From: email@example.com (Mark Pleas) [Note: email address is defunct now!] Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam Subject: David Benjamin Keldani ('Abdu 'l-Ahad Dawud) Date: 23 Aug 1997 22:02:21 -0700 Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> On 26 Jan 1997, email@example.com (Mark Pleas) wrote: [....] > On 28 Feb 1996, firstname.lastname@example.org (Misha'al Al-Kadhi) wrote: > >> Subject: Does the Bible say God is "THREE"? Can you prove it? >> Date: 28 Feb 1996 18:14:27 -0800 >> >> [....] >> >> We know that many very eminent Christian scholars, after a >> lifetime of devotion to the Bible, the study of ancient Greek, >> Latin, and Hebrew, the study of countless other ancient >> Christian documents, and years upon years of continuous >> preaching of established doctrines, after all of this they >> learned about Islam and reverted to Islam. One example that >> imediately springs to mind is the Roman Catholic *BISHOP* >> David Benjamin Keldani (later known as Abdul-Ahad Dawood). >> > [....] > ============================================================================ > > My question is this: Are the above claims true? Are there any > inaccuracies in these claims, particularly with respect to Keldani? > [....] > > Thank you. > > Mark Pleas > email@example.com I have since then done some research on my own to find out more about this person and his scholarly credentials. Yet I have been unable to find any mention of him in Catholic or Muslim sources. The Catholic sources I consulted were extremely detailed, but were on the worldwide level -- his lack of mention there indicates only that he was never famous among Catholics either before or after he left the Church. Additional search might turn up something, but the fact that Keldani apparently left the Church by the age of 33 makes it seem unlikely that he was ever well known among Catholics outside of his home town or region. For information on him, then, one would have to consult archives for the organizations or places he was connected with. I have contacted some Chaldean Catholic representatives outside of Iran, but none of them had heard of Keldani. One of them was personally acquainted with the man who is presently Chaldean archbishop in Keldani's home town of Urmiah in northwestern Iran, but he was unable to find out anything about Keldani on his own. The Muslim sources at my disposal were only a variety of encyclopaedias of Islam in Western languages. Some were compiled by Muslims, some by non-Muslims. None of them made any mention of anyone like "Fr. Benjamin", "Fr. Keldani", or "'Abdu 'l-Ahad Dawud" in either the index or the list of contributors. I also had recourse to one or two Iranian biographical dictionaries, but found nothing there either. As a result, everything I have been able to find out directly about Keldani comes from the biography in his book (see below), or from a couple of autobiographical comments in the text of the book. Nevertheless, I have found information about many of the things mentioned in the biography, and I believe that information will serve to correct or clarify some of the claims or impressions given by the book's biography. The biography gives the names of four periodicals that Keldani published in before he left the Church. As all 4 were quite regional, and obviously rather old, the libraries I had access to had none of them. It would seem not unlikely, however, that some of the articles might have appended to them a brief explanation of who the author was. If so, getting copies of those articles would serve to fill in the enormous gaps that the biography below leaves concerning his childhood and his entry into the Church. I have contacted one of the periodicals, the Tablet, by e-mail, but was told that there was no autobiographical information appended to the articles he published in that magazine: ========================== We did find that Rev. David Benjamin wrote a lengthy series of ten articles for The Tablet between December 1892 and May 1893 on 'Assyria, Rome and Canterbury' but unfortunately there is no autobiographical sketch of him. You may be interested to know that the final article ends with the words: "I asked Cardinal Vaughan, '...tell the Holy Father, I most earnestly beg him to pray to Him whose Vicar he is, for the re-union of Mar Shimum and my most beloved nation, the Chaldaeo-Assyrians'". ========================== In addition, the book's biography gives no information on Keldani after his acceptance of Islam in 1904, at the age of 37, but the Web version below says, "(died 1940c)" If one knew where and when he died, one might be able to find a newspaper obituary from the area that would provide additional information about his life. In addition, there might be some biographical information given in the article that Keldani wrote for "the Turkish paper the Aqsham" in 1922 or 1923, as mentioned in the sixth article of the Web version of the book (i.e., 'Prophet Muhammad Is the Son-of-Man'). The contents of Keldani's "Articles of Religion" found at the Azhar Mosque of the Internet (http://www.mosque.com) appear nearly identical to the contents of Keldani's book "Muhammad in the Bible." The copy of "Muhammad in the Bible" that I have seen gives no dates for original or most recent publication, but was printed in 1981 by Shirkat Printing Press, Lahore, Pakistan. The biographical sketch found at http://www.mosque.com/gooda.html appears identical to the biographical sketch found in the printed book, with the exception of a few minor differences that appear to be errors in transcription. Below I follow the Web version, noting anywhere where it differs significantly from the book's version. > THE ARTICLES OF THE BISHOP OF URAMIAH, > ON THE CREATOR, HOLY BOOKS AND PROPHETS > > BIOGRAPHY OF BIOGRAPHY OF PROFESSOR DAVID BENJAMIN KELDANI, B.D. > (died 1940c) > Former Roman Catholic Bishop of the Uniate Chaldean "Bishop" -- In the title of the printed book, too, he is given as a former bishop: "Prof. 'Abdu 'L-Ahad Dawud (Former Bishop of Uramiah)". But in the caption to the picture of Keldani opposite the table of contents in the book, there is no claim of Keldani having ever been a bishop: "Professor 'Abdu 'l-Ahad Dawud, B.D., the writer of the present series of articles is the former Reverend David Benjamin Keldani, B.D., a Roman Catholic priest of the Uniate-Chaldean sect. A brief sketch of his biography appears elsewhere." (The title "Reverend" is normally used only for priests, not bishops.) Also, in the title of the biographical sketch in the book there is no use of the term "bishop": "A Short Biographical Sketch of Professor 'Abdu 'L-Ahad Dawud, B.D." In the printed book, therefore, the only reference to Keldani as a bishop is on the title page. Here, however, in the title of the Web version, we have a second mention of the bishop claim. In addition, on the main page of the Azhar Mosque of the Internet, Keldani is referred to as "Bishop Benjamin", and in the main page for the Keldani articles the title is again "The Articles of the Bishop of Uramiah, on the Creator, Holy Books and Prophets", which are "Presented by Shaykh Ahmad Darwish". It could be, then, that the extra emphasis on the word "bishop" in the Web version is due to Shaykh Ahmad Darwish. I have checked the enormous and fully indexed eighth volume of "Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi," which gives detailed biographical information on every Catholic bishop, archbishop, and cardinal between 1846 and 1903. There is no mention of Keldani (or "Benjamin") anywhere in the book, so he was clearly never a Catholic bishop. Furthermore, in the first article in the second part of the Web version of the book ('Islam and Ahmadiyat Announced by Angels'), he gives the following: Whether an orthodox or a heterodox, when a Christian comes out from the church where he has "shared" the "Lord's Com- munion" which they call the "Institution of the Eucharist,(1)" they become so hypocritically fanatical and unsocial as to prefer to meet a dog rather than a Muslim or a Jew, because these do not believe in the Trinity and in the "Lord's Supper." I know it. I used to be of the same sentiments when I was a Catholic priest. The more I thought myself spiritual, holy, and sinless, the more I hated the heretics, especially the non- believers in the Trinity. It is clear from the context that he means to bolster the believability of his observation by noting the highest position he ever occupied in the Church: if he had ever been more than a priest, his argument here would be strengthened by noting that. > ______________________________________________________________________ > > Abdu'l-Ahad Dawud is the former Rev. David Abdu Benjamin Keldani, > B.D., a Roman Catholic priest of the Uniate-Chaldean sect. He In the book he is the former "Rev. David Benjamin Keldani, B.D.", with no mention of the second "Abdu". Its presence here may be a transcription error. The word "keldani" appears in the title of the Chaldean Church in Urmiah ("Khalifagari Kaldani Katoliq"), and when I checked with one Chaldean Catholic he stated that he believed the word merely means "chaldean". The name, then, would actually be Rev. David