“Like the Scum of a Torrent” When Exactly Will Muslims Fit This Prophetic Metaphor?

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Zakyi Ibrahim



The hadith compilations are filled with the Prophet’s prophecies and predictions
about the future, be it the future state of Muslims, the outcomes of battles,
the signs of the end times, and so on. If Muslims are uncertain as to how and
when some of these may come to pass, there is little doubt that, somehow,
someway, they will certainly do so. Muslims’ confidence in the latter scenario
stems from their unflinching belief in Muhammad as God’s messenger.
The Sunan Abī Dāwūd, one of six authentic Sunni hadith collections, contains
a hadith in which the Prophet predicts that one day Muslims, as a group,
will be so weak and insignificant that other nations (umam) will compete to
snatch them, just like feeding animals (akalah) challenge one another over
thir feed (qaṣ‘ah; lit.: large bowl). He insists that this will not be due to the
Muslims’ smaller numbers, because their numbers will be huge; rather, they
will be as worthless as “the scum of a torrent” (ghuthā’ al-sayl), which is unworthy
of being kept for any future use and thus deserves to be removed and
discarded. At this time, the hadith continues, non-Muslims will have not one
iota of fear and apprehension (mahāba) of Muslims, but the latter will have
already resigned themselves to their own feebleness (wahn) and thus be
gripped with fear of non-Muslims ...

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