History of Ahmadiyyat

Ramadan and the Link to the Imam Mahdi

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Zafir Malik, UK

Eclipse enthusiasts, particularly in Europe and the Americas are gearing up for a marvel. On the night of 24th/25th March, there will be a lunar eclipse across most of North and South America, Western Europe and western Africa. 

(From 24th to 25th March 2024, the lunar eclipse will be visible in full or partial across the regions highlighted above)

It doesn’t end there, two weeks later, on 8th April, there will be a total solar eclipse, visible across most of North America and parts of Western Europe.

(The total solar eclipse will be clearly visible mainly across north America on 8th April 2024)

Those fortunate enough to be living across the path of the region covered by it should do their utmost to make the most of this special moment, as a total eclipse in the same location on earth can only be viewed every 375 years! It is estimated that the sky will go completely black for around 4 minutes and 8 seconds.

Although a total solar eclipse in the same location on earth takes place hundreds of years apart, eclipses in general are not an unusual phenomena at all. In fact, each calendar year has a minimum of four eclipses; two are solar and two are lunar and in extremely rare events there can be a total of seven eclipses in one year. To judge the rarity of this event, the last time there were seven eclipses in one calendar year was 1982, and the next one is expected to be in 2038! 

But what is interesting about the solar and lunar eclipse of 2024 is that both of them fall within the same Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. This has a profound link for Muslims all over the world as there is a famous saying of Prophet Muhammad linking the solar and lunar eclipse in the month of Ramadan to the appearance of the Imam Mahdi – meaning the “Guided One”.

Most Muslims hold the belief that close to Judgement Day, a man known as the Imam Mahdi would emerge and join forces with Jesus, son of Mary (as) – who they believe to be alive in the heavens – and after his alleged descent from the skies, the two of them would fight a final battle between good and evil. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believe that in accordance with verses of the Holy Qur’an, Jesus, son of Mary (as), although surviving the crucifixion, died a natural death like prophets before him. And the prophecies regarding the descent of Jesus, son of Mary, and the Imam Mahdi were to be fulfilled in one and the same person who would have the characteristics of Jesus (as) and also fulfil the role of the Imam Mahdi.

In 1882, a man named Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) claimed that God had informed him by way of revelation that he was the appointed reformer of the age. He later claimed that Jesus, son of Mary had died and that he was the Imam Mahdi. But if he is truthful in his claim, then this famous Hadith is one crucial criteria to determine his claim. 

That narration is as follows:

إِنَّ لِمَهْدِيِّنَا آيَتَيْنِ لَمْ تَكُونَا مُنْذُ خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ , يَنْخَسِفُ الْقَمَرُ لِأَوَّلِ لَيْلَةٍ مِنْ رَمَضَانَ , وَتَنْكَسِفُ الشَّمْسُ فِي النِّصْفِ مِنْهُ وَلَمْ تَكُونَا مُنْذُ خَلَقَ اللَّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ

‘For Our Mahdi there are two signs which have previously never appeared since the creation of the heavens and the earth, namely, the moon will be eclipsed on the first night in Ramadan and the sun will be eclipsed on the middle of it (i.e. the same month), and these Signs have not appeared since God created the heavens and the earth.’

(Note: this does not mean that such an event has never occurred; such an occurrence during the month of Ramadan happens every few decades or so. Rather it means that no one will have made a well-publicised claim to specifically be the Imam Mahdi right before the occurrence of this routine event. Note also: “moon will be eclipsed on the first night in Ramadan” does not mean the first night of the month of Ramadan, rather it means that of the limited range of nights in which a lunar eclipse could potentially occur, it will occur on the very first of those. Likewise “the sun will be eclipsed on the middle of it” does not mean that the solar eclipse would occur in the middle of Ramadan but rather it will occur in the middle of the possible range for such an occurrence. Professor F. Richard Stephenson, who has devoted considerable effort to the study of eclipses, writes: “In the Islamic calendar, lunar eclipses consistently take place on or about the 14th day of the month and solar eclipses around the 28th day.” – Historical Eclipses and Earth’s Rotation, Cambridge University Press 1997, page 436.)

This prophecy alone – if proven to be true – can be a litmus test of his claim, because one thing which is absolute fact is that it is beyond a mortal’s power to cause an eclipse himself. This extraordinary event did manifest in the lifetime of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad after he had made his claim. A lunar eclipse took place on 21st March 1894 – corresponding to the 13th day of Ramadan, (the year 1311 according to the Islamic calendar) and a solar eclipse took place on 6th April 1894, which was the 28th day of Ramadan. These were visible from Asia and in particular from Qadian, where Mirza Ghulam Ahmad resided. 

