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In the Name of God بسم الله

Ahl Al-Bayt In Judeo-Christian Literature

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Another possible reference is in Revelation 12. A heavenly woman is described at the beginning of the chapter: "A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head." (Revelation 12:1) The woman in this vision is clothed with the Sun, which is the Islamic symbol for the prophetic revelation ( الشمس رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله به أوضح الله عز وجل للناس دينهم ). The moon, which reflects the Sun's light, is a symbol for wasaya; and it is interestingly beneath her - perhaps to suggest that it would descend from her. The crown of twelve stars is obviously reminiscent of the 12 Imams, who are described as guiding stars ( إنما مثل أهل بيتي في هذه الأمة مثل نجوم السماء ).

This lady is strikingly similar to Lady Fatima (as), who also resided in heaven prior to her birth:

Imam Hasan al-`Askari [a] narrated that the Prophet Muhammad said, "When Allah created Adam and Eve, they strut through Paradise and said, 'Allah did not create anything better than us.' So the form of a young lady appeared to them, and no seer had seen anything better (more beautiful) than her. She had a brilliant light that blinded sights. She had a crown upon her head, and earrings in her ears. They asked, 'O Lord, who is this young lady?' Allah said, 'This is the form of Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, the mistress of your descendants.' So Adam asked, 'What is this crown upon her head?' Allah said, 'This is her husband, `Ali b. Abi Talib.' Adam asked, 'What are these earrings?' Allah said, 'Her sons, al-Hasan and al-Husayn. They were present as shadows two thousand years before I created you.'" ( (حديث قدسي) أَنْبَأَنَا أَنْبَأَنَا أَبُو بَكْرٍ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ أَبِي طَاهِرٍ الْبَزَّازُ ، أَنْبَأَنَا الْقَاضِي أَبُو الْحُسَيْنِ بْنُ الْمُهْتَدِي ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو الْفَرَجِ الْحَسَنُ بْنُ أَحْمَدَ ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ جَعْفَرِ بْنِ شَاذَانَ ، حَدَّثَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ مِهْرَانَ الْحَمَّالُ ، حَدَّثَنِي الْحَسَنُ بْنُ صَاحِبِ الْعَسْكَرِ ، حَدَّثَنِي عَلِيُّ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ ، حَدَّثَنِي أَبِي مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَلِيٍّ ، حَدَّثَنِي أَبِي عَلِيِّ بْنِ مُوسَى الرِّضَا ، حَدَّثَنِي أَبِي مُوسَى بْنِ جَعْفَرٍ ، حَدَّثَنِي أَبِي جَعْفَرِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَلِيٍّ ، عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ، قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : " لَمَّا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ آدَمَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ وَحَوَّاءَ تَبَخْتَرَا فِي الْجَنَّةِ ، وَقَالا : مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ خَلْقًا أَحْسَنُ مِنَّا ، فَبَيْنَمَا هُمَا كَذَلِكَ إِذَا هُمَا بِصَورَةِ جَارِيَةٍ لَمْ يَرَ الرَّاءُونَ أَحْسَنَ مِنْهَا ، لَهَا نُورٌ شَعْشَعَانِيُّ يَكَادُ يُطْفِئُ الأَبْصَارَ ، عَلَى رَأْسِهَا تَاجٌ وَفِي أُذُنَيْهَا قِرْطَانِ ، فَقَالا : يَا رَبِّ ، مَا هَذِهِ الْجَارِيَةُ ؟ قَالَ : صُورَةُ فَاطِمَةَ بِنْتِ مُحَمَّدٍ سَيِّدَةِ وَلَدِكَ ، فَقَالَ : مَا هَذَا التَّاجُ عَلَى رَأْسِهَا ؟ قَالَ : هَذَا بَعْلُهَا عَلِيُّ بْنُ أَبِي طَالِبٍ . قَالَ : فَمَا هَذَا الْقِرْطَانِ ؟ قَالَ ابْنَاهَا الْحَسَنُ وَالْحُسَيْنُ ، وُجِدَ ذَلِكَ فِي غَامِضِ عَلِمْيِ قَبْلَ أَنْ أَخْلُقَكَ ، بِأَلْفَيْ عَامٍ " . )

The chapter continues: "She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a man child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne." (Revelation 12:2-6)

