Scientific Advancements and Signs of the Latter Days – part 1

46 The Review of Religions – October 2006 An address at the Annual Convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, USA. Various verses of the Holy Qur’an and the Bible point to diverse signs marking the Latter Days. This age is described by many different defining characteristics which, when taken together as a collective sum, unmistakably point to this very era that we are living in currently. There is no other religious scripture or philosophy which describes the Latter Days with such clarity and precision as does the Holy Qur’an and in doing so proves its absolute veracity. In fact, the traditions of the Holy Prophet(saw) also reflect the Qur’anic description with complete harmony with regard to these defining characteristics. The vivid descriptions do not just confine their imagery to a single facet of human imagination but foretell events concerning the multifaceted scope of life. The imagery produced by the Qur’an depicts a sharp image of society of the Latter Days including their political condition, social condition, moral condition, the advancements, progress and achievements of man and celestial and cosmic events – all virtually drawing a complete map of the Latter Days. There is no doubt that each of these descriptions can be discussed at great length. However, we will confine ourselves to just the modern scientific advancements and signs of the Latter Days and we shall see that each scientific advancement is a glorious tribute to the truth of the Qur’an and the truth of the Holy Prophet(saw). What is the importance of recognising the age of the Latter Days? Well, most religions agree that in the Latter Days a Divine Reformer will appear and lead mankind to salvation. In order for this to happen, it is absolutely essential for these two occurrences to manifest simultaneously, that is, the appearance of a Divine Reformer and also the appearance of the signs of the Latter Days, Scientific Advancement and Signs of the Latter Days – (part 1) By Dr. Kaleem Malik – Chicago, USA 47 SCIENTIFIC ADVANCEMENT AND SIGNS OF THE LATTER DAYS – PART 1 The Review of Religions – October 2006 which serve to facilitate the truth of such a Divine Reformer. It has been 115 years since the claim of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian that he was the very Divine Reformer promised to most major religions to appear in the Latter Days. This last century has produced wonder after wonder to not only support the claim of this Promised Messiah(as) but more importantly to establish the truth of the Holy Qur’an, its prophesies and the truth of Hadhrat Mohammed Mustafa(saw). In just the realm of scientific advancement, this last century bears ample testimony to manifestation of the signs of the Latter Days. Let us realise that it took man over fifty thousand years to traverse the ice age, the stone age, the bronze age and the dark age but in just the last one hundred years alone, man has witnessed the industrial age, the atomic age, the nuclear age, the computer techn- ology age, the information age and the space age. There has been a sudden discovery in this age of coal, petroleum, uranium, plutonium and their uses prove exponential. In fact, the sum of all advancements made by man from the beginning of time does not equal the number of advancements of just the last one hundred years. When such signs are viewed by fair-minded, objective individuals, they become glaringly obvious. The Holy Prophet(saw) has said: ‘He who dies a death without recognising the Imam of the age, dies a death of ignorance.’ It is not unjust, therefore, to call a person Jahil or ignorant, if, after such signs are blatantly spelled out, he still cannot recognise them. The real wonder is that they were revealed 1400 years ago to a relatively primitive people and uttered from the mouth of one who himself could neither read nor write. So what are these prophesied signs and what role has scientific advancement played to reveal these signs? In fact, we shall demonstrate that the impact of modern scientific advancements has actually qualified our age to satisfy the awaited signs of the Latter Days. Now, most scholars would agree that the signs of the Latter Days have been satisfied but fail to point out the Messiah or Divine Reformer who was destined to appear in the Latter Days. 48 SCIENTIFIC ADVANCEMENT AND SIGNS OF THE LATTER DAYS – PART 1 The Review of Religions – October 2006 To simplify our discussion let us divide the scientific advancements into categories and address as many as time will allow. Surah Al-Takwir (Chapter 81 of the Holy Qur’an) sheds much light on this subject. Under the various branches of technology, we shall examine the scientific advancements in: • Transportation technology • Space technology including physics and astronomy • Nuclear technology • Information and Communication technology • Technology of Medicine Let us begin with transportation technology. The entire age of the Latter Days is mentioned by the Holy Qur’an as the age of Dajjal or the Anti-Christ. This Anti-Christ is only symbolic for the mighty powers which are evident today in the powerful Christian nations. All signs of the age are mentioned with reference to this Anti-Christ and just one of those categories of signs which identify this Anti-Christ points to the new modes of travel which man had never seen before. Revolutionary modes of travel by land, by sea, by air, are all described without exception, in a manner fully endorsed by the verses of the Holy Qur’an. Allah says in Surah Al- Takwir: And when the mountains are made to move. (Ch.81:V.4) The moving of mountains may signify: • Great and powerful nations spreading their influence and might from place to place. • The movement of great and heavy loads (as had never been conceived before, e.g., cargo) • The blasting away of mountains with explosives to create the very roads of transport through them. Then Allah states: When the she-camels, ten-month pregnant, are abandoned. (Ch.81:V.4) 49 SCIENTIFIC ADVANCEMENT AND SIGNS OF THE LATTER DAYS – PART 1 The Review of Religions – October 2006 The Sahih Muslim compilation of Traditions records Holy Prophet(saw) to have said: ‘The camel as a means of transport will be abandoned and will not be used to go from place to place.’ At the time this verse and tradition were disclosed, no one would dare conceive giving up the camel or animals for transport. But Almighty Allah was stating 1400 years ago, that such means of transport would appear that would be so swift and so powerful as if mountains were on the move and the camel or animals would be obsolete for this purpose. The Anti-Christ would use such a vehicle. The Holy Prophet(saw) continually describes the vehicle of transport of this Anti-Christ as a symbolic donkey. We see today how glowingly obvious the description of this donkey applies to fit the very modes of modern transport, which all have one thing in common – they are all propelled by combustion engines, drawing their energy from fire. This is exactly how the Holy Prophet(saw) described this fire- eating donkey! Today, the Muslim world agrees on the attributes of this donkey and its appearance to mark the Latter Days but they await the literal beast as described by the Holy Prophet(saw) that would be so massive in appearance, so gigantic, so monstrous, as the world has never seen before. It would be so tall that its head would disappear beyond the clouds, its ears would be huge, it would move with great speed so as to cover large distances in hours or days, which before took months to cover by other animals. This donkey which the Anti-Christ would use as his transport would also be a means of transport to the public. The Holy Prophet(saw) describes that people will climb into its belly from the openings on his sides. The belly would be lit and equipped with seating. The donkey would make stops to allow people to get in and get off periodically and before departing on its journey would signal with a loud noise to announce its departure. The next time we board an airplane and the announcement is made, “now boarding flight such and such departing to such and such place” or the next time we board a train or cruise ship and the loud bell or whistle sounds signalling its departure, remember that we are 50 SCIENTIFIC ADVANCEMENT AND SIGNS OF THE LATTER DAYS – PART 1 The Review of Religions – October 2006 sitting in that symbolic donkey that was predicted with precision to be modern transport. The prophecy continues to say the fire consumed by the donkey would not scorch the passengers in this belly. The donkey will be able to travel by sea, moving from continent to continent. The donkey will carry mountain loads of food upon its back. The donkey will be able to fly. It would take such gigantic leaps as to cover the distances between the East and West. One foot of the beast will be in the east and one in the west, obviously suggesting he would take off from one continent and land in another. In the air, it would move above the level of the clouds. On its forehead it would carry the moon which immediately gives the image of a headlight which most modern vehicles have. There is no doubt that, in prior centuries, this Tradition, with all of its brilliantly detailed descriptions would have created such mental strain to visualise such a donkey – just imagine the layman as well as the intellectual contemplating this beast in the previous ages. We may even be amused by their innocence and naivety and helpless wonderment of such a donkey. But today, by the light of this age, by the mercy of Almighty Allah, even a child given these descriptions, will effortlessly point out that the donkey is actually the steamship, the freight ships, the locomotive, the trains, the airplanes and the very automobiles used today. Scientific advancement has put to rest the tales and fantasies and myths of the mullahs and has ushered in the awaited age by producing and fulfilling the signs with manifest. Incidentally, it was in 1835, the year that the Promised Messiah(as) was born, that the first railroad was introduced in England; in 1925, the first diesel engine; in December 1903, the Wright brothers would fly the first motorised plane; and, in 1969, the Apollo astronauts landed on the moon. In just sixty-six years, man went from gliding over fields to walking on the moon. In 1913, Ford installed the first assembly line to produce automobiles in mass numbers. In between this time, we have seen countless civilian and military flight operations forever changing the way we live. There is no doubt that future ages will have great means of transport but only this age can exclusively 51 SCIENTIFIC ADVANCEMENT AND SIGNS OF THE LATTER DAYS – PART 1 The Review of Religions – October 2006 testify that all of these modes of transport, as described by the Holy Qur’an and the Ahadith, first appeared, without exception, in this age. Because concurrently a firmly established Messiah has also appeared in this age, further advancement of science will serve to embellish these signs and further embellish the beauties of Qur’anic prophecy and Ahadith. The collective appearance of these signs has brilliantly taken place in a revolutionary manner. In fact, the collective appearance of these signs coupled with the presence of a Divine Reformer, the Promised Messiah(as), have established the truth of the Holy Qur’an, the Holy Prophet(saw) and the very claim in support of the Promised Messiah(as) himself. The subject of transport continues in the next several verses. And when the beasts are gathered together. (Ch.81:V.6) We go from abandoning the camel as transport, to gathering all sorts of beasts. The gathering of beasts would obviously require some advanced system of transport to move this cargo. The animals could not ride on each other’s backs. Today most major cities of the world have elaborate zoos to proudly exhibit their collection of diverse animals from all over the world, a concept inconceivable at the time but bearing powerful testimony that great ships and freight from every continent and corner of the globe gathered these animals, literally fulfilling this prophecy of the Holy Qur’an. In 1804, the first zoo was established in Paris; 1826, in London; 1844, Philadelphia; 1889, Washington DC; and, in 1899, the world famous Bronx Zoo. The next verse states: And when the seas are made to flow forth one into the other. (Ch.81:V.7) Sujjirat (the Arabic word used in the verse) meaning the seas shall be filled gives the image of the seas filled with ships and vessels. It also means the seas will be set on fire, clearly pointing to technology inconceivable at the time. Setting the seas on