Daniel is one of the prophets of Israel. His book is distinguished from most of the other books of the Bibles by several attributes, although it shares with them the general problem of the occurrence of distortion or alteration. Among its unique attributes are:


1) The clarity of the doctrine of monotheism. Daniel calls Allah Almighty the God of the heavens, unlike the books of the Bible that call Him the Lord of Hosts (a Jewish attribution which demonstrates their concept of God as well as their attitude towards humanity). He ascribes to Allah attributes that are not found in the other Biblical books. He is the All-Living, Eternal, Who possesses wisdom, force, knowledge, direction of and power over affairs. He is the Lord of Kings, Exposer of secrets, the only One deserving adoration and worship. Fortunetellers and astrologers are false, etc.


2) The prophecies found in his book are in harmony with the known reality of recorded history that is beyond doubt and dispute.


3) It contains clear prophecies of the seal of prophethood and the appearance of the eternal message.


4) His prophecies’ specific numerical content has been the subject of research and debate throughout history.


As for the personality of Daniel himself, he most resembles the prophet Joseph, an oppressed stranger in a foreign land whom Allah nevertheless raises up with knowledge and the interpretation of the dreams of the king, the caller to monotheism who does not allow any persecution to distract him from his message.


In Islamic history there is a well-known event narrated by Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Abi Shayba, al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Abi Dunya and others, from the second-generation Muslims who participated in the conquest of the city of Tustar, including Abul-`Aliya and Mutraf ibn Malik. The particular incident that concerns us here is that the conquering Muslim army discovered the tomb of Daniel. They found his body lying on its bier, totally unchanged except for a few hairs on the back of his head. At his head was a scroll which they took and brought to `Umar who called Ka`b al-Ahbar to translate it into Arabic. Abul-`Aliya says, “I was the first man to read [the Arabic translation].” The narrator from Abul-`Aliya states, “I asked Abul-`Aliya, ‘what was in it?’ He replied, ‘All of your history and affairs, the melody of your speech, and what is yet to happen.’”[1]


Thus, the text was translated into Arabic, and by none other than the proficient and experienced hands of Ka`b al-Ahbar. It was read by whoever read it, and therefore it would not be farfetched to assume that it was read by Islamic scholars and writers on the subject of the predictions of the coming of Muhammad —Allah’s blessing and peace be upon him- found in the previous scriptures, such as Ibn Qutayba and Ibn Thafar. If not, and their source was versions of the Bible available to them in their era, then that is even better and stronger proof. The veracity of their narrations has never been challenged, and their Jewish and Christian contemporaries never denied their authenticity.


Rather, Ibn Qutayba said (as quoted by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya in Al-Jawab al- Sahih): “This prophecy is found among the Jews and Christians today. They read it and claim that the one predicted in it has not yet appeared.”


Even so, we will not rely on the reports transmitted by Muslim scholars, but on that which is possessed by the followers of the Bible in our day.


The Great Prophecy of Daniel:


King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that disturbed him. He summoned his magicians and fortune-tellers to interpret its meaning, but none of them were able to do so. But Daniel beseeched Allah, and He revealed to him the dream as well as its interpretation. When he entered into the presence of the ruler he said to him:


“The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king.


“But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.”


He then explained it to the king:


“You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.


“You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.


“Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.


“This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king.


“You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all —you are this head of gold.


“But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others.


“Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.


“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.


“Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold —the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.


“Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him.


“The king answered Daniel, and said, ‘Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” —2:21-48.


This is the actual text of the dream which is always described as the most famous and true of all the historical visions of the Bible. Its interpretation does not require great intelligence, and it is wrong to differ about its meaning when the prophet himself explained it. But the Jews and Christians sought to conceal its meaning and fabricated a dispute out of the envy of their own souls after the truth was made clear to them. For centuries they agreed about this vision and its meaning, without any doubt that it was literally true, that the first kingdom (the head of gold) was the kingdom of Babel, that the second (the chest of silver) was the kingdom of the Persians, that the third kingdom (the thighs of bronze) was the kingdom of the Greeks who attacked the Persians under the leadership of Alexander the Great of Macedonia in the year 333 B.C.E., and that the fourth kingdom (the legs of iron and the feet partly of iron and clay) was the Roman Empire which was divided into the Eastern Empire whose capital was Byzantium (Constantinople), and the Western Empire whose capital was Rome.


None of the followers of the Bible doubted this at all. Rather, they all —out of the force of their faith- awaited the fifth kingdom (the kingdom of God) which would destroy the kingdoms of idolatry, unbelief and oppression. Especially the fourth kingdom which persecuted them, for it was that kingdom which inflicted humiliation and degradation, and destroyed Jerusalem in the year 7 C.E., setting up idols in the sanctuary, as well as subjecting the Christians to all manner of unprecedentedly loathsome and atrocious tortures at the hands of its pleasure-loving emperors, of whom the infamous tyrant Nero is only one example. They continued their persecution for three centuries until the emperor Constantine embraced a distorted version of Christianity, and the persecution of the Jews and Unitarians, as well as other opposing theologies within Christianity, continued until our own era.




[1]Ibn Kathir: Al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya 1:-42, al-Bayhaqi: Dala’il al-Nubuwa 1:381, Ibn Abi Shayba: Al-Musannif 7:4, al-Kurmi: Shifa` al-Sudur —edition of Jamal Habib p336.