Signs of the Messiah in Surah al-Takwir

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“[The] fourth sign is the invention of a new means of transport which is a special sign of the advent of the Promised Messiah, as is written in the Holy Quran:

وَ اِذَا الْعِشَارُ عُطِّلَتْ

meaning that the Latter Days are those when she-camels will become obsolete. Similarly, there is a hadith in Sahih Muslim that:

ولیتركن القلاص فلا یسعٰی علیھا

meaning that in that age, ‘she-camels will become useless and no one will travel on them.’ During the days of the Hajj, the journey between Mecca and Medina is undertaken on she-camels, but the day is close at hand when railways will be constructed for this journey and then it will be true for this journey that لیتركن القلاص فلا یسعٰی علیھا [She-camels will become useless and no one travels on them].” (The Philosophy of Divine Revelation, p. 248 [English Translation of Haqiqatul Wahi])

The opponents of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya and the Promised Messiahas allege that Ahmadis misinterpret Surah al-Takwir and the hadith of Sahih Muslim ٰلیتركن القلاص فلا یسعٰی علیھا to trick people into believing that it carries the news of the second coming of the Messiah. They emphasise that the said surah and hadith neither indicate the advent of the Promised Messiah, nor mention the age of his appearance.

Surah al-Takwir, present in the last part of the Holy Quran, mentions certain prophecies about the last age. These future divinations are such that people of the past associated them with the happenings of qayamat-e-kubra [Judgement Day]. By doing so, they used to solace their hearts that as these events are related to Doomsday, they could not occur. The reality of the matter is that the prophecies described in the verses of Surah al-Takwir have come true and their fulfillment in this world testifies to the fact that they were not about the Day of Judgement.

Moreover, if the things mentioned in the said verses have come to pass, then their true interpretation has been manifested by God Himself. Present among the various prophecies in the said chapter of the Holy Quran is:

وَ اِذَا الْعِشَارُ عُطِّلَتْ

“And when the she camels, ten months with young, are abandoned.” (Surah al-Takwir, Ch.81: V.5)

At the time when this verse was revealed, the most valuable possession of the Arabs was considered to be the camel. Arabs used to drink camel’s milk, eat its meat and make tents and clothing from its wool. Families used to load their belongings on camels and travel long distances.

When the Holy Quran was revealed, the camel was highly regarded in Arab society owing to its enormous benefits, and the value of a she-camel being pregnant and becoming a mother increased its worth. The prophecy that even ten-month pregnant she-camels would be abandoned indicates their replacement by enhanced and fast means of transport like trains, ships, cars and planes etc. and that camels will lose their importance, even in Arabia.

A hadith also points towards this prophecy and relates it to the time of the coming Messiah. The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

لَينْزِلَنَّ ابْنُ مَريم حَكَمًا عَادِلًا فَلَيكْسِرَنَّ الصَّلِيبَ وَ لَيقْتُلَنَّ الخِنْزِيرَ وَ لَيضَعَنَّ الجِزيةَ وَلَتُتْرَكَنَّ الْقِلاَصُ فَلاَ يسْعَى عَلَيهَا

“I swear by Allah that the son of Mary shall surely appear as a just arbiter and shall break the cross, kill the swine, abolish jizya [tax] and the she-camels shall be abandoned and shall not be used for transport.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab-ulIman)

This saying of the Holy Prophetsa is the most suitable and precise interpretation of the prophecy within the Holy Quran. The words, “And I swear by Allah that the son of Mary shall surely appear” signify the second coming of the Messiah and then certain signs allude to the age of his appearance.

One of those signs, as stated by the Holy Prophetsa, is, “the she-camels shall be abandoned and shall not be used for transport.”

Now, either the explanation of the Holy Prophetsa is true or the opponents are right when they say that Surah al-Takwir and the said hadith do not refer to the advent and the time of the Messiah.

Most certainly, the statement of the Holy Prophetsa of Islam is what all Muslims will hold onto and accept as the most accurate. As the opponents submit that Ahmadi Muslims falsely relate Surah al-Takwir to the advent of the Promised Messiah, we shall now explain certain verses of this chapter in light of the sayings of the Holy Prophetsa. In the first verse of the Surah al-Takwir, Allah Almighty states:

إِذَا الشَّمْسُ كُوِّرَتْ

“When the sun is wrapped up.” (Surah al-Takwir, Ch.81: V.2)

The Holy Prophetsa is described in the Holy Quran as the Bright Sun (Ch.25: V.62).

