Tatar approaching Al-Shām reached Aleppo and the vicegerent of Aleppo’s ruler, Al-Malik al-Mu‘aẓẓam Tawrān Shāh and other officials began to prepare for a strong defense. All the citizens of Aleppo took refuge within the city walls and gathered all that they could for the defense. In the last ten days of Dhu al-Ḥijjah, the Tatars marched toward Aleppo and approached a town called Salamiyyah and spread around it while a regiment headed to Aleppo. The military of Aleppo along with a vast number of civilians and commoners came out to defend their city. The Tatars waited for them to gather and take their positions. When they observed such a vast number of people ready to sacrifice themselves for their city, they began to retreat. Upon witnessing their retreat, AlMalik al-Mu‘aẓẓam ordered all to return back to the city and not to leave without his consent. The next day, the Tatars began their march for their conquest of Aleppo with a huge army. When Muslims came to know about it, their leader called a war council and sought their advice. Al-Malik al-Mu‘aẓẓam was of the opinion that they should not leave the city because not only they were fewer in number compared to the Tatars, but were also weak in artillery. But a group of them disagreed and decided to go out and battle the Tatars because they did not want the enemy to be enticed by their fear. So the Muslim army with all the civilians gathered outside the city of Aleppo at Mount Bānqūsā. The Tatar troops approached the base of the mountain and a group from the Muslims descended from the mountain to fight them. When the Tatars saw them descend, they acted as though they were shattered and disorientated to allure the Muslim battalion into their pitfall. The Muslims took the bait and chased them while they appeared to withdraw. When the Tatars got the tactical advantage they wanted, they immediately turned and attacked them. Such a sudden attack startled the Muslim regiment that was pursuing them and they had no option but to withdraw from the chase and run back to the city. Now the Tatars began to chase them. When they approached Mount Bānqūsā and the remaining Muslim troops witnessed their comrades in trouble, instead of aiding, they began to run as well. The Tatars hurried their chase and managed to capture many Muslims and killed a great number of soldiers and civilians that accompanied them. Towards the end of the day, the Tatars had entered the city but withdrew their pursuit and began to march towards A‘zāz (i.e. city of Syria) which they took over by means of a treaty. Later, they returned to the city of Aleppo in Ṣafar, in the year 658 AH, and besieged it. They finally took over the city through a treaty with the citizens of Aleppo on the 9th of Ṣafar. When the city came under their control, they violated the terms and began to massacre and carry out all those vices that they were famous for. In the year 659 AH, the Tatars marched once again toward Aleppo. Ḥussām al-Dīn al-‘Azīzī, the ruler of Aleppo came out to defend his city. Similarly Al-Manṣūr, the ruler of Hama (city of Aleppo) and Al-Ashraf, the ruler of Homs joined him. The battle ground was laid on the North of Homs near the grave of Khālid bin al-Walīd (may Allāh جل جلاله be pleased with him). The Tatars were six thousand in number and the Muslims were only fourteen hundred, but Allāh جل جلاله assisted the Muslims and destroyed the enemy. The Muslims killed a great number of them so the Tatars returned back to Aleppo city and besieged it. The siege continued for four months during which period many Muslims died from the resulting famine due to the lack of food and resources. Muslim troops that had defeated the Tatars at Homs did not return, rather they marched towards Egypt where they were greeted by Al-Malik al-Ẓāhir in a magnificent manner, while Aleppo was left unattended and without any strong fortification, but Allāh جل جلاله had not abandoned it. When Al-Ẓāhir came to know about Aleppo’s siege, he immediately dispatched an army towards Aleppo against the Tatars. When the army reached Gaza, the French sent a messenger to the Tatars and warned them against the Muslims. As a result, they escaped before the Muslim armies could reach Aleppo. Nevertheless a group of the Tatars managed to acquire control over Aleppo destroying as much of it as they could until the army of Al-Ẓāhir reached and defeated them. A Muslim commander by the name Shams al-Dīn Āqūsh al-Turkī successfully attained control of Aleppo and managed to restore its peace. In the year 679 AH, a report was intercepted about Tatars cruising towards Al-Shām once again. It was mainly due to the disunity and disputations among the Muslims that the Tatars were inclined once again to the blessed land. They attacked the lands that were part Aleppo’s territory and conquered Gaziantep, Bighrāṣ and Dirbasāk. They invaded the Muslim cities and inflicted atrocities upon them. They burned down educational institutes, destroyed residential and government buildings, amongst other atrocities that they were famous for. They remained there for two days and during this time they did not spare any chance to inflict pain and suffering on the inhabitants of the city. Thereafter, the troops left with whatever they could plunder, but their control persisted until Sulṭān Qalawūn seized it from them in the year 688 AH, and killed their ruler Kharbandā who was appointed as a ruler of Malatya (i.e. city in Turkey) by the Tatar regime.
