A brief biography of Rev. Keldani
Profiles of other personalities
Rev. David Benjamin Keldani, B.D. (b. 1867)
Before he became a Muslim and changed his name to Abdul-Ahad Dawud, Rev. David Benjamin Keldani, B.D. was a Roman Catholic priest of the Uniate-Chaldean sect. He was born in 1867 at Urmia in Persia; educated from his early infancy in that town. From 1886-89 (three years) he was on the teaching staff of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Mission to the Assyrian (Nestorian) Christians at Urmia. In 1892 he was sent by Cardinal Vaughan to Rome, where he underwent a course of philosophical and theological studies at the Propaganda Fide College, and in 1895 was ordained Priest. In 1892 Professor Dawud contributed a series of articles to The Tablet on “Assyria, Rome and Canterbury”; and also to the Irish Record on the “Authenticity of the Pentateuch.” He has several translations of the Ave Maria in different languages, published in the Illustrated Catholic Missions. While in Constantinople on his way to Persia in 1895, he contributed a long series of articles in English and French to the daily paper, published there under the name of The Levant Herald, on “Eastern Churches.” In 1895 he joined the French Lazarist Mission at Urmia, and published for the first time in the history of that Mission a periodical in the vernacular Syriac called Qala-La-Shara, i.e. “The Voice of Truth.” In 1897 he was delegated by two Uniate-Chaldean Archbishops of Urmia and of Salinas to represent the Eastern Catholics at the Eucharistic Congress held at Paray-le-Monial in France under the presidency of Cardinal Perraud. This was, of course, an official invitation. The paper read at the Congress by “Father Benjamin” was published in the Annals of the Eucharistic Congress, called “Le Pellerin” of that year. In this paper, the Chaldean Arch-Priest (that being his official title) deplored the Catholic system of education among the Nestorians, and foretold the imminent appearance of the Russian priests in Urmia.
In 1888 Father Benjamin was back again in Persia. In his native village, Digala, about a mile from the town, he opened a school gratis. The next year he was sent by the Ecclesiastical authorities to take charge of the diocese of Salinas, where a sharp and scandalous conflict between the Uniate Archbishop, Khudabash, and the Lazarist Fathers for a long time had been menacing a schism. On the day of New Year 1900, Father Benjamin preached his last and memorable sermon to a large congregation, including many non-Catholic Armenians and others in the Cathedral of St. George’s Khorovabad, Salinas. The preacher’s subject was “New Century and New Men.” He recalled the fact that the Nestorian Missionaries, before the appearance of Islam, had preached the Gospel in all Asia; that they had numerous establishments in India (especially at the Malabar Coast), in Tartary, China and Mongolia; and that they translated the Gospel to the Turkish Uighurs and in other languages; that the Catholic, American and Anglican Missions, in spite of the little good they had done to the Assyro-Chaldean nation in the way of preliminary education, had split the nation — already a handful — in Persia, Kurdistan and Mesopotamia into numerous hostile sects; and that their efforts were destined to bring about the final collapse. Consequently he advised the natives to make some sacrifices in order to stand upon their own legs like men, and not to depend upon the foreign missions, etc.
The preacher was perfectly right in principle; but his remarks were unfavourable to the interests of the Lord’s Missionaries. This sermon hastily brought the Apostolique Delegate, Mgr. Lese, from Urmia to Salinas. He remained to the last a friend of Father Benjamin. They both returned to Urmia. A new Russian Mission had already been established in Urmia since 1899. The Nestorians were enthusiastically embracing the religion of the “holy” Tsar of All Russia!
Five big and ostentatious missions - Americans, Anglicans, French, Germans and Russians - with their colleges, Press backed up by rich religious societies, Consuls and Ambassadors, were endeavouring to convert about one hundred thousand Assyro-Chaldeans from Nestorian heresy unto one or another of the five heresies. But the Russian Mission soon outstripped the others, and it was this mission which in 1915 pushed or forced the Assyrians of Persia, as well as the mountaineer tribes of Kurdistan, who had then immigrated into the plains of Salinas and Urmia, to take up arms against their respective Governments. The result was that half of his people perished in the war and the rest expelled from their native lands.
