The Janissary: Yes certainly. One is that Islam will prevail over all other faiths of the world, a fact that is fast coming true. The early Muslims despite severe oppression at the hands of the Meccans were given this good news from God:
God has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession (to authority) upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will surely establish their religion which He has chosen for them and that He will surely put in place of their fear, security, (for) they worship Me, not associating anything with Me
(The Light: 55)
How such a promise from Almighty God would be fulfilled to the oppressed Muslims in Mecca seemed impossible to imagine at the time it was made. But it was not very long before it came to pass, when the Prophet and his followers, to escape the oppression of their Pagan townsfolk migrated to Medina where he was able to unite the two tribes of Aws and Khazraj and form the first Islamic city state. This city state would in the years to come extend its sway not only to Mecca whence its earliest followers had been driven out, but over the whole of the Arabian Peninsula. But that’s not all, Islam was not to be confined to Arabia, it was to expand far and wide to become a universal faith that would prevail over all others. As God Himself promised the believers:
It is He who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that he may make it prevail over all religion, though the polytheists dislike it
(The Battle Array:9)
In keeping with the Divine Decree, the early Muslims to whom these verses were addressed were within a short period of time after the death of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) able to overcome both the Persian and Byzantine empires, the superpowers of the day, taking full control of Persia and its province of Iraq and depriving the Byzantines of some of their fairest provinces such as Syria, Jordan and Palestine. Within just twelve years of Muhammad’s death, the Holy Islamic Empire extended from Persia in the East to Egypt and beyond to Cyrenaica in Libya in the West. It took upon itself the role of the two earlier superpowers of Persia and Byzantium, becoming a superpower in it own right, to advance still further under dynasties such as the Umayyads, Abbasids and the Ottomans.
This zeal for conversion to Islam is not a new thing. It has been an ongoing process. As you know Islam began in Arabia, but today only about 15 percent of all believers in Islam are Arabs with over 80 percent of Muslims living outside the Arab world. Did you know that Indonesia in South East Asia, which is the largest Muslim country in terms of population became Muslim only after the 10th century. Bosnia was Islamized only in the 15th century while Albania became so only around the 19th century. Today there are more Muslims in Germany than in Lebanon and more in China than in Syria and these Muslims are not Arabs, but rather Turks and other Non-Arab peoples. Muslims form about 12 percent of the population of Russia, 8 percent in France, 5 percent in Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland and 4 percent in the United Kingdom.
Not only is Islam the second largest religion in Europe, but it is the fastest growing religion there, growing even faster than Christianity. It is the same in the US where as Geraldine Baum, Religion Writer of Newsday wrote: “Islam is the fastest growing religion in the country”. In the 20th century we saw some prominent people embracing Islam including American Boxer Muhammad Ali the boxer who was Cassius Clay before he embraced Islam and British Pop Singer Cat Stevens who took on the name of Yusuf Islam when he became Muslim. But in this 21st century we live in, the pace has only accelerated with many westerners discovering Islam and embracing it gleefully, the majority of them women.
Indeed, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world today with Christianity lagging well behind. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion by number of conversions each year. As American diplomat Herman Frederick Eilts observed before the US Congress in 1985: “Islam today is the fastest growing religion. This is something we have to take into account. Something is right about Islam. It is attracting a good many people.”. In fact from 1990 to 2000, around 12.5 million more people converted to Islam than to Christianity. France has over 100,000 converts while in the UK around 6,000 people convert to Islam each year, the majority of these new Muslim converts being women. In the UK, the first decade of the 21st century from 2001 and 2009 saw the Muslim population increasing ten times faster than the rest of the population. The latest research study done by the Pew Research Center shows that the number of Muslims worldwide will equal the number of Christians by 2050, possibly for the first time in history, and that they will outnumber Christians around 2070.
But need we look to the future? Today we are often told that Christians are the world’s largest religious group, but did you know that although there are more professing Christians than professing Muslims, there are more practicing Muslims in the world than practicing Christians, even if you were to define such a Muslim as one who offered his daily prayers five times a day and such a Christian as one who attended church once a week. Even in the UK, there are more practicing Muslims than there are practicing Anglicans, with the number of Muslims visiting a mosque at least once a week exceeding the number of Sunday churchgoers. So as it is, Muslims already seem to have outnumbered Christians!
Now isn’t it strange that the world’s youngest major world faith that begun only 1400 years ago should grow to be the largest, when there are other major faiths that are much older which we should naturally expect to have superseded Islam. What this proves is that Islam’s claim to be a universal faith is true and that God’s Promise to establish it far and wide so as to supersede all others that came before it is being fulfilled to the letter.
