AHMAD NOORUDDEEN JAHANGEER KHAN, UK
With every sunrise, the darkness of the night fades away and with every spring, the blossoming of life replaces the cold of winter. The laws of nature are unchanged and continue to follow their course, year after year. This cycle of life and death in the physical world can also be observed in the spiritual realm where the darkness of ignorance, sin and vice are banished by the light of God Almighty, through His divinely appointed prophets.
But with all the religions in the world claiming to be the true religion of God, there are differing views as to who has been sent by God, and who has not. However, one thing all major religions do have in common is the fact they all predict the coming of a messiah or reformer in the latter days.
Muslims believe that God Almighty has sent prophets, out of His infinite wisdom, to different people and in different times. In fact, the Holy Qur’an requires of Muslims to believe in all the prophets sent to the world, and so they are able to acquire information from all divine scriptures to help them ascertain the time in which the Promised Reformer was to appear, understand the signs foretold with his advent and recognize who the individual actually is. Let us now take a look at some of the prophecies found in the revealed scriptures.
In the Tanakh, the Prophet Daniel describes a dream in which he is shown the coming of a man who is to attain ever-lasting dominion:
‘I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man. He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away. And his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.’ 1
Of the signs mentioned in the Bible, one of the most descriptive accounts is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew:
‘For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.’2
In the Avesta, the primary collection of religious texts for Zoroastrians, the reformer has been given certain titles and explains what he will achieve when he is sent to the world:
‘He shall be the victorious Benefactor (Saoshyant) by name and World-renovator (Astavat-creta) by name. He is the benefactor because he will benefit the entire physical world; he is the world- renovator because he will establish the physical living existence indestructible. He will oppose the evil of the progeny of the biped and withstand the enmity produced by the faithful.’3
The same ‘World-renovator’ mentioned above is again described in the Avesta to bring life to the dead:
‘The victorious World-renovator and his helpers … shall make the existence renovated – ageless, deathless, un-putrefying, un-corruptible, ever-living, ever benefitting, ruling at will. The dead shall rise up, life shall prevail indestructible, the existence shall be renovated at the will of God!’4
A perfect teacher foretold in the Janam Sakhi, is predicted to come in a time when man moves away from religion and righteousness:
‘A time shall come in the later age when people shall cease to act upon their scriptures and observe no fasts or prayers, Jogies, Sanyansies, Barhamcharves and Brahmins would be labeled as Gurus. Then a perfect teacher shall crush them all. Such is the decree of heaven, which shall surely come to pass.5
In another place, the time of his advent of has even been narrowed down to a specific era:
‘The reign of the Mughals shall last from 1578 to 1897 of the Bikram era, then a Reformer shall rise.’6
God Almighty gives a general rule in the Bhagavad Gita of the Hindus, that when- ever a time of darkness falls upon the world, He sends His avatar, or appointee to re-establish the Law:
‘Whenever the Law declines and the purpose of life is forgotten, I manifest myself on earth. I am born in every age to protect the good, to destroy the evil, and to re-establish the Law.’7
In the texts of Confucianism, we read how the Reformer to appear will be respected far and wide:
‘As soon as such a man shall make his appearance in the world, all people will reverence him. Whatever he says, all people will believe it. Whatever he does, all people will be pleased with it. Thus, his fame and name will spread and fill all the civilized world, extending even to savage countries, wherever ships and carriages reach, wherever the labor and enterprise of man penetrate, wherever the heavens overshadow and the earth sustains, wherever the sun and the moon shine, wherever frost and dewfall. All who have life and breathe will honor and love him.’8
Buddha explained how there will be another to come after him who will be a leader of men and will have many followers:
‘I am not the first Buddha [awakened one] who has come upon the Earth, nor will I be the last. In due time, another Buddha will arise in the world, a Holy one, a supreme enlightened one, endowed with auspicious wisdom embracing the Universe, an incomparable leader of men, a ruler of gods and mortals. He will reveal to you the same eternal truths which I have taught you. He will establish his Law [religion], glorious in its origins, glorious at the climax and glorious at the goal in the spirit and the letter. He will proclaim a righteous life wholly perfect and pure, such as I now proclaim. His disciples will number many thousands, while mine number many hundreds. He will be known as Maitreya.’9
The signs which are to appear along with the advent of the Reformer or Messiah. With the same sort of signs and qualities mentioned in the divine scriptures, it would not make sense for God Almighty to send separate individuals for each and every religion. One cannot simply discard all other religions as false and not from God, therefore, the only way to resolve this is to take all the prophecies into account and understand them as indicators to a single person, who is to come for all people.
- The Bible, Daniel 7:13-14
- The Bible, Matthew 24:27-31
- Avesta, Farvardin Yasht, 13.129
- Avesta, Zamyad Yasht, 19.11
- Janam Sakhi p. 527
- Janam Sakhi of Bhai Bala p. 272
- Bhagavad Gita, 4:7-8
- Doctrine of The Mean, 31-32
- Digha Nikaya, iii.76