Greetings of peace and blessings to all. In previous Hubs I have held the position that the literal interpretation of prophecies as widely held by Muslims and Christians are wrong. However, it is encouraging that many have now adopted the view that it is illogical and irrational to take these literally. Still, literalists are probably the majority. In this Hub I will discuss some prophecies where it should be easily understood that the nature of much of the language is symbolic. Symbols have always formed the language of scripture and prophecy. There is a very good reason for this. Symbols help explain a phenomenon quickly and easily. They do not lose their meaning and are often unambiguous. Also symbols are understood by all—rich or poor, intelligent or not. For example, an Angel is always regarded as a sign of truth and purity. I will be discussing the following prophecies in the Islamic and Christian traditions:
- The Descent of The Messiah upon a White Minaret to the East of Damascus, ending bloodshed and filling the earth with peace - Islamic tradition
- The Donkey of Dajjal (The Great Deceiver) - Islamic tradition
- Mystery Babylon The Great - Christian/Jewish tradition
The Descent of The Messiah upon a White Minaret to the East of Damascus, ending bloodshed and filling the earth with peace and justice
The prophecies regarding the descent of The Messiah, or Son of Mary, upon a white minaret to the East of Damascus are found in the Hadith or sayings of prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The basic outline of this prophecy is that The Messiah prophesized by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) will descend upon a white minaret to the East of Damascus with his hands resting upon the shoulders of two angels and heavenly water dripping from his forehead. He will be deposited on top of the white minaret. In the above video, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the Khalifatul Masih IV (fourth successor of The Messiah) explains how this prophecy is evidently symbolic in nature and defends the building of a white minaret in Qadian, India the birth place of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad who is considered to be The Messiah and Imam Al-Mahdi by Ahmadi Muslims.
The basic outline of the symbolic interpretations are that the descent from Heaven with arms resting upon the shoulders of Angels represents being sent by God. No prophet of God has literally descended in such manner. They all came into the world in the same physiological manner as the rest of us. The heavenly water dripping from the forehead represents the giving of spiritual life and fertility. The white minaret is a symbol of truth. The Messiah being deposited there will be stationed upon truth as ordained and sanctioned by God Almighty. The minaret having no staircase probably represents that such station is commissioned by God Almighty for a heavenly descent and not for people on earth to walk up to it.
Rejection of Messiah by Jews and Muslims due to literal interpretation of prophecies
Urdu Version >
Non-Ahmadi Muslim scholars, in their rejection of The Messiah, state that many prophecies related to The Messiah have not been fulfilled hence The Messiah could not have come. These include an era of world peace and a profound change in dangerous animal-nature where snakes and Lions will pose no threat to humans. The literal interpretation of such prophecies is absurd. I will offer my interpretation of this prophecy but would first like to share this video to the right which has references to prove that the literal meaning of these prophecies are the exact same reasons that the Jews cite in their rejection of The Messiah Jesus (peace be on him) who was sent to them. All Muslims believe in the truth of Jesus (pbuh) as it is given in the Holy Quran. The prophet Muhammad (saw) warned us in the prophecy given in the video that his followers will fall into the same error as the Jews did. Therefore non-Ahmadi Muslims must hold the view that Jews were wrong in their literal interpretations. Regrettably, many Muslims today are doing the same thing. So what is being meant by world-peace and the elimination of dangers such as snakes and lions? The answer, in my opinion, is right there in the terminology of ‘Islam’. Islam means peace through submission (or obedience). The Quran also gives a state of high spiritual station known as ‘Nafse Mutmainna’ or ‘The Self at Peace’ where you make peace with God Almighty-- He is pleased with you and you are pleased with Him. Since God has adopted a system and process of sending divine guides or messengers and God’s guidance requires submission and obedience, then following his messengers would be essential to reach such a lofty stage where the self comes to peace with the world. The prophecy says that the Messiah or Mahdi will fill the world with peace. But it makes no sense that everyone will be at peace whether they accept the Messiah or not. What is likely meant is that The Messiah will be a great catalyst for gaining The Lord’s countenance and hence for the person and the people who accept him, and obey him by adopting righteousness, the world will be at peace and they will have peace with God. They will have nothing to fear in their spiritual condition which is represented by the symbolism of children playing with snakes and lambs befriending wolves. For those who accept and truly follow the Messiah, there will be an amazing transformation in their lives. As amazing as a child playing with snakes, lambs befriending wolves, and a world full of peace and justice. In the physiological world, there is always a danger of being afflicted by some harmful element like a snake. The same thing also tends to be true about the spiritual world where evil sometimes seems to befall anyone at any time. By reaching this spiritual zenith of ‘The Self at Peace’ one will be free of spiritual dangers such as falling into wrongful or evil acts. And one will conduct their affairs with complete justice and not carry any animosity against anyone on the basis of their religion, race or any other factor. Again, the literal interpretations of such prophecies is nonsense and against the laws of nature. Such a thing physically never happened in the life of prophet Muhammad (pbuh) The Seal of the Prophets, how can it happen with any other prophet?
