World War One – Centenary of the Fulfilment of a Great Warning

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This article is dedicated to the loving memory of my beloved friend, Kamal Aftab Sahib, who sadly passed away prior to its publication. Without his support, this article would not have been completed. May Allah exalt his station in paradise.

WWI. Serbia trench position at the crest of a hill. Ca. 1914-18. © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

WWI. Serbia trench position at the crest of a hill. Ca. 1914-18.
© Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, Ever Merciful

1. Introduction

The Holy Qur’an has stipulated divine knowledge as an essential criterion for judging a prophet’s truthfulness. The one claiming prophethood is bestowed divine knowledge of the future that is markedly distinct from political forecasts and other educated guesses, as it originates directly from God. In other words, the prophet is bestowed knowledge a human being simply cannot concoct. As Allah the Almighty says:August_2015_-_Arabic_Inserts_pdf__1_page_

“He is the Knower of the unseen; and He reveals not His secrets to anyone, except to him whom He chooses, namely a Messenger of His.”[1]

This concept is not limited to Islam alone, but belongs to the wider Abrahamic tradition. For example, we read in the Bible:

When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”[2]

Commenting on this criterion, the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadianas (1835–1908), who will henceforth be referred to as the Promised Messiahas, writes:

The sublime excellence of prophets is that they receive news from God. Thus the Holy Qur’an states ‘He reveals not the unseen to anyone, except to him whom He chooses from among His Messengers.’ This means that the unseen things from God, Most High, are not revealed to anyone except His prophets, whom He chooses. Those people who partake in the excellences of prophethood are informed by God, Most High, about future events before their occurrence. This is a magnificent sign of [the truthfulness of] God’s appointees and messengers. Indeed, no other miracle is greater than it.”[3]

Prophecies are one of the primary objects of atheistic critique, often premised on the argument that, “no information supposedly gained during a mystical or religious experience, which could not have been otherwise known to the individual claiming the experience, has ever been confirmed.”[4] Thus, in addition to demonstrating the recipient’s truthfulness, authentic prophecies provide evidence for the existence of the transcendent source who conveyed the information. The Promised Messiahas made many such prophecies that were conclusively fulfilled and have stood the test of time. Although he never left his native homeland of India, many of his prophecies relate to distant lands and major global events. It is not possible to present an exhaustive study of each prophecy within the space of this article. By way of illustration, however, this article intimately explores one such prophecy.

What began with the assassination of the Archduke and heir-apparent to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the summer of 1914, escalated into the biggest bloodbath the world had witnessed up to that date. One of the Promised Messiah’sas most astonishing prophecies is that of the tragic conflict known as the Great War of 1914–1918, also referred to as the First World War. This article examines some of the Promised Messiah’sas prophecies and announcements relating to the Great War in light of accurate historical sources and eyewitness accounts. It then assesses the degree of fulfilment of these prophecies and critically discusses their wider reception.

2.Prophecy of Fwd__further_corrections_-_mubashra_gmail_com_-_Gmail  ‘A Calamity Resembling Judgment Day’

From April 1905, the Promised Messiahas received numerous revelations warning of an impending and unprecedented global calamity, one that would resemble doomsday. As was his custom, he had the revelations widely published in various Urdu and English newspapers, tracts, and periodicals of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

2.1. Prophecy of 8 April 1905

The first revelation that the Promised Messiahas received in relation to the Great War of 1914–1918 was on 8 April 1905. This prophecy was initially published in the newspaper Al-Hakam on 10 April. It was subsequently translated as part of the April 1905 edition of The Review of Religions magazine, under the title “A Warning – Read it attentively for it is the Word of God.” The Promised Messiahas stated:

“About 3 a.m. I received holy revelation from Allah the Almighty, which is given below:Fwd__further_corrections_-_mubashra_gmail_com_-_Gmail

‘[…] A calamity (lit. earthquake) resembling Doomsday. Save your lives. Indeed, Allah is with the pious. My Grace has drawn close to you. Truth has come and falsehood has vanished.’”

Commenting on this prophecy, the Promised Messiahas writes:

This means that God will show a fresh Sign. It will be a shock for the people. That will be the calamity like the Judgment Day…”

Emphasising the global proportions of the calamity, he proclaimed that it “shall overtake the world.” Further describing its unprecedented nature, the Promised Messiahas stated:

[I]t would be more terrible than the ones before. It would be awful in its intensity. Were I not forced to disclose all this out of my deep sympathy for my fellow beings I would not have mentioned it.… Hearken! I have warned you. The earth listens as does the heavens that whoever, departing from righteousness, is inclined towards mischief and pollutes the earth with his viciousness will be seized. God Almighty warns that His wrath is about to descend upon the earth, for the earth is filled with sin and vice. Then arise and be warned that the end is near as had been foretold by the previous prophets. I call Him to witness Who has sent me that all this is from Him and not from me. Would that my warnings were viewed in good faith. Would that I were not treated as a liar, so that the world would escape ruin. … Otherwise, the day is approaching which will turn men mad. The unfortunate fool will say: These are all lies. Alas! Why is he in such deep sleep when the sun is about to rise?”[5]

In light of the global scale of the impending calamity mentioned in the announcement, the Promised Messiahas emphatically instructed affluent members of the Community that: “they should try to print more [copies] and publicise it throughout the world.[6] Consequentially, news of the prophecy reached “foreign lands such as England, the United States of America, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Turkey, Japan, Australia, Egypt, East Africa, West Africa, and other parts of the world.[7] The prophecy was even the subject of several foreign newspaper headlines; for example, the New Zealand Herald of 21 April 1906, headlined it as “Predictions of Earthquakes: An Indian Prophet.[8]

Prophecy of impending global calamity as it was reported in the New Zealand Herald, 21 April 1906

Prophecy of impending global calamity as it was reported in the New Zealand Herald, 21 April 1906

2.2. Prophecy of 15 April 1905

Seven days later, on the basis of divine revelation, specific details pertaining to the prophesied global calamity were composed in prosodic form and appended to a lengthy poem comprising of twelve couplets with each divided into two half-lines of verse. It was dated 15 April 1905. The prophetic poem was eventually published posthumously in 1908, in the fifth part of the Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya:[9]Untitled__The_Review_August_2015_12_web_copy___page_54_of_83_

2.3. Constituent details of the prophecy

The aforementioned prophetic revelations and pronouncements demonstrated that the prophesied calamity would be inextricably associated with some of the following attributes:

  • It would be an unexpected event
  • It would be unprecedented in its ferocity
  • It would be a global event
  • All peoples, both great and small, would be affected
  • There would be enormous human casualties
  • There would be significant blood loss
  • It would occur in various theatres: cities, towns, meadows, rocky terrain, sea and sky
  • Bird life would be affected
  • There would be psychological effects
  • There would be hardships for travellers
  • The plight of the Tsar of Russia would be particularly pitiable
  • It would cause a worldwide transformation

3. Fulfilment of the prophecy

With the outbreak of the Great War of 1914–1918, the prophecy’s fulfilment is self-evident from even the most cursory review of the specific details contained within it. Such details, when taken collectively, cannot possibly apply to any other event. The following instances demonstrate how these details were fulfilled in the most remarkable and awe-inspiring manner.

3.1. The Unexpected Nature of World War One

The prophecy stated that the impending calamity would occur unexpectedly:

Suddenly a calamity will severely shake them all.

The spark that ignited the Great War was the assassination in the Balkans of the Habsburg Archduke, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand (1868–1914) and his wife, Sophie (1859–1914), on 28 June 1914 during a visit to Sarajevo (part of the then Austro-Hungarian province of Bosnia and Herzegovina). The assassin was Gavrilo Princip (1894–1918), a Bosnian Serb nationalist, radicalised by the ‘Black Hand Society.’ The Black Hand Society—who engineered the attack—was an underground pan-Slavic conspiratorial military society aimed at creating a Greater Serbia that would unify all territories with majority South Slavic populations located within the borders of the Habsburg Empire.[11]

Gavrilo Princip, the Bosnian Serb who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and his wife, Sophie, in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Wikimedia Commons

Gavrilo Princip, the Bosnian Serb who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and his wife, Sophie, in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Wikimedia Commons

Austrian newspaper illustration of the assassination of Archduke and wife. Wikimedia Commons

Austrian newspaper illustration of the assassination of Archduke and wife. Wikimedia Commons

Archduke Franz Ferdinand & wife’s funeral ceremony. Wikimedia Commons

Archduke Franz Ferdinand & wife’s funeral ceremony. Wikimedia Commons

Although royal assassinations were not uncommon in the decades prior to this incident, as a number of prominent monarchs had been assassinated such as the Austrian Empress Elizabeth in 1898, Italian King Umberto I in 1900, Serbian King Alexander I and his wife in 1903, and Greek King George I in 1913, this particular assassination would be unique in terms of its cataclysmic consequences. The assassination precipitated ‘the July Crisis,’ a series of diplomatic manoeuvrings between the Great Powers, spanning several weeks. The July Crisis culminated in the Austro-Hungarian Empire formally declaring war on Serbia on 28 July 1914, for refusing to accept all conditions of its ultimatum. This triggered a chain of events through certain alliances. The first event came two days later, when Russia, the self-proclaimed protector of the Slavic peoples, mobilised her army. As an ally to Austria-Hungary, Germany issued an ultimatum to Russia on 31 July to stop mobilisation, which Russia ignored. This led to Germany declaring war on Russia on 1 August and her ally France on 3 August. France was bound to Russia through a formal alliance treaty. In an attempt to win a swift and decisive victory on two fronts, Germany implemented a modified form of a military deployment plan, notoriously known as the ‘Schlieffen plan.’ The Schlieffen plan entailed rapidly defeating France in the West and subsequently directing troops eastwards in order to defeat Russia, which was expected to be slower in its mobilisation. However, due to heavy fortifications along the Franco-German border, this required violating the neutrality of Luxemburg and Belgium. As a guarantor of Belgium’s neutrality, Britain entered into the war on the side of the Allies, France and Russia, on 4 August 1914. The Great War had begun.

Map of belligerents in August 1914 when the conflict was widely referred to as the "European War". Modified from Wikimedia Commons

Map of belligerents in August 1914 when the conflict was widely referred to as the “European War”. Modified from Wikimedia Commons

The Schlieffen Plan and Germany’s failed attempt to invade Paris, 1914. The Schlieffen Plan drawn up in 1905 was the German army’s answer to its central strategic problem, namely, how to  win a war on two fronts, against France in the west and Russia in the east. Schlieffen’s plan was  executed by his successor Helmuth von Moltke in August 1914, with some modifications. The broken  purple line shows the furthest extent of the 1914 German advance. Their offensive ended in mid- September with a French victory in the First Battle of the Marne. The subsequent German retreat to  the positions indicated by the solid purple line ended any hopes of a quick victory against the  French. Instead, the Western Front settled into a stalemate that was to last over 3 years. The area  shaded green is the foreign territory that was occupied by Germany for most of the war. New  Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The Schlieffen Plan and Germany’s failed attempt to invade Paris, 1914. The Schlieffen Plan drawn up in 1905 was the German army’s answer to its central strategic problem, namely, how to win a war on two fronts, against France in the west and Russia in the east. Schlieffen’s plan was executed by his successor Helmuth von Moltke in August 1914, with some modifications. The broken purple line shows the furthest extent of the 1914 German advance. Their offensive ended in mid-September with a French victory in the First Battle of the Marne. The subsequent German retreat to the positions indicated by the solid purple line ended any hopes of a quick victory against the French. Instead, the Western Front settled into a stalemate that was to last over 3 years. The area shaded green is the foreign territory that was occupied by Germany for most of the war. New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage

In relation to the suddenness associated with the prophecy, one line of the prophetic poem proclaims:

The naked one will have no time to fasten his trousers.

