The Bullet that Started World War I: A Sign of the Existence of God

Uzair Ahmed, Czech Republic
©Shutterstock

"O Europe! You are not safe! And O Asia! Neither are you secure! And O the dwellers of Islands! No artificial ‘God’ will come to your aid. I see cities falling and habitations in ruin. That One and Unique God remained silent for a long time. Abominations were committed before His eyes and still He remained silent. But now He shall reveal His countenance in an awe-striking manner." [1]– The Promised Messiah and Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as)

 Lying in the small Bohemian town of Benešov, 40 kilometers southeast of Prague, is a 13th century castle called Konopiště. This beautiful Baroque-style chateau was once home to the heir of the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination in 1914 is considered to be the singular event that triggered World War I. Housed in this castle is the very bullet that was used in the assassination that rattled the world overnight. 

It might be noted as peculiar that the Archduke preferred this remote castle in the Czech lands to his official imperial residence in Vienna. His wife, Sophie von Hohenberg, was a Czech aristocrat. Although Sophie came from nobility, she did not descend from a reigning dynasty of Europe, so their marriage was deemed morganatic. Sophie often suffered inferior treatment on account of her lacking royal status. In larger gatherings with the imperial family, she would be forced to stand down the line, separated from her husband. Thus, the couple elected to reside in Konopiště, where they peacefully raised their four children. 

Walking through this castle, on a tour of the private apartments of the family of Franz Ferdinand, one takes in the elegant amenities that were available to them in the early 1900s. Spacious rooms adorned with luxurious furniture, boasting one of Europe’s largest collections of hunting trophies, with antlers of various animals spanning entire walls. Looking over the family portraits that hang on the quiet walls, however, one is struck with dismay at the suddenness with which all of these luxuries were left abandoned. As the family went about their lives in this princely estate, they were blissfully unaware that far off in India, a man had received a revelation regarding an impending global calamity of such uniquely unprecedented proportions, that every majestic comfort that surrounded them would become as though obsolete. 

Konopiste Castle. Czech Republic; ©Shutterstock

A Messianic Warning 

In 1891, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) of Qadian, India, claimed to be the Promised Messiah, whose advent was foretold by the scriptures of every major religion of the world. The founder of Islam, the Holy Prophet (sa), prophesied that in the latter days, when the entire world would be steeped in strife, conflict, and immorality, God would send the Messiah, who would be the metaphorical second coming of Jesus (as). 

In his capacity as the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) worked tirelessly to re-establish the true Islamic principles and religious values in the world. In an era where religion was viewed as a mere ritual, and God was considered a distant, abstract idea, the Promised Messiah (as) emphatically exclaimed to the world that God still speaks. God provides man the means to fulfill his natural yearning to search for the Creator by speaking to mankind directly, through the acceptance of prayers, dreams, and visions. 

 As a prophet of God, the Promised Messiah (as) received abundant revelations. Many of these pertained to future events, thus serving as signs of his truthfulness. He published these prophecies to warn the world of the dangers of the consequences of their actions. The world’s dismissal of this prophetic warning, marked by unrelenting injustice and perpetual immorality, ultimately made mankind the recipients of God’s wrath. 

The Promised Messiah & Imam Mahdi, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) of Qadian

The Prophetic Poem of April 15th, 1905 

 One of the greatest objections atheists raise against prophecies is that they are too vague and can be retrospectively applied to any event. Although revelation can be of various natures, certain prophecies revealed to prophets of God contain such clear and specific elements that their divine origin cannot be denied by an unbiased examiner. The prophetic words of the Promised Messiah (as) in 1905 contain such mighty insights that their veracity becomes apparent to any sincere and rational seeker of truth. 

 These divinely revealed details were written in a prophetic poem comprising 12 couplets, published in the fifth part of his magnum opus Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya  [2]: 

 A Sign will appear some days hence (today is April 15, 1905), 

Which shall overwhelm the countryside, the cities, and the meadows 

 People will be seized with a revolution by the divine wrath 

So suddenly that a naked one will have no time to secure his clothing 

 All of a sudden, with a severe calamity (zalzalah lit. earthquake), all will be shaken up— 

Be they humans, trees, mountains, or seas. 

