Many people make the claim that they can predict the future. Astrologists, clairvoyants and numerous religious scriptures put forward prophecies about the future. Is there any way that we can distinguish true prophets from the many liars and frauds that are out there? We can do so by analysing the nature of their prophecies. The predictions of false prophets are often vague in nature or lack a time frame. These characteristics make it easy for their followers to claim a fulfilment of prophecy when the inevitable happens – eventually something, somewhere, will occur which bears enough of a similarity to the prophecy that it will seem like the prophecy was an accurate prediction.
A good demonstration of this is the predictions of the 16th century French occultist Nostradamus, quite possibly the most famous and popular occultist in history. His prophecies contain French and Latin terms, historical allusions, anagrams, puns, odd spellings, partial words, inverted word order, and so on. In fact his prophecies can be so vague that they are often described as verbal jigsaw puzzles. Here are a few examples of such prophecies:
To support the great troubled Cappe; the reds will march in order to clarify it; a family will be almost overcome by death, the red, red ones will knock down the red one.  The great swarm of bees will arise, Such that one will not know whence they have come; By night the ambush, the sentinel under the vines. City delivered by five babblers not naked. 
To support the great troubled Cappe; the reds will march in order to clarify it; a family will be almost overcome by death, the red, red ones will knock down the red one. 
The great swarm of bees will arise, Such that one will not know whence they have come; By night the ambush, the sentinel under the vines. City delivered by five babblers not naked. 
Now, if Nostradamus were a true prophet, would he have needed to cloud his predictions with such vague and ambiguous language? In fact, what we find is that when Nostradamus does provide detail, such as specific dates, places and events, many of his prophecies are demonstrably false. In the following prophecy he predicted that disease, famine and war would devastate the human race by the year 1732 CE:
Even though he gave himself a window of 177 years for this prophecy to come true, it still failed to materialise. Moreover, thanks to the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century there were major advances in agriculture which resulted in the human population exhibiting unprecedented sustained growth, the exact opposite of what Nostradamus predicted! Just one failed prophecy is enough to disqualify a person from being a genuine prophet.
What then should we expect of prophecies from a genuine prophet of God? The purpose of spending some time looking at Nostradamus was to establish a benchmark to help us distinguish false prophets from true ones. Only genuine prophets of God, those who receive information from God, the One who has complete knowledge of the future, can get it right every time. This is the key difference between a false prophet and a true one. As we will see, by comparison the Qur’an contains accurate predictions about the future which are clear in meaning as they provide detailed information such as timelines, the names of people and specific places:
1. Against all odds: the Byzantine victory against the Persians.
The 30th chapter of the Qur’an, named “The Byzantines”, opens with the declaration of a prophecy about the victory of the Byzantines over the Persians:
In order to fully appreciate the significance of this prophecy, it is necessary to understand the political context of the region shortly before the advent of Islam. This prophecy was made at a time when the Persian Empire was sweeping away everything before it. The once mighty Byzantine (Roman) Empire was suffering defeat after defeat at the hands of the Persians. The Byzantines could offer little resistance as they were being internally torn apart by political turmoil.
These two superpowers of the region were at war with each other. For twenty years the Byzantine Empire was overrun by Persian armies as it had never been before. The Persians took Damascus in 613 CE. This was shortly followed by the capture of Jerusalem in 614 CE. The flood of Persian conquest did not stop with the capture of Jerusalem. Egypt was next conquered and then the Persian armies were knocking at the gates of Constantinople, the very heart of the Byzantine Empire. The humiliation of Byzantines had sunk to such low depths that the Persian Emperor Khosrau is said to have wanted to see the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius “brought before him in chains to the foot of his throne and was not prepared to give him peace till he had abjured his crucified god and embraced the worship of the sun.” .
It was in these circumstances that the Qur’an made the astonishing claim that the whole situation would soon be completely reversed by a Byzantine victory. Historically this is exactly what happened, the Byzantines overturned impossible odds and defeated the Persians. Theophanes, a ninth century Byzantine historian, expressed his astonishment at this outcome:
In this year , the Emperor Herakleios finished celebrating Easter and at once moved against Persia…The Romans captured their (Persians’) camp and all their gear. They raised their hands on high and thanked God; they also eagerly prayed for the Emperor, who led them well. For before they had never thought to see Persian dust; now they had found and plundered their still pitch tents. Who could have expected the invincible Persian race ever to show its back to the Romans? 