Benjamin, and this matches with the name he wrote under for the Tablet (see above), as well as the fact given below that in France he was referred to as "Father Benjamin". (Note here that he is expressly recognized as a former priest, not a former bishop.) >From the biography we know nothing of his parentage and upbringing, but from the given name "David" he could be Jewish, Christian, or even Muslim, while from the surname "Benjamin" his family would appear to have been most likely either Jewish or Christian. In addition to the biography, however, he gives some information about his background in passing in different parts of the book. In the first article on the Web page, ('Prefatory Remarks, Allah and His Attributes: "And the Ahmed of All Nations Will Come." - Haggai, ii.7'), we find the following: 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. He had an Assyrian (i.e., "Chaldean") cousin with a Bible, which she only lent to him -- apparently she wanted it back, so she might well have been a Christian. If so, this would imply that Keldani had Christian relatives, and would serve as some slight additional evidence that he may have come from a Christian family (rather than Jewish, Muslim, or non-religious). "a Roman Catholic priest of the Uniate-Chaldean sect" -- The titles used here and elsewhere make it appear that the biography was not written by Keldani himself, but compiled from various sources by someone else. Catholics normally refer to themselves as "Catholics," not "Roman Catholics." Although the title "Roman Catholic Church" has been used occasionally in the history of the Church, it first came into prominence with the Anglicans in England after they split off from Rome in the 16th century. The Anglicans, who claimed that their church was just as "catholic" as the church centered on the Pope in Rome, used the term to imply that the Pope's Catholic Church was merely the _Roman_ branch of the invisible "Catholic Church". From the Anglicans the term passed over to English-speaking Protestants, and is even occasionally encountered among some English-speaking Catholics. Nevertheless, it is never used by the Church, as it is considered pejorative or as potentially compromising the Church's claim to sole catholicity. It would seem from this that the writer was not a Catholic, and was probably more familiar with Protestant English terminology. In addition, the term "Uniate-Chaldean sect" is equally unlikely to have come from a present or former Catholic. The Catholic Church consists of 21 "rites," different cultural groups which have different liturgical languages and calendars, and slightly different customs and practices, but which are all under the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, and profess the same faith. The largest rite, the Latin Rite, comprises roughly 98% of the world's approximately 1.05 billion Catholics. The next largest rite is the Ukrainian Rite; some other well-known rites are the Coptic, Ethiopian, Maronite, Armenian, Chaldean, Malabar, Greek-Melkhite, and Ruthenian. (The Chaldean Rite consists of former Nestorian churches which have returned to union with Rome; it is headed by the "Patriarch of Babylon", who resides in Baghdad. The rite, called Chaldean after the ancient name for the territory in which it arose, is composed primarily of ethnic Chaldeans (or Assyrians), and the liturgical language is usually Syriac.) The rites are all equal in precedence, and believers all subscribe to the same creed. But in order to keep the ancient practices of some of the smaller rites from dying out, relations between the rites are regulated: normally one remains in the rite in which one was born, and certain procedures must be followed before one can change from one rite to another. Therefore the term "sect" is inappropriate -- there is no difference in creed, all are subject to the same central leadership, and wooing adherents from one rite into another is forbidden.  The term "Uniate" is also very strange here. It is unknown to almost all Catholics and Protestants, and is used almost exclusively by (Eastern) Orthodox Christians. It refers to the various Eastern Catholic rites "uniting" with the Church in Rome, and is regarded as quite pejorative by Eastern Rite Catholics such as Chaldean Catholics. Even if Keldani might have disliked the Catholic Church after leaving it, it seems unlikely that he would use a pejorative term designed to affirm the dignity of the Orthodox churches. >From these and other points it appears that the writer of the biography, who may or may not be the same person who first mistakenly gave Keldani the title "bishop," may not have spoken with Keldani directly, and may instead have culled his information from a variety of outside sources written from different points of view. > was born in 1867 at Urmia in Persia; educated from his early > infancy in that town. From 1886-89 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 "Urmia" -- Also Urmiah, Uramiah, and now romanized "Orumiyeh." A city in northwestern Iran, in the former Persian province of Adherbaidjan (Azerbaijan), situated across from (i.e., southwest of) Tabriz on Lake Orumiyeh, and about 75 km northwest of the point where the borders of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey meet. It was within the diocese of Adherbaidjan, which existed from 420 to the thirteenth century. When the Nestorian patriarch of the area embraced Catholicism in 1582 he was recognized by Rome as the Chaldean patriarch, and he resided at Urmiah. The Chaldean Rite Diocese of Urmiah was established by Rome in 1890. The name of the city was changed to Rizaiyeh (or Rezayeh) in honor of Riza Shah Pahlavi (1925-41), but was later changed back to Urmiah (Orumiyeh). In approximately 1900 the diocese had 5,000 Catholics, 42 priests, 44 churches and chapels, and several schools for boys and girls. In 1965 it had 4,890 Catholics and 6 priests In 1995 it had 1,500 Catholics, 2 priests, and 10 churches. The archbishop of Urmiah is also bishop of the neighboring "suffragan" diocese of Salmas to the north. The area is rugged and prone to devastating earthquakes, and has been the scene of much ethnic warfare in the last century, among Kurds, Armenians, and others.  Later in the biography, however, Keldani's hometown is identified as Digala, not far from Urmiah. "Archbishop of Canterbury's Mission to the Assyrian (Nestorian) Christians" -- The Archbishop of Canterbury is the leader of the Church of England (the Anglican Church), and is, obviously, not a Catholic. Much information on this mission can be found in "Christians in Persia," especially Chapter 11, 'The Archbishop of Canterbury's Mission to the Assyrian Church, 1886-1915.' Above we were told that Keldani was on the teaching staff from 1886 to 1889 (age 19 to age 22) in Urmiah. The obvious question is, was Keldani an Anglican at the time? After some exploratory missions, the true Anglican mission at Urmiah began in 1886, when A.J. Maclean and W.H. Browne arrived. In 1887 Browne was sent to Turkey and replaced in Urmiah by A.H. Lang, who was joined in 1888 by A.R. Eddington.  "The missionaries ... also firmly adhered to their determination to distinguish themselves from the American and the Roman Catholic missions by not doing anything which could possibly be interpreted as proselytising. They contented themselves with starting schools for ordinands and others, and setting up a printing press to print liturgical works. ..."  "When Maclean opened schools he was very reluctant to teach the boys English, and he insisted that they should ... not be led to believe that Western ways were better. ... The educational work expanded rapidly and by 1888 the mission was responsible for high schools in Urmiah, Superghan and Ardishai and forty village schools, of which seventeen were in Turkey and the remainder in Persia. They had a total of 1,200 scholars [i.e., students] in these schools and used a considerable number of Assyrian [i.e., native Nestorian] clergy to teach in them. ..."  