Prophet Muhammad and The Emperor Constantine
The most wonderful and, perhaps, the most manifest prophecy about the divine mission of the greatest man and the Messenger of God, contained in the seventh chapter of the Book of the Prophet Daniel, deserves to be seriously studied and impartially considered. In it great events in the history of mankind, which succeed each other within a period of more than a thousand years, are represented by the figures of four formidable monsters in a prophetical vision to Daniel. "Four winds of heaven were roaring against the great sea." The first beast that comes out from the deep sea is a winged lion; then comes forth the second beast in the shape of a bear holding three ribs between its teeth. This is succeeded by the third terrible beast in the form of a tiger having four wings and four heads. The fourth beast, which is more formidable and ferocious than the former ones, is a monster with ten horns upon its head, and has iron teeth in its mouth. Then a little horn shoot up amidst the others, before which three horns break down. Behold, human eyes and mouth appear upon this horn, and it begins to speak great things against the Most High. Suddenly, in the midst of the firmament (Heaven), the vision of the Eternal is seen amidst a resplendent light, seated upon His tribune (Arabic: Korsi) of the flames of light whose wheels were of shining light (1). A river of light is flowing and going forth before Him; and millions of celestial beings are worshiping Him and tens and tens of thousands of them are standing before Him. The Judgment Court is, as it were, holding its extraordinary session; the books are opened. The body of the beast is burnt with fire, but the blaspheming Horn is left alive until a "Bar Nasha" - that is, a "Son of Man" - is taken up on the clouds and presented to the Eternal, from whom he receives power, honor and kingdom for ever. The stupefied Prophet approaches one of those standing by and beseeches him to explain the meaning of this wonderful vision. The good Angel gives the interpretation of it in such a manner that the whole mystery enveloped in the figurative or allegorical language and image is brought to light.
------------ Footnote (1) The original word is nur, and, like the Arabic word, ir means "light" rather than "fire," which is represented in the text by "ish." ------------ end of footnote
Being a prince of the royal family, Daniel was taken, together with three other Jewish youths, to the palace of the King of Babylon, where he was educated in all the knowledge of the Chaldeans. He lived there until the Persian Conquest and the fall of the Babylonian Empire. He prophesied under Nebuchadnezzar as well as under Darius. The Biblical critics do not ascribe the authorship of the entire Book to Daniel, who lived and died at least a couple of centuries before the Greek Conquest, which he mentions under the name of "Yavan = Ionia." The first eight chapters - if I am not mistaken - are written in the Chaldean and the latter portion in the Hebrew. For our immediate purpose it is not so much the date and the authorship of the book that forms the important question as the actual fulfillment of the prophecy, contained in the Septuagint version, which was made some three centuries before the Christian era.
According to the interpretation by the Angel, each one of the four beasts represents an empire. The eagle-winged lion signifies the Chaldean Empire, which was mighty and rapid like an eagle to pounce upon the enemy. The bear represents the "Madai-Paris," or the Medo-Persian Empire, which extended its conquests as far as the Adriatic Sea and Ethiopia, thus holding with its teeth a rib from the body of each one of the three continents of the Eastern Hemisphere. The third beast, from its tigrish nature of swift bounds and fierceness, typifies the triumphant marches of Alexander the Great, whose vast empire was, after his death, divided into four kingdoms.
But the Angel who interprets the vision does not stop to explain with details the first three kingdoms as he does when he comes to the fourth beast. Here he enters with emphasis into details. Here the scene in the vision is magnified. The beast is practically a monster and a huge demon. This is the formidable Roman Empire. The ten horns are the ten Emperors of Rome who persecuted the early Christians. Turn the pages of any Church history for the first three centuries down to the time of the so-called conversion of Constantine the Great, and you will read nothing but the horrors of the famous "Ten Persecutions."
So far, all these four beasts represent the "Power of Darkness," namely, the kingdom of Satan, idolatry.
In this connection let me divert your attention to a luminous truth embodied in that particularly important article of the Faith of Islam: "The Good and Evil are from Allah.' It will be remembered that the old Persians believed in a "duality of gods," or, in other words, the Principle of Good and Light, and the other the Principle of Evil and Darkness; and that these eternal beings were eternal enemies. It will be observed that among the four beasts the Persian Power is represented by the figure of a bear, less ferocious than, and not so carnivorous as, the other three; and what is more: inasmuch as it can roam upon its hind legs it resembles man - at least from some distance.
In all the Christian theological and religious literature I have read, I have never met with a single statement of phrase similar to this article of the Muslim Faith: God is the real author of good and evil. This article of the Muslim Faith, as the contrary, is extremely repugnant to the Christian religion, and a source of hatred against the religion of Islam. Yet this very doctrine is explicitly announced by God to Cyrus, whom He calls His "Christ." He wants Cyrus to know that there is no god besides Him, and declares: -
"I am the Fashioner of the light, and the Creator of the darkness, the Maker of peace, and the Creator of evil; I am the Lord who does all these" (Isa. xlv. 1-7).
