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. This characteristic makes 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.
Only genuine prophets of God, those who receive information from God, the One who has complete knowledge of the future, can make numerous predictions and get it right every time. This is the key difference between a false prophet and a true one. With this in mind we are now going to analyse the predictions of Muhammad:
1. Arab Bedouins Prophecy.
From millennium past there are two types of Arabs, city dwellers and Bedouins. The former make up the majority and live in ancient cities like Damascus, Cairo and Baghdad. Bedouins are nomads, they travel through the vast deserts and are constantly on the move. Even during the Golden Age of Islam when the Arabs were the richest and most learned people on earth, Bedouins remained in virtually the same state they had been for thousands of years, poor, uneducated and cut off from rest of the world. As recently as the 1940’s the English explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger was travelling through these Bedouin areas and documented their condition:
Yet Muhammad foretold that these Arab Bedouins of his region would one day compete 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.” 
When Muhammad was asked about the “Last Hour” (meaning the approach of the Day of Judgement), notice the detailed response he gives: a specific people, the poor Arab Bedouins of the region, were identified. 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 that a particular group of Arabs, the Bedouins who used to be impoverished herders of camels and sheep until the mid-twentieth century, are now competing to build the tallest tower blocks. How did this change happen seemingly overnight? How did one of the poorest people on earth who literally wore rags, become the wealthiest nations on earth? One thing made this rapid change possible, something upon which the modern world would revolve around perhaps more than any other, the discovery of black gold, oil. The seemingly empty deserts of the Bedouins had it in abundance. The Bedouins went from camels to Cadillacs in a generation!
Today one of the highest concentrations of tall buildings in the world is in the Arabian peninsula, specifically the areas in which Bedouin Arabs lived. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, is the world’s tallest man-made structure at 828 metres. A short time after it was completed, a rival family in Saudi Arabia announced that they would build a taller one (1,000 metres) the Kingdom Tower and are literally competing with each other over who can build the world’s tallest building:
What would motivate Muhammed to even make such a prediction? If he was going to make up such a prophecy it would make more sense to relate this prophecy to the superpowers of his time: Rome, Persia or even China who (unlike the Arabs) already had a tendency to construct extravagant buildings and palaces. For example, the Hagia Sophia cathedral was built by a Roman emperor in 537 CE, the century before Muhammad, and it remained the world’s largest building for nearly a thousand years.
The construction of tall buildings among the Arab Bedouins has even reached Mecca, Muhammad’s city of birth. The last few decades have seen a massive surge in building construction in Mecca. The famous Mecca Clock Tower is currently the third tallest building in the world:
In order for such construction to be possible, many of Mecca’s ancient mountains have been demolished in order to make room for the tall buildings that have sprung up. Amazingly, this is also something that Muhammad foretold; he said that mountains will one day be moved from their places: “The Hour will not be established until mountains are moved from their places.”  This tremendous feat of demolishing entire mountains has only been possible in the twentieth century with the advent of technology such as explosives. Thanks to these modern technical advances, mountains can now be blasted into rubble in order to make room for massive city infrastructure such as buildings and highways.
Muhammad himself did not like Muslims to be involved in trying to unnecessarily increase in wealth. Indeed he often warned of its dangers and how it would corrupt his nation. He did not like or promote the construction of buildings. He was a simple man who lived in a simple house and wanted other Muslims to maintain that simplicity. That is what he taught and how he lived. If he wanted to “will” this prophecy to become true, he would have encouraged the Arabs to build tall buildings and perhaps start off trying to do that himself! In fact the Qur’an itself discourages such behaviour: “Do you build on every height a monument? Vain is it that you do. And you make strong fortresses as if you were to live forever?” [26:128-129]