It was literally the case that in some battles people had no time to dress. For example, consider the following report relating to the Belgian town of Contich, issued by a correspondent of The Sphere on 28 November 1914:

The German guns had been brought up to the bank of a river nearby, and from the position they threw shrapnel into the doomed town. There were many who had to flee naked as they were down the streets in panic, when the enemy opened fire on them. The place presented a picture of utter desolation.”[12]

3.2. Global War

    World map of the participants in World War I. Green = Allies, orange = Central Powers and grey = Neutrals. Wikimedia Commons

World map of the participants in World War I. Green = Allies, orange = Central Powers and grey = Neutrals. Wikimedia Commons

The Promised Messiahas had clearly described the impending calamity as global in its scope. Initially, in August 1914, the war was a continental conflict involving only some of the European states and was thus referred to by many commentators as the ‘European War.’[13] But as events unfolded and time passed, most nations were drawn into taking sides with either the Allies or the Central Powers.[14] For example, the Ottoman Empire, the last great Islamic Empire, whose territory then included modern-day Turkey and much of the Middle East, entered into the war on the side of the Central Powers on 29 October 1914, with a series of pre-emptive naval strikes on Russian bases in the Black Sea. Similarly, the United States, who initially maintained neutrality for a large part of the war, entered on the side of the Allies on 6 April 1917, after Germany refused to end its policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. Furthermore, as the great powers had virtually colonised most of the known world, colonial troops in far-off lands played a vital part in the war effort, thus further extending the conflict beyond continental Europe.

In popular memory, particularly in Britain and France, this war is most often associated with the poignant and traumatic experience of soldiers on ‘the Western Front.’ This was the name given to the battle zone comprising of two continuous lines of defensive trenches stretching across the fields of Belgium and France, from the Swiss border to the North Sea. However, this was not characteristic of the experience of every soldier, nor was the war limited to that region. Indeed, this was truly a global conflict involving belligerents from every continent, with battlefronts spanning from the jungles of Africa to the deserts of the Middle East, the Caucasus Mountains, and all the oceans of the world.

German WW1 soldiers with machine gun 40 meters from the British trenches.  1916. A soldier with the metal helmet is ready to throw a hand grenade. ©Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

German WW1 soldiers with machine gun 40 meters from the British trenches. 1916. A soldier with the metal helmet is ready to throw a hand grenade. ©Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

WWI. The arrival of British Expeditionary Forces in Boulogne, France. The Scots are greeted by French onlookers in August 1914. ©Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

WWI. The arrival of British Expeditionary Forces in Boulogne, France. The Scots are greeted by French onlookers in August 1914. ©Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

Above: German WW1 machine gun crew firing from a trench on the Eastern Front. 1914-15. ©Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

Above: German WW1 machine gun crew firing from a trench on the Eastern Front. 1914-15. ©Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

WWI. Dramatic illustration of a British bayonet charge through poison gas. On April 22, 1915, German forces introduced the use of lethal chlorine gas at Ypres, Belgium. Left: Canadian troops going, over the top, during training near St. Pol, France. WWI. October 1916. ©Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

WWI. Dramatic illustration of a British bayonet charge through poison gas. On April 22, 1915, German forces introduced the use of lethal chlorine gas at Ypres, Belgium.
©Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

The prophecy has also clearly stated that the calamity would affect all classes of society:

“The terror of it will exhaust everyone, great and small.”

This was met with remarkable fulfilment as all classes of people from elites and aristocrats to ordinary people at the grass roots bore the brunt of the war.

Canadian troops going, over the top, during training near St. Pol, France. WWI. October 1916. © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

Canadian troops going, over the top, during training near St. Pol, France. WWI. October 1916.
© Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

It is interesting to note the variant reading of the phrase ‘great and small’ within the prophetic couplet. In his seminal work of history, Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, charting the history of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the late Maulana Dost Muhammad Shahid, the foremost historian of the Ahmadiyya Community, explains how the extant original manuscript of the page containing the 15 April 1905 prophecy used the word taaqatein (powers) instead of jiin o ins (great and small people). This would render the translation to be “the terror of it will exhaust all the powers.[15] This alternative reading is also an apt description of the events that were to transpire nine to thirteen years later, i.e., during the First World War, as all the great military and economic powers of the time were drawn into the conflict. The Allied Powers consisted of the British, French, Russians, Italians, Americans, and Japanese, while the Central Powers consisted of the Germans, Austro-Hungarians and Ottomans.

Although the wartime experience of neutral states was obviously different from that of the belligerents, they too were also affected. For example, neutral states such as Belgium and Luxembourg were ‘victims of geography’ and their neutrality was violated.[16] Others, such as Albania and the Netherlands, bore the influx of refugees from its war-torn neighbours. Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare policy continuously sank ships belonging to neutral states. Although some countries may have benefitted from maintaining neutrality, there was a notable strain on the global economy. Professor of Military History Hew Strachan writes:

Given London’s position as the centre of global finance in 1914, but with Britain at war, neutrality became a relative term rather than an absolute one. In 1914 any state in the world which engaged in international commerce could not but be affected by what happened in the city of London. The war’s effects on trade and finance were deepened with the British blockade, which extended to the interdiction of neutral trade with the Central Powers, and with Germany’s response, the adoption of unrestricted U-boat warfare. Economic war did not spare the neutrals as more direct forms of fighting did.”[17]

3.3. Human Casualties and Severe Loss of Blood

Another deeply tragic aspect of the prophesied calamity was the colossal cost in human casualties and the severe loss of blood. The prophecy described rivers of blood flowing to the extent of changing the colour of running water to red. One such example where the latter detail was met with remarkably literal fulfilment was during the Gallipoli expedition in April 1915, when the Allies carried out a disastrous attempt to seize control of the Dardanelle straits from the Ottoman Empire. The campaign entailed a major amphibious invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April 1915, involving mainly British, Anzac (Australian and New Zealand) and French troops.

Due to fierce Ottoman resistance and their clear strategic advantage of holding the higher ground, the Allies suffered staggering casualties. Many troops did not reach shore and were shot whilst at sea.[18] One Allied pilot, Commander Charles Samson, who was performing aerial reconnaissance, later gave an eyewitness account of what he saw from his plane. He stated that the sea was “absolutely red with blood to 50 yards out.[19] This was also confirmed by an Ottoman Turkish officer, Major Mahmut of the fifth army, who vividly described the scene: “The fire changed the colour of the sea with the blood from the bodies of the enemy – a sea whose colour had remained the same for years.[20]

Major art installation at the Tower of London, designed by ceramic artist Paul Cummins. 888,246 ceramic poppies in total were planted where each poppy represents a British Empire military fatality during the First World War. The artist was inspired by a line in the will of an anonymous soldier from Derbyshire, who was killed in Flanders, which describes vividly the horrors of the war: “The blood-swept lands and seas of red, where angels fear to tread.” © Ron Ellis | shutterstock.com

Major art installation at the Tower of London, designed by ceramic artist Paul Cummins. 888,246 ceramic poppies in total were planted where each poppy represents a British Empire military fatality during the First World War. The artist was inspired by a line in the will of an anonymous soldier from Derbyshire, who was killed in Flanders, which describes vividly the horrors of the war: “The blood-swept lands and seas of red, where angels fear to tread.” © Ron Ellis | shutterstock.com

British poster instructing soldiers in use of WW1 gas masks. 1915. It reads, ‘Learn to adjust your respirator correct and quick...,’ soldier on the battlefield, collapsing and clutching his throat.’ © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

British poster instructing soldiers in use of WW1 gas masks. 1915. It reads, ‘Learn to adjust your respirator correct and quick…,’ soldier on the battlefield, collapsing and clutching his throat.’ © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

In the words of the American historian, Professor Robert Citino, “World War I was the largest and bloodiest conflict that the world had ever seen.[21] Yet no one at the time, including those militarily and politically informed, could predict the brutal fate that lay ahead for soldiers who believed the common misconception that the war would be over “before the leaves fall.[22] This was largely based on the false assumption that most wars of the previous decades were relatively short and decisive and that the destructive potential of novel technologies of warfare and the sustainability of the global economy, all made the chance of a prolonged conflict impossible.[23] However, according to the most recent scholarly calculations, during the four dreadful years of the war in which more than 65 million men were mobilised, an estimated 10 million died.[24]
A further 20 million were severely wounded.[25] Although difficult to ascertain with any precision, civilian fatalities have been estimated to be approximately 7 million, rendering the total casualty figure in the region of 37 million.[26]

Tyne Cot Cemetery in Ypres, Belgium. Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing is a Commonwealth War Graves burial ground for the dead of the First World War in the Ypres. © chrisdorney | shutterstock.com

Tyne Cot Cemetery in Ypres, Belgium. Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing is a Commonwealth War Graves burial ground for the dead of the First World War in the Ypres. © chrisdorney | shutterstock.com

The horrific nature of the conflict had also been described in the following couplet:

Those whose night garments were white as Jasmine will be in the morning [as if clad in red] like the Sycamore tree.”

WWI. Propagandistic British illustration of a German counter-attack on the British occupied Hohenzollern Redoubt, an extension of the Battle of Loos (Sept. 25-Oct. 13, 1915). © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

WWI. Propagandistic British illustration of a German counter-attack on the British occupied Hohenzollern Redoubt, an extension of the Battle of Loos (Sept. 25-Oct. 13, 1915). © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

Commenting on the prophetic nature of the couplet, Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra (1889-1965), the Second Successor of the Promised Messiahas who served as Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community from 1914 to 1965, wrote:

This means that garments which will be as white as jasmine flowers at night, will be transformed to the red of the sycamore tree by morning, having been drenched in blood. Now if this was merely a hyperbolic simile and such a thing would occur in the battle, it would still have been difficult to explain to those people about whom this prophecy was made, that like the leaves of the Sycamore tree, your clothes have become red with blood. This is because those people who had never seen the Sycamore tree and who had no idea what the colour of the Sycamore leaf is, would not have been able to understand this analogy. The most they could imagine would be that the redness in the sycamore leaves will be similar to the subtle redness found in the leaves of some other trees. The reality, however, is that sycamore leaves contain such redness just like the colour of thick coagulated blood. And it looks exactly like blood. Now look, in France, where the fighting has been the most intense and still is now, sycamore trees are spread far and wide in the battlefields there. Incidentally, only a short while ago, one of our friends wrote that: ‘I am standing in the battlefield in order to perform military service. Bombs are raining down and I am standing under a sycamore tree while reciting this couplet of the Promised Messiahas:

Those whose night garments were white as jasmine will be in the morning [as if clad in red] like the Sycamore tree.’

This friend had also sent a sycamore leaf, which on one side was exactly the colour of blood and on the other, a little yellowish.

Thus, this no longer remains a statement of poetic notion; instead the act of God has showed that in reality, at that location, there were the leaves of sycamore trees and garments were taking on their very colour. If the war occurred in such a country where sycamore leaves did not point towards garments turning red with blood, then someone could have said that this was stated in a poetic manner. However, the presence of these trees there and then the blood-soaked state of the people under them, tells us that this was no mere statement of poetic notion. Rather, actual reality was elucidated.”[27]

Wounded American soldiers entering an aid station in France during WW1. 1917- 18. 1927 lithograph by Lucian Jonas. © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

Wounded American soldiers entering an aid station in France during WW1. 1917- 18. 1927 lithograph by Lucian Jonas. © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

3.4. Prophesied Theatres of the War

One tragic aspect of the prophecy is that the destruction would not be limited to human life but would also involve land, sea and air. The specific theatres of warfare identified in the prophecy include villages, towns, meadows, rocks (i.e. mountains), seas and skies, examples of which are presented below.

3.4.1. Land Warfare and Environmental Effects

The prophecy specifically mentions the destruction of “villages, towns and meadows.” Commenting on the devastating effects the war had on these three theatres, Dr Dorothee Brantz, an environmental historian of warfare writes:

Villages and towns lay in ruins, fields had been turned into moonscapes, and forests had been reduced to acres of stumps.”[28]

Cloth Hall Tower, Ypres, [ca. 1918] Photographer Unknown Canadian Expeditionary Force albums Black and white print Reference Code: C 224-0-0-9-1 Archives of Ontario, I0004760

Remains of Cloth Hall at Ypres, Belgium, in the immediate aftermath of World War One, circa 1918.