That God is the author of evil as well as of good is not in the least repulsive to the idea of God's goodness. The very denial of it is opposed to the absolute Oneness of the Almighty. Besides, what we term or understand as "evil" only affects the created beings, and it is for the development and the improvement of the creatures; it has not in the least any effect on God.
Now let us examine and find out who the Little Horn is. Having once definitely ascertained the identity of this eleventh king, the identity of the Bar Nasha will be settled per se. The Little Horn springs up after the Ten Persecutions under the reigns of the emperors of the Roman Power. The empire was writhing under four rivals, Constantine being one of them. They were all struggling for the purple; the other three died or fell in battle; and Constantine was left alone as the supreme sovereign of the vast empire.
The earlier Christian commentators have in vain labored to identity this ugly Little Horn with the Anti-Christ, with the Pope of Rome by Protestants, and with the establisher of Islam. (God forbid!) But the later Bibical critics are at a loss to solve the problem of the fourth beast which they wish to identify with the Greek Empire and the Little Horn with Antiochus. Some of the critics, e.g. Carpenter, consider the Medo-Persian Power as two separate kingdoms. But this empire was not more two than the late Austro-Hungarian Empire was. The explorations carried on by the Scientific Mission of the French savant, M. Morgan, in Shushan (Susa) and elsewhere leave no doubt on this point. The fourth beast can, therefore, be no other than the old Roman world.
To show that the Little Horn is no other than Constantine the Great, the following arguments can safely be advanced: -
(a) He overcame Maximian and the other two rivals and assumed the purple, and put an end to the persecution of Christianity. Gibbon's, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is, I think, the best history that can instruct us about those times. You can never invent four rivals after the Ten Persecutions of the Church, other than Constantine and his enemies who fell before him like the three horns that fell before the little one.
(b) All the four beasts are represented in the vision as irrational brutes; but the Little Horn possessed a human mouth and eyes which is, in other words, the description of a hideous monster endowed with reason and speech. He pro- claimed Christianity as the true religion, left Rome to the Pope and made Byzantium, which was named Constantinople, the seat of the empire. He pretended to profess Christianity but was never baptized till a little before his death, and even this is a disputed question. The legend that his conversion was due to the vision of the Cross in the sky has long since - like the account about Jesus Christ inserted in the Antiquities of Josephus - been exploded as another piece of forgery.
The enmity of the beasts to the believers in God was brutal and savage, but that of the rational Horn was diabolical and malignant. This enmity was most noxious and harmful to the religion, because it was directed to pervert the Truth and the faith. All the previous attacks of the four empires were pagan; they persecuted and oppressed the believers but could not pervert the truth and the faith. It was this Constantine who entered in the fold of Jesus in the shape of a believer and in the clothes of a sheep, but inwardly he was not a true believer at all. How poisonous and pernicious this enmity was will be seen from the following: -
(c) The Horn-Emperor speaks "big things" or "great words" (rorbhan in the Chaldean tongue) against the Most High. To speak blasphemous words about God, to associate with Him other creatures, and to ascribe to Him foolish names and attributes, such as the "begetter" and "begotten," "birth" and "procession" (of the second and the third person), "unity in the trinity" and "incarnation," is to deny His Oneness.
Ever since the day when God revealed to Abraham in Ur of Chaldea until the Creed and the Acts of the Council of Nicea were proclaimed and enforced by an imperial edict of Constantine amidst the horror and protests of three-fourths of the true believing members in A.D. 325, never has the Oneness of God so officially and openly been profaned by those who pretended to be His people as Constantine and his gang of the unbelieving ecclesiastic! In the first article of this series I have shown the error of the Churches concerning God and His attributes. I need not enter into this unpleasant subject again; for it gives me great pain and grief when I see a Holy Prophet and a Holy Spirit, both God's noble creatures, associated with Him by those who ought to know better.
lf Brahma and Osiris, or if Jupiter and Vesta were associated with God, we would simply consider this to be a pagan belief; but when we see Jesus the Prophet of Nazareth and one of the millions of the holy spirits in the service of the Eternal raised equal to the dignity of God, we cannot find a name for those who so believe other than what the Muslims have always been obliged to use - the epithet "Gawun."
Now, since this hideous Horn speaking great words, uttering blasphemies against God, is a king - as the Angel reveals it to Daniel, and since the king was the eleventh of the Caesars who reigned in Rome and persecuted the people of God, he cannot be other than Constantine, because it was his edict that proclaimed the belief in the trinity of persons in the Deity, a creed which the Old Testament is a living document to condemn as blasphemy, and which both the Jews and Muslims abhor. If it is other than Constantine, then the question arises, who is he? He has already come and gone, and not an impostor or the Anti-Christ hereafter to appear, that we may be unable to know and identify. If we do not admit that the Horn in question has come already, then how are we to interpret the four beasts, the first of which is certainly the Chaldean Empire, the second the MedoPersian, and so forth? If the fourth beast does not represent the Roman Empire, how can we interpret the third, with its four heads, as the Empire of Alexander, split into four kingdoms after his death? Is there any other Power succeeding the Greek Empire before the Roman Empire with its ten potentates persecuting the believers in God? Sophistry and illusion are of no use. The "Little Horn" is decidedly Constantine, even if we may deny the prophecy of Daniel. It is immaterial whether a prophet, priests or a sorcerer wrote the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel. One thing is certain, that its predictions and descriptions of the events, some twenty-four centuries ago, are found to be exact, true, and have been fulfilled in the person of Constantine the Great, whom the Church of Rome has always very wisely abstained from beatifying as a Saint, as the Greek Church has done.
