A SEMINAR ON
ASH-SHAAM COUNTRIES (LEVANT)
…AND THE FUTURE OF ISLAM
By Their Eminence the Sheikhs;
Dr. Baasim Bin Faisal Al-Jawabirah
Dr. Muhammad bin Moosaa Aal-Nasr
Mashhoor bin Hassan Aal Salmaan
Hishaam Bin Fahmi Al-Aarif
His Eminence Saleem bin 'Eed al-Hilaalee
All praise is due to Allah; we praise Him, seek His aid, and seek His forgiveness. We also seek refuge in Allah from evil selves and actions; he whom Allah guides, then none can misguide, and he whom Allah misguides, then none can guide.
And I bear witness that there is none has the right to be worshipped but Allah Alone, the One who has no partners. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
The best of speech is that of Allah, and the best of guidance is that of Muhammad (peace be upon him). The worst of things are those of innovations (in terms of religion), for every newly invented thing in religion is an innovation, every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance shall go to the hellfire.
We have chosen this seminar to be entitled: "Ash-Shaam Countries (Levant) and the Future of Islam", because the merits of this blessed area have been mentioned in more than one Qur'anic verse and authentic prophetic tradition.
Ash-Shaam countries have so many merits that the student of knowledge should know in order for them to take advantage of time, so that they become prepared without hastening for the imminent grace—if it is Allah's will—when the people of Sunnah and Congregation shall launch there true call to Allah.
It is enough for a proof to mention the hadeeth of Salamah bin Nufail al-Kindee—may Allah be pleased with him—where he said:
I was setting with the Prophet (peace be upon him) when a man said to him: "O Prophet of Allah! The people had humiliated their horses (i.e. they used it them for plowing and riding rather than Jihaad), they put down their weapons, and they said that there is no jihaad any more, and that the war had ended. The prophet approached and said: "They made a mistake. I have just been revealed to that Jihaad is ongoing till the day of Resurrection. And among my nation, there still a faction who are adhering to the haqq and fighting for it; Allah will turn away the hearts of some peoples (from the right path and guidance) and leave their hearts like abodes for suspicions and disappointment and let those who adhere to the haqq to take from them (in terms of war spoils) until the time when the day of resurrection comes, and until the time Allah shall make His promise come true. Verily, goodness is tied to the horses' foreheads until the time when the day of resurrection comes (i.e. horses are symbols of goodness and prosperity). I am being revealed to that I shall die soon, and that you shall follow me later on in the form of factions beheading the heads of one another, and the abode where faith will be is Ash-Shaam.
"Therein, the believers will be happy at Allah's victory"
And you shall certainly know the truth of it after a while
Sheikh Hishaam bin Fahmee al-'Aarif shall tell us about the borders of Levant, its history, and whatever related to it.
In fact, we can speak volumes about Shaam, but we shall only give a brief about the importance of the Shaam countries, because it is an important topic, the sequences of which are really crucial to the Islamic future.
The meaning of Shaam:
The singular Shaam can be pluralized into Shaamaat, yet some people will only consider it to be one Shaam; others tend to make them Shaamaat: thus they consider Palestine and the Sacred Lands until Jordan a one Shaam, and they say that this is the upper Shaam; they consider Damascus and its regions from Jordan until the mountains known with at-Tiwaal another Shaam; they consider Syria, which extends from Hims and its regions until Rahbat-Maalik, a third Shaam, the annex of which are Hamaah and Sheezar; and they consider Qinnasreen and Aleppo included in the third one until the mountains of ar-Room and the countries of al-'Awaasim was-Sohool (an ancient name for an area located on the north of Syria). As for 'Akkaa, Tripoli, and all that is annexed to it from the sea shore and all that is opposite to it among the Shaamaat, then it is included therein.
As for giving the name Shaam to Damascus, then this is out of designating the general for the specific, and it is well-known that the Arabs may give the regions' names to their basic cities; hence they would say Shaam and/or Damascus referring to the same place.
The borders of Shaam:
In the west it is bordered by the Mediterranean (which was also called the Roman sea, the sea of salt, or the Shaam sea); in the east by al-Baadiyah (the desert): from Aylah until the Euphrates; the borders then extend from the Euphrates until ar-Room or Asia Minor (Anatolia), then north till ar-Room, and south till Egypt and the desert of Sin (Sin Wilderness in Sinai Peninsula). Thus, Aylah is on the last part of the Hijaaz and the first part of Shaam; Rafah comprises the south-western borders of Shaam; and Ma'aan is divided into two parts: the Shaamee Ma'aan, and the Hijaazee Ma'aan.
The history of Shaam:
The westerners wrote volumes about Shaam, its civilization, its history, its economics, and its customs. They described each spot therein, and this is their habit in that they devoted themselves to know about the Muslim countries which the Muslims, themselves, did not do; they explored our spots, cities, deserts, and thus one may benefit from their works in knowing its nature, its constituents, …etc.
Unfortunately, we have few works on the topic that were conducted by our youth, in our own tongue, and upon our methodology. All of this tells—unfortunately—that they know us, while we are ignoramus about ourselves!! Suffice it to say that the western scientists and their tourists wrote ninety five books on the ruins of Petra between the years of 1805 and 1903, while there are few people from the Shaam who visited these important ruins, not to mention that some of them did not even heard of them!
