The coming of a great Divine Reformer in the Latter Days has been predicted in the holy scriptures of various religions. I propose to discuss a very remarkable prophecy made by our lord and master, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, which helps a seeker after truth in recognizing the promised reformer. According to this prophecy, lunar and solar eclipses on the specified dates of the month of Ramazan would serve as Signs of his advent. For more details of this sign check out this article on the Internet:
"The advent of the promised Mahdi and the lunar and solar eclipses" Link: http://www.alislam.org/library/sign.html
The purpose of this article is to bring to light the true facts regarding this Sign and negate the doubts created by Mr. Rashid Ali, of the Anti-Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam on on his web page.
Hazrat Ali bin Umar Albaghdadi Ad-Darqutni, an eminent authority on Hadees, who lived from 918 to 995 of Christian Era (306 to 385 Hijri), had recorded of the following Hadees narrated by Hazrat Imam Baqar Muhammad bin Ali, son of Hazrat Imam Zainul Abedeen (may Allah have mercy on them):
"For our Mahdi, there are two signs. Since the birth of Universe, these events have never taken place. Those two signs are that there will be Lunar Eclipse on the first night of Ramadhan and Solar Eclipse in the middle of Ramadhan." (Dar-e-Qatni, vol 1 p.188)
(As translated and presented by Mr. Rashid Ali in his article Shaddad's Lost Paradise.)
The hadith is recorded by Hazrat Ali bin Umar Albaghdadi Ad-Darqutni in Sunan Darqutni, Kitabul eidain, Chapter: salat-ul-kasoof-ul khasoof wa haitahuma.
These Signs are mentioned in the collections of Hadees of both Sunni and Shia sects. Eminent Muslim scholars have been quoting these Signs in their books. This prophecy is recorded in several scholarly texts, some of them are mentioned below:
1. Fatawa Hadisiya, Allama Sheikh Ahmad Shahabuddin Ibn Hijrul Haismi.
3. Beharul Anwar
4. Hejajul Kirama by Nawab Siddeeq Hassan Khan.
5. Maktoobaat-e-Imam Rabbani Mujaddid Alf-e-Sani
6. Qiyamat Nama Farsi by Hazrat Shah Rafeeuddin Muhaddis of Delhi.
7. Aqaedul Islam by Maulana Abdul Haq Muhaddis of Delhi.
8. Iqtirabus Saa't by Nawab Sideeq Hassan Khan.
9. Ahwalul Akhirat by Hafiz Muhammad of Lakhoke.
Only the name of a very few books/authors are mentioned here for brevity. For complete reference with original words check out an Urdu thesis on the same topic online. It's chapter no. 8 contains 22 references from the Islamic books of the different sects of Islam.
Doubts about the Sign
Many doubts have been created in the simple minds of people ragarding this sign. The aim of this article is to enlighten the respected reader with the true facts.
The first doubt which has been created by Mr. Rashid Ali, in the first part of this article, is:
"The tradition mentioned above is a quotation of Imam Mohammed al Baqir bin 'Ali and not the Hadith of Holy Prophet Mohammed SAAW."
1. Imam Dar-e-Qatni has written this so-called quotation as Hadith in his book. Why?
2. This was a tradition of Ahl-e-Bait that they, because of their own personality and character, did not deem it necessary to mention all the narrators of the tradition till the Holy Prophet (pbuh). This is why there are hundreds of Ahadith published by the Shias that they do not contain the chain of narrators. Nor do they contain the words that "Holy Prophet (pbuh) said this".
3. If this was not the Hadeeth then why have Islamic scholars have been mentioning it since ancient times in their books as Hadeeth?
In Rashid Ali's article he writes:
"For the last several centuries, Islamic Scholars of Hadiths (muhadditheens) have always maintained that the two narrators, 'Amr and Jabir, of this tradition are known to be liars. This tradition is therefore not to be relied upon." 
