Historically, towards the end of the life of the prophet and predominately after the prophet’s death in the year 632 AD (11 AH), numerous individuals proclaimed themselves be the prophet of God and coalesced their group of followers. This led to the Ridda Wars (Apostasy Wars). These were a series of military campaigns launched by the first caliph Abu Bakr shortly after the prophet’s death that lasted for about a year and ended in 633. Below are some of the individuals we know of who historically claimed to be a prophet after Muhammad in the 7th century.
The most notable false prophet of that time was Musaylima. Not much is known regarding the tenants of his message, but according to Dabestan-e Mazaheb ( دبستان مذاهب “School of Manners”), originally written in Farsi in 1655 CE, we can find the following details regarding his teachings.
According to this source, Musaylima claimed that his wife was a prophetess and that he was also given a scripture he called “The Second Furqan (Book of Law)” that expanded and abrogated the teachings of the Quran. He promoted only three daily Salats and discarded the Fajr and Isha Salat. He criticized Muslims for having a fixed Qibla, direction of prayer, arguing that God is not limited to one direction. Musaylima declared that the Ka’aba was not the House of God because an all-powerful God has no house. Musaylima said fasting should be at night instead of daytime during Ramadan. He prohibited circumcision to avoid resemblance with the Jews.
Additionally, he prohibited Tayammum (dry ablution), the eating of domestic birds, polygamy, and cousin marriage. He permitted men to have sex outside of marriage. He stated that Iblis did not exist because a fair and merciful God would not allow a being like Iblis to throw people into error.
At the height of his movement, he had 40,000 soldiers but was ultimately killed in the Battle of Yamama in December 632 CE. Below is a translation of this book, published in 1843.
Sajah bint Al-Harith ibn Suayd (Prophetess)
Sajah bint Al-Harith ibn Suayd ( سجاح بنت الحارث بن سويد ) claimed herself as a prophetess. She was a poetess who mostly communicated in verse. Her following were among the Banu Taghlib, the clan of her mother. In her attempt to gather more followers, she joined forces with the chief of the tribe of Banu Yarboo, Malik ibn Nuayrah, who joined forces with her to overpower other tribes. Sajah then decided to proceed to Yamama and the stronghold of Musaylima.
Musaylima rather than meet her for war, celebrated her arrival with a royal reception in her honor. During their exchange, Musaylima convinced her to join forces and that they should be physically united as husband and wife. Sajah agreed to the terms. This did not go well with Sajah’s followers, who abandoned following her after the turn of events.
Another individual claiming prophethood at that time was Al-Aswad al-Ansi. He was the leader of the Banu Ans tribe and a self-proclaimed prophet. He lived in Yemen and proclaimed his prophethood towards the end of Muhammad’s lifetime. He was also known as “the Veiled,” or Dhu al-Khimar ( ذي الخمار ), as he used to cover his face to create an aura of mystery.
According to sources, Al-Aswad al-Ansi was a soothsayer and sorcerer and had the ability to dazzle a crowd with tricks. According to tradition, he had a donkey whom he had trained to kneel before him: he would tell the donkey, “Kneel before your lord” and it would kneel, and then he would say to it, “Bow before your lord,” and it would bow. From this anecdote, he acquired a second nickname, Dhu al-Himar ( ذو الحمار, “the master of the donkey”).
When Muhammad became ill after his final pilgrimage to Mecca, Aswad declared himself a prophet. He claimed to receive divine revelation in the form of words, similar to Muhammad, and is recorded to have recited these revelations to his people. Aswad went on to invade Najran and most of Yemen. He attacked Sana’a; Shahr, who was the ruler of Yemen and the son of Badhan, was killed in battle against Aswad. Aswad married Shahr’s widow and declared himself ruler of Yemen. After he invaded Yemen, he changed his title from “Prophet of God” to Rahman (“Merciful”). Aswad’s rule over Yemen was short-lived: Fayruz al-Daylami, a Persian Muslim, brought an army against Aswad. According to tradition, Aswad was assassinated on the night immediately before Muhammad’s own death. After Aswad’s death, the followers of Aswad continued their revolt under the leadership of Qays ibn Abd Yaghuth. Fayruz defeated them and they surrendered along with their leader.
Another individual claiming prophethood was Tulayah, who was a wealthy Arab clan chief and military commander during the time of Muhammad. He rebelled against Prophet Muhammad in 631 when he claimed to be a prophet and the recipient of divine revelation. Many tribes at the time acknowledged him as a prophet, which made him sufficiently strong and powerful to lead a confederacy of numerous tribes against the Muslims. After multiple defeats, Tulayha submitted to Islam and joined the Muslims in their campaign against the Sassanid Empire.
Saf ibn Sayyad
Saf ibn Sayyad ( الصف بن الصياد), later known as Abdullah ibn Sa’id ( عبد الله بن سعيد), was an alleged claimant as a messenger of God (rasool Allah) during the life of Muahmmad. There are numerous Hadith in Bukhari describing Muhammad’s animosity towards Saf, when he was a child, describing him as a soothsayer and either the Dajjal or the father of the future Dajjal. See: Sahih al-Bukhari 1354, 1355.
Aside from the fabricated Hadith literature, little is known regarding his teachings, understandings, claims, or any historical accounts of who he even was or what happened to him later on in his life.