The First World War saw the annihilation of many towns and villages. For example, the Belgian town of Ypres was reduced to mere rubble.[29] Similarly, during the Battle of Verdun fought from February to December 1916, a large number of French villages were obliterated. In the words of one German writer, “Beautiful villages first became ruins, then mounds of rubble, and finally stretches of bricks; woods first [became] gaps and tangles, then fields of dead pale stumps, eventually desert.[30]

Yet the prophecy mentions that the brutal calamity would destroy the very land itself:

In the twinkling of an eye the land will be turned upside down.

Craters on Combres Hill, France, created by WWI bombs and artillery fire. Ca. 1918-1919. © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

Craters on Combres Hill, France, created by WWI bombs and artillery fire. Ca. 1918-1919. © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

A badly shelled main road after the Battle of the Somme, July to November 1916, showing trees ravaged by artillery. Wikimedia Commons Below: American soldiers emerging from shelter in No Man’s Land during WW1 battle. 1917-18. 1927 lithograph by Lucian Jonas. © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

A badly shelled main road after the Battle of the Somme, July to November 1916, showing trees ravaged by artillery. Wikimedia Commons © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

American soldiers emerging from shelter in No Man’s Land during WW1 battle. 1917-18. 1927 lithograph by Lucian Jonas. © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

American soldiers emerging from shelter in No Man’s Land during WW1 battle. 1917-18. 1927 lithograph by Lucian Jonas.
© Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

Night bombing by aeroplanes striking horses and soldiers near Soissons in WW1. 1918. 1927 lithograph by Lucian Jonas. © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

Night bombing by aeroplanes striking horses and soldiers near Soissons in WW1. 1918. 1927 lithograph by Lucian Jonas.
© Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

This was particularly characteristic of the conflict on the Western Front, where trench warfare transformed many of the scenic landscapes of northern France and Belgian Flanders beyond the point of recognition.[31] The digging of trenches upheaved the earth while artillery shelling and mines led to craters, some of which can still be viewed today.[32] The prophecy also specifically mentioned the devastation of trees:

Suddenly a calamity will severely shake them all—be they humans, trees, rocks, or oceans.”

According to the French Forestry service, “350,000 hectares of forest had been destroyed during the war, an amount that would have supplied the tree harvest for the next sixty years.[33] In a letter to his wife, Major Rowland Charles Fielding recorded the vivid and horrific scene of the aftermath of a battle on the Western Front:

[N]ot a brick or stone is to be seen, except where it has been churned up by a bursting shell. Not a tree stands. Not a square foot of surface has escaped mutilation. There is nothing but the mud and the gaping shell-holes; a chaotic wilderness of shell-holes, rim overlapping rim; and, in the bottom of many, the bodies of the dead.”[34]

It was also not uncommon for retreating armies to adopt ruthless large-scale ‘scorched earth’ policies.[35] This policy entailed destroying and burning fields, crops, and any resource that could potentially benefit an advancing army. Russian forces commonly employed scorched earth tactics during their withdrawal from surrendered territory. This had a dire effect on local civilian populations, particularly on Poles, Jews and other non-Russian ethnic minorities of the Empire.[36]

One group of refugees described their traumatic experience stating: “We didn’t want to move, we were chased away . . . we were forced to burn our homes and crops, we weren’t allowed to take our cattle with us, we weren’t even allowed to return to our homes to get some money.”[37]

3.4.2. Mountain Warfare

Austrian mountain troops in the Isonzo district, clinging to rocks and helping each other along by ropes. They are climbing over mountain pass to surprise an Italian detachment, 1915. © Shutterstock.com | Everett Historical

Austrian mountain troops in the Isonzo district, clinging to rocks and helping each other along by ropes. They are climbing over a mountain pass to surprise an Italian detachment, 1915. © Shutterstock.com | Everett Historical

Mountainous terrain formed a major part of the landscape for many soldiers during the war. For example, Ottoman soldiers fought Russians in the Caucasus and Russians battled Austro-Hungarian troops in the Carpathian Mountains in Galicia. Yet the Italian front in the high Alps and Dolomites has gone down in history as the bloodiest and deadliest theatre of mountain warfare during the Great War. The vast majority of Italian troops fighting against Austria-Hungary experienced this battle.[38] One such mountain called ‘Col di Lana’ has been dubbed ‘Col di Sangue,’ meaning ‘The Mountain of Blood,’ in light of the heavy casualties it claimed. Many soldiers were buried alive due to the fact that the Italians blew up its summit.[39]

3.4.3. Naval Warfare

The prophecy stated that the calamity would involve the seas. The Promised Messiahas also received a more specific revelation relating to naval warfare on 11 May 1906:

Vessels sail so that there might be [naval] duels.”[40, 41]

RMS Lusitania torpedoed by a German submarine on 7 May 1915. © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

RMS Lusitania torpedoed by a German submarine on 7 May 1915.
© Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

Commenting on this prophecy, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra (the Second Spiritual Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community) states that, “the expression used in the revelation is kashti (vessels) which points to a bias for fighting sea craft of small size.[42] Larger battleships, such as the colossal dreadnoughts, were originally envisaged to be game-changers and were the focus of much of maritime military development during the naval arms race between Britain and Germany in the years leading up to the Great War.

In fact, only one major full-scale head-on confrontation of opposing battle fleets occurred during the war. The Battle of Jutland occurred on 31 May to 1 June 1916, when the Imperial German Navy’s High Seas Fleet met the British Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet at the North Sea near Danish Jutland. The majority of naval encounters, however, involved a novel vessel that would revolutionize the war at sea. The submarine or U-boat (short for the German ‘Unterseeboot,’ meaning ‘undersea-boat’) campaign was the German strategy for counteracting the numerical superiority commanded by the Royal Navy. This naval campaign initially involved the sinking of allied warships followed by their merchant ships. It eventually escalated into the indiscriminate sinking of neutral civilian ships after the German declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare.[43]

3.4.4. Aerial warfare

British two-seater monoplane fires on a WW1 German Taube fighter. 1914-15. A rifle is used to shoot the pilot of the German plane. © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

British two-seater monoplane fires on a WW1 German Taube fighter. 1914-15. A rifle is used to shoot the pilot of the German plane. © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

One truly remarkable detail in the prophecy related to a new vehicle of war, unknown to man at the time:

The sky will attack with a drawn sword.”

Explaining the significance of this aspect of the prophecy, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadra (1928–2003), the Fourth Spiritual Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community), states:

When this great Warner foretold in 1905 heavenly attacks and destructive fire descending from the sky there was yet no indication of any such possibility or of the availability of the means there for. It was the time when the Wright Brothers were still occupied with elementary experiments aimed at the production of a flying machine. Three years after the publication of this prophecy, when this great Warner had already departed this life in May 1908, the Wright Brothers carried out their second experimental flight in September 1908, and it was not till several years later that in human history aircraft were first employed for bombardment from the skies.”[44]

Although aircraft were first employed militarily during the Italo-Ottoman war of 1911–1912, the Great War of 1914–1918 is the first war in which they were employed on a large scale.[45] Initially, their sole purpose was for reconnaissance, but it later developed into a formidable instrument for bombardment and aerial combat.[46]

When scrutinising the prophetic line “the sky will attack with a drawn sword,” critics may object to an apparent vagueness and alleged unwarranted metaphoric extrapolation in attributing it to the emergence of aerial warfare. It must be borne in mind, however, that the prophecy should be looked at in totality and not dismissed based on the metaphorical nature of one individual constituent. As part of a cumulative case, the prophecy is clear that in addition to land and sea, the catastrophe will bear some relation with the skies in the form of an attack. Metaphors are a part of all languages and a particularly prominent feature of religious discourse. Indeed, when looked at in totality, the metaphoric nature of one constituent does not detract from the grandeur of the whole.

3.5. Psychological Effects of World War I

The Promised Messiahas prophesied that as a result of the calamity, “men will turn mad,” i.e., they would suffer wounds that would be psychological in character.[47] In response to the extremely traumatic conditions of the war and the constant and intense bombardment, medical symptoms seldom seen at that time were reported amongst soldiers; such as delusional states, nervous collapses, paralysis and tremors. These symptoms were not a direct result of demonstrable physical damage to the brain.[48] Charles Myers, a British physician and psychiatrist, thus coined a new term in medical literature. In an article in 1915 published in the renowned medical journal, The Lancet, Myers used the term ‘shell shock’ to describe the mental illnesses of such psychiatric casualties of war.[49]

3.6. Ill-effects on Birds

Besides the impact on human life, the prophecy also referred to the adverse effects the calamity would have on birds:

Men shall lose their senses and birds their consciousness and nightingales and pigeons will forget their songs.”

Commenting on this aspect, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra wrote that “day and night bombing and the destruction of trees are highly detrimental to bird-life. The birds either die or suffer greatly.[50] He further stated that “the noise of cannonading and bursting of shells kept the birds flying in the air and prevented them from alighting on the trees so that many of them died of exhaustion and fatigue.[51] Furthermore, it has been reported in the literature that the Belgian Waterslager canary population was close to extinction during World War I. Systematic breeding was re-established only after the conflict.[52]

One prominent feature of the carnage was the high noise intensity produced by artillery which was “loud enough to split the eardrums” and which “quite commonly caused permanent hearing loss, especially among gunners.[53] Often, the deafening sounds were audible all the way in the UK.[54] The ear-piercing noises were reported to have greatly perturbed birds.[55] Recent studies have also shown that once deaf, a bird cannot sing in tune, much like humans.[56] The shellfire produced noise levels exceeding 140 decibels. This resulted in devastating hearing loss to humans and would have inevitably affected birds too, including pigeons.[57, 58, 59, 60]

3.7. Hardship for Travellers

American WWI Soldier’s Diary Pages. © Susan Law Cain | shutterstock.com

American WWI Soldier’s Diary Pages. © Susan Law Cain | shutterstock.com

In relation to the effect the calamity would have on travellers, the prophecy declared:

That hour will bear heavily upon every traveller and wayfarers will lose their way in confusion and deliriousness.”

The heart-rending diary entries and personal accounts of travellers, who found themselves stranded in enemy countries, vividly portray the difficulties they had to face. For example, describing the plight of Russian tourists, Dr Ekaterina Rogatchevskaia, Lead East European Curator (Russian Studies) at the British Library writes:

In summer 1914 many foreigners, Russians included, holidayed in spa towns in Germany and Austria, for example in Carlsbad (now Kavlovy Vary in the Czech Republic), and were detained there after war broke out. The diaries of these detainees truly reflect the mood of people who had to spend several months in an enemy country in a hostile environment and under constant surveillance by the Austrian police. Many of them had no money, as they had not planned to overstay their holiday and those who had the means could not get cash as their accounts had been frozen. Although this type of detention was not real imprisonment, foreigners were not allowed to move about freely, and it eventually became difficult for them to rent accommodation not only because they could not pay, but also because of the growing xenophobia. In some places, the police prohibited the local population from renting out rooms to citizens of the enemy states, and in some cases people would get rid of foreign tenants before police warnings. The majority of people who could not find any suitable occupation felt lost and demoralised.”[61]

German advertisement warning travelers of RMS Lusitania. May 1, 1915. The liner was torpedoed off the Irish coast by a German submarine on May 7, 1915. © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

German advertisement warning travelers of RMS Lusitania. May 1, 1915. The liner was torpedoed off the Irish coast by a German submarine on May 7, 1915.
© Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

Similarly, civilians were not exempt from indiscriminate enemy attacks. Due to the unrestricted submarine warfare policy of the Germans between 1915 and 1918, vessels carrying non-combatant passengers were constantly in danger of being sunk. Describing his narrow escape from a German U-boat in one of his memoirs, Chaudhry Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khanra (1893–1985), former President of the UN General Assembly and International Court of Justice, recalls:

I was called to the Bar in June, 1914, but had to stay on for my Bachelor of Law’s degree examination in October, 1914, which means that I was in England at the beginning of the First World War. My three years’ stay in England, therefore, coincided with the three last peace years in Europe and in a sense, in the world . . . I returned to India, as it then was, in October, 1914. We travelled by the ill-fated S.S. Arabia, which was one of the mail steamers of the Peninsular and Oriental Company. The German destroyer, Emden, was then operating in the Arabian Sea. It had already sunk several vessels. We made the voyage all right, but on a subsequent voyage the Arabia, like so many other vessels, was sunk by the Emden in the Arabian Sea.”[62]

Chaudhry Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khanra refers to the unfortunate fate of the S.S. Arabia when it was sunk without warning in the Mediterranean on 6 November 1916.

