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Based loosely on an article and sermon delivered by Shaikh Khālid Adh-Dhufīri (may Allah preserve him).
Ibn Kathir رحمه الله said:
“Then the year 478H arrived and from the events of that year were: diseases became prevalent due to fever and plague within Iraq, the Hijaz, and Sham, which was followed by unexpected death. After that the animals in the wild began to die, then the cattle died, until the point milk and meat became scarce. On top of all of this, a tremendous fitnah took place between the Rafidah (i.e. Shi’a) and [ahlus] Sunnah in which many people were killed.
Then in the month of Rabee’ al Awwal a black wind blew in that scattered sand [all over the place], and many trees fell, from the date-palms and other trees.
Further, lightening took place throughout the land up until some people thought that the Hour was being established. Then that [crisis] passed, and all praise is for Allah.
Also in that year, the signature [i.e decree] was issued from the Khalifah al Muqtadi Bi Amrillah to implement commanding of the good and forbidding of the evil in every locality. Furthermore, Ahl al Dhimmah (i.e. the kuffar living among the Muslims) were commanded to dress opposite [from the Muslims], musical instruments were destroyed, intoxicants were poured out, and the people of corruption were expelled from the towns. May Allah reward and have mercy upon him.”
Ref: Al-Bidayah Wa al-Nihayah (Vol. 12/ year 478H). This Ibn Kathīr quote was translated by my beloved brother Anwar Wright.