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In the Name of God بسم الله
Qa'im

Ahl Al-Bayt In Judeo-Christian Literature

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Continued.

Christian scholars and academics have discussed the leadership of the Jerusalem Church in great detail. The "pillars of the Church", meaning its leaders, were identified as Simon Peter (Sham`un as-Safa), James the Just, and John (Galatians 2:9). The main competitor to their authority was Paul of Tarsus, a Greek Israelite Pharisee who persecuted Christians, and then converted to Christianity after experiencing a vision of Jesus. After this, he proclaimed himself to be an "apostle", and he asserts his authority in Galatians 1:1, signing his name as "Paul, an apostle - sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father". In this letter, he challenges the authority of the pillars by calling himself a real apostle, chosen by God through divine revelation, making him equal or superior to the Jerusalem Church. Paul had never met Jesus, but he preached about his life-changing experience, the prophecies foretelling Jesus in the Old Testament, the lordship and sonship of Jesus, that the crucifixion absolved the sins of the world and the applicability of the Law, and that the gentiles should be preached to. As a result of his somewhat liberal views, Paul became very successful among gentiles and Hellenized Jews in Asia Minor, until his movement eventually overshadowed the apostolic Church.

Paul was cursed in Shi`a hadith literature:

حدثني أبي عن الحسين بن سعيد عن بعض رجاله عن أبي عبد الله ع قال ما بعث الله نبيا إلا و في أمته شيطانان يؤذيانه و يضلان الناس بعده فأما صاحبا نوح فقنطيفوص [فغنطيغوص‏] و خرام، و أما صاحبا إبراهيم فمكثل [مكيل‏] و رزام، و أما صاحبا موسى فالسامري و مرعقيبا [مرعتيبا] و أما صاحبا عيسى فبولس [يرليس يرليش‏] و مريتون [مريبون‏] و أما صاحبا محمد (ص) فحبتر [جبتر] و زريق [زلام‏

Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq [a] said, "Allah did not send a prophet except that his nation had two devils that harmed him and misguided the people after him. As for the two of Noah, they are Qantayfoos and Kharam. As for the two of Abraham, they are Makthal and Razam. As for the two of Moses, they are the Samiri and Mar`aqeeba. As for the two of Jesus, they are Paul and Maritun. As for the two of Muhammad, they are Hibtar and Zurayq.(Tafsir al-Qummi)

 

ما الخمسة فقابيل الذي قتل هابيل ونمرود الذي حاج إبراهيم في ربه قال أنا احيي واميت وفرعون الذي قال أنا ربكم الاعلى ويهودا الذي هود اليهود وبولس الذي نصر النصارى ومن هذه الامة إعرابيان.

From Imam al-Baqir [a], "As for the five, they are (1) Kane, who killed Abel, (2) Nimrod, who challenged Abraham regarding his Lord, saying 'I give life and I give death', (3) Pharaoh, who said 'I am your Highest Lord', (4) a Jew who Judaized the Jews, (5) Paul, who Christianized the Christians, (6-7) And from this Nation, two bedouins (Abu Bakr and `Umar)." "(Thawab al-A`mal)

 

In Galatians, Paul alludes that the pillars of Jerusalem Church had preached "a different Gospel" (Galatians 1:6). This is to be understood that Paul had a different, unique understanding of Christ and his teachings that was distinct from the apostles. The two movements were competing for Galatia. Paul's message succeeded among most gentiles, because his message did not require them to follow any dietary or purity laws or rituals. His theology was also perhaps most similar to what the pagans were familiar with in Greco-Roman god and hero mythology. Most of the New Testament would be written by Paul and his adherents in Greek. Although the New Testament tries to harmonize between the Jerusalem Church and Paul, it does record the contention between the two movements, giving a Pauline side of the story and brushing over most of the apostles.

The Book of Acts covers this contention in some detail. Part of the book (the "we document") was written by Luke, a student of Paul. The rest was probably written by later author(s). One immediate and direct disagreement between the two communities was their view on the Law. The Jerusalem movement believed that gentiles had to follow the Mosaic Law to become followers of Jesus, while the Pauline movement believed that the Law had been abrogated. In chapter 15, this debate spreads to Antioch, and so representatives from each movement were called to Jerusalem to discuss the issue with Peter and James. The two ruled that the gentiles would not need to fully adopt the Law, but that they would need to adopt only a part of the Law:

James said: “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” (Acts 15:19-21)

What's interesting is that James did not throw away the entire Law, nor demand a full subservience to the whole Law. This needs to be put into perspective. These more "universal" laws, which deal with basic monotheism, morality, and sanitation, can similarly be found in Surat al-Ma'ida:

"Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah, and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eaten, except what you [are able to] slaughter [before its death], and those which are sacrificed on stone altars, and [prohibited is] that you seek decision through divining arrows. That is grave disobedience. This day those who disbelieve have despaired of [defeating] your religion; so fear them not, but fear Me. This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. But whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin - then indeed, is Forgiving and Merciful. (5:3)

Islam is a primordial system. Since both Jesus' movement and the final Muhammadan covenant were a universal new beginning, it would make sense that some of the specific laws that were associated with Jews would be lifted. According to Islamic tradition, some Jewish laws were specific to their time and place, while the laws of the Prophet Muhammad would be for all people everywhere.

In the Qur'an, Jesus says, "And [I have come] to confirm the truth of whatever there still remains of the Torah, and to make Lawful unto you some of the things which [aforetime] were forbidden to you. And I have come unto you with a message from your Sustainer; remain, then, conscious of God, and pay heed unto me." (3:50)

So Jesus' message was one that was fundamentally easier than Moses', but he still forbade carrion and foods sacrificed to idols. The apostles knew Jesus best, and were the best indicators to his message. However, Paul's adherents would still eat these meats regardless.

There is also a hadith that notes that Jesus' law superseded the Mosaic law:

جَاءَ الْمَسِيحُ ع بِالْإِنْجِيلِ وَ بِعَزِيمَةِ تَرْكِ شَرِيعَةِ مُوسَى وَ مِنْهَاجِهِ فَكُلُّ نَبِيٍّ جَاءَ بَعْدَ الْمَسِيحِ أَخَذَ بِشَرِيعَتِهِ وَ مِنْهَاجِهِ

Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq [a] said, "The Messiah [a] came with the Gospel and with determination. He abandoned the Law of Moses and his way. Every prophet that came after the Messiah grasped his Law and his way." (al-Kafi)

Thus, every hujja that came after Jesus and before the Prophet grasped the Law of Jesus; just as every hujja that came after Moses and before Jesus grasped the Torah. While a prophet or messenger could bring a book that complemented the Torah, no prophet could have abrogated it at all until Jesus.

Another feature of Jesus' teaching was spiritual reform. Moses came at a time when the Israelites were slaves stripped of the knowledge of their God and their religion, so Moses' mission was to build a nation out of them. Jesus, however, came in an era where many Jews had been following the letter of the law, but not its spirit. People would pray in public to receive the attention and praise of others, and so Jesus encouraged his followers to pray behind closed doors (Matthew 6:6) He was concerned with purifying the intentions of people.

A similar trend is found in our hadith:

قال: إن موسى نبي الله (عليه السلام) أمركم أن لا تزنوا وأنا آمركم أن لا تحدثوا أنفسكم بالزنا فضلا عن أن تزنوا، فإن من حدث نفسه بالزنا كان كمن أوقد في بيت مزوق فأفسد التزاويق الدخان وإن لم يحترق البيت

Jesus said, "Moses, the prophet of Allah, commanded you to not fornicate, whereas I command you to not have thoughts of fornication in your mind, in addition to not fornicating. For one who has thoughts of fornication in his mind is like on who kindles a fire in a decorated house. The smoke ruins the decorations, even if the house does not burn." (al-Kafi)

Not only should one refrain from sin, but one should refrain from even coming close to the sin. "And do not come near to adultery, it is a shameful deed and an evil, and opening the road to other evils." (17:32)

To be continued!

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Continued.

To further understand the role of Jesus in Islam, the following hadith is significant:

في تفسير العياشي عن محمد الحلبي عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال: كان بين داود وعيسى ابن مريم عليهما السلام أربعمأة سنة، وكان شريعة عيسى انه بعث بالتوحيد والاخلاص وبما أوصى به نوح وإبراهيم وموسى، وانزل عليه الإنجيل، واخذ عليه الميثاق الذي اخذ على النبيين، وشرع له في الكتاب أقام الصلاة مع الدين والامر بالمعروف، والنهى عن المنكر، وتحريم الحرام وتحليل الحلال، وانزل عليه في الإنجيل مواعظ وأمثال وحدود ليس فيها قصاص، ولا أحكام حدود ولا فرض مواريث، وانزل عليه تخفيف ما كان نزل على موسى في التوراة، وهو قول الله في الذي قال عيسى ابن مريم لبنى إسرائيل، ولأحل لكم بعض الذي حرم عليكم وامر عيسى من معه ممن اتبعه المؤمنين ان يؤمنوا بشريعة التوراة والإنجيل.

Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq [a] said, "There were four hundred years between David [a] and Jesus the son of Mary [a]. The Law Jesus was raised with came with monotheism, sincerity, and what Noah, Abraham, and Moses were ordered with. The Gospel was revealed to him, and he was given the covenant that the prophets were given. The Book prescribed the establishment of prayer, commanding what is right, forbidding what is evil, forbidding the unlawful, and allowing the lawful. The Gospel was revealed with sermons, parables, and non-retaliatory punishments. It did not have the rules of punishment, nor did it obligate inheritance laws. What was revealed to him was an alleviation of what came to Moses in the Torah; and that is the saying of Allah in what Jesus the son of Mary said to the Children of Israel, "and to make Lawful unto you some of the things which [aforetime] were forbidden to you." (3:50) And Jesus ordered those believing followers with him to believe in the Laws of the Torah and the Gospel." (Tafsir al-`Ayashi)

Jesus came with the covenant given to the previous prophets. He confirmed the Torah and asked his followers to believe in it, but his Gospel would alleviate some of that which was in the Torah. Most significant is that it did not include a penal code or inheritance laws. It is unclear if this lack of a penal code meant that the Mosaic code would apply, or that there would be no penal code at all. This reminds me of the story of Mary Magdalene, where Jesus stopped her from being stoned. The verse says, "When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."" (John 8:7) It is possible that the penal code was lifted due to its misuse, abuse, and loss of spiritual value at that time. Another interpretation is that "he who is without sin" is indeed Jesus, the infallible hujja, and that only Jesus would have the authority to stone others. This is consistent with a Shi`a opinion that only the hujja can enact the punishment of stoning.

Jesus came to purify his people inwardly. He is known in the Islamic tradition to be a teacher of asceticism (zuhd) and spirituality in a time when religion had become ritualistic rather than substantive.

But like all prophets, Jesus' mission came to an end (for now), and another hujja and tzadik had to take his place.

To be continued

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3 hours ago, Qa'im said:

This reminds me of the story of Mary Magdalene, where Jesus stopped her from being stoned. The verse says, "When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."" (John 8:7) It is possible that the penal code was lifted due to its misuse, abuse, and loss of spiritual value at that time. Another interpretation is that "he who is without sin" is indeed Jesus, the infallible hujja, and that only Jesus would have the authority to stone others. This is consistent with a Shi`a opinion that only the hujja can enact the punishment of stoning.

According to modern scholarship this story is of doubtful authenticity, because it is not contained in the earliest manuscripts of the Gospels. Of course, it's possible that it's still a true story, that just happened to not be part of the original Gospels, and was added later, but that seems unlikely.

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11 hours ago, Haydar Husayn said:

According to modern scholarship this story is of doubtful authenticity, because it is not contained in the earliest manuscripts of the Gospels. Of course, it's possible that it's still a true story, that just happened to not be part of the original Gospels, and was added later, but that seems unlikely.

 

I'm not sure why the earliest manuscripts are some people's only criterion of authenticity in this matter, especially considering their dubious authorship. Papias of Hierapolis wrote about this account in the late first and early second century, perhaps even before John wrote his Gospel. From my understanding, some scribes wrote the story in the margins of the Gospels, until it became incorporated in the text in later manuscripts. Regardless of whether it happened or not, there are some interesting parallels in Shiism, which is why it was brought up here.

 

8 hours ago, LeftCoastMom said:

This story is not about Mary Magdalene. The woman in this passage is never identified. No serious scholars associate this with her.

