PREDICTIONS IN THE QUR’AN
Another miraculous aspect of the Qur’an is its prediction of future events, all of which have so far been fulfilled. This is one of the proofs that the Qur’an is the Word of Allah. In the following pages, we will dwell on some of these events.
An astonishing prediction is found in the first verses of Surat ar-Rum, which refers to the Byzantine Empire, the eastern part of the later Roman Empire: The Byzantine Empire, which had met with a great defeat, would soon gain victory.
These verses were revealed around 620, almost 7 years after the idolatrous Persians had severely defeated Christian Byzantium in 613-14. In fact, Byzantium had suffered such heavy losses that it seemed impossible for it even to survive, let alone be victorious again. Following their defeat of the Byzantines at Antioch in 613, the Persians seized control of Damascus, Cilicia, Tarsus, Armenia, and Jerusalem. The loss of Jerusalem in 614 was particularly traumatic for the Byzantines, for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was destroyed and the Persians seized the “True Cross,” the symbol of Christianity.174 In addition, the Avars, Slavs, and Lombards also were posing serious threats to the Byzantine Empire. The Avars had reached as far as the walls of Constantinople. Emperor Heraclius ordered the gold and silver in churches to be melted and turned into money in order to meet the army’s expenses. When this proved insufficient, bronze statues were melted down in order to mint more money. Many governors had revolted against Heraclius, and Byzantium was on the point of collapse.175 Mesopotamia, Cilicia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Armenia, which had earlier belonged to Byzantium, were invaded by the idolatrous Persians.176
In short, everyone was expecting Byzantium to be destroyed. But during this time, the first verses of Surat ar-Rum were revealed, announcing that Byzantium would triumph in 3 to 9 years. This predicted victory seemed so impossible that the Arab polytheists thought it would never come true.
Like all the other predictions in the Qur’an, however, this one also came true. In 622, Heraclius gained a number of victories over the Persians and conquered Armenia.177 In December 627, the two empires fought a decisive battle at Nineveh, some 50 kilometres east of the Tigris river, near Baghdad. This time too, the Byzantine army defeated the Persians. A few months later, the Persians had to sue for peace with Byzantium, which obliged them to return the territories they had taken from it.178
The Byzantine victory was completed when Emperor Heraclius defeated the Persian ruler Khosrow II in 630, recaptured Jerusalem, and regained the “True Cross” for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.179 In the end, “the victory of the Romans” proclaimed by Allah in the Qur’an miraculously came true within the verses’ stated “three to nine years” time frame.
Another miracle revealed in these verses is the announcement of a geographical fact that could not have been known by anyone at that time: that the Romans had been defeated in the lowest region of Earth. This Arabic expression adna al-Ard is interpreted as “a nearby place” in many translations. However, this is not the literal meaning, but rather a figurative interpretation. The word adna, derived from the word dani (low), means ?the lowest?. The word ard means ?the world.? Therefore, adna al-ard means “the lowest place on Earth.”
Some interpreters of the Qur’an, considering the closeness of the region in question to the Arabs, prefer the “closest” meaning of the word. However, the actual meaning indicates a very important geological fact: The Dead Sea, one of the regions in which the Byzantines were defeated in 613-14, is the lowest region on Earth.180
As stated earlier, for Christian Byzantium, the loss of the True Cross was the heaviest blow in that defeat in Jerusalem, located near the shores of the Dead Sea.
The Byzantines and the Persians actually fought at the Dead Sea basin, which is situated at the intersection point of the lands belonging to Syria, Palestine, and Jordan. At 399 meters below sea level, the Dead Sea is the “lowest” place on Earth’s surface.181
However, as only modern measuring methods and equipment can prove this fact, it would have been impossible for anyone living at that time to realise this truth. Yet, the Qur’an states clearly that this region was the “lowest land” on Earth and thereby provides further evidence that it is the Word of Allah.
