Question 14 : Does the Qur'an contain any prophecies about the future?
Question 14 : Does the Qur'an contain any prophecies about the future?
Does the Qur'an contain any prophecies about the future?
Have any of these proved true?
Yes, the Qur'an contains many prophecies about the future. Many of these have already proved true, and we confidently expect that the others will also come to pass in due time. In addition, no statement in the Qur'an has ever proved to be false.
In all fairness, there are no true prophecies in the Quran and the ones that Muslims point to fail to be truly prophetic. The claim that the Quran contains dozens of prophecies is based purely on wishful thinking since none of the so called proof texts presented are convincing when taken within the context of the passage in question.
Let us see some examples of Qur'anic prophecies that has already been fulfilled. One example is a prophecy that occurs in Surah 30 of the Qur'an. In the first six verses Allah promised that the Romans who had just been defeated in the year 615 C.E. would turn around and win a decisive victory within nine years.
At the time this statement was made, no human could envision how it could come to pass. The Romans had been so soundly defeated that no hope was left that they could make a comeback within such a short period of time. The disbelievers mocked at the Muslims over this passage in the Qur'an because they thought the prophecy would surely fail. One man, Ummayah bin Khalaf by name, even placed a bet of a hundred camels that the prophecy would fail. Abu Bakr, the closest follower of the prophet, on whom be peace, took up that challenge because he was sure that the word of God could never fail. True enough, within the specified period, in the year 624 CE, the Romans confronted the Persians in battle at a place called Issus. The Romans won their decisive victory exactly as prophecised in the Qur'an, and Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, won the bet of one hundred camels. In the meantime, however, revelation from Allah had prohibited gambling, so the prophet directed Abu Bakr to give away the camels to the poor and needy.
Let us take into consideration the first passage Shabir claims is a true prophecy, S. 30:2-4:
"The Roman Empire has been defeated - in a land close by: But they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious - within a few years."
As the prophecy stated the Byzantines did become victorious over the Persians who had at first defeated them. Yet, there are fundamental problems with this alleged prophecy:
This fact is solidified by Muslim commentator al-Baidawi. C.G. Pfander mentions Baidawi's comments on the variant readings surrounding this passage:
This being the case, Shabir cannot confidently tell us what the true reading of the text is and hence cannot insure us that this verse originally predicted the Byzantine victory over the Persians.
Interestingly, Shabir failed to comment on the phrase " a few years" seeing that this would actually hinder the point he seeks to make. He also did not mention the fact that Abu Bakr believed "a few years" meant that the Byzantines were going to win in three years:
"This passage refers to the defeat of the Byzantines in Syria by the Persians under Khusran Parvis. (A.D. 615 - 6 years before the Hegira). However, the defeat of the Persians should take place soon--"in a small number of years". In the light of this prediction, Abu-Bakr undertook a bet with Ubai-ibn-Khalaf that this prrediction would be fulfilled within three years, but he was corrected by Mohammed who stated that the "small number" is between three and nine years (Al-Baizawi). Muslims tell us that the Byzantines overcame their enemies within seven years. The fact, however, is that the Byzantines defeated Persia in A.D. 628 (Al-Baizawi commentary). That was twelve years after the prediction of Mohammed. Consequently this passage does not qualify as a prophecy, particularly as the time between prophecy and fulfilment was far too short, and in addition the event was easily predictable." (Gerhard Nehls, Christians Ask Muslims [Life Challenge, SIM International; Africa, 1992], pp. 70-71)
So the prophecy was fulfilled. But there is more to this. The same verses contain yet another prophecy. It says that while the Romans are winning their victory, the believers in the Qur'an will rejoice in the victory granted by Allah. We know from history that in that very year the
Muslims were threatened with total annihilation, but Allah rescued them. The Muslims had been driven out of Mecca, their hometown. Now they found safe haven in Medina. But the unbelievers could not rest knowing that the Muslims were free to practice their faith somewhere else. So they marched against the Muslims with an army of one thousand men fully equipped for battle. The Muslims mustered the best defence they could, a mere 313 men lacking suitable equipment for battle.
