RMS Titanic sank in the Atlantic on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. Image Credit: GN Archive

Have you been scared, hours before a tragic incident occurred? Can our instinct help us avoid tragedies or disasters? Sometimes we worry suddenly about someone or something important to us without knowing why we have this feeling. This is called “premonition”.

Premonition is important as it could be a warning sign of something terrible that could affect countries. When someone knows about an incident that is about to happen through dreams, we call it “pre-perception” which usually happens days or even hours before the event.

If we think about past events, we will find that every incident was predicted in a TV interview, a book or television series. For example, the sinking of the RMS Titanic, which hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic on April 14, 1912, was predicted in 1898 in a fictional novel called The Wreck of the Titan by Morgan Robinson. He described it in detail — the location and the number of passengers.

Disasters written in the books

The investigation into the sinking said that the survivors and those who had drowned had described a foreboding before the voyage. A British journalist, William Thomas Stead, who was nominated for Nobel prize, recalls having strange feelings since an early age, that he was going to drown in the middle of the ocean. He predicted this in one of his published articles. As for the survivors, the strange feeling of discomfort before travelling did not stop them from embarking on the voyage. Others had strange dreams about the destiny of the ship and decided to cancel their bookings.

This incident reminds us of what we are facing today with COVID-19. It had been predicted by Lebanese psychic and astrologer Layla Abdel Latif in a television interview in 2019 on her forecast for 2020. She said there would be a pandemic virus that will affect the human respiratory system. This prediction was also published in a book by an American author titled, End of days: Prediction and Prophecies by Sylvia Browne in 2008. And in 1981 a novel called, Eye of darkness by Dean Koontz also dwelt on the virus.

Premonition and predictions were treated seriously in the United States and the United Kingdom since the British government ignored premonitions like the “Abervan” incident.

- Dr Noura S. Al Mazrouei, writer

The famous American cartoon TV show, The Simpsons mentioned the same in 1989 in one of its episodes, which contained several predictions. One episode said the spread of a virus in America that would come through trading cargo from China to New York. In 2011, a film called Contagion addressed the idea of a virus that would come to the US from China. Baba Vanga, a Bulgarian fortune-teller, predicted that a virus would spread across the world in 2020.

In general, premonition and predictions were treated seriously in the United States and the United Kingdom since the British government ignored premonitions like the “Abervan” incident. Now both countries have established offices to field premonition calls.

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People are divided on the premonition phenomenon. Some believe it, while others deny the possibility for want of concrete scientific proof.

This phenomenon deserves to be studied and understood. However, premonitions can be dangerous if people start to rely on them on a broader scale. The prediction incidents are usually stored in the subconscious mind. Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said, “who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment should speak good or remain silent”, and thus we should pay attention to our words and actions as they can define our future. Predicting the future can help build it.

— Dr Noura S. Al Mazrouei is a writer, academic and artist