The history of Shaam prior to the emergence of the Prophet—peace be upon him--:
It is most likely that the peoples who took over the Shaam are the Hittites also Hethites) in the north and the Kan'aniyoon (Canaanites) in the south. In the letters of Tal al-'Amarnah that were found in the Upper Egypt at the beginning of this century, there was a detailed explanation of the Hithee state that fought against the Pharaohs of Egypt for fourteen years; the Egyptians did not beat them until, Seti II came and beat them.
Ash-Shaam was then surrounded by two strong countries:
The first: Assyria and Babylonia. If one of them became strong, then it would lay hands on Shaam and be satisfied with taking the Jizyah (the poll tax) from its people and enlisting some of them in the army.
The second: the Pharaohs in Egypt:
If they would become strong, then they would rule over Shaam, and they would be satisfied from its people with Jizyah and some soldiers. The Shaam would be under the Egyptian reign, yet sometimes in name only, for four centuries, and this was until the reign of Ramses, the 5th (1146 BC to 1142 BC). And when it was freed from the Egyptian reign, it became invaded by the Assyrians, and then it became under the Assyrian reign.
At the beginning of the second millennium (B.C.), Assyria was strengthened by its kings. Upon the fall of Ninawa (in northern Iraq) (655 B.C.) at the hands of the second Canaanitic kings, the Shaam was under the reign of the Pharaohs for a while, but it returned back under the Babylonian kings. Well, the Canaanitic era was the era of destruction, because Nebuchadnezzar, the Chaldean king, had committed subversive acts in Jerusalem (586 B.C.), and he forced the Jews out to Babylonia.
The region (i.e. Ash-Shaam) escaped from many factors that were overwhelming, some of which were internal factors like the local tribulations, and others were external like the rule of the Assyrians and the Babylonians. But when these nations were fallen back, Persia took over Shaam, and thus it remained under the Persian reign until 333 B.C. Then Alexander the Macedonian came and took over Persia. When he died, his four army leaders, known as the Salaaqisah, divided his reign; Shaam was the portion that Salooqas (one of the four leaders) took, and it entered a phase of misery as Rome would ask for claim over it, Egypt would fight against it in order to annex it to it, and Persia would invade it. This continued until the Romans took over it and snatched the region in 65 B.C.
When the Romans wanted to annex Palestine to the Roman state of Shaam, the inhabitants of Palestine revolted over them (the Romans), and this resulted in the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of Solomon's Temple by Titus (64 B.C.), after that Jerusalem became a Roman settlement.
The Romans ruled over the Shaam for 700 years; its king, the king of the Byzantium or the Western Roman kingdom, is known for the Arabs by the name of Heraclius.
The history of Shaam after the Prophet—peace be upon him—and until the present day:
This began by the expedition that Abu Bakr launched for setting the Shaam free (from the then Kaafir invasion); this was followed with the battle of Yarmouk, and then by the freeing of Beesaan and all of the rest of the cities of Jordan and Palestine. However, Jerusalem and Qaisaariyah remained under siege until 'Umar Bin al-Khattaab—may Allah be pleased with him—freed them. After that, Damascus, Qinnasreen, Aleppo, Antaakiya, and the rest of the northern part of Shaam were freed.
Then came the Umayyad state from 41 until 132 H.; then the Abbasid from 132 until 254 H.; then the Tulunid from 254 until 292 H.; then the Ikhshidid, the Hamadanid, and the Fatimid from 292 until 364 H.; then the Fatimids from 364 until 394 H.; then Seljuks from 463 until 490; then the Crusades for ten years from 490 until 500 H.; then the Crusaders and the Mongols invasion until 803 H.; then the era of the Mamluks until 922 H.; then the Ottomans until 1336 H.; then the French and the English invasion; then the independence of the Arab states; and finally the Jewish invasion of Palestine until the very present day. May Allah return it back to the hands of the Muslims and grant them a manifest, great triumph over their enemies.
To be continued…
1-Narrated by an-Nasaa'ee and Ahmad, and authenticated by sheikh al-Albaanee in his Saheehah under no. (1935)
2-Aylah was an old city by the red sea; it is close to the today's city of Aqaba.
3-The Hittites were an ancient people who spoke an Indo-European language, and established a kingdom centered at Hattusa (Hittite URU Hattuša) in north-central Anatolia from the 18th century BC. In the 14th century BC, the Hittite empire was at its height, encompassing central Anatolia, north-western Syria as far as Ugarit, and upper Mesopotamia. After 1180 BC, the empire disintegrated into several independent "Neo-Hittite" city-states, some of which survived until as late as the 8th century BC.
4-Canaan (Canaanite: Latin: Canaan; and from Hebrew, Aramaic: ܟܢܥܢ whence Arabic: ˜äÚÇäý).
Canaan is an ancient term for regions of Palestine and parts of Lebanon and Syria. The Hebrew Bible identifies Canaan with Lebanon - foremost with the coastal city of Sidon - but extends the "Land of Canaan" southward across Gaza to the "Brook of Egypt" and eastward to the Jordan Valley, thus including the Palestinian Territories. This southern area included various ethnic groups.
5-Userkheperure Setepenre Meryptah Seti II (reigned 1200 BC - 1194 BC) was the sixth ruler of the Nineteenth dynasty of Egypt. He ruled in a period known for dynastic intrigue and short reigns, and his rule was no different. He had to deal with many plots, most significantly the preceding reign of the usurper, Amenmesse, who seized the throne when Seti II was away from the royal palace after the death of his father Merneptah.