Another such prophecy is contained in the Qur’anic Chapter titled The Romans or in Arabic Al Room: The Romans have been defeated in the lowest part of the earth. But after defeat they will soon be victorious. Between three or nine years. God’s is the imperative first and last. On that day the believers will rejoice (30: 2-4 ). At the time these verses were revealed the Romans, that is the Romans of the Byzantine Empire, who were Christians were defeated by the Zoroastrian Persians. The Persians conquered Damascus in 611, Antioch in 613, Jerusalem in 614 and Egypt in 616. Christians were ruthlessly massacred and their churches burnt by the Persians who were assisted by crowds of Jews. The Pagan Arabs like the Jews sided with the Persians, hoping that the destruction of Christendom would also be a setback for the Prophet’s mission as the natural successor to Jesus. In contrast, the young Muslim community was grieved to hear the news that the fire-worshippers had prevailed over their fellow monotheistic Christians. However, the Qur’an predicted that the Romans of Byzantium would soon emerge victorious and that the believers would rejoice.
This was at a time when all hope seemed to be lost for the Byzantines. So dreadful was the defeat that it was thought that the empire would never recover. Emperor Heraclius’ position was so bad that he collected and melted all the gold and silver of the churches to meet the expenses of his army. The Persians had already occupied Mesopotamia, Cilicia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Armenia, all places that had once been under the domination of the Byzantines. It was in such a time of despair that the Qur’an predicted that the Byzantines would triumph within three to nine years.
The prophecy came true when Byzantium won a victory over the Persians somewhere near the ruins of Nineveh in 622 AD, about nine years after the revelation of the prophecy. No prophesy it is said could have been more distant from its accomplishment. But then something wonderful happened. Heraclius who was earlier thought of as a good for nothing impotent sloth suddenly changed. Taking on the mantle of a do or die hero, he set sail quietly into the Mediterranean with a band of soldiers and landing on the shores of Syria, defeated the Persian forces. His troops quickly marched on with victory after victory as far as the royal cities of Casbin and Ispahan, which had never been approached by a Roman emperor before. There, he faced the largest Persian army ever.
Although he knew nothing of the prophecy foretold in the Qur’an a few years earlier, Heraclius addressed his commanders: “Do not be terrified by the multitude of your enemies. With the aid of Heaven, one Roman may triumph over a thousand barbarians”. Also interesting is the fact that the verse in question speaks of the defeat of the Romans at the lowest part of the earth. The Arabic expression adna al ard literally means the lowest part of the earth which has been translated by some commentators as “land close by” for want of a better rendering of the Arabic expression used in the Qur’an. The region where the Byzantines suffered defeat was the Dead Sea, a place that is approximately 400 meters below the sea level and indeed is the lowest spot on earth, a fact that could only be verified with the measuring techniques man had perfected only in the last century.
The Qur’an also foretold that the body of the Pharaoh would one day be discovered. This was the tyrant who tormented the Children of Israel. God sent Moses to him with the mission of inviting him to believe in One God and allow the enslaved Israelites to leave Egypt with him. The Pharaoh refused but one night Moses succeeded in marching towards the frontier with his people and Pharaoh set out to pursue them. When Moses reached the Red Sea, he touched it with his staff, and a furrow opened across the sea. Pharaoh attempted to follow him, but was engulfed with his legions. The Bible in Exodus 14:28-29 would have us believe that Pharaoh was drowned when the sea closed in on him and went to the bottom of the sea. Not so the Qur’an. While narrating this event, the Qur’an made a prediction:
We took the Children of Israel across the sea. Then Pharaoh with his hosts pursued them in rebellion and hostility until, when he was overwhelmed by the flood, he said: “I believe there is no god except the one in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of those who surrender to him”. (God said): “What- now, after you rebelled and caused mischief ? This day shall We save you in your body so that you may be a sign for those who come after you”
The Qur’an’s reference to the saving of the Pharaoh’s body is remarkable as it refers to the ancient Egyptian practice of mummifying their deceased monarchs which was unknown in the days of the Prophet. The Pharoah of the Exodus referred to in the Qur’an was either Rameses II who could not build a tomb for himself in spite of being a great builder, perhaps because his death was so sudden, or his son and successor Merneptah, whose mummified body was discovered only in 1898 in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes. A medical examination of this mummy, has, shown that the body could not have stayed in the water for long, because it does not show signs of deterioration due to prolonged submersion. Thus it would appear that the the body of the Pharoah was retrieved from the sea by his followers shortly after he had drowned and subjected to mummification, which agrees with the Qur’anic account but conflicts with the Biblical account that he was engulfed by the sea.
Yet another prophecy the Qur’an tells us about is the dangers of trying to ‘play God’ and change the fair nature He has created. These come by way of a warning it records as coming from the mouth of the most evil one, Satan himself when he tells God how he intends leading astray the children of Adam:
“I will mislead them, and I will create in them false desires, I will order them to slit The ears of cattle, and to deface the (fair) nature created by God”
Here we have a foreboding of the frightening scientific advances in Genetic Engineering also known as Gene Splicing where the genetic material of one organism is transplanted to another, effectively changing the fair nature created by God and subverting it to man’s perverse inclinations. This is nothing but the devil’s handiwork, working through the agency of evil men trying to play God. And to think of it, the Qur’an warned us about it over 1400 years ago.