1. If it was so then why did Imam Abul Hassan Dar Qutni record it in his book?
2. Secondly, which Islamic Scholar has doubted its validity and in what reference?
3. Why did so many Islamic Scholar not know of such thing, and mention it in their books as a valid and authentic Hadith. Refer to chapter 8 of Khasoof-o-Kasoof ka nishan (Urdu).
4. When the prophecy contained in this Hadeeth has been fulfilled then how can one now doubt its authenticity? When the truth has become clear by the fulfillment of the prophecy itself!
5. If this principle is not correct, then how can you accept the prophecies mentioned in the Bible (which have been fulfilled in the self of Holy Prophet) When there is no proof of the authenticity of those prophecies (as you believe that not everything found in Bible today is the word of God)
6. Now there is no need for anyone to tell us whether this is Hadith or not as the God Alimghty Himself has given His verdict by fulfilling the Sign!
7. If you think that these are not the words of the Holy Prophet, which means that these are the words of a liar, then you should take a baiat of that person, whom you think is the originator of these words, whose prophecy has become true now! But if you have any respect for the Holy Prophet (pbuh) you can not attribute these words to any person other than Holy Prophet (pbuh) whose truth has become clear now with the fulfillment of this prophecy like day light!
Part 2 of this SHADDAD's LOST PARADISE only contains quotations from the books of the Promised Messiah (as). Nothing has been said about this heavenly Sign. Insha'Allah in another article, I'll expose a few more lies of Mr. Rashid Ali, that he has written in part 2 of his article.
Part 3 of SHADDAD's LOST PARADISE contains this quotation by the Promised Messiah (as), presumably translated by Rashid Ali:
"This sign of (Double Eclipse Ramadhan) has not been given to any claimant, whether true or false, only given to Promised Mahdi. If these Cruel Molvis can prove the occurrence of Double Eclipse in the life of some other claimant, then I will no doubt become a liar." (Roohani Khazain vol 11 p.332)
And after that Mr. Rashid quotes a list of claiments. But he completely failed to show a claiment of Mahdi for whom this heavenly sign was shown.
The challenge of the Imam Mahdi (peace be upon him)
The Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, also gave a challenge with a reward of one thousand rupees to any one who could show that such a Sign had occurred. He stated as follows:
"Are you not afraid to deny the Hadees of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, even though its truth has become as manifest as the bright sun? Can you present a Sign like this in any age in the past. Do you read in any book that some person claimed to be from Almighty God and then in his time in Ramazan, the lunar and solar eclipses occurred as you have now seen? If you are aware then relate it and you will get one thousand rupees as a reward if you can show. So prove it and take this reward and I make Almighty God a witnesses. And if you cannot prove, and you will never be able to prove, then guard against the Fire which is prepared for those who create disorder." (Nooral Haq Part II)
Part 4 of SHADDAD's LOST PARADISE contains some very ambiguos statements. The author is said to be Dr David L McNaughton. There are two points worth mentioning.
Either Dr. David L McNaughton or Mr. Rashid Ali writes:
"According to many accounts, when Imam Muhammed al Baqir made his prophecy, one of his companions suggested that he might have inadvertently reversed the order of the two eclipses. However, the Imam replied that he had not made a mistake."
But he fails to present any such accounts.
13th and 28th
As far as the dates being 13th (as the first of the Ramazan in terms of Moon eclipses) and 28th (as the middle of the Ramazan in terms of Sun eclipses) is concerned here are a few points to be noted:
1. The eclipse of Moon can only occur on 13th, 14th, and 15th of lunar month, and Sun can only eclipse on the 27th, 28th, and 29th of the lunar month. This is an established scientific evidence. Because these are the only days when the position of the Sun, Moon and Earth is such that an eclipse can occur.