Well that was the opinion of your Pope Gregory I and many Catholics.

For the record, I do not believe it was Mary Magdalene either, but I referenced her name because the story is popularly associated with her - even if just by name. It is technically anonymous in the Gospel. I'm sorry for the miscommunication.

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21 minutes ago, Qa'im said:

 

 

 

Well that was the opinion of your Pope Gregory I and many Catholics.

For the record, I do not believe it was Mary Magdalene either, but I referenced her name because the story is popularly associated with her - even if just by name. It is technically anonymous in the Gospel. I'm sorry for the miscommunication.

No problem...it's our own fault this "opinion"born of a homily from Gregory has been going on so long, even though it's been defunct for a while now, never believed by many Church scholars, and not believed at all in most of the Eastern Churches,far as I know. Pope Gregory wasn't speaking ex-Cathedra, so it doesn't count as tradition on any level. It just resonates with a lot of people...the abject sinner becoming a major saint. As opposed to the Blessed Virgin. So it's a popular " folk tale" and those die hard. Mary Magdalene 's legacy could have been so much richer and is becoming so now. More education is being done about her, much to the edification of women in the Church.

There is another  story from the East that describes Mary Magdalene as always so holy that Satan afflicted her with the ' seven demons" that Jesus later cast out of her (Luke 8:2, Mark 16:9) because Satan was afraid she would be the one chosen to be the mother of Jesus. 

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Salam bro Qa'im,

Regarding the debate between James (Ya`akob) vs Paul, one thing to add is what James said on what the Goyim (Gentiles) should obey are basically the Noahide Laws. 

I tend to agree with Reza Aslan in this case that James always thought that what Jesus brought is Judaism so no need for Gentiles to follow this since according to Torah & Talmud, Gentiles are only need to follow Noahide Laws and Judaism is for Jews only. If a Gentile wants to convert to Judaism, there are certain procedures that need to be done. 

But, due to insistence of Paul to proselityze Gentiles which lead to their ongoing debates, somehow according to Acts, James agreed that Gentiles could follow them as long as they uphold the Noahide Laws. But somehow I doubt without full conversions, such Gentiles were viewed by James as brothers in faith. 

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Wa alaykum as-salaam,

The Noahide laws actually say nothing about the dietary laws mentioned by James, or the circumcision that the Jerusalem Church upheld as mandatory for all believers (I will be posting about this later). What James was recommending was a bit more than just "Noahide laws", I believe they were a part of Jesus' new covenant. The Noahide laws appear to be a Rabbinical creation. Even in the first century, Jews were converting Gentiles to Judaism and having them adopt the full Mosaic law. Some Egyptians also joined Moses (such as the magicians and others). In Shiism we believe that the Torah was a universal message and not just for the Children of Israel. The Israelites were chosen to herald that message, because they were the only full nation of monotheists in the world, but they were to be a light to the goyim, and I don't think that guidance was two-tiered (Mosaic vs Noahide).

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Continued.

While it appears that there was a cessation of messengership after Jesus and before our Prophet (5:19), a narration in an earlier post indicates that there were prophets after Jesus who clung to the Gospel. Even if there were no prophets (as some Sunni hadiths suggest), there were still Imams. The Ahl al-Bayt have told us the following:

حدثنا أبي رحمه الله قال : حدثنا محمد بن يحيى العطار ، عن يعقوب ابن يزيد ، عن محمد بن أبي عمير ، عن سعد بن أبي خلف ، عن يعقوب بن شعيب ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال : كان بين عيسى وبين محمد عليهما السلام خمسمائة عام منها مائتان وخمسون عاما ليس فيها نبي ولا عالم ظاهر ، قلت : فما كانوا ؟ قال : كانوا متمسكين بدين عيسى عليه السلام ، قلت : فما كانوا ؟ قال : كانوا مؤمنين ، ثم قال عليه السلام : ولا يكون الارض إلا وفيها عالم

Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq [a] said, "Between Jesus and Muhammad عليهما السلام there was [a period of] five hundred years, from them were two hundred and fifty years in which there was no apparent prophet or scholar (`alim)." A man said, "So how were they?" He [a] said, "They were grasping the religion of Jesus عليه السلام." The man said, "So how were they?" He [a] said: "They were believers." Then, he عليه السلام said, "And the Earth does not remain except with a scholar (`alim) therein." (Kamal ad-Deen)
 

حدثنا محمد بن الحسن بن أحمد بن الوليد رضي الله عنه قال : حدثنا محمد ابن الحسن الصفار ، وسعد بن عبد الله جميعا ، عن أيوب بن نوح ، عن عبد الله بن المغيرة ، عن سعد بن أبي خلف ، عن معاوية بن عمار قال : قال أبو عبد الله عليه السلام : بقي الناس بعد عيسى بن مريم عليه السلام خمسين ومائتي سنة بلا حجة ظاهرة . 

Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq [a] said, "After Jesus the son of Mary عليه السلام, the people remained two hundred and fifty years without an apparent hujja." (Kamal ad-Deen)

These narrations guarantee that there were still divine guides in the period (fetra) after Jesus and before Muhammad. There were roughly five centuries between to two (33 CE to 570 CE), and for half of that time, the hujja (authority, proof, leader, sage, vicegerent) was not "apparent" - meaning, there was a period of occultation. As we covered earlier, God hides His face from the world in times of heedlessness. He may have hid one hujja or a line of them in this period. It is unclear if this 250-year period all came consecutively, or if these years were spread out. What we do know, however, is that the coming of the Messenger was preceded by a period of Ignorance. It is difficult to point exactly to where the true religion and the true guidance was before Muhammad (pbuh), especially since all Semitic people were in bad shape, and Pauline Christianity had become the mainstream elsewhere

While the apostles of Jesus have been compared to the Shi`a and even the Imams, the order of wilaya dictates that there is always one hujja. In Judaism, there can be several tzadikim at once, but only one tzadik hador (master of the age) per generation. So who was in charge of the movement after Jesus went away?

For Catholics and Orthodox Christians, Simon Peter was the first pope, and he was inspired by the Holy Spirit that would remain among the believers after Jesus' departure. Catholics believe that Peter was appointed by Jesus in Matthew 16:18, when he says, "I also say to you that you are Peter (petros in Greek, safa in Arabic, both meaning rock), and upon this rock I will build my Church." Peter is often described as a leading figure among the apostles, and he oversaw the conversion of both Jews and gentiles. Similarly, there are many Shi`a hadith that confirm the leadership of Peter, some of which even call him a prophet.

Although the case for Peter's leadership is stronger according to both Christian and Muslim tradition, academics have recently been exploring the possibility that James the Just (Ya`kov ha Tzadik, Ya`qub as-Sadiq) was the real successor of Jesus. James was called the brother of Jesus, and while it is unclear whether he was a biological brother or simply a relative, this can be paralleled with how `Ali was called the brother of Muhammad. Early Church historians like Hegesippus, Papias, Eusebius, Jerome identified James as the leader and bishop of the Jerusalem Church. According to the Gospel of Thomas, which was a 2nd century Gnostic text, Jesus selected James to be the leader after him. "The disciples said to Jesus, 'We know that you are going to leave us. Who will be our leader?' Jesus said to them, 'No matter where you are you are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being.' (Thomas 12) This is very similar language to what we find regarding the hujaj, who Allah created the universe for, and who keep the Earth afloat.

One possibility put forward by Catholics was that Peter was the universal leader of the Christian movement, while James was only in charge of Jerusalem. Still, most of the extinct Jewish Christian sects believed that James was the leader. Certain reasons why Peter's role as a hujja can be doubted include:

  • He was not a family member of Jesus, and as we see in parallel succession stories (Abraham and his sons, Moses and Aaron, Muhammad and Ali), familial succession was a divine trend.
  • In all four Gospels, in the Last Supper, Jesus announces that Peter would deny him three times before morning. Following his arrest (or the arrest of his lookalike) Peter denied Jesus three times before morning, and later repented of this. In one hadith in Tafsir al-Qummi, Jesus similarly announces that one of his apostles would deny him before morning. Although Peter is not accused by name in the hadith, the story is close to the one in the Gospels. Such a denial is not befitting of a hujja. One stretched possibility is that in the Gospels' account, Peter denied the man that they had taken prisoner, who was not Jesus. But, it is unclear who the hadith is referring to then (Judas? Still a stretch).
  • After Jesus walks on water, according to the Gospels, Peter follows and also walks on water. However, after feeling fear due to a lack of faith, he begins to sink and Jesus rescues him. A very similar story exists in al-Kafi, but again, the name of the apostle is not revealed.
  • Paul describes in Galatians (one of the oldest Christian documents) that Peter would eat with the gentiles, who would eat impure foods. He describes an incident at Antioch, where Peter stops eating with the gentiles after receiving messengers from James. Afterwards, Peter would separate himself from the gentiles, appearing to comply with an order from James. After this incident, Paul publicly rebuked Peter for his apparent "hypocrisy". Not only does this incident make James look like the one in charge, but it makes Peter look fallible and subject to the advice of others.

To be continued!

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Continued.

James the Just was unanimously known as a pious, ascetic man who was in constant prayer. Two references (Hegesippus and the Pseudoclementine Recognitions) even suggest that James was considered a High Priest of the Jerusalem Temple (Bayt al-Maqdus), which means that he had a respected status even among Jews, despite his relation to Jesus. This may be because he was a defender of the Law and he was unaffiliated with Roman authorities. Before the Bar Kochba revolt (132 CE), Jewish Christians were not regarded as outsiders, and so it is very possible that James held this universally high status among the people of Jerusalem. Still, during a change of leadership, when there was little imperial oversight, James was arrested and stoned to death by the Jewish authorities.

Origen (a 3rd century Church father) and Eusebius (4th century Constantine's historian) both reference Josephus (1st century Roman Jewish historian) in saying that many believed that James' unjust execution in 62-70 CE directly led to the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and the city of Jerusalem in 66-70 CE. Eusebius wrote in "Church History", Book 2, Chapter 23:20: “These things happened to the Jews to avenge James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus, that is called the Christ. For the Jews slew him, although he was a most just man.” This is very interesting: it is saying that the Roman destruction of the Temple and the holy city was divine retribution for the heedless murder of James. Since James' title was "the Tzadik", this may be an allusion to the fact that a tzadik's death leads to divine chastisement, since the tzadik/hujja is he who stands between God and the world. We see parallels in the Quran: Hud, Salih, Shu`ayb, and Lut's communities were all destroyed after they had left them - this is because those communities rejected the men that were raised among them by God.

Both Peter and James were both martyred. Catholic tradition holds that Peter had a line of Pauline successors, which we Muslims would not consider likely. However, Eusebius provides a list of 15 consecutive leaders of the Jerusalem Church in the Jamesian line. "The first, then, was James, the so-called brother of the Lord; the second, Symeon; the third, Justus; the fourth, Zacchæus; the fifth, Tobias; the sixth, Benjamin; the seventh, John; the eighth, Matthias; the ninth, Philip; the tenth, Seneca; the eleventh, Justus; the twelfth, Levi; the thirteenth, Ephres; the fourteenth, Joseph; and finally, the fifteenth, Judas." Eusebius significantly adds that these 15 leaders of the Jerusalem Church were "of the circumcision". Meaning, they believed that all Christians had to be circumcised and follow certain laws. This fits with what we said earlier about the Book of Acts: James and the early Church insisted on the abidance of a Law, probably coming from Jesus himself. Remember that circumcision even predates Moses, making it not specific to Jews or Jewish law. It is very likely that circumcision is one of those customs that were considered universal and not contextual. After all, the Arabs also carried on the practice of circumcision without ever being Jewish.

We can't identify who the 14 bishops were after James for certain, but Hegesippus considered Symeon (#2) to be another "brother of Jesus", from the same family. He led the believers to Jordan away from Jerusalem before its destruction in 70 CE, and after their return to Jerusalem, he was eventually crucified. Judas (#15) was also the great grandson of Jude, another "brother of Jesus", which again highlights the importance of familial succession in this line. Despite the consecutive successorship of 15 men, this line of leaders only lasted until 136 CE. After that point, this Judas flees with his followers again to Jordan, and the community is not heard from again.

