Makkah and Madinah Rome The Holy Qur'an

Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an – A Historic Perspective

How the Qur’an narrates past events and foretells events in the future including significant future scientific discoveries.

42 The Review of Religions – January 2003 Human knowledge is surrounded on all sides by a limitless expanse of the ‘unseen’. What man knows of his past, present and future is like a tiny spot of light no bigger than the pulsating tail of a fire f ly hung in the midst of a vast ocean of utter darkness. Although he seems to h ave extended the horizon of his knowledge to the ve ry edges of the u n i verse with the help of astro p hysics and higher mathematics, the factual evidence that has just started to reach him from the edge of the universe is through signals which we re emitted around eighteen to twenty billion light years ago. What may have happened there since or what may be happening there now, is only a matter of conjecture. Let alone the past and the future, even the knowledge of the pre s e n t lies mostly beyond the scope of human aw a reness. What does man t r u ly know of the events taking place beyond his house, his street, his t ownship and the country where he resides? All the news media put together cannot convey to him even a billionth of what is going on in the world around him. But that is not all. What does man re a l ly know of the people he seems to know among his friends and closest re l a t i ves? To penetrate across the human visage and to read what a c t u a l ly lies behind, is sometimes a more difficult exe rcise than watching the surface of a mu ddy pond in an attempt to see what hides beneath. In both cases, one mere ly sees the images reflected on the surface, the diffe rence being that ponds cannot act, they cannot p o s e, they cannot wilfully create unreal impre s s i o n s . Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an – A Historic Perspective This is an extract taken from the book Revelation, R a t i o n a l i t y, Know l e d ge and Tr u t h, written by Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad. 43The Review of Religions – January 2003 Depending on the weather and the day of the ye a r, ponds are almost monotype; humans are not. The complications of human psyche, the vagaries of human moods and conduct, varying standards of morality and personal philosophies, the aptitudes and diffe rent qualities of head and heart, the depth or the shallowness of their conduct are some of the innumerable variables which are not shared by ponds. E ven what passes within humans themselves lies ve ry often beyo n d the reach of their own grasp. Yet few among men learn the lesson in h u m i l i t y. Seldom do they realize that the ultimate source of Truth and the fountainhead of Absolute Knowledge can only be the Cre a t o r. It is He alone Who knows the secrets of His own creation. It is He alone Who is All-Seeing, All-Knowing, the Great, the Supre m e. K n owledge is the most essential pre requisite of creation, be it Divine or human, great or little. Without an in-depth knowledge of what is intended to be created, no cre a t i ve objective can be achieved. Hence no one knows the intricacies and complexities of creation like the C reator Himself and this is why Omniscience is a pre ro g a t i ve of God. A perfect all-embracing knowledge of things is termed Omniscience with re fe rence to God to the exclusion of all others. If it is the same Omniscient, Omnipresent God who authored the Qur’an, then all Qur’anic revelations with re fe rence to the past, the p resent and the future must inv a r i a b ly be affirmed by verified facts when they come to light. It is exactly this that the fo l l owing exe rc i s e is all about. With the help of incontrove rtible facts, we stro n g ly hope to prove the case in point. We have already discussed at some length the role of the Qur’anic revelation in bringing to light some of the most ancient events of c reation. It begins with the beginning of the time when the unive r s e s u dd e n ly erupted from a black hole. According to the Qur’an it only split asunder at the command of an Almighty Cre a t o r. The Qur’anic Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 44 The Review of Religions – January 2003 c overage of the history of creation ends with the end of time when the universe will plunge once again into yet another black hole. As for the origin of life, the Qur’anic account is likewise amazingly c o m p re h e n s i ve and pre c i s e. It covers all the important stages of organic and biotic evolution of 4.5 billion years of evolution’s history until the time when it culminated in the creation of man. From that point o n w a rds