The Papers of History
Virtues of Shām (Syria)
Mawlana Asif Iqbal Attari Madani
Modern day Syria and the wider Levant hold great religious and worldly significance. This region was part of the kingdom of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم , and the land of the Prophets عَـلَـيْهِمُ السَّلَام and the forty abdāl. During his physical lifetime, the noble Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم , through the knowledge of the unseen bestowed to him, foretold the good news that Syria would be conquered soon. The conquest of Syria began during the caliphate of the first Caliph, Sayyidunā Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ , and was completed during the caliphate of the second Caliph, Sayyidunā ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ .
Thus, the prophecy of the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم proved to be correct. After the conquest of Syria, an Islamic government was established, which strengthened Islam immensely. It also led to an expansion of the Islamic territories. In this article, we will discuss the status and importance of this great country.
The meaning of Shām (Syria)
The biographical collections and history works state that the word “Shām” denotes three things:
1. In the custom of the Arabs, the areas found in the north are called Shām.
2. In the custom of some people, Shām only refers to Damascus.
3. Historically, the region consisting of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine was referred to as Shām. It was also known as Sūriya al-Kubrā.
The Muslims first entered Syria during the lifetime of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم in the Battle of Mutah. All the cities of Syria were conquered during the caliphate of Sayyiduna ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ . Today, Syria is considered one of the oldest Arab countries that consists of settlements that are intermingled with one another. It contains flowing streams and lush, green fields.
Origin of the Name “Shām”
Historians have forwarded several theories for the origins of the name “Shām”. According to some, it is derived from the name of the son of Sayyidunā Nūḥ عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام, “Sām,” as he was the first person who set foot in this land. Overtime, the sīn turned into shin, leading to the name “Shām.”
Hadith on the Virtues of Shām
The virtue of a region or place becomes apparent when its greatness and excellence is mentioned on the truthful tongue of the noble Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم , and Shām is such a place:
Supplication to Bless the Muslims of Shām
Sayyidunā ʿAbdullah b. ʿUmar رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهُمَا reports that the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم made the following supplication:
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِي شَامِنَا، اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِي يَمَنِنَا
“O Allah! Bless our Shām! O Allah Almighty! Bless our Yemen.”
The people of Najd said, “And also our Najd?” The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم supplicated again: “O Allah! Bless our Shām! O Allah! Bless our Yemen.” The people said again, “And also our Najd?” The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, “It is the place of earthquakes and tribulations. The horn of the Devil will appear from there.”
This is a powerful supplication for blessings to descend in Syria and on its people in their worldly and religious affairs. Syria was mentioned before Yemen because the Day of Judgement will be established in Syria. It is next to Palestine, in which Jerusalem and Amman are located. The 40 abdāl also reside there. Some people have said Madina is a city of Shām. Anyhow, Shām is a place of great virtue and excellence.
The Chosen Land of Allah
Sayyidunā Abū Umāma رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ reports that the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, “Shām is the chosen region of Allah, and He will gather His chosen servants in it.” So, why would the angels of mercy not keep their wings spread over this land. Sayyidunā Zayd b. Thābit رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ reports that the noble Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, “Glad tidings for Shām. Indeed, the angels of the Most Merciful spread their wings over it.”
The angels stationed over Shām are for its protection too. Mufti Ahmad Yar Khan Naeemi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه writes:
Since the forty abdāl will always reside in Damascus, angels are stationed over it for its protection. We learn that due to the blessings of the pious people of Allah Almighty, there is peace and protection in the country. It should be noted that this does not mean Syria will face no difficulties. However, there will be less tribulations, sin, and disbelief. This is just how every person has an angel stationed with him for his protection but difficulty still reaches him. This difficulty arises through the command of Allah Almighty, and the angels do not protect him at that time.
Command to reside with the Syrians
Sayyidunā Ibn Hawala رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ reports that the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, “Soon you will form several armies. An army of Syria, an army of Yemen, and one of Iraq.” Sayyidunā Ibn Hawala رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ asked, “O Messenger of Allah! If I find myself in this situation, which one should I choose?” The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم answered, “Stay with the people of Syria, for they will be better in the land of Allah, and He will gather His pious servants in it. If you do not accept this, stay with the people of Yemen and drink from your own waterskins. Allah Almighty has taken responsibility for Syria and its inhabitants for my sake.” 
The command to remain with the Syrians was given because during the time of tribulations, Syria will be the place of faith and well-being. Just as it is mentioned in a narration, “Listen! When tribulations take place, faith will be found in Syria.”
The Syrians will Prevail
The Companion, Sayyidunā Muʿāwiya b. Abū Sufyān رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهُمَا , ascended the pulpit and announced that he had heard the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم say, “A group of my Ummah will always uphold the laws of Allah. Whoever disgraces or opposes them will cause them no harm, until the decree of Allah Almighty comes and they prevail over people.” Mālik b. Yakhamar al-Saksakī stood up. “O leader of the believers!” he proclaimed. “I heard Muʿādh b. Jabal رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ say that the group of people refers to the people of Syria.” Sayyiduna Muʿāwiya رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ exclaimed, “Mālik believes that he heard Muʿādh رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ say that this statement of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم refers to the people of Syria.”
 Musnad Ahmad, vol. 37, p. 9, hadith 22,323
 Mirāt al-Manājīḥ, vol. 8, p. 585
 Mu’jam al-Ma’alim al-Jhugrāfiyyah Fi al-Seerah al-Nabawiyya, p. 167
 Voiceless dental sibilant.
 Voiceless palatal sibilant.
 Al-Mu’jam al-Baldaan, vol. 3, p. 117
 Jāmi’ al-Tirmidhi, vol. 5, p. 496, hadith 3,979; Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri, vol. 4, p. 440, hadith 7,094; Musnad Ahmad, vol. 2, p. 460, hadith 5,994
 Mirāt al-Manājīḥ, vol. 8, p. 578
 Al-Mu’jam al-Kabīr, vol. 8, p. 171, hadith 7,718; Al-Mustadrak, vol. 5, p. 713, hadith 8,602, Tareekh Madina Dimashq, vol. 1, p. 119
 Jāmi’ al-Tirmidhi, vol. 5, p. 497, hadith 3,980, Al-Mu’jam al- Kabīr, vol. 5, p. 158, hadith 4,933
 Mirāt al-Manājīḥ, vol. 8, p. 580
 Tareekh Ibn ‘Asakir, vol. 1, p. 75; Sunan Abī Dāwūd, vol. 3, p. 7, hadith 2,483
 Al-Mustadrak, vol. 5, p. 712, hadith 8,601
 Musnad Ahmad, vol. 6, p. 32, hadith 16,930