Since these missionaries were the first in the area, and there was no Anglican church already established in the vicinity, and the missionaries did not proselytise, it seems unlikely that Keldani was an Anglican before they came to Urmiah in 1886. But if he were a Catholic there at that time it seems unlikely that he would have been teaching at an Anglican school -- the Catholics had abundant positions for teachers in the area already. It appears probable, therefore, that Keldani was a Nestorian layman, possibly one on the verge of priestly ordination. > (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 Here we encounter a puzzling gap in the biography. In 1889, at the age of 22, he is in Persia teaching at an Anglican school, probably as either a Nestorian or (by the end) an Anglican. Three years later in 1892, at the age of 25, he is in England about to be dispatched to Rome by a Catholic cardinal, and presumably Keldani was a Catholic. What happened during those three years? Some details related to the facts given in the biography may help to provide a clearer picture or narrow down the possibilities: "sent by Cardinal Vaughan" -- Herbert Vaughan, 1832-1903. Early in his career Vaughan was appointed to head a seminary, and eventually dedicated his life to building up a college that would send out missionaries all over the world. This college, the College for Foreign Missions (or "St. Joseph's College"), was founded at Mill Hill near London in 1866, and is still in operation. As of 1913, the college had missioners at work "in the Philippines, in Uganda, in Madras, in New Zealand, in Borneo, in Labuan, in the Basin of the Congo, in Kashmir, and in Kafiristan." Although he had to retire from personally overseeing the college when he was made a bishop in 1872, Vaughan remained until the end of his life the head of the St. Joseph's Missionary Society, which had responsibility for sending the college's graduates out to missionary posts around the world. Vaughan was made a cardinal on January 9, 1893, to replace Cardinal Manning. Some important points to note: 1) The English Catholic weekly magazine that Keldani published his articles in in 1892, the Tablet (see below), was owned by Vaughan from the 1870's until his death in 1903, at which time it was stipulated that 1/3 of the profits of the Tablet should go to Vaughan's foundation, the Mill Hill Missionaries;  2) Keldani was not sent to Rome by "Cardinal Vaughan" in 1892, as Vaughan was not made a cardinal until the following year. From the fact that in 1892 Keldani was sent away for his priestly studies by Bishop Vaughan, head of a Catholic society for sponsoring missionaries, and in 1892 wrote articles for a Catholic magazine owned by Bishop Vaughan whose profits paid for the sending of missionaries, it is difficult to imagine that Keldani was anything other than a Catholic who had been studying at Bishop Vaughan's school for some period of time. Prior to his becoming a cardinal in 1893, the only people on earth Vaughan had authority to "send" abroad would have been the priests and employees of his diocese (Salford until 1892, then Westminster) and the students of the College at Mill Hill. So if Keldani was sent to Rome by Vaughan, it was not because Keldani was important to a "Cardinal" at the Vatican. It is far more likely that Keldani was a seminarian at Mill Hill, and that once he completed his studies, having expressed an interest in the priesthood, he was naturally sent on for further priestly and missionary study by Vaughan, who would have been his direct boss. How did he end up in England? If he had already been a Catholic in Urmiah then England would have been an odd place to go: the Chaldean Rite Catholics in Urmiah had no connection with England, and the Latin Rite Catholic missionaries (the Lazarists -- see below) were from France, not England. The most likely explanation is that, either as a Nestorian or Anglican, Keldani learned English from the Englishmen he was teaching for, attracted their notice as a young man with potential, and about 1889 was sent to England to study more about the Anglican Church, most likely with the intention of being ordained a priest. (The cost of going from Persia to England was considerable for the extremely poor mountain Assyrians at that time, and it is difficult to imagine him getting to England unless the Anglicans had sent him, and the budget of the Anglican mission in Urmiah was such that this is not conceivable unless Keldani were already an Anglican. [7.1]) For some reason, while in England he must quickly have converted to the Catholic Church, and begun attending a school for Catholic missionaries, while his intention to become a priest remained unchanged. Some solution like this is necessary to explain the curious three-year gap. In fact, the e-mail from the Tablet quoted at the beginning gave as the author of the articles in 1892-93 "Rev. David Benjamin". Since his ordination as a Catholic priest would not occur until 1895 (see below), this "Rev." title must refer to some prior ordination as a Nestorian or Anglican priest. "course of philosophical and theological studies at the Propaganda Fide College" -- Propaganda Fide is the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, a department founded within the Vatican in 1622 and renamed in 1967 to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. According to the relevant article in the "Catholic Encyclopedia," as of 1913 Propaganda ran a number of different colleges for the training of priests for missionary fields: The colleges are institutions for the education of the clergy, intended either to supply clergy for missions that have no native clergy or to give a better education to the native clergy for the apostolate in their own country. The central seminary of Propaganda is, as has been said, the Urban College, established in the palace of the congregation at Rome. The immediate superiors are two prelates, one the general secretary of the congregation, and the other the rector. In this college may be found students from all the territories subject to Propaganda, but from nowhere else. The average number of its resident students is about one hundred and ten. It has its own schools, which are attended by many other students not subject to Propaganda -- e. g. the Bohemian College. It should be mentioned that in general missionary priests do not need to be especially well educated in theology, general Church history, and ancient languages. More important for them is a thorough knowledge of the customs, languages, and religions of their intended area of activity, and a knowledge of the kinds of questions that may come up in discussions with believers of the other major religions in the area. As it seems that from the beginning Keldani had the intention of returning to Urmiah, in the course of his studies at Mill Hill and Rome it is likely that he would have had specialized instruction in the history of Christianity in the area (pre-451 Christianity in Azerbaijan, the doctrines of Nestorius and the history of Nestorianism after the Council of Chalcedon, and especially the complex relationship between the Nestorians and the Chaldean Rite Catholics from 1500), and also in defending the faith from challenges by the most likely opponents in Urmiah -- Nestorians, Protestants, Anglicans, and possibly Orthodox. Because none of these groups questioned either the reliability of the Bible or, with the possible exception of a few Anglicans at the time, the Trinity or the Divinity of Christ, it is unlikely that Keldani ever had the chance to be taught the standard answers or Biblical proofs for these questions. And there is no reason to believe that his education, which cannot have been more than 6 years in length, was longer or higher than average for a missionary. A priest who was going to be active in Persia would certainly have had no need of Greek, and would only have needed slight reading knowledge of Latin. From what I have read of the Web version of his book, this seems to be the case for Keldani: his preference is to discuss ancient texts in Semitic languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic) rather than Latin or Greek, even though the version of the Old Testament that the Apostles were apparently most familiar with was in Greek, the earliest versions of the New Testament documents were apparently mostly in Greek, and the only version of the Old and New Testaments that the Catholic Church has vouched for as "authentic" is in Latin. (On the version of the OT familiar to the Apostles, see http://www.io-online.com/james/files/deutero3.htm) Finally, it might be thought that because this college is in Rome it might be quite elite within the Catholic Church. This would be a mistake -- I believe the Gregorian and Lateran Universities are generally regarded as the most prestigious among Catholic universities in Rome in terms of academic level, and there are many excellent Catholic universities or seminaries outside of Rome. "and in 1895 was ordained Priest" -- A priest, not a bishop. Also note that this is just five years before he leaves the Church. > 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 "Professor" -- This title would seem to be, at best, an anachronism here. There is no mention of him being on a teaching faculty anywhere before his conversion to Islam (except with the Anglicans when he was 19, but the Anglicans in Urmiah ran nothing more advanced than a high school), and there is certainly no reason to believe he was a professor when he submitted those articles in 1892 at the age of 25. As will be noted immediately below, these are not scholarly periodicals but popular magazines or newspapers. As for his educational attainment, the title of the biography gives him only the title "B.D.", which means merely Bachelor of Divinity. "The Tablet" -- This is a popular Catholic weekly magazine published in England. It is still publishing, and has a Web page at http://www.thetablet.co.uk/tablethm.cgi For those s.r.i. readers in the UK, the Tablet can be reached at the following: The Tablet Publishing Co. Ltd, 1 King Street Cloisters, Clifton Walk, London W6 OQZ, Great Britain Telephone: 0181 748 8484 F> Webmaster: firstname.lastname@example.org The text of the note I received from the Tablet, in which I asked for biographical information from the articles, is given above. According