the Qur’an takes up the account of human history in re l a t i o n to the development of society, religion and civilisation. It also mentions the possibility of the ultimate extinction of the human species which m ay be replaced by a better and more highly evo l ved form of life. All that we have briefly mentioned above has been elaborately discussed in the relevant chapters of this book, demonstrating how Divine revelation can effectively transfer parts of the unknown into the realm of the known. Now in this chapter we shall demonstrate how the Qur’an unveils some of the important events of history which lay buried in an obscure past. We shall also demonstrate how it reveals many future events to which no one during the age of Qur’anic revelations could have had any access. We shall specifically illustrate how the Qur’an precisely predicts great future scientific achievements of man destined to transform the entire style of human life. We begin here with the account of an event of great historical i m p o rtance with a religious significance of common interest to Jew s , Christians and Muslims. It relates to the Exodus of Moses( a s ) and what h appened to the pursuing army of Pharaoh and his hosts when M o s e s(as) and his people had safe ly waded across the tre a c h e ro u s delta of the Nile. T h e re are many other examples of the Judaeo-Christian history of the same period cove red by the Old Testament, the New Te s t a m e n t and the Holy Qur’an. But we have care f u l ly selected only the event of Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 45The Review of Religions – January 2003 the Exodus for the present discussion because it concisely demonstrates the Divine nature of Qur’anic reve l a t i o n . The Biblical account, though it re c o rds contemporary history, is ev i d e n t ly shallow and superficial by comparison. From the vantage point of a fo l l ower of the camp of Moses( a s ), the most that he could o b s e rve and re c o rd was the drowning of Pharaoh and his host, quashed between two mountain-like waves inundating them. What h appened to Pharaoh himself befo re he was drowned? What passed b e t ween Pharaoh and God during his drowning moments? What was it he begged of Him, if anything at all, during his dying moments? These are things which lie absolutely beyond the reach of any human o b s e rver looking across from the dry shore. Hence, all that the Bible mentions of Pharaoh and his pursuing army is that each of them was d rowned without exception. ‘Then the waters returned and cove red the chariots, the horsemen, a n d all the a r my of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained. But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea…’1 E v i d e n t ly, according to this Biblical statement, all bodies we re claimed by the sea, Pharaoh being no exception. The rout was total. As against this, the fo l l owing is the statement of the Qur’an re fe rring to the same event. The diffe rence is so obvious: Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an AS FOR THE ORIGIN OF LIFE, THE QUR’ANIC ACCOUNT I S L I K E W I S E A M A Z I N G LY C O M P R E H E N S I V E A N D PRECISE. IT COVERS ALL THE IMPORTANT STAGES OF ORGANIC AND BIOTIC EVOLUTION OF 4.5 BILLION YEARS OF EVOLUTION’S HISTORY UNTIL THE TIME WHEN IT CULMINATED IN THE CREATION OF MAN. 46 The Review of Religions – January 2003 And We brought the ch i l d ren of Israel across the sea; and Pharaoh and his hosts pursued them wrongfully and aggre s s i v e l y, till, when t h e c a l a m i t y o f d rowning ov e rtook him, he said, ‘I believe that there is no God but He in Whom the ch i l d ren of Israel believ e, and 1 am of those who submit t o H i m.’ What! Now! While thou wast disobedient befo re t h i s and wast of those who create disord e r. So this day We will save thee in thy body a l o n e that thou mayest be a Sign to those who come after thee. And sure l y, many of mankind are heedless of Our Signs.2 (Ch.10: Vs.91-93) It should be especially noted here that contrary to this Qur’anic statement, the Biblical account does not as much as hint at the possibility of the re t r i eval of Pharaoh’s body: ‘…..not so much as one of them re m a i n e d .’ H e n c e, till the time the Qur’an mentions the saving of Pharaoh’s body with the purpose that the posterity may learn their lesson from it, no human source of history had ever re fe rred to it. When the Qur’an was revealed, the tombs of the Egyptian kings lay buried deep under layer upon layer of desert sand. Little was know n of the science of mummification to the people of that age, cert a i n ly Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 47The Review of Religions – January 2003 not to the Arabs. No books or tradition, religious or otherwise, had ever hinted at the rescue of Pharaoh’s body let alone mention its subsequent pre s e rvation. This account of the Qur’an is unique also in the sense that it does not mere ly reveal some past events which we re till then unknown to the rest of the world, but it also prophesises that the future would testify to the truth of the Qur’anic statement. It was implausible enough to conceive that the body of Pharaoh hav i n g d rowned in the conditions described by the Bible, could be re t r i eve d . The phenomenon of such a body, even if re t r i eved, would present no small problem for the purpose of mu m m i f i c a t i o n . Yet, this is what the Qur’an claims. No man could have dreamt of making such a statement contrary to the available historical ev i d e n c e at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an. All that man knew was that the body of Pharaoh had been devo u red by the sea, lost fo reve r. E ven the Egyptian plunderers of the tombs had no notion whatsoeve r as to which, if any, of the Pharaohs we re buried in the Va l l ey of the Kings. What made the Pro p h e t( s a ) of Islam make this unique statement if he we re the author of the Qur’an? It could serve him no purpose a ny w ay; if anything it could be counter- p ro d u c t i ve. If challenged, the P ro p h e t( s a ) could not have produced any evidence to support his contentions. The only purpose it would serve was to compro m i s e the truth of the Qur’an. It was many centuries after the revelation of the Qur’an that the earth began to throw up its secrets. The mummified bodies of all the Pharaohs which can claim to be the Pharaohs of the time of Moses(as) h ave been re t r i eve d . Whether it was Rameses II or another Pharaoh is a question still debated, but the fact that one of the mummies re c ove red from the Va l l ey of the Kings is that of the Pharaoh who confronted Moses( a s ) i s no longer debatable. The only conclusion there fo re, one is left to d r aw, is that against the ve rdict of the entire world history it is the ve rdict of the Qur’anic revelation alone which is proved correct: So Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 48 The Review of Religions – January 2003 this day We will save thee in thy body a l o n e. . .3 This is the ve rdict of the Qur’an which has now become the ve rd i c t of world history. One possible meaning of this add ress by God to Pharaoh is that the time for saving his life was ove r, hence it would be only his dead body which would be saved. The other possible meaning would be that the time for the acceptance of his faith had expired, hence his soul wo u l d not be redeemed. In this case, only his body would be saved to live on like that of a zombie without a soul. To our understanding it is the latter meaning which is intended by the Qur’an. To support our i n fe rence furt h e r, we cite the Qur’anic style in which this episode is n a rrated. Of particular interest is the expression: We will save thee in thy body alone.3 N ow Pharaoh was ev i d e n t ly concerned for his survival here on eart h , rather than the re t r i eval of his corpse. If neither his spiritual nor his p hysical life was to be saved, what would this promise mean? E v i d e n t ly Pharaoh was not praying for the rescue of his dead body. If his prayer was accepted even part i a l ly, as is evident from the Qur’an, then to cause him to die both phy s i c a l ly and spiritually seems out of the question. It is tantamount to a total denial of what he begged fo r. His pro fession of faith in the God of Israel must have been made for fear of his life. Hence it was justifiably rejected as meaningless. All that is promised is that only his body would be redeemed but not his soul. But most Muslim scholars insist that his plea was totally rejected and the promise of saving the body re fe rre d o n ly to the re c ove ry of his corpse from the sea. Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 49The Review of Religions – January 2003 That too, according to them, is no small miracle under the conditions described both in the Bible and the Qur’an. Even the promise of the re t r i eval of his corpse was in fact a great favour to the drow n i n g P h a r a o h . The Pharaohs, they argue, we re an extre m e ly proud dynasty. Eve n the mere assurance that his body would be pre s e rved must have b rought some comfo rt to his dying moments. The purpose of God, h oweve r, was not to satisfy his vanity alone. The real purpose was to p rovide posterity with a great sign of multiple significance from which t h ey could possibly benefit. W h a t ever the outcome of this controversy – whether it is established that