Some two centuries after the idolatrous and impenitent Kingdom of Israel was overthrown, and the whole population of the ten tribes deported into Assyria, Jerusalem and the glorious temple of Solomon were razed to the ground by the Chaldeans, and the unmassacred remnant of Judah and Ben- jamin was transported into Babylonia. After a period of seventy years' captivity, the Jews were permitted to return to their country with full authority to build again their ruined city and the temple. When the foundations of the new house of God were being laid, there arose a tremendous uproar of joy and acclamation from the assembly; while the old men and women who had seen the gorgeous temple of Solomon before, burst into a bitter weeping. It was on this solemn occasion that the Almighty sent His worshiper the Prophet Haggai to console the sad assembly with this important message: -
"And I will shake all nations, and the Himdah all the nations will come; and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. Mine is the silver, mine is the gold, says the Lord of hosts, the glory of my last house shall be greater than that of the first one, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give Shalom, says the Lord of hosts" (Haggai, ii. 7-9).
I have translated the above paragraph from the only copy of the Bible at my disposal, lent to me by an Assyrian lady cousin in her own vernacular language. But let us consult the English versions of the Bible, which we find have rendered the original Hebrew words himda and shalom into "desire" and "peace" respectively.
Jewish and Christian commentators alike have given the utmost importance to the double promise contained in the above prophecy. They both understand a messianic predic- tion in the word Himda. Indeed, here is a wonderful pro- phecy confirmed by the usual biblical formula of the divine oath, "says the Lord Sabaoth," four times repeated. If this prophecy be taken in the abstract sense of the words himda and shalom as "desire" and "peace," then the prophecy becomes nothing more than an unintelligible aspiration. But if we understand by the term himda a concrete idea, a person and reality, and in the word shalom, not a condition, but a living and active force and a definitely established religion, then this prophecy must be admittedly true and fulfilled in the person of Ahmed and the establishment of Islam. For himda and shalom - or shlama have precisely the same significance respectively as Ahmed and Islam.
Before endeavoring to prove the fulfillment of this pro- phecy, it will be well to explain the etymology of the two words as briefly as possible: -
(a) Himda. The clause in the original Hebrew text reads thus: "ve yavu himdath kol haggoyim," which literally rendered into English would be "and will come the Himda of all nations." The final hi in Hebrew, as in Arabic, is changed into th, or t when in the genitive case. The word is derived from an archaic Hebrew - or rather Aramaic - root hmd (consonants pronounced hemed). In Hebrew hemed is generally used in the sense of great desire, covet, appetite and lust. The ninth command of the Decalogue is: "Lo tahmod ish reikha" ("Thou shalt not covet the wife of thy neighbor"). In Arabic the verb hemida, from the same consonants hmd, means "to praise," and so on. What is more praised and illustrious than that which is most craved for, coveted, and desired? Whichever of the two meanings be adopted, the fact that Ahmed is the Arabic form of Himda remains indisputable and decisive. The Holy Quran (ch.61:6 ) declares that Jesus announced unto the people of Israel the coming of Ahmad: "And when Jesus, the son of Mary said: 'Children of Israel, I am sent to you by Allah to confirm the Torah that is before me, and to give news of a Messenger who will come after me whose name shall be Ahmad.' Yet when he came to them with clear proofs, they said: 'This is clear sorcery.'"
The Gospel of St. John, being written in Greek, uses the name Paracletos, a barbarous form unknown to classical Greek literature. But Periclytos, which corresponds exactly with Ahmed in its signification of "illustrious," "glorious" and "praised," in its superlative degree, must have been the translation into Greek of Himda or probably Hemida of the Aramaic form, as uttered by Jesus Christ. Alas! there is no Gospel extant in the original language spoken by Jesus!
(b) As to the etymology and signification of the words shalom, shlama, and the Arabic salam, Islam, I need not detain the reader by dragging him into linguistic details. Any Semitic scholar knows that Shalom and Islam are derived from one and the same root and that both mean peace, sub- mission, and resignation.
This being made clear, I propose to give a short exposi- tion of this prophecy of Haggai. In order to understand it better, let me quote another prophecy from the last book of the Old Testament called Mallachai, or Mallakhi, or in the Authorized Version, Malachi (chap. iii. I):
"Behold I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: suddenly he will come to his temple. He is the Adonai (i.e. the Lord) whom you desire, and the Messenger of the Covenant with whom you are pleased. Lo he is coming, says the Lord of hosts."