 In the twinkling of an eye, the earth will be turned upside down; 

Streams of blood shall flow like the flowing of a channel. 

 Those whose night garments were white as jasmine, 

Will wake up in the morning as if clad in red, like the poplar tree. 

 Men and animals will go out of their minds; 

All the pigeons and nightingales will forget their songs. 

 That hour will bear heavily upon every traveler, 

And those who are on a journey will lose their way in a fit of forgetfulness. 

 The flowing waters of mountain streams 

Will run red, like red wine, with the blood of the dead. 

 Men, high and low, will be consumed with fear; 

And the Tsar himself will, at that hour, be in a pitiable state. 

 That divine Sign will be a specimen of terror; 

Heaven will attack with a drawn dagger 

 Hasten not to deny this—O ignorant fool!— 

For my truthfulness depends entirely on the fulfilment of this sign 

 This is a prophecy based on the revelation of God and will surely be fulfilled; 

Wait a while, then, in righteousness and steadfastness 

 Do not imagine that all your ill thinking will be forgiven; 

It is a debt that will be repaid to you in full. 

These couplets contain such astonishing details that a careful study of any of these points opens up vast windows of insight into how accurately this prophecy was fulfilled during the events of World War I. 

For example, the specific mention of how the plight of the Tsar of Russia would be particularly pitiable, is a statement that leaves one speechless: 

‘And the Tsar himself will, at that hour, be in a pitiable state.’ 

 At the time of this prophecy in 1905, Nicholas II, the Tsar of Russia, was the richest man alive, with an estimated wealth of $300 billion. [3] Is it conceivable for it to be within human power to predict that the world’s richest man (and certainly among the most powerful) would shortly fall into utter ruin as a result of a global calamity? Such knowledge of the unseen can only come from God Himself. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has published comprehensive analyses of the various points of this prophecy. [4] For the sake of this discussion, however, only two will be briefly mentioned. 

Unexpected Onset of World War I 

 A clearly stated element of this prophecy is the suddenness with which the calamity would begin: 

‘All of a sudden, with a severe calamity, all will be shaken up’

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, during their visit to Sarajevo, was the singular spark that ignited World War I. This assassination led to the cataclysmic domino effect that culminated in the onset of worldwide warfare. The Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, which was met with the Russian response of army mobilization. As a result of the subsequent chain of events, other world powers joined the conflict through their respective alliances, including France, Germany, and Britain. 

 The specificity with which this unique and sudden geopolitical phenomenon is mentioned in the prophecy is beyond human power. This was in stark contrast to the usual, gradual ways that large-scale wars build up. Just as no one could foresee the pitiable downfall of the richest man of the time, so did the world consider the prospect of a world war literally impossible. A best-selling book published in 1910, The Great Illusion, famously argued that the extent of the world’s economic interdependence virtually guaranteed that the risk of major wars had been removed from the world. Astonishingly, this same belief was held even in the months preceding World War 1, when the Economist published an editorial in 1913 titled, "War Becomes Impossible in Civilized World.". [5] 

 Thus, it should be of particular significance to the Czech people that the singular piece of metal that manifested the words of this Divine warning is found in the Czech lands today. However, that is not the sole connection of this nation to this pivotal event. Leopold Lojka, the chauffeur of Franz Ferdinand’s vehicle, and the one who made the unfortunate wrong turn in Sarajevo leading to the assassination, was Czech as well. Furthermore, the Bosnian-Serb assassin who fired this bullet, Gavrilo Princip, was later imprisoned in the Bohemian city of Terezin, where he passed away from tuberculosis in 1918. 

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Another point clearly elucidated in the prophecy is the incredible impact that the calamity would have on travelers. 

 ‘That hour will bear heavily upon every traveller, 

And those who are on a journey will lose their way in a fit of forgetfulness.’

 Many travellers became helplessly stranded in enemy territory in ways that simply could never have been imagined before the war, including modern day Czech lands. Referring to the famous Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary, Dr. Ekaterina Rogatchevskaia, Lead East European Curator (Russian Studies) at the British Library, writes of the totally unpredictable and uniquely distressing predicament of tourists in those horrific days: 

"In summer 1914, many foreigners, Russians included, holidayed in spa towns in Germany and Austria, for example, in Carlsbad (now Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic), and were detained there after war broke out. The diaries of these detainees truly reflect the mood of people who had to spend several months in an enemy country in a hostile environment and under constant surveillance by the Austrian police. Many of them had no money, as they had not planned to overstay their holiday and those who had the means could not get cash as their accounts had been frozen. Although this type of detention was not real imprisonment, foreigners were not allowed to move about freely, and it eventually became difficult for them to rent accommodation not only because they could not pay, but also because of the growing xenophobia. In some places, the police prohibited the local population from renting out rooms to citizens of the enemy states, and in some cases, people would get rid of foreign tenants before police warnings. The majority of people who could not find any suitable occupation felt lost and demoralised." [6] 

 The Impending Danger of World War III 

The Promised Messiah (as) only felt compelled to convey these words of warning to the world on account of his deep and utter compassion for mankind. The tender heart of a prophet overflows with love for mankind, as if they are his own offspring. He wrote: 

"Were I not forced to disclose all this out of my deep sympathy for my fellow beings I would not have mentioned it.… Hearken! I have warned you." [7] 

 Alas, the world dismissed his warnings, and did not avail the chance to avert this disaster through prayer and good deeds. The objective of writing this is to not only highlight the truth of the phenomenon of revelation, but to also warn the world to not commit the same mistakes as our ancestors. 

Today, the Fifth Caliph of the Promised Messiah (as), His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) is the worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Since his election to this lifelong office in 2003, he has undertaken every effort to warn the world of the consequences of their actions. At his keynote addresses at world legislatures, such as in the US, Canada, UK, or the EU, His Holiness has warned world leaders that continued global injustices will incite God’s wrath, which will befall mankind in the form of World War III, unless they cease and repent. 

The Fifth Caliph and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba)

Some politicians and analysts initially regarded these concerns of His Holiness (aba) as pessimistic. However, in recent years, many have begun to realize that the nature of this danger is real. The Czech military intelligence report for 2019 warns of increasing tensions between the superpowers of the world, that could lead to World War III. [8] The report concludes, in fact, that the world has already entered the first stage of this global conflict. The unfortunate truth is that many parts of the world have been deprived of true spirituality for such a long time that they no longer even consider the possibility of revelation to be true. 

Perhaps this is particularly true for the Czech Republic, a country often noted as the most atheistic European nation. However, this was the very purpose of the advent of the Promised Messiah (as), to demonstrate to the world that God certainly still speaks. Thus, it was inevitable that the impact of his prophetic words would be manifested even in the Czech lands, as Islam is a universal religion, and its Messiah was sent for the whole world. It is imperative that his words, as well as the words of his current successor, be carefully reflected upon, so that our hearts can become recipients of the divine light that is the means for true salvation. 

About the Author:Uzair Ahmed is a medical student in the Czech Republic, where he also serves as the National Secretary of Outreach for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as well as national President of the Youth branch. He is an official member of team'Existence Project'.

Endnotes   
  1. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), Haqiqatul-Wahi, Englishedition, p. 328.
  2. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, part 5, English edition, pp. 217-219.
  3. “Nicholas II of Russia Net Worth,” Celebrity Net Worth, accessed January 25, 2021, http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-businessmen/richest-billionaires/nicholas-ii-russia-net-worth/.“
  4. Bilal Tahir “World War One – Centenary of the Fulfilment of a Great Warning,” The Review of Religions, accessed January 25, 2021
  5. Anatole, Kaletsky “World War One: First war was impossible, the nine vitable,” Reuters, accessed February 3rd, 2021
  6. Ekaterina Rogatchevskaia “Witnessing and Remembering Russia’s War,” The British Library, accessed January 25, 2021, http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/witnessing-and-remembering-russias-war.
  7. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), “Ishtihar al-Indhar,” Al-Hakam, Vol. 9, No. 12, April 8, 1905, 2; The Review of Religions, April 1905, pp. 159-161.
  8. “Czech Intelligence Predicts Worldwide Military Conflict,” Prague Morning, accessed January 25, 2021, https://www.praguemorning.cz/czech-intelligence-predicts-worldwide-military-conflict/