Other prophecies about the coming of The Messiah and Mahdi such as his name being Muhammad, him having parents with the same names as parents of prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) and The Mahdi’s grave being next to prophet Muhammad (pbuh) are also probably not literal. I believe what these mean that the Mahdi and Messiah will bear a great likeness to the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and will be his reflection and representation.
Most regrettably, many so-called Muslim scholars make literal interpretations of prophecies about wars that will be fought by the Mahdi and Messiah and convince weak and ignorant people to commit acts of aggression and violence against infidels. However both Messiahs, Jesus of Nazareth and Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (peace be on them both), strongly condemned violence and bloodshed and warned the religious clergy. Such violence is against the teachings of scripture and cannot be defended morally. Hence, its literal interpretation is not acceptable.
In order to see our explanation for why the symbolism of The Second Coming of Christ is used for the latter-days messiah or prophet please go to the following hub >
- The Return of the Messiah, Son of Mary (peace be on him): The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, Part 2
The concept and allegory of the return of the Messiah, Son of Mary, in the latter-days according to the Ahmadiyya movement in Islam per Islamic and Christian dispensations.
The Donkey of Dajjal (Anti-Christ / Great Deceiver)
The Hadith (sayings of Muhammad pbuh) and prophecies relating to the Donkey of Dajjal are a great example of symbolism in prophecy. What I also find exciting about these prophecies is that more and more non-Ahmadi Muslims are accepting these to be symbolic in nature as it has now become quite apparent what they are referring to. 'Donkey' here is used as a symbol for transportation. Below are the broad strokes regarding this prophecy. When I relate these prophecies, given the amazing level of detail, I often get asked to provide the sources. The majority of these can be found in the Hadith compilation works of Nuzuhatul Majalis which is widely known, a lesser known body of work is Biharul Anwar compiled by a Shi’ite scholar Muhammad Al-Baqir. Some of the references are from another well-known compilation known as Kanzul Ummal. I have given the references below:
1) This donkey would not merely be a personal mount of the anti-Christ, but would also be made freely available as a means of public transport. People will climb into his belly from the openings on his side provided specifically for this purpose. The belly will be well lighted within and equipped with comfortable seats. (Source: ALLAMAH MUHAMMAD BAQIR AL-MAJLISI. Biharul-Anwar, Babo 'Alamate Zohurihi Alaihis-salam min Al-sufyani wad-Dajjal)
2) This donkey will eat fire. This is a very brief yet very powerful statement in this prophecy. With the use of two symbols, the donkey and fire, we have a statement on contemporary transportation powered by incendiary fuel systems. This also agrees with verses 56:73-75 of The Holy Quran which mentions fire as a great source for those who travel. In another verse of the Holy Quran 16:8 the known modes of transportation at the time are given such as horses, mules, and yes—donkeys! And the verse states that such transportation-inventions will occur of which there was no knowledge at the time. This also agrees with a great prophecy of the Bible in Daniel 12:4 that knowledge shall be increased (referring to modern science which includes the wonder of modern transportation) and many will run to and fro (a reference to the frequency of modern travel). (Source: ALLAMAH MUHAMMAD BAQIR AL-MAJLISI. Biharul-Anwar, Babo 'Alamate Zohurihi Alaihis-salam min Al-sufyani wad-Dajjal)
3) The donkey would move at exceptionally fast speeds covering long distances in a matter of days or hours which ordinary animal mounts take months to cover. (Source: ABDUR-REHMAN AL-SAFURI. Nuzhat-ul-Majalis,vol:1 p.109. Maimaniyyah Press, Egypt.)