As we shall see later on, Pharaoh regarded himself as a deity and responded with slanders and threats to Prophet Musa’s (as) calls for him to believe in Allah. This arrogant attitude lasted until he was faced with the threat of death through drowning. The Qur’an relates that Pharaoh immediately turned to belief when faced with Allah’s punishment:
However, this last-minute conversion was not accepted, for it was not sincere. According to the Qur’an, Allah exclaimed:
The information that Pharaoh’s corpse would serve as a sign for later generations may be regarded as an indication that his body would not decay. On display in the Royal Mummies Chamber of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is a mummified body believed to be that of this tyrant. In all likelihood, Pharaoh’s body floated to shore after being drowned, was found and mummified by the Egyptians, and then carried to a previously prepared burial chamber.182
One night in Madinah, the Prophet (saas) dreamed that the believers would enter the Sacred Mosque and walk around the Ka`bah. After he awoke, he gave this good news to the believers, for those who had migrated from Makkah to Madinah with him had not been able to return since.
In Surat al-Fath 27, Allah revealed to the Prophet (saas) that He would help and support him, that the dream was true, and that the believers would enter Makkah. A short while later, with the Treaty of Hudaybiyah and the conquest of Makkah, the believers entered the Sacred Mosque in complete safety, just as the dream had foretold. That was how Allah showed that it had been His will that the Prophet’s (saas) dream be fulfilled.
On closer consideration, this verse can be seen to announce yet another victory that will take place before Makkah’s capture: the capture of the Khyber Fortress, which was under the control of the Jews, before they entered Makkah.183
Other verses that give the glad tidings of Makkah’s conquest are given below:
Surat al-Isra’ 76 states that the unbelievers cannot stay in Makkah:
The Prophet (saas) entered Makkah and conquered it in 8 ah (630). Two years later, all of the unbelievers left Makkah, just as Allah had said that they would. Another point that should be noted here is that when the Prophet (saas) gave that good news to the believers, it looked totally out of the question. In fact, the situation pointed in quite the opposite direction, and the polytheists appeared quite determined never to let the believers enter Makkah. As a result, those who had doubts in their hearts began to doubt the Prophet’s (saas) words. Yet, the Prophet (saas) trusted in Allah, paid no attention to the doubters’ words, and told people what Allah had revealed to him. The Qur’an confirmed his words, and the prediction was fulfilled shortly afterwards.
As these verses reveal, the Children of Israel were to cause two corruptions over the world. After the first one, during which they adopted a very high level of haughtiness, Allah sent a powerful army against them. Indeed, when the Jews killed Prophet Yahya (as) and set a trap to kill Prophet ‘Isa (as) (“reaching to a degree of great haughtiness” ), they were exiled shortly afterwards from Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 and wandered all over the world.
When that verse was revealed to the Prophet (saas), the Jews were living under very difficult conditions in various countries and had no state of their own. Yet, Allah told the Children of Israel that one day they would recover their strength. At that time, however, there seemed to be almost no chance that this would really happen. Many centuries later, however, the Jews returned to Palestine and established the State of Israel in 1948. Today, Israel possesses military and political power and keeps the Middle East in great turmoil because of its Zionist ideology and harsh treatment of Palestinian Muslims and Christians.
This is a sign of the Children of Israel’s second “corruption. ” However, this wicked behaviour clearly does not apply to the entire Jewish people, among whom there are many individuals of good conscience and common sense who do not agree with Israel’s Zionist and anti-Arab policies.
In this and other verses, we notice that almost no one could believe that such things would ever come about. But Allah willed their fulfilment, and thereby provided believers with more proof that the Qur’an is a miraculous book revealed by Him for their benefit.
Humanity’s exploration of space was accelerated with the Soviet satellite Sputnik on 4 October 1957, which carried aloft the first man to ever leave Earth’s atmosphere: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. On 20 July 1969, the American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human being ever to set foot on the Moon.
In fact, the Qur’an revealed that such developments and achievements would one day be realised. For instance, Allah draws our attention to this in the following verse:
The Arabic word sultan, translated here as “a clear authority,” has other meanings as well: force, power, sovereignty, dominion, law, path, permission, give leave, justify, and proof.