The great question which for a long time had been working its solution in the mind of this priest was now approaching its climax. Was Christianity, with all its multitudinous shapes and colours, and with its unauthentic, spurious and corrupted Scriptures, the true Religion of God? In the summer of 1900 he retired to his small villa in the middle of vineyards near the celebrated fountain of ChaliBoulaghi in Digala, and there for a month spent his time in prayer and meditation, reading over and over the Scriptures in their original texts. The crisis ended in a formal resignanon sent in to the Uniate Archbishop of Urmia, in which he frankly explained to Mar (Mgr.) Touma Audu the reasons for abandoning his sacerdotal functions. All attempts made by the ecclesiastical authorities to withdraw his decision were of no avail. There was no personal quarrel or dispute between Father Benjamin and his superiors; it was all question of conscience.
For several months he was employed in Tabriz as Inspector in the Persian Service of Posts and Customs under the Belgian experts. It was in 1903 that he again visited England and there joined the Unitarian Community. And in 1904 he was sent by the British and Foreign Unitarian Association to carry on an educational and enlightening work among his country people. On his way to Persia he visited Constantinople; and after several interviews with Jemaluddin Effendi and other Muslim scholars, he embraced Islam and adopted the name ‘Abdul-Ahad Dawud’.
Taken from Abdul-Ahad Dawud, "Muhammad in the Bible", Pustaka Antara, Kuala Lumpur, 1969 (edited). Courtesy of Pustaka Antara.
''The Son Of Man,'' Who Is He?
|The Qur'an and the Bible|
|Professor David Benjamin Keldani (Abdul-Ahad Dawud)||25 June 2006|
The Holy Qur'an presents to us the true Jesus Christ as "the Son of Mary;" and the Holy Gospels, too, present him to us as "the Son of Mary;" but that Gospel which was written on the white tablets of the heart of Jesus and delivered to his disciples and followers orally, alas was soon adulterated with a mass of myth and legend. "The Son of Mary" becomes "the Son of Joseph," having brothers and sisters. Then he becomes "the Son of David;" "the Son of Man;" "the Son of God;" "the Son" only; "the Christ;" and "the Lamb".Source: Muhammad in the Bible, which can be downloaded from this website.
Many years ago, one day I visited the Exeter Hall in London; I was a Catholic priest then; nolens volens I was conducted to the Hall where a young medical gentleman began to preach to a meeting of the Young Men's Christian Association. "I repeat what I have often said," exclaimed the doctor, "Jesus Christ must be either what he claims to be in the Gospel or he must be the greatest impostor the world has ever seen!" I have never forgotten this dogmatizing statement. What he wanted to say was that Jesus was either the Son of God or the greatest impostor. If you accept the first hypothesis you are a Christian, a Trinitarian; if the second, then you are an unbelieving Jew. But we who accept neither of these two propositions are naturally Muslims. We Muslims cannot accept either of the two titles given to Jesus Christ in the sense which the Churches and their unreliable Scriptures pretend to ascribe to those appellations. Not alone is he "the Son of God," and not alone "the Son of Man," for if it be permitted to call God "Father," then not only Jesus, but every prophet and righteous believer, is particularly a "son of God." In the same way, if Jesus were really the son of Joseph the Carpenter, and had four brothers and several married sisters as the Gospels pretend, then why alone should he assume this strange appellation of "the Son of Man" which is common to any human being?
It would seem that these Christian priests and pastors, theologians and apologists have a peculiar logic of their own for reasoning and a special propensity for mysteries and absurdities. Their logic knows no medium, no distinction of the terms, and no definite idea of the titles and appellations they use. They have an enviable taste for irreconcilable and contradictory statements which they alone can swallow like boiled eggs. They can believe, without the least hesitation, that Mary was both virgin and wife, that Joseph was both spouse and husband, that James, Jossi, Simon, and Judah were both cousins of Jesus and his brothers, that Jesus is perfect God and perfect man, and that "the Son of God," "the Son of Man," "the Lamb," and "the Son of David" are all one and the same person! They feed themselves on heterogeneous and opposed doctrines which these terms represent with as greedy an appetite as they feel for bacon and eggs at breakfast. They never stop to think and ponder on the object they worship; they adore the crucifix and the Almighty as if they were kissing the bloody dagger of the assassin of their brother in the presence of his father!