Apocalypse Unleashed by Taymūr Lank
Aleppo encountered complete annihilation by the hands of Taymūr Lank (i.e. Tamerlane) in 803 AH in his conquest for Aleppo when he reached Gaziantep. He sent a letter to Dimirdāsh, the ruler of Aleppo, promising him that he would not seize his leadership in Aleppo provided Dimirdāsh conforms to his commands by capturing Al-Amīr Sawdan, the ruler of Al-Shām. When the messenger arrived, Dimirdāsh presented him to the governors of Syrian lands who were already present there with their horsemen. These governors were: Sawdan, the ruler of Damascus; Shaykh al-Maḥmūdī, the ruler of Tripoli; Duqmāq, the ruler of Hama; Al-Ṭanbaghā al-‘Uthmānī, the ruler of Safed and ‘Umar bin al-Ṭaḥān, the ruler of Gaza. In total, they numbered three thousand horsemen, out of which eight hundred horsemen were from the army of Damascus. Despite such strength, their motives were different and the purpose of their attendance was different. The Messenger delivered the message of Taymūr which was sent for Dimirdāsh to the generals. Upon hearing it, Misk Sawdan, the governor of Damascus detested it, so the Messenger said to him: “Al-Amīr (Taymūr) did not come without your prior correspondence with him and that you requested him to conquer Aleppo and informed him that there is none capable enough to defend the city from him.” Upon hearing this, Dimirdāsh could not withstand him so he stood up, beat him and ordered for his execution. It was said that this message was nothing but Taymūr’s tactic to divide them and disunite their armies. On Thursday, 9th of Rabī’ al-Awwal, Taymūr approached the two mountains that situated outside the city of Aleppo and raided the city on Friday and besieged its walls. In these two days, clashes did not seize between the two armies. Upon sunrise, on Saturday, the governors of Al-Shām came out with the civilians and confronted Taymūr’s troops for an open battle. Taymūr’s army proceeded and its enormity appeared to fill in every corner of the visible land. Nonetheless, the ruler of Tripoli, Shaykh Al-Maḥmūdī and Sawdan, the ruler of Damascus, showed perseverance, determination and fought valiantly. Al-Amīr ‘Izz ad-Dīn Azdamur and his son Yashbak bin Azdamur managed to kill many horsemen and displayed strong resistance to the opposing force, yet the hour had not passed when the Taymūr’s army appeared to regain its strength. The citizens of Aleppo also consisted of women and children fighting alongside each other to defend their lands, which in turn made easy prey for Taymūr’s soldiers who took the opportunity to ride their horses over them, crushing countless people beneath their hoofs. Consequently, the Muslims began to rush towards the city gates in the ensuing onslaught where it got so over crowded that people began to tread over each other in an attempt to get in, the pile of trampled cadavers rose to the length of a man’s height. As for the governors and leaders, they sought refuge in Aleppo’s fortress along with many other people. Before that they used to carry all the wealth of people to the fortress. The armies of Taymūr infiltrated the city and plunged the whole city into fire. As well as the destruction they slaughtered and massacred countless people. The women gathered in the Grand Masjid and other sacred places of worship in an attempt to escape the onslaught, but Taymūr’s militants caught them and tied them with ropes. Thereafter, they began to slaughter all the children and built a huge fire in which they burned the civilians. Virgins were deflowered openly and shamelessly, the grand Masjid and the streets were filled with the corpses and these horrendous acts of violence did not stop until Tuesday. The fortress was perforated from different places and the trench that protected it was filled and there was nothing that wasn’t seized of it. The officers of the city sought protection and requested that they be spared. Dimirdāsh went to Taymūr and paid him tribute along with other officials and surrendered himself. Moreover, he sent several militants towards his other officials and brought them out from wherever they were hidden along with others who were with them and presented them to Taymūr in pairs in chains. He rebuked them in front of him and turned each one of them to whomever he was assigned to keep in siege. The women of Aleppo were brought in front and he was presented with a huge amount of wealth, which he distributed among his commanders and remained in Aleppo for a month but the plunder did not stop throughout the lands. Similarly, trees were cut, houses were destroyed and the whole city was wrought with decaying corpses lying on streets everywhere. There was not a place where people could walk without stepping over a corpse. The heads of the dead were gathered and piled into hills of ten to twenty cubits. The number of these heads exceeded twenty thousand and the faces were kept outwards so that they were visible to the people. Thereafter, Taymūr left the city with everything within it destroyed on its trellises and the houses devoid of any living being. There was no one to give the Adhān, no congregational prayer was led and everything was burnt to the ground. In other words, there was nothing but chaos and even that left in a solitude.
Restoration of Arab Rule in Aleppo
In Jumādī al-Awlā, when the news of Taymūr’s departure from Aleppo spread, Thār bin Ramaḍān, Ibn Shahrī and Ibn Ṣāḥib al-Bāz captured Aleppo from the people of Taymūr. They killed all of his men that remained in the city. At that time, they were more than three thousand in number when the Arabs took over.
