The Roman Empire

From Surah Ar-Rum 30:2 Allah subhanahu wa `ta`ala says:

“The Romans (Byzantines) have been defeated.”

Map courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania

Map of Byzantium

Tafsir of the Ayaat

Foretelling the Victory of the Romans

These Ayat were revealed about the victory of Sabur, the king of Persia, over Ash-Sham (Greater Syria), the adjoining partisan states of the Arabian Peninsula, and the outlying regions of the land of the Romans. Heraclius, the emperor of the Romans, was forced to flee to Constantinople where he was besieged for a lengthy period. Then Heraclius regained the upper hand. Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, commented on this Ayah: 

(Alif Lam Mim. The Romans have been defeated. In the nearest land,) 

He said, “They were defeated and then they were victorious.” He said, “The idolaters wanted the Persians to prevail over the Romans, because they were idol worshippers, and the Muslims wanted the Romans to prevail over the Persians, because they were People of the Book. This was mentioned to Abu Bakr, who mentioned it to the Messenger of Allah . The Messenger of Allah said:

(They will certainly prevail.) Abu Bakr mentioned this to the idolaters, and they said, “Set a time limit for that, and if we prevail, we will get such and such; and if you prevail, you will get such and such.” So he set a limit of five years, and they (the Romans) did not prevail. Abu Bakr mentioned that to the Messenger of Allah and he said:

(Why do you not make it less than) ﴿I (the narrator) think he meant less than ten﴾. Sa`id bin Jubayr said: “Bid` means less than ten.” Then the Romans were victorious, and he said, “That is what Allah said: (Alif Lam Mim. The Romans have been defeated. In the nearest land, and they, after their defeat, will be victorious. In Bid`i years. The decision of the matter, before and after is only with Allah. And on that day, the believers will rejoice — with the help of Allah. He helps whom He wills, and He is the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful.) This was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i. At-Tirmidhi said: “Hasan Gharib.”