When the Romans destroyed Jerusalem again in 136 following the Jewish Bar Kochba revolt, they built a city near its ruins called "Aelia Capitolina". Until the Prophet's time, the region of Jerusalem was known by the Arabs as "Ilya", coming from this Latin title. In fact, you will not find the words al-Quds or Yarushalom in the Quran or Prophetic hadith literature. Jews were not allowed to enter Aelia from the time of the destruction of Jerusalem till the Caliphate of `Umar, except to fulfill special rites. While the true Jerusalem Church, who believed in the Law, fled Palestine, the Pauline Christians built a new Church for gentiles in Aelia Capitolina, and called it the Jerusalem Church. All successive authorities in the new Church would no longer be of the Jamesian line.

To be continued.

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After the disappearance of the Jamesian line of bishops, a few Jewish Christian sects arose based on the teachings of James the Just. A consistent feature of these sects was that salvation is attained by through faith and works together, a notion echoed all over the Quran. This is based on the Epistle of James, a controversial New Testament document attributed to James (James 2:14-26). This ran contrary to Paul's vision of Christianity, which was that faith alone was needed (Romans 3:28). Indeed, those who were "of the circumcision" upheld that believers needed to follow laws, while the Pauline Christians believed in the full abrogation of the Law. Jewish Christians also believed that Jesus was the Messiah and not God, and that the Torah or part of the Torah was still applicable as law. The Jewish Christians did not believe that the crucifixion saved the sins of the world. At most, the crucifixion to them seemed like an inconsequential event; while to Paul, it truly marked the inception of Christianity.

We know very little about the Jewish Christians. Most of their texts have been lost, and much of what we know about them come from their enemies. During and after the Bar Kochba revolt, the Jewish Christians were ostracized by other Jews. They were also heavily criticized by Pauline Church Fathers and considered heretics. They kept a generally anti-Roman attitude, which pushed them away from Roman territory. They sought refuge in Arabia and Persia. The Ka'ba-ye Zartosht, also known as the Ka`ba of Zoroaster, mentions the "Nazarenes" distinct from the Christians as one of the groups the Sassanids were able to overcome. The Nazarenes were one Jewish Christian sect, and perhaps this is why the ancient Arabic word for Christians was "Nasara" - after all, the modern word for Christian ("Masihi") would have been more applicable to the Pauline branches.

Another sect was the Ebionites, an early 2nd century group that explicitly rejected Paul as an apostate. "Ebionite" in Hebrew means "poor ones" (evyonim), and they were ascetics. They probably took their name from Psalm 69:33, "For the Lord hears the poor". They had their own "Gospel of the Hebrews", which now only exists in quotations recorded in other books - otherwise, they did not uphold the New Testament. They were pejoratively called "those poor in understanding" by Eusebius, and generally as "Judaizers" who wanted to make Christianity more "Jewish".

Although the Jewish Christians usually regarded James to be the successor of Jesus, one existing text of theirs is the Pseudoclementines, a 3rd-4th century book following the travels of Peter. Another book is the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, a 2nd century text which even describes one of Jesus' miracles that are included in the Quran but not in the Bible (Jesus fashioning a bird from clay). While these are later texts than the New Testament, they may contain some of the authentic oral tradition of Jewish Christians.

One Ebionite offshoot was the Elchasaites, founded by a 2nd century man claiming to be a prophet in Southern Iraq named al-Hasih. He claimed to be in communication with an angel above the Earth, who revealed a book to him. Later, in the 3rd century, out of the Elchasaite movement, Mani was born. Mani claimed to be the Comforter (paraclete) and the Seal of Prophets (the title of the Prophet Muhammad, and her merged gnostic and Zoroastrian elements into Jewish Christianity. His religion, Manichaeism, would become a huge, short-lived dualistic religion stretching from Egypt to China. Arab Manichaeans called their leaders "Imams". The Arabic word "zindeeq", meaning heretic, actually comes from the Persian word zindeeq which was a term for Manichaeans, due to their esoteric reading of scripture.

The Jewish Christians were still around in Arabia and Persia in the 12th century, as their presence was recorded by Muhammad al-Shahrastani and Ibn an-Nadim in their books. There was even a community of Ebionites near the city of Medina at the time. As we noted in earlier posts, some Jews in the Hijaz were expecting the Prophet.

While it is unclear who the hujaj were preceding our Messenger, it could be because of the occultation mentioned earlier.  Some Shi`a sources indicate that Salman al-Farisi had spent his life looking for Muhammad (pbuh), and even came across a successor of Jesus who was awaiting his coming. Eventually, Salman came to the Hijaz to investigate if this Muhammad b. `Abdullah was truly the Prophet he had been waiting for. When it became clear to him, he accepted Islam, and stuck to the Ahl al-Bayt.

The rejection of Jesus and the killing of his apostles may have led to the destruction of Jerusalem, the exile and persecution of the Jews, and the movement of the believers into Arabia and Persia. The Prophet Muhammad would then turn the tide, leading to the liberation of the Levant from the Roman and Pauline Christians.

 

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One last note for this chapter. Regarding the term Ebionite ("the poor ones"): many tafasir, under the common Quranic sentence "O you who believe!", mention the following:

كل شيء في القرآن : ( يا أيها الذين آمنوا ) فهو في التوراة : " يا أيها المساكين "

Every "O you who believe" in the Quran is "O you poor ones" in the Torah.

Asceticism and meekness are praised throughout the scriptures. Jesus says "The meek shall inherit the Earth", and the Quran says "Allah is the rich, while you are the poor." (47:38) This "poverty" is in reference to need; Allah is free of need (mustaghni), while we are in constant need of Him and His sustenance.

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Part 14: Muhammad, the Chosen One

Earlier in this thread, we discussed possible references to the Prophet Muhammad in Genesis, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, John, the Book of Enoch, and Community Rule. "Community Rule" was the Dead Sea Scroll document that briefly mentioned the expectation of the coming of the Prophet like unto Moses and the two Messiahs. The Dead Sea Scrolls are full of messianic prophecies, as they were mostly written by the Essenes, a mystical and apocalyptic Jewish community. Some scrolls are damaged and therefore their fragments are incomplete. One such scroll is 4Q534, which predicts the coming of "the Elect One"; translated by others as "the Chosen One". It is a prophecy of one to come from God who will receive divine knowledge and attain victory in this world. It even gives a physical description of this man. I have not added or removed anything from it: it says the following:

"..of the hand, two [...] a mark; red is his hair [and he has] moles upon [...] and tiny marks upon his thighs [...] different from each other. He will know [...]. In his youth he will be ... [... like a] man who knows nothing [until] the moment in which [he will] know the three books. Then he will acquire wisdom and will know ... of visions, in order to reach the upper sphere. And with his father and with his [fore]fathers [...] life and old age. Counsel and prudence will be with him [and] he will know the secrets of man. And his wisdom will reach all the peoples. And he will know the secrets of all living things. [And] all their plans against him will come to nothing, although the opposition of all living things will be great. [..] his plans. Because he is the Elect of God, his birth and the spirit of his breath [...] his plans shall be forever."

A few points:

1. "Red is his hair":

We know that the Prophet had dark hair with a ruddy tinge. Rabi`a b. Abi `Abd ar-Rahman said, "I saw some of his hairs and it was red. When I asked about that, I was told that it turned red because of perfume." (Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Hadith 747) `Uthman b. `Abdullah b. Mawhab said, "I looked into the container [that held the hair of the Prophet] and saw a few red hairs in it." (Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72, Hadith 784). One hadith even says that he did not dye his hair, which would mean that his red hairs were possibly natural, which is uncommon among Semitic people, "Anas was asked whether the Prophet used a a hair dye or not. Anas replied, "The Prophet had not enough grey hair to dye. I could even count the white grey hairs." (Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72, Hadith 783).

2. "[and he has] moles upon [...]"

This description is unclear, but we do know that the Prophet's famous "seal" was a unique birthmark on his back-left shoulder, and it had moles. Bahira the Syrian monk recognized Muhammad as a prophet when he was only a boy, in part due to this seal. Imam `Ali [a] said, "Between his shoulders was the Seal of Prophethood and he was the Seal of the Prophets." (Tirmidhi, Hadith 1524). Sa`ib b. Yazeed said, "The Prophet touched my head with his hand and invoked Allah to bless me. He then performed ablution and I drank of the remaining water of his ablution and then stood behind his back and saw the Seal of Prophethood between his shoulders like a button of a tent." (Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Hadith 574) `Abdullah b. Sarjis said, "I went after him and saw the Seal of Prophethood between his shoulders on the left side of his shoulder have spots on it like moles." (Muslim, Chapter 28, Book 30, Hadith 5793)

3. "In his youth he will be ... [... like a] man who knows nothing"

Before he was commissioned at the age of 40, the Prophet was not a poet, scribe, or teacher. He was known as a trustworthy man, but he was not known as a shaman. He was neither a Christian nor a Jew, and he was not trained in the scriptures of the People of the Book.

4. "[until] the moment in which [he will] know the three books."

Once he was commissioned, he became a master of all previous scriptures, inheriting the knowledge of all of the prophets who came before him. The "three books" may refer to the Torah, the Psalms, and the prophets (i.e. the Old Testament). It may even refer to the Torah, Psalms, and Gospel, which were the three major celestial books that preceded the Quran. Moreover, the Quran is the culmination of all prophetic messages (87:18-19).

5. "Then he will acquire wisdom and will know ... of visions, in order to reach the upper sphere."

After the age of 40, the Prophet would receive regular revelations. The upper sphere may be the highest level of Paradise, which has been promised for him; or it can refer to having access to highest metaphysical levels (malakut, jabarut, and lahut); or it can refer to the high moral values. On all three levels, the Prophet Muhammad is at the top.

6. "Counsel and prudence will be with him [and] he will know the secrets of man."

Through revelation, there were many instances where the Prophet knew things about his followers and his enemies that he simply could not otherwise know. He also made countless prophecies. The Prophet was overtly prudent, often not acting until receiving orders in revelation. He was constantly receiving counsel from God.

7. "And his wisdom will reach all the peoples."

This is similar to the verse, "He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth, and the coastlands shall await his Law.” (Isaiah 42:4-5) Since Muhammad is a universal prophet, and the final prophet, his message was for all people for the rest of time. Not just for the Children of Israel, but for all people. Today, we can see that Islam has reached all corners of the Earth, and has permanently contributed to the philosophy, spirituality, legislation, natural sciences, and civilizations of the world. The Quran is widely accessible, the sayings of the Prophet are everywhere, and those moved by his message are in every country 1,400 years later.

8. "And he will know the secrets of all living things."

As a universal hujja, the Prophet was a steward over the entire creation. He knew the secrets of men, foretold the events of the future, and even communicated with plants and animals.

9. "[And] all their plans against him will come to nothing, although the opposition of all living things will be great"

The Prophet faced danger and assassination attempts from the beginning till the end of his mission. Abu Jahal tried killing the Prophet by throwing a stone at his head at the Ka`ba while he was praying, the Prophet miraculously escaped 20 swordsmen who came to his door before the hijra, the Prophet escaped the Meccan search party when they came to his cave, the Prophet survived dozens of wars (many in self-defense, with a close call in Uhud), the Prophet survived the poison at Khaybar, and the Prophet survived the assassination attempt made on him on the way to Tabuk. The Prophet faced great opposition from the Arabs and the Romans, but all their plans against him certainly came to nothing.

10. "Because he is the Elect of God, his birth and the spirit of his breath"

"The Elect" would translate to "al-Mufstafa", which was one of the Prophet Muhammad's most prominent titles. Similarly, this language is very similar to another verse, "Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen One in whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations." (Isaiah 42:1) We already established that Muhammad was the Chosen One of Isaiah 42 - he received the title that the scriptures also gave to the Abraham, Moses, and David.

11. "his plans shall be forever."

The Quran is scripture until the end of time, and the Prophet's laws are applicable until the Day of Resurrection.

 

To be continued!

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Continued.

Part of the "Chosen One" fragment is 4Q536, which is a continuation of the previous excerpt. It says the following about the man that is to come:

"[...] you will be [...] | [...] he will make you think of the holy angels [...] | [...] the lights will be revealed to him | [...] all of his teachings [...] the wisdom of humanity, and every wise man | [...] in the region he will be great | [...] humanity will be troubled | [...] he will share God's secrets | [...] he will understand God's mysteries [...]

he made [...] | that you are afraid of [...] he will strengthen its concealment at the end of your powers. His possessions [...] | and he will not die in the days of evil. And his words will contain great wisdom. I will praise you [...] | is sentenced to death. Who will write the words of God in a book that will not decay? And my sayings [...] |You will come to me and in the time of evil he will know you forever. A man who [...] your servants, [...] sons [...]"