2. The defeat of Rome and the conquest of Persia.
One of the greatest hardships to befall 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 Medina. At the time, all the Muslims were situated in this small city, so it was a good opportunity for their enemies to wipe out Islam from the face of the earth. 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 Medina in preparation for the impending attack, when they were facing impossible odds and were staring in the face of certain defeat, Muhammad made a bold prediction:
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, Muhammad even specified the exact Persian king who would be defeated, the king Kisra:
The Messenger of God said, “I swear by the Being who controls my life! God shall bring this [i.e. Islam] to such completion that a veiled woman shall leave from Heera [a place in modern Iraq] all alone and perform Tawaf of the Ka’abah without the need of having someone accompany her. Without doubt, the treasures of Kisra bin Hurmuz shall also be conquered.”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 Muhammad. He reacted with absolute astonishment about the prediction of the conquest of Persia. This is because such statements by Muhammad were made at a time when no one could imagine that a small Muslim city state, under siege by the pagan Arabs, would reach such heights of power and strength. It’s important to appreciate just how large and powerful the empires of Rome and Persia were at the time. The Roman empire stretched from Europe to North Africa. The Persian empire was also large, with its capital Ctesiphon the biggest city in the world. By comparison, the Muslims were dwarfed both in terms of numbers and territory. They were much less experienced in war and lacked the advanced weaponry and tactics of their opponents. Professor of Islamic History Carole Hillenbrand highlights the military superiority of the Persians over the Muslims:
Yet within just a decade of Muhammad’s death, all these events came true. They were witnessed by the very companions of Muhammad who heard him make these prophecies. What is amazing is that after the death of Muhammad, both empires attacked the Muslims simultaneously. Even though the Romans and Persians were rivals and had been competing for territory for over a century before Muhammad, they joined forces and fought side by side against the Muslim army and yet they still lost. What are the odds that the Muslims, who were small in number and lacked economic, military and political strength, could topple these 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. The astonishing way that the Muslims defeated the superpowers captured the world by surprise, as historian Barnaby Rogerson explains:
No rational person would conceive of such a possibility, and if Muhammad were guessing then he would have been risking his reputation as a Prophet by gambling on such unlikely predictions 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: “The speed with which the eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire succumbed to the Arabs remains to be explained by historians.” 
3. The rapid spread of Islam throughout the world.
Muhammad prophesied 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 victory over Rome and Persia by making the claim that Islam would spread to the far reaches of the earth. It’s important to understand the context in which this prediction was made. Not only were the Arabs surrounded by their enemies, which as we’ve already seen included the super powers of the world, but they also had the additional internal challenge of disunity due to 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.
History bears witness to the fact that Islam spread rapidly, both East and West, to reach as far as Spain and parts of China within a generation, just as Muhammad boldly foretold. At the time, this was a geographic expansion the likes of which the world had never witnessed. The Islamic empire was the largest the world had ever seen, a fulfilment of Muhammad’s prediction as well as the promise that God made to the Muslims in the Qur’an:
To put this into perspective, let’s compare the other Abrahamic faiths, Judaism and Christianity. During their early histories, both religions were mainly concentrated in Palestine and its surrounding areas. There were pockets of followers in other lands, but their early expansion was restrained by the pagan nations that surrounded them. On multiple occasions, the entire Jewish people were taken into captivity by their enemies. Christianity was a small, persecuted religion for hundreds of years until the pagan Roman Empire adopted Christianity as a state religion in the fourth century after Jesus.
Now it’s not unusual for new civilisations to emerge, dominate for a period of time and then decline or even disappear entirely. It’s also not uncommon for divided and dispersed tribes to unite under a charismatic leader and then conquer vast lands. The Mongols are a good example, their empire emerged after Islam, and at their peak in the thirteenth century they controlled the largest continuous land empire in human history. The difference however, is that unlike the Islamic empire, the Mongol empire collapsed within decades. What also sets Islam apart is the nature of its expansion, as Muhammad also foretold that Islam would not just spread in a geographic sense, but that it would also grow in terms of the number of followers, to the extent that it will 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 unfold before our eyes. Islam is currently the fastest growing 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 the year 2070. This is despite Islam being 600 years younger than Christianity and over 1,500 years younger than Judaism.