I do not think there is even one Christian in ten millions who really has a precise idea or a definite knowledge about the origin and the true signification of the term "the Son of Man." All Churches and their commentators without exception will tell you that "the Son of God" assumed the appellation of "the Son of Man" or "the Barnasha" out of humility and meekness, never knowing that the Jewish Apocalyptical Scriptures, in which Jesus and his disciples heart and soul believed, foretold not a "Son of Man" who would be meek, humble, having nowhere to lay his head, and be delivered into the hands of the evildoers and killed, but a strong man with tremendous power and strength to destroy and disperse the birds of prey and the ferocious beasts that were tearing and devouring his sheep and lambs! The Jews who heard Jesus speaking of "the Son of Man" full well understood to whom he was alluding. Jesus did not invent the name "Barnasha," but borrowed it from the Apocalyptical Jewish Scriptures: the Book of Enoch, the Sibylline Books, the Assumption of Moses, the Book of Daniel, etc. Let us examine the origin of this title "the Barnasha" or "the Son of Man."
1. "The Son of Man" is the Last Prophet, who established "the Kingdom of Peace" and saved the people of God from servitude and persecutions under the idolatrous powers of satan. The title "Barnasha" is a symbolical expression to distinguish the Savior from the people of God who are represented as the "sheep," and the other idolatrous nations of the earth under various species of the birds of prey, ferocious beasts, and unclean animals. The Prophet Hezekiel is almost always addressed by God as "Ben Adam," that is "the Son of Man" (or of Adam) in the sense of a Shepherd of the Sheep of Israel. This Prophet has also some Apocalyptical portions in his book. In his first vision with which he begins his prophetic book he sees besides the sapphire throne of the Eternal the appearance of "the Son of Man." This "Son of Man" who is repeatedly mentioned as always in the presence of God and above the Cherubim is not Hezekiel (or Ezekiel) himself. He is the prophetical "Barnasha," the Last Prophet, who was appointed to save the people of God from the hands of the unbelievers here upon this earth, and not elsewhere!
(a) "The Son of Man" according to the Apocalypse of Enoch (or Henoh).
There is no doubt that Jesus Christ was very familiar with the Revelation of Enoch, believed to be written by the seventh patriarch from Adam. For Judah, "the brother of James" and the "servant of Jesus Christ," that is the brother of Jesus, believes that Enoch was the real author of the work bearing his name. There are some dispersed fragments of this wonderful Apocalypse preserved in the quotations of the Early Christian writers. The book was lost long before Photius. It was only about the beginning of last century that this important work was found in the Canon of the Scriptures belonging to the Abyssinian Church, and translated from the Ethiopic into the German language by Dr. Dillmann, with notes and explanations. The book is divided into five parts or books, and the whole contains one hundred and ten chapters of unequal length. The author describes the fall of the angels, their illicit commerce with the daughters of men, giving birth to a race of giants who invent all sorts of artifices and noxious knowledge. Then vice and evil increase to such a pitch that the Almighty punishes them all with the Deluge. He also relates his two journeys to the heavens and across the earth, being guided by good angels, and the mysteries and wonders he saw therein. In the second part, which is a description of the Kingdom of Peace, "the Son of Man" catches the kings in the midst of their voluptuous life and precipitates them into hell. But this second book does not belong to one author, and assuredly it is much corrupted by Christian hands. The third book (or part) contains some curious and developed astronomical and physical notions. The fourth part presents an Apocalyptical view of the human race from the beginning to the Islamic days, which the author styles the "Messianic" times, in two symbolical parables or rather allegories. A white bull comes out of the earth; then a white heifer joins him they give birth to two calves: one black, the other red; the black bull beats and chases away the red one; then he meets a heifer and they give birth to several calves of black color, until the mother cow leaves the black bull in the search the red one; and, as she does not find him, bawls and shrieks aloud, when a red bull appears, and they begin to propagate their species. Of course, this transparent parable symbolizes Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Sheth, etc., down to Jacob whose offspring is represented by a "flock of sheep" — as the Chosen People of Israel; but the offspring of his brother Esau, i.e. the Edomites, is described as a swarm of boars. In this second parable the flock of sheep is frequently harassed, attacked, dispersed, and butchered by the beasts and birds of prey until we come to the so-called Messianic times, when the flock of sheep is again attacked fiercely by ravens and other carnivorous animals; but a gallant "Ram" resists with great courage and valor. It is then that "the Son of Man," who is the real master or owner of the flock, comes forth to deliver his flock.