to the quotation given in that note, it would seem that the greatest hope of Keldani's life in 1893 was that the Nestorian leader of the Urmiah area, Mar Shimun, would join the Catholic Church. It seems all the more likely, then, that Keldani's studies in Rome, if not even earlier in England, had been directed toward returning to Urmiah to evangelize Nestorians, not Muslims. "Canterbury" -- This is the location of the "headquarters" of the Church of England (the Anglican Church). The articles are apparently about Nestorianism, Catholicism, and Anglicanism. As there were other Christian churches active in Urmiah (e.g., Protestants), this is apparently not a list of all the churches in Urmiah, but instead, perhaps, a list of those he had belonged to at one time or another in his life. As he was certainly a Catholic at the time he wrote the articles, the placing of Canterbury _after_ Rome might indicate that he is discussing them in the order they became active in Urmiah. "Irish Record" -- This periodical is not mentioned by either the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) or the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), so it may not have been a Church-run periodical. Nevertheless, if it was a popular daily or weekly anywhere in Ireland, the subject matter of his articles might have been of interest to general readers, who would for the most part have been either Catholics or Protestants. An obvious question is, why Ireland? Did Keldani spend some time in Ireland between 1889 and 1892? "Authenticity of the Pentateuch" -- As the only education we know of Keldani having had by this time (1892) was at most two or three years of general missionary study at Mill Hill, if he wrote these articles alone, then they would presumably have been based on rather general knowledge such as the similarities between the customs in the Torah and the Assyrian customs of his homeland, instead of profound research in archaeology, linguistics, and comparative literature. He apparently never investigated the Pentateuch in depth, as several times in his book he argues that the Bible is false because according to the Mosaic Law Abraham would have been a criminal, even though Abraham lived at least half a millenium before Moses was given the Mosaic Law (and, in any case, the criminality of pre-Mosaic incest would at best be questionable, as who would the first generations after Adam and Eve have married if not their own relatives?). Neither these two publications, nor the three mentioned later, were scholarly journals of the time. Oddly, the biography makes no mention of any papers or publications by Keldani during his three years in Rome. If he truly was sent to Rome in 1892, then the articles in the Tablet, published from December 1892 to May 1893, would presumably have been written in Rome. One little bit of information about his activities in Rome is given in the preface to the Web version of his book ('Prefatory Remarks, Allah and His Attributes: "And the Ahmed of all Nations Will Come." - Haggai, ii.7'): Among the "Fathers" of the Eastern Christians, one of the most distinguished is St. Ephraim the Syrian. He is the author of many works, chiefly of a commentary on the Bible which is published both in Syriac and in Latin, which latter edition I had carefully read in Rome. Although he apparently could read ("carefully") Latin, he appears most comfortable with Semitic languages -- Syriac, Hebrew, and Arabic. His knowledge of the earliest periods of Church history seems poor, and the things that he imagines would be regarded as terribly heretical in the Catholic Church would certainly not be. > Record on the "Authenticity of the Pentateuch." He has > several translations of the Ave Maria in different languages, > published in the illustrated Catholic Missios. While in "Ave Maria" -- This is the "Hail Mary" prayer. It is very short. Its most common English form is as follows: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. That is all. One or more translations of this would hardly be something to put in one's resume. Furthermore, the first two verses are taken directly from the Bible, and the Bible had most likely already been translated by someone into most of the languages he published his translations in, so very likely all he had to translate anew for himself was the last sentence. "Illustrated Catholic Missions" -- This appears to have been a rather small English publication for a general audience. The only mention I found of it is in the article on Catholic periodicals in the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), where midway through the section on England there is the following: "There are a considerable number of minor Catholic monthlies, mostly founded in recent years to advocate and promote special objects. The "Annals of the Propagation of the Faith" and "Illustrated Catholic Missions" specialize on the news of the mission field. ..."  > 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." "The Levant Herald" -- The sources at my disposal give no information on this daily newspaper. "Eastern Churches" -- Even at this point in his life, there is still no indication that Keldani knew or cared anything about Islam, so it is unlikely that during his education he had taken courses on answering Islamic challenges. His later conversion to Unitarianism, and then to Islam, is not especially unusual for missionaries who have prepared intensively to address the questions raised by one religion, only to be completely caught off guard by the questions raised by another religion. Note that already, by 1895, Keldani knew French, and was joining a French-speaking mission in his home city. It is not clear when he might have studied French if not during his stay at Rome, since the opportunities to learn it in Urmiah must have been slight. "French Lazarist Mission" -- "Lazarists" is the term applied (usually in French) to members of the Congregation of the Mission, founded by St. Vincent de Paul in France in 1625. Named in French after the first mother house of their congregation, the Saint-Lazare in Paris, in English they are normally called "Vincentians" after their founder. The Vincentians are a worldwide missionary congregation in the Catholic Church, and since their founding have expanded their work to missions worldwide.  They established a mission in Persia in 1841, and in 1846 set up a major seminary at Shahpur (Salmas). In 1892 this seminary was transfered to Urmiah. In fact, by 1892 "there were two seminaries in Urmiah, a teacher-training college with boarding facilities for training village teachers, and forty-five village schools in the surrounding area."  According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), the Vincentians at Urmiah "possess a seminary and a Syrian printing press, where P. Bedjan has published many editions of the ancient texts." This printing press was probably the same one Keldani was printing his Syriac periodical on 18 years earlier, as Fr. Bedjan had been active there for many years: "Soon after Cluzel succeeded Darnis as head of the [Lazarist] mission  three Assyrians went to France and after a short novitiate joined the missionary [Lazarist] Fathers in Iran. The most famous of these was Pere Paul Bedjan, who proved to be a notable scholar and whose editions of ancient Syriac texts have been widely admired."  "a periodical in the vernacular Syriac called Qala-La-Shara, i.e. 'The Voice of Truth.'" -- Since there were few or no Muslims in the region who spoke Syriac, obviously Keldani's work was focussed on Christians, either Catholics or Nestorians. The language he is working with here, his vernacular language, is the same as that of his cousin's Bible, more information about which is given in the third article on the Web page, ('The Mystery of the "Mispa"'): (1) The Bible which I consult does not contain the so-called deutro- canonical or Apocryphal books of the Old Testament. This Bible is published by the American Bible Society (New York 1893 ) . The title runs thus Kthahhi Qaddishi Dadiathiqi Wadiathiqi Khadatt An Shad-wath Poushaqa dmin lishani qdimaqi. Matha 'ta d'dasta. Biblioneta d' America [The Holy Books of the Old Testament and of the New Covenant (Testament), with the concordance or witnesses. Translated from the ancient languages. Published at the Press of the American Bible Society]. Note that the Bible he uses here is Protestant (missing the deuterocanonical books), while for the Bible in English in his articles he seems to prefer the Authorized Version (i.e., the "King James" translation), which is Anglican. > In 1897 he was delegated by two Uniate-Chaldean Arch- > bishops of Urmia and of Salmas 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. "two Uniate-Chaldean Archbishops of Urmia and of Salmas" -- The Archbishop of Urmiah from 1890 to 1918 was Thomas Audo, a Chaldean Catholic born in Alkosch in 1855. The Bishop of Salmas from 1894 to 1908 (or 1915) was Isaac Khoudabache, a Chaldean Catholic born in Kosrowa in 1860.  