The first thing to note about the prophecy is the detail it provides. Not only does it give a clear indication of two nations that are at war, but it also declares a clear victor and provides a short time frame in which it will take place. If the author of the Qur’an were guessing, then surely they would have backed the seemingly unstoppable victory of the Persians. Moreover, wouldn’t the author have played it safe by making the prophecy vague and ambiguous, just in case it didn’t materialise?
2. Abu Lahab dying a disbeliever.
The 111th chapter of the Qur’an, named “The Palm Fibre”, declares that one of Islam’s great enemies, Abu Lahab, would die as a disbeliever: “May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined! May he be ruined too! Neither his wealth nor his gains will help him: he will burn in the Flaming Fire.” [111:1-3] Notice again how the Qur’an provides detail: it identifies a specific individual in the prophecy when the author could have played it safe by using more general language such as “a great enemy of Islam shall be ruined…” Now you may be thinking to yourself, what’s so remarkable about predicting that an enemy of Islam, specific or otherwise, would die as a disbeliever? In order to appreciate the magnitude of this prophecy, we have to understand the circumstances at the time.
This claim actually gave Abu Lahab the means with which to discredit the Qur’an and thus finish Islam once and for all, because the prophecy represents a falsification test. All Abu Lahab had to do was to outwardly pretend to be a Muslim and thus disprove the Qur’an’s prediction about him dying a disbeliever. For him to pretend to be a Muslim would not have been out of the ordinary as many prominent enemies of Islam had already converted to the faith. There were also hypocrites who pretended to be Muslim but in reality were disbelievers.
Moreover, had Abu Lahab been alive at the time of the Muslim conquest of his home city Makkah, which took place 6 years after his death, then he would have most likely accepted the faith anyway as the whole of Makkah, his own tribe included, embraced Islam. So not only did the author of the Qur’an know his personality well enough to predict that he wouldn’t convert out of arrogance, but they also knew the date of his death would be before the conquest of Makkah. Such a claim would be a huge gamble, unless of course the author of the Qur’an could see into the future!
3. The preservation of the Qur’an.
History has not always dealt kindly with Scriptures. Prior to the Qur’an, every other revealed Scripture has either been lost or tampered with. It is with this backdrop that the author of the Qur’an makes a bold prediction about its preservation: “We have sent down the Qur’an Ourself, and We Ourself will guard it.” [15:9]
As we’ve seen in other articles, such as here and here, the Qur’an has been flawlessly preserved throughout its history. How could the author of the Qur’an have guaranteed that it would be perfectly preserved to this very day, especially considering the many social and political changes that the Muslim world has undergone in 1,400 years since the Qur’an was first revealed? Examples of such change include disputes over the succession of leadership of the Muslim world after the death of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, the deaths of memorisers of the Qur’an, the incorporation of many foreign words into the Arabic language as a result of Islam spreading into foreign lands and mixing with new cultures and languages, and the sudden influx of non-Arabs into the religion, many of whom did not speak Arabic. The track record of all other revealed Scriptures throughout history proves that the opposite is the case: when faced with similar social and political changes to those which the Qur’an has endured, intervention with, or loss of, the text was the normal consequence. The Qur’an is the unique exception to this rule.
4. Construction of high buildings.
The remaining examples of future prophecies that we are going to look at are not verses from the Qur’an but rather the prophetic traditions of Muhammad. The Qur’an informs us that Prophet Muhammad was tasked with explaining the revelation of God Almighty to mankind:
The companions of Prophet Muhammad, those who were responsible for memorising the Qur’an and learnt its explanation directly from him, understood the above verse to be a reference to the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad. These sayings and actions have been recorded for us in the prophetic tradition known as Hadith, which were memorised by those same companions. The Hadith contain many future prophecies, among them is the prediction about the construction of high buildings:
“Now, tell me of the Last Hour,” asked the man. The Prophet replied, “The one asked knows no more of it than the one asking.” “Then tell me about its signs,” said the man. The Prophet replied, “That you see barefoot, unclothed Bedouins competing in the construction of tall buildings.” 
“Now, tell me of the Last Hour,” asked the man.
The Prophet replied, “The one asked knows no more of it than the one asking.”
“Then tell me about its signs,” said the man.
