Hadith of the prediction in Sura al-Rum

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The Hadith of the prediction in Sura ar-Rum is a hadith (a recorded oral tradition) concerning the sura called Ar-Rum in the Qur'an which can be read as a prediction (a miraculous one [1]), possibly in AD 615 that the Romans would triumph over the Persians and the Muslims over the Meccans.[2]

The early Muslim community perceived the Greeks of the Christian Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire (therefore ar-Rum) as nearer to their religion, whilst the Meccan non-Muslims felt more inclined to the Persian religion. According to Muslim tradition, the Meccans taunted the Muslims by pointing to the recent military defeats of the Romans by the Persian Sassanid Empire, that adhered to Zoroastrianism, and predicted that the Christian Romans (or Byzantines) were about to be defeated, and that the Muslims were next in line.

The Sura Ar-Rum[edit]

The Sura ar-Rum starts with the relevant verses:

The Quran, chapter 30 (Ar-Rum), verse 2 to 4:

2 The Romans are vanquished,

3 In a nearby land, and they, after being vanquished, shall overcome,

4 Within a few years. Allah's is the command before and after; and on that day the believers shall rejoice
— translated by M. H. Shakir

According to the Quran, around the year 620 AD, about 7 years after the severe defeat of the Christian Romans armies (led by Heraclius) by the Persians. The first verses of Surat-Ar-Rum predicted that the severely defeated Romans would soon be victorious over the idolatrous Persians. At the Battle of Antioch in 613–614 AD, the Persians took control over important Eastern Roman territories expanding into Syria, Jerusalem, Armenia and Egypt. The Eastern Roman Empire was so very unlikely to get over this Persian expansion and was about to collapse totally. In 622, Heraclius gained a number of victories over the Persians and conquered Armenia. In 627, the two empires fought a decisive battle at Nineveh, some 50 km east of the Tigris river, near Baghdad in which the Romans emerged victorious.


Abu Bakr, a companion (Arabic: Sahaba‎‎) of Muhammad and later the first Caliph, defended the prophetic validity of this prediction and ended up making a bet with Ubay ibn Khalaf, a Meccan polytheist.

Muslim scholar Al-Baidawi writes: "This passage refers to the defeat of the Byzantines in Syria by the Persians under Khusran Parvis. (615 C.E – 6 years before the Hegira). However, the defeat of the Persians should take place soon 'in a small number of years'. In the light of this prediction, Abu-Bakr undertook a bet with Ubai-ibn-Khalaf that this prediction would be fulfilled within three years, but he was corrected by Mohammed who stated that the word (bida') meant "between three and nine years".[citation needed]

Note: The Arabic language has a word for single year, two years and a third grammatic form for three to nine years. It is the third form that is used in the Qur'anic verse.


Abdullah Yusuf Ali, a 20th century Sunni Islamic scholar writes:

Timeline of relevant events[edit]

Year Roman-Persian events Arabian events
AD 602 (BH 20) Byzantine Emperor Mauricius is murdered by Phocas. Sassanid King Khosrau II reopens war against the Roman (Byzantine) Empire.
AD 613 (BH 9) Persian armies take Damascus.
AD 614 (BH 8) Persian armies take Jerusalem. Migration to Abyssinia [4]
AD 615 (BH 7) Traditional Muslim date of the Sura ar-Rum.
AD 619 (BH 4) Persians capture Egypt. Muhammad's Year of Sorrow
AD 622 (AH 1) Emperor Heraclius takes the field and defeats Persians in the Battle of Issus. Muhammad's emigrates to Medina, beginning of Muslim calendar
AD 624 (AH 2) Battle of Badr, Muslims victory over Meccan army[citation needed]
AD 625 (AH 3) Battle of Uhud, Meccan victory over Muslim army[citation needed]
AD 627 (AH 5) Heraclius defeats the Persian army in the Battle of Nineveh and advances towards Ctesiphon. Battle of the Trench: Meccans unsuccessfully besiege Medina.
AD 628 (AH 6) Khosrau II flees from internal rebellion and is murdered in February, while the Romans retake Syria. Khosrau's successor Kavadh II proposes peace with the Romans. Treaty of Hudaybiyyah between Muslims and Meccans.[5]
AD 629 (AH 7) Peace negotiations are concluded in June, Persians yielding Syria and Egypt.[6] The first pilgrimage of Muslims to the Ka'ba.
AD 630 (AH 8) Heraclius visits Jerusalem as a pilgrim, marking the conclusive nature of the Roman victory. Status quo ante from prior to past Sassanid invasion.[6] Conquest of Mecca: Muslim force under Muhammad enters Mecca unopposed, decisive Muslim victory.
AD 636 (AH 14)
Arabs capture Byzantine Syria and Palaestina Prima


  1. ^ Syed Maududi's Commentary for Surah #30
  2. ^ http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/030.qmt.html
  3. ^ Abdullah Yusuf Ali used Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, A. J. Butler's Arab conquest of Egypt (Oxford, 1902) and others as references.
  4. ^ Sahabah Migation to Abyssina
  5. ^ Tafsir ibn Kathir [1]
  6. ^ a b William Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Medina

See also[edit]