Careful examination reveals that the above verse emphasizes that humanity will be able to move into the depths of Earth and sky, but only with a superior power. In all likelihood, this superior power is the superior technology employed in the twentieth century, for it enabled scientists to achieve this great feat.
After referring to the Moon, the above verses then say that people will mount up stage by stage. The term tarkabunna comes from the verb rakiba, (to mount, walk on a path, follow, embark upon, set about, participate, or rule). In the light of these meanings, it is very likely that the expression “you will mount up stage by stage” refers to a vehicle to be boarded.
Indeed, the astronauts’ spacecraft pass through each layer of the atmosphere one by one, and then begin to pass through the Moon’s gravitational field. Thus, the Moon is reached by moving through individual layers. In addition, the swearing by the Moon in Surat al-Inshiqaq 18 further strengthens this emphasis, meaning that the verse may well be a sign that humanity will travel to the Moon. (Allah knows best.)
The above verse indicates that in addition to the animals mentioned here, people will have various unknown (to them) means of transport. The following verse points to the fact that there will be such mass modes of transport as ships:
As the above verse relates, Allah placed the wind under Prophet Sulayman’s (as) command and allowed him to use it as a vehicle. There is a strong possibility of an indication here that, as in Prophet Sulayman’s (as) time, wind energy will also be used in the technology of the future.
The expression “a month’s journey in the morning and a month in the afternoon” may be drawing attention to the fact that Prophet Sulayman (as) moved rapidly between different regions perhaps by using a technology similar to an airplane, or developed wind-powered vehicles that could cover long distances quickly. (Allah knows best.) There is thus a strong possibility that these verses point to modern airplane technology.
“He who possessed knowledge of the Book” told Prophet Sulayman (as) that he could bring the Queen of Saba’s throne to him very quickly. This is a possible reference to the transmission of images with present-day advanced technology. Another verse on the subject reads:
In our day, text, pictures, and films can be sent anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds, thanks to the Internet and advances in computer technology. For instance, carrying the Queen’s throne to Prophet Sulayman’s (as) court very quickly may well refer to the fact that it will be possible to send a three-dimensional picture or image in the blink of an eye over the Internet.
According to scientists, the teleportation of atoms and molecules, as well as larger bodies, may become possible in the near future. By this method, the item’s material characteristics are removed from one location and transferred in every detail and atomic sequence to another location, where they are reconstructed. If this technology becomes operational one day, time and space will no longer represent an obstacle to travel and objects will be able to be transported anywhere in a single moment without traversing any physical distance.184
In 1998, physicists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) working with two European groups transported a photon. The scientists formed a copy of the photon by reading its atomic structure and then transmitted that information a distance of 1 metre. In another recent teleportation experiment, Ping Koy Lam of the Australian National University (ANU) and other researchers transmitted a laser ray a short distance.185
Indeed, according to a CNN report on 17 July 2002, a group of physicists from the National Australian University in Canberra split a laser ray and “transmitted” it several metres. Ping Koy Lam, the team’s head, stated that they had not yet succeeded in transmitting matter in its atomic state, but that such a thing was not impossible and may become a reality in the future.
According to a study published in the science journal Nature, Eugene Polzik of Denmark’s University of Aarhus, and his colleagues performed successful experiments on a large number of atoms, using laser rays and quantum physics.186 In his analyses of teleportation’ s potential, published in the journal Scientific American, Australian physicist Anton Zeilinger states that far more complex systems could be teleported without violating the laws of physics.187
As the Qur’an reveals in “We will show them Our Signs on the horizon and within themselves until it is clear to them that it is the truth” (Qur’an, 41:53), these scientific advances may represent a part of the technologies indicated in the Qur’an, all of which reveal its miraculous aspects.
