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'The Book of Tribulations: The Syrian Muslim Apocalyptic Tradition'

An Annotated Translation by Nu'aym b. Hammad al-Marwazi

Nu'aym b. Hammad al-Marwazi
Edited and translated by David Cook

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The first annotated translation of the 9th-century Islamic apocalyptic work The Book of Tribulations

The Book of Tribulations is the earliest complete Muslim apocalyptic text to survive, and as such has considerable value as a primary text. It is unique in its importance for Islamic history: focusing upon the central Syrian city of Hims, it gives us a picture of the personalities of the city, the tribal conflicts within, the tensions between the proto-Muslim community and the majority Christian population, and above all details about the wars with the Byzantines. Additionally, Nu`aym gives us a range of both the Umayyad and the Abbasid official propaganda, which was couched in apocalyptic and messianic terms.

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Nu`aym b. Ḥammād al-Marwazī, The Book of Tribulations

  • What was related by the Messenger of God and his Companions after him concerning the Tribulations to come
  • Naming of the Tribulations which are to come, and their Number from the death of the Messenger of God until the Rising of the Hour
  • The Loss of Intelligence and Absence of People’s Dreams during the Tribulations
  • Allowance for People’s Desire to Die because of the Prevalence of Trials and Tribulations
  • The Regret of Some of the Prophet’s Companions and Others with regard to the Tribulation
  • The Desirability of having Few Possessions and Children during the Tribulations
  • The Number of the Caliphs after the Messenger of God in this Community
  • The Caliphs who were mentioned after the Messenger of God
  • Distinguishing the Caliphs from the Kings
  • Naming those reigning after the Messenger of God
  • The Dominion of the Umayyads and Naming them after `Umar
  • The End of the Umayyads’ Dominion
  • Protection from Tribulations and the Desirability of Holding Back and Withdrawing during them, and Undesirability of Looking out over them
  • Those who believed in Withdrawal during Tribulations
  • The Portents of the end of the Umayyads’ Dominion
  • Appearance of the `Abbāsids
  • The First Portent of the end of the Period of the `Abbāsids
  • The First of the Portents of the end of their Dominion will be the Appearance of the Turks after a dissension between them
  • Portents in the Heavens concerning the end of `Abbāsids’ Dominion
  • Beginnings of the Tribulation in Syria
  • The Triumph of the Lowliest and Weakest of Peoples
  • Refuges from Tribulations
  • The Center of Islam is in Syria
  • The First Portent will be the Portent of the Berbers and the Westerners
  • The Appearance of the Berbers and the Westerners
  • The Corruption and Fighting of the Berbers in Syria and Egypt, and whoever fights them, and the end of their appearance, and the evil conduct that will happen at their hands
  • The Description of the Sufyānī, His Name and Ancestry
  • The Beginning of the Appearance of the Sufyānī
  • The Three Flags
  • The Flags that will disperse in the Lands of Egypt and Syria, and other [countries], and the Sufyānī and his Victory over them
  • The Conflict between the `Abbāsids, and the Easterners, and the Sufyānī and the Marwānids in Syria towards Iraq
  • The Conflict between the People of Syria, the `Abbāsid rulers at al-Raqqa, and what the Sufyānī will do
  • What the Sufyānī will do in the Suburbs of Baghdad and Madinat al-Zawra’ when his Expedition will reach Iraq, and the Destruction that will happen
  • The Sufyānī and his Army enter al-Kūfa
  • The Mahdi’s Black Banners after the `Abbāsids’ Banners, and what will happen between the Sufyānī’s army and the `Abbāsids
  • The Beginning of the End for the Sufyānī, and the Appearance of the Hāshimi from Khurāsān leading the Black Banners, and the Fighting between them until the Horsemen of the Sufyānī reach the East
  • The Sufyānī will meet the Black Banners in Battle, and there will be an Apocalyptic Battle between them, in which the People will desire the Mahdi and seek him
  • Sending the Troops to Medina and the Killing that will happen in it
  • Swallowing up of the Sufyāni’s Troops that he will send to the Mahdi
  • The Signs of the Mahdi in his Appearance
  • Another Sign at the Time of the Mahdi’s Appearance
  • The People’s Gathering Together at Mecca to swear to the Mahdi in it, and the Confusion, Fighting, Seeking the Mahdi that will happen that year in Mecca after the Battle and their Gathering to him
  • The Mahdi’s Departure from Mecca to Jerusalem and Syria, after which they will swear to him, and His Traveling towards the Sufyāni and his Supporters
  • The Conduct and Justice of the Mahdi and the Plenty of his Time
  • The Description of the Mahdi
  • The Name of the Mahdi
  • The Ancestry of the Mahdi
  • The Length of the Mahdi’s Reign
  • What will happen after the Mahdi
  • The Raid on India
  • What will happen in Ḥimṣ during the administration of thhe Qaḥțānī, and between Quḍā`a and Yaman after the Mahdi
  • Al-Ᾱ`māq and the Conquest of Constantinople
  • The Imam of the Muslims in Jerusalem and his Victory on the Plain of Acre, and the Conquest of Ḥimṣ
  • Concerning the Appearance of the Byzantines in Alexandria, the Edges of Miṣr and its mawāḥīz
  • What will happen to People previous to the Appearance of the Antichrist
  • Signs before the Appearance of the Antichrist
  • Where will the Antichrist appear?
  • The Appearance of the Antichrist, his Conduct, and the Corruption at his hands
  • The Length of the Antichrist’s Staying
  • Jesus son of Mary will kill the Antichrist at the Gate of Lydda at the distance of 16 Cubits
  • Refuges from the Antichrist
  • Jesus’ Return and his Conduct
  • The Length of Jesus’ Staying after his Return
  • The Appearance of Gog and Magog
  • Swallowing up by the Earth, Earthquakes, Tremors and Metempsychosis
  • Concerning the Fire that will Gather [People] to Syria
  • Among the Portents of the Hour
  • The Portents of the Hour after the Rising of the Sun from the West
  • The Rising of the Sun from the West
  • The Appearance of the Beast from the Earth (Dābba)
  • The Ethiopians
  • The Appearance of the Ethiopians
  • The Turks
  • The Times, Months and Days that are Dated in the Tribulations



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