The Prophet replied, “That you see barefoot, unclothed Bedouins competing in the construction of tall buildings.” 
First, it’s worth noting the humility of Prophet Muhammad. When asked about the “Last Hour”, meaning when will the Day of Judgement commence, he stated that he did not know any more than the one asking the question. This is because only God, the All Knowing, has knowledge of the unseen. As the Qur’an informs us, Prophet Muhammad could not see into the future, he only had access to the information that God chose to inspire him with: “He is the One who knows what is hidden. He does not disclose it except to a messenger of His choosing. He sends watchers to go in front and behind.” [72:26-27]
Notice the detail in the prophecy: a specific people, the Arab Bedouins of the region, were identified. Prophet Muhammad could have easily played it safe by using more general language such as “you see competition in the construction of tall buildings…” which of course would be flexible enough to be applied to anyone in the world. Today we find in the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabs who used to be impoverished herders of camels and sheep are now competing to build the tallest tower blocks. Today the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is the world’s tallest man-made structure at 828 m. A short time after it was finished a rival family in Saudi Arabia already announced that they would build a taller one (1000 m) – the Kingdom Tower – currently estimated to be completed in 2019. They are thus literally competing with each other over who can build the tallest building (please click on picture to enlarge):
Now what’s remarkable is that up until only 50 or 60 years ago, the people of the region hardly had any houses at all. In fact, most of them were still Bedouins, living in tents. It was only the discovery of oil in the 20th century that led to the prosperity and transformation of the region. Were it not for oil then chances are the region would still be the barren desert that it was at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an. If this were mere guess work on his part then the discovery of oil would have been a massive stroke of luck. Moreover, if Prophet Muhammad were merely guessing, then wouldn’t it have made more sense to relate this prophecy to the superpowers of his time, Rome and Persia, who (unlike the Arabs) already had a tendency to construct extravagant buildings and palaces? For example, the Hagia Sophia cathedral was built by a Byzantine emperor in 537 CE, the century before Muhammad, and it remained the world’s largest building for nearly a thousand years.
5. The defeat of Rome and the conquest of Persia.
One of the greatest hardships to befall Prophet Muhammad was the Battle of the Trench. In the year 627 CE, a coalition army of Pagan Arab and Jewish tribes, numbering 10,000 men, attacked the Muslim city of Madinah. The Muslims were outnumbered three to one, and for two whole weeks they were under siege. The Qur’an vividly describes the dire situation faced by the Muslims:
Shortly before the battle commenced, whilst the Muslims were digging a trench around the city of Madinah in preparation for the impending attack, when they were facing impossible odds and were staring certain defeat in the face, Prophet Muhammad made a bold prediction:
Prophet Muhammad made the astonishing claim that the Muslims would not only take the lands of Yemen and Greater Syria, much of which was under the occupation of the Roman Empire, but that they would also defeat the mighty Persian Empire, one of world’s great superpowers. In another prediction, the Prophet Muhammad even specified the exact Persian king who would be defeated, the king Kisra:
In astonishment, Adi bin Hatim said, “The treasures of Kisra bin Hurmuz?” “Yes,” replied the Messenger of God, “The treasures of Kisra bin Hurmuz.” 
In astonishment, Adi bin Hatim said, “The treasures of Kisra bin Hurmuz?”
“Yes,” replied the Messenger of God, “The treasures of Kisra bin Hurmuz.” 
Notice the reaction of Adi bin Hatim, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad. He reacted with absolute astonishment about the prediction of the conquest of Persia. This is because such statements by the Prophet Muhammad were made at a time when no one could imagine that a small Muslim city state, permanently under siege by the pagan Arabs, would reach such heights of power and strength. Yet within just a decade of the Prophet Muhammad’s death, all these events came true. They were witnessed by the very companions of Prophet Muhammad who heard him make these prophecies. What are the odds that the Muslims, who were small in number and lacked economic, military and political strength, could topple the superpowers of the world in such a short span of time? This is so improbable that it is like someone in our day and age making the claim that a small country, with a population of only a few tens of thousands of people and minimal economic and military strength, will topple the super powers of today such as the United States and Russia. No rational person would conceive of such a possibility, and one would certainly not risk their reputation by gambling on such an unlikely prediction coming true. This sentiment is echoed by historians who cannot explain how Islam became such a dominant force so quickly. Professor of Byzantine studies Andrew Louth wrote:
Professor of Islamic History Carole Hillenbrand wrote:
6. The rapid spread of Islam throughout the world.
The Prophet Muhmmad predicted that the Islamic civilisation would reach every corner of the world: “God folded the earth for me, and I saw its east and west, and the dominion of my nation will reach as far as the earth was folded for me” 
In this prophecy, Muhammad took things a step further than the previous prophecy about the defeat of Rome and the conquest of Persia by making the claim that Islam would spread to the far reaches of the earth. In history, no other religion has spread as rapidly as Islam. By comparison, Judaism was restricted to the region of Palestine, with the Jewish people being taken into captivity numerous times, only to eventually be sent into scattering. Christianity was a small persecuted religion for hundreds of years until the conversion of the Pagan Roman Emperor Constantine in the fourth century. The Prophet Muhammad and his companions were not only facing similarly impossible odds to that of the early Jews and Christians by being surrounded by their enemies, but they were also significantly outnumbered. Moreover, they had the additional internal challenge of disunity due to Arab tribalism. Prior to Islam, it was not uncommon for one Arab tribe to go to war with another over the smallest of disputes. Blood feuds were regular occurrences between tribes and often lasted generations, for example when one tribe killed a camel belonging to another it led to the start of a terrible war which lasted for 40 years, killing scores of people from both sides .
In such circumstances, it would be difficult to conceive that Islam would ever spread beyond the borders of Arabia, let alone the entire world. The Prophet Muhammad could have been ‘realistic’ and foretold that Islam would eventually unite a disunited Arabia and dominate the Arabian Peninsula, but no, he said the entire earth. History bears witness to the fact that Islam spread like wildfire, both East and West, to reach as far as Spain and parts of China within a generation, just as the Prophet Muhammad boldly foretold. This is an expansion the likes of which the world has never witnessed either before or since. This is a fulfilment of the promise that God made to the Muslims in the Qur’an:
Now it’s not unusual for new civilisations to emerge, dominate for a period of time and then decline or even disappear entirely. However, the Prophet Muhammad also claimed that Islam would eventually enter every household: “This matter will certainly reach every place touched by the night and day. God will not leave a house or residence except that God will cause this religion to enter it” 
Today we are witnessing this very prophecy transpire before our eyes. Islam was not just a brief flash in history like many revolutions that have come and gone, but it has been growing rapidly since the time of the Prophet Muhammad. This has been consistently the case for over 1,400 years. Today it is the fastest spreading religion in the world, with nearly one in four people on earth being a Muslim, and is forecasted to be the world’s largest religion by 2070. This is despite Islam being 600 years younger than Christianity and over 1,500 years younger than Judaism.
7. The Mongol invasion.
Six hundred years or so after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, the Mongols invaded the Muslim lands and massacred millions of people. A significant milestone in the invasion was the ransacking of the city of Baghdad. At that time, it was known as a city of learning and culture. The Mongols arrived in Baghdad in 1258 CE and spent a whole week spilling blood. They were hell-bent on demolishing the city. This was a major event in Islamic history, as thousands of books were destroyed and up to one million people were killed. The Muslims thereafter fought and continued to be defeated until the battle of Ayn Jaloot (1260 CE) when the Mongol dynasty had become weakened due to internal feuds.
The Mongols were non-Arabs whose primary distinguishing features were their flat noses, small eyes, and boots made of hair; the Mongols had fur covers over their boots called degtii. This was foretold by Prophet Muhammad hundreds of years before the Mongol invasion:
Here is a contemporary likeness of the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan with a red, wide (shield-like) face – just as the Prophet Muhammad foretold:
Sceptics might argue that since the Prophet Muhammad had already predicted that Islam would spread around the world, it would therefore be inevitable that they would fight the Mongolian people. This is not the case for a number of reasons. Firstly, not every nation went to war with the Muslims, for example the most populous Muslim country in the world today is Indonesia where Islam spread through trade. Secondly, the Prophet Muhammad made this prediction in the seventh century, over five hundred years before the Mongol empire was founded by Genghis Khan who united many of the nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia.
8. Spread of sexual promiscuity and disease.
The Prophet Muhammad lived over 1,400 years ago, when sexual promiscuity was seen as shameful and little was known about sexually transmitted diseases. However, he predicted that the day would come when sexual promiscuity would become normalised and overt: “The Hour will not be established until people fornicate with each other in the road just as donkies fornicate.” 