The verse, therefore, may mean: When there will be spiritual darkness all over the world, the light of the Spiritual Sun will become dim or disappeared altogether. Or the verse may refer to the eclipse of the sun and the moon, which, according to a well-known saying of the Holy Prophetsa, was to take place at the time of the Mahdi, a phenomenon that the world had never witnessed before (Dar Qutni).

A reference to this is also to be found in (Ch.75: V10). This predicted eclipse of the sun and the moon took place in 1894 in the month of Ramadan. (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 5, p. 3,320)

In the next verse, Allah Almighty states:

وَإِذَا النُّجُومُ انكَدَرَتْ

“And when the stars are obscured” (Surah al-Takwir, Ch.81: V.3). The word النجوم means stars and signifies true religious scholars.

The well-known hadith, “My Companions are like stars, whomsoever you will follow, you will receive right guidance” (Baihaqi), supports this meaning. In this sense of the word, the verse means, “When religious leaders become corrupt and cease to exercise any influence.”

A more literal translation of the verse would be, “When stars fall in large numbers.” This may be a reference to shooting stars at exceptionally large numbers in 1885 when the Promised Messiahas, the founder of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya, had already announced his claim to be a Divine Reformer. (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 5, pp. 3320-21)

Explaining the verses of Surah al-Takwir, the Promised Messiahas states:

وَ اِذَا الْعِشَارُ عُطِّلَتْ

“[‘And when the she camels, ten months pregnant, are abandoned’ (Surah al-Takwir, Ch.81: V.5)], i.e. at that time the she-camel will become redundant and rendered worthless. Ishar means a pregnant she-camel, which was highly valuable in the eyes of Arabs. It is clear that this verse has nothing to do with Resurrection, for the Day of Judgment is not the time when a male and a female camel could mate and a pregnancy ensue. In fact, it refers to invention of the train. The phenomena of pregnancy was combined with the she-camel to strongly demonstrate that an event of this world is being mentioned and the mind is not diverted towards the Hereafter in any way.

وَإِذَا الصُّحُفُ نُشِرَتْ

“[‘And when books are spread abroad’ (Surah al-Takwir, Ch.81: V.11)], and the time when the books will be distributed and spread, i.e. means for the publication of books will be invented. This refers to the printing press and the post offices, that they will be in abundance in the last age.

وَإِذَا النُّفُوسُ زُوِّجَتْ

“[‘And when people are brought together’ (Surah al-Takwir, Ch.81: V.8)], and when the souls will be joined together. This alludes to the relations among nations and countries. It implies that with the opening up of travel routes and establishment of postal and telegraph services, the mutual relations of humans will substantially increase in the latter days. One nation will meet the other, distant associations and trade connections will develop, and ties of friendship between far off countries will increase.

وَإِذَا الْوُحُوشُ حُشِرَتْ

“[‘And when the beasts are gathered together’ (Surah al-Takwir, Ch.81: V.6)], when animals will be assembled with people. This means that savage nations will turn towards civilisation and acquire humanity and ethics. The inferior classes will become prominent by achieving worldly honours and dignity. Owing to the global spread of knowledge and technology, there will remain no difference between the vile and the nobles. In fact, the wicked will dominate, so much so that the keys of treasury and the reins of government will be in their hands. The meaning of this verse is similar to the contents of a certain hadith….

“Apart from these, signs of widespread darkness is mentioned [in the Holy Quran]. [Allah Almighty] said:

إِذَا الشَّمْسُ كُوِّرَتْ

[‘When the sun is wrapped up’ (Surah al-Takwir, Ch.81: V.2)], when the sun will be enveloped i.e. sheer darkness of ignorance and evilness will prevail the earth.” (Shahadatul Quran, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 6, pp. 318-319)

Highlighting the signs related to the time of his appearance, the Promised Messiahas states:

“Among the arguments which prove that I am the Promised Messiah, there are some signs that are personal to the Promised Messiah. A major sign among them is that the Promised Messiah must appear in the latter days as set out in the hadith:

یکون فی آخر الزمان عند تظاھر من الفتن و انقطاع من الزمن

[‘It will be in the latter days when tribulations will abound and the age will be approaching its end’].