the Pharaoh in question died from drowning, only his body being re t r i eved, or whether he was rescued from a state of near death while drowning, the miracle of the Qur’anic statement is in no w ay obscured. The body of that Pharaoh was indeed pre s e rved and this fact was brought to the knowledge of posterity exactly as the Qur’an had pre d i c t e d . I n c i d e n t a l ly the scholars who believe that Pharaoh was already dead when his body was re t r i eved, also believe that it was Merneptah, the successor of Rameses II and not Rameses himself. This implies that M o s e s( a s ) l i ved under the reign of two Pharaohs instead of one. He was born while Rameses II was already a king and was raised in his palace by one of his God-fearing wives, who they believe was the youngest. As she had no issue herself, her desire to adopt a son is Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an T H E B O DY O F T H AT P H A R AO H WA S I N D E E D P R E S E RV E D A N D T H I S FAC T WA S B RO U G H T TO T H E K N OW L E D G E O F P O S T E R I T Y E X AC T LY A S T H E Q U R’A N H A D P R E D I C T E D. 50 The Review of Religions – January 2003 u n d e r s t a n d a b l e. If this proposition is accepted then Moses( a s ) mu s t h ave left Midian to return to Egypt after the death of Rameses 11 when Merneptah had already been enthroned. They quote the Bible in their support that Moses( a s ) was informed by God during his exile in Midian that the Pharaoh in whose reign he had committed manslaughter was dead. This scenario seems to be logical and acceptable but only ap p a re n t ly. The death of a king does not absolve anyone of any crime he may have committed. There is no logic in that whatsoeve r. That is why God does not even re m o t e ly hint at the death of any Pharaoh to dispel M o s e s( a s ) fears. Instead he is told not to fear because God wo u l d p rotect him and his bro t h e r. This is far more sensible. Again the problem is that according to the archaeological evidence of his mu m my’s condition, Rameses II who died at the ripe old age of ninety years had spent the last thirty years of his life as a bedridd e n , s e n i l e, tottering old man pro b a b ly suffering from an extreme case of a rt e r i o s c l e rosis. This state could be a direct consequence of his n e a rd rowning, resulting in an insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain for an extended period. N ow the exile of Moses( a s ) to Midian and his entire stay there lasted o n ly eight to ten years by the end of which period Rameses II could not be more than fo rty to fifty years old. Hence, the Biblical statement that God was only waiting for Pharaoh’s death to commission Moses( a s ) a prophet and command him to return to Egy p t is unacceptable. Incidentally according to the Qur’an, the Pharaoh to whom Moses( a s ) returned did accuse him of mu rder but ap p e a red to be hesitant to take action against him because of the Divine signs which Moses( a s ) had displayed. Evidently, his escape from punishment was cert a i n ly not due to the death of one Pharaoh and the e n t h ronement of another. Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 51The Review of Religions – January 2003 Again the life of Moses( a s ) and Aaro n ’s( a s ) after their return to Egypt is described by the Qur’an and the Bible as ve ry eventful and their c o n f rontation with Pharaoh seems so drawn out that it must have t a ken a decade or so to come to its final conclusion. All the signs n a rrated could not have been packed in the mere short space of a year or two. As against this the historians estimate that the entire reign of Merneptah from the day of his crowning to the day of his death is re p o rted to have lasted only eight years or less. M o re ove r, history describes Merneptah as a warrior king who re p e a t e d ly attacked the Palestinians year after ye a r, while both the Qur’an and the Bible are absolutely silent about the Pharaoh of M o s e s( a s ) h aving carried out such expeditions into the land of Israelites. But this is not the place perhaps for a full in-depth discussion on the issue. Nor is it necessary in any way to prove which of the two Pharaohs, Rameses II or Memeptah was the one who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus. As long as their mummies re m a i n p re s e rved, either of the two will alw ays testify to the truth of the Qur’anic pro p h e c y. Their names are of no real consequence. P rophecies Relating to the Immediate or Distant Future H aving dealt at some length with certain important events of Egy p t i a n h i s t o ry during the age of Moses( a s ), which had remained concealed until the revelation of the Qur’an, we now