It is striking that not one of the greatmu h ad d i t h s,mu f assi r s, grammarians, historians, or legists of Islam has emerged from the region known as Naj d, despite the extraordinary and blessed profusion of such people in ot her Muslim lands. This essay offers t o Muslims wit h open minds an explanation of this remarkable fact.
The land of Naj d, which for two centuries has been the crucible of the Wahhabi doctrine, is the subj ect of a body of interesting hadiths and early narrations, which repay close analysis. Among the best-known of these hadiths is the relation of Imam al-Bukhari in which Hadrat Abdullah ibn Umar said: \u201c The Nabi (sallallahu \u2018 alaihi wa sallam) mentioned: \u2018O Allah, give us baraka in our
This hadith is clearly unpalat able t o t he Naj dites t hemselves, some of whom t o t his day strive t o persuade Muslims from more reputable districts that the hadith does not mean what it clearly says. One device used by such apologist s is t o ut ilize a definit ion t hat includes Iraq in t he front iers of Naj d. By this maneuver, the Najdis draw the conclusion that the part of Najd, which is condemned so st rongly in t his hadith, is in fact Iraq, and t hat Naj d proper is excluded. Medieval Islamic geographers contest this inherently strange thesis (see for instance Ibn Khurradadhbih,
and limit the northern extent of Najd at Wadi al-Rumma, or to the deserts to the south of al-Mada\u2019 in. There is no indication that the places, in which the second wave of sedition arose, such as Kufa and Basra, were associat ed in t he mind of t he first Muslims wit h t he t ermNaj d. On t he cont rary, t hese places are in every case ident ified as lying within the land of Iraq.
The evasion of this early understanding of the term in order to exclude Najd, as usually understood, from the purport of the hadith of Naj d, has required considerable ingenuity from pro-Naj di writers in the present day. Some apologists at t empt to conflat e this hadith with a group of other hadiths which associate the \u2018 devil\u2019 s horn\u2019 with \u2018 the East,\u2019 which is supposedly a generic reference t o Iraq. While it is t rue t hat some lat e-medieval comment aries also incline t o t his view, modern geographical knowledge clearly rules it out. Even the briefest glimpse at a modern at las will show that a straight line drawn to the east of al-Madinah al-Munawwara does not pass anywhere near Iraq, but passes some dist ance to the sout h of Riyadh; t hat is t o say, t hrough t he exact cent re of Naj d. The hadit hs which speak of \u2018 t he East \u2019 in t his cont ext hence support t he view
On occasion the pro-Naj di apologists also cite the etymological sense of the Arabic wordnaj d, which means \u2018 high ground.\u2019 Again, a brief consult at ion of an at las resolves t his mat t er decisively. With the exception of present-day northern Iraq, which was not considered part of Iraq by any Muslim unt il t he present cent ury (it was calledal - Jazi r a), Iraq is notably flat and low-lying, much of it even t oday being marshland, while t he remainder, up t o and well t o t he nort h of Baghdad, is flat, low desert or agricultural land. Naj d, by contrast, is mostly plateau, culminating in peaks such as Jabal Tayyi\u2019 (1,300 met ers), in t he Jabal Shammar range. It is hard t o see how t he Arabs could have routinely applied a topographic term meaning \u2018 upland\u2019 to the flat terrain of southern Iraq (the same territory which proved so suitable for tank warfare during the Gulf War that not orious source of disput e bet ween Riyadh\u2019 s \u2018 Caval iers\u2019 and \u2018 Roundheads\u2019 ).
Confirmation of this identification is easily located in the hadith literature, which contains numerous references t o Naj d, all of which clearly denote Cent ral Arabia. To t ake a few examples out of many dozens: t here is t he hadith narrat ed by Imam Abu Dawud (Salat al-Safar, 15), which runs: \u201c We went out to Naj d with Allah\u2019 s Messenger (sallallahu \u2018 alaihi wa sallam) until we arrived at Dhat al-Riqa\u2019 , where he met a group from Ghatafan [a Naj dite tribe].\u201d In Tirmidhi (Haj j , 57), there is the record of an encounter between the Holy Rasul (sallallahu \u2018 alaihi wa sallam) and a Naj di delegation that he received at Arafah (see also Ibn Maj ah, Manasik, 57). In no such case does t he Sunnah indicate t hat Iraq was somehow included in the Prophet ic definition of Naj d.
