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Knowing Allah


alif lam mim. the romans have been defeated in the lowest land, but after their defeat they will themselves be victorious within three to nine years. the affair is allah's from beginning to end. on that day, the believers will rejoice. (surat ar-rum: 1-4)

one of the items of information about the future given to the prophet (saas) by means of the qur'an is to be found in the early verses of surat ar-rum. it is revealed in these verses that the byzantine empire had been defeated, but would then emerge victorious a short while later.

these verses were revealed in 620 a.d., some seven years after a crushing defeat inflicted on the byzantines by the idolater persians. the news is reported that the byzantines will soon again be victorious. at that time, however, the byzantines had been so seriously defeated that it looked impossible for them even to survive, let alone later emerge victorious. not only the persians, but also the avars, slavs and lombards all constituted a grave menace to the byzantine empire. the avars had come as far as the walls of constantinople. in order to meet the expenses of his army, the byzantine emperor heraclius had ordered all gold and silver ornamental goods in the churches to be melted down. when that proved to be insufficient, he even started to have bronze statues torn down to make coins from. many governors rebelled against emperor heraclius, and the empire was on the point of falling apart. the idolator persians had occupied many byzantine territories, including mesopotamia, cilicia, syria, palestine, egypt and armenia.208

in short, everyone expected byzantium to disappear completely. yet, at just that moment, the news was revealed in the verse that byzantium would emerge victorious again within nine years. such a victory looked so totally impossible that arab idolaters believed that this victory, revealed in the qur'an, could never happen.

yet, it was certainly true, just like everything else in the qur'an. about seven years after the revelation of the first verses of surat ar-rum, in december 627 a.d., there was a major battle between byzantium and the persian empire not far from the ruins of nineveh. the byzantine army defeated the persians. a few months later, the persians had to sign a treaty handing back to byzantium all of its territories they had occupied.209 the "victory of the romans," revealed to the prophet (saas) by allah in the qur'an, had miraculously come about.

another miracle in these verses consists in the reporting of facts about a part of the world that nobody at the time could possibly identify.

in verse 3 of surat ar-rum, it is said that the romans had been defeated in "the lowest place on earth." the arabic for that is "adna al ard," and is translated in some texts as meaning "a land nearby." yet, that does not accurately reflect the original meaning. the arabic word "adna" means "the lowest," and comes from the word "deni," which means "low." "ard" means the "earth." "adna al ard" therefore means the lowest place on earth.

the battle between the byzantine empire and the persians really did take place at the lowest point on earth. that was the basin of lake lut, where present-day syria, palestine and jordan meet. it is also known that the area around the lake is 395 metres below sea-level, making it the lowest point on earth. as the verse reveals, the romans were defeated at "the lowest place on earth."

the important point here is that the altitude of lake lut has only been been established by measurements taken in the modern age. before that, it was not possible for anyone to know that the lake was the lowest point on earth. yet the region is described as such in the qur'an. that is one of the proofs that the qur'an is the divine word, and that the prophet muhammad (saas) is the prophet of allah.

the romans have been defeated in the lowest land...
(surat ar-rum: 2-3)

glory be to him who took his servant on a journey by night from the masjid al-haram to the masjid al-aqsa, whose surroundings we have blessed, in order to show him some of our signs. he is the all-hearing, the all-seeing. (surat al-isra': 1)

in this verse, allah reveals that one night he took the prophet (saas) to the al-aqsa mosque. that is a great miracle. the sacred mosque (masjid al-haram) is in mecca, and the al-aqsa mosque in jerusalem. the prophet (saas) was in mecca when this happened. under the conditions of that time it would have been quite impossible for him to go from mecca to jerusalem in one night. we must also make it clear that the prophet (saas) had never before seen jerusalem and the al-aqsa mosque.

the next day, when he recounted this great miracle to those around him, the polytheists in mecca refused to believe him, and, it is said, demanded proof. one of them had seen the al-aqsa mosque, and they asked the prophet (saas) to describe it and asked him questions about it.

