What is the meaning of this hadith -

“The caliphate will be for thirty years, then there will be a kingship after that.”

[Collected by at-Tirmidhi (2226) who graded it ḥasan, as did Ibn Ḥajar in Muwāfaqat al-Khabar al-Khabar (1/141); Aḥmad (21969) and deemed ḥasan by al-Arna’ūṭ; Abu Dāwūd (4646) who deemed it ṣāliḥ (acceptable); and authenticated by al-Albani in Ṣaḥīḥ at-Tirmidhi and Ṣaḥīḥ Abu Dāwūd]

Source is Yaqeen institute - https://yaqeeninstitute.org/mohammad-elshinawy/the-prophecies-of-prophet-muhammad/#ftnt31

Was Mu'awiyas rule considered a kingship?

Also, up to al-Hasan, it was a 29 year rule, not 30 - is 30 years just a rounded number ?

  • 2
    Salam and welcome to IslamSE the Q&A site about Islam. Please add a quote of the hadith you are referring to and a source. Further wouldn't it be important to check the authenticity of the hadith first before asking about the content? See for example here and here.
    – Medi1Saif
    Jul 21, 2020 at 12:17

3 Answers 3


The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ died in the month of Rabi' al-Awwal in the year 11 AH. Hassan ibn Ali abdicated in favor of Mu'aawiyah around the month of Rabi' al-Awwal in the year 41 AH. The time period between this is 30 years (41-11=30).

خلع الحسن نفسه من الخلافة، وسلم الملك إلى معاوية بن أبي سفيان وكان ذلك في ربيع الأول من هذه السنة - أعني سنة إحدى وأربعين

Hassan abdicated from the caliphate and handed over rulership to Mu'aawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan and this happened in Rabi' al-Awwal of this year - that is the year 41

al-Bidayah wa'n-Nihayah

This spans the caliphate of Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn 'Affan, Ali ibn Abi Talib and Hassan ibn Ali.

المراد به خلافة النبوة، وأما معاوية ومن بعده فكان أكثرهم على طريقة الملوك ولو سموا خلفاء

The caliphate meant by the Prophet (ﷺ) is the caliphate on the way of Prophethood. As to Mu‘awiyah and those who came after him, they were on the way of kings, even if they were called caliphs.

Fath al-Bari translation from Fatwas of Permanent Commitee


The nature of the Caliphate (Khilafah) changed after the first 30 years of the Khulafah Rashidah. It became more temporal in nature however it remained a Caliphate until 1924 when secular nation states emerged. The Caliphate did not last thirty years because the Rasool said the Khulafaa will be many and in no way does 4 or 5 amount to many.

Writing nearly two centuries after the Mongol conquest of Baghdad, the classical jurist al-Shirazi insisted on the centrality of the Cairo Abbasid caliph for contemporary affairs, in both legal and metaphysical terms. In his explanation, the honour of the caliphate originates with the first of men and prophets: Adam.

Shirazi invokes God's words to the angels, "I am putting a trustee (khalifah) on earth" (Qur'an 2:30) to convey the honuor of God's designating Adam as the first of caliphs responsible for tending to God's creation. In addition to selecting Adam for this high and noble station, God further distinguished him by placing this successive leadership in his progeny (khala'if in Qur'an 6:165). Accordingly, he describes the word caliph or khalifah as the noblest of all titles. The best of creation in each era inherit this paternal role (magām al-ubuwwah) from the father of humankind and no king or sultan can compare with the glory of a caliph. Indeed, the caliph commands what God commands, and therefore opposition to him in reality means disobedience of God.

Hence, the Caliphate lasted more than 30 years and the meaning of the Hadith, therefore, is that its purest form would last for 30 years.

Read this for a detailed answer with evidences

  • So it suggests 30 years of ruling following the prophetic way, and was 30 years just a rounded number? Because up to al hasan is actually 29 years not 30 ?
    – user39611
    Jul 21, 2020 at 16:46
  • There might differences of opinion on this, however, I suggest you read this islamiqate.com/1651/… for detail... I cannot answer if it suggested 30 as a rounded number... Jul 22, 2020 at 10:18

This Hadith adds on to the one you mentioned:

“Hazrat Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamanra narrates that the Holy Prophetsa said, ‘Prophethood shall remain among you for as long as Allah decides for it to remain and then Allah shall lift it when He decides to lift it. After prophethood, there shall be khilafat on the way of prophethood (خلافة على منهاج النبوة) and it shall exist for as long as Allah decides for it to exist. Then He will take away (this blessing) when He decides to take it away. Then, (as per His decree), there will be a mordacious monarchy (ملكا عاضا) (under which people will feel dejected and oppressed) […] (Once that period has come to an end, as per His other decree), there will be an even more severe form of tyrannical despotism (ملكا جبرية), until (the mercy of Allah will be moved and) He will bring an end to that period (of oppression and persecution) […] Then khilafat on the way of prophethood (خلافة على منهاج النبوة) shall be established once again.’ Thereafter, he remained silent. (Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol. 6, Musnad Nu‘man ibn Bashir, Hadith 18596, Beirut: ‘Alam Al Kotob, 1998, p. 285)

So the Holy Prophet (sa) gave an overview of the politics of the future (khilafat -> monarchy -> despotism -> khilafat) and gave the glad tidings that once again there would be Khilafat on the way of Prophethood.

Since Mua'wiya (ra) fought against Ali (ra) and went against the tradition of election and appointed his own son as his successor, we would consider his rule to be as kingship.

Regardless, since Holy Prophet (sa) said Khilafat would last 30 years, and Mua'wiya's (ra) rule is beyond that time frame, it would not be considered as a Khilafat, regardless of what people say

Whether the Rashidun Khilafat was in reality 29 or 30 years long IMO is meaningless. Because in the grand scheme of things it's basically the same and the prophecy remains fulfilled.

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