Today, scientists state that teleporting atoms and scent molecules may be possible in the near future. In Surah Yusuf 94, Prophet Yusuf’s (as) father says that he can smell his son’s scent. Scientists also say that it will soon be possible to send scents in the same way as pictures and three-dimensional images are sent. Therefore, this verse might be a sign of an advanced technology developing from the current research into transmitting scent.
Like our other sense perceptions, smell forms in the brain. For example, a lemon peel’s molecules stimulate the nose’s scent receptors, which then transmit them in the form of electrical signals to the brain for analysis. Therefore, when the scent’s signal is artificially formed in another form, the scent can be perceived in the same form. Indeed, the “electronic nose” is one of the research areas showing that this may well be possible in the near future.
A human being’s scent perception system makes it possible for a trained nose to name and distinguish some 10,000 odours. Professionals in the perfumery business who have received special chemical training are able to sniff a scent that contains 100 different odorants and then list the ingredients.188 This superior creation in the human nose has encouraged many scientists to design similar equipment. Efforts are underway in various research and development centres to replicate this human scent perception system. The models developed on this basis are termed “the electronic nose.”
The human nose’s receptors are composed of proteins; those in its electronic counterpart are composed of a series of chemical receptors. Each receptor is designed to detect different odours; the more their distinguishing capacities are enhanced, the more difficult production becomes and the greater the cost. The signals collected by the sensors are turned into binary codes, by means of electronic systems, and then sent to a computer. The electronic systems can be thought of as imitating the nerve cells responsible for scent detection, and the computer as the brain. The computer is programmed to analyse the data and thus interprets the binary code signals.
Electronic noses are currently being used in the food, perfumery, and chemical industries, as well as in medicine. Universities and international organizations are also providing major support for such projects. Nevertheless, as stated by Julian W. Gardner of the University of Warwick, researchers are still in the early stages of this technology.189
One of Allah’s great blessings to Prophet Sulayman (as) was “a fount of molten copper.” This can be understood in several senses. By the use of melted copper, it may be referring to the existence, at his time, of an advanced technology that employed electricity. We know that copper is one of the best metals for conducting electricity and heat, and thus constitutes the basis of the electrical industry, which uses much of the copper produced in the world. The expression “flow out” may indicate that electricity can be used in many fields. (Allah knows best.)
The above verse describes how Prophet Musa’s (as) people asked him for water and how he provided places where each tribe could drink. Clearly, his people were suffering from a shortage of water. Such shortages still exist, for more than 1 billion people today lack access to clean water, and 2.4 billion still live without improved sanitation. According to projected estimates, by 2025 about 5 billion people will not have access to sufficient amounts of water.190 Every year, some 12 million people die from water scarcity; 3 million of whom are children who die from waterborne diseases.191
Today, 31 countries, comprising 8 percent of the world’s population, face chronic freshwater shortages. By 2025, this number is expected to rise to 48 countries.192 According to UN predictions, renewable freshwater will become an even more limited resource by 2025, and the number of 131 million people experiencing water problems will rise to either 817 million (according to low population growth projections) or 1.079 billion (according to high population growth projections) .193
Groundwater, the largest source of fresh water on Earth, represents more than 90 percent of the readily available freshwater reserves194 and is therefore of vital importance to meeting the water needs of up to 2 billion people.195 It constitutes the primary source of water for up to 50 percent of the American population, a figure that rises to 95 percent in rural areas.196 Groundwater is also the safest and most reliable source of fresh water. At the same time, this water can be used to produce geothermal energy and save energy by using heat pumps.
When the water sucked up from the soil meets an impermeable underground layer, it collects there and forms a water source. This water is then brought to the surface by the artesian method. Artesian springs are formed by sedimentary rocks that can store underground water.
The fact that artesian wells are drilled in rocky areas runs parallel to the description in the Qur’an. Given that Allah commanded Prophet Musa (as) to strike the rock, Surat al-A`raf 160 may be indicating this method. (Allah knows best.) The verb idrib, translated as “strike,” can also mean “to raise, to open.” Thus, this verse may be describing a water source being opened by the raising of the rock. As a result, pressurized water may have emerged, as described in the verb inbajasat (to pour out, flow freely, bubble up, flow), just as happens with artesian wells. If sufficient pressure forms, water can continue to flow to the surface without the need for a pump.