3.8. The Pitiable State of the Tsar of Russia

The Russian Imperial Family, 1913. Left to right: Grand Duchess Maria, Tsarina Alexandra, Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana, Tsar Nicholas II, and Grand Duchess Anastasia. Tsarevich Alexei sits in front of his parents. The picture was taken to mark the tercentenary celebrations of the Romanov dynasty and sold as postcards throughout the Empire. Library of Congress LC-B2- 2868-2 [P&P]

The Russian Imperial Family, 1913. Left to right: Grand Duchess Maria, Tsarina Alexandra, Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana, Tsar Nicholas II, and Grand Duchess Anastasia. Tsarevich Alexei sits in front of his parents. The picture was taken to mark the tercentenary celebrations of the Romanov dynasty and sold as postcards throughout the Empire. Library of Congress LC-B2- 2868-2 [P&P]

Imperial Russia at the onset of the First World War. Wikimedia Commons

Imperial Russia at the onset of the First World War. Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps the most extraordinary part of the prophecy relates to the miserable plight of one particular monarch:

And even the Tsar at that hour, will be in a pitiable state.”

The Tsar, a title given to the Emperor of Imperial Russia, had been divinely singled-out by the prophecy. In light of the grammatical and linguistic structure of this line of the prophetic poem, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra inferred the following conditions of fulfilment of the prophecy:

The prophecy indicated several things in respect to this portion:

Firstly, the Tsar’s government would not be shaken by internal revolutions before the beginning of this war (as the Tsar will still be in power). Secondly, that his government would not survive the war, as it had been foretold that he would be reduced to a miserable plight during the war (and thus his government will be terminated). Thirdly, that he would be dethroned before his death (as it is impossible for him to be in a pitiable state whilst still on the throne). Fourthly, that he would be the last Tsar, for the words of the prophecy were directed against Tsars as such, and not against any particular monarch. Lastly, that he would not die suddenly but would be subjected to great humiliation, disgrace and torture (as indicated by the prophesied pitiable state that he will be in).”[63]

In light of the above, the remarkable fulfilment of the prophecy is evident from historical events. Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov (1868–1918) was a member of the Imperial House of Romanov. By 1913, the Romanov dynasty had ruled Russia under the pretext of divine ordinance for three centuries. On 20 October 1894, Nicholas succeeded his father, Tsar Alexander III (1845–1894), to the Russian throne. His official concise title was Nicholas II, ‘Emperor and Autocrat of all Russia.’[64] As defined by Article 1 of the Code of Laws of the Russian Empire, the nature of his monarchy was that of absolutism, justified theologically through the Russian Orthodox Church: “The Emperor of Russia is the monarch absolute and unrestricted. To obey His superior power not only because of fear but as a conscience duty God Himself commands.”[65] By the eve of war in 1914, the mighty Russian Empire was at the zenith of its power. It encompassed vast swathes of land, stretching across three continents, equivalent to around one-sixth of the Earth’s land surface. Nicholas II had also accumulated such great wealth that, when taking inflation into account, it would be worth an estimated $300 billion today. This amount makes him the fifth richest man in history and the richest man of his time.[66]

Nicholas II Declares War on Germany from the balcony of the Winter Palace, 2 August 1914. Wikimedia Commons

Nicholas II Declares War on Germany from the balcony of the Winter Palace, 2 August 1914. Wikimedia Commons

Although Tsar Nicholas II had to face a number of political setbacks during his career such as defeat at the Russo-Japanese war in 1904–1905, the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, however, temporarily strengthened the monarchy. In a show of sincere love for their emperor, a large crowd of roughly 250,000 people waving portraits and icons of the Tsar, crammed the Palace Square on 2 August 1914. The Tsar accompanied by his wife, while overlooking them, proclaimed war on the German Empire from the balcony of the Winter Palace.[67] The crowd sank to its knees and responded by singing the national anthem “God save the Tsar.”[68]

Although the Russian army was able to gain victories over the Austro-Hungarians and Ottomans, even with a commanding numerical superiority, it was to be no match for the far more advanced and industrialised German army. Consequentially, the Russian army suffered humiliating defeats and staggering losses at the front. One such example occurred early in the war in August 1914, during the Battle of Tannenberg. This particular defeat resulted in the near total annihilation of the Russian Second Army. As the war raged on and with the exponential rise in losses and the fall of the Empire’s Polish provinces to Germany, Nicholas made the disastrous decision in September 1915 to assume direct command of the Russian armies and travelled to the frontline. In an official letter to the then serving Commander-in-Chief of the Russian armies, his uncle, Grand Duke Nikolai, he details his reasons for assuming the post:

My duty to my country, which has been entrusted to me by God, impels me today, when the enemy has penetrated into the interior of the Empire, to take the supreme command of the active forces and to share with my army the fatigues of war, and to safeguard with it, Russian soil, from the attempts of the enemy.”[69]

Nicholas II riding amongst his troops. Wikimedia Commons

Nicholas II riding amongst his troops. Wikimedia Commons

Indeed, this would prove to be a grave mistake because from that point onwards he was personally associated in the public eye with every military failure and setback.

At the same time, Nicholas’s wife Alexandra Feodorovna (1872–1918) was left in charge of domestic issues and the capital. Alexandra was accused of harbouring pro-German sentiments due to her German ancestry. She also rapidly became the focus of disdain and anger from the Russian people, particularly because of her acquaintance with the infamous mystic Grigori Rasputin (1869–1916). Rasputin commanded a cancerous influence over her and her governmental decisions due to a putative ability to treat her son and heir to the throne, Alexei, who suffered from haemophilia. Discontent with Rasputin was not limited to the general public but was also echoed by many nobles, including Prince Felix Yusupov (1887–1967) and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich (1891–1942). They would ultimately orchestrate Rasputin’s murder on 17 December 1916.[70]

Russia suffered devastating defeats and colossal losses during the war. Likewise, it bore the brunt of economic ruin on the home front, including extortionate inflation, severe food and fuel shortages, and widespread poverty, the latter already being a major part of the lives of many Russians. This exacerbated discontent among the Russian population and fuelled the February Revolution in 1917, when the army garrison at the capital Petrograd mutinied after joining widespread demonstrations, which saw anarchy and the breakdown of law and order.[71] Amidst the unprecedented unrest and deprived of the support of his most senior generals, Nicholas was forced to abdicate on 15 March 1917, in favour of his brother, Grand Duke Mikhail. Mikhail himself subsequently declined the crown, thus forever terminating the Tsarist autocracy, and with it the three centuries-old Romanov dynasty. A provisional government made up of moderates and progressive-minded elitists was formed in the immediate aftermath of Nicholas’s formal abdication.[72]

Former Tsar Nicholas II shovelling snow while under internment at Tsarskoe Selo following the February Revolution, 1917. Library of Congress LOT 11119, no. 5 [P&P]

Former Tsar Nicholas II shovelling snow while under internment at Tsarskoe Selo following the February Revolution, 1917. Library of Congress LOT 11119, no. 5 [P&P]

Nicholas II engaged in physical work in the kitchen-garden at Tsarskoe Selo while being watched over by guards, 1917. Library of Congress LOT 11119, no. 5 [P&P]

Nicholas II engaged in physical work in the kitchen-garden at Tsarskoe Selo while being watched over by guards, 1917. Library of Congress LOT 11119, no. 5 [P&P]

Imprisoned Russian Czar Nicholas II and family gardening at Tsarskoe-Selo. 1917. © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

Imprisoned Russian Czar Nicholas II and family gardening at Tsarskoe-Selo. 1917. © Everett Historical | shutterstock.com

Following the abdication of the Tsar, the prophetic verse proclaiming the pitiable plight of the Tsar was the subject of much discussion, as members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community had immediately proclaimed fulfilment of their Founder’s prophecy. The then Head of the Community, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra, had also devoted a Friday sermon to the topic of the magnificent fulfilment of the prophecy around a week later on 23 March 1917. He recalled how only several days earlier while visiting Gurdaspur, a critic had objected to the prophecy stating:

So what. If the Tsar has been deposed, scores of Tsars have been deposed before now. Now another Tsar will take his place as was the case in Iran where the father was replaced by his son and in Turkey, where one brother was dethroned and another made king. In this very manner, the same will happen here. Thus, this prophecy has not been fulfilled because another Tsar has been made and his condition was not pitiable.”[73]

In refutation of the critic’s objection, his Holiness emphasised the spectacular nature of this particular abdication in contrast to previous dethronements:

Although his statement that, up to the present time, scores of Tsars were deposed is incorrect, if we agree [for argument’s sake] that this happened, this makes the grandeur of the prophecy of the abdication of the present Tsar all the more manifest. This is because the news which has been received up till now indicates that no Tsar will ever be made in the future. Rather, there will be a parliament. Thus, the Tsar is indeed in such a pitiable state that no Tsar will ever again appear in the future.”[74]

Indeed, history is replete with examples of royal abdications and dethronements, but none of them would have such a profound and cataclysmic effect on Tsardom.

Nicholas II was first cousins with both Wilhelm II and George V. All of them were descendants of King George II of England, making them also fifth cousins. Wilhelm II image: Wikimedia Commons- Reichard und Lindner, publisher: Gustav Liersch & Co.; George V image: Wikimedia Commons- Bain News Service, publisher; Nicholas II image: Wikimedia Commons- Author unknown.

Nicholas II was first cousins with both Wilhelm II and George V. All of them were descendants of King George II of England, making them also fifth cousins. Wilhelm II image: Wikimedia Commons- Reichard und Lindner, publisher: Gustav Liersch & Co.; George V image: Wikimedia Commons- Bain News Service, publisher; Nicholas II image: Wikimedia Commons- Author unknown.

The abdication marked only the beginning of a series of miseries that would befall the dethroned Tsar and his family. As he feared for his life, he was desperate to seek asylum in the United Kingdom. However, although he was a first cousin and wartime ally of King George V, and his wife, Alexandra, was the favourite granddaughter of the late Queen Victoria, the British King refused to grant him and his family asylum amidst fears that it may incite a revolt in the UK. The French, another of his wartime allies, also refused him asylum.

Initially, Nicholas II and his family were allowed to remain at their residence at the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo, albeit under house arrest, and still enjoyed a certain degree of comfort, fitting for an ex-King. With their newfound sense of liberation after the revolution, however, the former imperial family began to become the target of the palace guards’ hooliganism and ill-discipline. The guards were reported to regularly defy orders and roam around the palace, sometimes even entering the former imperial family’s rooms, impromptu.[75] Some of the guards would go to further heights in humiliating them. For example, “on one occasion, soldiers knocked Nicholas off his bicycle by sticking a bayonet into the spokes as he rode by, and then laughed raucously as the former emperor picked himself up.[76] At times, crowds would gather around the gates of the palace, staring at Nicholas and his wife, hurling insults at them.[77]

Later, in August 1917, the provisional government led by Kerensky relocated the family to the former Governor’s mansion in Tobolsk. The family kept strong by holding on to the belief that pro-Tsarist loyalists would eventually rescue them. But their hopes were soon to be shattered by the cataclysmic events of the ‘October Revolution’ of 1917, which resulted in the Communist Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrowing Kerensky’s provisional government.