I believe "two...Archbishops" is incorrect, as at the time Salmas was apparently headed by a bishop, not an archbishop. "Eucharistic Congress" -- Eucharistic Congresses are large conventions of common Catholics to celebrate Mass (the Eucharist), pray, and hear seminars and discussions. The first was held in Lille, France, in 1881, and the latest, the 46th, was held in Wroclaw, Poland, from May 25 to June 1, 1997. At the time of the 10th Eucharistic Congress, in Paray-le-Monial in France, the conventions were being held on the average about once a year, in French-speaking countries. The congresses have always been designed to encourage the faithful and strengthen their devotion; the events at these congresses have no impact on the teaching or governance of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is governed not through Eucharistic Congresses, but through Ecumenical Councils of the world's bishops, or by local synods of bishops, or by departments of the Vatican in Rome. Hence Keldani's attendance at this congress in no way implies that he was highly placed in the Catholic Church: the special "official" invitation issued to the bishops of Urmiah and Salmas may well have been issued to all the world's bishops, and the congress as a whole was, by design, open to the public; attendance at the time was typically in the tens of thousands. The congress in 1897 took place over five days, during which no doubt many papers were read, so there is no reason to suppose that Keldani was a key speaker at the congress. Since Keldani attended only in place of his two bishops (perhaps because he spoke French), and because he soon opened a school in his town, it is likely that the paper he "read", if it was not written by the bishops, at least expressed ideas that they approved of.  "Le Pellerin" -- Apparently this is a misspelling of "Le Pelerin" (The Pilgrim), a popular Catholic weekly published in France since 1873.  "Arch-Priest" -- This title denotes a priest who has been placed by his bishop in charge of some other priests, and is a synonym for "Dean". Often a bishop will divide his diocese into districts or deaneries, and assign one priest from the district to be "dean" or "archpriest": his job is to facilitate relations between the bishop and the local priests, and to exercise some supervision over the parish priests. Fifteen years after this, in 1913, the archdiocese of Urmiah had just 42 priests (including archpriests), and Keldani and perhaps one or more other archpriests must have been overseeing these priests for the bishop.  But the archpriest is still, in terms of order, no more than a priest. The Church has always clearly distinguished the three different levels of the Sacrament of Confirmation -- deacon, priest, bishop -- and there is no way for one to gradually cross the line from one order to another. Likewise, I do not believe there is any special form of address used before the names of archpriests: note, in fact, that the biography points out that both before the congress and after (see below) Keldani was addressed simply as "Father Benjamin", i.e., a common priest, one of perhaps 300,000 in the world at that time. (I have not had the opportunity to verify statistics for that time, but the most recent statistics for the Catholic Church worldwide are 8 patriarchs, 4,088 bishops and archbishops, and 404,461 priests.  ) There is one clause in the printed book that is missing from the Web version. The book runs, "...deplored the Catholic system of education among the Nestorians, and foretold the imminent appearance of the Russian priests in Urmia." "deplored the Catholic system of education among the Nestorians" -- While it was unclear from the title of Keldani's periodical whether he was spending his time with Catholics or Nestorians, it would appear from this that he may have been spending much of his time evangelizing (or teaching) the Nestorians. Note that in 1897, just three years before he leaves the Church, his concern is still exclusively with 'Christianity' (Catholics, Nestorians, and Orthodox [i.e., "Russians"]). There is no indication that before this point, at the age of 30, he had ever given any attention to Islam, or had had the opportunity to see Catholic answers to the more common Muslim challenges. The focus of all his life's attention, and the corner of the world where the arrival of "Russian priests" is imminent, is only Urmiah. > In 1888 Father Benjamin was back again in Persia. In > his native village, Digala, about a mile from the town, he > opened a school. The next year he was sent by the > Ecclesiastical authorities to take charge of the diocese of In the book, "opened a school gratis." Because he had just come back from reading a paper criticizing the Catholic system of education among the Nestorians, this school was presumably an attempt to do better, and was therefore probably directed toward the Nestorians. Both the printed and the Web versions have "1888", although from the context the year should clearly be 1898. > Salmas, 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 Some details on the conflict would be helpful. Judging from the paper Keldani read (probably for his bishops) in France, and the content of his last sermon, it would appear that the disagreement was primarily over the strategy the Lazarists were using to teach or convert the Nestorians. From what was quoted above about the Lazarists in Urmiah, it would seem that their major missionary effort in the Urmiah area was schools for non-Catholics, presumably mostly Nestorians. > 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, Salmas. The preacher's subject > was "New Century and New Men." He recalled the fact I believe that at that time it was already the practice for Catholic priests to preach on Sundays a homily rather than a sermon. A homily explicates the Bible readings for that day, while a sermon discusses one religious subject while referring to the Bible. Keldani, here, seems to have done neither, and chosen an entirely secular subject. > that the Nestorian Missionaries, before the appearance of > Islam, namely "submission" to God, had preached the Gospel This remark about Islam was presumably added by the editor of the biography, as it is apparent that Keldani did not believe that Islam equated to submission to God for a few more years. In addition, the editor of the biography appears unfamiliar with the common Muslim argument that Islam has always existed. > in all Asia; that they had numerous establishments in > India (especially at the Malabar Coast), in Tartary, In fact the consensus of scholars at present is that the "Thomas" Christian communities of the Malabar Coast do indeed date from the time of the Apostle Thomas (d. ca. AD 52), and that the link to Nestorians in Syria did not come until many centuries later. The Nestorians certainly did not found those communities. > China and Mongolia; and that they translated the Gospel It is apparent that Keldani had not had much opportunity to read up on the history of the Nestorians in Asia. They did indeed have missions among the Mongols and, most notably, in China, but the mission in China is especially noteworthy because even after more than two centuries the Nestorian converts in China were almost exclusively non-Chinese, e.g., Central Asians in the army. The Catholics had much better success in Urmiah than the Nestorians had in China. All the Nestorian missions in that part of the world eventually died out entirely, with no trace except in a few ancient manuscripts, and this well before the Nestorians were decimated by Tamerlane. > 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. Con- His reference to the Assyrians as "the nation" seems evidence of a rather nationalistic strain. The Assyrians, like their neighbors the Kurds and Armenians, did not have independent recognized states. In addition, a cursory reading of the appropriate sections of "Christians in Persia" will reveal plentiful evidence that although the various missions certainly did compete, they were generally far from hostile toward each other. > efforts were destined to bring about the final collapse. Con- > sequently 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 It was perhaps right in principle as a political speech, but not as a sermon. There is nothing of Christian love in it: instead, it exaggerates the glories of the Nestorian past and convicts all the "Christian" missions in the area (including the Catholics) with the crimes of the few missions that gave out money too freely. > The preacher was perfectly right in principle; but his > remarks were unfavorable to the interests of the Lord's > Missionaries. This sermon hastily brought the Apostolique > Delegate, Mgr. Lesne, from Urmia to Salmas. He remained > to the last a friend of Father Benjamin. They both returned "Apostolique Delegate, Mgr. Lesne" -- This is Archbishop Francois Lesne, CM. Born in Maroue in France in 1846, he joined the Lazarists in 1868, and was both nominated as Apostolic Delegate to Persia and consecrated titular bishop of Philippopolis (in Greece) in April 1896. If he remained a friend of Keldani "to the last", this would mean only another ten years after this episode, as he died in Urmiah on 11 February, 1910. It is not clear when Lesne might have come to know Keldani: it is said that he came to Persia as a missionary 7 years before being appointed apostolic delegate, so this would be 1889, but the Lazarists were not active only in Urmiah at the time. But Keldani was gone from Urmiah from sometime soon after 1889 until at least 1895, so he probably did not meet Lesne until that time.  