turn to some pro p h e t i c Qur’anic revelations in relation to many other events. They relate to d i f fe rent areas of human interest comprising social, religious and political developments as well as epoch-making scientific advancements which we re to change the face of the eart h . Some of these prophecies also cover significant ecological and e nv i ronmental changes to be brought about by future scientific i nventions and pro l i feration of industry. There is a long list of such p rophecies contained mostly in the last few Surahs of the Holy Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 52 The Review of Religions – January 2003 Qur’an but not exclusive ly so. The discussion is by no means e x h a u s t i ve. Some of these Qur’anic prophecies have been explained and enlarged upon by many traditions of the Holy Pro p h e t( s a ). We h ave only selected some specimen prophecies belonging to diffe re n t c a t e gories. The prophecies relating to the new modes of travel and their wide impact will be discussed at the end of the chapter at some g reater length because of their global import a n c e. To maintain chronological order we begin with the prophecies which we re fulfilled within the lifetime of the Holy Pro p h e t( s a ). A few of them relate to his return to Mecca after his fo rced exile. All such verses we re revealed even befo re his migration to Medina thus simu l t a n e o u s ly p rophesying both his depart u re and subsequent return. The fo l l ow i n g verse belongs to a Surah (A l – Q a s a s) which was revealed befo re Hijra (the Pro p h e t ’s( s a ) migration from Mecca to Medina). Most surely He Who had made the teaching of the Qur’an binding on thee will bring thee back to t hy place of return. Say, ‘My Lord k n ows best who brings the guidance, and who is in manifest erro r.4 (Ch.28: V. 8 6 ) To predict his return to Mecca before his migration to Medina is in fact a twofold prophecy. In view of the constantly worsening situation which made life progressively impossible for him and his followers in Mecca, migration may seem to some readers a mere logical conclusion. But it should not be forgotten that the element of surprise and wonder in this part of the prophecy is not about the suggestion of migration. The element of wonder is in the open defiance to the will and might of the Meccans who would not permit the predicted Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 53The Review of Religions – January 2003 migration to take place. Again the ever hardening determination of the Meccans not to permit the Prophet(sa) to escape are the factors which highlight the unlikelihood of such a prophecy to have been made by the Prophet(sa) himself in his state of utter helplessness. Another Divine promise that he would most cert a i n ly return to Mecca with manifest truth was vouched to him in the fo l l owing ve r s e : And say, ‘0 my Lord, make my entry a good entry and t h e n m a ke me come fo rth with a good fo rt h c o m i n g ’5 (Ch.17: V. 8 1 ) The third example of how his ultimate victorious return to Mecca was predicted even befo re the actual migration took place, is take n f rom the first few verses of Surah A l – R u m ( C h apter 30), which by the unanimous ve rdict of scholars was revealed befo re Hijra: The Romans have been defeated, In the land nearby, and they, after their defeat, will emerge victori o u s. (This will happen) within a few ye a rs. And to Allah belongs the command befo re and after that. And that will be the day when the believ e rs will re j o i c e, With the succour f rom Allah. He helps whomsoever He pleases; and He is the Mighty the Merciful.6 (Ch.30: Vs.3-6) Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 54 The Review of Religions – January 2003 These verses re fer to a partial territorial defeat which the Romans s u f fe red at the hands of the Persians. The verses clearly pro p h e s i e d that the Persian victory would prove only short – l i ved and in a few years’ time the defeat of the Romans will turn into victory. ‘That will be the day when the believ e rs will (also) rejoice with the succour they would receive from Allah.’ The implication of this prophecy in re l a t i o n to the fate of the believers was all too obvious. When short ly after this revelation the Muslims lost their homes and pro p e rty to the idolaters of Mecca, like the Romans had done to the idol wo r s h i p p e r s of Persia, the consensus among the companions was that soon after the Romans’ victory, the Muslims would also regain their terr i t o ry – Mecca. This understanding was unanimous among all the companions of the Holy Pro p h e t( s a ). The only diffe rence was re g a rding the period in which the prophecy would be fulfilled. This controversy stemmed f rom the expre s s i o n ‘bid‘ai Sineen’: L i t e r a l ly, it means a period extending from three to nine years. Some companions of the Holy Pro p h e t( s a ) in their eagerness bet with some others that they would cert a i n ly return soon after the expiry of thre e years. But others reminded them that their return could be delaye d by as much as nine years which is the upper limit of the term ‘ b i d ’ a i S i n e e n ’: The events as they unfolded themselves, proved the latter opinion to be right. Thus, in this sense both the promises we re fulfilled in letter and in spirit. First it was the Romans who regained their lost terr i t o ry within the prescribed limit and then it was the turn of the Muslims to return to Mecca in glory befo re the end of the eighth ye a r. Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 55The Review of Religions – January 2003 Another catego ry of the prophecies which was manife s t ly fulfilled during the lifetime of the Holy Pro p h e t( s a ) relates to the re p e a t e d attacks on the Muslims in Medina by the Meccans and their c o n federates from among the nomad tribes. The first of these prophecies as mentioned in the fo l l owing ve r s e s c l e a r ly port r ayed the events of the Battle of Badr. During this first serious encounter of the Muslims with a fo r m i d a b l e, pro fe s s i o n a l ly organised army of Meccans, the invading hosts we re completely routed and put to a most humiliating flight by a comparative ly mu c h smaller body of Muslim defe n d e r s . Do they say, ‘We are a victorious host?’ The hosts shall soon be routed and will turn their backs in flight . A ye, the Hour is their appointed time; and the Hour will be most calamitous and most bitter.7 (Ch.54: Vs.45-47) The devastating defeat inflicted upon the Meccan army was clearly p redicted in the verses quoted above. The last of these ve r s e s highlights for them the bitterness of the Hour. The ve ry pick of the chieftains, the sworn enemies of Islam, who we re also re n owned for their hatred of the Holy Pro p h e t( s a ), fell one after the other and we re made to bite the dust in the field of Badr. Abu-Jahl was slain by two young Muslim lads, so also Shaibah and ‘Utbah met their fated hour and we re put to swo rd within a few hours. The night fell upon the gloomy hearts of the Meccans like D o o m s d ay. They we re put to flight in utter disarr ay. It is this Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 56 The Review of Religions – January 2003 humiliating defeat which is re fe rred to in the fo l l owing verse of Surah A l – A n fa l: And remember the time when Allah promised you one of the two p a rties that it should be yours, and you wished that one without sting should be yours, but Allah desired to establish the truth by His word s and to cut off the root of the disbeliev e rs.8 (Ch.8: V. 8 ) The Battle of The Ditch Among other encounters with the enemies of Islam which occurre d p re c i s e ly as they we re fo retold, the Battle of the Ditch. is of outstanding import a n c e. It was during this battle that some other great historic victories we re also predicted at a time when the ve ry survival of the Muslims themselves was at stake. The prediction of the Battle of the Ditch was first made in Surah S a d which was definitely revealed in Mecca and according to most scholars, during the early period of the Pro p h e t ’s( s a ) m i n i s t ry. Fo l l owing is the ve r s e : T h ey are a host of the confe d e rates which shall be routed here.9 (Ch.38: V. 1 2 ) Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 57The Review of Religions – January 2003 It is to this prophecy that the Holy Qur’an re fe r s : And when the believ e rs saw the confe d e ra t e s, they said, ‘This is what Allah and His Messenger promised us; and Allah and His Messenge r s p o ke the truth.’ And it only added to their faith and submission.1 0 (Ch.33: V. 2 3 ) Of all the battles fought during the lifetime of the Holy Pro p h e t( s a ) o f Islam, the Battle of the Ditch stands out for the maximum possible dangers and extreme trials of adversity which it brought to the Muslims in Medina. There was many a time when the odds we re h e avy against the survival of the Muslims. The Qur’an describes their state as fo l l ow s : When they came upon you from above you, and from below you, and when yo u r e yes became distracted, and yo u r h e a rts re a ched to the t h ro a t s, and you thought d i ve r s e thoughts about Allah. T h e re and then w e re the believ e rs s o re ly t ried, and they were s h a ken with a violent shaking. Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 58 The Review of Religions – January 2003 And when the hy p o c rites and those in whose hearts was a disease said, ‘Allah and His Messenger promised us nothing but a delusion.’ And when a party of them said, ‘O people of Ya t h rib (Medina), you have p o s s i b ly no stand against the enemy, there fo re turn back .’ And a section of them eve n a s ked leave of the Prophet, saying, ‘Our houses are exposed and defe n c e l e s s.’ And they were in truth n o t exposed. They only sought to flee awa y.1 1 (Ch.33: Vs.11-14) This battle has earned the title The Battle of the Ditch, because when the news reached Prophet Muhammad( s a ) that almost all the Arab tribes had colluded to invade Medina for a final conclusive encounter to finish off Islam once and for all, the building of a barrier on the open side of Medina became an absolute must. The number of Muslims in Medina at that time, by comparison to the invading hosts, was so small that it was absolutely impossible for them to prevent the e n e my from entering Medina in an open battle. H e n c e, after consultation it was decided that the digging of a ditch was the only option. A one mile long ditch was re q u i red to be dug in e x t re m e ly difficult rocky terr a i n . The estimate as to the number of Muslims invo l ved in this task diffe r. The minimum mentioned is seven hundred and the maximum thre e thousand. According to our estimate it was around one thousand eight hundred at the most, because the one thing on which the authorities are agreed is that to eve ry group of ten persons, ten yard s of the ditch we re allocated. As it was not longer than one mile, the number of Muslims could not have been more than one thousand s even hundred and sixty. The task was hard and exacting. An ove r a l l state of pove rty and deprivation further compounded the pro b l e m s of the Muslim camp. At times they had to work for days on end on empty stomachs. Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 59The Review of Religions – January 2003 It was during this state of extreme adversity that the Holy Pro p h e t( s a ) was once informed that despite the best effo rts of the sappers, a hard rock stubbornly refused to yield. The Pro p h e t( s a ) p roceeded fo rt h w i t h to visit the troubled spot. Having reached there he took up the pickaxe in his own hands and struck the rock three times befo re it yielded and b ro ke into fragments. Each time he struck, sparks flew from the ro c k and he exclaimed out loud A l l a h – o – A k b a r ! (Allah is the Greatest). At the end the Companions inquired from him why he had shouted A l l a h – o – Akbar! with such a triumphant note. The Holy Pro p h e t( s a ) a n swe red: ‘In the sparks which flew at the first strike, 1 saw the Syrian palaces of the Byzantine Empire and their key was given to me. The second time 1 was shown the illuminated palaces of Persia at Madain and to me the key was handed. Again 1 was granted the key of the palaces of San’a as t h ey ap p e a red in the sparks when 1 struck the rock for the third time.’ H i s t o ry bears witness that this is exactly what fo l l owed but the wo n d e r lies not in their fulfilment alone. The ve ry making of these pro p h e c i e s at the time they we re made is in itself a miracle.1 2 Seldom can history present such examples of a defending few, as p owerless and vulnerable as the Muslims we re while they we re engaged Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an S E L D O M C A N H I S TO RY P R E S E N T S U C H E X A M P L E S O F A D E F E N D I N G F E W, A S P OW E R L E S S A N D V U L N E R A B L E A S T H E M U S L I M S W E R E W H I L E T H E Y W E R E E N G AG E D I N T H E D I G G I N G O F T H E T R E N C H, DAY I N A N D DAY O U T, B O R N E D OW N W I T H H U N G E R A N D FAT I G U E. T H AT WA S T H E T I M E W H E N T H E A DV E R S I T Y O F T H E M U S L I M C AU S E C O U L D S I N K N O F U RT H E R. I T WA S T H E N T H AT M U H A M M A D(S A) S P O K E T H E H I S TO R I C WO R D S W H I C H H I S TO RY C O U L D N OT C R E AT E, T H E Y C R E AT E D H I S TO RY. 60 The Review of Religions – January 2003 in the digging of the trench, day in and day out, borne down with hunger and fatigue. That was the time when the adversity of the Muslim cause could sink no furt h e r. It was then that Muhammad( s a ) s p o ke the historic wo rds which history could not cre a t e, they created history. To predict such victories at a time such as this could either be the r avings of a madman or the proclamation of God from the lips of a g reat Pro p h e t( s a ). He was the wisest of all the wise that ever live d , ‘mad’ he was cert a i n ly not. If ever a prophet was blessed to be a Divine oracle, it was