From a human point of view, the greater force would win, but the help of Allah was with the small group of believers. Miraculously, the believers won, and the Qur'anic prophecy was fulfilled despite all odds.
The unfolding of this double prophecy proves beyond doubt that the Qur'an could not have been authored by any human being.
First, in regard to the victory at Badr, it is impossible to prove this to be a valid prediction, since the time between prediction and fulfillment was almost nil. Furthermore, Muhammad obviously expected victory, otherwise he would not have been fighting. Besides that, he also needed to encourage his warriors. In every war that has been fought, both parties have expected and predicted victory. One of the two parties has always been right; therefore we cannot regard these predictions as prophecies.
Thirdly, when we do read Sura 30 we find that the verses are vague at best:
"In Allah's help to victory. He helpeth to victory whom He will. He is the Mighty, the Merciful. It is a promise of Allah. Allah faileth not His promise, but most of mankind know not. They know only some appearance of the life of the world, and are heedless of the Hereafter." S. 30:5-7
If one were to read this passage without appealing to Muslims for the interpretation, the last thing one would get is that this is predicting the Muslim victory at Badr. Hence, this affirms that the Quran is vague and does not compare to the detailed predictions of the Holy Bible.
Fourthly, to claim that the smaller Muslim army defeating the much larger opposition is a sign that Islam is God's religion is not necessarily the case. The Holy Bible teaches that God determines all things, and often employs pagan kings to fulfill his sovereign purposes:
"… who says of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, "Let it be rebuilt," and of the temple, "Let its foundations be laid."' This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me. I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the LORD, have created it. Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands'? Woe to him who says to his father, 'What have you begotten?' or to his mother, 'What have you brought to birth?' This is what the LORD says- the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands? It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts. I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the LORD Almighty. Isaiah 44:28-45:13
"Therefore the LORD Almighty says this: 'Because you have not listened to my words, I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,' declares the LORD, 'and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,' declares the LORD, 'and will make it desolate forever.'" Jeremiah 25:8-12
"Now I will hand all your countries over to my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him. All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him. If, however, any nation or kingdom will not serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon or bow its neck under his yoke, I will punish that nation with the sword, famine and plague, declares the LORD, until I destroy it by his hand. So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your interpreters of dreams, your mediums or your sorcerers who tell you, "You will not serve the king of Babylon." They prophesy lies to you that will only serve to remove you far from your lands; I will banish you and you will perish. But if any nation will bow its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let that nation remain in its own land to till it and to live there, declares the LORD. " Jeremiah 27:6-11
"The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, 'This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.' Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: 'What have you done?' At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble." Daniel 4:31-37
Paul himself confirms that God institutes all authorities:
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. Romans 13:1-5
During the time Paul wrote this, this would have meant that God had also instituted Rome itself for his sovereign purposes.
Hence, are we to assume that God was pleased with the religion of these pagan kings seeing that he employed them and granted them victory over their enemies? Obviously not, which serves to prove that Muhammad's victory over the larger forces no more proves that he is God's prophet then Cyrus' victory over Babylon prove that Cyrus was also God's prophet.
Finally, since Shabir assumes that the Muslim victory over the larger pagan armies affirms the legitimacy of Islam and Muhammad's prophethood then the reverse is equally true. The Muslims lost their second battle with the pagans at Uhud. Hence, applying Muslim logic this would indicate that Islam is not God's religion but rather the paganism of Mecca was.
