M Adam Ahmad, Al Hakam
The history of past civilisations bears witness that an extraordinary revolution occurs upon the earth and in the skies when God Almighty sends His prophets to reform mankind and rid the world of evil and corruption. A great number of signs and out-of-the-ordinary universal phenomena are witnessed before and after the appearance of these messengers.
In accordance with this sunnah (practice) of Allah, celestial signs and miracles were granted to different prophets so that the people of their age might recognise the truth and improve their moral and spiritual state by believing in them.
It is said that a bright star was seen at the time of the birth of Prophet Jesusas and some researchers believe it to be Halley’s Comet. This event is traditionally linked with the star prophecy mentioned in the Old Testament. It is stated in the Book of Numbers:
“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come forth from Jacob, and a scepter will arise from Israel. He will crush the skulls of Moab and strike down all the sons of Sheth.” (Numbers 24:17)
Likewise, it is stated in the Gospel of Matthew:
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east.” (Matthew 2:1-2)
Some scholars are of the view that the appearance of Halley’s Comet in 12 BC and 66 AD could also be the inspiration of the event mentioned in the Gospel of Matthews. (RM Jenkins, The Star of Bethlehem and the comet of AD 66)
The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was blessed with the miracle of shaqq-ul-qamar (the splitting of the moon).
The Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas was given the sign of kasuf-o-khusuf (solar and lunar eclipse), which occurred on Friday, 28 Ramadan 1311 AH (6 April 1894) and 13 Ramadan 1311 AH (21 March 1894), respectively.
Another unique sign of a sitara dhus-sineen (star that appears after many years) or a dumdar sitara (star with a tail), also known as the great comet, appeared in the time of the Promised Messiahas according to the prophecy of the Holy Prophetsa. Referring to the time prior to the advent of the Mahdi, Hazrat Kaabra narrates:
نَجْمٌ يَطْلُعُ مِنَ الْمَشْرِقِ يُضِيءُ كَمَا يُضِيءُ الْقَمَرُ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْرِ
“A bright star will rise from the east, shining as the moon shines on the night of the full moon.” (Naim ibn Hammad, Kitab al-Fitan, Bab ma Yuzkaru min Alamaat as-Sama)
Then, it is stated:
طَلَعَ بِالْمَشْرِقِ الْقَرْنُ ذُوالشَّفَا [ذوالسنين] ۔۔۔ يَبْتَدِأُ نَجْمٌ لَهُ ذِنَابٌ
“A star by the name of Qarn, [which appears after many years], will rise from the east … A star having many tails will appear.” (Ibid)
Describing the signs of the arrival of the Promised Messiah, it is related:
اَلَا وَ اِنَّ لِخُرُوْجِهٖ عَلَامَاتٌ عَشَرَةٌ اَوَّ لُهَا طُلُوْعُ الْكَوْكَبِ ذِي الذَّنَبِ
“There are 10 signs of his [the Mahdi’s] appearance, the first of which is the appearance of a star with a tail [comet].” (Muhammad Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar)
The Promised Messiahas states:
“Nawab Siddiq Hassan Khan Sahib wrote in Hijajul Kirama and Hazrat Mujaddid Alf Sani stated in his book that a star with a tail, i.e. Dhus-Sineen [comet] would appear at the time of the advent of the Promised Mahdi. Thus, that star appeared in 1882.” (Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 23, p. 330)
It was the year 1882 when the Promised Messiahas announced that God Almighty had appointed him as the reformer of the Latter Days and in the exact same year, the appearance of the Great Comet of 1882 could not be considered a coincidence.
An article published in The Review of Religions sheds light on the details of this great sign. It states:
“This comet is known as ‘The Great Comet’ of 1882. As is evident from its name, it was an extraordinary comet, unparalleled in the 19th century with regard to its illumination. The term ‘Great Comet’ is a well-known term and is used for such comets which are so bright that they are visible to the naked eye. Astronomers consider the 19th century to be one of enormously bright comets.
“The Great Comet of 1882 appeared in the morning skies of September 1882. Reports suggest that it was first seen as early as 1 September 1882 from the Cape of Good Hope as well as the Gulf of Guinea and over the next few days many observers in the southern hemisphere reported the new comet. On the 3rd of September 1882, it was also observed in New Zealand.
“On September 9, WL Elkin from the Royal Observatory, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa said that the comet could be seen with the unassisted eye and was as bright as a star of the third or fourth magnitude with a straight tail of 2.5º in length. BA Gould from Cordoba, Argentina reported on 18th September that the brilliancy of the comet attracted popular attention and the ‘blazing star near the sun’ was the topic of discussion throughout the country.
