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Islamic view of Daniel

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The Muslims traditionally consider Daniel as a prophet, though he is not mentioned in the Koran. It was he who preached in Babylonian 'Iraḳ—that is to say, Chaldea—exhorting the people to return to God. He lived during the reigns of the Persian king Lahorasp and of Cyrus, and taught these two princes the unity of God and the true religion. Tabari says ("Chronique," French translation of Zotenberg, i. 44) that thousands of people who had died in a certain town from an epidemic were resuscitated a thousand years later by the prayer of Daniel, a legend probably borrowed from Ezek. xxxvii. 1-10.

When Daniel had become a noted prophet, Cyrus made him the chief of all his kingdom in order that he might teach his people the true religion. The prophet asked the king to let him go back to Palestine and build the Temple. Cyrus consented to the reconstruction of the sanctuary, but refused to let him go, saying, "If I had a thousand prophets like thee, I should have them all stay with me." There is another tradition, to the effect that Daniel was king of the Israelites after their return from captivity.

According to Muḥammad ibn Jarir (quoted by Tabari, l.c. p. 751), it was Nebuchadnezzar who ordered Daniel to be thrown into the lion's den. A pit was dug purposely for him; and he and five companions were cast before a famished animal. Shortly afterward the king, on approaching the pit, saw there seven persons instead of six. The seventh was an angel, who struck Nebuchadnezzar a blow in the face, and by that changed him into a wild beast.

The Arabs attribute to Daniel the invention of geomancy ("'ilm al-raml") and the authorship of the "Usul al-Ta'bir" (The Principles of Interpreting Dreams).

Mas'udi says there were two Daniels: Daniel the Elder, who lived in the period between Noah and Abraham, and was the father of the above-mentioned sciences; and Daniel the Younger, who, according to a tradition, was the maternal uncle of Cyrus, whose mother was a Jewess. The Arabs attribute to him the book "Kitab al-Jafar" (Divination) and many predictions relative to the Persian kings.

References

  • Tabari, Chronigue (French transl. by Zotenberg), i. 44, 496, 503, 571, ii. 283;
  • Mas'udi, Les Prairies d'Or (ed. B. de Meynard), ii. 128;
  • D'Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale, s.v.

This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, a publication now in the public domain.

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