Ramadan, Lunar and Solar Eclipses and Ahmadi Muslims
Originally published in Patheos
Despite the divisions and sectarianism in the Muslim world today, certain beliefs are still universal. For example, all Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad is Khaatam un Nabiyyin. All Muslims believe the Quran is the perfect and final book, revealed by Allah to Prophet Muhammad. And all Muslims believe that the Quran was first revealed in the blessed month of Ramadan. (You might say that the Quran was Prophet Muhammad’s Laylatul Qadr).
And all Muslims agree that Prophet Muhammad was truthful in everything he said. Muslims believe that his prophecies were truthful as God Himself revealed to him matters of the future. And it is because of the prophecies of Prophet Muhammad that Ahmadi Muslims believe Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is the awaited Messiah and Mahdi.
For Ahmadi Muslims, Ramadan provides an additional proof of Prophet Muhammad’s truthfulness. Interestingly enough, this is a proof the rest of the Ummah either ignores, is unaware of, or consciously rejects.
This powerful proof I speak of is Prophet Muhammad’s prophecy of the eclipses. Both Sunni and Shi’a ahadith sources attest to this prophecy. Among Sunni sources, Dar Qutni records this well-known hadith, which advises Muslims of one of the irrefutable signs of the coming of Messiah and Mahdi.
حدثنا أبو سعيد الإصطخري ، ثنا محمد بن عبد الله بن نوفل ، ثنا عبيد بن يعيش، ثنا يونس بن بكير عن عمرو بن شمر عنجابر عن محمد بن عليقال : إن لمهدينا آيتين لم تكونا منذ خلق السماوات والأرض ينكسف القمر لأول ليلة من رمضان وتنكسف الشمس في النصف منه ولم تكونا منذخلق الله السموات والأرض.
The Prophet Muhammad (sa) said:
Surely for our Mahdī there are two signs. These have not happened since the creation of the heavens and the earth. The eclipse of the moon in the first night [out of the possible nights for an eclipse] in the month of Ramadan, and the eclipse of the sun in the halfway point of that [i.e. the middle day of the possible days of a solar eclipse in Ramadan]. And these signs have not occurred since the creation of the heavens and the earth.
This is a profound prophecy for several reasons.
First, believer or not, Muslim or not, everyone must agree that it would have been impossible for the unlettered Prophet Muhammad to make this prophecy of an event over a thousand years in the future with absolute certainty and without the aid of any scientific instruments — and be accidentally correct.
Second, Prophet Muhammad put his reputation on the line. If he made the prophecy and it did not come true, it would cast his truthfulness into suspicion and doubt.
Third, this prophecy puts any claimant to the office of Messiah and Mahdi to the test. That is, if a person claims that God has commissioned him to be the foretold Messiah and Mahdi, and this prophecy is not fulfilled, then it is a clear sign that the claimant has fabricated his claim. Indeed many throughout history of claimed to be the awaited Mahdi, but only one stands out—Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
When Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad laid claim in 1891 to be that awaited Messiah and Mahdi foretold by Prophet Muhammad, his opponents mocked him that where were the promised eclipses to attest to his truthfulness? Hazrat Ahmad responded that the eclipses would happen with certainty only because Prophet Muhammad said they would happen.
The laws of astrophysics teach that the moon can eclipse on three possible days in Ramadan—the 13th, 14th, or 15th. The sun can eclipse on the 27th, 28th, and 29th. Thus, during Ramadan in 1894 the moon eclipsed on the 13thof Ramadan, i.e. the first of possible nights, and the sun eclipsed on the 28th of Ramadan, i.e the middle of possible nights — exactly as Prophet Muhammad foretold some 1300 years prior.
Critics object that such eclipses had occurred in Ramadan before. Certainly they had. But this does nothing to invalidate this prophecy as Prophet Muhammad said that the two eclipses would attest to the truthfulness of the Mahdi’s claim — thus a claimant had to first exist. And history records that never before had any person claimedprior to the eclipses that he was the awaited Messiah and Mahdi. Indeed, anyone could witness the eclipses and claim they were for him. Only one informed by God could make the declaration beforehand. And since the time Prophet Muhammad made this powerful prophecy, only Mirza Ghulam Ahmad stands out as in 1891 he laid claim as the awaited Messiah and Mahdi before such eclipses occurred in his lifetime. In fact, while the 1894 eclipses were witnessed in the Eastern hemisphere, in 1895 the Western hemisphere witnessed the same eclipses and hence the same fulfillment of Prophet Muhammad’s prophecy. Literally every person on Earth witnessed this powerful prophecy fulfilled.
Much more has been written on this subject, for example here and here. But in short, Ahmadi Muslims find this additional reason to rejoice every Ramadan. Not only are we grateful to have yet another fulfillment of Prophet Muhammad’s prophecies, yet another proof of Prophet Muhammad’s perfection and truthfulness, but we also rejoice that the Messiah and Mahdi that Prophet Muhammad foretold would come to revive Islam and reunite the Ummah, has come.
Thus, it is no coincidence that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, now in over 204 nations, is the world’s single largest Muslim organization united under one Imam, His Holiness the Khalifa of Islam, Mirza Masroor Ahmad. It should be no surprise that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is also the fastest growing sect in Islam. Muslims from all sects—Sunni, Shi’a, Nation of Islam, Ismaeli, and many others are peacefully uniting under this one flag of the Imam Mahdi and Messiah.
This success is Divinely blessed and due only to obedience to the Master Prophet Muhammad, as manifested again and again every year during the blessed month of Ramadan.