Today we live in a world where we are bombarded with explicit sexual imagery in public places, television programmes, film and advertising. With the advent of the internet, pornography is readily available at any time and any place. In fact, people have been arrested for having sex in public places. The Prophet Muhammad took things a step further when he also predicted the consequences of such widespread sexual promiscuity: “Never does sexual perversion become widespread and publicly known in certain people without them being overtaken by disease that never happened to their ancestors who came before them.” 
The increase of sexual promiscuity has seen the emergence of previously unheard of sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS and herpes. Sceptics might argue that public sexual immorality was commonplace in pagan societies like Rome before their Christianisation, and so the Prophet Muhammad was merely speaking about what was apparent in certain societies of the past. This scepticism does not take into account the general nature of the prediction. It does not say that only one group of people will behave in such a way, rather it is stated in general terms which implies that this will be the general condition of the world, which is what we see today. This criticism also does not account for the other statements made by the Prophet Muhammad, such as the emergence of brand new diseases; a modern discovery thanks to advances in science and medicine and certainly not knowledge that was known in the seventh century at the time of the Prophet Muhammad.
9. A world steeped in interest.
The Prophet Muhammad predicted that interest would one day become so dominant that even those who try to avoid it will not be able to avoid being impacted by it:
This clearly describes the state of the world economy today. As the Prophet Muhammad predicted, in the modern world it is virtually impossible to avoid dealing with, or at the very least being impacted by, interest. Just think about how many people have interest-bearing bank accounts, buy things using credit cards and are only able to afford to purchase a home through an interest-based mortgage.
Even if one somehow manages to avoid dealing in interest directly, almost every aspect of our lives is impacted by it. Virtually every country in the world, even those considered to be wealthy, is drowning in interest-based debt. The United States, for example, is currently wrestling with a debt of trillions of dollars. The financial system even suffered a global collapse in 2008 because of the widespread banking practice of buying and selling interest-based financial debt; a disaster which has plunged the world into economic turmoil, the consequences of which will be felt for generations to come. These financial markets influence everything from the price of food, the availability of oil and precious metals and even the purchasing power of our money.
What makes this prediction amazing is that the financial state of the world over the last century is unique in history. At the time of the Prophet Muhammad, finance was based on commodities with intrinsic value, such as gold and silver coins. Gold and silver have been used as the most common form of money throughout history. In many languages, such as Spanish and French, the word for silver is still directly related to the word for money. Even with the advent of paper money, there was still a dependence on gold and silver. Initially, paper money was backed by gold and silver. Every paper note that people possessed could be redeemed for gold at the bank on demand.
In 1933, the U.S. abandoned the world gold exchange standard system, bringing to an end the existing world monetary system. The paper money that people held in their hands was no longer backed by physical gold. Under this new global monetary system, money only has value because governments say it does. Unlike gold and silver, modern paper money is intrinsically valueless.
Consequently, we now have a system where banks can print as much money as they wish as they no longer have the restriction of being tied to physical reserves of gold. Under the current system money is literally conjured out of thin air. Since banks can now print money on demand, it means that they can lend more money which in turn results in the creation of more interest-based debt.
We are living in a time that can only be considered monetary chaos, as our entire monetary system, as it now stands, is based on nothing but debt. Every physical coin and paper note had to be borrowed into existence. With the old system of gold and silver there is a natural order to money, as its value increases and decreases in accordance with the supply and demand of the precious metals. Under the current system, banks can produce as much paper money as they like, and so the supply of this form of money is entirely elastic, it is entirely flexible. In summary, modern finance is a debt and interest based system that is unique in history. The use of paper money with no intrinsic value, along with the massive debt and interest that it has resulted in, is a phenomenon of modern finance and not something that could have been easily guessed by the Prophet Muhammad, a man living in a desert over 1,400 years ago.
10. Rulership of Muslims.
The Prophet Muhammad foretold the state of rulership of the Muslims after his death: “The Caliphate after me in my nation will last for thirty years. Then there will be kingship after that.” 
Note that the Prophet Muhammad made a distinction between the rule of the Caliphs and that of kingship. They are distinguished by their means of acquiring power. The Caliphs were given power by the consent of the people who willingly pledged their allegiance to them. Whereas the kings who came after took power by force and resulted in long dynasties, with power handed down by hereditary rule rather than by consent as exemplified by the Caliphs.
