Accurate Historical Records in the Holy Quran
Many ancient historical anecdotes and geographical regions have been mentioned in the stories of the holy Qur'an such as : the river or sea through which the Bani Israel passed, the land of Ashab-e Hijr, Dhul Qarnayn Dam, Ashab-e Kahf's Cave, earthy paradise of Dhat al-`Imad etc., not forgetting the detailed stories of past Prophets.
The hypothesis advanced by those who see Muhammad as the author of Quran is untenable. How could a man from being an unlettered, become the most important author, in terms of Historical literature in the whole world, and pen down historical facts with pinpoint accuracy?
Holy Quran says: “Such are some of the stories of the unseen, which We have revealed unto you, before this neither you nor your people knew them. So persevere patiently, for the end is for those who are righteous”. (11:49).
Research on historical records in the Holy Quran and finding their traces is very effective in understanding the Authenticity of the Qur'an. In addition, being involved in exploring the past would provide a good background to take lessons from the past on which the holy Qur'an in the following verses to persuade us to do so:
"Have they not travelled in the earth and seen how was the end of those before them? They were stronger than these in powers..." (30:9)
"Indeed there have been examples before you; Therefore travel in the earth..." (3:136)
To appreciate the accuracy of historical records advanced in the Quran, few examples are cited here below, not mentioning the detailed information on past Prophets’ history:
a) Ashabe Kahf
While narrating about the duration of which ‘As-habe Kahf’ (the Sleepers of the Cave) stayed in the cave, the Quran says: “So they stayed in their cave three hundred years and ADD nine...” (18:25).
The wording is quite significant. The verse does not say “three hundred and nine years” but uses the apparently cumbersome wording of “three hundred years and add nine”. Why add nine? This is because their stay was 300 years if one used the solar calendar and 309 years by the lunar calendar. The lunar year is 11 days shorter. Now 11 days times 300 years divided by 365 years is 9 years.
b) City of Iram
Another example of historical record can be found in chapter 89 of the Quran which mentions an ancient city called Iram:
“Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the Aad (people), of the (city of) Iram, with lofty pillars, the like of which were not produced in (all) the land?”. (89:6-7).
Apart from its being mentioned in the Quran, there were no historical record about this city - Iram. The name itself was obscure even during the time of the Prophet himself, which led to a number of speculations about its possible geographical location. Some commentators of the Quran went to the extent of suggesting that probably Iram was the name of a hero of the Aad.
The research findings of published by the official journal of the American National Geographic society in December 1978 have conclusively shown that Iram was a city. In 1975, Dr. Paulo Mathias of the University of Rome, director of the Italian Archeological Mission in Syria ‘hit an archeological jackpot’. In the ruins of a palace apparently destroyed in the 23rd century B.C., he came upon the greatest third millennium archive ever unearthed. More than 15,000 ‘cunei form tablets’ were discovered. Among the rich details revealed by these tablets is the fact that Ebla used to have trading links with Iram....
It is inconceivable how Muhammad could describe accurately in the Quran the physical features and the level of architecture of a people who lived in an ancient city which was destroyed 3000 years before he was born.
c) The body of Fir’aun
The Quran has explicitly recorded about what has become of the body of Fir’aun. “This day We save therein your body so that you become a sign for those who come after you. But verily, many among mankind are heedless of our signs......” (10:92).
In this verse, the God's intention of bringing the body of Pharaoh out of water rather than leaving it decaying or being eaten by the sea animals is to give a lesson to future generations.
What is amazing that when the Quran was transmitted to man by the Prophet, the bodies of all the Pharaohs were in their tombs in the Necropolis of Thebes, on the opposite side of the Nile from Luxor. At the time however, absolutely nothing was known of this fact, and it was not until the end of the nineteenth century that they were discovered there.
As the Quran states, the body of the Pharoah (Fir’aun) of the Exodus was in fact rescued: visitors may see him in the Royal Mummies Room of the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. How did the Prophet, who lived in Arabian desert came to know that the body of Fir’aun would be rescued for future generations to learn a lesson?
Predictions in the Holy Quran
The Holy Quran predicted and foretold several events with total confidence and categorical details. Can we ascribe this precise knowledge of the future to the knowledge of Muhammad as a person living in the dark ages of Arabia? It is totally unrealistic to attempt to analyse these predictions from a purely materialistic point of view. The only justified answer to the cause of the precise accuracy of the predictions is that it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (saww) from the All-Knowledgeable Lord and the Master of the Universe, the past, present and future, Allah (swt).