4) He would have regular stoppages on its way. At every stoppage the public would be invited to come and be seated before he resumes his journey and every departure would be loudly announced. (Source: ALLAMAH MUHAMMAD BAQIR AL-MAJLISI. Biharul-Anwar, Babo 'Alamate Zohurihi Alaihis-salam min Al-sufyani wad-Dajjal)
5) The passengers travelling in the belly would in no way be scorched by the fire he had eaten (indicating that the seating compartment in his belly would be fully insulated from the fire chamber). (Source: ALLAMAH MUHAMMAD BAQIR AL-MAJLISI. Biharul-Anwar, Babo 'Alamate Zohurihi Alaihis-salam min Al-sufyani wad-Dajjal)
6) The donkey’s leaps are described to cover distances between East and West. It is said that one foot of the beast will be in the East and the other in the West. (Source: ABDUR-REHMAN AL-SAFURI. Nuzhat-ul-Majalis,vol:1 p.109. Maimaniyyah Press, Egypt)
7) In the air he will move above the level of the clouds. (Source: ABDUR-REHMAN AL-SAFURI. Nuzhat-ul-Majalis,vol:1 p.109. Maimaniyyah Press, Egypt)
8) This donkey will also be able to travel by sea and move from continent to continent riding the ocean waves. (Source: ABDUR-REHMAN AL-SAFURI. Nuzhat-ul-Majalis,vol:1 p.109. Maimaniyyah Press, Egypt)
9) During his journey by sea he would somehow swell to a much larger size. Thus he will be able to transport mountains of food upon his back. Many a time he will be employed to deliver these enormous food supplies to such poor nations as abjectly bow to the will of the anti-Christ. (Source: Sahih Al-Bukhari. Kitab-ul-Fitan, Babo Zikrid-Dajjal)
By now, I’m hoping you have put the pieces together, but in case not the following video has what is likely the answer . . .
If Dajjal & his Donkey cannot be literal, neither can be the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ (pbuh)
People sometimes respond to me with these Ahadith are not among the most authentic. It must be kept in mind that Sahih Muslim, Sahih Bukhari or Saha Sitha all of which are considered the most authentic of the Hadith are still human endeavors by virtue of evaluating the chain of transmission of the Hadith. A Hadith that carries a prophecy which has been fulfilled, and if one accepts it as such, then it is confirmed that the Hadith was authentic, especially one that carries such amazing detail as The Donkey of Dajjal. The fulfillment of the prophecy itself is confirmation that the Hadith is authentic and a human system of confirmation is no longer required.
I would like to leave the non-Ahmadi Muslims with one thought. If Dajjal’s Donkey is here, then so is Dajjal. And if Dajjal is here, so would be the Messiah. By most accounts, The Messiah and Dajjal are in the beginning of the ten major signs that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stated will unfold before the Day of Judgement. It does not make sense that the fitna or mischief of Dajjal would be unleashed and the Messiah’s movement would not be here to guard the faithful.
