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Lunar and Solar Eclipses as Signs of the Promised Messiah

Lunar and Solar Eclipses as Signs of the Promised Messiah (Sal eh Mohammed Alladin) Almighty God says in the Holy Quran: “He (God) is the Knower ofthe unseen; and He reveals not His secrets to anyone, Except to a Messenger of His whom He chooses” (72: 27,28). The Messengers of God have close contact with God and are given knowledge of the unseen by Him. They have the distinction of being granted abundance of revealed knowledge and they make remarkable prophecies. Our most revered master the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) had prophesied the advent of a Messiah and Mahdi (Divine Reformer) in the latter days through whom faith would be restored in the world and the renaissance of Islam would be brought about. The Holy Prophet mentioned several signs which would mark the advent of the Promised Messiah. In this article, I wish to draw attention to a remarkable prophecy concerning the occurrence of lunar and solar eclipses at the time of the advent of the Promised Messiah. Darqutni, an emiIlent authority on Hadees (i.e. sayings of the Holy Prophet) who lived from 918 to 995 A.D. had recorded that the Holy Prophet said: “For our Mahdi there are two signs which have never appeared before since the creation of the heavens and the earth, namely, the moon will be eclipsed on the first night in Ramazan (i.e. on the first of the nights on which lunar eclipse can occur) and the sun will be eclipsed on the middle day of Ramazan (i.e. on the middle one of the days on which solar eclipse can occur); and these signs have not appeared since the creation of the heavens and the earth.” (Darqutni Vol. 1 page 188). The collections of Hadees of both Sunni and Shia sects mention these signs. Eminent Muslim scholars have been quoting this Hadees in their books. The ECLIPSES AS SIGNS OF THE PROMISED MESSIAH 43 Ahmadiyya Pocket Book by the late Malik Abdur Rahman Khadim Saheb may be seen for these references. The Holy Bible also mentions of the darkening of the sun and of the moon not giving light, in connection with the signs of the second coming of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:29). Lunar and solar eclipses occur according to the laws of nature. The moon is eclipsed when the shadow of the earth falls on it and the sun is eclipsed when the disk of the moon prevents the light of the sun from reaching the earth. The eclipses take place when the sun, the earth and the moon, are all in the same straight line or very nearly so. If the earth’s orbit around the sun and the moon’s orbit around the earth, were in the same plane, there would have been a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse every month at full moon and new moon respectively. But actually the two orbital planes are inclined to each other by an angle of about 5 degrees, on account of which the maximum number of eclipses in a year does not exceed 7 (4 or 5 being solar and 3 or 2 being lunar). The minimum number of eclipses which can occur in a year is two, both being solar. The lunar eclipse occurs at full moon and the solar eclipse at new moon. The month of the Islamic calendar (Hijra) begins with the sighting of the lunar crescent and not from the new moon as given in astronomical almanacs. The latter is the time when the sun and the moon have the same longitude. If the Hijra calendar is used, the dates on which a lunar eclipse can occur are 13,14 and 15; and the dates on which a solar eclipse can occur are 27, 28 and 29. The prophecy thus requires that the lunar eclipse should occur on the first of the three nights in Ramazan, i.e. on 13th Ramazan, and the solar eclipse should occur on the middle of the three days in Ramazan, i.e. on 28th Ramazan. In the Hadees, the word Qamar is used for the moon and not Hilal. The crescent of the first night is called Hilal while the word Qamar is used for the moon from fourth night onward. Thus the interpretation that the first night in Ramazan implies 13th Ramazan is also supported by the word Qamar used in the Hadees. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (peace be on him) claimed to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi in the year 1891 on the basis of Divine revelations which he received. In support of his claims, he gave numerous arguments. But the contemporary theologians rejected his claims and he met a storm of very severe opposition. The prophesied eclipses occurred in 1894 (1311 Hijra). The lunar and solar eclipses both occurred in the month of Ramazan on the specified dates and both were visible from Qadian, the place of the Promised Messiah. The lunar eclipse occurred on 13th of Ramazan (21st of March after sunset) and the solar eclipse occurred on Friday, 28th of Ramazan (6th of April). 