Further evidence can be cited from the cluster of hadiths that identify themi q at points for pilgrims. In a hadith narrated by Imam al-Nasa\u2019 i (Manasik al-Haj j , 22), Hadrat \u2018 A\u2019 isha (radiyallahu \u2018 anha) declared that \u201c Allah\u2019 s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) established the
the people of Iraq at Dhat Irq, and for the people of Naj d at Qarn, and for the Yemenis at Yalamlam.\u201d Imam Muslim (Hajj, 2) narrates a similar hadith: \u201c for the people of Madina it is Dhul-Hulayfa\u2014while on the other road it is al-Juhfa\u2014for the people of Iraq it is Dhat Irq, for the people of Naj d it is Qarn, and for the people of Yemen it is Yalamlam.\u201d
These texts constitute unarguable proof that the Nabi (sallallahu \u2018 alaihi wa sallam) distinguished between Najd and Iraq, so much so that he appointed two separatemi q at points for the inhabit ant s of each. For him, clearly, Naj d did not include Iraq.
There are many hadiths in which the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) praised part icular lands. It is significant t hat alt hough Naj d is t he closest of lands t o Makkah and Madina, it is not praised by any one of t hese hadit hs. The first hadit h cit ed above shows t he Messenger\u2019 s willingness t o pray for Syria and Yemen, and his insistent refusal t o pray for Naj d. And wherever Najd is mentioned, it is clearly seen as a problematic territory. Consider, for instance, the following noble hadit h:
Amr ibn Abasa said: \u201c Allah\u2019 s Messenger (sallallahu \u2018 alaihi wa sallam) was one day reviewing the horses, in t he company of Uyayna ibn Hisn ibn Badr al-Fazari. [... ] Uyayna remarked: \u2018 The best of men are those who bear their swords on their shoulders, and carry their lances in the woven st ocks of t heir horses, wearing cloaks, and are the people of t he Naj d.\u2019 But Rasulullah (sallallahu \u2018 alaihi wa sallam) replied: \u2018You lie! Rat her, t he best of men are t he men of t he Yemen. Fait h
is a Yemeni, t he Yemen of [ t he t ribes of] Lakhm and Judham and Amila. [ ...] Hadramawt is bet t er t han t he t ribe of Harit h; one t ribe is bet t er t han anot her; anot her is worse [ ...] My Lor d commanded me t o cur se Qur aish, and I cur sed t hem, but he t hen commanded me t o bless t hem t wice, and I did so [ ...] Aslam and Ghifar, and t heir associat es of Juhaina, are bet t er t han Asad and Tamim and Ghat af an and Hawazin, in t he sight of Allah on t he Day of Rising. [ ...] The most numerous tribe in the Garden shall be [ the Yemeni tribes of] Madhhij and Ma\u2019 kul.\u2019\u201d (Ahmad ibn Hanbal and al-Tabarani, by sound narrators. Cited in Ali ibn Abu Bakr
On the authority of Abul-Darda (radiyallahu \u2018 anh), the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu \u2018 alaihi wa sallam) said: \u201cYou will find armies. An army in Syria, in Egypt, in Iraq and in the Yemen.\u201d (Bazzar and Tabarani, classified assah i h: al-Hayt hami,Maj ma\u2018 , X, 58.) This const it ut es praise for t hese l ands as homes ofj i had vol unt eers.
Allah\u2019 s Messenger (sallallahu \u2018 alaihi wa sallam) sent a man t o one of t he clans of t he Arabs, but they insulted and beat him. He came to Allah\u2019 s Messenger (sallallahu \u2018 alaihi wa sallam) and told him what had occurred. And the Messenger (sallallahu \u2018 alaihi wa sallam) said, \u201cHad you gone t o
The above hadiths are culled from a substantial corpus of material that records the Holy Messenger (sallallahu \u2018 alaihi wa sallam) praising neighboring regions. Again, it is striking that alt hough Naj d was closer t han any ot her, hadit hs in praise of it are complet ely absent .
This fact is generally known, alt hough not publicized, by Naj dit es t hemselves. It is clear that if t here exist ed a single hadit h t hat names and praises Naj d, t hey would let t he Ummah know. In an attempt to circumvent or neutralize the explicit and implicit Prophetic condemnation of their province, some refuse to consider that the territorial hadiths might be in any way worthy of at t ent ion, and focus t heir comment s on t he t ribal groupings who dwell in Naj d.
The best-known tribe of Central Arabia is the Banu Tamim. There are hadiths that praise virtually all of the major Arab tribal groups, and to indicate the extent of this praise a few examples are list ed here:
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