Table 1: Here you can see the dates of all solar eclipses visible from Qadian in the 19th century that took place in the month of Ramadan. 

Table 2: A list of all lunar eclipses which coincide with the month of Ramadan visible across Qadian from 1807. Here you can see that the only solar eclipse visible in Qadian in the 19th century was in 1894. (Source: Positional Astronomy Centre, India Meteorological Department.)

The fascination with the concept of the Imam Mahdi was not confined to the subcontinent alone. In fact, when the eclipses took place in 1894, every household in Makkah was speaking about its significance with the Imam Mahdi. An eyewitness living in Makkah at the time spoke of the atmosphere in a letter to the editor of the “Paisa” newspaper, Lahore:

‘Peace be upon you! These days there is a strange commotion in the holy city of Makkah. A strange event has occurred which is of interest to those people who are awaiting the appearance of the Imam Mahdi. There is no convention, no gathering and no house which is free from mentioning about the appearance of the Imam Mahdi in this month of Ramadan. From the time it has been confirmed that this year, in the month of Ramadan, a lunar and solar eclipse will take place, since then this idea has been propagated with even more zeal. Each person whether they are from among the common folk or the elite have become invigorated with a new passion. Some overzealous individuals have gone to the extent that they have pulled out their weapons which had been lying around for years and rusted away and equipped themselves again. I am astounded by the scenes I am witnessing these days…’


(Scan images of the “Paisa” newspaper, Lahore, dated 6th April, 1894, of an eye witness account of the situation in Makkah on the day of the eclipse)

Furthermore, there were countless scholars who even prior to birth of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, foretold the imminent arrival of an elect of God. One such person was Abdul Aziz Parharvi. Abdul Aziz was born in a small village of the Indian subcontinent in 1792. His forefathers migrated from Afghanistan and settled in the district of Muzaffargarh. He passed away in 1824 when he was just 32 years old. However, before he passed away he authored more than 40 books. One such book was سرّ مکتوم ما اخفاہ المتقدمون which translates as “A Hidden Secret Concealed by the Predecessors”. In this book he detailed the science of Abjad numerals, a discipline in which each Arabic letter is assigned a number and used to calculate various events or uncover hidden meanings of things. Based upon his expert knowledge in this field, he wrote an extraordinary couplet in Persian relating to the eclipse and the Imam Mahdi. He writes:

در سنہ غاشی ہجری دو قران خواہد بود

از پئے مہدی و دجال نشاں خواہد بود

In a book titled the “Life & Works of Allama Abdul Aziz Parharvi”, Mateen Kashmiri writes the translation of the couplet above as: ‘In the middle of the next two centuries, the lunar and solar eclipse will take place, which is a sign for the appearance of the Mahdi and the Antichrist’. However, this translation of the first half of the hemistich is missing. The words that have not been translated are as follows:

در سنہ غاشی ہجری

Let us break down these words:

در = in

 سنہ = year

غاشی= ?

ہجری = according to Hijri calendar, i.e. the Islamic calendar

Now we are getting slightly closer to understanding the entire couplet. Now the couplet would mean: ‘In the year “غاشی” according to the Hijri calendar, the lunar and solar eclipse will take place, which is a sign for the appearance of the Mahdi and the Antichrist’. So what does the word غاشی mean? Check any Persian dictionary, you will be hard pushed to find its meaning. However, since Abdul Aziz was an expert in the science of Abjad numerals, let us calculate the numerical value of the word غاشی. 

According to the common Abjad order, these are the values:

غ = 1000

ا = 1

ش = 300

ی = 10

This adds up to be 1311. Now the translation becomes even clearer with an exact year. The actual translation of the couplet is:

در سنہ غاشی ہجری دو قران خواہد بود

از پئے مہدی و دجال نشاں خواہد بود

“In the year 1311 (according to the Hijri calendar), the lunar and solar eclipse will take place, which is a sign for the appearance of the Mahdi and the Antichrist’

These words were fulfilled to the letter. The lunar eclipse of 1894 took place on 21st March 1894 – which corresponds to the 13th Ramadan and the solar eclipse took place on 6th April 1894, which corresponds to 28th Ramadan, and the year 1894 is in fact the year 1311 Hijri. But Abdul Aziz passed away in 1824, eleven years before Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was born. How would he have been able to predict this? Coincidence? Pure luck? Either way, this extraordinary prophecy of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) was fulfilled to the letter in 1894, in the form of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Imam Mahdi. 

About the AuthorZafir Malik serves as the Associate Editor of The Review of Religions, having graduated from Jamia Ahmadiyya UK – Institute of Modern Languages and Theology. He is also an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and regularly appears as a panellist on MTA International and Voice of Islam radio station answering questions on Islam.

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