44 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Soon after these celestial signs were witnessed, the Promised Messiah wrote a book entitled “Noor-ul-Haq” (i.e. Light of Truth) Part n, which was devoted to a discussion of the grand fulfilment of the remarkable prophecy of the Holy Prophet. In this book he explained in the light of Divine revelation that the true interpretation of the Hadees is that in the time of the Mahdi the moon will be eclipsed in the first of the three nights in which it is full, i.e. on 13 Ramazan, and that the sun will be eclipsed on the middle day out of the days on which an eclipse can occur, i.e. on 28 Ramazan. The Promised Messiah emphasized in this book that this is a great Divine sign and such a sign was not shown for any other Divinely appointed reformer in the past. The Almighty God has manifested the authenticity of the Hadees by the fulfilment of the prophecy. The Promised Messiah drew attention to several properties of the eclipses which make the Sign very impressive. He even offered a reward of one thousand rupees to anyone who could show the like of it in the past. He wrote as follows: “Can you present a sign like this in any age in the past? Do you read in any book that some person had claimed to be from the Almighty God and then in his time in Ramazan lunar and solar eclipses occurred as you have now seen? If you are aware then relate it and you will get one thousand rupees as reward if you can show. So prove it and take this reward and I make the Almighty God a Witness on this promise, and you also be witness and God is the best of all witnesses.” (Noor-ul-Haq, Part 11, page 21). Let me mention some properties of these eclipses of 1894 which make the Sign very appealing. When a lunar eclipse takes place it is seen from more than half of the earth’s sphere but a solar eclipse is seen from a much smaller area. It often happens that a solar eclipse is visible from a sparsely populated area or from an ocean. The solar eclipse of 6 April 1894 was visible from many places in Asia including India. The Promised Messiah and his companions also saw it from Oadian. The Promised Messiah wrote in “Noorul Haq” that people should ponder over this fact that the sign was manifested in his place. He thus wrote as follows: “0 servants of God, ponder and think. Do you consider it permissible that the Mahdi should be born in the countries of Arabia and Syria and his Sign should be manifested in our country; and you know that the wisdom of God does not separate the Sign from the person for whom the Sign is meant. Then how could it be possible that the Mahdi should be in the east but his sign should be in the west. And this should be sufficient for you if you are really seekers after truth.” The time at which an eclipse occurs depends upon the place. The words of the prophecy, namely, the lunar eclipse will occur in the first night and the solar eclipse will occur in the middle, were fulfilled in two ways in Oadian. Not ECLIPSES AS SIGNS OF THE PROMISED MESSIAH 45 only did the lunar eclipse occur on the first of the three nights, i.e. on 13 Ramazan, but also it occurred in the beginning of the night in Oadian. The solar eclipse not only occurred in the middle day, 28 Ramazan, but also occurred in Oadian in the forenoon. It did not occur early in the morning and it was over before noon, in Oadian. It thus divided the days of the eclipse more or less into two halves. Eclipses are of different kinds. Some are prominent and some are faint. A lunar eclipse can be partial or total. The lunar eclipse of 13 Ramazan 1511 Hijra was partial. Solar eclipses may be classified into four categories, namely, partial, annular, annular-total and total. Ofthese four types, the first type is the most common and the third type is the rarest. In the third category, the vertex of the moon’s shadow just reaches the earth. Professor Mitchell has deduced from the data of past eclipses that in an average century the total number of solar eclipses were 237, out of which only 10 were of the third type. (Eclipses of the Sun by T. A. Mitchell, Columbia University Press, New York, 5th Edition 1951 page 53) The solar eclipse of 28 Ramazan 1311 Hijra (6 April 1894) was of the third category. It was a spectacular eclipse. Prof. T. R. von Oppolzer has given some details of the present and future lunar and solar eclipses from 1208 B.C. to 2161 A.D. in his book “Canon of Eclipses” (Dover Publications, New York, 1962). He has shown by means of maps the paths of only the prominent solar eclipses, i.e. those of the second, third and fourth categories. The path of the solar eclipse of 6 April 1894 is included in Oppolzer’s map (Chart 148). One can see the path of totality passing through India and a large part of Asia. In his book “Noor-ul-Haq”, the Promised Messiah has drawn attention to the fact that the solar eclipse of 28 Ramazan was a spectacular one as testified by the well-known newspapers of the time, Pioneer and Civil Military Gazette. The eclipses of the sun and the moon are also mentioned in the Holy Ouran as signs of the latter days. The Holy Ouran says: “When the sight is dazzled, And the moon is eclipsed, And the sun and the moon are brought together. ” (75:8,9,10). As elucidated by the Hadees, the expression the sun and the moon are brought together implies that the sun will also be eclipsed. The Holy Ouran thus supports the Hadees under discussion and the Hadees gives valuable details. It is worthy of note that while the Holy Ouran uses the word “Khasaf” for the lunar eclipse, it does not use the word “Khasaf” for the solar eclipse. Commenting on this point, the Promised Messiah wrote that in this way the Holy Ouran has hinted that the solar eclipse will be an extraordinary one. According to another Hadees, the eclipses would occur twice in Ramazan. 46 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS In the year 1895, lunar and solar eclipses also occurred in the month of Ramazan on 11 March and 26 March respectively. These eclipses occurred in the West. These eclipses were not visible from Qadian, but when these eclipses occurred the dates in Qadian were 13 and 28 Ramazan respectively. The Promised Messiah made mention of these eclipses also in his book “Haqiqatul Wahi” on page 195. Objections have been raised that lunar and solar eclipses have occurred in the month of Ramazan several times and hence this could not be a reasonable criterion for the recognition of a Divine Messenger. A study of the frequency of the occurrence of the eclipses shows that in a period of about 22 years, we have a year, or more commonly, two consecutive years in which both lunar and solar eclipses occur in the month of Ramazan over some part of the world or the other. This is irrespective of the dates of Ramazan. But it is worthy of note that the occurrence of both eclipses on the specified dates of Ramazan from a particular place is quite rare. The presence of the claimant is also a vital part of the prophecy. The Signs are for the benefit of the Mahdi. The Promised Messiah wrote: “As a matter of fact since Adam to the present time nobody ever made a prophecy like this. This prophecy has four aspects: (1) the occurrence of the lunar eclipse on the first of the eclipse nights, (2) the occurrence of the solar eclipse on the middle of the eclipse days, (3) the occurrence in the month of Ramazan, (4) the presence ofthe claimant who is rejected. Hence if the greatness of this prophecy is denied, then show a parallel to it in the world.” (Tohfa Golarviya page 29). In an article published by Mr. Bhazi Munajjam in Weekly Chatan, Lahore, dated 25 July to 1 August 1983, it was rightly mentioned that lunar and solar eclipses occurred in the month of Ramazan in the years 1807, 1829, 1851, 1873,1894,1937,1959, and 1982. But the author neither mentioned the dates of Ramazan for any of these eclipses nor did he mention any other claiment of being Mahdi who advanced any of the pairs of eclipses as a sign of his truth. I requested the staff of the Positional Astronomy Centre, India Meteorological Department, Calcutta 700053, to calculate the dates of Ramazan for the eclipses that occurred during those years as well as for the eclipses that occurred in Ramazan in the year 1894. The results obtained by them are given in Tables 1 and 2. Since the Islamic month begins with the sighting of the lunar crescent, the dates of the Islamic month for the same eclipse can differ with place. In the tables the dates are given with respect to Qadian. It can be seen from the tables that out of the ten cases studied, only in the case of the year 1894, both eclipses were visible from Qadian on the specified dates. It is remarkable that appropriate eclipses occurred at the time of the Promised Messiah and the prophecy was fulfilled in a glorious way. All praise to the Almighty God. May His choicest blessings be on the Holy Prophet. ECLIPSES AS SIGNS OF THE PROMISED MESSIAH 47 The Promised Messiah wrote: “We do not discuss how often solar and lunar eclipses have occurred on the particular dates in the month of Ramazan from the beginning of the world till today. Our aim is only to mention that from the time man has appeared in this world, the lunar and solar eclipses have occurred as signs only in my time for me. Prior to me, no one had this circumstance that on one hand he claimed to be Mahdi Mauood (Promised Reformer) and on the other, after his