Then compare these mysterious oracles with the wisdom embodied in the sacred verse of the Quran: "Exalted is He who caused His worshiper (Prophet Muhammad) to travel in the night from the sacred Mosque (Mecca) to the farthest Mosque (Jerusalem) which We have blessed around it that We might show him of Our signs. He is the Hearer, the Seer." Ch.17:1 Quran
That by the person coming suddenly to the temple, as foretold in the two biblical documents above mentioned, Prophet Muhammad, and not Prophet Jesus, is intended the following arguments must surely suffice to convince every impartial observer:-
1. The kinship, the relation and resemblance between the two tetrograms Himda and Ahmd, and the identity of the root hmd from which both substantives are derived, leave not a single particle of doubt that the subject in the sentence "and the Himda of all nations will come" is Ahmed; that is to say, Muhammad. There is not the remotest etymological connection between himda and any other names of "Jesus," "Christ," "Savior," not even a single consonant in common between them.
2. Even if it be argued that the Hebrew form Hmdh (read himdah) is an abstract substantive meaning "desire, lust, covetousness, and praise," the argument would be again in favor of our thesis; for then the Hebrew form would, in etymology, be exactly equivalent in meaning and in similarity to, or rather identity with, the Arabic form Himdah. In whatever sense you wish to take the tetrogram Hmdh, its relation to Ahmed and Ahmedism is decisive, and has nothing to do with Jesus and Jesuism! If St. Jerome, and before him the authors of the Septuagint, had preserved intact the Hebrew form Hmdh, instead of putting down the Latin "cupi- ditas" or the Seek "euthymia," probably the translators appointed by King James I would have also reproduced the original form in the Authorized Version, and the Bible Society have followed suit in their translations into Islamic languages.
3. The temple of Zorobabel was to be more glorious than that of Solomon because, as Mallakhi prophesied, the great Prophet or Messenger of the Covenant, the "Adonai" or the Seyid of the messengers was to visit it suddenly, as indeed Prophet Muhammad did during his miraculous night journey, as stated in the Quran! The temple of Zorobabel was repaired or rebuilt by Herod the Great. And Jesus, certainly on every occasion of his frequent visits to that temple, honored it by his holy person and presence. Indeed, the presence of every prophet in the House of God had added to the dignity and sanctity of the sanctuary. But this much must at least be admitted, that the Gospels which record the visitations of Christ to the temple and his teachings therein fail to make mention of a single conversion among his audience. All his visits to the temple are reported as end- ing in bitter disputes with the unbelieving priests and Pharisees! It must also be concluded that Jesus not only did not bring "peace' to the world as he deliberately declared (Matt. xxiv. Mark xiii., Luke xxi.), but he even predicted the total destruction of the temple (Matt. x. 34, etc.), which was fulfilled some forty years afterwards by the Romans, when the final dispersion of the Jews was completed.
4. Ahmad, which is another form of the name Muhammad and of the same root and signification, namely, the "praised," during his night journey visited the sacred spot of the ruined temple, as stated in the Holy Quran, and there and then, according to the sacred tradition uttered repeatedly by himself to his companions, officiated the divine service of prayer and adoration to Allah in the presence of all the Prophets; and it was then that Allah "to travel in the night from the sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque which We have blessed around it that We might show him of Our Signs." (Ch 17:1 Quran) to the Last Prophet. If Moses and Elias could appear in bodily presence on the mount of transfiguration, they and all the thousands of Prophets could also appear in the arena of the temple at Jerusalem; and it was during that "sudden coming" of Prophet Muhammad to "his temple" (Mal. iii. 1 ) that God did actually fill it "with glory" (Hag. ii.).
That Amina, the widow of Abdullah, both of whom died before the advent of Islam, should name her orphan son "Ahmed," the first proper noun in the history of mankind, is, according to my humble belief, the greatest miracle in favor of Islam. The second Caliph, Hazrat Omar, rebuilt the temple, and the majestic Mosque at Jerusalem remains, and will remain to the end of the world, a perpetual monument of the truth of the covenant which Allah made with Abraham and Ishmael (Gen. xv.-xvii)