The historical meaning of Najd

Question: Where was Najd located at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him)? The reason I am asking this is because of the hadîth wherein the Prophet was asked about Najd and said: “The two horns of the devil will appear from there, as well as instability, corruption, and strife.” [Sahîh al-Bukharî and Sahîh Muslim]

Answered by Sheikh `Umar al-Muqbil, professor at al-Imâm University
Many scholars and linguistics have determined that the word Najd in the hadîth applies to the direction of Iraq. Al-Khattâbî in his book `Alâm al-Hadith (4/2330) says: “Najd is in the eastern direction. Whoever resides in Madinah will consider the desert of Iraq to be Najd. The word “najd” literally means “highlands” and the Mecca area is downhill from that region.”

Ibn al-Athîr writes: “Najd is the highland region. This name is given to area beyond the Hijâz towards Iraq.” [al-Nihâyah (5/18)]

Some other scholars explained this hadîth with reference to the tribes of Rabîi`ah and Mudar who were against the prophecy, as stated by al-Qâdî `Iyâd in his commentary on Sahîh Muslim (1/296).

Moreover, when we take a look at history, we see that indeed the majority of the disturbances and upheavals that wracked the Muslim world eminated from the direction of Iraq and Khurasan.

Whatever the case may be, it does not mean you do not get in touch with the scholars of that area or recognize their knowledge. Though we may hold the opinion that the meaning of Najd is Iraq, history bears witness that any prominent people went there for knowledge. It was the adopted home of some of the Companions, like Ibn Mas`ûd and Anas. Many pious scholars were born and lived in Iraq.

Our standard should always be the Qur’ân and Sunnah, regardless of geography or any other irrelevant concerns. Madinah, the best city in the world after Mecca, had experienced its share of trials. Would that mean we should avoid seeking knowledge from its scholars?