It is particularly striking that current solutions for dealing with water scarcity use underground water resources. In fact, one of the most effective methods of doing so is the artesian well. In other words, we might be copying Prophet Musa’s (as) example of striking or lifting the rock without even knowing it. Surat al-A`raf 160 may therefore be a reference to artesian wells, the first of which was opened in 1126 in the French region of Artois. (Allah knows best.)
The “Valley of the Ants” refers to a special place and special ants. In addition, the fact that Prophet Sulayman (as) could hear the ants talking among themselves may contain striking references to future developments in computer technology. The present-day term “Silicon Valley” refers to the centre of the world of technology. It is most significant that a “valley of the ants” appears in the account of Prophet Sulayman’s (as) life. Allah may be drawing our attention to the advanced technology of the future.
Furthermore, ants and other insect species are widely used in advanced technology as models in robot projects and are intended to serve in a wide range of areas, from the defence industry to technology. The verse may also be referring to these developments.
Latest Developments in Miniature Technology: Army-Ant Robots
The best known project using ants as a model are the “Army-Ant Robot” projects being carried out independently in several countries. One study being carried out by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Virginia State University seeks to develop small, inexpensive, and simple physically identical robots that can be used as a robot army. Project officials explain these robots’ functionality in the following terms: “The way they behave as a group, in a coordinated manner, perform a series of physical actions, and take joint decisions.” These robot armies’ mechanical and electrical designs have been based on the behaviour of an ant community. They are called the “army-ant” robots because of their similarities to their insect counterparts.
The “army-ant” robot system was originally designed as a “material-carrying system.” According to this scenario, several small robots would be charged with jointly lifting and carrying objects. It was later decided that they could be used for other tasks. One report describes other tasks to which they might be assigned in the future:
In a report by Israel A. Wagner, an expert on ant robot technology, the ant robot projects were described in these terms:
As can be seen in these examples, an ant’s social lifestyle forms the basis of many projects, and the various ant-based robot technologies are providing benefits for human beings. That is why it is so important that ants and their valley are referred to in the Qur’anic account of Prophet Sulayman’s (as) life. The term “ants” in the verse may refer to an army consisting of robots, future developments in robot technology, and how robots will play an important role in human life. For example, they may perform many arduous tasks and thus make people’s lives more comfortable. (Allah knows best.)
The terms “seed” (al-habb) and “kernel” (an-nawa) in the above verse may indicate the splitting of the atom. Indeed, the dictionary meanings of an-nawa include “nucleus, centre, atomic nucleus.” Furthermore, the description of bringing forth the living from the dead can be interpreted as Allah creating matter from dead energy. Producing the dead out of the living may refer to energy (dead) emerging from matter (living), since the atom is in motion. (Allah knows best.) That is because as well as “living,” al-hayy can also mean “active, energetic.” With its meaning of “non-living, ” al-mayyit, translated above as “dead,” may very probably refer to energy.
Scientists define energy as the capacity for doing work. Matter, the material that comprises all things on Earth and in the universe, consists of atoms and molecules that can be seen to be in motion under an electron microscope. In the early twentieth century, Albert Einstein (d. 1955) theorised that matter could be converted into energy, suggesting that the two were inter-related at the atomic level.199 This may be the bringing forth of the dead from the living, as described above, or, in other words, obtaining energy from matter, which is in motion at the atomic level. In addition, yukhriju, translated as “bringing forth,” also means “bringing out, emitting” (as in the case of electrical waves). Therefore, the terms in this verse may be indicating the form of energy obtained from the atom. (Allah knows best.)
Scientists can now split the atom by dividing its nucleus. Taking Einstein’s theories as their starting point, they obtained energy from matter in the 1940s by means of nuclear fission, the process of splitting the atomic nucleus. The verb faliqu in Surat al-An`am 95, translated as “to split,” may be a reference to fission’s dictionary meaning: the process of splitting (the atom’s nucleus). When this process takes place, enormous amounts of energy are released.