1. "he will make you think of the holy angels"

An angelic person has a few notable characteristics, such as complete sincerity to the will of God, a goodly appearance, nobility, and an aura of light. We know that the Prophet Muhammad (s) had all of these features. His face was often compared to the illumination of the full moon. He came from a noble lineage with no history of adultery or polytheism. He was infallible, like the angels, and was known for his patience, his sublimity, his silence, his trustworthiness, and his high moral character.

2. "the lights will be revealed to him"

These lights can refer to the Quran, as it describes Scriptures as light (5:44, 5:46) which bring their readers out of darkness and closer to understanding all things. The lights can also refer to the divine light revealed to the Prophet during his mi`raj when he was less than two bow-lengths away from Allah's proximity. The lights can also be Ahl al-Bayt, who come from Allah's light, and are "sent down" to our beloved Messenger.

حدثنا علي بن أحمد بن محمد بن عمران الدقاق رحمه الله، قال:
حدثنا محمد بن أبي عبد الله الكوفي، عن علي بن أبي القاسم، عن يعقوب بن إسحاققال: كتبت إلى أبي محمد عليه السلام أسأله كيف يعبد العبد ربه وهو لا يراه؟! فوقععليه السلام يا أبا يوسف جل سيدي ومولاي والمنعم علي وعلى آبائي أن يرى. قال:
وسألته هل رأى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم ربه؟ فوقع عليه السلام إن الله تبارك وتعالى أرى رسولهبقلبه من نور عظمته ما أحب.

Imam Hasan al-`Askari [a] said, "Verily Allah تبارك وتعالى showed His Messenger from the Light of His greatness as much as He wished to show him." (al-Kafi)

3. "in the region he will be great"

Muhammad (s) rose to prominence and greatness in the Near East before the rest of the world. He was not an obscure individual - while secular history questions the existence of many ancient prophets, our Prophet was accepted by all of his people by the end of his life, and caused the empires around him to yield to him.

4. "humanity will be troubled"

The era he was born in was called the Age of Ignorance in Arabia due to the polytheism, injustice, a general lack of accountability, racism, tribalism, sexism, and war. In Judea, the Temple had been destroyed, and the Israelites were barred from Jerusalem. The Prophet came to reverse the social order, and although the forces against him were immense, Allah caused him to achieve all forms of success.

5. "he will share God's secrets | [...] he will understand God's mysteries"

The Prophet told us about the next life, he received revelation on virtually on matters, and foretold the future on many occasions.

6. "and he will not die in the days of evil."

The Prophet would not be one who passes away during the End Times, where vice will consume the Earth, but rather he passed away after completing his mission and establishing uprightness in Arabia.

7. "And his words will contain great wisdom."

His words contained many layers of interpretation, and are a reference for spirituality, law, medicine, and prophecy.

8. "I will praise you"

It's unclear who is being addressed here, but if it is the man himself, then the name "Muhammad" is derived from the same word as "praise". Muhammad means "the praised one", "the ennobled one", etc.

9. "Who will write the words of God in a book that will not decay?"

The Quran is the book that is preserved in its original form until the Day of Resurrection, unlike all previous celestial scriptures, which have experienced interpolation. It is clearly the "book that will not decay". This is also a clear indication that this man will bring a book from God, and will not just be an ordinary tsadik.

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I also find the 4Q521 fragment from the dead sea scrolls interesting.

It claims that the Messiah would be able to heal the sick and raise the dead (Raj'ah ?), this fits in well with Jesus al-Masih too.

Frags. 2 col. ii 1 [for the heav]ens and the earth will listen to his anointed one,
2 [and all th]at is in them will not turn away from the precepts of the holy ones.
3 Strengthen yourselves, you who are seeking the Lord, in his service! Blank
4 Will you not in this encounter the Lord, all those who hope in their heart?
5 For the Lord will consider the pious, and call the righteous by name, 6 and
his spirit will hover upon the poor, and he will renew the faithful with his
strength. 7 For he will honour the pious upon the throne of an eternal kingdom,
8 freeing prisoners, giving sight to the blind, straightening out the
twis[ted.] 9 And for[e]ver shall I cling [to those who h]ope, and in his mercy
[…] 10 and the fru[it of …] … not be delayed. 11 And the Lord will perform
marvellous acts such as have not existed, just as he sa[id,] 12 [for] he will heal
the badly wounded and will make the dead live, he will proclaim good news
to the poor 13 and […] … […] he will lead the […] … and enrich the hungry.
14 […] and all … […]

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On 10/1/2014 at 10:52 PM, Qa'im said:

According to Talmudic sources, the shekhina was a visible force that would linger in the Tabernacle, then the Jerusalem Temple. While the shekhina is not mentioned explicitly in the Old Testament, literature in the Rabbinical period would interpret references to "God's presence" as the shekhina. References to seeing God's throne, God's power, or most notably, a pillar of cloud, were interpreted to be manifestations of God's divine presence.

 

By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. (Exodus 13:21-22)

 

And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, O LORD, are with these people and that you, O Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. (Numbers 14:14)

 

Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day. (Deuteronomy 1:33)

 

In a pillar of cloud He then spoke to them; they kept His testimonies and the statute He gave them. (Psalms 99:7)

 

Bismih Ta'ala
Assalamu Alaykum

According to Job 38:1, the Lord spoke to Job out of the "haSh'arah" (הַסְּעָרָה), meaning a strong storm (NIV translation) or whirlwind (how majority of the Biblical translators translated the word, e.g. NIT translation). This is another possible instance of God sending the shekhina.

wassalam

Edited by Ibn Al-Ja'abi

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On 1/18/2016 at 0:03 PM, Tawheed313 said:

Pretty interesting posts brothers. Allah swt knows best at the end of the day, nonetheless, very interesting.

assalamu alaykum

Not just very interesting, but very well researched and based off of our Qur'an and Hadith corpus, so extremely plausible.

wa assalam

Edited by Ibn Al-Ja'abi

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On 12/31/2015 at 3:21 PM, Qa'im said:

Continued.

While it appears that there was a cessation of messengership after Jesus and before our Prophet (5:19), a narration in an earlier post indicates that there were prophets after Jesus who clung to the Gospel. Even if there were no prophets (as some Sunni hadiths suggest), there were still Imams. The Ahl al-Bayt have told us the following:

حدثنا أبي رحمه الله قال : حدثنا محمد بن يحيى العطار ، عن يعقوب ابن يزيد ، عن محمد بن أبي عمير ، عن سعد بن أبي خلف ، عن يعقوب بن شعيب ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال : كان بين عيسى وبين محمد عليهما السلام خمسمائة عام منها مائتان وخمسون عاما ليس فيها نبي ولا عالم ظاهر ، قلت : فما كانوا ؟ قال : كانوا متمسكين بدين عيسى عليه السلام ، قلت : فما كانوا ؟ قال : كانوا مؤمنين ، ثم قال عليه السلام : ولا يكون الارض إلا وفيها عالم

Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq [a] said, "Between Jesus and Muhammad عليهما السلام there was [a period of] five hundred years, from them were two hundred and fifty years in which there was no apparent prophet or scholar (`alim)." A man said, "So how were they?" He [a] said, "They were grasping the religion of Jesus عليه السلام." The man said, "So how were they?" He [a] said: "They were believers." Then, he عليه السلام said, "And the Earth does not remain except with a scholar (`alim) therein." (Kamal ad-Deen)
 

حدثنا محمد بن الحسن بن أحمد بن الوليد رضي الله عنه قال : حدثنا محمد ابن الحسن الصفار ، وسعد بن عبد الله جميعا ، عن أيوب بن نوح ، عن عبد الله بن المغيرة ، عن سعد بن أبي خلف ، عن معاوية بن عمار قال : قال أبو عبد الله عليه السلام : بقي الناس بعد عيسى بن مريم عليه السلام خمسين ومائتي سنة بلا حجة ظاهرة . 

Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq [a] said, "After Jesus the son of Mary عليه السلام, the people remained two hundred and fifty years without an apparent hujja." (Kamal ad-Deen)

These narrations guarantee that there were still divine guides in the period (fetra) after Jesus and before Muhammad. There were roughly five centuries between to two (33 CE to 570 CE), and for half of that time, the hujja (authority, proof, leader, sage, vicegerent) was not "apparent" - meaning, there was a period of occultation. As we covered earlier, God hides His face from the world in times of heedlessness. He may have hid one hujja or a line of them in this period. It is unclear if this 250-year period all came consecutively, or if these years were spread out. What we do know, however, is that the coming of the Messenger was preceded by a period of Ignorance. It is difficult to point exactly to where the true religion and the true guidance was before Muhammad (pbuh), especially since all Semitic people were in bad shape, and Pauline Christianity had become the mainstream elsewhere

While the apostles of Jesus have been compared to the Shi`a and even the Imams, the order of wilaya dictates that there is always one hujja. In Judaism, there can be several tzadikim at once, but only one tzadik hador (master of the age) per generation. So who was in charge of the movement after Jesus went away?

For Catholics and Orthodox Christians, Simon Peter was the first pope, and he was inspired by the Holy Spirit that would remain among the believers after Jesus' departure. Catholics believe that Peter was appointed by Jesus in Matthew 16:18, when he says, "I also say to you that you are Peter (petros in Greek, safa in Arabic, both meaning rock), and upon this rock I will build my Church." Peter is often described as a leading figure among the apostles, and he oversaw the conversion of both Jews and gentiles. Similarly, there are many Shi`a hadith that confirm the leadership of Peter, some of which even call him a prophet.

Although the case for Peter's leadership is stronger according to both Christian and Muslim tradition, academics have recently been exploring the possibility that James the Just (Ya`kov ha Tzadik, Ya`qub as-Sadiq) was the real successor of Jesus. James was called the brother of Jesus, and while it is unclear whether he was a biological brother or simply a relative, this can be paralleled with how `Ali was called the brother of Muhammad. Early Church historians like Hegesippus, Papias, Eusebius, Jerome identified James as the leader and bishop of the Jerusalem Church. According to the Gospel of Thomas, which was a 2nd century Gnostic text, Jesus selected James to be the leader after him. "The disciples said to Jesus, 'We know that you are going to leave us. Who will be our leader?' Jesus said to them, 'No matter where you are you are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being.' (Thomas 12) This is very similar language to what we find regarding the hujaj, who Allah created the universe for, and who keep the Earth afloat.

One possibility put forward by Catholics was that Peter was the universal leader of the Christian movement, while James was only in charge of Jerusalem. Still, most of the extinct Jewish Christian sects believed that James was the leader. Certain reasons why Peter's role as a hujja can be doubted include:

  • He was not a family member of Jesus, and as we see in parallel succession stories (Abraham and his sons, Moses and Aaron, Muhammad and Ali), familial succession was a divine trend.
  • In all four Gospels, in the Last Supper, Jesus announces that Peter would deny him three times before morning. Following his arrest (or the arrest of his lookalike) Peter denied Jesus three times before morning, and later repented of this. In one hadith in Tafsir al-Qummi, Jesus similarly announces that one of his apostles would deny him before morning. Although Peter is not accused by name in the hadith, the story is close to the one in the Gospels. Such a denial is not befitting of a hujja. One stretched possibility is that in the Gospels' account, Peter denied the man that they had taken prisoner, who was not Jesus. But, it is unclear who the hadith is referring to then (Judas? Still a stretch).
  • After Jesus walks on water, according to the Gospels, Peter follows and also walks on water. However, after feeling fear due to a lack of faith, he begins to sink and Jesus rescues him. A very similar story exists in al-Kafi, but again, the name of the apostle is not revealed.
  • Paul describes in Galatians (one of the oldest Christian documents) that Peter would eat with the gentiles, who would eat impure foods. He describes an incident at Antioch, where Peter stops eating with the gentiles after receiving messengers from James. Afterwards, Peter would separate himself from the gentiles, appearing to comply with an order from James. After this incident, Paul publicly rebuked Peter for his apparent "hypocrisy". Not only does this incident make James look like the one in charge, but it makes Peter look fallible and subject to the advice of others.

To be continued!

Bro Qa'im,

What do you think of this line of reasoning used by Reza Aslan in Zealot to prove the supremacy of James over all apostles?

