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 Former Bishop Accepted Islam

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Join date : 2011-06-29

PostSubject: Former Bishop Accepted Islam   Mon Jul 11, 2011 2:33 pm

conversion to Islam cannot be attributed to any cause other
than the gracious direction of the Almighty Allah. Without this
Divine guidance all learning, search and other efforts to find
the Truth may even lead one astray. The moment I believed in
the Absolute Unity of God, His holy Apostle Muhammad became
the pattern of my conduct and behavior."

Prof. Keldani,
a former Catholic bishop, accepted Islam in 1904 and adopted a
Muslim name 'Abdul-Ahad Dawud'. The above quote is taken from
his scholarly work Muhammad in the Bible. An expert in Biblical
scripts and languages, Prof. Keldani published many scholarly
papers on the Bible and Christianity prior to his becoming a Muslim.
His Muhammad in the Bible is rich with deep analysis and although
published originally many decades ago, has remained today without
a parallel on this topic in both originality and scholarship.

Rev. David Benjamin Keldani, B.D. (b. 1867)

Rev. David Keldani

"Imust remind the Christians that unless
they believe in the absolute unity of God, and renounce the belief in the
three persons, they are certainly unbelievers in the true God ... The Old Testament
and the Qur'an condemn the doctrine of three persons in God; the New
Testament does not expressly hold or defend it, but even if it contains hints and
traces concerning the Trinity, it is no authority at all, because it was
neither seen nor written by Christ himself, nor in the language he spoke, nor did it exist
in its present form and contents for - at least - the first two centuries
after him."

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,
“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.
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