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The term "Sufyani" is a term referring to his descent from the progeny of Abu Sufyan. He will be one of many Muslim tyrants that the Mahdi will have to face in the Middle East. The Sufyani is not the Dajjal. The Ahadith regarding the Sufyani specify that he is a tyrant who will spread corruption and mischief on the earth before the Mahdi. He will be such a tyrant that he will kill the children and rip out the bellies of women. The Sufyani will murder those from the household of the Prophet and will rule over Syria. When he hears about the Mahdi, he will send an army to seize and kill him. However the earth will swallow this army before it even reaches the Mahdi.
Abu Hurayrah has narrated that the Prophet said:
A man will emerge from the depths of Damascus. He will be called Sufyani. Most of those who follow him will be from the tribe of Kalb. He will kill by ripping the stomachs of women and even kill the children. A man from my family will appear in the Haram, the news of his advent will reach the Sufyani and he will send to him one of his armies. He (referring to the Mahdi) will defeat them. They will then travel with whoever remains until they come to a desert and they will be swallowed. None will be saved except the one who had informed the others about them. (Mustadrak Al-Hakim)
The Sufyani will be followed, for the most part, by the tribe of Banu Kalb, and will have fought with anyone daring to oppose him. Injustice will rule the day and his disregard for life will reach the point where defenseless women will be ripped open and innocent children slain unmercifully. The tribe of Qays will rise up against him, however, they will not succeed, and he will slaughter all of them.
The Sufyani's army will go to Kufa; a city in Iraq, and from there he will launch an attack against the people of Khurasan. At the Gate of Istakhr, Shuayb bin Salih and the Hashimite under the black banners, will join forces and engage the army of the Sufyani. The battle will be extremely fierce with a tremendous loss of life and the army of the Sufyani will suffer a temporary defeat. It is at this time that a yearning for the Mahdi's appearance is on the lips of everyone.
The army of the Sufyani will march from the direction of Iraq to seize the Mahdi, however, when they reach the desert near Dhi Hulayfah the ground will swallow them up. However, two will escape to convey the news but even when he learns of the occurrence he will not be deterred. There will be some people from the Quraysh who manage to escape from him to Constantinople, which will be at that time under the control of the Non-Muslims. When the Sufyani asks for their return they will be returned whereupon not only the escapees' throats will be slit but those like them.
Khalid bin Ma'dan said:
The Sufyani will emerge with three staffs in his hand. Anyone whom he strikes with them will die. (Nu'aym bin Hammad)
The Sufyani is a man whose trial involves his person, his power, his speed and his fighting. One of his wonders consists of his staffs, which kill anyone he strikes with them. The hadith about the Sufyani confirms that he is a tyrant who will spread corruption and crime in the Earth immediately before the appearance of the Mahdi.
Details of the Sufyani
Name and Title
According to Imam Qurtubi, his name will be 'Urwa bin Muhammad and his talha is 'Abu Utbah' and is given the title "Sufyani" due to his descent from Abu Sufyan.
He will be a man with a large head, a pockmarked face, and white spots in his eyes.
The Sufyani will be from the progeny of Yazid bin Mu'awiya. His mother will be from the tribe of Kalb, but he is from the progeny of Khalid bin Yazid bin Abu Sufyan.
Outwardly he will appear to be pious, but in reality he will be an apostate.
Prior to his emergence
Before the rise of the Sufyani, there will be a sedition in the Maghreb, the sedition will spread in every direction that no party or group could protect itself from it.
Disorder, strife, and fear will emerge in the Magrib (west)... Strife will proliferate. (Ash-Sharani, Mukhtasar Tazkirah al-Qurtubi, p. 440)
A kind of corruption will surface from which no party will be able to protect itself, and spread immediately in every direction. This situation will persist until one comes and says: “O people, from now on your leader is Imam Mahdi(as).” (Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Al-Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi `Alamat al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar, p. 23)
Later the sedition which started in the west will arrive to Al-Sham, Syria, thus two banners will fight for control over the Syrian region; they will fight until their armies are exhausted. Following these events the Sufyani will start an uprising in the dry valley of Transjordan and moves to seize Damascus, he will gain much support and he will advance to capture the rest of Syria, defeating the two other competing forces. Once he captures the 5 districts of Al-Sham, he will send armies to Iraq..
Details of his emergence and rule
In revolt, a Sufyani (possibly by the name of 'Urwah ), who descends from Abu Sufyan, and whose mother is from the tribe of Kalb, will come (possibly from Egypt) with 360 riders until he reaches Damascus. Then he will emerge - overrunning and seizing control of Syria. He will have three staffs in his hand, and anyone whom he strikes with them will die. After a month the tribe of Kalb will also follow him. The Sufyani will then send an army to Iraq, killing 100,000 in Al-Zawra', and also will receive the support of non-Muslims. The Sufyani and his forces will go to Kufa and pillage it, killing the descendants of the Prophet and to the point where he kills children and murders women. In retaliation the tribe of Qays will rise up against him, but they will be defeated, and he will slaughter them in Kurkisa. One of them will escape to the Muslims, and then the forces of the Sufyani will come, demanding the Muslims be handed over. Then an army carrying black banners will come, and at their front is a youth from the tribe of Tamim named Shu'ayb bin Salih, along with a Hashemite. They will engage the forces of the Sufyani at the Gate of Istakhr (in southern Iran) and will defeat them, however, the riders will escape. The Muslim, after suffering from the battle, will demand the Mahdi out of necessity. Then an army of the Sufyani will go to Medina, and pillage it for three days, and those who escape will flee to Mecca. Several men from the Quraysh will escape to Istanbul and the Sufyani will send to the leader of the Romans who returns them to the Sufyani and he will slit their throats together with their followers.
When the story of Divine Help being granted to the Mahdi spreads throughout the Muslim world, the Abdals of Syria will come to pledge allegiance to the Mahdi and join his ranks. Similarly, other Muslim armies from Medina and elsewhere will also come to Mecca and offer their support and allegiance to the Mahdi. The Imam will leave Mecca for Medina, where he will offer salaam at the Rowzha Mubarak (The Grave of Muhammad). Soon after, the forces of the Mahdi will move onward from Medina, and engage the forces of the Sufyani at Syria. The Sufyani’s forces will be defeated in Syria, and this will be known as the "Battle of Kalb". The Muslim fighters under the Mahdi will capture the Sufyani and execute him under a tree and Syria would thus be liberated from the tyrannical rule of the Sufyani.