Please ponder over the following splendid moments of the Quranic predictions:
a) The Descendants of the Prophet
In Surah Kawthar, the Quran informs people that the descendants of Prophet will ultimately be numerous, this despite the fact that in his lifetime his enemies were hopeful that he would die without issue, since all the sons of the Prophet had died in infancy, and only one of his daughters survived.
“To you We have granted abundance. Therefore to Your Lord turn in prayers and sacrifice. For he who hated you, will be cut-off”. (Sura no. 108)
Today, the descendants of the Prophet (Saadat and Ashraf) can be found everywhere, while the progeny of Abu Jahal and Abu Sufyan, the enemies of Prophet Muhammad (saww) have become extinct. Given this, was it possible for any other than God, that eternal reality and fixed pivot of truth, to predict that matters would unfold in a sense completely opposed to existing circumstances.
b) Defeat of Persian Empire
In 615 AD, Khusru Parviz of Persia attacked Byzantium (Roman) empire and gained control of Syria, Palestine and North Africa. He ransacked Jerusalem, set fire to the Holy Sepulcher and destroyed numerous cities. The war ended in clear victory for fire-worshippers of Persia.
News of the defeat of Byzantine worshippers of God was received with satisfaction by the idolaters of Mecca. This was grievous to the Muslims and caused them much anxiety about the future course of the events. It was then that a revelation came foretelling the renewed triumph of the Byzantine over the Persians within few years.
These are the relevant verses of Surat Ruum in the Quran: “The Romans have been defeated in a land nearby. But in the future they will triumph over their enemies, within a period of few years. All affairs, both earlier and later, are in the hands of God. And on the day when the Romans triumph, the believers and the followers of Islam will rejoice. God assists to whomsoever He wills, and He is Powerful and Compassionate. This is the promise of God, a promise which can not be violated, but most of the people know not”. (30:1-6).
Within less than 10 years, this Prophecy of the Quran was fulfilled in the year 624 A.D. corresponding to year 2 A.H. How can we explain the confident and categorical prediction of the victory of a defeated people over a victorious people, in the absence of any factors pointing to the likelihood of such an event? A realistic approach to the state of society and the course of events would definitely have contradicted this prophesy. The Prophet of Islam foretold a definite military victory at a certain point in the future. How did he know it was going to occur?
c) Conquest of Khaybar and Mecca
The Quran has also foretold the conquest of Mecca and the triumph of the Muslims over the polytheists as follows: “That which God inspired in his prophet by means of a dream is true and veracious: Without any doubt you will enter the sacred mosque (in Mecca) in safety and security. You will shave your heads and shorten your hairs without any fear or anxiety. God knows what you do not know. And you will win a victory near at hand”. (48:27)
These predictions were made at a time when no military expert or adviser could have predicted the occurrence, given the difficult circumstances of the Muslims and the unfavorable situation in which they found themselves.
In the same verse (48:27), the Quran also mentions the future occurrence of another historical event, namely the triumph of the Muslim warriors at Khaybar, and their conquest of its formidable fortresses. Hard blows had been inflicted upon the Muslims from Khaybar, but in the end the army of Islam triumphed over the Jews, and the predictions of the Quran was completely fulfilled. Can we ascribe this precise knowledge of the future to the knowledge and speculation of the Prophet?
d) The Final Outcome of Abulahab
The Quran also predicts with clarity the final outcome of the life of a given individual, Abu Lahab, the obstinate enemy of Islam. It proclaims categorically that he will refuse the religion of monotheism until the very end of his life, and that for this reason his painful destiny will be to enter the fire of God’s wrath.
These are the verses of the Quran: “May Abulahab perish, and may his two hands be cut off. The wealth he accumulated to destroy Islam has not availed him or saved him from destruction; he will soon fall into the flaming fire of Hell”. (111:1-3).
All historians agree that Abu Lahab closed his eyes on this world as an unbeliever, and that he persisted in his obstinate hostility to the prophet of Islam until the final moments of his life. The verses revealed concerning the events mentioned above constitute a further proof that the sacred book of Islam is from God.
e) The Return of Prophet to Makkah
Likewise, the prediction that the Prophet would return to Makkah, his home, made at a time when he abandoned it for Madinah because of the pressures of the polytheists, is also an indication of a higher consciousness: “God Who made incumbent on you the recitation of the Quran will return you to your birthplace”. (28:85).
All the afore-mentioned predictions of future events are inexplicable unless they be ascribed to the source of revelation, to the infinite knowledge of Allah (swt).