There were five Caliphs after the death of the Prophet Muhammad who gained power by the consent of the people:
Hasan ibn Ali brought with him an end to exactly 30 years of Caliphate rule, just as the Prophet Muhammad had foretold. In 661 CE Hasan ibn Ali abdicated and gave power to Muawiyah due to civil strife that was threatening to cause a lot of bloodshed. Muawiyah was the person who established the Umayyad Dynasty, the beginning of a new phase of rule by kingship among the Muslims, again just as Prophet Muhammad had foretold.
The Prophet Muhammad even informed the first three Caliphs about the circumstances of their deaths. Anas bin Malik, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, narrated the following:
When we look to the lives of the Caliphs they are exactly as the Prophet Muhammad had foretold. The first Caliph, Abu Bakr, who was known by his title “the truthful one”, died from natural causes, whereas the second and third Caliphs (Umar ibn al-Khattab and Uthman ibn Affan respectively) did indeed both die by martyrdom when they were assassinated.
In another related prediction, the Prophet Muhammad goes into more detail about the nature of the kingships that would rule in the Muslim lands after the Caliphs:
Here we can see descriptions of different stages of kingship that would rule after the Caliphs. The “biting Kingship” refers to the long-lasting period of hereditary rule that was passed down from father to son, rather than by consent as exemplified by the five Caliphs. Whereas the rule of the Caliphs lasted for 30 years, the rule of the kingships lasted for over a thousand years, coming to an end with the dismantlement of the Ottoman empire in 1924 CE. The long kingships of these dynasties are just as the Prophet Muhammad had foretold. These long kingships were followed by a period of oppressive rule which is the current state of many Muslim lands which are under dictatorship, again just as the Prophet Muhammad foretold.
Sceptics may argue that these are “self-fulfilling” prophecies, i.e. they caused themselves to come true. Imagine that someone starts a rumour that a particular bank will go bust. If this person is influential enough, then customers of that bank might take their statement seriously and, out of fear for their savings, withdraw all their money from the bank, in turn causing the bank to bust. Can this be considered a genuine prophecy? It cannot, because the claim itself was the catalyst for the bank going bust; it caused itself to come true. With the Caliphs, the claim then is that Muslims arranged their own rule in order to coincide with, and fulfil, the various prophecies of Muhammad to make it appear like he could predict the future. But this is highly improbable given that the rule of Muslims, since the time of the Prophet Muhammad up to the present day, has been tied to chaotic and unpredictable events throughout history. For example, the reigns of the Caliphs were brought to an end through events such as assassinations and civil strife. So unless one wants to argue for a grand conspiracy, then it’s very unlikely that the people under their rule would have orchestrated the murder of their own leaders and civil strife in order fulfil prophecy. Moreover, the political landscape of the Muslims has been shaped by world-changing events outside of their control, such as colonialism and the First and Second World Wars.
10. The greening of Arabia’s deserts.
The Prophet Muhammad made a bold prediction about the state of the land of the Arabs:
This narration anticipated the greening of Arabia’s extensive dry desert environment. As recently as 1986, there was little to no agricultural activity in the region. However, over the last 30 years these deserts have been transformed to grow grains, fruits, and vegetables thanks to techniques such as centre pivot irrigation. This is a process that pumps water to the surface from deep underground reserves, some of which date back to the last ice age 20,000 years ago. This fossil water is distributed via large feeds and results in circles of green irrigated vegetation. The diameters of these irrigated crop circles range from a few hundred metres to as wide as 3 kilometres (1.9 miles).
This series of photographs taken by astronauts on the International Space Station present an almost surreal view of abundant green fields of the Wadi As-Sirhan Basin in the midst of a barren desert in Northern Saudi Arabia:
Now put yourself in the position of a person living in seventh century Saudi Arabia. This region hosts some of the most extensive sand and gravel deserts in the world with rainfall that averages just 10 to 20 centimetres per year. To put this into context, some parts of the United Kingdom average over four hundred centimetres per year. Could anyone inhabiting such a harsh environment ever rationally conceive of the possibility that one day there would be a plentiful supply of water and abundant crops? Muhammad stood to gain nothing by making such an outrageous prediction, moreover it was no light matter, as it gave his enemies a reason to mock and undermine him as a Prophet. But this was important information that had to be conveyed, for it is a sign of the closeness of the End Times and therefore of immense benefit to the generations who would follow after him. Muhammad did not fear the mockery of men, for he was not speaking from his whims; he had no doubt that the prophecy would transpire as this was inspiration from the heavens. Today this prophecy is unfolding before our very eyes, and is only possible thanks to ancient reserves of water buried deep beneath the desert sands, as well as modern advancements in irrigation technology to mine that water. This is technology that could not have been imagined by Muhammad over 1,400 years ago.
