When Will the Sun Rise from the West?: Identifying the time of the Latter Days
Many people feel pessimistic about where the world is headed: The Coronavirus, global climate change, the unending conflict in the Middle East and around the world, the threat of a Third World War, the list never ends. Meanwhile, world leaders seem not to care about creat- ing policies that will benefit people. Some people think the world is coming to an end. There are countless predictions about Doomsday, from ancient prophecies of the Maya to fiction movies such as “2012” (1). Others blame religion for all the conflicts happening in the world. The promising speeches about democracy and world peace become hollow. Every day, people turn to social media or watch world news to find nothing but the deteriorating state of the world. Is it possible to have hope that peace can light the world in the way that the sun illuminates the Universe?
The ‘sun’ referred to in the title of this article represents the advent of Islam in the Western hemisphere of the world. The ‘time’ is the beginning of the 20th Century when, in 1912, the Promised Reformer, Khalifatul-Masih II (ra) sent an Ahmadi Muslim missionary to the United Kingdom and then, in 1920, to the United States of America. The ‘Latter Days’ refers to the time closest to the end of the world.
Human beings need spiritual leaders to guide them, but with so many claims of the truth, it is difficult to ascertain which religion offers the real truth. However, it is Islam which states that Allah sent a Warner to every nation to guide people and to help them realize the purpose of their existence. Islam claims there are four revivals of faith. This concept is familiar because many movies such as “2012” and the famous Mayan prophecies depict that the world is coming to an end. Islam asserts that one purpose of human existence is not to waste the life given to us. While living in this temporary world, man is required to fulfill the rights of his Creator in all the ways of worship taught to him, and to honor the rights of his fellow beings through being compassionate and utilizing knowledge for the benefit of humanity, rather than to create disorder and gain power and wealth.
So why does the advancement of Islam in the West matter? What benefit will it provide? To understand this, we must look at the world situation in the West.
In a ‘Question and Answer’ session with Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul-Masih IV (rh), the fourth successor of the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), one audience member asked about the future of Western society. His Holiness answered that Western society had misunderstood the true concept of liberty and freedom. He described it as “mad pursuits of worldly desires”…. “harmful side effects and society are becoming increas- ingly restless” (2). We can see the effect of that “mad pursuit of worldly desires” in the prevalence of racism, inequality, poor quality of leadership, global refugee crisis, climate change, sexual harassment, HIV, protests from the middle class, city bankruptcy, unemployment, drugs, gang crime, teen pregnancies, unemployment, war on economy, terrorism, nuclear war…and the list goes on.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV (rh) continued describing the situation in America as follows “In America, while I was there a few years ago, there was a radio station devoted entirely to the reporting of murders and every five minutes, on average, a murder was taking place. People were being looted and murdered. They sought pleasure wherever they could find it. That is the disease of society. In the name of liberty, they are putting themselves into shack- les from which (so, unfortunately), they can never be liberated again. They are heading towards ultimate destruction because of this pursuit, this mad pursuit of pleasure” (3).
Materialism is the source of destruction and the problems that society is facing. In other words, people forget their Creator. Because of this, Khalifatul-Masih IV (rh) stated, “The pursuit of pleasure which they adopted has now reached an end, where instead of pleasure it is just giving them misery and nothing else” (4).
Then a question arises, why does God not make everyone accept the truth and thus behave like angels, as it were so that there is no more conflict? This is because the Creator has created Man with intelligence and the capacity to put freedom of conscience into action and to seek the truth. Islam teaches that Allah created Man not like a robot but with God-given capabilities, through which he is encour- aged to accept the truth if he sincerely seeks it, just as a thirsty man looking for water.
In Islam, Allah is the Creator for all the Universe, for all living things. “He is the Lord of the East and the West; there is no God but He, so take Him as thy Guardian” (5).
This verse of the Holy Qur’an clearly states that God, the Creator, is for all people through all time. One attribute of Allah is al-Hafeez, the Guardian, which also means to protect and to preserve. In this modern world, humanity can be saved by turning to the Creator, al-Hafeez, so that it is protected from calamities.