1. James and the apostles understood Jesus as Jewish and did not form a separate religion from Judaism. Or, we can say that Jesus was to purify Judaism from corruptions, especially done by the priests. The facts on how James upheld the Jewish Laws (including conflict with Paul over this issue) and how the Jewish community revered him very highly at the time (even perhaps higher than the reverence they gave to the High Priest) can be considered as proof that Jesus didn't create a different religion.

2. At the time of James until the destruction of the Temple, Judaism was very much a Jerusalem-centered religion, which meant that the control and leadership of Judaism (including Jesus-inspired Judaism) came from Jerusalem for the whole world. We also know for fact that Jerusalem "church" was headed by James.

3. In Acts, we could see even Paul obeyed to be summoned to Jerusalem to meet James when there were reports that Paul taught a different teaching, especially on the status of Jesus and the Jewish Laws. Paul was even asked to repent openly in the Jerusalem Temple which he (reluctantly?) obeyed.

4. James was said to send envoys to different cities to disseminate the correct teaching of Jesus, including to Rome. On the other hand, we know that Peter departed to Rome (which eventually became the 1st Pope). We can infer here that Peter was acting on James behalf.

5. Therefore, eventhough Peter was a Bishop of Rome, James was a Bishop of Bishop. This would mean that the head of Jesus-inspired Judaism after Jesus was most probably James the Just (Ya`aqob ha-Tzadek).

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For centuries, the Jews had suffered under the hands of the Roman occupiers. Rome had destroyed the Temple, stopped the sacrifices, outlawed them from living with tens of miles of Jerusalem, disbanded their high court, taxed them heavily, and persecuted them for siding with the Persians. This pushed many Jews to find refuge deeper into the peninsula. Jewish people everywhere expected a redemptive event that would bring the Jews out of exile.

One apocalyptic text is "The Secrets of Simon ben Yohai". It is attributed to Rabbi Simon ben Yohai (alternatively spelled "Simeon bar Yochai"), who lived in the first and second century CE. He was a mystic and a critic of Rome, and he is renowned in Kabbalist circles. Many medieval esoteric texts are attributed to him and his son, but his authorship is usually doubted by academics. This book, which will be hitherto referred to as "Secrets", was probably written in the seventh or eighth century CE, long after the rabbi. Still, it is written like a prophecy, and it may be based on earlier oral traditions and expectations among Jews. It is an alleged revelation to Simon ben Yohai that tries to tie the events of the Muslim conquests and early Caliphate to Jewish scripture.

Near the beginning of Secrets, it says:

'When he saw the kingdom of Ishmael that was coming, he began to say: ‘Was it not enough, what the wicked kingdom of Edom did to us, but we must have the kingdom of Ishmael too?’ At once Metatron the prince of the countenance answered and said: ‘Do not fear, son of man, for the Holy One, blessed be He, only brings the kingdom of Ishmael in order to save you from this wickedness. He raises up over them a prophet according to his will and will conquer the land for them and they will come and restore it in greatness, and there will be great terror between them and the sons of Esau.’ Rabbi Simon answered and said: ‘How do we know that they are our salvation?’ He answered: ‘Did not the Prophet Isaiah say thus: “And he saw a troop with a pair of horsemen, etc.”? Why did he put the troop of asses before the troop of camels, when he need only have said: “A troop of camels and a troop of asses”? But when he, the rider on the camel goes forth the kingdom would arise through the rider on an ass. Again: “a troop of asses”, since he rides on an ass, shows that they are the salvation of Israel, like the salvation of the rider on an ass.’


In this excerpt, the rabbi is reflecting in a cave, when suddenly Metatron (an archangel in Jewish mysticism) appears and foretells the Arab rule over the holy land. After being frustrated at the upcoming kingdom of the Ishmaelites, Metatron says that God will bring it about to save the Jews from their oppression, and He will "raise up over them a prophet according to His will and will conquer the land for them". This is undoubtedly an acknowledgement of the prophethood of Muhammad in a Jewish text, whom many Jews saw as, at least, a prophet for the Arabs. The expression "according to His will" confirms that he would be divinely sent, and not just a claimant to prophecy. Some later manuscripts of Secrets have tried to change these words, but the paragraph above comes from the earliest versions of the text. The "sons of Esau" are the Byzantine Christians.

The scriptural basis of the Ishmaelite prophet presented in Secrets is the verse, "When he sees riders, horsemen in pairs, riders on donkeys, riders on camels, let him listen diligently, very diligently.”
(Isaiah 21:7) The text interprets the "riders on camels" to be the Muslims, who conquered the holy land on their animals. Secrets is not the only text that makes this connection. In the debate between Imam ar-Rida and the High Rabbi in the Abbasid court, it says the following:

وَقَالَ شَعْيَاءُ النَّبِيُّ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ فِي مَا تَقُولُ أنْتَ وَأصْحَابُكَ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ: رَأَيْتُ رَاكِبَيْنِ أضَاءَتْ لَهُمُ الأَرْضُ؛ أَحَدُهُمَا عَلَى حِمَارٍ وَالآخَرُ عَلَى جَمَلٍ. فَمَنْ رَاكِبُ الحِمَارِ وَمَنْ رَاكِبُ الجَمَلِ؟ قَالَ رَأسُ الجَالُوتِ: لا أعْرِفُهُمَا، فَخَبِّرْنِي بِهِمَا. قَالَ: أمَّا رَاكِبُ الحِمَارِ فَعِيسَى عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ، وَأمَّا رَاكِبُ الجَمَلِ فَمُحَمَّدٌ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ. أتُنْكِرُ هَذَا مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ؟ قَالَ: لا، مَا أُنْكِرُهُ. ثُمَّ قَالَ الرِّضَا عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ: هَلْ تَعْرِفُ حَيْقُوقَ النَّبِيَّ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ؟

قَالَ: نَعَمْ، إنّي بِهِ لَعَارِفٌ.

Imam ar-Rida [a] said, "As you and your friends said, the Prophet Isaiah has said in the Torah that ‘I have seen the picture of the Rider of the Donkey. He was wearing gowns of light. And I have seen the Rider of the Camel - who is as bright as the moon.’ Who is the Rider of the Donkey? Who is the Rider of the Camel?” The High Rabbi said, “I do not know who they are.” The Imam said, “The Rider of the Donkey is Jesus and the Rider of the Camel is Muhammad (s). Do you deny that this is from the Torah?” The High Rabbi said, “No, I do not deny that.” (`Uyoon Akhbar ar-Rida)

While the verse quoted in this hadith is not word-for-word the same as the existing biblical verse, it is certainly referring to Isaiah 21:7. Like Secrets, it equates the camel with the Ishmaelite prophet.

Secrets also makes a brief mention of Imam `Ali [a],

And there shall arise a great king from Hasarmawet (cf. Gen 10:26), but he will exercise rule only for a few years. Warriors of the children of Qedar shall rise up against him and kill him, and bring to power another king whose name is Mry’w. They shall take him from following flocks and mule-herds and elevate him to the kingship.

"Hasarmawet" ( حضر موت , dwelling of death) is in Arabia. He would rise and rule for a few years (the Imam ruled for about five years), be killed by Qedar warriors (Arab Khawarij). The one coming after him, "Mry`w", is Mu`awiya, who would go from being a herder (in Arabia) to a king (in the Levant).

Since Secrets is probably a late text, written after the described events, we need to refer to earlier texts to see if the Jews had indeed accepted the Prophet Muhammad's leadership. One of the earliest non-Muslim references to the rise of Islam is the Doctrina Jacobi, a Greek Christian anti-Jewish polemical text written in 634 CE (just two years after the passing of the Prophet). Regarding the Muslim conquest, it says the following:

"When the candidatus [i.e., Sergios, commander of the Byzantine army in Palestine] was killed by the Saracens, I was at Caesarea and I set off by boat to Sykamina. People were saying "the candidatus has been killed," and we Jews were overjoyed. And they were saying that the prophet had appeared, coming with the Saracens, and that he was proclaiming the advent of the anointed one, the Christ who was to come. I, having arrived at Sykamina, stopped by a certain old man well-versed in scriptures, and I said to him: "What can you tell me about the prophet who has appeared with the Saracens?" He replied, groaning deeply: "He is false, for the prophets do not come armed with a sword. Truly they are works of anarchy being committed today and I fear that the first Christ to come, whom the Christians worship, was the one sent by God and we instead are preparing to receive the Antichrist. Indeed, Isaiah said that the Jews would retain a perverted and hardened heart until all the earth should be devastated. But you go, master Abraham, and find out about the prophet who has appeared." So I, Abraham, inquired and heard from those who had met him that there was no truth to be found in the so-called prophet, only the shedding of men's blood. He says also that he has the keys of paradise, which is incredible."

In this excerpt, the Jews in Byzantium celebrated the death of the Byzantine commander, killed by the Saracens (Arab Muslims). Muhammad is, again, referred to as "the prophet", which could be a reference to the Jewish expectation of "the Prophet" found in the Gospel of John 1:21 and Deuteronomy 18:18, heralding the coming of the Messiah. The text then moves to a conversation with an unnamed old Jewish man, who says that this is a false Prophet because "prophets do not come armed with a sword". This, of course, is false and contradicted by past scriptures, where prophets battled against their opponents. This man then expresses a fear that his people were wrong in rejecting Jesus - remember, again, this is a Christian polemical text. In this conversation, the man blames the Jews of hard-heartedness, implying that this is due to their acceptance of Muhammad (s) and their rise against the Christians.

Thus, in as early as 634 CE, Christians were writing about how the Jews fit Muhammad (s) into prophecy, which lends more credence to the idea that he was an expected figure.

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9 hours ago, Qa'im said:

And there shall arise a great king from Hasarmawet (cf. Gen 10:26)

9 hours ago, Qa'im said:

"Hasarmawet" ( حضر موت , dwelling of death) is in Arabia.

What is the relation between Imam Ali(a.s.) and region of hadarmawth? The secrets text says 'from hadarmawth'. 

 

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6 hours ago, Zigzag said:

What is the relation between Imam Ali(a.s.) and region of hadarmawth? The secrets text says 'from hadarmawth'. 

If you read the full text, it is a chronological record of the early Caliphate that then leads into the apocalypse with the rise of Armilus. InshaAllah I will elaborate on this in a future chapter. Until then I encourage you to read through the first pages of this thread :)