fire describes the intense firepower of naval warfare in our age. Incidentally, this is also the age of huge oil spills which, by no exaggeration, have literally set 52 SCIENTIFIC ADVANCEMENT AND SIGNS OF THE LATTER DAYS – PART 1 The Review of Religions – October 2006 thousands of square miles of sea on fire. Sujjirat meaning the seas are made to flow into one another also reveals a great prophecy. The Holy Qur’an also says: Verily, He will merge the two oceans, joining them together. Between them is now a barrier; they encroach not one upon the other. (Ch.55:Vs.20-21) The world has witnessed the fulfilment of these prophecies of such grandeur. From 1859-1869, the construction of the Suez Canal and from 1903-1914 the construction of the Panama Canal smashed this temporary barrier at the appointed hour and allowed the seas to flow into one another, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean sea, the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Once again scientific advancement supports the Qur’an and the Qur’an urges scientific advancement towards truth. The next verse states: And when people are brought together. (Ch.81:V.8) The bringing together of people from great distances across vast continents and oceans can only be facilitated by modern means of transport which would be so fast and efficient making it possible to unite the diverse races of people to meet one another and learn of one another’s similarities and differences and enhance human interaction like never before. There is no wonder that the era of modern travel had to be also the era of the Promised Reformer. It is the task of this Promised Messiah to weld mankind into one community, a task virtually impossible if camels, donkeys, and horses were the means to bring people together. It is this age and this age alone which bears witness to the bringing together of people, their cultures, their languages, their ideas, their cuisine and their art – all with such sophistication and complexity of interaction and engagement as never before in history. This too, as a sign of the Latter Days, has been fulfilled through scientific advancement of travel and communication. A subsequent verse states: And when books are spread abroad. (Ch.81:V.11) 53 SCIENTIFIC ADVANCEMENT AND SIGNS OF THE LATTER DAYS – PART 1 The Review of Religions – October 2006 Now, having fully described the transportation age and its great impact on physically uniting the people of the world, this verse speaks on the most powerful way of joining people together – enter the communication age. Another sign of the Latter Days is the joining of people through wider, extensive publication of literature, including books, newspapers, magazines, journals, libraries and bookstores. As implied by this prophecy, it is the invention of the modern press, which has revolutionised this mass publication of literature in our age with global distribution that has augmented the physical coming together of people. Never before was such quantity of literature published as compared to this age. Such proliferation of literature must also signify an intense burst of knowledge, research and investi- gation. So in the age when books would be extensively published, the character of such an age would be highly advanced in knowledge, obviously through means of sophisticated educational schools and institutions, colleges and universities. Knowledge would be the means of gaining power. What a wonder that such a powerful verse was revealed to the Holy Prophet(saw) – one who could neither read nor write. So what does this era produce? This era produces such a servant who is granted the title by Allah Himself, Sultan-e-Qalam, that is, Sovereign of the Pen. Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) went on to write over 80 books and published scores of articles, sermons and discourses in the defence of Islam and expounded on the jewels and secrets of the Holy Qur’an. This is the age that has produced such a Community that has published such quality and quantity of Islamic literature as compared to the total of the last 1400 years. This is the age that has exponentially made possible the printing of literature through such technological advances as fax machines, printers, photocopiers and scanners, all of which have now found their way as common household equipment in the West. The invention of the telegraph, telephone, television, radio and computer has opened dazzling dimensions to the publications and spread of information and knowledge. How many countless books are published online? Allah only knows. This prophecy, revealed 1400 years ago, portrays such a picture of the information age and the tele-communication age as was 54 SCIENTIFIC ADVANCEMENT AND SIGNS OF THE LATTER DAYS – PART 1 The Review of Religions – October 2006 never conceived by man before. Did not the Holy Prophet(saw) describe the donkey of the Anti-Christ as having such large ears that he could hear what is in the East and what is in the West. The very phone we use to call, say, London from New York provides us with call waiting and three-way calling to connect to a friend in California simultaneously. Such are the technological breakthroughs of the Christian world which have all become coincidentally evident in the age of the Promised Messiah(as). Some other specific advancements of this age are listed below: • In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. • In 1901, Marconi received the first transatlantic radio signal. • In 1920, Electric consumer appliances proliferate with the industrial age. • In 1926, KDKA begins to broadcast live radio and television develops. • In 1945, ENIAC, the first electronic analyser or computer is developed. • In 1947, the transistor is invented. • In 1971, the first commercial micro processor is invented. • In 1975, the personal computer industry is launched. • In 1992, the internet gives rise to the World Wide Web. So once again these brilliant scientific advancements which have abundantly accumulated in this era prove to be the signs of the Latter Days as prophesied by the Holy Qur’an and Ahadith. Unlike this age which stands out for all of mankind to witness, never before could we have labelled a prior age as the information age. Future ages will no doubt improve communications but the predictions have been satisfied in this era. (Continued next month)