A non-Muslim scholar can never explain the vision of a Sophee - or a Seer. He will — as all of them do — bring down the vision to the Maccabees and the King Antiochus Epiphanes in the middle of the second century B.C., when the Deliverer comes with a tremendous truncheon or scepter and strikes right and left upon the birds and the beasts, making a great slaughter among them; the earth, opening its mouth, swallows them in; and the rest take to flight. Then swords are distributed among the sheep, and a white bull leads them on in perfect peace and security.
As to the fifth book, it contains religious and moral exhortations. The whole work in its present shape exhibits indications which show that it was composed as late as 110 B.C., in the original Aramaic dialect, by a Palestinian Jew. At least such is the opinion of the French Encyclopedia.
The Qur'an only mentions Enoch under his surname "Idris" — the Arabic form of the Aramaic "Drisha" being of the same category of simple nouns as "Iblis" and "Blisa" "Idris" and "Drisha" signify a man of great learning, a scholar and an erudite, from "darash" (Arabic "darisa"). The Qur'anic text says: "And mention in the Book Idris; he too was a man of truth and a Prophet, whom We exalted." Ch.19:56-57 Qur'an.
The Muslim commentators, Al-Baydhawi and Jalalu 'd-Din, seem to know that Enoch had studied astronomy, physics, arithmetic, that he was the first who wrote with the pen, and that "Idris" signifies a man of much knowledge, thus showing that the Apocalypse of Enoch had not been lost in their time.
After the close of the Canon of the Hebrew Scriptures in the fourth century or so B.C. by the "Members of the Great Synagogue," established by Ezra and Nehemiah, all other sacred or religious literature besides those included within the Canon was called Apocrypha and excluded from the Hebrew Bible by an assembly of the learned and pious Jews, the last of whom was the famous "Simeon the Just," who died in 310 B.C. Now among these Apocryphal books are included the Apocalypses of Enoch, Barukh, Moses, Ezra, and the Sibyline books, written at different epochs between the time of the Maccabees and after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. It seems to be quite a la mode with the Jewish Sages to compose Apocalyptical and religious literature under the name of some celebrated personage of antiquity. The Apocalypse at the end of the New Testament which bears the name of John the Divine is no exception to this old Judeo Christian habitude. If "Judah the brother of the Lord" could believe that "Henoh the Seventh from Adam" was really the author of the one hundred and ten chapters bearing that name, there is no wonder that Justin the Martyr, Papias, and Eusebius would believe in the authorship of Matthew and John.
However, my aim is not to criticize the authorship of, or to extend the comments upon these enigmatic and mysterious revelations which were compiled under the most painful and grievous circumstances in the history of the Jewish nation; but to give an account of the origin of this surname "the Son of Man" and to shed some light upon its true signification. The Book of Enoch too, like the Apocalypse of the Churches and like the Gospels, speaks of the coming of "the Son of Man" to deliver the people of God from their enemies and confuses this vision with the Last Judgment.
(b) The Sibylline Revelation, which was composed after the last collapse of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, states that "the Son of Man" will appear and destroy the Roman Empire and deliver the Believers in One God. This book was written at least fourscore years after Jesus Christ.
(c) We have already given an exposition of "the Son of Man" when we discussed the vision of Daniel, where he is presented to the Almighty and invested with power to destroy the Roman Beast. So the visions, in the "Assumption of Moses," in the Book of Baruch (or Barukh), more or less similar in their views and expectations to those described in the above-mentioned "Revelations," all unanimously describe the Deliverer of the people of God as "Barnasha" or "the Son of Man," to distinguish him from the "Monster;" for the former is created in the image of God and the latter transformed into the image of Satan.
