Ali: Our next prophecy is from the Book of Revelation, in chapter 12 of the book, John speaks about a lady with the child, let us read the entire chapter to understand the prophecy.
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and did cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a male child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of Iron.
And her child was caught up unto God and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels. And prevailed not; neither was their place found anymore in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world. He was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ. For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they loved not their lives unto the death.
Therefore rejoice ye heavens and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhibiters of the earth and of the sea, for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony Jesus Christ.
Ali: Whom do you think this prophecy speaks about?
John: Without any doubt this prophecy speaks about Mother Mary and her son Jesus Christ. Even Mathew Henry in his Bible commentary says that: “It is generally agreed by the most learned expositors that the narrative we have in this and the two following chapters, from the sounding of the seventh trumpet to the opening of the vials, is not a prediction of things to come, but rather a recapitulation and representation of things past, which, as God would have the apostle to foresee while future, he would have him to review now that they were past, that he might have a more perfect idea of them in his mind” (Mathew Henry Commentary)
Ali: Are you sure?
John: Yes of course.
Ali: Can you please read out the first three verses of the Book of Revelation for me….?
John: Yes, of course :
“The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”1
Ali: Isn’t it clear that the Book of Revelation speaks about the future events and not the past?’
John: Yes it is….but…the Bible commentators say that it is about the past.
Ali: Well brother, you have a choice whether to believe the Bible commentators or the Bible itself.
John: Alright, if you say it is not about Mother Mary and Jesus Christ, whom is it about?
Ali: Dear brother, the woman here refers to the Prophethood of Prophet Muhammed (s.a.w.a.), who came in all majesty and on whose birth the heaven rejoiced. The Crown of twelve stars refers to the twelve Imams who succeeded Prophet Muhammed (s.a.w.a.) namely Imam Ali (a.s.), Imam Hasan (a.s.), Imam Husain (a.s.), Imam Ali bin Husain (a.s.), Imam Muhammed Baqir (a.s.), Imam Jaffer al-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Musa Kazim (a.s.), Imam Ali Reza (a.s.), Imam Muhammed Taqi (a.s.), Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.), Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) and Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).
These are the very 12 who are mentioned in innumerable places in the Holy Bible, for example, Revelation 22:1 which speaks about the river of life that nourishes twelve trees which are a guidance to all nations.
Similarly, there are many hadiths of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that speak about twelve Imams both in Shia and Sunni books, let me mention one such hadith:
The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said, “There will be twelve Muslim rulers (who will lead the Islamic world).” He then said a sentence which I did not hear. My father said, “All of them (those rulers) will be from Quraysh.”2
John: But the crown of twelve can also refer to the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ who spread his message after him.
Ali: Can you name the twelve apostles?
John: Why not...the twelve apostles were Simon (Peter), Andrew, James (son of Zebedee), John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Mathew, James (son of Alphaeus), Jude (Thaddaeus), Simon (The Zealot) and Judas.
Ali: But I thought Judas was the same apostle who betrayed Jesus and later committed suicide…Then how did he guide the nations after Jesus?
John: There was another apostle called Mathias who replaced Judas…he is believed to have been appointed by Jesus.
Ali: But it is not proved that Mathias was indeed appointed by Jesus or he replaced Judas. Let me quote William Steuart McBirnie from his book ‘In Search for the Twelve Apostles’
“Matthias was chosen as an apostle to take the place of Judas of Kerioth after his betrayal. It is believed that Matthias was one of the “Seventy” disciples sent out by Jesus”3
“HOWEVER, THIS CANNOT BE PROVEN.”
So how can you say that the twelve trees in the Book of Revelation refer to the twelve apostles?
To continue with the prophecy, the great dragon or the old serpent called the Devil and Satan becomes angry over the woman and devices means and ways to destroy her.
But she is helped by God. The earth also helped the woman by drinking the water which was poured out by the serpent. This points out to a very important personality which has helped the last Prophethood.
This great personality is none other than Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and one of the appellations given to him by the Prophet Muhammed is ‘Abu Turab’ which means ‘Father of Earth.’ It was ‘Abu Turab’ (Ali) who safeguarded the Prophet in the holy wars when most of the helpers and supporters deserted the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in the face of the enemies. In every battle against the pagans, it was Abu Turab (Ali) who protected the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and had it not been for the bravery and the sacrifice of Ali (a.s.), the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) would have been murdered and thus would have ended the Prophethood of this mighty Prophet of Allah (s.w.t).
Coming back to the dream, when the dragon failed to harm the woman, ‘he went to make war with the remnant of her seed.’
Thus it is proved that this woman is Prophethood and her first child is the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Therefore, Satan wants to take revenge from her by trying to destroy her progeny who are the successors of the legacy of Prophethood.
It is further written that there was war in heaven between Michael and Satan and that Satan was thrown down and never found place in heaven anymore. Before the birth of the Holy Prophet, Satan used to go to heaven regularly to hear the conversation of the Angels and on his return to earth used to preach the same to people. Through this source people would foretell events. But on the day of the birth of Prophet
Muhammed (s.a.w.a.) the going of Satan to heaven was stopped.
This incident is mentioned in Surah Jin, Chapter 72: 7-9:
“And that they thought as you think, that Allah would not raise anyone; and that we sought to reach heaven, but we found it filled with strong guards and flaming stars. And that we used to sit in some of the sitting-places thereof to steal a hearing, but he who would (try to) listen now would find a flame lying in wait for him.”4
Hence it is clear that Muhammed Mustafa (s.a.w.a.) is the last prophet and his prophethood is strenght and salvation to entire humanity. Moreover, the opposition of Satan to the remnants of his progeny clearly speaks about all the Imams (a.s.) or successors of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who were martyred mercilessly until the last of them, Imam Mahdi (a.s.) went into occultation by the command of the Almighty.
John: So who are the Muslims who believe in the twelve successors of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)?
Ali: The Shia Ishna Asheri or the Twelver Shias.
I hope I have been clear and unambiguous in my explanations and arguments?
John: Yes absolutely and this discussion has made me think and view things in a different way than I usually did. May be we should meet up again and take this further.
Ali: Yes brother I would love to discuss these things with you. But, before I say goodbye let me read out a verse from the Holy Quran about the Christians:
“…..and you will certainly find the nearest in friendship to those who believe (to be) those who say: We are Christians; this is because there are priests and monks among them and because they do not behave proudly.”5