Mystery Babylon The Great (Mother of Harlots, and the abominations of the earth)
Now let’s turn to The Holy Bible. This prophecy is about a world super power during the end-times, its terrible sinfulness, worldly influence and eventual punishment by God. The title given to this power in the Bible itself is ‘Mystery Babylon the Great – Mother of Harlots (whores) and the abominations of the earth’. The prophecies about it are found mostly in books of Revelations, Isaiah and Jeremiah. Many Christian eschatologists, just like their Muslim counterparts, adopt a literalist interpretation and insist that this end-times power will rise from where the ancient Babylon had existed in modern-day Iraq. However, the prophecies are so detailed that some Christian eschatologist are compelled to realize what is likely the true identity of ‘Mystery Babylon’. This prophecy is a great example of how symbols are used to explain things clearly, quickly and without ambiguity. Below is a brief summary and some commentary.
1) Mystery Babylon is a world-super power who sits upon ‘many waters’ and rules upon the ‘kings of the earth’ – the 'many waters' is a reference to multi-culturalism or many nations per Revelations 17:15. This signifies a position of dominance and influence.
2) She is described as a leading center of economic activity and consumption as the ‘merchants of the earth depend on her for their welfare and will lament her destruction for who will now buy their cargoes’(Revelations 18:11). She is a land of immigrants where ‘nations flow’. All manner of merchandise and luxuries are brought there to be sold and consumed. Its life-styles are espoused the world over.
3) She is also a dominant military power and the policeman of the world mentioned as “the hammer of the whole earth . . . with you I shatter nations, destroy kingdoms” (Jeremiah 50/51)
4) “The kings of the earth have fornicated with her" and the "people of the world are intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries”—today almost all third world leaders, ministers and government officials are corrupt and steal the wealth of their nations and succumb to hedonism in the west. This often happens with large industrial or military contracts; perhaps this is the fornication that is being referred to which the kings of the earth would have committed with her. Terrible influences such as promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, tabloid-journalism, profligacy, intoxicants, financial speculation, the inordinate attention given to watching Hollywood/Bollywood movies and worshiping movie-stars etc. etc. have now pervaded the ‘peoples of the earth’ who have become ‘drunk from the wine of her adulteries’.
5) Mystery Babylon’s punishment and destruction is prophecized to be sudden . . ."When the kings of the earth... see the smoke of her burning... they will stand far off and cry: 'Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!" (Revelations, 18:9-10) . . . "Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!" (Revelations, 18:16) . . . "Thus said the Lord: Behold I will raise up against Babylon and against those who dwell in the midst of them and rise up against Me, a destroying wind" (Jeremiah, 51:1)
6) Finally, and most importantly, what does God have to say to his people and followers regarding Mystery Babylon: "Come out of her my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues" (Revelation 18:4)
7) Mystery Babylon is also described to sit on the seven-headed beast from Daniel’s dream that represents the Anti-Christ. Eventually the seven-headed beast will turn upon and destroy her in punishment. She is also described to be ‘drunk on the blood of saints’ (a reference to her sinfulness). I will leave it to you to figure out and pray to God to reveal her identity.
60 Reasons Why Iraq Cannot be Mystery Babylon The Great
- 60 Reasons Why Iraq Cannot Be Mystery Babylon
Just who is "Babylon the Great" of Revelation 17-18? Popular answers are Vatican, Rome, Jerusalem and Iraq where the literal city Babylon is found. However, when you consider all 60 characteristics of Mystery Babylon the Great, only one answer fits.
Closer and thorough examination of these prophecies and their fulfillment reveal that they are symbolic, not literal. This does not take anything away from the prophecy. The course of events they are alluding to are just as real. The true interpretation of prophecies in fact make them all the more real and powerful.
Lastly, one should not forget that the true purpose of prophecy is warning and reminder and their unraveling or understanding should lead one closer to God and righteousness. Otherwise, it may well be for naught.
At peace with God, at peace with the world.
Ameen, sum-ameen. (Amen)
Disclaimer: The contents of this hub do not officially represent The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam or The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The official website of The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam or The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is www.alislam.org
Buckie on January 15, 2015:
Going to put this arilcte to good use now.