2. The Apocalyptic "Son of Man" could not be Jesus Christ.
This surname, "Son of Man," is absolutely inapplicable to the son of Mary. All the pretensions of the so-called "Gospels" which make the "Lamb" of Nazareth to "catch the kings in the midst of their voluptuous life and hurl them down into the Hell;" lack every bit of authenticity, and the distance separating him from "the Son of Man" marching with the legions of angels upon the clouds towards the Throne of the Eternal is more than that of our globe from the planet of Jupiter. He may be a "son of man" and a "messiah," as every Jewish king, prophet, and high! priest was, but he was not "the Son of Man" nor "the Messiah" whom the Hebrew prophets and apocalyptists foretold. And the Jews were perfectly right to refuse him that title and office. They were certainly wrong to deny him his prophethood, and criminal to have shed his innocent blood — as they and the Christians believe. "The Assembly of the Great Synagogue," after the death of Simeon the just in 310 B.C., was replaced by the "Sanhedrin," whose president had the surname of "Nassi" or Prince. It is astonishing that the "Nassi" who passed the judgment against Jesus, saying: "It is more profitable that one man should die rather than the whole nation should be destroyed," was a prophet! If he were a prophet, how was it that he did not recognize the prophetic mission or the Messianic character of "the Messiah"?
Here are, then the principal reasons why Jesus was not "the Son of Man" nor the Apocalyptic Messiah:
(a) A messenger of God is not commissioned to prophesy about himself as a personage of some future epoch, or to foretell his own reincarnation and thus present himself as the hero in some great future drama of the world. Jacob prophesied about "the Prophet of Allah," Moses about a prophet who would come after him with the Law, and Israel was exhorted to "obey him; Haggai foretold Ahmad; Malachi predicted the coming of the "Messenger of the Covenant" and of Elijah; but none of the prophets ever did prophesy about his own second coming into the world. What is extremely abnormal in the case of Jesus is that he is made to pretend his identity with "the Son of Man," yet he is unable to do in the least degree the work that the foretold "Son of Man" was expected to accomplish! To declare to the Jews under the grip of Pilate that he was "the Son of Man," and then to pay tribute to Caesar; and to confess that "the Son of Man had nowhere to lay his head;" and then to postpone the deliverance of the people from the Roman yoke to an indefinite future, was practically to trifle with his nation; and those who put all these incoherences as sayings in the mouth of Jesus only make idiots of themselves.
(b) Jesus knew better than everybody else in Israel who "the Son of Man" was and what was his mission. He was to dethrone the profligate kings and to cast them into the Hell-fire. The "Revelation of Baruch" and that of Ezra — the Fourth Book of Esdras in the Vulgate — speak of the appearance of "the Son of Man" who will establish the powerful Kingdom of Peace upon the ruins of the Roman Empire. All these Apocryphal Revelations show the state of the Jewish mind about the coming of the last great Deliverer whom they surname "the Son of Man" and "the Messiah." Jesus could not be unaware of and unfamiliar with this literature and this ardent expectation of his people. He could not assume either of those two titles to himself in the sense which the Sanhedrin — that Supreme Tribunal of Jerusalem — and Judaism attached to them; for he was not "the Son of Man" and "the Messiah," because he had no political program and no social scheme, and because he was himself the precursor of "the Son of Man', and of "the Messiah" — the Adon, the Conquering Prophet, the Anointed and crowned Sultan of the Prophets.
(c) A critical examination of the surname "Son of Man" put three and eighty times in the mouth of the master will and must result in the only conclusion that he never appropriated it to himself; and in fact he often uses that title in the third person. A few examples will suffice to convince us that Jesus applied that surname to someone else who was to appear in the future.