The Bolsheviks had initially imposed soldiers’ rations on the former Tsar. On 30 April 1918, the Bolsheviks exiled the Romanov family to the town of Yekaterinburg in the Urals. Pavel Matveev, a member of the guards escorting the former Tsar, narrates that when he was informed of his destination, he remarked, “I would go anywhere at all, only not to the Urals,” as he heard that the residents there held staunch anti-Tsarist sentiments.[78]

This fact was confirmed with the arrival of the family in the Yekaterinburg train station where a huge angry mob awaited them, shouting threats such as, “We ought to throttle them!” The station commissar even exclaimed, “Bring the Romanovs out of the car. Let me spit in his dirty face!”[79] Had it not been for the local soviet officers ensuring safe passage to their destination of incarceration, these threats most certainly would have materialised.

In Yekaterinburg, they were imprisoned in the Ipatiev House, which would later come to be known as the “House of Special Purpose.” Numerous heart-rending reports exist, some of which contain graphic and horrific details of what the family experienced while in this house. It is unclear whether they are all authentic, but what can be ascertained with historical accuracy is the deeply tragic event of the night of 17 July 1918. The full details of this night were only made widely available after the collapse of the Soviet Union. One such eyewitness statement is from a confession note written in 1922 by Yakov Yurovsky, the commandant of the Ipatiev House and chief executioner of Nicholas, his wife Alexandra, four daughters–Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, son Alexei, their personal physician Dr Botkin, and three of their servants:

Yokov Mikhailovich Yurovsky. Commandant of the Ipatiev House and chief executioner of the last Tsar and family, July 1918. Wikimedia Commons

Yokov Mikhailovich Yurovsky. Commandant of the Ipatiev House and chief executioner of the last Tsar and family, July 1918. Wikimedia Commons

I went to the lodgings, woke up Dr Botkin, and told him that everyone has to dress quickly because there are disturbances in the city, and that I must transfer them to a safer place. Not wishing to hurry them, I gave them the opportunity to get dressed. At 2 o’clock, I transferred the escort [guard] to the lower premises. [I] told them to arrange themselves in [their] arranged order. I alone led the family downstairs. Nikolai was carrying Alexei in his arms. The rest, some with pillows in their hands, some with other items, we came down to the lower level to a special room previously prepared. Alexandra Fedorovna asked for a chair, Nikolai asked for a chair for Alexei.

I ordered that the chairs be brought. Alexandra Fedorovna sat down. Alexei as well. I suggested that everyone stand up. Everyone stood up, taking up the entire wall and one of the side walls. The room was very small. Nikolai stood with his back to me. I announced: the Executive Committee of Soviet Workers, Peasants and Soldier Deputies of the Urals carried [a decision] to shoot them. Nikolai turned around and asked (sic). I repeated the order and commanded ‘Shoot.’ I shot first and killed Nikolai to drop (sic). The firing went on for a very long time, and despite my hopes that the wooden wall would not cause a ricochet, the bullets bounced off it. I was not able to stop this shooting for a long time, which took on a disorderly character. But when I finally was able to stop it, I realized that many were still alive. For instance, Dr Botkin lay propped up on the elbow of his right arm, as if in a relaxed pose, a revolver shot finished him off. Alexei, Tatiana, Anastasia and Olga were still alive too. Also alive was Demidova. Com. Ermakov wanted to finish the job with a bayonet. However, this was not possible. The reason for this became clear later (the daughters had diamond armor [sewn] into their under bodices). I was forced to shoot each one in turn.”[80]

After the merciless executions, in a bid to cover up the murders, Yurovsky supervised the disposal of the bodies in two unmarked graves located in a swamp at the side of the road outside of Yekaterinburg.[81] In his infamous note, Yurovsky recounted graphically how he, and his radical Bolshevik comrades, doused nine of the bodies including the Tsar, his wife, and three of his daughters, in sulphuric acid to prevent them from being recognised and piled them into one of the pits. He further recalled that the other two bodies were torched prior to burial.[82]

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and with the official report of the execution being made public, the ruthless murder of the Romanov family has been the subject of several forensic investigations and scientific studies. In July 1991, the bones of the Romanovs were exhumed with official sanction and identified by Russian forensic authorities to be the remains of nine individuals: the last Tsar and wife, three of his daughters, his royal physician, and three servants. Subsequent DNA analysis by British scientists, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Genetics, also further bolstered the claim whereby they concluded that, “the DNA evidence supports the hypothesis that the remains are those of the Romanov family.[83]

Two bodies still remained, however, that of the Tsarevich Alexei and one of the four daughters. Some conspiracy theorists claimed that this proved the alleged escape of the Grand Duchess Anastasia, a myth in widespread circulation. Several imposters have emerged over the decades claiming to be the Grand Duchess herself. Yet none has achieved as much fame as Anna Anderson, identified by several investigators to be Franziska Schanzkowska; an eccentric, mentally ill Polish woman who claimed to be the Grand Duchess from as early as 1920.[84] A more recent study, however, has dismissed the possibility that a daughter of the Tsar would have escaped the brutal butchery. In 2007, a boy and a girl were exhumed from a separate gravesite near the original site. Coble et al published DNA findings and concluded:

Combined with additional DNA testing of material from the 1991 grave, we have virtually irrefutable evidence that the two individuals recovered from the 2007 grave are the two missing children of the Romanov family: the Tsarevich Alexei and one of his sisters.”[85]

Speaking on the tragic plight of the Tsar and the specific reference to him in the prophetic verse, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community stated:

A recital of his sufferings makes one’s hair stand on end and causes one’s heart to weep for him, but at the same time, one’s faith in the Omniscient God is also enhanced when one sees how He had revealed these things twelve years prior to their occurrence, at a time when nobody could even imagine that they could come to pass.”[86]

3.9. Global Revolution

Map of Europe before WW1, superimposed with 1923 borders. Wikimedia Commons

Map of Europe before WW1, superimposed with 1923 borders. Wikimedia Commons

The prophecy clearly stated that the calamity would bring about a global revolution:

The wrath of God will bring a revolution in the world.”

The First World War was undoubtedly one of the most transformative events in history and would have momentous consequences on the world. On a political level, the war resulted in the collapse of four major empires (German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Turkish) and the dissolution of their respective centuries-old dynasties (Hohenzollerns, Habsburgs, Romanovs and Ottomans). In their place, new borders and smaller nation states with new political systems were carved out, thus forever changing the map of Europe and the Middle East. The most radical change perhaps was that caused by the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, described as “the most consequential event of the 20th century, inspiring communist movements and revolutions across the world.[87]

Linguistically, the Arabic word inqilab used in the prophecy and translated here as ‘revolution’ is not limited in meaning to a political revolution, but is used in both the Arabic and Urdu languages more generically to refer to any type of change.[88, 89] In light of this, we see that the prophecy was fulfilled with astonishing accuracy as the Great War profoundly impacted the world at the social and economic levels as well as the political.

Even early in the conflict, many could see that it was provoking cataclysmic changes. For example, the then Minister of Munitions, David Lloyd George, who would later become British wartime Prime Minister, while addressing a restless crowd of trade unionists in Glasgow on the Christmas of 1915, proclaimed: “It is a deluge, it is a convulsion of Nature . . .
bringing unheard of changes in the social and industrial fabric. It is a cyclone which is tearing up by the roots the ornamental plants of modern society
.”[90]

4. Objections

Following on from the Russian Tsar’s abdication, and the subsequent promulgation by the then Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and his followers of the fulfilment of the prophecy, opponents of the Community circulated several objections.[91] The Head of the Community thus published an Urdu treatise in May 1917, entitled, God’s Mighty Signs of Wrath: An answer to those who ridicule the Russian Tsar prophecy to address several of the major contentions.[92] These are dealt with first in the following section alongside other possible objections.

4.1. Earthquake or War?

In this article, I have chosen to translate the Arabic word zalzalah throughout as a ‘calamity’ rather than the commonly understood meaning of ‘earthquake.’ Some may argue that this is being unfaithful to the original text and that attributing the fulfilment of the prophecy to the Great War is unwarranted. Critics argue that only a literal global earthquake could have fulfilled the prophecy.

This objection has been addressed in length by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra on numerous occasions in his published works.[93] Firstly, he writes that “although the word zalzalah has been employed in this prophecy, in the Arabic language, zalzalah can denote any type of calamity.[94] Under the root of the word in question, in the highly regarded Lisan-ul-Arab Dictionary, one of the most authoritative lexicons of the Arabic language, we find the following entry:Untitled__The_Review_August_2015_12_web_copy___page_70_of_83_

“Zalazil (plural of zalzalah) means calamities.[95]

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra also presented an example in the Qur’anic discourse of a derivative of the same root of this word in the context of the well-known Battle of the Trench, which unequivocally carries the connotation of war:August_2015_-_Arabic_Inserts_pdf__1_page_

There and then were the believers sorely tried, and they were shaken with a violent shaking.[96]

Furthermore, when this prophecy was published, the Promised Messiahas himself had appended a note to it. This note also indicates that he did not believe that the calamity had to be a literal earthquake:     

Divine revelation has repeatedly employed the word earthquake in this context and has indicated that the earthquake will be an example of the Judgment Day. Indeed, it should be termed as ‘earthquake of Judgment Day’ which is described in the verse:Untitled__The_Review_August_2015_12_web_copy___page_70_of_83_

When the earth is shaken with her violent shaking.’[97]

But I am not able to apply the word earthquake with certainty upon its actual manifestation. It is possible that it may not be a common earthquake but some other dire calamity, which would be an example of the Judgment Day, the like of which has not been witnessed before, and which would bring about great destruction of life and property. If no such extraordinary Sign appears, while people have not openly reformed their way of life, I shall in such case have been proved false.”[98]

Moreover, in response to critics on this subject, the Promised Messiahas emphasised that the calamity would resemble an earthquake in some of its qualities without necessarily being literally so, in the appendix of the fifth part of Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya:

Although the word used is earthquake, it is quite possible that it might be some other calamity which possesses the quality of an earthquake. It will be a severe calamity—more ruinous than that which has occurred before—which will affect buildings also.”[99]

It is easy to draw similarities between earthquakes and wars, for both cause the loss of life and property. Referring to the quality of an earthquake in causing higher land to be turned upside down, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra presents the Qur’anic example of victorious kings during wars, who transform the vanquished higher classes into lowly subdued people:[100]Untitled__The_Review_August_2015_12_web_copy___page_71_of_83_

She said, ‘Surely, kings, when they enter a country, despoil it, and turn the highest of its people into the lowest. And thus will they do.”[101]

Moreover, modern warfare can cause violent shakings at ground level like earthquakes, and severe destruction to buildings and infrastructure due to shelling and bombardment.

Finally, the specific details contained in the prophecy appear to clearly indicate that the prophesied event had to be a war. As Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra explained, “the prophecy says that the earthquake will involve the whole world. But everybody knows that earthquakes never do that; they only involve parts of the world.” He further wrote that “the prophecy says the calamity will prove very hard on travellers, who will lose their way and stray far from their routes. But earthquakes do not trouble travellers. They trouble those staying in houses, in big cities. A calamity which can trouble travellers can only be war. When war starts, travellers cannot follow their normal routes. They have to give them up and adopt devious and difficult routes instead . . . The prophecy points to the ill-effects of the calamity on farms, fields, etc.; but earthquakes have no ill-effects on farms and fields, which are destroyed only by war . . . The prophecy points to the ill-effects of the calamity on birds; they were to lose their ‘senses’ and their ‘songs.’ An ordinary earthquake can have no such effects. The vibrations only last for a time. If birds sitting on a tree or a building fly into the air, they experience no ill-effects whatever. A modern war, however, is very hard on birds.[102]

Incidentally, David Lloyd George also described the Great War as an earthquake: “It is an earthquake which is upheaving the very rocks of European life. It is one of those seismic disturbances in which nations leap forward or fall backward generations in a bound.”[103]

4.2. Fulfilment in the Life of the Promised Messiahas

Another objection that was raised when the fulfilment of the prophecy was widely publicised was that the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community proclaimed that the calamity would occur “in his lifetime.[104]

Although this is correct regarding the initial prophecy, critics fail to admit that on 27 March 1906, the Promised Messiahas received subsequent revelations instructing him to pray for postponement of the calamity:Untitled__The_Review_August_2015_12_web_copy___page_71_of_83_

O my Lord! Postpone the time of this (punishment).[105, 106]

The next day on 28 March 1906, his prayer was answered and he received the following revelation:Untitled__The_Review_August_2015_12_web_copy___page_71_of_83_

Allah has postponed it, till a time appointed.”[107, 108, 109]

Commenting on this revelation, the Promised Messiahas writes:

Allah has accepted this supplication and has postponed the earthquake to another time.”[110]

4.3. A Calamity Limited to India?

Yet another vacuous objection raised to challenge the fulfilment of the prophecy was that the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community proclaimed that the calamity would occur in India.