This prophecy is like that of Daniel, which foretold the coming of empires through the symbols of beasts and horns. Assuming the author of this book is doing the same, the dragon cited here could be describing an empire that is to arise that is juxtaposed to this heavenly woman. Interestingly, there are 17 heads and horns upon this beast, and there are exactly 17 Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphs altogether: (1) Abi Bakr, (2) `Umar, (3) `Uthman, (4) Mu`awiya, (5) Yazid, (6) Mu`awiya II, (7) Marwan b. al-Hakam, (8) `Abd al-Malik b. Marwan, (9) al-Walid, (10) Sulayman b. `Abd al-Malik, (11) `Umar b. `Abd al-`Aziz, (12) Yazid II, (13) Hisham b. `Abd al-Malik, (14) al-Walid II, (15) Yazid III, (16) Ibrahim b. al-Walid, (17) and Marwan II.

The beast is red, and red was the official colour of the Umayyad empire. "Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky" - one third of twelve is 4, and indeed, the Caliphs mentioned above killed 4 of the Imams: (1) al-Hasan (2) al-Husayn (3) Zayn al-`Abideen and (4) Muhammad al-Baqir. The first Imam was killed by the Kharajite Ibn Muljam, and the remaining Imams were killed by the Abbasids.

The dragon wished to devour the progeny of the heavenly woman, and indeed the Caliphate sought to kill each of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt. This continued until a "man child" appeared from the progeny of Lady Fatima. This man child, who would rule all of the nations with an iron scepter, was rescued by God and taken up - and this is indeed the Mahdi, who spoke in the cradle, behaved like a man in his childhood, and went into occultation immediately after his birth to protect himself from the oppressors. The Mahdi would later return to rule all of the nations.

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Ahl al-Bayt and the Davidic Exilarchs

It is typically expected that the kingly Messiah, who will establish justice and peace on Earth, will be a descendant of David (as). This is concluded through Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Psalms 89:31-38, 1 Chronicles 22:9-10, and the Zohar. This begs the question - if the Mahdi is the Davidic Messiah, is he a descendant of David? It may be enough to say that the Mahdi will embody the ethos of David, and rule in the way David and Solomon ruled:

Imam as-Sadiq (as) said, "When the Qa'im of the Family of Muhammad rises, he will judge by the judgment of David and Solomon, and will not ask for evidence." (إذا قام قائم آل محمد عليه السلام حكم بحكم داود وسليمان لا يسأل بينة.)

Imam as-Sadiq (as) said, "Allah will send a breeze that will call out in every valley, 'This is the Mahdi who will judge by the judgment of David and Solomon, and he will not ask for evidence." ( فيبعث الله تبارك وتعالى ريحا فتنادي بكل واد؟ هذا المهدي، يقضي بقضاء داود وسليمان عليهما السلام، [و] لا يريد عليه بينة. )

The point about the Mahdi not asking for evidence is to say that the Mahdi will be able to recognize whether a person is righteous or wicked. (إذا قام القائم عليه السلام لم يقم بين يديه أحد من خلق الرحمن إلا عرفه صالح هو أم طالح؟ لان فيه آية للمتوسمين وهي بسبيل مقيم.)

The Jewish Exilarchs were a line of leaders of the Jewish diaspora in Babylon. They were the descendants of King David, and when Jerusalem fell in 597 BCE, King Jeconiah went to Iraq. The exilarchs remained one after another until the tenth century CE. In Arabic sources, the exilarch was called ra's al-jalut, meaning, "the Head of Goliath", which was probably a derogatory play on words, because Goliath was slain by David.

Genealogical sources say that during jahiliyya, some Jewish nobles intermingled with the Arabs. The genealogist David Hughes, author of "The British Chronicles", claimed in his unpublished work "The Davidic Dynasty" that Zahna, a descendant of Hofnai the Jewish Exilarch of Baghdad in the second half of the 6th century, was a maternal ancestor of Ali b. Abi Talib.

The mother of Ali b. Abi Talib was Fatima bint Asad, and the mother of Fatima bint Asad was Fatima bint Qays (Tabaqat Ibn Sa`d, Volume 8 page 178). Her father was Qays b. Makhrama b. `Abd al-Mutallib, and according to al-Munammaq fii Akhbar Quraysh (by Ibn Habib, 245 AH), Qays married a Jewish woman by the name of Asma bint `Abdullah b. Subay` b. Maalik b. Junada b. `Inza (see this page and the previous page). The same source also discusses other intermarriages between Quraysh and Jewish nobles. Rabbi Ben Abrahamson proposed that Asma and Zahna are the same person, based on his genealogical research.

