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Sunan Abi Dawood 2483
Narrated Ibn Hawalah:

The Prophet ﷺ said: It will turn out that you will be armed troops, one is Syria, one in the Yemen and one in Iraq. Ibn Hawalah said: Choose for me, Messenger of Allah, if I reach that time. He replied: Go to Syria, for it is Allah's chosen land, to which his best servants will be gathered, but if you are unwilling, go to your Yemen, and draw water from your tanks, for Allah has on my account taken special charge of Syria and its people.
حَدَّثَنَا حَيْوَةُ بْنُ شُرَيْحٍ الْحَضْرَمِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا بَقِيَّةُ، حَدَّثَنِي بَحِيرٌ، عَنْ خَالِدٍ، - يَعْنِي ابْنَ مَعْدَانَ - عَنْ أَبِي قُتَيْلَةَ، عَنِ ابْنِ حَوَالَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏"‏ سَيَصِيرُ الأَمْرُ إِلَى أَنْ تَكُونُوا جُنُودًا مُجَنَّدَةً جُنْدٌ بِالشَّامِ وَجُنْدٌ بِالْيَمَنِ وَجُنْدٌ بِالْعِرَاقِ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ ابْنُ حَوَالَةَ خِرْ لِي يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنْ أَدْرَكْتُ ذَلِكَ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ ‏"‏ عَلَيْكَ بِالشَّامِ فَإِنَّهَا خِيَرَةُ اللَّهِ مِنْ أَرْضِهِ يَجْتَبِي إِلَيْهَا خِيَرَتَهُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ فَأَمَّا إِنْ أَبَيْتُمْ فَعَلَيْكُمْ بِيَمَنِكُمْ وَاسْقُوا مِنْ غُدُرِكُمْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَكَّلَ لِي بِالشَّامِ وَأَهْلِهِ ‏"‏ ‏.‏

Classification

Sahih (Authentic)

References

• Sunan Abi Dawood 2483
• Sunan Abi Dawood Vol. 3, Book of Jihad (Kitab Al-Jihad), Hadith 2477
• Sunan Abi Dawood, Book of Jihad (Kitab Al-Jihad), Hadith 2477