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فقال له اليهودي: فهذا موسى بن عمران آتاه الله عزوجل التوراة التي فيها حكمه؟
قال له علي (عليه السلام): لقد كان كذلك، ومحمد (صلى الله عليه وآله) اُعطي ما هو أفضل منه، اُعطي محمد (صلى الله عليه وآله) سورة البقرة والمائدة بالانجيل، وطواسين وطه ونصف المفصل والحواميم بالتوراة، واُعطي نصف المفصل والتسابيح بالزبور، واُعطي سورة بني اسرائيل وبراءة بصحف ابراهيم وصحف موسى عليهما السلام وزاد الله عزّوجلّ محمداً السبع الطوال وفاتحة الكتاب ـ وهي السبع المثاني والقرآن العظيم واُعطي الكتاب والحكمة.
قال له اليهودي: فان موسى ناجاه الله على طور سيناء؟
قال له علي (عليه السلام): لقد كان كذلك، ولقد أوحى الله إلى محمد (صلى الله عليه وآله) عند سدرة المنتهى، فمقامه في السماء محمود وعند منتهى العرش مذكور.
قال اليهودي: فلقد ألقى الله على موسى بن عمران محبة منه؟
قال علي (عليه السلام): لقد كان كذلك، ولقد اُعطي محمد (صلى الله عليه وآله) ما هو أفضل من هذا، لقد ألقى الله محبة منه، فمن هذا الذي يشركه في هذا الاسم، إذ تم من الله به الشهادة، فلا تتم الشهادة إلاّ أن يقال: أشهد أن لا إله إلاّ الله وأشهد أن محمداً رسول الله ينادى به على المنابر فلا يرفع صوت بذكر الله إلاّ رفع بذكر محمد (صلى الله عليه وآله) معه.
قال له اليهودي: فلقد أوحى الله إلى اُمّ موسى لفضل منزلة موسى (عليه السلام) عند الله عزّوجلّ؟
قال له علي (عليه السلام): لقد كان كذلك، ولقد لطف الله جلّ ثناؤه لاُم محمد (صلى الله عليه وآله) بأن أوصل اليها اسمه حتى قالت: أشهد والعالمون أن محمداً رسول الله منتظر، وشهد الملائكة على الأنبياء أنهم أثبتوه في الأسفار، وبلطف من الله عزوجل ساقه اليها وأوصل اليها اسمه لفضل منزلته عنده حتى رأت في المنام أنه قيل لها إن ما في بطنك سيد فاذا ولدته فسميه محمداً، فاشتق الله له اسماً من أسمائه، فالله المحمود وهذا
محمد.
قال له اليهودي: فإن موسى بن عمران قد أرسله الله إلى فرعون وأراه الآية الكبرى؟
قال له علي (عليه السلام): لقد كان كذلك، ومحمد أُرسل إلى فراعنة شتى: مثل أبي جهل ابن هشام وعتبة بن ربيعة وشيبة وأبي البختري والنضر بن الحرث وأُبي بن خلف ومنبه ونبيه ابني الحجاج، وإلى الخمسة المستهزئين: الوليد بن المغيرة المخزومي، والعاص بن وائل السهمي، والأسود بن عبد يغوث الزهري، والأسود بن المطلب، والحرث بن أبي الطلالة، فأراهم الآيات في الآفاق وفي أنفسهم حتى يتبين لهم أنه الحق.
قال له اليهودي: لقد انتقم الله عزوجل لموسى من فرعون؟
قال له علي (عليه السلام): لقد كان كذلك، ولقد انتقم الله جلّ اسمه لمحمد (صلى الله عليه وآله) من الفراعنة: فأما المستهزؤن فقال الله: {إِنَّا كَفَيْنَاكَ الْمُسْتَهْزِئِيْنَ}(1) فقتل الله خمستهم كل واحد منهم بغير قتلة صاحبه في يوم واحد، فأما الوليد بن المغيرة فمر بنبل رجل من خزاعة قد راشه ووضع في الطريق فأصابه شظية منه فانقطع اكحله حتى أدماه فمات وهو يقول: قتلني ربّ محمد، وأما العاص بن الوائل السهمي فانه خرج في حاجة له إلى موضع فتدهده تحته حجر فسقط فتقطع قطعة قطعة فمات وهو يقول: قتلني ربّ محمد، وأما الأسود بن عبد يغوث فانه خرج يستقبل ابنه زمعة فاستظل بشجرة، فأتاه جبرئيل فأخذ رأسه فنطح به الشجرة، فقال لغلامه: امنع هذا مني! فقال: ما أرى أحداً يصنع شيئاً إلاّ نفسك، فقتله وهو يقول قتلني رب محمد، وأما الأسود بن المطلب: فان النبي (صلى الله عليه وآله) دعا عليه أن يعمي الله بصره وأن يثكله ولده، فلما كان في ذلك اليوم خرج حتى صار إلى موضع أتاه جبرئيل بورقة خضراء
فضرب بها وجهه فعمى وبقي حتى أثكله الله عزوجل ولده، وأما الحرث بن أبي الطلالة، فانه خرج من بيته في السموم فتحول حبشياً، فرجع إلى أهله فقال: أنا الحرث فغضبوا عليه فقتلوه وهو يقول: قتلني ربّ محمد، كل ذلك في ساعة واحدة، وذلك أنهم كانوا بين يدي رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله) فقالوا له: يامحمد ننتظر بك إلى الظهر فإن رجعت عن قولك وإلاّ قتلناك، فدخل النبي (صلى الله عليه وآله) منزله فأغلق عليه بابه مغتماً لقولهم، فأتاه جبرئيل عن الله من ساعته فقال: يامحمد السلام يقرأ عليك السلام، وهو يقول لك: {فَاصْدَعْ بِمَا تُؤْمَرْ وَأَعْرِضٌ عَنِ الْمُشْرِكِيْنَ}(1) يعني أظهر أمرك لأهل مكة وادعهم إلى الايمان، قال: ياجبرئيل كيف أصنع بالمستهزئين وما أوعدوني؟ قال له: {إِنَّا كَفَيْنَاكَ الْمُسْتَهْزِئِيْنَ}(2) قال: ياجبرئيل كانوا الساعة بين يدي، قال: كفيتهم، وأظهر أمره عند ذلك، وأما بقية الفراعنة: قتلوا يوم بدر بالسيف فهزم الله الجميع وولوا الدبر.
قال له اليهودي: فان موسى بن عمران قد اُعطي العصا فكان تحول ثعباناً؟
قال له علي (عليه السلام): لقد كان كذلك، ومحمد (صلى الله عليه وآله) اُعطي ما هو أفضل من هذا، إن رجلا كان يطالب أبا جهل بن هشام بدين ثمن جزور قد اشتراه فاشتغل عنه وجلس يشرب، فطلبه الرجل فلم يقدر عليه، فقال له بعض المستهزئين من تطلب؟ فقال: عمرو بن هشام ـ يعني أبا جهل ـ لي عليه دين، قال: فأدلك على من يستخرج منه الحقوق؟ قال نعم: فدله على النبي (صلى الله عليه وآله)، وكان أبو جهل يقول ليت لمحمد إليّ حاجة فأسخر به وأرده، فأتى الرجل النبي (صلى الله عليه وآله) فقال: يامحمد بلغني أن بينك وبين عمرو بن هشام حسن صداقة وأنا استشفع بك اليه، فقام معه رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله) فأتى بابه، فقال له: قم ياأبا جهل فأدّ إلى الرجل حقه، وإنما كناه بأبي جهل
ذلك اليوم، فقام مسرعاً حتى أدّى اليه حقه، فلما رجع إلى مجلسه قال له بعض أصحابه: فعلت ذلك فرقاً من محمد؟ قال: ويحكم اعذروني إنه لما أقبل رأيت عن يمينه رجالا معهم حراب تتلألأ وعن يساره ثعبانين تصطلك أسنانهما وتلمع النيران من أبصارهما لو امتنعت لم آمن أن يبعجوا بالحراب بطني وتقضمني الثعبانان.
هذا أكبر ما اُعطي موسى ثعبان بثعبان موسى، وزاد الله محمداً ثعباناً وثمانية أملاك معهم الحراب، ولقد كان النبي (صلى الله عليه وآله) يؤذي قريشاً بالدعاء، فقام يوماً فسفه أحلامهم وعاب دينهم وشتم أصنامهم وضلل آبائهم فاغتموا من ذلك غماً شديداً، فقال أبو جهل والله للموت خير لنا من الحياة فليس فيكم معاشر قريش أحد يقتل محمداً فيقتل به، قالوا: لا، قال: فأنا أقتله، فان شاءت بنو عبدالمطلب قتلوني به وإلاّ تركوني، قالوا: إنك إن فعلت ذلك إصطنعت إلى أهل الوادي معروفاً لا تزال تذكر به، قال: إنه كثير السجود حول الكعبة فاذا جاء وسجد أخذت حجراً فشدخته به، فجاء رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله) فطاف بالبيت اسبوعاً ثم صلّى وأطال السجود، فأخذ أبو جهل حجراً فأتاه من قبل رأسه فلما أن قرب منه، أقبل فحل من قبل رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله) فاغراً فاه نحوه، فلما أن رآه أبو جهل فزع منه وارتعدت يده وطرح الحجر فشدخ رجله فرجع مدمّى متغير اللون يفيض عرقاً، فقال له أصحابه ما رأيناك كاليوم؟! قال ويحكم اعذروني فانه أقبل من عنده فحل فاغراً فاه فكاد يبتلعني فرميت بالحجر فشدخت رجلي.
قال اليهودي فإن موسى قد اُعطي اليد البيضاء فهل فعل بمحمد شيء من ذلك؟
قال له علي (عليه السلام): لقد كان كذلك، ومحمد (صلى الله عليه وآله) اُعطي ما هو من هذا، إن نوراً كان يضيئ عن يمينه حيثما جلس وعن يساره حيثما جلس، وكان يراه الناس كلهم.
قال له اليهودي: فإن موسى (عليه السلام) قد ضرب له طريق في البحر، فهل فعل بمحمد شيء من هذا؟
فقال له علي (عليه السلام): لقد كان كذلك، ومحمد (صلى الله عليه وآله) اُعطي ما هو أفضل من هذا، خرجنا معه إلى حنين، فاذا نحن بواد يشخب فقدّرناه فاذا هو أربعة عشر قامة، فقالوا: يارسول الله العدو من ورائنا والوادي أمامنا، كما قال أصحاب موسى {إنا لمدركون} فنزل رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله) ثم قال: اللهم إنك جعلت لكل مرسل دلالة فأرني قدرتك، وركب (صلى الله عليه وآله) فعبرت الخيل لا تندى حوافرها، والابل لا تندى أخفافها، فرجعنا فكان فتحنا.
قال له اليهودي: فإن موسى (عليه السلام) قد اُعطي الحجر فانبجست منه اثنتا عشر عيناً؟
قال علي (عليه السلام): لقد كان كذلك، ومحمد (صلى الله عليه وآله) لما نزل الحديبية وحاصره أهل مكة قد اُعطي ما هو أفضل من ذلك، وذلك أن أصحابه شكوا اليه الظمأ وأصابهم ذلك حتى التقت خواصر الخيل، فذكروا له (صلى الله عليه وآله)، فدعا بركوة يمانية ثم نصب يده المباركة فيها فتفجرت من بين أصابعه عيون الماء، فصدرنا وصدرت الخيل رواء وملأنا كل مزادة وسقاء، ولقد كنا معه بالحديبية فاذا ثم قليب جافة، فأخرج (صلى الله عليه وآله) سهماً من كنانته فناوله البراء بن عازب وقال له: اذهب بهذا السهم إلى تلك القليب الجافة فاغرسه فيها، ففعل ذلك فتفجر اثنتا عشر عيناً من تحت السهم، ولقد كان يوم الميضاة عبرة وعلامة للمنكرين لنبوته، كحجر موسى حيث دعا بالميضاة فنصب يده فيها ففاض الماء وارتفع حتى توضأ منه ثمانية آلاف رجل فشربوا حاجتهم وسقوا دوابهم وحملوا ما أرادوا.
قال له اليهودي: فإن موسى اُعطي المن والسلوى فهل اُعطي لمحمد نظير هذا؟
قال له علي (عليه السلام): لقد كان كذلك، ومحمد (صلى الله عليه وآله) اُعطي ما هو أفضل من هذا، إن الله
أحل له الغنائم ولاُمته، ولم تحل الغنائم لأحد غيره قبله، فهذا أفضل من المنّ والسلوى، ثم زاده أن جعل النية له ولاُمته كمن عمل عملا صالحاً، ولم يجعل لأحد من الاُمم ذلك قبله، فاذا همّ أحدهم بحسنة ولم يعملها كتبت له حسنة، فان عملها كتبت له عشرة.
قال له اليهودي: إن موسى (عليه السلام) قد ظلل عليه الغمام؟
قال له علي (عليه السلام): لقد كان كذلك، وقد فعل ذلك بموسى في التيه، واُعطي محمد (صلى الله عليه وآله) أفضل من هذا، إن الغمامة كانت تظله من يوم ولد إلى يوم قبض، في حضره وأسفاره، فهذا أفضل مما اُعطي موسى.

A rabbi from Syria, who read the Torah, Gospel, Psalms, and the books of the prophets [a], and knew their signs, came to a gathering which had some companions of the Messenger of Allah (s). Among them was `Ali b. Abi Talib [a], Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud, and Abu Sa`eed al-Juhni.

The rabbi said, “O nation of Muhammad! You have not left a rank or a virtue of a prophet or messenger except that you have attributed it to your Prophet, so can you answer me regarding what I will ask you about?”

The people strayed away from him, so `Ali b. Abi Talib [a] said, “Yes – Allah has not given a rank or a virtue to any prophet or messenger except that He gathered them all in Muhammad (s); and He raised Muhammad over the prophets many times over.”

So the rabbi said, “Allah gave Moses the Torah wherein is His wisdom.”

`Ali [a] replied, “Yes, and Muhammad (s) was given that which was better than it. He gave Muhammad (s) Surat al-Baqara and al-Ma’ida instead of the Gospel, and the chapters beginning with Ta Seen, Ta Ha, and Ha Meem instead of the Torah, and the supplications instead of the Psalms, and Surat Bani Israel and Bara’a instead of the scrolls of Abraham [a] and Moses [a]. Allah increased Muhammad with seven long chapters and the Fatiha of the Book – and it is the Seven Oft-Coupled Verses – and the [rest of the] Qur’an. He gave him the Book and the Wisdom."