(i) A Scribe, that is a learned man, says: "I will follow thee wheresoever thou goest." Jesus answers: "The foxes have their holes; the birds of heaven their own nests; but the Son of Man has no place where to lay his head." In the verse following he refuses one of his followers permission to go and bury his father! You will find not a single saint, father, or commentator to have troubled his head or the faculty of reasoning in order to discover the very simple sense embodied in the refusal of Jesus to allow that learned Scribe to follow him. If he had place for thirteen heads he could certainly provide a place for the fourteenth too. Besides, he could have registered him among the seventy adherents he had. The Scribe in question was not an ignorant fisherman like the sons of Zebedee and of Jonah; he was a scholar and a practiced lawyer. There is no reason to suspect his sincerity; he was led to believe that Jesus was the predicted Messiah, the Son of Man, who at any moment might summon his heavenly legions and mount upon the throne of his ancestor David. Jesus perceived the erroneous notion of the Scribe, and plainly let him understand that he who had not two square yards of ground on earth to lay his head could naturally not be "the Son of Man"! He was not harsh to the Scribe; he benevolently saved him from wasting his time in the pursuit of a futile hope!
(ii) Jesus Christ is reported to have declared that the Son of Man "will separate the sheep from the goats." The "sheep" symbolize the believing Israelites who will enter into the Kingdom but the "goats" signify the unbelieving Jews who had joined with the enemies of the true religion and were consequently doomed to perdition. This was practically what the Apocalypse of Enoch had predicted about the Son of Man. Jesus simply confirmed the revelation of Enoch and gave it a Divine character. He himself was sent to exhort the sheep of Israel to remain faithful to God and await patiently the advent of the Son of Man who was coming to save them for ever from their enemies; but he himself was not the Son of Man, and had nothing to do with the political world, nor with the "sheep" and "goats" which both alike rejected and despised him, except a very small number who loved and believed in him.
(iii) The Son of Man is said to be "the Lord of the Sabbath day," that is, he had the power to abrogate the law which made it a holy day of rest from labor and work. Jesus was a strict observer of the Sabbath, on which day he used to attend the services in the Temple or in the Synagogue. He expressly commands his followers to pray that the national collapse at the destruction of Jerusalem should not happen on a Sabbath day. How could, then, Jesus claim to be the Son of Man, the Lord of the Sabbath day, while he was obliged to observe and keep it like every Jew? How could he venture to claim that proud title and then predict the destruction of the Temple and of the Capital City?
These and many other examples show that Jesus could never appropriate the surname of "Barnasha" to himself, but he ascribed it to the Last Powerful Prophet, who really saved the "sheep," i.e. the believing Jews; and either destroyed or dispersed the unbelievers among them; abolished the day of Sabbath; established the Kingdom of Peace; and promised that this religion and kingdom will last to the day of the Last Judgment.
We shall in our next essay turn our attention to find all the marks and qualities of the Apocalyptic "Son of Man" which are literally and completely found in the last Prophet of Allah, upon whom be peace and the blessing of God!
Matt. xiii 55,56; Mark vi 3; iii 31; Luke ii 48; viii 19-21; John ii 12; vii 3, 5; Acts i 14; I Cor. ix. 5; Gal. i 19; Jude i
Matt xxii 42, Mark xii 35, Luke xx 41, Matt. xx 30; ix 27; xxi 9; Acts xiii 22, 23; Apoc. v 5; Rom. xv 12; Heb. vii 14, etc.
About eighty-three times in the discourses of Jesus this appellation is repeated.
Matt. xiv 32, xvi 16; John xi 27; Acts ix 20; I John iv 15; v 5; Heb. i 2, 5, etc.
John v 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, etc.; and in the Baptismal formula, Matt. xxviii. 19; John i. 34, etc.
Matt. xvi. 16, and frequently in the Epistles.
John i. 29, 36; and often in the Revelation.
Ezek. i. 26.
Ezek. x. 2.
Judah i. 14. In the Gospels he is mentioned as one of the four brothers of Jesus, Matt. xiii. 55, 56, etc.
It has also been translated into English by an Irish Bishop Laurence.
Enoch xlvi. 4-8.
"Iblis," the Arabic form of the Aramaic "Blisa," an epithet given to the devil which means the "Bruised One."
Dan. vii. See the article, "Muhammad in the Old Testament," in the Islamic Review for November, 1938.
Enoch xlvi. 4-8.
John xi. 50.
Gen. xlix. 10.
Deut. xviii. 15
Hag. ii. 7. (4) Mal. iii. 1, iv. 5.
Mal. iii 1, iv, 5.
Matt. viii. 20
Luke x. 1
Matt. xxv. 31-34.
Matt. xv. 24