This is sort of a less thought and express subject these days and I would like to shed back some light on it.

Today we have some people expressing different viewpoint within the Ummah on the subject so I welcome all points of view concerning it.

Do you think today Rum refers to those who had a certain system of governance liken to the Romans? Does it refer to the Christians of European background? Does it refer to the West only? Does it refer to Russia only? These are some of viewpoints I have heard.

I also ask since the subject is somewhat very important since some important events in Islamic eschatology involve them (Romans).

Please make sure to provide the source of your viewpoint and avoid political/sectarian debate

  • The hadith isn't authentic. However if it was, Room was and still is constantinople (turkey) and shaam. – Sayyid Jun 19 '15 at 19:38

[This can be perceived as to present a Shia perspective:]

Have you heard about Allama Ali Kourani? He is a Lebanese Shia scholar and is arguably the most authoritative scholar in Shia world, if not the entire Muslim Ummah, on traditions regarding the appearance of Imam al-Mahdi and the state of the world before and after his coming. He has authored several scholarly books on this topic among others. Here's the list of his works on his official website: www.alameli.net/books. There you can also access his articles and interviews.

Among his works, I have personally studied his book, عَصرُ الظُّهور or Era of The Appearance (a Farsi translation actually). In this book, he discusses the conditions of the world before and after coming of the Promised Mahdi, (whom, he, as a Twelver Shia, identifies with Muhammad ibn Hasan, al-Mahdi who is believed by Shias to be currently in Occultation), and also the role and conditions of different factions involved in the developments and conflicts of the End Time.

Among these different groups, he does focus on the role of "Romans" in traditions whom he identifies as corresponding to the modern Europe and the West in general with respect to substantial similarities that he views between these two non-contemporary civilizations. This is based on the consideration that the “Romans” of the Byzantine Empire comprised a "Christian" empire that, as we know, were hostile towards Islam and Muslims as early as the time when Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) established Islam in Medina. So identifying the essential features of the Roman Empire as

  1. A dominant "Christian" faith/culture
  2. An attitude of vicious hostility towards Islam and Muslims,
  3. The general geographical location/orientation of the Romans towards Mid-East (as the central locus of Islam), and
  4. Their tyrannical and infidel nature,

we can identify the modern equivalents of Romans as the Modern Western Civilization for the Roman Christianity later came to completely dominate this civilization that has been, in turn, especially in the contemporary era, a steady source of oppression and plight for Muslims, ultimately extending its dominance over the entire Islamic Ummah through colonialist/imperialist aggressions and occupations that took place over the last century (except Persia that, according to Kourani, was miraculously liberated from Western domination by the Islamic Revolution of 1979 led by a Shia cleric Imam Khomeini, interestingly this development itself being considered realization of one of the End Time predictions).

Indeed, if we also consider the prophecies by Prophet Muhammad and Shia Imams (notably Ali ibn Abi Talib, Muhammad al-Baqir and Ja’far as-Sadiq) that predict muslims suffering from horrendous, prolonged calamities and chaos in the hand of their enemies in the period before the coming of promised Mahdi, and then look at the current situation of the Muslim Ummah and the primary oppressors, we will be inevitably led to Western Civilization.

This was a summary of Kourani's understanding of the identity and role of "Romans" in the greater context of End Time traditions.

I highly recommend you to study his works, not only for the scholarly nature of his studies but also for their crucial relevance to the conditions of our time. Kourani, along with many other Shia scholars and laymen, as I alluded above, holds that we are drawing very close to the coming of the promised Mahdi for many of the End Time prophecies have been materializing over the last century especially the recent three decades. More interestingly, in the context of the development of recent years, Shia End Time scholars view ISIS terrorist insurgents in Iraq and Syria as a prelude to the rise of Sufyani a predicted evil leader who will be supported by the "Romans" and the "Jews" of the End Time and will fatally fight against Imam al-Mahdi. They also view the rise of the Houthis a Shia revolutionary group in Yemen, to be a prelude to the predicted rise of an influential Shia leader referred to as "Seyyed Yamani" who will rise to fight against the enemies of Imam al-Mahdi and join his army.

  • Thanks for giving me those links, i would up vote your comment and make it eligible to the bounty if you could include the method as to which he used to identify the Romans as Western Europeans. Like a quote or something. So we keep inline with the requirement given by the site that if said link were to become invalid a some point in time the actual method/citation would be here. Thx :D – Musk Jun 12 '15 at 20:15
  • @Musk, Ok! I will have to check the work again and will post an addendum by tomorrow night Inshallah. (Iran time). – infatuated Jun 12 '15 at 20:18
  • 1
    @Musk, In case you have not noticed, I have updated my answer. However feel no urge to accept it if you expect there could be more useful contributions in future. I was primarily interested in just contributing a useful answer! – infatuated Jun 14 '15 at 6:19
  • 1
    Awesome.. thx for your contribution gladly appriciated – Musk Jun 14 '15 at 6:31

In classical Arabic Rūm originally means the Byzantine Empire or its inhabitants (the Byzantines). Later it also refers to the Turkish ruled part of Anatolia (present day Turkey). After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in the 15th century it becomes a purely geographic (not political) term for Anatolia. It never means the Western Europeans, rather these are called “Franks” (Firanj), nor the Russians (Rūs). Muslims in the middle ages thought that the conquest of Rūm, and in particular the conquest of Constantinople (Istanbul) would signal all sorts of apocalyptic events, but now Constantinople has been in Muslim hands for 500 years and the expected apocalyptic events have still not happened.

There is an excellent article here:


  • 1
    As I explained in my answer according to a scholarly interpretation, "Romans" have to be understood by a set of essential features that today constitute the entire Western Civilization by large, i.e. a dominant Christian culture, expansionist imperialist policies, and persistent hostility against Islam and muslims. – infatuated Jun 14 '15 at 5:35
  • @infatuated. I think the difference between our answers is one between tafsir and ta'wil, so perhaps it will prove difficult to reconcile them. But if (like me) you lived in a European/Western country you would not speak about "a dominant Christian culture" in the West. – aasheq Jun 14 '15 at 10:18
  • 1
    Yes, I did predict that such characterization might result in the misconception that I'm trying to say that Christianity is still playing a "dominant role" in the life of Western man, but I really didn't meant that, hence I used "Christian" in quotation marks as to limit the connotations of such characterization to nothing more than the Christian background of the Western Civilization which is undeniable. – infatuated Jun 14 '15 at 10:26
  • 1
    This is important, for a similar argument can be raised even against the Medieval Roman empire, for some Christians may dismiss the idea that even that empire was genuinely Christian by citing the bloody crusades as violation of the doctrine of love and tolerance in Christianity, not to mention muslims who don't even recognize any proclamation from mainstream Christianity as to be a full unadulterated representation of Jesus' teachings in the first place. – infatuated Jun 14 '15 at 10:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.