The rabbi said, “Allah whispered to Moses on Mount Sinai.”

`Ali said, “Yes, and Allah revealed to Muhammad (s) at the Lote Tree of the Furthest Boundary, and lifted him in the heavens honourably to the furthest part of the Throne.”

The rabbi said, “Allah gave Moses love.”

`Ali said, “Yes, and what He gave Muhammad (s) is greater than that. He gave him love, and that is why He paired his name with His own at the end of the declaration of faith. The declaration of faith is not completed without saying, ‘I bear witness that there is no god except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’. It is called upon the minarets, and so a voice is not raised with Allah’s mention without the mention of Muhammad (s) with Him.”

The rabbi said, “Allah revealed to the mother of Moses due to the virtue of the rank of Moses [a] with Allah.”

`Ali said, “Yes, and Allah was gentle with the mother of Muhammad (s) because He sent her his name, until she said, ‘I bear witness that Muhammad is the awaited Messenger of Allah’. The angels bore witness that the prophets established his name in the scriptures. It was Allah’s favour that He sent his name to her in virtue of his rank to Him. She saw in a dream that He said to her, ‘The one in your womb is a Master, so when you give birth to him, name him Muhammad.’ Allah derived the name form His own name, for Allah is the Praised One (Mahmood) and this is Muhammad.”

The rabbi said, “Moses the son of `Imran was sent by Allah to Pharaoh, and he showed him the great sign.”

`Ali said, “Yes, and Muhammad was sent to several pharaohs: such as Abu Jahl, Ibn Hisham, `Utbah b. Rabi`a, Shayba, Abu’l Bakhtari, Nadr b. al-Harith, Ubay b. Khalaf, Munabbih, and Nabeeh b. al-Hajjaj. And [he was sent] to five mockers: al-Waleed b. al-Mugheera al-Makhzumi, al-`As b. Wa’il as-Sahmi, al-Aswad b. `Abd Yaghooth az-Zuhri, Aswad b. al-Muttalib, and al-Harith b. Abu’l Talalah. He showed them signs in the horizons and in their souls until the truth became clear to them.”

The rabbi said, “Allah sought vengeance for Moses against Pharaoh.”

`Ali said, “Yes, and Allah sought vengeance for Muhammad (s) against the pharaohs. As for the mockers, Allah said, ‘Surely, We defend you from the mockers’ (15:95), so Allah killed all five of them [miraculously] in one day."

The rabbi said, “Moses was given an illuminating hand, so did He give Muhammad anything like that?”

`Ali [a] said, “Yes, and Muhammad (s) was given something like this: a light that would illuminate to his right and to his left wherever he sat, and all of the people would see that.”

The rabbi said, “Moses [a] was given a path in the sea, so did Muhammad do anything like that?”

`Ali [a] said, “Yes, and Muhammad (s) was given something better than that. We went out with him to Hunayn, and we came to a valley that was one hundred and ninety-six feet steep. So they said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, the enemies are behind us and the valley is in front of us’, just as the companions of Moses said, ‘Surely we are about to be overtaken!’ (26:61). So the Messenger of Allah (s) came down and said, ‘O Allah, You have given every messenger a sign, so show me Your power’.
Then, he (s) mounted, and the horses and camels climbed [over the valley] without wetting their hooves, and we returned, and it was clear.

The rabbi said, “Moses [a] was given the rock, which cleaved twelve springs.”

`Ali [a] said, “Yes, and Muhammad (s) disembarked at Hudaybiyya and the people of Mecca had surrounded him, he was given something greater than that. His companions complained to him of thirst, to the point where they considered drinking from horses. So he (s) called for a vessel, then he placed his blessed hand in it, and springs of water gushed between his fingers. So we drank it, gave it to the horses, and filled our vessels and containers with it. We were with him in Hudaybiyya, and there was a dry well, so he (s) took and arrow from his quiver and he gave it to al-Bara’a b. `Azeb and said to him, ‘Take this arrow to that dry well and drop it inside.’ So he did that, and twelve springs came out of the arrow. This day of ablution was a lesson and a sign to those who doubted his prophethood, just like the stone of Moses. He (s) called for a place of ablution, so he placed his hand in it and the water flowed, and it rose until eighty thousand men performed ablution from it, drank their fill from it, gave it to their animals, and carried however much they wanted with them.”

The rabbi said, “Moses was given manna and salwa, so was Muhammad given something like this?”

`Ali [a] said, “Yes, and Muhammad (s) was given that which was better than this. Allah made the spoils of war lawful for him and his nation, and the spoils were not made lawful for anyone before him. This is better than manna and salwa. Then, He increased him by counting his good intentions and the good intentions of his nation as good deeds, and that was not given to any nation before him. So whoever form them intends to do a good thing and he cannot, it is written as a good deed for him. If he does it, then ten good deeds are written for him."

The rabbi said, “Moses [a] had a cloud that shaded him.”

`Ali [a] said, “Yes, but He only did that for Moses in the wilderness, while He gave Muhammad (s) something better than that. Surely, the cloud would shade him from the day of his birth until the day he passed away, in his presence and in his travels – so this is better than what was given to Moses."

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Numerology plays a central role in Jewish exegesis and ritual practice. Numerological connections are made in the scriptures to better understand the significance of words, dates, and numbers. One of the most important numbers is 7, which represents creation, cycles, and completion. In Jewish mystical numerology, when a number is squared, it represents its epitome form. In this case, 7x7 is 49, which is 7 at its highest and most emphasized form.

But there is a unique relationship between the numbers 49 and 50 in Judaism. 50 (7x7+1) represents purification and redemption. There are 50 days between Pesach and Shavout, because the Israelite exodus from Egypt to the Sinai took 50 days. On the 50th day, they received the Torah. In short, since 49 is highest expression of natural systems, 49+1 represents a movement from the natural to the supernatural. 50 is a leap to the transcendental realm. It is to go beyond the physical realm, which is limited by the 7 directions (forward, backward, right, left, up, down, and centre), and to enter a spiritual realm. The exodus from Egypt to the Sinai was not only a physical journey, but a spiritual one that allowed their minds to move away from their old life. The Exodus is also mentioned 50 times in the Torah. Furthermore, in Daniel 9:24, the Israelites are given 7 "weeks" (7x7=49) to purify themselves and rid themselves of sin.

Thus, 49 came to represent impurity - although it is the square of a powerful number, it is limited. 50 is the symbol of change and renewal, where the 49 gates of impurity are transcended and a new plane is entered. In the Kabbalah tradition, there are even fifty gates of wisdom: 49 days of self-evaluation, and then purification on the 50th day.

Furthermore, 500 (7x7+1)x10 represents a higher level of purification. 500 years represents the distance between cosmic realms and aeons, heaven and earth, and the different levels between the heavens.

The Temple in Jerusalem was the centre of Jewish activity. It represented the covenant between Israel and God. Perhaps the main prediction of Jesus was the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, which would represent the end of the Second-Temple Period. When the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, the Jews awaited a deliverance. It is not a coincidence then that the Prophet Muhammad (s) was born in 570 CE, as he represented a new covenant, and would purify God's message fully and prepare a new Temple in Mecca. After all, Jesus said, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." (Matthew 21:47)

There was much happening prior to the birth of the Prophet, including Justinian I's desecration of the Temple Mount and pillaging of the region in 560 (490 years after 70 CE), and the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 CE, which finalized the dogmas of the Trinity, Mary being the Mother of God, and Incarnation; which alienated Gnostics, Nestorians, and other non-Trinitarian Christian sects in Arabia and Persia.

One hadith even says that there were 500 years between Jesus and Muhammad (probably a rounded figure), which may be a literary device presenting this fetra as a period of impurity, and its end as a new beginning. The Prophet would not only purify monotheism, but he purified the Ka`ba of Abraham, and set a movement that would defeat the Arab, Roman, and Persian polytheists. The Muslims freed the holy land and established a polity that would respect Muslims, Christians, and Jews together. Most importantly, the Prophet's coming was a part of an entirely new divine covenant that God would take with him and the whole world: the completion of the old world (490), and the entry into an entirely new one (500).

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Part 15: The Book of Revelations

The last and most mysterious book of the Bible is the Book of Revelation. Although it is attributed to John the Evangelist, its authorship has been disputed since early Christian history, and cannot be ascertained. Early Church tradition and modern scholarship dates the book to around 70-100 CE, which means that it was composed in the same years as the four Gospels. The book is a cryptic apocalyptic text that lays out an End Times scenario dressed in fantastical imagery. Most of the book echoes Old Testament prophecy, with many symbolic parallels with the books of Daniel and Isaiah. The author, who saw Jesus as "the alpha and the omega" (Revelation 22:13), probably saw himself as a prophet relaying an alleged dream in the form of an apocalyptic narrative. Although the Book of Revelation struggled to gain canonical status, it is valuable due to its early composition and its relevance to Jewish prophecy. However dubious the work may be, it still may have inherited authentic symbols and ideas from the Judeao-Christian tradition.

There are many possible connections to the Ahl al-Bayt in this book, some of which are too strong to ignore.

To be continued.

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2 hours ago, Qa'im said:

Part 15: The Book of Revelations

The last and most mysterious book of the Bible is the Book of Revelation. Although it is attributed to John the Evangelist, its authorship has been disputed since early Christian history, and cannot be ascertained. Early Church tradition and modern scholarship dates the book to around 70-100 CE, which means that it was composed in the same years as the four Gospels. The book is a cryptic apocalyptic text that lays out an End Times scenario dressed in fantastical imagery. Most of the book echoes Old Testament prophecy, with many symbolic parallels with the books of Daniel and Isaiah. [B!]The author, who saw Jesus as "the alpha and the omega" (Revelation 22:13), probably saw himself as a prophet relaying an alleged dream in the form of an apocalyptic narrative.[/b] Although the Book of Revelation struggled to gain canonical status, it is valuable due to its early composition and its relevance to Jewish prophecy. However dubious the work may be, it still may have inherited authentic symbols and ideas from the Judeao-Christian tradition.

There are many possible connections to the Ahl al-Bayt in this book, some of which are too strong to ignore.

To be continued.

So there is a possibility that this book is simply the imagination of man? How can it then be possibly related to the Ahlulbayt (AS)?

Edited by E.L King

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9 hours ago, E.L King said:

So there is a possibility that this book is simply the imagination of man? How can it then be possibly related to the Ahlulbayt (AS)?

All books in the Bible have dubious authorship, preservation, and content, and Revelations is no exception. The Bible is not binding upon us, and I would not consider it to be the verbatim word of God. But like a da`eef hadith, it's not worthless - these books come out of a time, atmosphere, and geography that would have inherited some of the prophetic message of that time. I think the author of Revelations was a fraud, but the book was written earlier than many of the components of the New Testament, and it draws on the Judeao-Christian exegesis of that time (i.e. it is not completely of the imagination of its author). It is a unique commentary of Judeao-Christian eschatology that may have inherited some of the oral tradition of that time, and resonated with many people. This thread is about finding connections between these scriptures - as problematic as they may be - and the Ahl al-Bayt. We believe that the Prophet and his family were central to the Islamic message, and so finding prophecies related to them would be commonplace but very noteworthy.

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New Jerusalem

There are many ancient references to the mystical cities of Jabulqa and Jabulsa, which are two cities (or realms) in the far east and the far west. They are related in Tabari and in Shi`i hadith books, and some Persian geographers would place them on the far ends of their maps. Both cities are given both tellurian and angelic properties in the hadith literature.

 

Amir al-Mu'mineen [a] said, "For Allah, there is a city behind the sunset called Jabulqa. In Jabulqa, there are seventy thousand nations that are unlike this nation. They do not disobey Allah, even for an instant. They do not do anything nor do they say anything except pray against the first two, disassociate from them, and pay allegiance to the Ahl al-Bayt of the Messenger of Allah." ( عن محمد بن الحسين، عن صفوان بن يحيي، عن بعض رجاله عن أبي عبد الله عن أبيه، عن علي بن الحسين، عن أمير المؤمنين عليهم السلام قال: إن لله بلدة خلف المغرب يقال لها (جابلقا) وفي جابلقا سبعون ألف أمة ليس منها أمة إلا مثل هذه الأمة، فما عصوا الله طرفة عين، فما يعملون عملا ولا يقولون قولا إلا الدعاء على الأولين (1) والبراءة منهما، والولاية لأهل بيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله.)

