The Wikipedia page of the Qur'an and Miracles states

Some Muslims believe that the Qur'an predicted many events years before they happened. They argue that such prophecies are proof of the divine origin of Qur'an.

For example, Muslims say that the Qur'an predicted the eventual defeat of the Persians by the Romans at the Battle of Issus (622). At the Battle of Antioch in 613 AD, the Persians defeated the Romans and took control over important Byzantine territories expanding into Syria, Jerusalem, Armenia, and Egypt. A few years after the severe defeat of the Byzantine armies by the Persians, this verse was revealed in the Qur'an, "The Romans have been defeated. In a land close by; but they will soon be victorious-Within a few years. Allah's is the command before and after; and on that day the believers shall rejoice." [Quran 30:2-4] In 622 AD at the Battle of Issus, the Romans successfully defeated the Persians, confirming the prophecy in the Quran.

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    I suspect this definition of postdiction may be useful to the answerer.
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 28, 2013 at 2:58
  • @Oddthinking Fine tuning will be needed " Muslims believe that the Quran was verbally revealed from God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel (Jibril), gradually over a period of approximately 23 years, beginning on 22 December 609 CE, when Muhammad was 40, and concluding in 632 CE, the year of his death" :) Dec 28, 2013 at 3:03
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    Seems like that divides the question up into two parts: 1) Was that particular verse written before or after the Battle of Issus? 2) If the former, what was the strategic situation at the time of the prediction? After all, we're not crediting Nate Silver with divinely inspired prophetic ability... Dec 28, 2013 at 13:12
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    @Shadur The claim is simply that prediction occurred, not divinely inspired prophetic ability. Maybe they just had a good sense of the short-term shifts in military power.
    – user5582
    Dec 28, 2013 at 17:52

2 Answers 2


There are several translations of that line (http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje/religious-texts/quran/verses/030-qmt.php#030.2-4)

  • but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious
  • and they, after their defeat will be victorious
  • and they, after being vanquished, shall overcome

This line predicts a Roman victory, soon, or even more broadly, after.

Thus, this line would have been accurate had the Romans been victorious in any battle in the years following its revelation.

The line did not predict this specific victory. It predicted a victory. There are many ways that history could have unfolded that would be considered consistent with this prediction.

Reading more specificity into a prediction than it literally contains is an example of post-diction.

  • answering-islam.org/Shamoun/false_prophecies.htm (which I presume is biased and may be false) alleges that it was not a prediction: a) because "soon" was supposed to mean "in 3 to 9 years"; and b) because the original script was written without vowels, therefore the reader couldn't tell whether the meaning was "they shall defeat" or "they shall be defeated".
    – ChrisW
    Dec 28, 2013 at 19:19
  • @ChrisW I could include that. I guess I'd then say "Even if you take these translations as accurate... (and then continue with my current answer)"
    – user5582
    Dec 28, 2013 at 19:50
  • I don't know what to do with it. I could post it as a competing answer: but I know nothing about the subject and it could be blatantly wrong. It might be better as part of the question (as evidence of some skepticism about the theory that it is a prediction at all), but the question is already asked, answered, and accepted.
    – ChrisW
    Dec 28, 2013 at 21:53
  • @ChrisW The correct meaning was known to the Sahaba. They wrote it down to make it easier to remember and the correct meaning was known to them. Mar 23, 2017 at 11:23

The challenge was that the victory will be 3 to 9 years later. The word in English "soon" doesn't have this meaning but in Arabic it does بِضْعِ سِنِينَ This is a fact that is approved by Arabic linguistics. (I don't think in English there is one word that means "from 3 to 9").

The victory of the Romans happened nine years later in the issus battle:


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    Do you have a reference to back up this interpretation of the Arabic word for "soon"? Aug 8, 2016 at 14:09
  • @iamnotmaynard would an Arabic reference be fine?
    – Mohammad
    Aug 9, 2016 at 9:01
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    Some says it's 14 years latter. Some says it's 9 years latter. Also it's not exactly clear cut. It's not a victory. The persian having problem to unite it's province pretty much offer palestine to Rome.
    – user4951
    May 21, 2018 at 10:25
  • The Arabic word ضْعِ سِنِينَ indeed means 3-9 years (as there is very famous story of Abubakr(RA) betting with Ubi bin Khulif and once Prophet Muhammad(Peace be upon him) heard it, he asked Abubakr(RA) to increase camels to 100 (from 10) and years to 10 (from 5) since word is ضْعِ سِنِينَ (this same word has also been used for the imprisonment of Prophet Yusuf(AS)) Jul 6, 2018 at 7:11
  • And Ubay bin Khulif did pay back the 100 camels as its a pretty famous story from Arab's history. Though betting had been declared Haram by then, so all those camels were given away in the charity! Jul 6, 2018 at 7:12

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