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra rebuts this objection stating that, “the prophecy didn’t say it would only afflict India.[111] On the contrary, as previously detailed in this article, the prophecy explicitly refers to a global calamity. It must be borne in mind that India, being part of the then British Empire, devoted an estimated 1.5 million soldiers to the Allied war effort, many of whom were from the Promised Messiah’sas homeland of the Punjab. A third of these men were Muslims who fought at almost all theatres of the conflict.[112]

4.4. Is the Prophecy Concocted or Retrospectively Interpreted?

Some sceptics argue that the proponents of prophecies claim fulfilment retrospectively and engage in a process of interpretational gymnastics to fit the prophecy to a certain global event after it has occurred. This allegation is invalid here. The prophecy relating to the impending global calamity was so well known to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community that at the outbreak of war—when the conflict was limited to continental Europe—the Community published the prophetic poem of 15 April 1905 in its original Urdu, along with an English translation in the Community’s official English language periodical, The Review of Religions, in its August 1914 edition. In the editorial comments on the prophetic poem, the following was stated and the relationship that the unfolding events would have on precipitating a miserable plight of the Russian Tsar was emphasised:

This is a harrowing account of a future distress which is to fall humanity in the near or remote future. The description is of a complex character and its dire details are dreadful enough to cause a shudder and make one’s hair stand on end. . . . the name of Russian Tsar attaches special interest to the predicted event . . . Our readers can easily interpret the wording of the Promised Messiahas in the light of the events as they occur under their very eyes and testify to the truth of the prophecy according to their own way of looking at things.”[113]

Furthermore, the prophecy was republished throughout the duration of the war as events unfolded, in the aforementioned periodical, in the September 1914, June 1915, January 1916 and March 1917 issues, as a reminder of the prophetic warnings vouchsafed to the Promised Messiahas a decade earlier.

Critics of prophecies also allege that such predictions are often concocted after the occurrence of the prophesied events. Commenting on how such a contention cannot possibly apply here, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra writes:

These are the days of the printing press, and we are at liberty to reject any prophecy respecting which there is no written evidence. All the prophecies of the Promised Messiahas that I have mentioned are to be found printed in various books, newspapers, and periodicals prior to the event. Hence not even the bitterest foe can have the face to assert that these prophecies have been invented after the event. For, they were not only published, both among friends and foes, long before these events came to pass but God has brought about another way of proving that these prophecies had been actually published beforehand. The Promised Messiahas lived under a Government which professes an alien religion and according to the laws of this government, a copy of each and every book, periodical, advertisement, or newspaper that is published in India is sent to the Government Office for file, at the time of its publication.[114] Thus, the fact that these prophecies were actually published beforehand may be ascertained by reference to governmental records and files. This evidence is irrefutable.”[115]

4.5. Can the title ‘Tsar’ Apply to the Russian Emperor Nicholas II?

Some sceptics object to the application of the title ‘Tsar’ (In Russian ‘Царь’) in reference to the Russian Emperor, Nicholas II, until his abdication on March 1917. They argue that the term Tsar was not formally applied to Nicholas II, as Peter the Great (1672–1725) abolished it in 1721. However, we find that officially, ‘Tsar’ was among the titles of Nicholas II, according to the fundamental state laws of the Russian Empire of 23 April 1906, particularly in relation to several regions such as Kazan, Poland, and Siberia.[116]

Peter the Great may have opted to be addressed as Gosudar Imperator, meaning ‘sovereign emperor’ rather than the Slavic ‘Tsar,’ in light of his pro-Western sentiments, however, the term ‘Tsar’ remained in common usage until the abdication of Nicholas II. It is well known that Nicholas II himself preferred to be referred to as ‘Tsar’ rather than emperor, on account of his Slavophilic tendencies.[117, 118]

Similarly, the general public referred to Nicholas II as ‘Tsar’ and not as ‘emperor.’ Indeed, the national anthem of Imperial Russia from 1833 to 1918 was “God save the Tsar” – “Боже, Царя храни!” (transliterated as “Bozhe, Tsarya khrani”) and not “God save the Emperor.[119] The reader will recall that a quarter million Russians sung these very words to their Tsar on 2 August 1914, when Nicholas II and his wife appeared at the balcony of the Winter Palace to formally declare war on Germany.[120]

Furthermore, even in the immediate aftermath of the murder of Nicholas II, foreign newspapers referred to him as the ‘Tsar’ (or American-English alternative spelling: Czar), indicating that this was the more popular title by which he was known. For example, following the execution of Nicholas Romanov, The New York Times published an article with the headline “Ex-Czar of Russia Killed by Order of Ural Soviet.”[121]

4.6. Can the Title of Tsar only apply to Ferdinand I of Bulgaria?

Related to the previous contention, some critics also claim that the only official ‘Tsar’ during the First World War was the Tsar of Bulgaria, Ferdinand I (1861–1948). In answer to this, several points must be noted. Firstly, the Promised Messiahas made this prophecy in April 1905, at which time there was no Tsar of Bulgaria. Ferdinand I proclaimed this title for himself on 5 November 1908, roughly six months after the Promised Messiah’sas death. This was when Bulgaria had achieved de jure independence from the Ottoman Empire and Ferdinand I elevated the country’s status to that of a kingdom—thus finally referring to himself as a Tsar. At the time of the prophecy, however, there could be no other Tsar intended except for the only Tsar in existence, namely, the Emperor of Imperial Russia.

Secondly, the word for ‘Tsar’ has been used in Urdu as zar and according to the most authoritative Urdu lexicons, the word zar is applied to the Russian emperor only. For example, in the Farhang-e-Asfiya, which comprises of more than 60,000 entries, we find the following entry under zar:

The form of address for the emperor of Russia.

Similarly, we find under the same entry in another authoritative Urdu dictionary, Feroz-al-Lughat:

The title of the emperors of Russia.”

The Promised Messiahas has also used the word zar explicitly in the context of the Tsar of Russia. For example, on 30 January 1903, approximately two years prior to the prophetic poem of 15 April 1905, he wrote:

The same night I saw in a dream as if the sceptre of the Tsar of Russia was in my hand.”

In light of this, it is clear that in Urdu and according to the vocabulary of the Promised Messiahas, he is unequivocally referring to the Emperor of Russia when he uses zar, the Urdu rendering of Tsar.

It is also pertinent to note that at the outbreak of the war in August 1914, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s English language Magazine, The Review of Religions, had translated the word zar as the “Tsar of Russia,” demonstrating that members of the Community understood that the word only referred to the Russian emperor.[122]

4.7. Inevitability of the Russian Revolution

Some sceptics argue that the Russian Revolution of 1917 was predictable, based on events of 1905. Such sceptics cite the defeat at the Russo-Japanese war or the public outcry resulting from the events of ‘Bloody Sunday’ on 22 January 1905, where a large procession of workers led by Father Georgy Gapon were fired upon by armed guards on their way to present a petition to the Tsar. They further argue that it was only a matter of time before such a revolution occurred, which would inevitably bring about a pitiable plight for the Tsar—regardless of the First World War occurring.

This so-called ‘pessimistic narrative’ is in stark contrast to the ‘optimistic narrative’ which denies the inevitability of the Russian revolution, which eroded the foundations of the Tsarist regime, had the First World War not occurred.

In his magisterial study, Russia in 1913, Professor of Imperial Russia, Wayne Dowler, reviews a large corpus of archival data to the end of 1913, the eve of the war. He concludes that, “if Russia was still far from becoming a liberal capitalist democracy in 1913, it was even further from socialist revolution. Severe stresses and tensions remained, but the clear trend before the war was towards co-operation and integration.[123]

Even if we assume, for argument’s sake, that the Russian Revolution was indeed inevitable regardless of whether the First World War broke out or not, a glaring question yet remains: how could the Promised Messiahas possibly know that the Russian Revolution was inevitable? What evidence exists that someone, anyone, told him of this impending revolution or that he was able to deduce it based on the available data at the time?

Furthermore, the central argument has always revolved around the simultaneity of the events and not the occurrence of any single event. One may adopt the pessimistic view of the Russian Revolution. But such a view still provides no adequate naturalistic explanation as to how the Promised Messiahas could have accurately predicted in April 1905 that the Russian Tsar would be in a “pitiable state,” at the same time as that of a global calamity in which numerous other events would occur concurrently. For if Tsardom had ended before or after the global calamity and not during it, the prophecy would have been falsified.

4.8. Was the First World War inevitable and predictable?

Some critics may also argue that the First World War was itself a logical consequence of the prevailing political conditions in Europe prior to 1914. They further argue that given the purported inevitability of the conflict, the Promised Messiahas could have easily predicted the onset of the war.

In answer to this contention, it should be borne in mind that many of the major events cited in the literature as the main factors which contributed to the destabilisation of international relations and eventually rendered an armed conflict inevitable, occurred after the publication of the prophecy in 1905. For example, historians often cite events such as the Austro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina from the Ottoman Empire in 1908 which infuriated many Serbs, who viewed it as their rightful territory and the first and second Balkan wars of 1912-1913, which compelled the Ottoman Empire to cede nearly all of its centuries-old remaining territory in Europe, leaving behind a vacuum of power and thus fomenting instability in the Balkans. They also cite the Moroccan crisis of 1911 between Germany and France when a German gunboat was sent to the Atlantic port city of Agadir, on the pretext of protecting German national interests within the region and eventually led to an escalation in tensions between several of the great powers. All these events, however, transpired after the April 1905 date of the publication of the prophecy. In short, the prevailing political situation at the time of the prophecy was not indicative of the outbreak of a large-scale continental conflict between the European powers, let alone a global conflict of unparalleled ferocity, which would propel distant countries such as America, Brazil and Japan to join the fray.

The inevitability thesis has also been contended by several historians who have even argued that as late as July 1914, after the Sarajevo assassinations, the July crisis could have still been resolved by adequate multilateral peace-keeping mechanisms already in place since the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars in 1815. It has been further argued that given the fact that compromise had been achieved in previous crises, thus averting armed conflict, the onset of this war could have been a result of carelessness and miscalculations on the part of Europe’s foremost statesmen.[124]

One may look at the underlying and apparent causes of the Great War with hindsight, such as the alliance system, intense nationalism, militarism, and by exhaustively evaluating the sum total of evidence, deem it to be inevitable. It is fallacious, however, to infer from this that its inevitability necessitated its predictability to contemporaries of the event. Indeed, inevitability does not imply predictability. That the war was not predictable has been supported by several historians who have drawn upon a vast corpus of primary sources demonstrating that European contemporaries were absolutely shocked when hostilities broke out.[125] This reaction was not limited to Europe, but the utter shock was felt worldwide, as far as Japan and America.[126, 127] If this was the state of affairs at the outbreak of war, how then can it be asserted that the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a man from a remote village in India, with no access to communications except by horse-drawn cart to the nearest telegraph office eleven miles away, possessed the political insight to formulate an educated guess based on the available data? How could he have forecasted the catastrophic events a decade earlier, when there was not the slightest hint of the impending global calamity? By 4 November 1905, only several months after the prophecy, the membership of his Community had already reached 300,000 and was constantly increasing.[128] One may question what he could have possibly gained by concocting a falsifiable prophecy which could jeopardise his entire life’s work?