The sun, denoting Islamic teaching, shall rise from the West in the 20th Century when all kinds of societal disease and wars occur. At this time, the right-minded Western people will accept Islam because they believe it answers their questions about life and cures all problems. Associate Religious Studies Professor at the University of Virginia, Matthew Hedstrom, studies American millennials’ approach to organized religion and spirituality. In an article written by Caroline Newman, the writer asked Hedstrom why the generation born in the early 1980s up to the early 2000s leaves organized religion. Many millennials feel they are spiritual but do not want to belong to a specific religion such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc.
Hedstrom explained that millennials “have a lot of economic anxiety, which is very understandable after the recession. They wonder if they will be able to have the same lifestyle their parents had. They are worried about student loan debt and about getting a job in the current economy. They also want to be a part of something larger, a spiritual belief, perhaps, or a movement to improve the environment or social justice. I see a deep amount of understandable anxiety and a lot of care for the larger world and life’s big questions” (6).
Again, the sun rising from the West refers to the truth and spirituality that Islam represents for all people, not only for the Arab or the Eastern people. Just as the Universe needs the sun to function, the human soul needs religion to cure anxiety through prayer and to become useful in service for others. These issues that Hedstrom described above prove that human beings need spiritual guidance and want to look beyond material or secular things such as flourishing career, profitable business, a large house, luxury car, etc.
The phenomenon described by Hedstrom above is indeed happening in the West but also in other parts of the world. If we reflect on the first two World Wars and ongoing world problems, it is a clear sign that the sun will rise from the West in the twentieth century. American history describes that time as the ‘Roaring Twenties’ when, after the World Wars, amid economic expansion, and the arrival of many new inventions, the world seemed to be tasting prosperity. With the rise of modernism, people forget their true purpose in the Universe. Whether people realize it or not, the fact is that many world events in this Century are the fulfillment of the sign of the Latter Days. God Alone possesses knowledge of when the world is going to end. But people must analyze and reflect upon the sign of the Latter Days so man can use his freedom of conscience to find the truth and comprehend the true purpose of creation.
Islam has foretold the sign of the Latter Days in the Holy Qur’an. The advancement of Islam in the Western hemi- sphere is connected to the Latter Days because when the West advanced and dominated the world, people became materialistic. They are inclined to pursue freedom in the wrong direction, which has caused many problems such as sexual harassment, unfair treatment of women, poverty, violence. Yet as Hedstrom explained above, millennials want to become part of something bigger to improve human life. Deep inside their hearts, people are searching for that light that can guide them because they are tired of this temporary pleasure that causes them anxiety.
The sun will rise from the West also refers to the propagation of Islam in this part of the world. It is in this 20th Cen- tury that people enjoy many advancements such as fast and easy means of communication by a touch of the fingertips. This too had been prophesized in the Holy Qur’an, “And when the people are brought together” (7).
This verse refers to when ways of transportation and communication are advanced and easily available, allowing people to get together easily (8). Look no further, people from different continents can message each other instantly through WhatsApp or a video call, or across the world through social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
As an intelligent living creation, man has a choice whether to absorb the true sunlight that Islam presents or continue to ignore the truth. As Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV (rh), the fourth successor of the Promised Messiah (as), stated, “True pleasure, lasting pleasure, true satisfaction, and contentment can only be acquired by establishing one’s relationship with one’s Creator. That is what man was created for” (9).
1. http://www.angelfire.com/va3/ritas_nativeamerican/the-seven-mayan-prophecies.html (Accessed: February 18, 2020)
2. Question and Answer with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV (rh) in Australia. Sept. 1983. https://www.alislam.org/question-answer/future-of-west ern-society/
5. The Holy Qur’an (73:10). English translation by Hazrat Maulwi Sher Ali.
6. Newman, Caroline. “Q&A: Why Millenials Are Leaving Religion But Embracing Spirituality.” Dec. 14, 2015. UVA Today. https://news.virgin ia.edu/content/qa-why-millennials-are-leaving-religion-embracing-spirituality (Accessed: February 18, 2020)
7. The Holy Qur’an (81:8). English translation by Hazrat Maulwi Sher Ali.
8. Holy Qur’an, Short Commentary, Pg. 1737
9. Question and Answer with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV (rh) in Australia. Sept. 1983. https://www.alislam.org/question-answer/future-of-west ern-society/
Last modified: June 2020