As Apostolic Delegate, Msgr. Lesne was subject to Propaganda Fide, and therefore would have been suspected of a natural inclination to side with the Lazarist missionaries (he was one himself) rather than the local bishops. The role of the Apostolic Delegates at the time is given in the article on Propaganda Fide referred to above: The organization of Propaganda is developed externally by means of delegations, dioceses, vicariates, prefectures, simple missions, and colleges. The Apostolic delegations are established to maintain immediate representatives of the Holy See in places where they seem to be needed by reason of the growth of the Church in organization and in numbers. Their personnel is composed of an Apostolic delegate and an auditor, subject to Propaganda. They are as follows: in Europe, those of Constantinople and of Greece (Athens); in Asia, those of the East Indies (Kandy in Ceylon), of Mesopotamia, Kurdistan, and Armenia Minor (Mosul), of Persia (Urumiah), of Syria (Beirut); in Africa, that of Egypt and Arabia (Alexandria). ...  The one in Urmiah was, at the time of Keldani, obviously none other than Msgr. Lesne. > to the last a friend of Father Benjamin. They both returned > to Urmia. A new Russian Mission had already been estab- > lished in Urmia since 1899. The Nestorians were enthu- > siastically embracing the religion of the "holy" Tsar of All > Russias! > 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 endeavoring to convert about one > hundred thousand Assyro-Chaldeans from Nestorian heresy > unto one or another of the five heresies. But the Russian One might get the impression from the biography that the Christians in the area only had "missions". In fact, besides the Nestorians, the Catholics had had an indigenous Church for centuries. That is the Church that the two bishops mentioned, of Urmiah and Salmas, headed. One should not believe that everything in the area except Nestorianism was new, "Western", or "missionary". The emphasis of Keldani on missionary things (e.g., teaching among the Nestorians) is his own: as a Catholic from Urmiah he had the opportunity to work with the local church, but apparently for reasons of his own he wished to join the Lazarists and evangelize the non-Catholic Nestorians. > 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 Salmas 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 writer seems to have an interest in painting with a broad brush all the Christian missionaries in the area because of the actions of the Russians, who differed from the others in having immediate territorial interests in the region. In addition, the writer never brings up the faults of the Kurds, who repeatedly attacked and killed Nestorians during this period, and never mentions what religion they belonged to. If Keldani thought that his countrymen had much to worry about from the Christians, he might have done well to recall that in 1896, "a prominent Nestorian bishop, Mar Gauriel, had been murdered by the Kurds and his murderers had never been brought to justice."  In addition, note here how the "mountaineer tribes of Kurdistan", many of them no doubt Kurds from Turkey, nonchalantly "immigrated" into the plains around Salmas and Urmiah. Despite what the writer says here about all of his people being killed or driven off, the Catholics, at least, are still there (see the statistics I give at the beginning above). The number of Catholics is much reduced since then, but that has much to do with epidemics, earthquakes, and political conditions after the period in question. And if you count numbers worldwide, the latest figures for Chaldean Catholics are 316,396. Clearly extinction is not what it used to be.  In any case, it seems doubtful that the events of 1915 were what caused Keldani to begin questioning the authenticity of the Scriptures before 1900. > 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 multi- > tudinous shapes and colors, and with its unauthentic, > spurious and corrupted Scriptures, the true Religion of God? I assume that this is being added by the writer of the biography. If he had already come to the conclusion that the Scriptures were false, he would have been extremely dishonest to be giving any sermon at all there in Salmas. A sermon follows on the reading of the Gospel, and normally should have some connection with the content of that day's reading, or some other Biblical theme. Besides this, how can something be "corrupted" if it is already "spurious" and "unauthentic"? > In the summer of 1900 he retired to his small villa in the > middle of vineyards near the celebrated fountain of Chali- > Boulaghi 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 resigna- There is another very strange lapse of time here. We had him preaching his last sermon on New Year's Day, then heading back to Urmiah with Msgr. Lesne. What happened between January 1 and the summer? If he was still a Christian, then as a priest he still had a responsibility to say Masses, which would, at least on Sundays, include sermons. "in their original texts" -- The meaning of this remark is unclear. The original languages of the Old Testament are Hebrew and Greek (along with some Aramaic in the Book of Daniel). Although Hebrew is related to Syriac, they are not the same, and it is questionable whether during his short education in England (presumably) and Rome he had much chance to acquire a mastery of Hebrew. The original language of some parts of the New Testament was apparently Aramaic, of other parts certainly Greek, although from the Aramaic only the Greek translations survive. Nevertheless, there is no reason to believe that Keldani acquired great proficiency in Greek, as that language would have been quite useless to him in his work in the Urmiah area. In addition, if he had access to the Bible in the original languages at this point, at his own villa, why does he retreat to using a Bible in Syriac when it comes to writing these articles? > in their original texts. The crisis ended in a formal resigna- > tion sent in to the Uniate Archbishop of Urmia, in which he > frankly explained to (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 ques- > tion of conscience. This seems difficult to accept at face value. At this time he has quit the priesthood ("abandoned his sacerdotal functions"), but not left the Church. Because the "ecclesiastical authorities" (i.e., the bishops and Lazarists, but apparently not any of the many Catholic faithful he must have known) tried to have him withdraw his decision, it would seem that they did not know that he had left Christianity. If Keldani was leaving the priesthood because he believed Christianity to be wrong, then from what is given here it seems that he did not inform his superiors of the true reason for his departure. And the idea that there was no personal quarrel _or dispute_ between Father Benjamin and his superiors is clearly false. While the two bishops may have disagreed with the Lazarists' ways of teaching the Nestorians, Keldani, as a Lazarist living in an area with a Lazarist mission, would also have had a _Lazarist_ superior, who presumably would not have disagreed with his own policy for teaching the Nestorians. And even if it be supposed that Keldani's jingoistic, anti-missionary New Year's Day sermon was approved of by the bishops, it is impossible to believe it was approved of by his missionary superior. Otherwise, why the hasty trip to Salmas by Lesne, himself a Lazarist? No, Keldani was clearly involved in a quarrel between two parties. A Lazarist since 1895, in France in 1897 he read a paper for the bishops that criticized the methods of the Lazarists at Urmiah, then in 1899 went to Salmas to intercede for a bishop in a conflict with the Lazarists, then in 1900 gave a sermon at the bishop's cathedral that scathingly attacked the Lazarists and all other missionaries, resulting in the immediate arrival on the scene of a Lazarist, Msgr. Lesne. It would seem that although Keldani in Urmiah and Salmas was most directly subject to his Lazarist superior in the area, and only then to the local bishops, in fact he sided with the local bishops (his fellow countrymen) against the superiors he was sworn to obey, and participated in a campaign to vilify their work. The questions about the truthfulness of Christianity, although they might have existed before his New Year's Day sermon, and may have reached their conclusion during that one summer month, may not have been the immediate cause of his resignation. The fact that he was reasoned with by the ecclesiastical authorities, but not any of the common faithful (even any of his Nestorian students), would be the clue to this. Once a priest had made it clear that he is certainly no longer a Christian, no bishop would encourage him to return to his job -- this is precisely the period when the enormous Modernist controversy was rocking the Church, and priests were being _barred_ from exercising their functions