Future of Syria in the Light of Prophetic Narrations
Today, Syria (Al-Shām) might be the worst place for a peace loving person to live in, but that wasn’t the case in the past. There was a time when after the two cities of the Prophet (i.e. Makkah and Madīnah), the best place for any Muslim to live in was Al-Shām. A freed slave girl of Ibn ‘Umar once asked him: “Times have become hard on me and I want to go to Al-‘Irāq.” He said: “Why not Al-Shām the land of the resurrection?” The reason Ibn ‘Umar directed her to Al-Shām was because of the virtues that Prophet of Allāh جل جلاله mentioned about it. Moreover, it is the city to which Qur’ān called a Blessed Land (فيها اركناH Jال الأرض I ) in Surah Al-Hūd. Apart from this, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم prayed for this land and Yemen. As mentioned earlier, throughout history, this land has suffered many battles and wars. Furthermore, this very land is prophesized to be the final battle ground for the war between Prophet ‘Īsā and the antichrist (i.e. Dajjāl). The Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم said in another version: “A section of my community will continue to fight for the right and overcome their opponents till the last of them fights with the Antichrist (Dajjāl).” That is the reason Yūsuf alWābil says: “As it is mentioned before that the descent of Prophet Īsā at the end of time would be in Al-Shām, and there Muslims would gather to fight against Dajjāl.” Prophet of Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم even pointed out the location as he said: “The place of assembly of the Muslims at the time of the war will be in al-Ghūṭah near a city called Damascus, one of the best cities in Al-Shām.” Back in 2011 when the pro-Democracy unrest erupted in Syria, perhaps we ignored where this might lead to. Later, the civil war which then heightened in 2012 caught international interests. To skip all the details in between and the years passed, today the land of Syria is the hub of foreign intervention. It is broken, shattered, illegally occupied and burnt to the extent that according to various records, up till now (i.e. May, 2017) more than 400,000 people have lost their lives in this war while more than 11 million have lost their homes and many died in their struggle to escape. Figures for death toll differ, but no group records less than 400,000 casualties. Moreover, according to ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’: the number of children killed in conflict had risen to 17,411 while at the same time 10,847 women were killed. We have three major groups in Syria; Asad’s regime and the powers that back him with their presence like Irān, Ḥizbullāh (Hezbollah) and thanks to the new comer Russia. National Coalition and some moderate rebels along with Kurdish fighters and FSA backed by US and Gulf countries. And then we have ISIS and some other Jihadists like Nuṣrah Front and rebels fighting with their own standards within the Blessed Land. Every group is fighting for its own interest and now with the intervention of Russia and US, the catastrophe has reached to the new level. This whole picture reminds me of another prophecy. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “Al-Shām is the land of gathering and Resurrection.” In other words, the land will become center of attention for the world and the nations will collide from all corners of the world, as is the current picture of Syria today. It is true that the mentioned Ḥadīth and its other versions are interpreted by majority of scholars as the place of Resurrection (i.e. امة$الق يوم (and the place where people would run to on the Day of Judgment after the fire will drive them for Judgement, but this Ḥadīth also indicates the events that are occurring today because the narrations that inform us about the final battle with Dajjāl, also refer to the same land, and this might be the beginning of such events that end up in the final battle between Ḥaq and Bāṭil. The question we need to ask ourselves is: is the current situation in Syria a ground being prepared for the final war between Dajjāl and ‘Īsā (P.B.U.H)? However, it is important for us to know that our Manhaj (i.e. methodology of Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamā‘ah) does not allow us to interpret such Aḥādīth and prophecies explicitly and to give a final judgment or opinion because these are the matters for which no one can be certain about. To restrict these Aḥādīth to one’s judgement and opinion would mean restraining the vastness of such Aḥādīth to specific times and minds whereas they are guide for us in every time and place.
A Beacon of Hope
History is repeating itself and will continue to repeat as this is part of Allāh’s جل جلاله grand plan. He tests those who claim His Faith. Therefore, the stronger the faith is, harder the trials become. Allāh جل جلاله says: “Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, “When (will come) the Help of Allah?” Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!” In the Tafsīr of this Āyah, Imām Ibn Kathīr RA mentions: Khabbāb bin al-Aratt said, “We said, ‘O Messenger of Allāh! Why do you not invoke Allāh to support us? Why do you not supplicate to Allāh جل جلاله for us?’ He said: ‘The saw would be placed on the middle of the head of one of those who were before you (believers) and he would be sawn until his feet, and he would be combed with iron combs between his skin and bones, yet that would not make him change his religion.’ Therefore, no matter how hard the times are or how hard they become, a believer does not lose hope in the mercy of Allāh جل جلاله .The prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم also foretold a righteous group that will continue to fight in the path of Allāh جل جلاله and would ultimately succeed. Allāh جل جلاله says in Qur’ān: “And that our armies, they verily would be the victors.” He جل جلاله also said: “Verily, We will indeed make victorious Our Messengers and those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah Islamic Monotheism) in this world’s life and on the Day when the witnesses will stand forth, (i.e. Day of Resurrection).”