4. The Mongol invasion.
In the thirteenth century, the powerful Mongol empire invaded the heart of the Muslim world. The Muslims fought them and continued to be defeated until the battle of Ayn Jaloot (1260 CE) when the Mongol empire 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 all foretold by Muhammad in the following prediction:
Here is a contemporary likeness of the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan with a wide (shield-like) face and small eyes – just as Muhammad foretold:
What’s amazing is that 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. Moreover, prior to their conflict with the Mongols, the Arabs in the desert would never have encountered people with shoes made of hair. Such footwear is not suited to the extreme heat of the desert; the Mongols used this unique footwear because the temperatures they were used to dealing with were very cold.
Over the centuries, the Muslim world has fought armies from many different nations, so why did Muhammad single out the Mongols, why did they deserve special attention in this prophecy? The invasion by the Mongol empire is considered to be one of the darkest episodes in Muslim history. The Mongol empire was one of the most devastating fighting forces the world had ever seen, leaving death and destruction wherever their army went. The Mongols arrived in city of Baghdad in 1258 CE. At the time, Baghdad was the political centre of the Muslim world, with the Caliph, who was the supreme leader of the Muslims, residing there. Baghdad was also the centre of the scientific world. The libraries of Baghdad were unrivalled; the House of Wisdom, established soon after the city was built, was a magnet for the most intelligent scientists, thinkers, mathematicians, and linguists. With the invasion of the Mongols a full week of pillage and destruction commenced. The Mongols showed no discretion, destroying mosques, hospitals, libraries, and palaces. The books from Baghdad’s libraries were thrown into the Tigris River in such quantities that the river is said to have run black with the ink from the books. In terms of human losses, conservative estimates state that at least 90,000 men, women and children were massacred . It is the only time in history that an invading army has overtaken the Caliphate and killed the Caliph. It would take centuries for Baghdad to regain any sort of prominence as a city.
The immense detail that Muhammad provided in this Mongol prophecy is very revealing. Frauds, those who falsely claim to be able to predict the future, typically make their predictions general and ambiguous in nature so that they can be applied to multiple situations. The more general and ambiguous the prophecy, the greater the chance that something, somewhere, will eventually occur that bears enough of a resemblance that it will seem like the prophecy was an accurate prediction. Muhammad could have made a prediction such as “you will encounter a people who are very tall, riding on horses”. Such a prediction uses very general descriptions that can apply to multiple situations. For example, the word “encounter” is broad enough to cover not just fighting but a variety of different contexts such as trade, alliances and peace treaties. The characteristic of being tall is not unique to any one particular people or race, and horses have been one of the most common forms of transportation through history. By comparison, the Mongol prophecy that Muhammad did make is filled with lots of very specific details. He gave a clear context, that of fighting. He also stated that the opponents would be non-Arabs. He even went so far as to describe some unique distinguishing features of the opponents, such as the physical appearance and clothing. We can see that such a prophecy contains multiple variables, each of which is very detailed and must be fulfilled in a very specific manner. This strictly limits how the event could happen, and in the more than 1,400 years since this prophecy was spoken, it has been fulfilled exactly once in history, with the Mongol invasion.
5. Spread of sexual immorality.
Muhammad revealed that the day would come when sexual immorality would become so normalised that it would be carried out in public: “The Hour will not be established until people fornicate with each other in the road just as donkeys fornicate.”  Today we live in a world where we are bombarded with explicit sexual imagery in TV, 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. What is amazing is that we’ve already seen that Muhammad foretold that Islam is going to spread far and wide, so this situation of public sexual immorality is the exact opposite of what one would expect because Islam as a religion places great emphasis on modesty. For example, Islam teaches that both men and women should lower their gaze from strangers in order to safeguard from falling into temptation and sin. The reality of today, where Islam is widespread and public sexual immorality is rampant, is in fact paradoxical and therefore not an easy prediction to make if one is guessing.