Interestingly, some individuals thought that Muhammad had actually been killed during the battle. This served as the basis for the following verse to be "sent down":
"Muhammad is but a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) have passed away before him. Will it be that, when he dieth or is slain, ye will turn back on your heels? He who turneth back on his heels doth no hurt to Allah, and Allah will reward the thankful." 3:144
The defeat at the hands of the Pagans demoralized the Muslims:
"This battle of Uhud has sometimes been presented, even in Muslim sources, as a serious defeat for Muhammad, but this - at least from the military point of view - it certainly was not. The serious aspect was the religious or spiritual one. The victory of Badr had been taken as a sign that God was supporting them, and indeed fighting for them. The loss of life at Uhud, therefore, seemed to be an indication that God had deserted them, or that they had been mistaken in the inferences they had drawn from Badr." (W. M. Watt, What is Islam?, p. 105)
Mahmoud M. Ayoub comments on S. 3:144-148:
"These verses constitute a single and coherent narrative dealing with the mood of the Muslims during and immediately after the defeat of Uhud. Wahidi and most other classical commentators report that verses 144-146 were revealed concerning the false report of the Prophet's death and the demoralization it created in an already disheartened army in disarray.
"… Tabari reports a lengthy account, on the authority of al-Suddi, of the defeat of the Muslims, and their loss of heart as occasion of verse 144. The verse was revealed, according to this account, in answer to those who said, 'Muhammad was killed, return therefore to your people.' According to a number of reports, some people advised that the Muslims should return to their previous religion, raise 'Abd Allah b. Ubayy as their chief, and ask him to request a promise of surety (aman) from the Associators. Hence, Tabari interprets the phrase 'would you then turn back upon your heels?' as 'would you apostatize?' (Tabari, VII, pp. 251-60).
"Ibn Kathir relates that when Muslims were killed and defeated at Uhud, Satan cried out, 'Muhammad has been killed!' Ibn Qumay'ah al-Harithi, the man who is believed to have injured the Prophet, ran to the Associators shouting, 'I killed Muhammad!' Hearing this, many of the Muslims were struck with fear and confusion. (Ayoub, The Qur'an and its Interpreters Volume II-The House of 'Imran [State University of New York Press, Albany 1992], p. 335)
A revelation soon assisted Muhammad to quiet the misgivings of his companions. The Quran blames the warriors for disobeying orders and for seeking to share in the booty and states that God inflicted their reverses to teach them to obey orders and not to seek the rewards of this life.
"Behold! Ye were climbing up the high ground, without even casting a side glance at any one, and the Apostle in your rear was calling you back. There did God give you one distress after another by way of requital, to teach you not to grieve for (the booty) that had escaped you and for (the ill) that had befallen you. For God is well aware of all that ye do." S. 3.153
Yet, the problem still remains why did God allow Muhammad to suffer the consequences of the other Muslims' mistakes? Why did Muhammad suffer such a humiliating defeat, and receive severe injuries in the process? The extent of his injuries are recorded in the hadith:
Narrated Sahl bin Saud As-Sa'idi:
When the helmet broke on the head of the Prophet and his face became covered with blood and his incisor tooth broke (i.e. during the battle of Uhud), 'Ali used to bring water in his shield while Fatima was washing the blood off his face. When Fatima saw that the bleeding increased because of the water, she took a mat (of palm leaves), burnt it, and stuck it (the burnt ashes) on the wound of Allah's Apostle, whereupon the bleeding stopped." (Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 71, Number 618)
Furthermore, the pagans took the Muslims' defeat as a sign that their gods had granted them victory over their loss at Badr:
Narrated Al-Bara' bin 'Azib:
On the day of Uhud the Prophet appointed 'Abdullah bin Jubair as chief of the archers, and seventy among us were injured and martyred. On the day (of the battle) of Badr, the Prophet and his companions had inflicted 140 casualties on the pagans, 70 were taken prisoners, and 70 were killed. Abu Sufyan said, "This is a day of (revenge) for the day of Badr and the issue of war is undecided." (Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 322)