The words in Surat al-An`am 95 are very wise in terms of their meanings. The phenomena described in this verse bear a very close resemblance to the splitting of the atom’s nucleus in order to obtain atomic energy. The verse may therefore be a reference to nuclear fission, which was only made possible by twentieth-century technology. (Allah knows best.)
174. http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Heraclius.
175. Warren Treadgold, A History of the Byzantine State and Society (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press: 1997), 287-99.
177. http://fstav. freeservers. com/emperors/ heraclius. html.
178. Treadgold, A History, 287-99.
179. http://web.genie. it/utenti/ i/inanna/ livello2- i/mediterraneo- 1-i.htm; http://impearls. blogspot. com/2003_ 12_07_impearls_ archive.html; and http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Heraclius.
180. ?The Lowest Part on the Face of the Earth,?www.beconvin c ed.com/science/ QURANLOWEST. htm.
181. ?Dead Sea,? World Book Encyclopedia, 2003, Contributor: Bernard Reich, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University
182. ?Archaeology, ? http://www.angelfire. com/az/miracles/ Archaeology. html.
183. Imam Taberi, Taberi Tefsiri (Commentary of AT-TabAri) (Istanbul: Umit Yayincilik), 5:2276.
184. Anil Ananthaswamy, “Teleporting larger objects becomes real possibility, ” New Scientist, 6 February 2002.
185. Dr. David Whitehouse, BBC News Online, 17 June 2002.
186. Atom Experiment Brings Teleportation a Step Closer,” Reuters, 26 September 2001, http://www.space.com/ businesstechnolo gy/technology/ quantum_teleport ation_010926. html.
187. James Schultz, ?Teleporting, the Quantum Way,? Space News, 12 October 2000.
188. Elise Hancock, “A Primer on Smell,” Johns Hopkins Magazine, September 1996.
189. Mia Schmiedeskamp, “Plenty To Sniff At,” Scientific American, March 2001, http://www.sciam.com/ 2001/0301issue/ 0301techbus1. html.
190. ?Climate Change Adding Stress to Scarce Water Resources,? DevNews Media Center, 5 June 2003, http://web.worldban k.org/WBSITE/ EXTERNAL/ NEWS/0,,contentM DK:20114416~ menuPK:34457~ pagePK:34370~ piPK:34424~ theSite
191. ?Water?The Essence of Life,? DevNews Media Center, 17 May 2002, http://web.worldban k.org/WBSITE/ EXTERNAL/ NEWS/0,,contentM DK:20044610~ menuPK:34459~ pagePK:64003015~ piPK:64003012~
192. ?Solutions for a Water-Short World,? http://www.infoforhealth. org/pr/m14edsum. shtml.
193. ?Water-Scarce Countries,? excerpted from Sustaining Water: Population and the Future of Renewable Water Supplies, http://www.cnie.org/ pop/pai/water- 14.html.
194. ?Creation of an International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (INGRACE) ? an information note,? IAH (International Association of Hydrogeologists) News and Information Online, http://www.iah.org/ articles/ mar2000/art002. htm.
195. ?Groundwater, ? http://ap.world. water-forum3. com/themeWwf/ en/themeShow. do?id=36.
196. ?The Importance of Groundwater, ? http://pasture. ecn.purdue. edu/~agenhtml/ agen521/epadir/ grndwtr/importan ce.html.
197. John S. Bay, ?Design of the ?Army Ant? Cooperative Lifting Robot,? http://armyant. ee.vt.edu/ paper/robo_ mag.html.
198. Israel A. Wagner, ?My Travels With my A(u)nts: Distributed Ant Robotics,? http://www.cs.technion. ac.il/~wagner/ pub/thesis_ abs_eng.html.
199. ?Energy and Matter,? Fundamentals of Physical Geography, http://www.physicalgeograp hy.net/fundament als/6a.html.