(d) Not only does the "Little Horn," which grew into something of a more "formidable vision" than the rest, speak impious words against the Most High, but also it wages war against the "Saints of the Most High, and vanquishes them" (verse 25). In the eyes of a Hebrew Prophet the people who believed in one God was a separate and holy people. Now it is indisputably true that Constantine persecuted those Christians who, like the Jews, believed in the absolute Oneness of God and courageously declared the Trinity to be a false and erroneous conception of the Deity. More than a thousand ecclesiastics were summoned to the General Council at Nicea (the modern Izmid), of whom only three hundred and eighteen persons subscribed to the decisions of the Council, and these too formed three opposite factions with their respective ambiguous and unholy expressions of "homousion" or "homoousion," "consubstantial," and other terms utterly and wholly strangers to the Prophets of Israel, but only worthy of the "Speaking Horn."
The Christians who suffered persecutions and martyrdoms under the pagan emperors of Rome because they believed in One God and in His worshiper Prophet Jesus were now doomed by the imperial edict of the "Christian" Constantine to even severer tortures because they refused to adore the Prophet Jesus as consubstantial and coeval with his Lord and Creator! The Elders and Ministers of the Arian Creed, i.e. Qashishi and Mshamshani - as they were called by the early Jewish Christians - were deposed or banished, their religious books suppressed, and their churches seized and handed over to the Trinitarian bishops and priests. Any historical work on the early Christian Church will give us ample information about the service rendered by Constantine to the cause of the Trinitarian Creed, and tyranny to those who opposed it. The merciless legions in every province were placed at the disposal of the ecclesiastical authorities. Constantine personifies a regime of terror and fierce war against the Unitarians, which lasted in the East for three centuries and a half, when the Muslims established the religion of Allah and assumed the power and dominion over the lands trodden and devastated by the four beasts.
(e) The "Talking Horn" is accused of having contemplated to change "the Law and the times." This is a very serious charge against the Horn. Its blasphemies or "great words against the Most High" may or may not affect other people, but to change the Law of God and the established holy days or festivals would naturally subvert the religion altogether. The first two commandments of the Law of Moses, concerning the absolute Oneness of God - "Thou shalt have no other gods besides Me" - and the strict prohibition of making images and statues for worship were directly violated and abrogated by the edict of Constantine. To proclaim three personal beings in the Deity and to confess that the Eternal Almighty was conceived and born of the Virgin Mary is the greatest insult to the Law of God and the grossest idolatry. To make a golden or wooden image for worship is abominable enough, but to make a mortal an object of worship, declare him God, and even adore the bread and the wine of the Eucharist as "the body and blood of God," is an impious blasphemy.
Then to every righteous Jew and to a Prophet like Daniel, who from his youth was a most devoted observer of the Mosaic Law, what could be more repugnant than the substitution of the Easter for the Paschal Lamb of the great feast of the Passover and the sacrifice of the "Lamb of God" upon the cross, and upon thousands of altars every day? The abrogation of the Sabbath day was a direct violation of the fourth command of the Decalogue, and the institution of Sunday instead was as arbitrary as it is inimical. True, the Qur'an abrogated the Sabbath day, not because the Friday was a holier day, but simply because the Jews made an abuse of it by declaring that God, after the labor of six days, reposed on the seventh day, as if He were man and was fatigued. Prophet Muhammad would have destroyed any day or object, however holy or sacred, if it were made an object of worship intending to deal a blow or injury to God's Greatness and Glory. But the abrogation of the Sabbath by the decree of Constantine was for the institution of the Sunday on which Jesus is alleged to have risen from the sepulcher. Jesus himself was a strict observer of the Sabbath day, and reprimanded the Jewish leaders for their objection to his doing the deeds of charity on it.
(f) The "Horn" was allowed to make war against the Saints of the Most High for a period of some three centuries and a half; it only "weakened" them, made "them languid - but could not extinguish and entirely root them out. The Arians, who believed in One God alone, sometimes, e.g. under the reign of Constantius (the son of Constantine), of Julian and others who were more tolerant, strongly defended themselves and fought for the cause of their faith.
The next important point in this wonderful vision is to identify the "Bar Nasha," or the Son of Man, who destroyed the Horn; and we shall undertake to do this in the next article.