This prophecy also makes a claim about the ancient past. Note the words of Muhammad:
By saying “once again” he is implying that at one stage in their history, the deserts were lush with vegetation and life and that they will be returning to this former state. Geologists now know that the Arabian Peninsula was indeed once filled with meadows and rivers in ancient times. Modern archaeological discoveries have uncovered a number of fossils which confirm this. In 2014 a team led by Oxford University has made a startling discovery deep in the deserts of Saudi Arabia: a giant, 325,000-year-old tusk belonging to an extinct species of elephant, remarkably preserved and embedded by an ancient lake. In the same sand layer as the elephant’s tusk researchers have found the remains of an extinct jaguar, oryx and a member of the horse family. Stone tools have also been discovered and are believed to be signs of early human life. Archaeologists cite this as proof that once upon a time, the Arabian Peninsula was much greener and wetter. Oxford Professor Mike Petraglia states:
So not only did this prophecy correctly predict the greening of Arabia in the future, it also conforms to modern archaeological discoveries and conclusions about Arabia’s ancient, pre-Islamic past.
Comparing the prophecies found in the Qur’an and Hadith, to the likes of Nostradamus, is like comparing night and day. As we’ve seen, the prophecies in the Qur’an and Hadith are clear. We’ve only looked at a handful of examples, but the Qur’an and Hadith are filled with many such prophecies about the future which have either been fulfilled, or are transpiring before our eyes today. Purely from probability, it is impossible to accurately guess such events, spanning multiple nations and different time periods, many of which were outside of the sphere of influence of Muslims, without making a single mistake. This is strong evidence that the author of the Qur’an, the One who inspired Prophet Muhammad, has knowledge of the unseen.
It’s also important to note that these prophecies are not present for the sake of entertainment; they have a noble purpose. For believers they carry spiritual significance: many of them relate to signs of the coming Day of Judgement and so they serve as a reminder to Muslims that each fulfilled prophecy brings us one step closer to the momentous day when we will stand before our Creator. For non-believers they are a sign, and represent evidence not only for the truthfulness of the Qur’an’s claims of divine authorship, but also the inspiration of its messenger, Muhammad.
This article has been taken from the book “The Eternal Challenge: A Journey Through The Miraculous Qur’an” which can be ordered and downloaded here.
1 – The Centuries, Quatrain 8 – 19.
2 – The Centuries, Quatrain 4 – 26.
3 – Preface to The Centuries – a letter to his son.
4 – Historians’ History of the World, vol. 7, p. 159; vol. 8, pp. 94 – 95 & Enc. Brit. under “Chosroes” II & “Heraclius”.
5 – Theophanes, p. 15.
6 – Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadith #63.
7 – Sunan Al-Kubra, Hadith #8858.
8 – Musnad Aḥmad 4:257.
9 – Andrew Louth, The Byzantine Empire in the seventh century, The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol 1, p. 298.
10 – Carole Hillenbrand, Muhammad and the rise of Islam, The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol 1, p. 340.
11 – Sahih Muslim, Hadith #2889.
12 – G.N Jalbani, Life of the Holy Prophet, 1988, pp. 2 – 3.
13 – Musnad Aḥmad, Hadith #16509.
14 – Sahih Muslim, Hadith #788
15 – Ibn Hibban, Hadith #6767.
16 – Ibn Majah, Hadith #4019.
17 – Musnad Ahmad, Hadith #10191.
18 – Ibn Hibbaan, Saheeh al-Jaami’ as-Sagheer, #3341.
19 – Sahih Bukhari, Hadith #3675.
20 – Reported by Ahmad and Abu Dawud. Silsilah as-Saheehah of Imaam al-Albani (1/34 no. 5).
21 – Sahih Muslim 157.
22 – BBC website, accessed on 27th August 2017: