The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said, "O Allaah bestow your blessings on our Shaam. O Allaah bestow your blessings on our Yemen." The people said, "O Messenger of Allaah, and our Najd." I think the third time the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said, "There (in Najd) will occur earthquakes, trials and tribulations, and from their appears the Horn of Satan."
Reported in al-Bukhaaree [Book of Trials, Chpt. ‘The afflictions will come from the East’ 9/166 no. 214 Eng. Trans]
A hadeeth which has some controversy surrounding it due to obvious sectarian reasons. A hadeeth which has been (deliberately) misunderstood by certain groups of people in order that they may spread their misguidance and deceive ignorant Muslims.
This because upon research and investigation and looking to the words of our early scholars we find that this hadeeth does not refer to the Najd that is famously known in Saudi today, but rather it refers to Iraaq.
About two years ago I read a book entirely devoted to this hadeeth entitled, "an-Najd Qarnu ash-Shaytaan" [I cannot remember the author as I do not have the book on me anymore.] I will quote in general from what I remember from this book, and refrain from mentioning precise quotes except from those references that I have on me.
Amongst the scholars that are mentioned who referred this hadeeth to Iraaq were: al-Khattaabee, al-Kirmaanee, al-Aynee, an-Nawawee, ibn Hajr and others. The reasons behind this are numerous and clear:
1) The generality of the hadeeth pertaining to the fitna coming from the east.
Al-Bukhaaree includes this hadeeth in the chapter: "The affliction will appear from the East"
212) From the father of Saalim: The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, stood up besides the pulpit (and pointed towards the east) and said: "Afflictions are there! Afflictions are there! From where appears the horn of Satan" or he said, "the horn of the Sun"
213) From ibn Umar that he said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu alyahi wa sallam, saying while facing the east: "Indeed Afflictions are there, from where appears the Horn of Satan."
214) The hadeeth of Najd under discussion.
Similar ahaadeeth can be found in Saheeh Muslim (volume 4 no’s 6938+). Ahaadeeth that give the same meaning can be found in Saheeh Muslim (volume 1 no’s 83+)
2) That the generality of the early trials and tribulations arose from the east, many of them actually in Iraaq itself.
Ibn Hajr al-Asqalaanee said after quoting the words of al-Khattaabee explaining the meaning of Qarn (horn), "and others have said that the People of the East were disbelievers at that time and the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, informed us that the trials and tribulations would arise from that direction and it was as he said. And the first of the trials that arose, arose from the direction of the east and they were the reason for the splitting of the Muslim ranks, and this is what Satan loves and delights in. Likewise the innovations appeared from that direction." [Fath al-Baaree 13/58 in commentary to the hadeeth of Najd]
Amongst the trials that arose in Iraaq and the east was the martyrdom of Alee, the martyrdom of the grandson of the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, the first battle between the Muslims occurred in Iraaq, and many more.
Imaam Nawawee mentions that one of the greatest trials to appear from the East will be the appearance of the Dajjaal. [Sharh Saheeh Muslim 2/29]
From the innovations that appeared in the east and specifically Iraaq, were many of the early deviant sects amongst them the Qadariyyah (as the first hadeeth in Muslim shows), the Jahmiyyah and their offshoots etc…
3. That at the time of the Prophet, sallaahu alayhis wa sallaam, there were 13 places known as Najd [according to ‘Najd Qarnu ash-Shaytaan’] depending on where one was. This because Najd linguistically means a raised/elevated land. Therefore the Arabs referred to lands that were elevated with respect to them as Najd. One of the most commonly referred to areas as Najd at that time was Iraaq.
4. The Najd for those people living in Madeenah in the direction of the East would be Iraaq.
Ibn Hajr said: "al-Khattaabee said: ‘the najd in the direction of the east, and for the one who is in Madeenah then his Najd would be the desert of Iraaq and it’s regions [baadiya al-Iraaq wa Nawaaheehaa] for this is to the east of the People of Madeenah. The basic meaning of Najd is that which is raised/elevated from the earth in contravention to al-Gawr for that is what is lower than it. Tihaamah [the coastal plain along the south-western and southern shores of the Arabian Peninsula] is entirely al-Gawr and Mecca is in Tihaamah.’"