4.9. Why wasn’t the Prophecy more specific?

Many critics object to an apparent vagueness in the details of the prophecy. Atheists, in particular, argue that had a transcendental Omnipotent Being existed, it would have certainly revealed a prophecy with greater specificity. For example, they may object that barbed wire, artillery and trenches, which were characteristic of the experience of soldiers at the Western Front, should have been explicitly mentioned. Some may even demand more stringent conditions for belief, such as the necessity of explicitly mentioning the exact date and time of the onset and conclusion of the prophesied events and the names of all the main parties involved.

In answer to this objection, the fundamental question is who gives us a right to demand greater specificity? Indeed, as being the lesser consciousness in the equation, we are not in the position to dictate the terms to the purported omniscient Being and demand from it greater specificity as an essential precondition of belief.

The following example illustrates this point. A student who undergoes an examination may feel that they are asked questions that are irrelevant. However, that student will never object to their examiners and dictate the questions to them. Instead, the student will accept what they are given and try their best to formulate an appropriate answer. In the same manner, it would be arrogant of us to dictate the level of specificity and precision by which a purported Omniscient God should reveal information of the future. Given the theistic worldview that this life is temporal and a test, it may be that this Being has good reasons for choosing to disclose prophecies with this degree of specificity which is hitherto unfathomable by our limited intelligence. Instead, we should make a sincere effort to understand divine revelation with our God-given rationality and employ it to seek ultimate truth.

5. Conclusion

During the years of 1914 to 1918, the world witnessed a spectacle of doomsday, the like of which was never seen before. In the words of the French historian, Professor Antoine Prost: “the Great War, was a hecatomb without precedent, with losses on a truly monstrous scale.[129] As the world now reflects on the centenary of this tragedy, we must not forget that at the onset of the twentieth century, in the distant foothills of the Himalayas, in a tiny remote Indian village, a divinely inspired man proclaimed to the world that the Omniscient God had warned him of the impending global catastrophe. His words were to be met with awe-inspiring fulfilment.

The miracle exists in the fact that all these events had been predicted to occur simultaneously and thus furnishes an irrefutable cumulative case argument. If one objects to vagueness, inevitability, or its contemplation in popular fiction, it has no bearing on explaining how such a precise, multifaceted and detailed prophecy could have been predicted nine years prior to the event. The characteristic of a false prophecy may be that only several strands of the prophecy are fulfilled while others remain unfulfilled. To find a prophecy that has all its aspects fulfilled is indeed an extraordinary event. In 1905, it would have been inconceivable to concoct such a precise and detailed prophecy. In light of no plausible naturalistic explanations, one is compelled to accept the explanation given by the proclaimer of that prophecy- that they are indeed the words of the Omniscient God.

In critique of the claims of divine prophecies, one of the foremost proponents of ‘New Atheism,’ the late Professor Victor Stenger writes:

If someone’s inner sense were to warn of an impending earthquake unpredicted by science, which then occurred on schedule, we would have evidence for this extrasensory source of knowledge. Claims of “divine prophecies” have been made throughout history, but not one has been conclusively confirmed. In just one of countless examples of the same nature, the claimed prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem was fulfilled after the fact by the Gospel writers inventing implausible, inconsistent, and historically disprovable scenarios by which Jesus could have been born there. So far we see no evidence that the feelings people experience when they perceive themselves to be in touch with the supernatural correspond to anything outside their heads, and we have no reason to rely on those feelings when they occur. However, if such evidence or reason should show up, then scientists will have to consider it whether they like it or not.”[130]

Unfortunately, Professor Stenger is not alive to consider the prophecy presented in this article. Atheist polemicists worldwide, however, should now have more than sufficient reason to consider the evidence.

This is by no means an exhaustive account of all of the Promised Messiah’sas prophecies related to the First World War, nor is it claimed that all available archival records and scholarly works in this field have been consulted. Such an arduous task would require access to the numerous languages spoken by all nations involved in the conflict and to the archival records found in notebooks, diaries, letters, etc. A humble attempt has been made, however, to demonstrate the fulfilment of several aspects contained in the poetic form of the prophecy of 15 April 1905.

This article ends with the words of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra, who spoke about the prophecy in a treatise presented to the then Prince of Wales on the occasion of his official visit to India in 1922:

Thus, the numerous aspects of this prophecy have been so clearly fulfilled that this single sign alone is sufficient to establish the truthfulness of the Promised Messiahas.”[131]

About the Author: Bilal Ahmed Tahir is currently a research fellow at the University of Sheffield and Weston Park Cancer Hospital, specialising in the field of medical physics. He serves as the Head of the Arabic Desk for the Northern UK regions and is a member of the international Arabic Desk of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He has translated several publications both from and into the Arabic language. He has been engaged in a community-history research project on the First World War and its legacy, from the perspective of the Ahmadiyya Community.

 