claim, in the month of Ramazan, on the appointed dates, lunar and solar eclipses occurred and he declared the eclipses as signs in his favour. The Hadees of Darqutni does not say at all that solar and lunar eclipses did not occur ever before; but it does clearly say that such eclipses never occurred earlier as Signs.” (Chashma Marifat page 314). It can also be inferred from the words of the precious prophecy that these signs are meant only for the Promised Messiah whom the Holy Prophet has referred so affectionately as “our Mahdi”. Even if another Reformer appears later and the eclipses occur on the specified dates of Ramazan in his time, he would not be able to say that such a Sign has not been shown for any other Divine Reformer before him since the creation of the world, since the Sign has already been manifested for the Promised Messiah. The Promised Messiah even declared on oath that the lunar and solar eclipses were Divine Signs for him. He wrote: “I swear by God in Whose Hand is my life that He has manifested this Sign on the sky to testify my truthfulness, and He manifested it at a time when the Maulvis named as Dajjal (Anti-Christ), biggest liar, infidel and even biggest infidel. . . I have been given such a sign which was not given to anybody else from the time of Adam to the present time. In short, I can stand in the sacred precincts of the Kaba and swear that this Sign is for testifying my truthfulness.” (Tohfa Golarviya page 33). In a poem, the Promised Messiah wrote: “0 my dears, the man who was to come, has already come, Even the sun and the moon have disclosed this secret to you. ” Acknowledgement I am grateful to the staff of the Positional Astronomy Centre, India Meteorological Department, Calcutta 700053, India for kindly providing the information given in Tables 1 and 2. “‘” 00 Table 1 SOLAR ECLIPSES S.No. Date Type Time (1ST) Date of Date of Hejri date at Visibility of Remarks of Moon’s first 1st Ramzan the time of eclipse over junction visibility Solar eclipse Qadian h m at Qadian (Ramazan) 1. 20-XI-1807 t 17 19 — Data not available — Partial phase likely at Sunset 2. 4-IV-1829 t 03 54 6-I1I-1829 7-I1I-1829 29 Not visible Eclipse time is ~ after Sunset at :s Qadian ~ 3. 28-VII-1851 t 20 11 — Data not available — Not visible 0 .., 4. 20-XI-1873 P 09 07 — Data not available — Not visible ” 5. 6-IV-1894 09 31 9-I1I-1894* 10-I1I-1894 28 Visible tz:l an t-‘ 6. 26-I1I-1895 P 15 56 26-11-1895 27-11-1895 28 Not visible Eclipse occurred § 0 over north Z Atlantic, Ul north pole etc. 7. 19-VII-1917 P 08 31 21-VI-1917* 22-VI-1917 28 Not visible 8. 3-XII-1937 an 04 42 5-XI-1937 6-XI-1937 28 Not visible 9. 8-IV-1959 an 09 00 1O-I1I-1959 11-I1I-1959 29 Not visible 10. 20/21-VII-1982 P 24 27 22-VI-1982 23-VI-1982 29 Not visible Eclipse time is around midnight of 20/21 July. • Moon may have become visible one day earlier on these occasions if meteorological conditions were good. I – SNOIm’JD .110 A\:DAD _ Table 2 LUNAR ECLIPSES S. No. Date Type Time (1ST) Date of Date of Hejri date at Visibility of of Moon’s first 1st Ramzan the time of Lunar eclipse opposition visibility Lunar eclipse over Qadian h m at Qadian (Ramzan) 1. 15-XI-1807 P 13 40 — Data not available — Not visible 2. 20-III-1829 P 19 35 6-III-1829 7-III-1829 15 Visible 3. 13-VII-1851 P 12 51 — Data not available — Not visible 4. 4-XI-1873 21 22 — Data not available — Visible 5. 21-III-1894 P 19 51 9-III-1894* 1O-III-1894 13 Visible 6. ll-III-1895 09 12 26-11-1895 27-1l-1895 13 Not visible 7. 5-VII-1917 t 03 10 21-VI-1917* 22-VI-1917 14 Visible 8. 18-XI-1937 p 13 52 5-XI-1937 6-XI-1937 13 Not visible 9. 25-III-1959 p 01 47 1O-III-1959 ll-III-1959 15 Visible 10. 6-VII-1982 t 13 00 22-VI-1982 23-VI-1982 14 Not visible * Moon may have become visible one day earlier on these occasions if meteorological conditions were good. 1. All computations have been done for Qadian (750 23’E; 310 49’N). 2. Longitudes and latitude of Sun and Moon are required for calculating the first visibility of the Moon. It could not be calculated for some dates for which longitude data were not available. 3. The time (J.S.T.) of eclipse is important in fixing the Hejri date because the latter changes at Sunset. The time of geocentric conjunction! opposition as given in “Canon of Eclipses” by T. R. Von Oppolzer has been adopted for this purposc. The Hejri date current at the time of the cclipse has been given. 4. For testing whether the eclipses were visible over Qadian or not, the method given in “Canon of Eclipses” by T. R. Von Oppolzer has been followed. The results havc been confirmed with Ephemeris whenever available. Remarks tT1 n C “” VJ tT1 VJ > VJ VJ Ci Eclipse time z VJ is before 0 ‘r1 Sunset “” [; “” ~ 0 :t::: Vi tT1 Cl :t::: tT1 VJ VJ ;; ::c