Analysis of Ibn Khaldun’s Objections to the Narrations about al-Mahdi

Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi
Translated and Annotated by Waqar Akbar Cheema


Belief in the advent of Imam al-Mahdi is an important tenet for the vast majority of Muslims across sectarian lines. However, some have come to question the decisiveness of the hadiths concerning the advent of al-Mahdi, especially based on Ibn Khaldun’s arguments in his Muqaddimah. The current work is a translation of Maulana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi’s masterful refutation of Ibn Khaldun titled ‘Removing the Doubts of Ibn Khaldun’. Maulana Thanwi demonstrates that the belief in al-Mahdi is proven through an early consensus, that the narrations regarding him are numerous to the point of continuity [tawatur], and lays bare to the reader the underlying weakness of the arguments against Imam al-Mahdi’s advent. The translation of the work is further supplemented by the translator’s research on the narrations discussed in the work and the concomitant analysis, which are presented to the reader as footnotes.

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    1. Assalamu alaikum

      I was wondering if i could ask a quick question pretraining to a subject which doesnt have to do with with this post, however as i saw that it was a quite recent post i thought this would be the best place to try and ask inshaAllah. as i have a question regarding a hadith where i personally havent really seen an answer for ( maybe because of my lack of knowledge or because i dont speak arabic so i am not able to access the primary source material )

      But my question was regarding this hadith

      Sahih muslim 825b: Do not intend to observe prayer at the time of the rising of the sun nor at its setting, for it rises between the horns of Satan.

      The hadith comes in different forms with more explanation so to say:

      Sunan ibn majah volume 1 book 5 hadith 1253: The sun rises between the two horns of Satan” or he said “The two horns of Satan rise with it, and when it has risen, Satan parts from it. When it is in the middle of the sky he accompanies it, then when it has crossed the zenith he parts from it. When it is about to set, he accompanies it, and when it has set he parts from it. So do no pray at these three times.”

      And there are some more ahadith saying quite the same message however when examining it or just reading it myself and i have a couple questions and dounts regarding it.

      1. It sounds quite weird and absurd saying that the sun rises in between the horns of satan and there is also not any scientific evidence for this rather only evidence on the contrary

      2.we know that the sun never actually sets or rises how do we reconcile that fact with this hadith

      3. This hadith says that when the sun rises and sets it is in between the horns of satan but because we know that the sun is always rising and always setting on earth wouldnt that mean it is in between the horns at all times?

      4.when examining the hadith in sunan ibn majah it seems at if it couldnt be reconciled because it says that when it has risen satan parts from it and when it is in the middle satan accompanies it. However how can it accompany it in the middle however we have never seen satan. Also this would go against the concept of a round earth because if it sets satan goes away but if it is in the middle satan is there. However there are times when the sun is in the middle in a certain country but rising and setting in another. So is the sun now accompanied by satan or not?

      5. See point 4 this makes me think that here it is not being thought of a round and spherical earth but a flat one as the sun never really sets and rises and the sun can be high in the sky in 1 place and have set in 1 place when the time is the same.

      6. However if we believe as muslims ( which we do ) that the earth is round i still have some questions because if the sun is always rising in a multiple places how can satan be just in 1 place and in between his horns are the sun when the sun is rising in different places

      I have some more wuestions but i think that you can understand my train of thought and inshaAllah you can help me clear this doubt regarding the hadith.

      Also i checked out fath bari and i didnt understand the hadith from it. Rather i got evdn more confused and more doubts:

      The edge of the sun is the part that peaks out at sunrise and remains until sunset, and Satan’s horns emerge from his head. It is said that he is standing alongside the sun as it rises until it rises between the sides of his head. Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari 6/340

      Please help me

      Jazakallah khair

    2. Simple to under stand this verse or hadith-- I explain about Quran say Dul-al -Qarnayn reached end of earth and he found sun set in muddy water.What was that mean sun not going to set in muddy water not at all but if we understand this way make sense to us. Dul-al-Qarnayn saw it mean according Dhu-al-Qarnayn eye what feel Allah talking according what he saw through his eye and what he understoood.