Ali b. Abi Talib had a notable relationship with the exilarchs. According to Iggeret Sherira Gaon (c. 900s CE) and Abraham ben David (1100s CE), Ali was greeted by the exilarch Rabbi Yitzhak Gaon, and was received well by the 90,000 Jews in the region. Ali b. Abi Talib provided a daughter of Yazdegerd III as a wife to the exilarch (c. 640 CE). This is interesting, considering another daughter of Yazdegerd, Shahrbanu, was probably given to Husayn b. Ali. https://books.google.ca/books?id=t2bJ1UqfNXAC&pg=PA266&lpg=PA266&dq=Mar+Yitzchak+of+Peroz-Shavur&source=bl&ots=SY2jMl2Xev&sig=uq-wO2FBYx58IaLzeiCRQwazWlM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiI3oXdvvLSAhXm24MKHRneBGUQ6AEIHjAA#v=onepage&q=Mar Yitzchak of Peroz-Shavur&f=false

According to Jewish sources, the tomb of Ali b. Abi Talib was situated next to the sepulchre of King Jeconiah, one of the last Davidic kings of Judah and the first Davidic exilarch: https://books.google.ca/books?id=1jT7jD1t8jAC&pg=PA350&lpg=PA350&dq=King+Jehoiachin+kufa&source=bl&ots=Z0M_YbVxdy&sig=IxmlmZ53jwkUu4mdOtCw0CKQHd8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiBxemRvfLSAhWJz4MKHWijBKwQ6AEINjAE#v=onepage&q=King Jehoiachin kufa&f=false

In Tabari, a Jewish exilarch says the following:

فمنهم العلامة الشيخ أبو جعفر محمد بن علي بن محمد الشهير بعماد الدين الطبري في " تاريخه " (ص 493) قال:
وحدثني العلاء بن أبي عائشة، عن أبيه قال: حدثني رأس الجالوت قال: ما مررت بكربلاء إلا وأنا أركض دابتي حتى أخلف المكان. قال: قلت: لم؟ قال: كنا نتحدث أن ولد نبي مقتول في ذلك المكان. قال: وكنت أخاف أن أكون أنا، فلما قتل الحسين قلنا هذا الذي كنا نتحدث.
قال: وكنت بعد ذلك إذا مررت بذلك المكان أسير ولا أركض.

The Jewish exilarch (ra's al-jalut) said, "Whenever I would pass through Karbala, I would speed up my riding animal until I would leave the area." The narrator asked, "Why?" The exilarch said, "We used to narrate that a descendant of a prophet would be killed in that area. I used to fear that it would be me, but when al-Husayn was killed, we said this is whom we used to narrate about. After that, if I passed through that area, I would traverse without hurrying."

Here, the exilarch claims to have access to a prophecy on the killing of a son of a prophet in Karbala. He first believed that this man was himself, but after Husayn was killed, he knew that the prophecy referred to Husayn.

It is clear that, in many accounts, Amir al-Mu'mineen (as) was frequently visited by Jews and rabbis, some of whom became his followers and devotees. The Jews had unanimously preferred Ali (as) over Mu`awiya, who had sat in the political seat of their former Byzantine oppressors. If the Imam truly did have Davidic blood from his mother's side, then it is likely that he was seen as more than just an ally. Messianic expectations existed almost exclusively in the Talibi line. The descendants of Husayn (as) specifically would have been the heirs of three royal bloodlines: Muhammadan, Sassanid, and Davidic. Mix that with the Imams' noble traits, and we may better understand why so much excitement surrounded the Ahl al-Bayt (as).

May Allah hasten the return of the Mahdi, al-Hujja b. al-Hasan (as).