when the prophet (saas) was able to describe the al-aqsa mosque correctly, the polytheists said his description was exact. they then asked him whether or not he had met a caravan that was coming from there. the prophet (saas) replied: "yes, i came across it. it was at rawha. they had lost a camel and were looking for it. there was a water goblet among what they were carrying. i was thirsty and drank from it, and then put it back in its place. when they arrive, ask them if they found the water in that goblet." the quraish then said, "that is another sign." they then continued to ask him detailed questions about the caravan. the prophet (saas) answered all their questions, and said: "they will arrive on such and such a day, at dawn, led by such and such a person on a grey camel with two haircloth sacks on it." they then said, "that is another sign." it is then reported that on that day they then made haste for saniyya to wait for dawn. the caravan in question indeed came into view at dawn. leading the caravan was that same grey camel that the prophet (saas) had described.210

it is he who appointed you successors on the earth and raised some of you above others in rank so he could test you regarding what he has given you. your lord is swift in retribution; and he is ever-forgiving, most merciful.
(surat al-an'am: 165)

it is an important miracle that allah should have shown the prophet (saas) somewhere he had never been without actually going there. it was impossible at that time to go from mecca to jerusalem in a single night, and that makes the miracle even greater and clearer.

allah has confirmed his messenger's vision with truth: you will enter the masjid al-haram in safety, allah willing, shaving your heads and cutting your hair without any fear. he knew what you did not know and ordained, in place of this, an imminent victory. (surat al-fath: 27)

the prophet (saas) had a dream when he was in medina, that the believers had entered the sacred mosque and walked around the kaaba. he gave the good news to the believers. those of the believers who migrated from mecca to medina had not been able to return since. when the prophet (saas) spoke of his dream, as the account has it, the believers went to mecca for the purposes of pilgrimage, although the idolators would not allow them in. the unbelievers saw this as an opportunity to sow discord, and tried to prove the prophet (saas)'s dream false by saying that they had been unable to go to the kaaba and unable to cut their hair.

allah revealed verse 27 of surat al-fath to the prophet (saas) to help and support him, and revealed that the dream was true, and that if allah so wished the believers would be able to enter mecca. a short while later, with the treaty of hudaybiya and the conquest of mecca, the believers were able to enter the sacred mosque in complete safety, just as the dream had shown. that was how allah showed that the news he had previously given to the prophet (saas) was true.211

another important point here is this: when the prophet (saas) gave that good news to the believers it looked totally out of the question. in fact, the situation pointed in quite the opposite direction, and the polytheists appeared quite determined never to let the believers in. that led those who harboured doubts in their hearts to doubt the words of the prophet (saas). yet, the prophet (saas) trusted in allah, took no notice of what people might say, had complete faith in what allah had revealed to him and told people about it. it is an important miracle that his words were confirmed by the qur'an, and that they came to pass shortly afterwards.

we decreed in the book for the tribe of israel: "you will twice cause corruption on the earth and you will reach [a degree of] great haughtiness. when the promised first time came, we sent against you servants of ours possessing great force, and they ransacked your houses, rampaging right through them. it was a promise which was fulfilled. then once again we gave you the upper hand over them and supplied you with more wealth and children and made you the most numerous group." (surat al-isra': 4-6)

as these verses reveal, the children of israel were to experience two victories. following the first of these, and their "reaching to a degree of great haughtiness," allah then sent a powerful army against them. indeed, when the jews killed the prophet yahya (as) and set a trap to kill the prophet 'isa (as), in other words, after their "reaching to a degree of great haughtiness," they were exiled shortly afterwards from jerusalem by the romans in 70 a.d. the temple of solomon in the city was completely demolished.

following their exile from palestine in 70 a.d., the jews wandered all over the world. since they were seen as the killers of 'isa (as), they were generally despised in european countries, had to live under oppressive conditions, and even most of the time had to practice their religion in secret. when that verse was revealed to the prophet (saas), the jews were living under very difficult conditions and had no state of their own. yet, allah told them that they would one day recover their strength.

that looked like a particularly remote possibility when the prophet (saas) was alive, yet it later came about. they returned to palestine and established the state of israel in 1948. israel's military and political power is no secret to anyone today.

at the time when the prophet (saas) was informed in a verse that the children of israel would regain their strength, the jews were living under very difficult conditions and had no state of their own. years later, however, a qur'anic miracle took place when david ben-gurion (left) declared the foundation of the state of israel in 1948.

in this verse regarding the jews, and in other verses, one of the important things is the revelation that things that looked totally impossible at the time, would come about. all of these examples are miracles of the qur'an, of course.

the prophet confided a certain matter to one of his wives, then when she divulged it allah disclosed that to him, and he communicated part of it and withheld part of it. when he told her of it, she said, '"who told you of this?" he said, "the all-knowing and all-aware informed me of it." (surat at-tahrim: 3)

as is revealed in this verse, the prophet (saas) imparted a secret to a number of his wives. however, they were unable to keep it, and revealed it to each other. allah had told the prophet (saas) of that behaviour, that they would talk amongst themselves. the prophet (saas) then told his wives that he knew they had divulged the secret.


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