if they did not proclaim absolute agreement with all Church teachings. So once one had made clear that one was no longer a Christian, one would expect the ecclesiastical authorities to lose all interest but, on the other hand, one would expect common Christians to come and reason with one to make one see the error of one's ways. The fact that this did not happen makes me suspect that Keldani did not give any reason for his leaving the priesthood. > For several months Mr. Dawud, as he was now called, was employed > in Tabriz as Inspector in the Persian Service of Posts and Customs > under the Belgian experts. Then he was taken into the service of > the Crown Prince Muhammad 'Ali Mirza as teacher and translator. > It was in 1903 that he again visited England and there joined the > Unitarian Community. And in 1904 he was sent by the Here we are to believe that Keldani has already abandoned Christianity after determining that its Scriptures are spurious and corrupted, and he is living in a predominantly Muslim country working for a Muslim Prince, yet after three years of this he goes and becomes ... a Unitarian! "Crown Prince Muhammad 'Ali Mirza as teacher and translator" -- This is Muhammad 'Ali Shah Kadjar, sixth ruler of Persia's Kajar dynasty. He was born in Tabriz in 1872. According to the Islamic Encyclopaedia (New Edition), "...Muhammad 'Ali received the title I'tidad al-Saltana in 1882 and ten years later he was made *Sardar* of the troops in Adharbaydjan [i.e., Azerbaijan, the province where Urmiah, Salmas, and Tabriz were located. According to the encyclopaedia's article on Adharbaydjan, this province was traditionally the residence of the Crown Prince] ... After the succession of his father in 1896, Muhammad 'Ali was proclaimed *wali 'ahd*. His governorship of Adharbaydjan from then until 1906 was marked by a measure of greed and rapacity and by the growth of Russian political influence at Tabriz. ... [much information deleted on his attempts, after becoming shah in 1907, to fight liberal Persian revolutionaries and reformers] ... Anti-royalist feeling grew in several regions, notably in Adharbaydjan, and Russian troops occupied Tabriz in April 1909. Various pro-Constitutional tribal forces then converged on Tehran, and on 13 July Muhammad 'Ali sought refuge in the summer residence of the Russian Minister. On 16 July he was compelled to abdicate in favour of his son Sultan Ahmad. As he was a minor, his uncle Abu 'l-Fadl Mirza was appointed Regent. Russian diplomats then negotiated the details of the former Shah's persion arrangements with the Persian government, and Muhammad 'Ali left Tehran for Russia on 9 September 1909. His first place of residence in exile was Odessa, and there he and his supporters quickly began to plot their return to Persia. Money was spent on recruiting support among disaffected tribal and brigand groups in the northern provinces of the country, as well as in the Russian Caucasus and Transcaspia. ... Muhammad 'Ali returned to Persia, with his half-brother Shu'a' al-Saltana and a quantity of arms, in a chartered Russian steamer, landing near Astarabad on 17 July 1911. That town quickly surrendered to him. ..." If Keldani was truly upset at the Christian missionaries because they preached the same religion as the Russians, who later got his people massacred and driven off, then he would have had all the more reason to be upset at Islam, the religion of the Crown Prince. The Russian mission at Urmiah expanded so much after 1899 precisely because the shahs, followers of Islam, brought in the Russians to help balance against British pressure in the Persian Gulf. This same Muhammad 'Ali used the Russians to execute a coup d'etat against his own people -- the Russians were particularly brutal when they occupied Tabriz (not far from Urmiah and Salmas) for the shah.  We have Keldani fleeing from the horrible Christian missionaries because the Russians among them were dividing his people and would eventually encourage them to take up arms against their lawful governments. But who does he flee to? A Muslim whose administration of the area had been marked by greed and rapaciousness, whose whole life was spent increasing Russian influence in the area, and who was in fact the very person responsible for stirring up the "disaffected tribal and brigand groups in the northern provinces of the country", i.e., encouraging people like the Assyrians of Urmiah and Salmas to rise up against their leaders, as a result of which they would be massacred or exiled. Keldani worked for him as a teacher, but, indeed, what sorts of things did Muhammad 'Ali learn from him? > 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. The same man who preached a thunderous sermon to Catholics and non-Catholics on the evils of foreign missionary efforts in the region, is now going back as part of ... a foreign missionary effort in the region! > On his way to Persia he visited Constantinople; and after > several interviews with the Sheikhu 'I-Islam Jemalu 'd-Din > Effendi and other Ulemas, he embraced the Holy Religion > of Islam, meaning submission to God. "Sheikhu 'I-Islam Jemalu 'd-Din Effendi" -- This is Jamal al-Din (T. Cemaleddin) Efendi, 1848-1919. "...Educated by his father and by private tutors, he attained the rank of *mudarris* and entered the secretariat of the Shaykh al-Islam's department. In 1295/1880 he was appointed Secretary (*mektubdju*), with the rank of *musile-i Suleymaniyye*, then became *kadi'asker* of Rumeli, and Muharram 1309/August 1891 Shaykh al-Islam. He held office until 1327/1909, retaining his post in the cabinets formed immediately after the revival of the Constituent Assembly in 1908. He became Shaykh al-Islam again in 1912, in the cabinets of Ghazi Ahmed Mukhtar Pasha and Kamil Pasha, but lost office with the fall of Kamil Pasha's cabinet in the *coup* of 1331/1913. ..."  There is no more information on Keldani's life in the biography (except for his death in "1940c"), but his mention in the book of a letter he wrote to a Turkish newspaper in 1922 or 1923 may indicate that he spent much of the rest of his life in Turkey. Certainly, with all the massacring going on on the Iran/Turkey border during the years surrounding the First World War, it seems unlikely that Keldani spent those years back in Urmiah. Keldani seems to be the sort of person who is never happy under authority, and is always moving from one place to another. We first saw him in Urmiah, and by the time he left there for England he was almost certainly an Anglican. Then he was a Catholic. Then he was an ex-Catholic, or a follower of no organized religion. Then he was a Unitarian. And then he was a Muslim. Between 1900 and 1904 he changed religions three times, and it seems that he probably changed religions at least once in his youth too. This would make a total of at least 4 times. > Click Here to Go Back to Table of Contents As I pointed out above, the most recent statistics for the Catholic Church worldwide are 8 patriarchs, 4,088 bishops and archbishops, and 404,461 priests.  I have seen Muslim claims here on the Internet that a large number of bishops (presumably either Catholic or, since 1054, perhaps Orthodox) have converted to Islam after a lifetime of study of Christianity and the Bible. How many bishops should we expect? How many bishops have there been since the rise of Islam, how many have been in a position to learn of the teachings of Islam, and how many of those might have converted? The number of bishops and archbishops in the world today is about 4,000. And at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) approximately 2,500 bishops attended at one time or another, although some might have been sick, and bishops from Communist countries were all absent. So although I do not know the number of bishops worldwide in earlier eras, the attendance at general councils may give us some indication. The number of Catholic bishops should grow fairly constantly from the beginning of the Church until today, except for large backward steps in 1054, when the Orthodox Church separated from the Catholics, and the 1530's, when all of Northern Europe became Protestant. Here are some estimates for the larger councils: Chalcedon (in AD 451), 350-600 bishops; Nicaea II (787), 300 bishops; Lateran II (1123) 500-1000, Constance (1414-18) 300; Vatican I (1869-70), 744.  