We faced the pagans on that day (of the battle of Uhud) and the Prophet placed a batch of archers (at a special place) and appointed 'Abdullah (bin Jubair) as their commander and said, "Do not leave this place; and if you should see us conquering the enemy, do not leave this place, and if you should see them conquering us, do not (come to) help us," So, when we faced the enemy, they took to their heel till I saw their women running towards the mountain, lifting up their clothes from their legs, revealing their leg-bangles. The Muslims started saying, "The booty, the booty!" 'Abdullah bin Jubair said, "The Prophet had taken a firm promise from me not to leave this place." But his companions refused (to stay). So when they refused (to stay there), (Allah) confused them so that they could not know where to go, and they suffered seventy casualties. Abu Sufyan ascended a high place and said, "Is Muhammad present amongst the people?" The Prophet said, "Do not answer him." Abu Sufyan said, "Is the son of Abu Quh afa present among the people?" The Prophet said, "Do not answer him." Abd Sufyan said, "Is the son of Al-Khattab amongst the people?" He then added, "All these people have been killed, for, were they alive, they would have replied." On that, 'Umar could not help saying, "You are a liar, O enemy of Allah! Allah has kept what will make you unhappy." Abu Sufyan said, "Superior may be Hubal!" On that the Prophet said (to his companions), "Reply to him." They asked, "What may we say?" He said, "Say: Allah is More Elevated and More Majestic!" Abu Sufyan said, "We have (the idol) Al-'Uzza, whereas you have no 'Uzza!" The Prophet said (to his companions), "Reply to him." They said, "What may we say?" The Prophet said, "Say: Allah is our Helper and you have no helper." Abu Sufyan said, "(This) day compensates for our loss at Badr and (in) the battle (the victory) is always undecided and shared in turns by the belligerents. You will see some of your dead men mutilated, but neither did I urge this action, nor am I sorry for it." Narrated Jabir: Some people took wine in the morning of the day of Uhud and were then killed as martyrs. (Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 375)
In light of this, why did Allah not grant Muslims victory seeing that the pagans took this as a sign that their gods were superior and had avenged their defeat at Badr? Perhaps Shabir can explain.
Another prophecy occurs in Surah 111 of the Qur'an. That Surah states that a certain man and his wife will perish as unbelievers. This was uttered at a time when no one but God could say who will or will not become believers later on. Many of the most severe opponents in the early days became devoted followers in later days. But not this couple. They tried everything to oppose, ridicule, and disprove the Qur'an. One would expect that they would also pretend to become believers just to throw doubt on the accuracy of the Qur'an. But they did not apply this obvious strategy. What prevented them, if not the power of God and the truth of His word?
In this way many prophecies were fulfilled, and not one has ever failed. This gives us every reason to place our full confidence in the book of God.
Let us read the passage first and examine it from there:
Perish the hands of Abu Lahab! Perish he! No profit to him from all his wealth; and all his gains! Burnt soon will he be in a fire of blazing flame! His wife shall carry the (crackling) wood - as fuel - a twisted rope of palm-leaf fiber round her (own) neck! S. 111:1-5 (Early Meccan surah)
Presumably, this prophecy could not have been within the grasp of Muhammad's foresight, seeing that Lahab died in unbelief sometime thereafter. As Shabir indicated, all Lahab had to do in order to destroy Muhammad's credibility as a Prophet was to embrace Islam hypocritically, turning it (the passage in question) into a false prophecy.
There are at least seven fundamental problems with this assertion:
Amazingly, the Quran affirms that all humanity, whether believers or not, shall be cast into hell:
There will be no one of you who will not enter it (Hell). This was an inevitable decree of your Lord. Afterwards he MAY save some of the pious, God-fearing Muslims out of the burning fire. S. 19:71-72
Arberry's translation reads:
No one of you there is, but he shall go down to it. That for thy Lord is a thing decreed, determined. Then We shall deliver these that were God-fearing; and the evildoers We shall leave there, hobbling on their knees.
Other translations include:
"There is not one of you who shall not pass through the confines of Hell ..." N. J. Dawood
"No one is there of you who shall not go down unto it ..." J. M. Rodwell
To circumvent this, it is alleged that the passage is speaking about a Muslim passing over hell via the bridge Sirat, and will not actually go down to the flames. Unfortunately for the Muslims, this again is unsubstantiated for the three reasons listed below:
The Quran never mentions this bridge, and it is derived from the Islamic Traditions which at times contradicts the very testimony of the Quran itself.
S. 19:72 clearly states that Allah "may save some of the pious, God-fearing Muslims out of the burning fire," affirming the fact that all shall enter into it and not simply pass over it.