We must also take into account that at the time of Muhammad, people were generally modest; this was the case with both Muslims and the non-Muslims including the Jews and Christians. With the conversion of the pagan Roman empire to Christianity in the fourth century, the subsequent spread of Christianity throughout Europe, and the Catholic Church enforcing strict standards of public morality and decency, much of the Western world had become conservative before Muhammad was born. During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church regulated all matters relating to sex very carefully. Many influential members of the Church even saw sex and other pleasurable experiences within the confines of marriage as evil and a source of sin, unless marital relations were undertaken expressly and consciously to conceive a child . A big transformation also took place in seventh century Arabia. In Pre-Islamic Arabia, public indecency was not uncommon, for example we know that the pagan Arabs used to perform religious pilgrimages while in a completely naked state. This all ended with the coming of Islam which forbade such practices. With both the East and the West being largely conservative as a result of the spread of Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam, this prediction of widespread sexual immorality by Muhammad went completely against the tide of morality that was sweeping the world during him time. The current situation in the world is unprecedented, never in the history of mankind has sexual immorality been on such a large scale. It is the now the norm, just as Muhammad predicted. An interesting side point is that Muhammad described the consequences of widespread sexual immorality: “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 immorality has seen the emergence of previously unheard of diseases such as AIDS, just as Muhammad warned.
6. A world steeped in interest.
Muhammad claimed 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 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. Central banks influence the purchasing power of our money, and the financial system even suffered a global collapse in 2008 because of the widespread practice of buying and selling interest-based financial debt. This was a disaster which has plunged the world into economic turmoil, the consequences of which will be felt for generations to come.
What makes Muhammad’s prediction amazing is that the financial state of the world over the last century is unique in history. At the time of 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 currency 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 United States 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 has 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 Muhammad over 1,400 years ago. Now this is not to say that the concept of interest did not exist at all in seventh century Arabia, we know that it did because the Qur’an strictly prohibits believers from practising it: “…they say, ‘Trade is [just] like interest.’ But God has permitted trade and has forbidden interest. So whoever has received an admonition from his Lord and desists may have what is past, and his affair rests with God. But whoever returns to [dealing in interest] – those are the companions of the Fire…” [2:275] Moreover, the practice of interest was also prohibited in the Christian world. The Roman Catholic Church had by the fourth century prohibited the taking of interest by the clergy; a rule which they extended in the fifth century to the laity. In the eighth century it was even declared a criminal offence . So Muhammad’s prediction that it would come to dominate the world was in no way a forgone conclusion. In fact, it must have seemed strange to his companions, since Muhammad had also predicted that Islam, which strictly forbids interest, would dominate over all religions and reach as far as the East and West. The fact that this prophecy was preserved by his companions shows the complete faith and trust that they had in what he said, and that it would come to pass, however unlikely it may have seemed to them.
7. 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.
You may be thinking that these are just “self-fulfilling” prophecies, they caused themselves to come true. Let’s look at an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. 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 go 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 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 to fulfil prophecy. Moreover, the political landscape of the Muslims has been shaped by world-changing events outside of their control, such as foreign invasions, crusades, colonialism, the First and Second World Wars and so on.
8. Prevalence of writing and increase in ignorance.
Many of us take for granted the abundance of books that are available in the modern age. However, the majority of people in history have never even held a book in their hands. One reason is the lack of education as most people used to be illiterate so there was not a big demand for books. Another reason is scarcity; books were difficult and expensive to produce because each copy had to be written manually by hand. This has been the norm for most of human history, and seventh century Arabia was no different. Muhammad was born into a society in which very few people could read or write. It is estimated that the number of people who were literate in his locality of Western Saudi Arabia did not exceed seventeen . Muhammad himself could not read or write. There were even whole societies that didn’t have any books, they didn’t write anything down because they only had an oral language.