Keeping in mind the difficulties of attendance at the various times, I would say from these figures that, from the rise of Islam until today, a conservative estimate of the average number of Catholic bishops in the world at any one time would be at least 800. (This takes into account the rapid rise in the number of bishops in the Western Hemisphere and Asia over the last 2 centuries.) Several years ago I had a chance to look at the volume by Bonifacius Gams giving lists of bishops and archbishops for all dioceses worldwide since the beginning of the Church, and I took the opportunity to check the average interval between bishops for a number of dioceses in different parts of the world in different ages. Some averaged 14 or 15 years between bishops, some 17 or 18, but the overall average was clearly about 16 years. In other words, any particular diocese is likely to have an average of about 6 (actually 6.25) bishops in any given century, i.e., the 800 bishops of the world at any one time will, on the average, all die off every 16 years, so the number of bishops _worldwide_ in any given _century_ might be 800 x 6 = 4,800. How many centuries have there been since the rise of Islam? To be conservative, let us say 13.5 (i.e., AD 647-1997). So since the rise of Islam, the total number of Catholic bishops and archbishops who have lived in the world would be 4,800 x 13.5 = 64,800. What proportion of bishops would have an opportunity to learn of the teachings of Islam? Certainly in the 7th century one would not expect a bishop in northern Germany to have converted to Islam, as all he would have heard of Islam would have been the vaguest and most distorted rumours of an invasion in Africa and Asia. At the beginning, perhaps only 15% of the world's bishops were in areas immediately adjacent (or within) Muslim-controlled territory, where they would be in a position to receive accurate information on Muslim beliefs. That percentage might have risen over time to 20% or more during much of the Middle Ages, but let us, to keep the calculation conservative, assume that even if 20% of bishops may have been geographically situated where they could hear accurate information about Islam, only half of them (10%) had sufficient contact with people outside their own cathedrals that they could actually obtain such exotic information. But by 1300 the Qur'an was widely available in Western Europe in Latin, and by 1500 there were many works in Latin and other languages on the beliefs of Muslims, so we would expect this 10% figure to rise to at least 20% by 1500. And since 1900, it is difficult to imagine how any significant number of the world's bishops could be entirely cut off from access to information on Muslim teachings, so the number nowadays would be close to 100%. For a weighted historical average, then, let us say that 15-20% of those bishops could have learned of Islam -- because 15% of 64,800 equals 9,720 bishops, let us take 15.4%, which yields 10,000 bishops, a conveniently round number. Of these 10,000 Catholic bishops and archbishops who, based on conservative calculations, should have had some access to Islamic teachings, how many should have converted to Islam? I have seen claims by Muslims here on the Internet that large numbers of bishops have embraced Islam, so by these large numbers I would expect, even by the most conservative estimate, that 20% of those 10,000 bishops (i.e., 2,000) would have found the spare time during their lives to find out about Islam's overwhelmingly superior arguments, and had the purity of heart to recognize them, while half of these 20% (i.e., 1,000 bishops) would actually have had the courage to publicly convert. If Islamic beliefs were in any way convincing to an intelligent Christian man, then I cannot see how even under the worst circumstances there could be less than 1,000 Catholic bishops who would have converted to Islam throughout history. But in the face of this bare minimum of 1,000 bishops, below which it would be difficult for anyone to maintain that Islam has a belief system the least bit convincing, how many bishops do the Muslims present us with? How many of these many bishops' names have the Muslims, after over a thousand-year-long polemic campaign against Christianity, been able to accumulate to reduce us to silence? The only person I have ever seen a Muslim bring forward as a Catholic bishop who converted to Islam is Keldani. As we have seen, however, his biography never lists him as anything more than a simple priest. At the moment he left the Church he was taking orders from a simple bishop, and the only places that he could have been placed in charge of if he had been consecrated bishop -- Urmiah and Salmas -- were already filled with bishops during the five-year period between when he was ordained a priest (1895) and when he left the Catholic Church (1900). Keldani of Urmiah never even claimed to have been consecrated a bishop, and when we check the bishop lists for the two dioceses in that area his name is not on them. Clearly the man was never a bishop. With Keldani's true standing revealed, then, instead of the 1,000 Catholic bishops whose names the Muslims should be presenting us with, we see the membership of the Council of Muslim Bishops decline from one to ... zero. Mark Pleas email@example.com ================ Notes ================  For more information on Chaldean Rite Catholics, see the following: 1. 'Religion of the Chaldeans' (http://www-personal.umd.umich.edu/ ~sdkjr/casa/religion.html) 2. 'CIN - Joint Patriarchal Statement - Assyrian Church of the East and Chaldean Catholic Church' (http://www.cin.org/east/jointpat.html) 3. 'East Syrian Rite'. Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), available at http://www.ewtn.com/library/HOMELIBR/14413A.TXT 4. Stockert, Fr. Hal. 'Introduction to the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church' (http://www.cin.org/rite.html)  'Urmiah', Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), v. 15, p. 225. 'Urmya', Lexikon fur Theologie und Kirche (1965), v. 10, col. 565. 'Rizaiyeh', New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), v. 12, p. 528. 'Salmas', Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), v. 13, p. 402. "Annuario Pontificio per l'anno 1996". Vatican: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1996. pp. 741-42, 1154. Ritzler, Remigium, and Pirminum Sefrin. "Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi", vol. 8 (1846-1903). Padua: Messaggero di S. Antonia, 1979. pp. 493, 576.  Waterfield, Robin E. "Christians in Persia: Assyrians, Armenians, Roman Catholics and Protestants". London: George Allen & Unwin, 1973. pp. 126-27.  Waterfield, p. 127.  Waterfield, p. 128.  'Vaughan, Herbert', Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), v. 15, pp. 311-15.  "Catholic Press, World Survey", New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), vol. 3, p. 295. [7.1] "But the resources of the mission were very limited and, contrasted with the numbers and wealth of the American mission, must have seemed very inadequate. The total income of the Archbishop's mission in 1887 was L1,300 compared with about $25,000 (= L5,500) for the Americans. ..." Waterfield, p. 129.  Article from Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) available at "Notre Dame Archives: Propaganda Fide" (http://cawley.archives.nd.edu/propfide.htm)  'Periodical', Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), v. 11, p. 675.  'Lazaristes', "Catholicisme: Hier, aujourd'hui, demain". Fasc. 28 (1969), col. 116. See also the Vincentians' home page at http://www.stjohns.edu/vincentianctr/Vincentian_Centert_graphics/VResources/CM/CoM.html  Waterfield, p. 82; 'Urmiah', Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), v. 15, p. 225; 'Rizaiyeh', New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), v. 12, p. 528.  'Urmiah', Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), v. 15, p. 225.  Waterfield, p. 82.  Ritzler and Sefrin, p. 493.  For a brief history of the Eucharistic Congresses, and the dates and locations of the 46 held so far, see the official Web page for the 46th International Eucharistic Congress, held in Wroclaw in 1997 -- http://www.kongres.wroc.pl/ According to this list it appears that the last several congresses have been held at 4-5 year intervals, so the next one may not be until 2002, and this Wroclaw Web page might well continue in operation for some time.  'Pelerin (Le)', in "Catholicisme: Hier, Aujourd'hui, Demain". Fasc. 48 (1986), col. 1102-1103.  'Archpriest', Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), vol. 1, pp. 697-98; 'Urmiah', Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), vol. 15, p. 225.  "1997 Catholic Almanac". Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 1996, p. 368. The figures given are as of December 31, 1994, and were taken from the "Statistical Yearbook of the Church, 1994" (latest edition available) and "Annuario Pontificio, 1996".  Ritzler and Sefrin, p. 453, Waterfield, p. 82.  Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), available at "Notre Dame Archives: Propaganda Fide" (http://cawley.archives.nd.edu/propfide.htm)  Waterfield, p. 130.  "1997 Catholic Almanac", p. 268. The statistics of the section are principally from the "Annuario Pontificio, 1996".  'Muhammad 'Ali Shah Kadjar'. Encyclopaedia of Islam (New Edition), vol. 7 (1993), pp. 431-32.  Langer, William, comp. and ed. "An Encyclopedia of World History", fifth ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980, p. 897.  'Djamal al-Din (T. Cemaleddin) Efendi'. Encyclopaedia of Islam (New Edition), vol. 2 (1991), p. 420.  "1997 Catholic Almanac", p. 368.  Gontard, Friedrich. "The Chair of Peter: A History of the Papacy", trans. from German by A.J. and E.F. Peeler. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964. Appendix II (pp. 612-14). (Although the book on the whole is moderately anti-Catholic, the catalogue of the popes given in Appendix I is very worthwhile.)
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