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The Sufyani (Arabic: السفياني) is an apocryphal character of Islamic eschatology. The term Sufyani refers to his descent from the progeny of Abu Sufyan. According to hadiths, he will be the rival and opponent of Mahdi. Reports about Sufyani are available in both Sunni and Shia Hadith collections. The Sufyani is not the Dajjal. The hadith 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.
Descendant of Sufyani
Prior to his emergence
Before the rise of the Sufyani, there will be a sedition in the Maghreb, which 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.
Forecasting of Sufyani revolt and government
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.
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 Khurasan. At the Gate of Istakhr, Shuayb bin Salih and the Hashimites 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.
At least nine figures were revolted in Levant using Sufyani as their title between 749 and 1413 AD. The first one was Ziad ibn Abdollah ibn Yazid ibn Muawiah ibn Abi Sufyan who revolted against Abbasids. The second Sufyani revolted in 754 and then Abu Harb al-Muburqa about one hundred years later. In 1413, someone used this title and revolted against Mamluk Sultanate. He tried to exactly follow the Hadiths, but Mamluks suppressed and killed him.
- Barbara Roggema (2009). The Legend of Sergius BahĚŁiĚ"raĚ": Eastern Christian Apologetics and Apocalyptic in Response to Islam. BRILL. p. 75. ISBN 90-04-16730-7.
- Madelung, Wilferd (1986). "The Sufyānī between Tradition and History". Studia Islamica, No. 63 (1986), pp. 5–48. JSTOR 1595566.
- Albert I. Baumgarten (January 2000). Apocalyptic Time. BRILL. p. 49. ISBN 90-04-11879-9.
- Wessinger, Catherine; Yamauchi, REV H James (2016). The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190611941.