Against this backdrop, Muhammad made the prediction that writing will one day become prevalent among mankind:
This statement by Muhammad is in fact loaded with accurate prophecies. In the densely populated cities of the modern age, it is common for people not to speak to their neighbours. Women have indeed entered the workforce in large numbers to help their husbands with trade, especially in Western societies. Traditional family values which have long been the fabric of society are now broken; a symptom is this is the increasing number of old people who are put into care homes by their families. For the sake of this section, we will focus in detail on the statement that “the pen will prevail”. The Arabic word used by Muhammad for pen is ‘qalam’ which also carries the wider meaning of writing, or anything that is written down in general. This perfectly describes our world today in which it is the norm for people to read and write and there is an abundance of books, newspapers and magazines. This has only been made possible thanks to fifteenth century technological advances such as printing that took place over 800 years after Muhammad’s prophecy. For the first time in history, written materials could be produced in vast quantities. The increased efficiency of book production brought with it a decrease in prices and a subsequent increase in book consumption as they were now affordable to the masses. To put this into perspective, the fifteenth century saw about the same number of manuscripts printed in Europe as had been produced by hand during the entire preceding fourteen centuries . With the advent of the internet, writing is spreading even more. Anybody with a computer or smart phone now has access to millions of books with just the click of a finger. It’s quite powerful that Muhammad, who could neither read nor write, prophesied the spread of reading and writing.
It’s important to point out that book production, and knowledge in general, has not always been on the increase as time goes on. From the sixth century, the Catholic Church made a concerted effort to protect and bolster its position of dominance and power. It closed institutes of philosophy, banned books and suppressed any scientific thought that threatened its own Biblical outlook of the world. The masses were forbidden from owning the Bible and authors were even burnt alive for writing books that opposed the Catholic Church’s religious doctrines. The ancient Greek chronicler John Malalas recorded: “During the consulship of Decius [529 CE], the Emperor issued a decree and sent it to Athens ordering that no one should teach philosophy nor interpret the laws” . As a result, Europe entered into a 1,000 year period of intellectual slumber. Thus the “lights went out” on rational thinking and Europe entered the Dark Ages. Indeed, Europe’s creative energies and inventiveness are acknowledged much later, only from the dawn of the “scientific revolution” in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
In addition to predicting that writing would become prevalent, Muhammad also foretold that another sign of the end of the world would be that “ignorance will become widespread and there will be much killing” . Here Muhammad stated that there will be widespread ignorant, evil acts such as killing. The twentieth century is without question the bloodiest century in history, far worse in terms of violence and devastation than any previous era. While fatality statistics vary, the First and Second World Wars alone have seen estimates of total deaths ranging from 50 million to more than 80 million. As time goes on mankind continues to develop weapons with greater potential for death and destruction. The twentieth century saw the development of atomic weapons as well as their use on civilian populations. There are now nuclear weapons capable of destroying entire cities, with governments having stockpiled enough nukes to destroy the entire earth multiple times over. This is despite the fact that the masses can read and have access to more education and learning than at any other time in history. We have a strange situation of knowledge being more readily available to mankind and yet killing being rampant. Both these predictions by Muhammad are, when taken together, quite paradoxical. If Muhammad were guessing then he would have predicted an increase in writing and decrease in ignorance due to mankind’s enlightenment. But he actually predicted two opposites, this paradoxical situation of writing being prevalent and ignorant, evil acts such as killing being widespread. The historian Niall Ferguson notes this paradox of our modern age:
9. 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.
10. The decline of the Muslims.
We have already analysed a number of accurate predictions that Muhammad made in regard to Islam’s toppling of superpowers and global expansion. Muhammad not only informed us about the spectacular rise of the Muslims, he also foretold their decline:
Here we can see that Muhammad prophesied the dire circumstances in which the Muslims would find themselves. He said the day would come when Muslims will be large in number but in such a state of weakness that other nations will invite one another to set upon them. The analogy of Muslims being eaten as a meal was given, which emphasises just how helpless they will become.