“There are two kinds of indications to prove that these are the last days in which the Messiah should appear. The signs set out in the Quran and the ahadith which indicate the approach of the Day of Judgement and which have been clearly fulfilled. As, for instance, the eclipse of the sun and the moon in the month of Ramadan which is indicated in the verse

وَجُمِعَ الشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ

[‘And the sun and the moon are brought together’ (Surah al-Qiyamah, Ch.75: V.10)].

“Then there is the discarding of camels as a means of transportation, as is clearly indicated in the verse:

وَ اِذَا الْعِشَارُ عُطِّلَتْ

[‘And when the she camels, ten months with young, are abandoned’ (Surah al-Takwir, Ch.81: V.5)].

“And the multiplication of irrigation canals which is obvious from the verse:

وَإِذَا الْبِحَارُ فُجِّرَتْ

[‘And when the oceans are made to flow forth and are joined together’ (Surah al-Infitar, Ch.82: V.4)].

“And the continuous falling of stars as indicated in:

وَإِذَا الْكَوَاكِبُ انتَثَرَتْ

[‘And when the stars are scattered’ (Surah al-Infitar, Ch.82: V.3)].

“And the occurrence of famines and the spread of epidemics and the scarcity of rain as contained in:

إِذَا السَّمَاءُ انفَطَرَتْ

[‘When the heaven is cleft asunder’ (Surah al-Infitar, Ch.82: V.2)].

“And a total eclipse of the sun; thus spreading darkness as stated in:

إِذَا الشَّمْسُ كُوِّرَتْ

[‘When the sun is wrapped up’ (Surah al-Takwir, Ch.81: V.2)].

“And the moving of the mountains as is generally understood to be the meaning of the verse:

وَإِذَا الْجِبَالُ سُيِّرَتْ

[‘And when the mountains are made to move’ (Surah al-Takwir, Ch.81: V.4)].

“And the rising of the fortunes of the people who are wild, lowly, and unacquainted with noble Islamic virtues, as is obvious from the verse:

وَإِذَا الْوُحُوشُ حُشِرَتْ

[‘And when the beasts are gathered together’ (Surah al-Takwir, Ch.81: V.6)].

“And the multiplication of communication means and travel, whereby it will become easy for people to meet one another, which is an accepted interpretation of the verse:

وَإِذَا النُّفُوسُ زُوِّجَتْ

[‘And when people are brought together’ (Surah al-Takwir, Ch.81: V.8)]. “And publication of books, pamphlets and letters in all countries, as indicated in:

وَإِذَا الصُّحُفُ نُشِرَتْ

[‘And when books are spread abroad’ (Surah al-Takwir, Ch.81: V.11)].

“And the corruption of the inner condition of the divines, who are the stars of Islam, which is a clear purport of the verse:

وَإِذَا النُّجُومُ انكَدَرَتْ

[‘And when the stars are obscured’ (Surah al-Takwir, Ch.81: V.3)]. “And the spread of innovations, errors and all kinds of disobedience and vices, as indicated in the verse:

إِذَا السَّمَاءُ انشَقَّتْ

[‘When the heaven bursts asunder’ (Surah al-Inshiqaq, Ch.84: V.2)].

“All these signs of the approach of the Day of Judgement have been manifested and the world is in the grip of a great revolution…

“Then there is the verse in Surah al-Mursalat which indicates that a great sign of the approach of the Day of Judgement is that someone should appear and with his coming, the number of Messengers should be determined. This means that the last Khalifa in the chain of successors in the Islamic dispensation, whose name is the Promised Messiah and the awaited Mahdi, shall make his appearance in the last days.

“The verse is:

وَإِذَا الرُّسُلُ أُقِّتَتْ

[‘And when the Messengers are made to appear at the appointed time’ (Surah al-Mursalat, Ch.77: V.12)], i.e. the time when number of the Messengers will be determined. This means that with the appearance of the last Khalifa, the number of Messengers which had been determined by Divine decree and had been hidden, shall become manifest. This verse also clearly shows that the Promised Messiah will be from among the Muslims.” (Essence of Islam, Vol. 4, pp. 194-197, [Tohfah-e-Golarhviyyah, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 17, p. 241-244])

Hence, the ahadith of the Holy Prophetsa clarify that the prophecies of Surah al-Takwir are not associated with resurrection or the last day of the earth. Moreover, the details of this Surah express its connection with the physical world because some of the verses will lose all sense if they are taken as referring to the Day of Judgment.

Further, it discusses the extraordinary changes that have occurred in the world and in human life since the era of the Holy Prophetsa, especially in the present age. Consequently, it points towards the time of the Promised Messiahas.

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