Narrated Ibn Umar: Umar set out along with the Prophet with a group of people to Ibn Saiyad till they saw him playing with the boys near the hillocks of Bani Mughala. Ibn Saiyad at that time was nearing his puberty and did not notice (us) until the Prophet (ﷺ) stroked him with his hand and said to him, “Do you testify that I am Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)?” Ibn Saiyad looked at him and said, “I testify that you are the Messenger of illiterates.” Then Ibn Saiyad asked the Prophet , “Do you testify that I am Allah’s Messenger?” The Prophet (p.b.u.h) refuted it and said, “I believe in Allah and His Apostles.” Then he said (to Ibn Saiyad), “What do you think?” Ibn Saiyad answered, “True people and liars visit me.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “You have been confused as to this matter.” Then the Prophet (ﷺ) said to him, “I have kept something (in my mind) for you, (can you tell me that?)” Ibn Saiyad said, “It is Al-Dukh (the smoke).” (2) The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Let you be in ignominy. You cannot cross your limits.” On that Umar, said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Allow me to chop his head off.” The Prophet said, “If he is he (i.e. Dajjal), then you cannot overpower him, and if he is not, then there is no use of murdering him.” (Ibn Umar added): Later on Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)once again went along with Ubai bin Ka`b to the date-palm trees (garden) where Ibn Saiyad was staying. The Prophet (p.b.u.h) wanted to hear something from Ibn Saiyad before Ibn Saiyad could see him, and the Prophet saw him lying covered with a sheet and from where his murmurs were heard. Ibn Saiyad’s mother saw Allah’s Apostle while he was hiding himself behind the trunks of the date-palm trees. She addressed Ibn Saiyad, “O Saf ! (and this was the name of Ibn Saiyad) Here is Muhammad.” And with that Ibn Saiyad got up. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Had this woman left him (Had she not disturbed him), then Ibn Saiyad would have revealed the reality of his case.
حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدَانُ، أَخْبَرَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ، عَنْ يُونُسَ، عَنِ الزُّهْرِيِّ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي سَالِمُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، أَنَّ ابْنَ عُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّ عُمَرَ انْطَلَقَ مَعَ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي رَهْطٍ قِبَلَ ابْنِ صَيَّادٍ، حَتَّى وَجَدُوهُ يَلْعَبُ مَعَ الصِّبْيَانِ عِنْدَ أُطُمِ بَنِي مَغَالَةَ، وَقَدْ قَارَبَ ابْنُ صَيَّادٍ الْحُلُمَ فَلَمْ يَشْعُرْ حَتَّى ضَرَبَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِيَدِهِ ثُمَّ قَالَ لاِبْنِ صَيَّادٍ ” تَشْهَدُ أَنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ”. فَنَظَرَ إِلَيْهِ ابْنُ صَيَّادٍ فَقَالَ أَشْهَدُ أَنَّكَ رَسُولُ الأُمِّيِّينَ. فَقَالَ ابْنُ صَيَّادٍ لِلنَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَتَشْهَدُ أَنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ فَرَفَضَهُ وَقَالَ آمَنْتُ بِاللَّهِ وَبِرُسُلِهِ. فَقَالَ لَهُ ” مَاذَا تَرَى ”. قَالَ ابْنُ صَيَّادٍ يَأْتِينِي صَادِقٌ وَكَاذِبٌ. فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” خُلِّطَ عَلَيْكَ الأَمْرُ ” ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” إِنِّي قَدْ خَبَأْتُ لَكَ خَبِيئًا ”. فَقَالَ ابْنُ صَيَّادٍ هُوَ الدُّخُّ. فَقَالَ ” اخْسَأْ، فَلَنْ تَعْدُوَ قَدْرَكَ ”. فَقَالَ عُمَرُ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ دَعْنِي يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَضْرِبْ عُنُقَهُ. فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” إِنْ يَكُنْهُ فَلَنْ تُسَلَّطَ عَلَيْهِ، وَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْهُ فَلاَ خَيْرَ لَكَ فِي قَتْلِهِ ”. وَقَالَ سَالِمٌ سَمِعْتُ ابْنَ عُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ يَقُولُ انْطَلَقَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَأُبَىُّ بْنُ كَعْبٍ إِلَى النَّخْلِ الَّتِي فِيهَا ابْنُ صَيَّادٍ وَهُوَ يَخْتِلُ أَنْ يَسْمَعَ مِنِ ابْنِ صَيَّادٍ شَيْئًا قَبْلَ أَنْ يَرَاهُ ابْنُ صَيَّادٍ فَرَآهُ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَهُوَ مُضْطَجِعٌ، يَعْنِي فِي قَطِيفَةٍ لَهُ فِيهَا رَمْزَةٌ أَوْ زَمْرَةٌ، فَرَأَتْ أُمُّ ابْنِ صَيَّادٍ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَهُوَ يَتَّقِي بِجُذُوعِ النَّخْلِ فَقَالَتْ لاِبْنِ صَيَّادٍ يَا صَافِ ـ وَهْوَ اسْمُ ابْنِ صَيَّادٍ ـ هَذَا مُحَمَّدٌ صلى الله عليه وسلم. فَثَارَ ابْنُ صَيَّادٍ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” لَوْ تَرَكَتْهُ بَيَّنَ ”. وَقَالَ شُعَيْبٌ فِي حَدِيثِهِ فَرَفَصَهُ رَمْرَمَةٌ، أَوْ زَمْزَمَةٌ. وَقَالَ إِسْحَاقُ الْكَلْبِيُّ وَعُقَيْلٌ رَمْرَمَةٌ. وَقَالَ مَعْمَرٌ رَمْزَةٌ.