Muttaher Mubasher Iffat, Student, Jamia Ahmadiyya UK
In modern history, the West has prevailed as a leading power, stretching its influence and dominance the world over. But this was not always the case. The West’s rise to power was unexpected and seemed unlikely – the East had the upper hand for a very long time.
Remarkably, the Holy Quran prophesied the emergence of the West and even provided a timeline for its rise! In this article, I will present a historical account of the fulfilment of this Quranic prophecy.
In the Holy Quran, Allah the Almighty states:
يَّوۡمَ يُنۡفَخُ فِي الصُّوۡرِ وَنَحۡشُرُ الۡمُجۡرِمِيۡنَ يَوۡمَئِذٍ زُرۡقًا ۔ يَّتَخَافَتُوۡنَ بَيۡنَهُمۡ اِنۡ لَّبِثۡتُمۡ اِلَّا عَشۡرًا
“The day when the trumpet will be blown. And on that day, We shall gather the sinful together, blue-eyed. They will talk to one another in a low tone [saying]: ‘You tarried only ten [days]’. (Surah TaHa, Ch.20: V. 103-104)
The Five Volume Commentary – which is inspired by the commentary of the Holy Quran written by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra – under this verse, states:
“The words ‘ten days’ here stand for ten centuries and the word زرقا [blue-eyed] clearly refers to the peoples of the West, who generally have blue eyes. It is a well-known historical fact that the foundations of British power in the East were laid at the beginning of the seventeenth century, in about 1611 A.D., when a British commercial company was allowed to open its first industrial concern in Surat and began to do business in the Bay of Bengal (March of Man, published by Enc. Brit. Society). This period approximates one thousand years after the Holy Prophetsa began to preach his Mission in 611 AD. The secret of British power in subsequent centuries lay in their success in obtaining a foothold in the East. Other European nations only followed in the wake of the British people.” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 3, pp. 1855-56)
The East India Trading Company
The commercial company that has been mentioned was known as the British East India Trading Company. At the dawn of the 17th century, the Indian subcontinent was home to many commodities such as spices, fabrics and tea – all of which were prized by Europeans. The East India Company was formed to capitalise on these high-demand commodities. Subsequently – with the permission of Queen Elizabeth I – it entered the trading industry. The success of this company shot up at an exponentially rapid rate. What began as another trading company, quickly became the “world’s most powerful monopoly”. “At its peak, the English East India Company was by far the largest corporation of its kind,” says Emily Erikson, a sociology professor at Yale University and author of Between Monopoly and Free Trade: The English East India Company. “It was also larger than several nations. It was essentially the de facto emperor of large portions of India, which was one of the most productive economies in the world at that point.” (“How the East India Company Became the World’s Most Powerful Monopoly”, www.history.com)
Soon, this company shifted from business and began to dabble in Indian politics with the intention of improving business legislation in their favour. Though many wealthy aristocrats made up the majority of the company’s shareholders, it was still independent of the crown. However, as its influence in Indian politics grew, it eventually became an agent of British imperialism in India by the early 18th century to the mid-19th century. (“East-India-Company”, www.britannica.com)
Up until British colonisation, India was seen as one of the biggest economies in the world, contributing over 20% of the entire world’s GDP. To put this statistic into perspective, in 2022 the United Kingdom only contributed to 2% of the global GDP. As a matter of fact, the UK, US and Russia combined still fall short of matching India’s contribution. All this wealth that was being generated in India began to be funnelled into the British economy and acted as a catalyst for its economic growth. This exponential growth was the very reason that Britain was the first to transition into its industrialisation phase. Aside from the influx of capital entering the economy, India was also forced to supply raw materials, which were pivotal in triggering the industrial revolution with greater rapidity in Britain.
So, now that it has been substantiated that Britain’s transformation into a great empire was a direct result of the moves made by the East India Trading Company, I will now illustrate how the West’s success was influenced by Britain.
The rise of the West
Britain was the trailblazer of the Industrial Revolution which had a profound impact on its economy and society. The Industrial Revolution brought new technologies and innovations that transformed the manufacturing industry, allowing goods to be produced quicker and cheaper than ever before. (“History of the Industrial Revolution”, www.newworldencyclopedia.org)
This feat not only boosted Britain’s economy but had a far-reaching impact on other countries in the West. Britain maintained its leadership in industrialisation well into the mid-19th century, inspiring governments and private entrepreneurs to emulate its technologies. This resulted in an intense industrial revolution taking shape in many parts of Western Europe, particularly in coal-rich regions such as Belgium, Northern France, and the Ruhr area of Germany. (“Revolution and the growth of industrial society, 1789–1914”, www.britannica.com)
The spread of industrialisation throughout Europe led to significant changes in society and the economy. It transformed the way people lived and worked, creating new urban centres and leading to mass migration from rural areas to cities. The rise of factories also led to the emergence of a new working class, which had a significant impact on politics and social reform. By the end of the 19th century, the West had become a global powerhouse, dominating the world economy.
The Quranic prophecy
The rise of the West was not a coincidence; rather, it was prophesied in the Holy Quran. The fact that the Holy Quran was able to predict an event that was once considered impossible, and not only that but also inform us of the exact timing, speaks volumes about its divine origin.
The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa began his prophetic mission in 611 AD and it was then that Allah the Almighty informed him that in exactly 1000 years, Western powers would rise to supremacy, surpassing all other nations and becoming the undisputed global power. Fast-forward exactly 10 centuries to 1611 and the British East India Trading Company enters the scene. The world was completely oblivious, but this incident marked the beginning of a new chapter in world history and a new powerhouse was warming up to take the stage.
Amidst the world’s obliviousness, the All-knowing Creator possessed a knowledge far surpassing theirs, revealing truths beyond their grasp. Despite the vast array of forecasting methods and predictive tools at our disposal, humanity was once again caught off guard by an unexpected turn of events.