"ECLIPSES AND THE PROMISED MESSIAH"
Placed by the Anti-Ahmadiyya Movement in http://alhafeez.org/rashid on 15th November 1995; revised on 16th July 2000
["Eclipses and the Promised Messiah", by Dr Muhammad Aslam Nasir, was originally included (in March 1994) in a site named "Review of Religions". It now appears (anonymously) at http://www.real-islam.org/eclipse/about_eclipse.html ]
Dr D.L.McNaughton is of British and South
African nationality. He used to be a meteorologist and astronomer at Dubai
International Airport, responsible for answering all queries of an astronomical
nature - and considered to be an authority on that subject in the UAE.
He has published a number of articles in this field - not only in Dubai,
but also in Pakistan and the UK.
In addition to the following article, at our request Dr David examined the occurrence of double-eclipse Ramadans and the relevant statements made by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani. His findings are presented in various other articles included here in Dr Rashid's web-pages - as well as in his own site.
al-Fadl ibn Shadhan reported [on the authority of Ahmad
ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Nasr] this conversation between Tha'laba al-Azdi and
the Imam al-Baqir:
"Son of the Apostle of God", replied Tha'laba, "usually an eclipse of the sun happens at the end of the month, whereas a lunar eclipse occurs in the middle?"
"I know what I have said", affirmed Imam al-Baqir; "these are signs
which have not been witnessed since Adam came down".
In any event, there is absolutely no doubt that there have
been many occasions when a lunar and a solar eclipse have both been witnessed
during Ramadan (McNaughton,
Thus, caution is necessary when attempting to examine whether
or not particular eclipses did in fact occur (or commence) on the 13th
of Ramadan (or on the 14th, or whenever), because of the difficulty in
deciding which Islamic calendar should be utilised.
In any event, if solar eclipses are supposed to be possible on the 27th, then it is necessary to accept that lunar ones will occasionally take place on the 12th of an Islamic month (see URL/DLMcN, 2000, including its Qad27d-file). In other words, the 13th is not the earliest feasible date for lunar eclipses. A more detailed discussion appears in http://www.dlmcn.com/qadfl.html
Dr Muhammad Aslam's article contains another time-misconception
in his claim that all eclipses are confined to one particular Islamic day.
On the contrary, it is by no means impossible for an already eclipsed moon
to rise as the sun sets, having been visible earlier on from countries
further east. Similarly, the sun may set while eclipsed - but continuing
to remain eclipsed and still above the horizon elsewhere. Alternatively,
a solar eclipse observed from west Africa or Europe will often begin before
and end after sunset in Pakistan, for example.
Despite what Dr Muhammad Aslam implies, year to year variations
in the shape of the moon's orbit can be modelled and calculated extremely
well. The Chapront ELP-2000/82 lunar theory provides one of the best routines
presently available. Accurate cross-checks are provided by numerical integration
of gravitational effects from all important Solar System members (carried
out by Myles-Standish and his colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in the USA: read for example Newhall et al., 1983). Results are confirmed
later by laser reflectors placed on the moon's surface by astronauts. It
is true that the moon's long-term orbital deceleration is not known with
100 per cent accuracy - but during the last one or two centuries, eclipse
times computed according to the Chapront algorithm are nevertheless reliable
to within a few seconds.
JOURNAL & BOOK REFERENCES, AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bao-Lin Liu and A.D. Fiala, 1992: Canon of Lunar Eclipses, 1500 BC- AD 3000. Willmann-Bell Inc., Richmond, Virginia.
M. Chapront-Touze and J. Chapront, 1983: The Lunar Ephemeris ELP 2000. Astronomy & Astrophysics 124, pp. 50-62. Improved expressions are given in a later paper, 1988, in Astronomy & Astrophysics 190, p. 346. Their book Lunar Tables and Programs from 4000 B.C. to A.D. 8000 is published by Willmann-Bell Inc., Richmond, Virginia.
Dar-e-Qatni 1, p. 188. This mentions the prophecy by Muhammed
al Baqir ibn 'Ali ibn Husain regarding eclipses preceding appearance of
the Mahdi - narrated by Amar ibn Shamer, quoting Jaber.
The corresponding Shi-ite versions appear in:
Kitab al-Irshad (The Book of Guidance), by Shaykh al-Mufid (d. 1022 AD); translated by I.K.A. Howard (University of Edinburgh), p. 545,
Bihar al-Anwar, Majlisi (d. 1699 AD), vol. 113, p. 161.
Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac, 1992. University Science Books, Mill Valley, California. It contains a chapter on "Calendars" and another on the "... Rotation of the Earth", as well as discussions on Solar System dynamics (including numerical integration of mutual gravitational effects).
D.L. McNaughton, 1996: Eclipses during Ramadan. Hamdard Islamicus (Karachi) XIX(1). Its 'Table 1' shows double-eclipse Ramadans occurring every 22 or 23 Islamic years. A copy appears in Dr Rashid's website, as well as in http://www.dlmcn.com/eclramx.html
D.L. McNaughton, 1997: A Universal Islamic Calendar. Hamdard Islamicus (Karachi) XX(1). An abridged version appears in the 'Islamic Astronomy' section of http://www.dlmcn.com
J. Meeus, 1991: Astronomical Algorithms. Willmann-Bell Inc., Richmond, Virginia. Chapters 45, 47, 48 and 49 discuss the moon's behaviour, including variations in its distance from Earth. Chapter 52 is devoted to eclipses, and chapter 9 to fluctuations in Earth's spin-rate.
J. Meeus and H. Mucke, 1983: Canon of Lunar Eclipses, -2002 to 2526 (2nd edition). Astronomical Office, Vienna.
H. Mucke and J. Meeus 1983: Canon of Solar Eclipses, -2003 to +2526. Astronomical Office, Vienna.
X. Newhall, E.M. Standish and J.G. Williams, 1983: DE 102, a numerically integrated ephemeris of the Moon and planets spanning forty-four centuries. Astronomy & Astrophysics 125, pp.150 et seq.
T. R. von Oppolzer, 1887: Canon der Finsternisse. Imperial Academy
of Science, Vienna. (1962 English edition published by Dover Publications,
Also see Oppolzer's Great Canon of Eclipses by W.H.C. Carton - in Sky & Telescope November 1989, pp. 475-478.
EclipseMaster, SunTracker and MoonTracker are of high quality (enabling eclipses to be examined on a personal computer). They were obtained from Zephyr Services, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
A companion diskette comes with Meeus's Astronomical Algorithms.
You are welcome to write to Dr Rashid, or else contact David directly at DLMcN@yahoo.com
"Flaws in the Ahmadiyya Eclipse Theory"
Link to David's Home Page at:
Islamic Astronomy page:
Link to his Eclipse Section:
Shaddad's Lost Paradise