Endnotes

  1. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Jinn, Verses 27-28.
  2. Deuteronomy, 18:22 (King James Version).
  3. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Malfoozat, Vol. 1, pp. 312-313.
  4. Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist (Amherst, N.Y: Prometheus Books, 2007), p. 170.
  5. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, “Ishtihar al-Indhar,” Al-Hakam, Vol. 9, No. 12, April 8, 1905, 2; The Review of Religions, April 1905, pp. 159-161.
  6. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Ishtiharat, Vol. 3, p. 522.
  7. The Review of Religions, January 1916, p. 31.
  8. New Zealand Herald, Vol. XLIII, Issue 13157, 21 April 1906, p. 5.
  9. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya Part 5; Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 21, pp. 151–152.
  10. Polygonum bistorta (commonly known as Bistort) is a flowering plant native to many parts of Europe and Asia. Its roots, which are internally coloured reddish-brown, are used to make medicinal syrups for treating a number of conditions including dysentery and diarrhoea. Even today it is sold as a red coloured potion in South Asia (e.g. http://www.marhaba.com.pk/prd_details.php?prd=53&cat=37).
  11. For a comprehensive study of the origins of the First World War, the reader is referred to the popular and scholarly literature on the topic, such as Professor Margaret MacMillan’s recent publication: The War That Ended Peace: How Europe Abandoned Peace for the First World War, (Profile Books, 2014).
  12. The Sphere: An Illustrated Newspaper for the Home, 28 November 1914 (Quoted in The Review of Religions, June 1915, pp. 211-212).
  13. David Reynolds, “The Origins of the Two ‘World Wars’: Historical Discourse and International Politics,” Journal of Contemporary History 38, no. 1 (January 1, 2003): pp. 29–44, doi:10.1177/0022009403038001962.
  14. 1914-1918-online. A Global Encyclopedia of a Global War, in: Helmut Bley, Anorthe Kremers (Hg.): The World During the First World War, Essen 2014, pp. 361-363.
  15. Dost Muhammad Shahid, Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, Vol. 2, p. 386.
  16. Samuël Kruizinga, “Neutrality,” in The Cambridge History of the First World War, ed. Jay Winter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 542–75, http://universitypublishingonline.org/ref/id/histories/CHO9780511675676A033.
  17. Hew Strachan, Epilogue. In: Jay Winter (ed.) The Legacy of the Great War: Ninety Years on (University of Missouri Press, 2009), p. 194.
  18. Les Carlyon, Gallipoli (Sydney: Pan Macmillan Australia, 2001), p. 183.
  19. Alan Moorehead, Gallipoli, (Hamish Hamilton Ltd., 1956), p.143.
  20. IWM Library, Special Collection: Major Mahmut, “Memoirs of the Battalion Commander Who Opposed the First Landings at Seddulbahr,” p. 3. Quoted in Peter Hart, Gallipoli (Profile Books, 2013), p.139.
  21. Robert M. Citino, The German Way of War: From the Thirty Years’ War to the Third Reich (University Press of Kansas, 2008), p. xvi.
  22. Laurence Moyer, Victory Must Be Ours: Germany in the Great War, 1914-1918 (Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 1995), p. 80.
  23. Laurence Moyer, Victory Must Be Ours: Germany in the Great War, 1914-1918 (Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 1995), p. 81.
  24. Antoine Prost, “The Dead,” in The Cambridge History of the First World War, ed. Jay Winter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 561–91, http://universitypublishingonline.org/ref/id/histories/CHO9780511675683A036.
  25. Deborah Cohen, “Will to Work: Disabled Veterans in Britain and Germany after the First World War,” in Disabled Veterans in History, ed. David A. Gerber (University of Michigan Press, 2012), p. 295.
  26. Micheal Clodfelter, Warfare and Armed Conflicts – A Statistical Reference to Casualty and Other Figures, 1500–2000 (McFarland & Co Inc, 2002), p. 479.
  27. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, Khutbat-e-Mahmud, 23 March 1917.
  28. Dorothee Brantz, “Environments of Death: Trench Warfare on the Western Front 1914-18,” in War and the Environment: Military Destruction in the Modern Age, ed. Charles Closmann (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2009), p. 82.
  29. Lawrence Sondhaus, World War One: The Global Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 79.
  30. Dorothee Brantz, “Environments of Death: Trench Warfare on the Western Front 1914-18,” in War and the Environment: Military Destruction in the Modern Age, ed. Charles Closmann (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2009), p. 82.
  31. Dorothee Brantz, “Environments of Death: Trench Warfare on the Western Front 1914-18,” in War and the Environment: Military Destruction in the Modern Age, ed. Charles Closmann (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2009), p. 77.
  32. Battle Remains on the WW1 Western Front, http://www.greatwar.co.uk/article/battle-remains-western-front.htm.
  33. Dorothee Brantz, “Environments of Death: Trench Warfare on the Western Front 1914-18,” in War and the Environment: Military Destruction in the Modern Age, ed. Charles Closmann (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2009), p. 77.
  34. Rowland Fielding, War Letters to a Wife: France and Flanders, 1915-1919 (Naval & Military Press, 2001), p. 70.
  35. Alan Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction: Culture and Mass Killing in the First World War (Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 47, 49, 151.
  36. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity, and German Occupation in World War I (Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 17.
  37. Peter Gatrell, “War, Population Displacement and State Formation in the Russian Borderlands, 1914-1924,” in Homelands: War, Population and Statehood in Eastern Europe and Russia, 1918-1924, ed. by Nick Baron (Anthem Press, 2004), p. 12.
  38. Vanda Wilcox “Mountain Warfare in the Italian Theatre of War,” The British Library, accessed January 2, 2015, http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/mountain-warfare.
  39. Gaetano V. Cavallaro, The Beginning of Futility (Xlibris, 2010), p. 230.
  40. Badr, Vol. 2, No. 20, May 17, 1906, p. 2.
  41. Al-Hakam, Vol. 10, No. 17, 17 May 1906, p. 1.
  42. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, Invitation to Ahmadiyyat (Islamic International Publications Ltd, 1997), p. 278.
  43. Lawrence Sondhaus, World War One: The Global Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 273-306.
  44. The Review of Religions, February 2005, pp. 15-16.
  45. Lee Kennett, The First Air War: 1914-1918 (Simon and Schuster, 1999), p. 8.
  46. John H. Morrow, “The Air War,” in The Cambridge History of the First World War, ed. Jay Winter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 349–375, http://universitypublishingonline.org/ref/id/histories/CHO9780511675669A025.
  47. Prophecy of 8 April 1905. The 15 April 1905 prophetic poem also states that “men will lose their senses.
  48. Jay Winter, “Shell Shock,” in The Cambridge History of the First World War, ed. Jay Winter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 310–333, http://universitypublishingonline.org/ref/id/histories/CHO9780511675683A025.
  49. Charles Myers, “A Contribution to the Study of Shell Shock: Being an Account of Three Cases of Loss of Memory, Vision, Smell, and Taste, Admitted into the Duchess of Westminster’s War Hospital, Le Touquet,” The Lancet, 13 February 1915, pp. 316–320.
  50. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, Invitation to Ahmadiyyat (Islamic International Publications Ltd, 1997), p. 272.
  51. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, Ahmadiyyat or The True Islam (Islamic International Publications Ltd., 2008), p. 121.
  52. Pelemann, B. (1922) Broschüre über den Belgischen Wasserschläiger. cf. J. Sandfort (1989) Kanarienfreund, p. 42, pp. 470-473.
  53. Leo van Bergen, Before My Helpless Sight: Suffering, Dying and Military Medicine on the Western Front 1914 – 1918 (Ashgate Publishing, 2009), p. 130.
  54. R. W. Shufeldt, “Science, Ornithology, and the War,” The Wilson Bulletin, Vol. 27, No. 2 (1915), pp. 344-347.
  55. Ibid.
  56. Katherine A. Tschida, Richard Mooney, Deafening Drives Cell-Type-Specific Changes to Dendritic Spines in a Sensorimotor Nucleus Important to Learned Vocalizations, Neuron, Volume 73, Issue 5 (2012), pp. 1028–1039.
  57. Editorial, “The Deaf Soldier,” J Laryngol Otol XXXII, no. 11 (1917): pp. 337-338.
  58. P Marler, M Konishi, A Lutjen, MS Waser, “Effects of Continuous Noise on Avian Hearing and Vocal Development,” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 70, no. 5 (1973): pp. 1393-1396.
  59. M Müller, JW Smolders, D Ding-Pfennigdorff, R Klinke, “Regeneration After Tall Hair Cell Damage Following Severe Acoustic Trauma in Adult Pigeons: Correlation Between Cochlear Morphology, Compound Action Potential Responses and Single Fiber Properties in Single Animals,” Hear Res. 102, no. 1-2 (1996): pp. 133-154.
  60. M Müller, JW Smolders, D Ding-Pfennigdorff, R Klinke, “Discharge Properties of Pigeon Single Auditory Nerve Fibers After Recovery From Severe Acoustic Trauma,” Int J Dev Neurosci 15, no. 4-5 (1997): pp. 401-416.
  61. Ekaterina Rogatchevskaia “Witnessing and Remembering Russia’s War,” The British Library, accessed January 4, 2015, http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/witnessing-and-remembering-russias-war.
  62. Muhammad Zafrulla Khanra and Wayne Wilcox and Aislie T. Embree, The Reminiscences of Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, pp. 1-2.
  63. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, “Tuhfat Shahzad Wales,” Anwarul ‘Uloom, Vol. 6, p. 523.
  64. His full title as set forth in Article 59 of the 1906 Constitution was “We, Nicholas the Second, by the grace of God, Emperor and Autocrat of all Russia, of Moscow, Kiev, Vladimir, Novgorod, Tsar of Kazan, Tsar of Astrakhan, King of Poland, Tsar of Siberia, Tsar of Tauric Chersonesos, Tsar of Georgia, Lord of Pskov, and Grand Duke of Smolensk, Lithuania, Volhynia, Podolia, and Finland, Prince of Estonia, Livonia, Courland and Semigalia, Samogitia, Białystok, Karelia, Tver, Yugra, Perm, Vyatka, Bulgaria, and other territories; Lord and Grand Duke of Nizhny Novgorod, Chernigov; Ruler of Ryazan, Polotsk, Rostov, Yaroslavl, Beloozero, Udoria, Obdoria, Kondia, Vitebsk, Mstislav, and all northern territories; Ruler of Iveria, Kartalinia, and the Kabardinian lands and Armenian territories; hereditary Ruler and Lord of the Cherkess and Mountain Princes and others; Lord of Turkestan, Heir of Norway, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, Stormarn, Dithmarschen, Oldenburg, and so forth, and so forth, and so forth.
  65. Alexander M. Yakovlev, The Rule-of-Law Idéal and Russian Reality. In: Legal Reform in Post-Communist Europe: The View from Within, ed. Stanisław Frankowski and Paul B. Stephan III (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1994), p. 12.
  66. “Nicholas II of Russia Net Worth,” Celebrity Net Worth, accessed July 5, 2015, http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-businessmen/richest-billionaires/nicholas-ii-russia-net-worth/.“No. 10 Cornelius Vanderbilt – Photos – Top 10 Richest People of All Time,” NY Daily News, accessed July 5, 2015, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/top-10-richest-people-time-gallery-1.1186737.
  1. Walter G. Moss, A History of Russia Volume 1: To 1917 (Anthem Press, 2003), p. 509.
  2. Solomon Volkov, St Petersburg: A Cultural History (Free Press, 1997), p. 195.
  3. Ed. Charles F. Horne, Source Records of the Great War: Volume III (National Alumni, 1923).
  4. Edvard Radzinsky, The Rasputin File, Reprint edition (New York: Anchor Books, 2001).
  5. Prior to 1 January 1918, Russia used the Julian calendar which, by the 20th century, trailed behind the Gregorian calendar by 13 days. Thus, it would have been the March revolution according to the latter calendar.
  6. Michael Kort, A Brief History of Russia, (Facts on File, Inc., 2008), pp. 152-153.
  7. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, Khutbat-e-Mahmud, 23 March 1917.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Mark D. Steinberg and Vladimir M. Khrustalëv, The Fall of the Romanovs: Political Dreams and Personal Struggles in a Time of Revolution (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), p. 124.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Mark D. Steinberg and Vladimir M. Khrustalëv, The Fall of the Romanovs: Political Dreams and Personal Struggles in a Time of Revolution (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), p. 277.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Yakov Yurovsky (1922), Confession note, In: Iakov Iurovskii, ‘Slishkom vse bylo iasno dlia naroda’, Istochnik, 0 (1993), pp. 107–16. For an English translation see: http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/YurovskyNoteEnglish.html.
  15. Wendy Slater, The Many Deaths of Tsar Nicholas II: Relics, Remains and the Romanovs (London ; New York: Routledge, 2007), p. 13.
  16. Yakov Yurovsky (1922), Confession note, In: Iakov Iurovskii, ‘Slishkom vse bylo iasno dlia naroda’, Istochnik, 0 (1993), pp. 107–16. See also: http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/YurovskyNoteEnglish.html.
  17. Peter Gill et al., “Identification of the Remains of the Romanov Family by DNA Analysis,” Nature Genetics 6, no. 2 (February 1994):
    pp. 130–135, doi:10.1038/ng0294-130.
  18. Penny Wilson, Greg King, The Resurrection of the Romanovs: Anastasia, Anna Anderson, and the World’s Greatest Royal Mystery (John Wiley & Sons, 2010), p. 2.
  19. Michael D. Coble et al., “Mystery Solved: The Identification of the Two Missing Romanov Children Using DNA Analysis,” PLoS ONE 4, no. 3 (March 11, 2009): e4838, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004838.
  20. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, Ahmadiyyat or The True Islam (Islamic International Publications Ltd., 2008), p. 122.
  21. S. A. Smith, The Russian Revolution: A Very Short Introduction, 1st edition (Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 1.
  22. Edward William Lane, An Arabic-English Lexicon (1993), p. 2553.
  23. John Thompson Platts, A dictionary of Urdu, classical Hindi, and English (London: W. H. Allen & Co, 1884), p. 94.
  24. Authorized report of Glasgow speech supplied to daily press, 27 December 1915.
  25. See Friday sermon of 23 March 1917, Khutbat-e-Mahmud, for an early recorded instance in Ahmadi literature of the fulfilment of the prophecy relating to the Tsar’s pitiable plight.
  26. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, Khuda ke qahri nishan, Anwarul ‘Uloom, Vol. 3.
  27. See for example: Khuda ke qahri nishan, Anwarul ‘Uloom, Vol. 3; Invitation to Ahmadiyyat; Ahmadiyyat or the true Islam; Tuhfat shahzad Wales, Anwarul ‘Uloom, Vol. 6.
  28. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, Tuhfat Shahzad Wales, Anwarul ‘Uloom, Vol 6, p. 522.
  29. Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-‘Arab.
  30. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Ahzab, Verse 12.
  31. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Zilzal, Verse 2.
  32. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, part 5, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 21, p. 151, footnote.
  33. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Damimah Barahin-e-Ahmadiyyah, part 5, pp. 93–94, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 21, pp. 253–255.
  34. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, Khuda ke qahri nishan, Anwarul ‘Uloom, Vol. 3.
  35. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Naml, Verse 35.
  36. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, Invitation to Ahmadiyyat, (Islamic International Publications Ltd, 1997), pp. 272-273.
  37. Authorized report of Glasgow speech supplied to daily press, 27 December 1915.
  38. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Damimah Barahin-e-Ahmadiyyah, part 5, pp. 93–94, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 21, pp. 253–255.
  39. Badr, Vol. 2, no. 13, March 29, 1906, p. 1.
  40. Al-Hakam, Vol. 10, no. 11, March 31, 1906, p. 1.
  41. Badr, Vol. 2, no. 14, April 5, 1906, p. 2.
  42. Badr, Vol. 2, no. 15, April 12, 1906, p. 2.
  43. Al-Hakam, Vol. 10, no. 11, March 31, 1906, p. 1.
  44. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Haqiqatul-Wahi, p. 100 footnote, Ruhani Khaza’in Vol. 22 p. 103 footnote.
  45. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, Khuda ke qahri nishan, Anwarul ‘Uloom, Vol. 3.
  46. Brill’s Encyclopedia of the First World War ed. Gerhard Hirschfeld, Gerd Krumeich and Irina Renz (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2012), Vol. 2, pp. 625-627.
  47. The Review of Religions, August 1914, p. 307.
  48. This is in reference to the (Indian) Press and Registration of Books Act of 1867 which stipulated that a copy of every printed or lithographed work in British India must be deposited at the India Office Library. The India Office archives are currently housed at the British Library, London.
  49. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, Zinda Khuda ke zuburdust nishan, Anwarul ‘Uloom, Vol. 3, p. 558.
  50. Thomas Sanders, Historiography of Imperial Russia: The Profession and Writing of History in a Multinational State, p. 13.
  51. Zhand Shakibi, Revolutions and the Collapse of the Monarchy: Human Agency and the Making of Revolution in France, Russia and Iran, (2006), p. 72.
  52. Justin C. Vovk, Imperial Requiem: Four Royal Women and the Fall of the Age of Empires (2012), p. 523.
  53. James Von Geldern and Louise McReynolds, eds., Entertaining Tsarist Russia: Tales, Songs, Plays, Movies, Jokes, Ads, and Images from Russian Urban Life, 1779-1917 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998),p. 107.
  54. Walter G. Moss, A History of Russia Volume 1: To 1917, p. 509.
  55. The New York Times, 21 July 1918.
  56. The Review of Religions, August 1914, p. 307.
  57. Wayne Dowler, Russia in 1913 (Northern Illinois University Press, 2010), p. 279.
  58. Friedrich Kiešling, Unfought Wars: The Effect of Détente before World War I (2007). In: Holger Afflerbach and David Stevenson, An Improbable War? The Outbreak of World War I and European Political Culture before 1914 (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2007).
  59. Holger Afflerbach, The Topos of Improbable War in Europe before 1914 (2007). In: Ibid.
  60. Frederick R. Dickinson, The View from Japan: War and Peace in Europe around 1914 (2007). In: Holger Afflerbach and David Stevenson, An Improbable War? The Outbreak of World War I and European Political Culture before 1914 (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2007).
  61. Fraser Harbutt, War, Peace, and Commerce: The American Reaction to the Outbreak of World War I in Europe (2007). In: Holger Afflerbach and David Stevenson, An Improbable War? The Outbreak of World War I and European Political Culture before 1914 (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2007).
  62. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Lecture Ludhiana (Delivered on 4 November 1905), p. 2.
  63. Antoine Prost, “The Dead,” in The Cambridge History of the First World War, ed. Jay Winter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 561–591, http://universitypublishingonline.org/ref/id/histories/CHO9780511675683A036.
  64. Victor Stenger, God and The Folly of Faith (Prometheus Books, 2012), p. 27.
  65. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, Tuhfat Shahzad Wales, Anwarul ‘Uloom, Vol. 6, p. 524.

 

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