In the Mishkat we are told:
"Ibn Masud said that the Prophet of Islam said: All people shall enter hell. Then they will come out of it according to their works. Those who will come out first will do so like a flash of lightening, the next like a gaze of wind, then like a horse at full speed, afterwards like a swift rider, then like a man springing, and, finally, like the walk of a man." (Transmitted by Tirmidhi and Darimi)
Hence, Abu Lahab perishing in hell is not prophetic at all. Even Muslims shall enter into the fiery flames with no assurance of ever coming out, since no one ever knows if his works will suffice for his exiting hell.
For example, J. Barth writes:
It seems unlikely to me that this sura, directed against Abu Lahab, the prophet's uncle, is among the oldest. Admittedly, the perfect tense tabbat in verse 1 may be a wish or curse; but ma 'aghna 'anhu maluhu in verse 2 points - in accordance with standard linguistic usage of the Koran - to something that has already happened (cf. Suras VII.46, XV.84, and XXVI.207, among others), whereas the imperfect yughni is always used in the case of future events. For a perfect representing a curse, la 'aghna would have been used.
The sura therefore includes an expression of triumph over the death of Abu Lahab, which was already past. According to Ibn Hisham, it is supposed to have occurred about seven days after the battle of Badr. Furthermore, a few Islamic authors date the sura in a fairly late period, some of them even put it in the eighth year of the Hijra (when, however, Abu Lahab was long since dead), others put it in other years. (Barth, "Criticism and Exegesis of the Koran", What the Koran Really Says, edited by Ibn Warraq [Prometheus Books, October, 2002, Hardcover; ISBN: 157392945X], part 6.1, p. 403)
"... The sequence (i.e., verses 1-4) shows that verse 4 means that in Hell she must gather the wood for the glowing fire (comp. Baydawi, ad loc.), and not that in her lifetime she was carrying wood, that is to say, thorns, and strewing them in the way of the Prophet (as some commentators explain it: comp. for example Tabari, Tafsir, xxx. 192, and Baydawi, ad. loc.), nor that in her lifetime she used to spread insults on Muhammad's poverty.... The sura is generally considered as a Meccan one (the preterit tabbat used for the prediction of the future perdition; comp. Baydawi to Koran. XI.17) Nöldeke counts it amongst the oldest Meccan Suras. Still the wording of verse 2: Ma aghna 'anhu maluhu shows, according to to the unexceptional way of expression in the Koran, something that had already happened (comp. VII.46; XV.84; XXVI.207, passim), for in case of future events the imperfect tense (yughni) is always used; neither is there any parallel to the usage Ma aghna as a preterite future. According to such a wording this sura contains consequently a triumphant outcry over the already happened death of Abu Lahab, and could be composed only some time after the battle of Badr." (Ibid., p. 432, fn. 13)
Thus, even the grammatical reason of the verb tense employed refutes this from being a genuine prophecy.
Seeing that we are discussing Abu Lahab and hell, it is interesting to note that the Quran also teaches that it is the foreordained will of Allah to fill hell with both jinn and men:
And if your Lord had so willed, He could surely have made mankind one nation but they will not cease to disagree - Except him on whom your Lord has bestowed His mercy and for that did He create them. And the word of your Lord shall be fulfilled: "Surely, I shall fill Hell with jinns and men together." S. 11:118-119
Also in S. 32:13 we read:
This is in direct contrast with the Holy Bible where the Lord Jesus indicates that Hell was created originally for Satan and his angelic host, not for humanity. (cf. Matthew 25:34, 41)
This brief examination clearly demonstrates that the Quran contains no true prophecies, especially prophecies that are similar in nature to what God has revealed in the Holy Bible.
Furthermore, that the cults would manipulate the Bible in trying to find predictions to support their respective beliefs is an indirect admission on their part that the Holy Bible does contain supernatural predictions. This essentially points to the fact that both believers and cults alike realize the prophetic significance of the Holy Bible. This cannot be said of the Quran.
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