Sufyānī from Rise to Decline

Author: Nuṣrat Allah Āyatī
Reviewed by: Morteza Karimi

Nuṣrat Allah Āyatī, Sufyānī az Ẓuhūr tā Ufūl [Sufyānī from Rise to Decline], 1st ed., 1 vol., Qom: Thānī ʿAshar Publication, 1384, 103 pp.

Some of the signs of the reappearance of Imām Mahdī (a) in the narrations are more highlighted, which shows their special position among other signs of the reappearance. “Sufyānī” is one of the signs that there are many narrations about him compared to other signs of the reappearance, and according to some scholars, narrations about Sufyānī are frequently transmitted (mutawātir). There are many questions about this character, including: who is Sufyānī? Is his character positive or negative? When and where will he rise? What goals does he pursue? What is the course of his actions? What is the time gap between his uprising and the reappearance of Imām Mahdī (a)? Sufyānī az Ẓuhūr tā Ufūl (Sufyānī from Rise to Decline) in Persian by Nuṣrat Allah Āyatī tries to answer theses questions base on authentic narrations.

Nuṣrat Allah ĀyatīBorn in 1353 (solar) in Isfahan, Iran, Nuṣrat Allah Āyatī is a contemporary Shiʿa scholar and a researcher in Mahdawiyyat Research Institute. His main specialty is Mahdism, and among his other works, mentioned can be made of Taʾammulī dar Nishāni-hāyi Ḥatmī-yi Ẓuhūr (a Reflection on the Definite Signs of the Reappearance), and Yūsuf-i Zahrā (Zahrā’s Yūsuf).

Sufyānī az Ẓuhūr tā Ufūl consists of an introduction and three chapters. In his detailed introduction, the author enumerates 4 reasons for the importance of the issue of Sufyānī, including the fact that one of his main goals is to attack the Shiʿa areas and kill Shiites, and that compared to other signs of the reappearance, Sufyānī’s uprising has wide dimensions and will cover large areas of the world. After defining the signs of the reappearance, the author raises the question whether there will be changes (badāʾ) in the definite signs of the reappearance or not. He presents the views of the supporters and opponents, and considering the fact that he criticizes the reasons of the supporters for the possibility of badāʾ, it seems that he himself believes that the very occurrence of the definite signs of the reappearance is certain, although there may be changes in the details. Then he proves that according to the narrations, Sufyānī only refers to a specific person and cannot be symbolic or refer to several people.

The first chapter is about Sufyānī’s personal characteristics. Nuṣrat Allah Āyatī examines the narrations related to his name and considering their weakness, he believes that it is not possible to make a firm opinion about his name, but regarding his lineage, it can be stated based on the authentic narrations that he is from Quraysh, Banī Umayya and the generation of Abū Sufyān. The author then deals with the physical features of Sufyānī and divides the narrations about Sufyānī’s religion into 3 categories: narrations that introduce Sufyānī as a Christian, narrations based on which Sufyānī is a Muslim but then converts to Christianity, and narrations which consider him a Muslim. In his conclusion, the author believes that it is impossible to make a clear opinion about Sufyānī’s religion, but it is certain that he will have a specific and obvious enmity with the Shiites.

The second chapter of Sufyānī az Ẓuhūr tā Ufūl, which is about the characteristics of the uprising of Sufyānī, first deals with the time of his uprising and concludes that it will be in the month of Rajab and at the same time as the uprising of Yamānī. Regarding the place of his uprising, there are three categories of narrations, but there is no doubt that the beginning of his uprising will be from the Levant. According to the author’s explanation, killing the Shiites and preventing the global movement of Imām Mahdī (a) are the two main goals of the uprising of Sufyānī. In the final part of this chapter, it is also explained that his uprising is connected and close to the reappearance of Imām Mahdī (a).

The final chapter of the book is about Sufyānīs course of actions. According to the narrations, he will first consolidate his position and suppress the opponents and other competitors, and after capturing areas of Syria, Palestine, and Jordan, he will attack Iraq. In the middle of the way, in an area called Circesium (a city in Syria at the junction of the Khabur and Euphrates rivers) a terrible war breaks out and many people are killed. According to Nuṣrat Allah Āyatī, based on the analysis of the narrations, in the battle of Circesium, both sides of the conflict are deviated and this battle will leave many human casualties, and Sufyānī’s army, despite the heavy losses, is the winner of this battle. After the massacre of Shiites in Iraq, especially in Kufa, Sufyānī will learn about the presence of Imām Mahdī (a) in Medina, therefore, he will send an army to Medina to arrest him. In order to arrest and kill him, Sufyānī’s army arrests and kills many people, but it does not achieve its main goal. According to the narrations related to Khasf Baydāʾ, a group of Sufyānī’s army will be swallowed up in this land in a miraculous incident and he himself will be killed by Imām Mahdī (a) or one of his companions. Sufyānī ‘s series of actions from the beginning of the uprising to the time of his death will last for fifteen months, of which six months will be spent on capturing the lands.

In the entire book, the author tries to analyze the events related to Sufyānī’s uprising only based on authentic narrations, and therefore, for those interested in this topic, this book is highly recommended.