Nu’aym ibn Hammad narrates in Al-Fitan, that the 4th Caliph, Ali ibn Abi Talib said:

When you see the black flags, remain where you are and do not move your hands or your feet. Thereafter there shall appear a feeble insignificant folk. Their hearts will be like fragments of iron. They will have the state. They will fulfil neither covenant nor agreement. They will call to the truth, but they will not be people of the truth. Their names will be parental attributions, and their aliases will be derived from towns. Their hair will be free-flowing like that of women. This situation will remain until they differ among themselves. Thereafter, God will bring forth the Truth through whomever He wills.

People are asking: does this narration by Ali bin Abi Talib (k.)—that is related by Al-Bukhari’s teacher (Nu’aym bin Hamad) over one thousand two hundred years ago in his book Al-Fitan—refer to the ‘ISIS’?


Is it possible to understand the narration as follows?

‘When you see the black flags’: The flags of the ‘ISIS’ are black.

‘Remain where you are’: i.e., stay where you are, O Muslims, and do not join them.

‘And do not move your hands or your feet’: i.e. do not help them financially or with equipment.

‘Thereafter there shall appear a feeble insignificant folk’: i.e. ‘weak’ and ‘insignificant’ in terms of understanding of religion, morality and religious practice.

‘Their hearts will be like fragments of iron’: i.e. they will ruthlessly kill prisoners of war and cruelly torture people.

‘They will have the state’: For almost a century, no one has claimed to be an Islamic Caliphate other than the current ‘ISIS’ in Iraq and the Levant.

‘They will fulfil neither covenant nor agreement’: The ‘ISIS’ did not fulfil its agreement with the Sha’etat tribe after the tribe pledged allegiance to them; indeed the ‘ISIS’ slaughtered them by the hundreds. They also killed journalists.

‘They will call to the truth’: The ‘ISIS’ calls to Islam.

‘But they will not be people of the truth’: The people of the truth are merciful. The Prophet Muhammad  said: ‘Have mercy and you will be shown mercy.’

‘Their names will be parental attributions’: Like: ‘Abu Muthanna’, ‘Abu Muhammad’, ‘Abu Muslim’ and so on.

‘And their aliases will be derived from towns’: Like: ‘Al-Baghdadi’, ‘al-Zarqawi’, ‘al-Tunisi’ and so on.

‘Their hair will be free-flowing like that of women’: ‘ISIS’ fighters have hair precisely like this.

‘Until they differ among themselves’: Like the differences between the ‘ISIS’ and its parent, the al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda in Syria). The fighting between these two has led to around ten thousand deaths in a single year.

‘Thereafter, God will bring forth the truth through whomever He wills’: through a clear and correct Islamic proclamation (like this open letter).

The sage Luqman says in the Qur’an:

‘O my son! Even if it should be the weight of a grain of mustard-seed, and [even if] it be in a rock, or in the heavens, or in the earth, God will bring it forth. Truly God is Subtle, Aware.’ (Luqman, 31: 16)


Ref: Narrated by Nu’aym ibn Hammad in Kitab Al-Fitan, Hadith no. 573.


Taken from the article, which is downloadable at:

The 28-page open letter -- which uses classical religious references and covers 24 issues such as "the killing of innocents," "killing of emissaries," "jihad," "declaring people non-Muslim," "torture," and "the caliphate" -- is a result of deliberations by dozens of experts on Islamic law and offers a point-by-point deconstruction of any claimed religious justification for ISIS's brutal actions.

In its executive summary, the letter notes that Islam forbids the killing of innocent people, including diplomats, journalists and humanitarian aid workers. It also states that any jihad may only be defensive in nature with strict rules of conduct, that it is forbidden to harm religious minorities like Christians and Yazidis, and that it is forbidden to practice slavery, destroy religious shrines or deny the rights of women.

The letter's conclusion states:

"Islam is mercy and its attributes are merciful. The Prophet (peace be upon him), who was sent as a mercy for all the worlds, summarized a Muslim's dealings with others by saying: 'He who shows no mercy, will not be shown mercy;' and: 'Have mercy and you will be shown mercy.' But, as can be seen from everything mentioned, you have misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder. As elucidated, this is a great wrong and an offence to Islam, to Muslims and to the entire world. Reconsider all your actions; desist from them; repent from them; cease harming others and return to the religion of mercy."

To read the entire letter and initial list of signatories, go to:

"The intended audiences for this important letter include those who have joined or may consider joining ISIS or similar extremist groups, as well as all those who are led to believe the falsehood that ISIS in any way represents Islamic beliefs or practices," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

CAIR has repeatedly condemned the "un-Islamic and morally repugnant" violence and religious extremism of ISIS.

CAIR: ISIS Is Not Just Un-Islamic, It Is Anti-Islamic (TIME magazine)

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.