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I found this interesting. This is a chronicle that was written by a 7th century Bishop named Sebeos who lived in Byzantine a few decades after the Prophet: 

“Twelve peoples representing all the tribes of the Jews assembled at the city of Edessa. When they saw that the Persian troops had departed leaving the city in peace, they closed the gates and fortified themselves. They refused entry to troops of the Roman lordship. Thus Heraclius, emperor of the Byzantines, gave the order to besiege it. When the Jews realized that they could not militarily resist him, they promised to make peace. Opening the city gates, they went before him, and Heraclius ordered that they should go and stay in their own place. So they departed, taking the road through the desert to Tachkastan Arabia to the sons of Ishmael. The Jews called the Arabs to their aid and familiarized them with the relationship they had through the books of the Old Testament. Although the Arabs were convinced of their close relationship, they were unable to get a consensus from their multitude, for they were divided from each other by religion. In that period a certain one of them, a man of the sons of Ishmael named Mahmed, became prominent. A sermon about the Way of Truth, supposedly at God’s command, was revealed to them, and Mahmed taught them to recognize the God of Abraham, especially since he was informed and knowledgeable about Mosaic history. Because the command had come from on High, he ordered them all to assemble together and to unite in faith. Abandoning the reverence of vain things, they turned toward the living God, who had appeared to their father–Abraham. Mahmed legislated that they were not to eat carrion, not to drink wine, not to speak falsehoods, and not to commit adultery. He said: “God promised that country to Abraham and to his son after him, for eternity. And what had been promised was fulfilled during that time when God loved Israel. Now, however, you are the sons of Abraham, and God shall fulfill the promise made to Abraham and his son on you. Only love the God of Abraham, and go and take the country which God gave to your father Abraham. No one can successfully resist you in war, since God is with you."  

What is significant about this narration is that Sebeos never met the Prophet(صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), the Imams(عليه السلام) or the Sahaba/Tabi’in and did not travel to Arabia. He never embraced Islam nor did he consider what he narrated as part of his beliefs other than writing what he heard for historical purposes. Therefore his testimony is arguably free from bias and most certainly becomes valuable when it correlates with Imami beliefs.

Moreover, in the same narrations he states:  “He said: “God promised that country to Abraham and to his son after him, for eternity...”  This excerpt correlates with this Ayah:  

“And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham was tried by his Lord with commands and he fulfilled them. [ Allah ] said, "Indeed, I will make you a leader for the people." [Abraham] said, "And of my descendants?" [ Allah ] said, "My covenant does not include the wrongdoers."”[al-Baqarah:124]  

Arguably Sebeos’s testimony has strong parallels with Imami theology. His mention of the country that God promised to Abraham for eternity could reflect the Imami belief on Wilayah where the Earth is inherited by the Ahlul Bayt until the day of resurrection and cannot remain without an Imam at any period of time.  

Also in Surat an-Nisa...  “Or do they envy people for what Allah has given them of His bounty? But we had already given the family of Abraham the Scripture and wisdom and conferred upon them a great kingdom.” [an-Nisa]  

Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) gave the family of Ibrahim the scriptures such as Qur'an and Torah. He also gave them knowledge and wisdom. It is established in most Islamic historical sources that the Imams were the most knowledgeable from the people of their time. Lastly, Allah states in this Ayah that he gave  the family of Ibrahim “a great kingdom”. If this great kingdom will be held by the sons of Abraham for eternity as Sebeos narrated, could this mean that it is an affirmation of the divinely appointed authority of the 12th Imam? If not, then who from the sons of Abraham today holds authority to this great kingdom?   

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On 12/25/2013 at 11:22 PM, Qa'im said:

While Muhammad ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) was not an Israelite, he was an Ishmaelite and therefore a kinsman of the Jewish people. Allah chose to fulfill the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18 in an Arab instead of a Jew without breaking His original promise. It is clear from our sources that the Jews in Arabia had been hoping for a Jewish Prophet, and his Arabian ethnicity was part of the reason why some Jews had not accepted him as the fulfillment of these prophecies.

I've been wondering about whether there was a Divine intention for the presence of Jews amongst the audience of the Prophet (pubh) as a means of validating his message. I'd hazard that amongst the Arabs there were plenty of people who would wish to have the Prophet's ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) message killed at birth.

Had the Jews of the time been able to wholly debunk the Islamic message it would have served the interests of both the Jewish and Arab established hierarchies. Jews would have been well placed to question the internal validity of various Islamic precepts, since the new religion made extensive use of Old Testament events and personalities.

The fact that this does not seem to have occurred and the fact that there were indeed Jewish converts to the new religion suggests that amongst the Arabs those who had been hoping for the internal validity of Islam to be questioned, were disappointed.

That's just my layperson's reading of the matter and happy to be corrected.

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