Meaning of East and West



Maulana Shaykh always uses the terms “East and West”. In one of his books he  mentioned, for the Armageddon, it is written that the East will be defeated. I heard that in Islamic history, what is meant by East is not really what we think East is now. And what is meant by West is not really what we think West is now.  Please help us clarify the meanings of ‘East and ‘West’ in Islamic history as well as in Maulana’s usage, if they are different.


wa `alaykum salam,

The word for East in the Islamic sources is al-mashriq which is not an area but a direction, namely the direction of sunrise no matter the season (as sunrise changes accordingly). As a metaphor for an area Mashriq begins, according to Tafsir al-Jalalayn, “where the two seas meet” (Surat al-Kahf, 18:60) i.e. the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf, while in the idiom of North African scholars “the East” extends from Egypt and Sudan to Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula.

Hajj Gibril Haddad

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