2. An eclipse of Moon can only occur when the Moon is in opposition i.e. at the time of Full Moon. If it has to occur on the 1st of the lunar month, it will have to travel from one side of the earth to the other, that is it will have to travel the distance of 15 days in a day, which is not only against the simple common sense and science (as with this speed it will lose its orbit) also against the verdict of the Holy Quran: (36: 37-41)
3. If it has to occur on the first night of the lunar month, then who is going to see it? The moon itself i.e. the crescent, is merely visible, and if it is eclipsed who can see it? These Maulvis themselves can not see the crescent, and in Pakistan there are two or even three Eids in the same area of Peshawar because of different sightings of the Moon, how can they see the eclipse? And remember the Holy Prophet has called these eclipses "Signs". If nobody can see it, how can they become signs? Therefore, it is necessary that the eclipse occur on the first night of the eclipse dates, which the science has proved now to be 13th!
4. These dates have also been accepted by other Islamic scholars before the advent of the Imam Mahdi (as):
6. These people themselves use the word Halal for the moon of the first night. That is why e.g. in Pakistan for sighting of the moon they have an organization called rooyat-e-Halal committee.
Dr David L McNaughton writes in SHADDAD's LOST PARADISE:
"However, there is absolutely no doubt that there have been many occasions when a lunar and a solar eclipse have both been witnessed during Ramadan"
The objection has been raised that lunar and solar eclipses have occurred in the month of Ramazan several times and hence these could not be a reasonable criterion for the recognition of a Divine Messenger. It is true that, both eclipses have occurred in the same month of Ramazan many times but it is important to note that the Hadees makes mention of specific dates and the presence of the claimant is a vital part of the prophecy. The words "which has never appeared before since the creation of the heavens and the earth" used in the Hadees clearly show that the prophecy is highly significant.
Furthermore, the presence of the claimant is a necessary condition for the fulfillment of the prophecy. The words of the Hadees "our Mahdi" make it clear that this Sign is for the benefit of the Mahdi. Mere occurrence of the eclipses without the claimant are of no significance.
The words "which has never appeared before since the creation of the heavens and the earth" in the Hadees, imply that such a sign never occurred before. They do not imply that such eclipses never occurred before. The Promised Messiah (as), said:
"We are not concerned with how often solar and lunar eclipses have occurred in the month of Ramazan from the beginning of the world till today. Our aim is only to mention that from the time man has appeared in this world, solar and lunar eclipses have occurred as Signs only in my age for me. Prior to me, no one had this circumstances that on one hand he claimed to be Mahdi Mauood (The Promised Reformer) and on the other, in the month of Ramazan, on the appointed dates, lunar and solar eclipses occurred and he declared the eclipses as signs in his favour. The Hadees of Darqutni does not say at all that solar and lunar eclipses did not occur ever before, but it does clearly say that such eclipses never occurred earlier as Signs, because the word "lum takuna" is used which denotes feminine gender; this implies that such a Sign was never manifested before. If it was meant that such eclipses never occurred before "lum yakuna" which denotes masculine gender was needed and not "lum takuna" which denoted feminine gender. It is clear from this that the reference is to the two signs because signs are of feminine gender. Hence if anybody thinks that many times lunar and solar eclipse have occurred, it is his responsibility to show the claimant to Mahdi who declared the solar and lunar eclipses as his sign and this proof should be certain and conclusive and this can only happen if a book of the claimant is produced who claimed to be Mahdi Ma'hood and had written that the lunar and solar eclipses which occurred in Ramazan on the dates specified in Darqutni are the Signs of my truth. In short we are not concerned with the mere occurrence of solar and lunar eclipses even if they had been thousands of times. As a Sign this has happened at the time of a claimant only once and the Hadees has proved its authenticity and truth through its fulfillment at the time of the claimant to Mahdi." (Chashma-e-Marifat, p. 315)
May Allah guide us to the right path. Ameen.
For those interested in the references of scholars and mystics please visit this link http://www.alislam.org/urdu/maqala/chap8-1.php
These references are in Urdu.