“Soon astronomers all over the world had witnessed the comet as it became exceptionally bright over the next few days. Subsequent orbital studies have determined that it was a sun-grazing comet, meaning one that passes extremely close to the surface of the sun. For many hours on either side of its perihelion (the point in the orbit of a planet or comet at which it is nearest to the sun), the comet was easily visible in the daytime sky next to the sun. It reached an estimated magnitude of -17 and hence brighter than the full moon, which has a magnitude of almost -13.
“On 3rd October LA Eddie (South Africa) and F Terby (Belgium) independently reported observations of two nuclei. Eddie also noted having seen six nuclei on 2nd October. Again on 5th October, three nuclei were reported independently by EE Barnard (Nashville, Tennessee, USA) and HC Wilson (Cincinnati Observatory, Ohio, USA). On 6th October, CW Pritchett (Missouri, USA) said the nucleus presented three centers of light. Another interesting observation was reported by Eddie on 15th October; he noted that with a 24-cm reflector, one nucleus resembled electric light in color and two more nuclei appeared to be within a bar of light and when observed with a 100x magnification the whole nucleus looked like five luminous beads.
“After its perihelion, the comet moved into dark skies, and although it faded as it receded from the sun, it remained one of the most prominent objects in the sky. Despite its fragmentation, it remained visible to the naked eye until February 1883.” (“The Saviour of the Latter Days: Signs of the Messiah”, The Review of Religions [English], 14 July 2019)
The Promised Messiahas has mentioned and highlighted this sign of dhus-sineen on many occasions. Below are some of his sayings in this regard.
In his book Haqiqatul-Wahi, the Promised Messiahas says:
“The third sign is the appearance of dhus-sineen [a comet] which was destined to appear in the time of the Promised Messiah. It has long since appeared. Its sighting prompted some English newspapers of the Christians to comment that the time of the Messiah’s advent had arrived.” (The Philosophy of Divine Revelation, p. 248)
At another place, the Promised Messiahas writes:
“There was also a prophecy that in those days [of the Messiah and Mahdi], the star Dhus-Sineen would appear, which also appeared in the time of Jesusas and before that, during the time of Noahas. Now, everyone knows that it has appeared. News of its appearance was also published in Urdu and English newspapers.” (Ayyam-us-Sulh, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 14, p. 313)
Celestial signs were continuously witnessed during the age of the Promised Messiahas.
The same Halley’s Comet that is said to have appeared at the time of Prophet Jesusas was also witnessed in 1835, the year of the birth of the Promised Messiahas. (www.space.com/19878-halleys-comet.html)
Mentioning the appearance of meteors and this great comet, the Promised Messiahas says:
“On the night before 28 November 1885, there was such a display of meteors in the sky, the like of which I had not witnessed in my whole life before and so many thousands of flames were traversing the atmosphere in the skies that there is no other spectacle in the world which I can cite to describe it. I recall that at that time, the following revelation was vouchsafed to me repeatedly:
وَ مَا رَمَيۡتَ اِذۡ رَمَيۡتَ وَ لٰكِنَّ اللّٰهَ رَمٰی
“‘It was not you who let loose but it was Allah Who let loose.’ This pelting had great affinity to the pelting of the stars in the sky.
“This exhibition of the pelting of stars that occurred on the night of 28 November 1885 was so vast that it was visible all over and was described in great wonder in the papers of Europe, America and Asia. People might have thought that it was purposeless, yet God, the Noble, knows that I was the one who watched this spectacle with the greatest attention and derived the greatest delight from it. My eyes continued to be regaled by this spectacle for a long time. This display of the pelting of the stars started early in the evening. Because of divine glad-tidings, I derived great pleasure from it, for it was revealed upon my heart that it had appeared as a sign in my support.
“Thereafter, the people of Europe saw the comet which had been observed in the time of the Messiahas [Prophet Jesus] and it was conveyed to me that this comet was another sign in support of my truth.” (Aina-e-Kamalat-e-Islam, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 5, pp. 110-111; Tadhkirah, pp. 166-197)
Then, a comet caused a great explosion near Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, on 30 June 1908 and it was the year when the Promised Messiahas passed away. (www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160706-in-siberia-in-1908-a-huge-explosion-came-out-of-nowhere)
Some may argue that the said happenings are bound to occur after a period of time, but how can they explain more than one concurrence which link these events to the Promised Messiahas and the prophecy of the Holy Prophetsa.
Hence, those people who sincerely ponder over these signs will certainly find the right path, as Allah the Almighty says, “He [God] has pressed into service for you the night and the day, and the sun and the moon; and the stars too have been pressed into service by His command. Surely, in that are signs for people who make use of their reason.” (Surah al-Nahl, Ch.16: V.13)