This prediction accurately describes the radical turn of events that took place in the Muslim world in the twentieth century. Prior to this, the Muslim lands had grown to be some of the most powerful in the world. The Ottoman Empire is particularly noteworthy, it had a long history spanning more than 600 years and became one of the most dominant empires in the world in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries . The Caliphate, which is the position of supreme authority in Islam, had even shifted from Arabs to the Ottomans in the sixteenth century. The Ottoman Empire steadily declined during the nineteenth century, and ultimately met its demise at the beginning of the twentieth century after its defeat in World War I. The Ottoman government collapsed and the victorious powers partitioned the Empire.
This partitioning was planned by its rivals years before its collapse. During its decline, the Ottoman Empire had become so weak that it came to be known as “the sick man of Europe” . Sensing an opportunity, its rivals came together and conducted several agreements early in the course of World War I. One such agreement is the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. This was a deal made between Great Britain and France, with the approval of Russia, for the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. This agreement took its name from its negotiators, Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and François Georges-Picot of France. Both these men came together, just as diners gather around a meal, placed a ruler on a map and drew a diagonal line across the Muslim lands under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine were partitioned into French and British spheres of influence. These lands, which had been under Muslim rule for centuries, were divided up among colonial powers, literally like one carves a meal up into pieces. The fall of the Ottoman Empire brought with it not just the loss of important lands but also an end to the Caliphate. This more than 1,300-year-old institution, which had been in place since the death of Muhammad, has been dismantled ever since.
In summary, the twentieth century has witnessed a number of nations coming together to dismantle the Muslim world, just as diners sit together and gather around a meal. The Muslim lands were taken as spoils and divided just like one carves a meal up into pieces. All of this is just as Muhammad predicted. At the time of the Ottoman Empire’s collapse, there were an estimated 200 million Muslims, representing 12.5% of the world’s population . But their considerable numbers could do nothing to prevent the defeat by their enemies, they were weak like the foam on a river, just as Muhammad foretold. We can see that the analogies used by Muhammad in the prophecy were concise and perfectly described the events that have unfolded over the course of the twentieth century.
If we reflect on this prediction, it is quite counter-intuitive. Recall the reaction of the companion who heard Muhammad make the prediction, they remarked “Will it be because of our small number that day?” The companion made the natural assumption that the weak state of the Muslims would be due to their small numbers, because large numbers are typically associated with strength. If this prediction was guesswork, then it would have made more sense to state that the Muslims would be diminished in number and that would be the cause of their weakness. Yet Muhammad predicted the exact opposite, a paradoxical situation of the Muslims being vast in number but very weak, and it came true. Another interesting aspect of this prediction is the psychology behind it. During Muhammad’s lifetime, Islam was not yet a world superpower and had not yet toppled other superpowers like Persia. So if Muhammad was a liar who was out to deceive people into thinking he was a Prophet, he would have surely only said very positive things about the Muslims of the future, such as “you will be invincible” or “your enemies will never defeat you”. Such a positive outlook of the future would make people want to join his religion and be his followers, it’s human nature to want to be successful. So for Muhammad to make such a frank statement about how bleak the future would become not only shows that he was a speaker of truth, but also that his companions transmitted everything he said, regardless of whether it was good or bad, encouraging or embarrassing.
Muhammad made numerous 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 should leave us in no doubt that he was inspired by something that is far more knowledgeable and powerful than human beings. The Qur’an affirms this when it reveals where Muhammad got his knowledge from: “Your Companion is neither astray nor being misled. Nor does he say [anything] of [his own] desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him. He was taught by one mighty in Power.” [53:2-5] The Qur’an reveals that Muhammad was inspired by God Himself, who has knowledge of all things. The Qur’an further tells us that only God’s knowledge is perfect and free of error: “And if it were from any other than God, they would have found in it many a discrepancy.” [4:82] This is one reason why Muslims have no doubt about the existence of God, because only He could have inspired Muhammad with such flawless insight into the unseen.