A man came to Imam Ja`far [a] and said, "May I be your sacrifice! Is this [atmosphere] the dome of Adam?" The Imam said, "Yes. For Allah, there are many domes. Surely, behind this sunset of yours, there are thirty nine sunsets. There is a white planet that is illuminated by His light, and it is filled with creatures that do not disobey Allah for a moment. They do not know whether or not Adam was created. They disassociate from the two." (عن محمد بن يحيى ، عن أحمد بن محمد ، عن أبي يحيى الواسطي ، عن عجلان بن صالح [٢] قال : دخل رجل على أبي عبدالله 7 فقال له : جعلت فداك ، هذه قبة آدم؟ قال : نعم : ولله قباب كثيرة ، ألا إن خلف مغربكم هذا تسعة وثلاثون مغربا أرضا بيضاء مملوة خلقا يستضيئون بنوره ، لم يعصوا الله عزوجل طرفة عين ما يدرون خلق آدم أم لم يخلق ، يبرؤن من فلان وفلان

Imam as-Sadiq [a] said, "For Allah there is a city in the east. Its name is Jabulqa. It has twelve thousand gates made of gold. Between each gate there is a distance of five kilometres. Upon each gate, there is a tower that has twelve thousand soldiers milking their horses, sharpening their swords and weapons, and awaiting the rise of our Qa'im. For Allah there is a city in the west. Its name is Jabursa (sic). It has twelve thousand gates made of gold. Between each gate there is a distance of five kilometres. Upon each gate, there is a tower that has twelve thousand soldiers milking their horses, sharpening their swords and weapons, and awaiting the rise of our Qa'im. And I am the Proof upon them." (عن سعد، عن الحسين بن عبد الصمد، عن الحسن بن علي، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن أبي الهيثم خالد الأرمني، عن هشام بن سالم، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال: إن لله عز وجل مدينة بالمشرق اسمها (جابلقا) لها اثنا عشر ألف باب من ذهب، بين كل باب إلى صاحبه مسيرة فرسخ، على كل باب برج فيه اثنا عشر ألف مقاتل، يهلبون الخيل، ويشحذون السيوف والسلاح، ينتظرون قيام قائمنا، وإن لله عز وجل بالمغرب مدينة يقال لها (جابرسا) لها اثنا عشر ألف باب من ذهب بين كل باب إلى صاحبه مسيرة فرسخ، على كل باب برج فيه اثنا عشر ألف مقاتل، يهلبون الخيل، ويشحذون السلاح والسيوف، ينتظرون قائمنا، وأنا الحجة عليهم)

Imam as-Sadiq [a] said, "Surely, behind this sunset of yours, there are thirty nine sunsets. There is a white planet that is illuminated by His light, and it is filled with creatures that do not disobey Allah for a moment. They do not know whether or not Adam was created. They disassociate from the two." (ألا إن خلف مغربكم هذا تسعة وثلاثون مغربا أرضا بيضاء مملوة خلقا يستضيئون بنوره ، لم يعصوا الله عزوجل طرفة عين ما يدرون خلق آدم أم لم يخلق ، يبرؤن من فلان وفلان)

Imam al-Hasan عليه السلام said: Allah has two cities, one in the East and the other in the West. They have a boundary made of iron. Each of them has a million doors, and in them are seventy million languages. Each language is spoken differently from the language of its owner(?), and I know all of the languages – those in the two cities, and those between the two cities. Upon them is no hujja other than me and other than my brother al-Husayn. ( أحمد بن محمد ومحمد بن يحيى، عن محمد بن الحسن، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن رجاله، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال: إن الحسن عليه السلام قال: إن لله مدينتين إحداهما بالمشرق والاخرى بالمغرب، عليهما سور من حديد وعلى كل واحد منهما ألف ألف مصراع وفيها سبعون ألف ألف لغة، يتكلم كل لغة بخلاف لغة صاحبها وأنا أعرف جميع اللغات وما فيهما وما بينهما، وما عليهما حجة غيري وغير الحسين أخي. )

Imam as-Sadiq [a] said, "For Allah there are two cities: one in the West, and one in the East. They are called Jabulqa and Jabursa. The length of each city is twelve thousand parasangs. In every parsang there is a door, and seventy thousand [beings] enter each door every day, and the same amount exit from them, and they will not return until the Day of Resurrection. They do not know that Allah created Adam, Iblees, the Sun, or the Moon. They are, by Allah, more obedient to us than you are. They came to us with fruit outside of its season, and they constantly curse Pharaoh, Haman, and Qarun." ( وروى من كتاب الواحدة عن الصادق عليه السلام أن لله مدينتين: إحداهما بالمغرب، والأخرى بالمشرق، يقال لهما جابلقا وجابرسا، طول كل مدينة منهما اثنا عشر ألف فرسخ، في كل فرسخ باب، يدخلون في كل [يوم من كل] باب سبعون ألفا، ويخرج منها مثل ذلك، ولا يعودون إلى يوم القيامة، لا يعلمون أن الله خلق آدم، ولا إبليس، ولا شمس، ولا قمر، هم والله أطوع لنا منكم، يأتونا بالفاكهة في غير أوانها، موكلين بلعنة فرعون وهامان وقارون.)

 

Some references tie the cities to Gog and Magog, because Dhul Qarnayn went to the abode of the sunset (18:86) and built an iron garrison. Later sources have tied the city of Jabulqa to the Green Island, saying that it is the emerald abode of the Mahdi during his occultation.

Since we know that no such physical cities exist on this terrestrial Earth, we must conclude that these angelic cities are indeed "behind the sunset", or "forty sunsets" away (40 representing a large number); either on a distant planet or in a spiritual realm. There are a number of interesting characteristics to these cities: they are very large and very far, they have a close relationship with the Ahl al-Bayt, they have access to knowledge that we do not know, and they are awaiting the appearance of the Imam to assist him. Jabulqa shines with the light of God, just as the angels are created from noor, and just as the Earth will be illuminated by God's light upon the return of the Mahdi.

The description of these cities is strikingly similar to the Book of Revelations' description of New Jerusalem:

 

"One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadiac in length, and as wide and high as it is long. The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.f The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life."
(Revelations 21)

 

This is the most detailed description of New Jerusalem in the Bible. New Jerusalem is the Messianic capital, which is briefly described in the books of Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Isaiah with its walls, its twelve gates, its jewels, and its pure righteousness. The concept is then expounded upon in Jewish apocrypha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Book of Revelation. New Jerusalem is the celestial or earthly (or both) community of the righteous, which is beyond destruction and beyond corruption, whether by Babylonians, Romans, or the Jewish elite.

To be continued.

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The measurement, description, and dimensions of this mystical city is consistent across some Christian, Shi`i, and mystical Jewish books. The Galya Raza, a 16th century Kabbalist text, states that the real Holy Land of the Resurrection is an island, 600x600 parasangs, floating in a mystical ocean. Kabbalistic descriptions of the New Jerusalem tend to involve huge numbers of gates, towers, glowing jewels, and cosmic dimensions.

In the Dead Sea Scrolls, the New Jerusalem Scroll describes a vast city, square in shape, with twelve gates and encircled by golden walls. "He showed me the dimension of the twelve [gates] ... On either side of each of the doors were towers... All of it built of electrum and sapphire and chalcedony with beams of gold." (New Jerusalem Scroll, 4Q554)

Around the same time that the Book of Revelations was being authored, Jewish pseudepigrapha describes the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and the coming of a heavenly Jerusalem in 2 Esdras and 2 Baruch. "The heavenly Jerusalem: 2 [Dost you think that this is that city of which I said: "On the palms of My hands have I graven you" 3 This building now built in your midst is not that which is revealed with Me, that which prepared beforehand here from the time when I took counsel to make Paradise, and showed Adam before he sinned, but when he transgressed the commandment it was removed from him, as also Paradise. 4 And after these things I showed it to My servant Abraham by night among the portions of the victims. 5 And again also I showed it to Moses on Mount Sinai when I showed to the likeness of the tabernacle and all its vessels. 6 And now, behold, it is preserved with Me, as Paradise. 7 Go, therefore, and do as I command you.'" (2 Baruch 4:2-7)

We also see twelve heavenly gates to a square Paradise in the Book of Enoch, chapters 33-35.

The hadiths describe an intimate link between this heavenly city and the Ahl al-Bayt. Although its inhabitants know nothing of Adam and Iblees, they pay their allegiance to the Imams and disassociate from their enemies. This is an interesting understanding of the affect the Ahl al-Bayt have on other parts of the universe. There is also a notable relationship between this city and the messianic age. Its inhabitants await the Mahdi, and will support him upon his uprising.

to be continued.

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Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq [a] said, "Surely, Gabriel came to the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم with a scroll sealed with seven seals of gold. He instructed him to give them to `Ali b. Abi Talib when his life would expire so that he may act by what is in it, and not to permit anyone other than him [to read it]; and to order each deputy after him to detach his seal, act by what is in it, and not permit it to other than him." (ير: محمد بن الحسين عن موسى بن سعدان عن عبد الله بن القاسم عن عبد الله بن سنان قال: سمعت أبا عبد الله (عليه السلام) يقول: إن جبرئيل أتى رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) بصحيفة مختومة بسبع خواتيم من ذهب وأمر إذا حضره أجله أن يدفعها إلى علي بن أبي طالب فيعمل بما فيه، ولا يجوزه إلى غيره وأن يأمر كل وصي من بعده أن يفك خاتمه ويعمل بما فيه ولا يجوز غيره)

One of the most prominent and mysterious prophecies in the Book of Revelation is that of the Seven Seals. The notion appears in a few of our hadiths, delineating the challenges and tasks of the early Imams. If read closely, the prophecy can be understood as a foretelling of the Caliphal schism.

The following is Chapter 6 from the Book of Revelation:

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword. When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.  I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”

On a side note: The cited hadith on this topic does not specify how many seals would be given to each Imam, nor does it say that every future Imam will receive a seal. Imam `Ali may have given himself several seals, and others to his children.

Anyway, let us interpret this prophecy line by line:

The first seal is opened. As the hadith says, this happens upon the Prophet's passing from this world. This is when the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse comes out. "I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest." This description fits Abi Bakr, who is the first person to usurp the crown (i.e. the Caliphate). He rides a pale horse, symbolizing death. He sets to conquer: and indeed, Abi Bakr fights the zakat withholders, the false prophets, the Byzantines, and the Persians.

The second seal is opened. The Second Horseman comes out. "Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword." This description fits `Umar, who is fiery red. `Umar was known for his hot temper and aggressive behaviour. He was given a large sword, which symbolizes his fighting: he successfully conquers Byzantium and Persia by the sword.

The third seal is opened. The Third Horseman comes out. "Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” This description fits Uthman, because his nepotism was overt. He was a rich merchant who increased the allowances of governors, gave conquered lands to his soldiers, and gave large amounts of money from the public treasury to his relatives. `Uthman's fraudulent policies led to the revolt against him and his death.

The fourth seal is opened. The Fourth Horseman comes out. "I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth." This description fits Mu`awiya, who was the fourth challenger of Imam `Ali's authority. He is called Death, as over forty thousand people would be killed during his rebellion, and thousands of others would be killed during his conquests. Hell follows him, as the Prophet said, the enemies of `Ammar b. Yasir (Mu`awiya and his forces) would be "callers to the Fire". He is given power over a fourth of the Earth - by the end of his rule, Mu`awiya reigns by the sword over the Mideast, Persia, and swaths of Central Asia, Asia Minor, and Africa.

The fifth seal is opened. A great tragedy occurs. "When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been." This prophecy describes a massacre that takes place, where those who maintain God's word and testimony are slain. This is a reference to the Battle of Karbala, which takes place after the rule of Mu`awiya. Imam al-Husayn, 17 members of his family, and his companions - the life of which the Earth has never seen - were brutally killed. Their souls cry out, seeking God's vengeance - and this is a reference to the Mahdi, who is God's vengeance, and will avenge the blood that was shed at Karbala. However, God chooses to give the perpetrators respite, and gives the martyrs their white robes - which are their heavenly clothes. The prophecy foretells the killing of more martyrs during this respite.

The sixth seal is opened. "I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” After Imam al-Husayn was killed, there was an earthquake, the sun eclipsed, and the sky reddened. We know that the rest of these earthly events will occur before the coming of the Mahdi, whose revenge the people will fear. "The face of him who sits on the Throne" is the Face of God, who is the Mahdi, the one set to pursue the tyrants of the Earth.

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