All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.
On the authority of Ibn ‘Umar the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam , told the Companions while he was facing east that Fitnah would appear from that direction where the horns of Satan would appear. [Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Kitaab Al-Fitan (Book of Tribulations)]
In another narration the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, supplicated to Allaah The Almighty to bless Ash-Shaam (the area comprising Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine) and Yemen. The Companions asked him about Najd. He then repeated the same supplication. They asked him again about Najd. He told them that from there would appear earthquakes and afflictions, and from there would come the horns of Satan. Ibn Hajar mentioned Al-Khattaabi's clarification that Najd is located in the east and the desert of Iraq lies to the east of Madeenah. The authentic Sunnah established that Fitnah would abound in the east, and history supports this fact.
Ibn Hajar mentioned on the authority of some scholars that the people of the east were disbelievers at that time, therefore the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, mentioned that Fitnah would appear from that direction. The first Fitnah actually erupted from that direction and it was a cause for the division of the Muslims, which is what Satan likes and is pleased with. Religious innovations also started from the east.
An-Nawawi mentioned that this Hadeeth signifies that the east has more disbelief and falls more under Satan’s control than other places. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, pointed out in another Hadeeth that the main source of disbelief lies in the east. It was so during his lifetime and it will be so when the Anti-Christ appears and between these two periods, it is the origin of the great Fitnah and the place where the dissolute tyrannical Turks were inflamed.
Al-Qastallaani mentioned that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, pointed to the east because the people of the east at the time were disbelievers, so he said that Fitnah would emerge from that direction. That prophecy came true during the battle of Al-Jamal, the battle of Siffeen and the emergence of the Khawaarij (a deviant sect) in Najd, Iraq, and places beyond Iraq. These incidents were triggered by the murder of ‘Uthmaan . The prophecy came true, thus marking another sign of the Prophethood of Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
The opinions of these scholars are supported by the fact that most Fitnahs and religious innovations emerged from the east, like Qaadiyanism, Bahaa’ism, Baabism, the origins of An-Nusayriyyah, Duruz and Rawaafidh. The Fitnah of the Mongols, Qaraamitah and others emerged from the east as well.
It is narrated in Al-Bukhari and Muslim that the main source of disbelief is in the direction of the east. Al-Haafith Ibn Hajar pointed out that this Hadeeth indicates the utter disbelief of the Magians because the empire of the Persians and those Arabs who were loyal to them was in the east. They were very powerful and arrogant until their reign was ended after the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, supplicated to Allaah against them when their emperor tore up the letter of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, addressed to him.
To sum up, Najd does not refer to a specific place. Linguistically, Najd means any high place. However, the Sunnah clarified that the east is the place meant by these Hadeeths. Some interpreted Najd in these Hadeeths to be Iraq because of the existence of much Fitnah there. This opinion is supported by the Hadeeth narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbaas where the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, supplicated to Allaah The Almighty to bless Ash-Shaam and Yemen; however when he was asked to supplicate to Allaah for Iraq, he said that the horns of Satan would come out there, that Fitnah would erupt from there and that aversion is in the east. [At-Tabaraani in Al-Kabeer: Saheeh (Authentic)]
In another Hadeeth narrated by Muslim on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, pointed out that Fitnah would emerge from the east where the horns of Satan would appear.
It should be made clear that this Hadeeth does not imply negative connotations of the people who live in these areas. No sound-minded person would say so. These areas have produced many scholars of Hadeeth, Fiqh (jurisprudence) and ascetics, such as: Abu Haneefah, Ahmad, Sufyaan Ath-Thawri and other great scholars. The glory or inferiority of a place is not the criterion for judging any of its inhabitants, but rather their apparent words and deeds are. Moreover, there are many people who lived in holy places such as Makkah, Madeenah, and Ash-Shaam who had neither virtue, nor knowledge nor even faith.
Allaah Knows best.