he. His was the mouth and his we re the lips which shaped destinies and pronounced decrees as God spoke to him and he spoke for God. As has been pointed out earlier the purpose of this exe rcise is not to p resent an exhaustive study of all the prophecies of the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Pro p h e t( s a ). We are only attempting to present to the reader some specific prophecies with wider impact. Having discussed some of them which related to the lifetime of the Holy Pro p h e t( s a ) a n d the period which immediately fo l l owed, we now turn to another c a t e go ry of prophecies which relate to a comparative ly distant f u t u re. It is difficult to decide where to begin but perhaps it would not be inap p ropriate to begin with the discove ry of the Americas and the extension of the known world. The fo l l owing are the re l evant ve r s e s : And when the earth will spread out, And will cast out a l l that she contains and become empty; And will give ear to her Lord – and t h i s will be incumbent upon her.1 3 (Ch.84: Vs.4-6) Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 61The Review of Religions – January 2003 The prophecy contained in verse 4 above was manife s t ly realised with the discove ry of the ‘New World’ by the end of the fifteenth century, when on 12 October 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on an island in the Bahamas. That was the beginning of the end for the native Americans. But a n ew seemingly endless beginning was made for the Americans to rise and dominate the rest of the old world. This is clearly implied in the p rophecy contained in the next verse which speaks of the eart h t h rowing up all its secrets and emptying itself. The same issue is taken up again and further elaborated in some other chapters as well. For instance, verses 2 and 3 of Surah A l – Z i l z a l re a d : When the earth is shaken with her violent shaking, And the earth throws up her burd e n s.1 4 (Ch.99: Vs.2-3) It is predicted that the earth will go through a mighty shaking and will t h row up its heavy metals and man will begin to wonder what indeed is happening to it. The wo rd athqal: re fers to eve rything which is heav y, so the t h rowing up by the earth of its heavy metals will not be a fo rc e d extension of its meaning. Again it can also be translated as ‘the eart h will throw up its hidden tre a s u res’. The tremendous scientific advancements which we have witnessed in this age could not become possible without the discove ry of new minerals which the earth has t h rown up as predicted. Count them out and the wheel of scientific Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 62 The Review of Religions – January 2003 advancement will turn back a full circ l e. No modern invention of any significance can be conceived without the discove ry of coal, p e t roleum, uranium, plutonium etc. The chronological order of the two prophecies mentioned above also has a message to delive r. The prophecy of the extension of the old world is fo l l owed immediately by the discove ry of new minerals and this is exactly the sequence in which the prophecies we re f u l f i l l e d . R e fe re n c e s 1 . The Holy Bible (1982) The New King James version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Exodus 14:28-29 2 . Translation of 10:91-93 by Maulawi Sher Ali. 3 . Translation of 10:93 by Maulawi Sher Ali. 4 . Translation of 28:86 by Maulawi Sher Ali. 5 . Translation of 17:81 by Maulawi Sher All. 6 . Translation of 30:3-6 by the author. 7 . Translation of 54:45-47 by Maulawi Sher Ali. 8 . Translation of 8:8 by Maulawi Sher Ali. 9 . Translation of 38:12 by the author. 10. Translation of 33:23 by Maulawl Sher Ali. Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an 63The Review of Religions – January 2003 11. Translation of 33:11-14 by Maulawi Sher Ali. (Note: We have a dded ‘Medina’ in bracke t s ) . 12. Fa t – h u l – B a ri – The Commentary of Sahih AI-Bukhari by Hafiz Ahmad bin ‘Ali HaJar Al-’Asqalani (773-852). Kitab AI-Maghazi Babo Ghazwah Al-Khandaq AI-Ahzab. Vol.VII p.397. 1 3 . Translation of 84:4-6 by the author. 1 4 . Translation of 99:2-3 by the author. Unveiling of the Unseen by the Qur’an We hope you have enjoyed reading this edition of the magazine. The Review of Religions will continue to prov i d e discussion on a wide range of subjects and welcomes any comments or suggestions from its readers. To ensure that you regularly receive this monthly publication, please fill in your details below and we will put you on our mailing list. The cost of one year’s subscription is £15 Sterling or US $30 for overseas readers (Please do not send cash). 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