How come Allah never told Muhammad to build a new Ark of the Covenant so he could speak to mankind directly again?
The Ark of the Covenant in Islamic traditions has a different origin than the Ark of the Covenant mentioned in the Bible. In the Holy Quran the actual Ark wherein the Covenant was found, is refered to as ‘Tabut’ and the Covenant as ‘Sakina’, hence it is also referred to as Tabut Sakina (the Ark of the Covenant) in (al-Baqara, v.248) and Sakina in the Holy Quran in (at-Taubah v. 26, 40) and (al-Fath, v.26).
The Ark of the Covenant is the name of a Heavenly treasure chest, which was used as a weapon of war by the Prophets, including Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, and as I will prove, even by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa aalihi wa sallam). The Holy Quran states,
“And their Prophet said to them: “A Sign of his authority is that there shall come to you the Ark (Tabut), and in it Sakina with (a Covenant) therein of security from your Lord, and the relics left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron, carried by angels. In this is a symbol for you if ye indeed have faith” (al Baqara, v.248)
The author of Tafsir Uthmani (English) writes, “(The Ark of the Covenant, Tabut Sakina) contained some holy relics of Hazrat Moosa (alaihi salam), and other Prophets. The Bani Israel (Children of Israel) put this box in the front line in times of war and Allah gave them victory by its auspices.” (Tafsir Uthmani, Allama Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani, trans. Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmad. Bombay: Taj Publishers, 1992. Vol. 1, p.140)
As the author of Tafsir Uthmani wrote, this Ark contained the Covenant (Sakina), which was the assurance of help from the unseen and victory over enemies, in the form of Prophetic relics. These relics it (the Ark) contained were connected to Prophetic authority, which represented the Vicegerency of God on earth by His Prophets and Messengers, and as such, assured victory over misbelief to the possessor of the Ark.
From Eden to Adam
The Islamic history of the Ark of the Covenant is that its origin was from the time of Adam, who brought it out from Eden. It contained the Hajr al Aswad, the Staff of Moses, the Ring of Solomon, the Sword of Prophet Muhammad (s) called Zulfiqar among many other relics. From Adam, it was passed to Seth, and from Seth, to his son, and it continued to be guarded by Prophets until the birth of Abraham.
Abraham inherited it from his father, and his father was not Azar the idolater, rather his name was Tarah, as per the many Islamic historians, including Ibn Kathir, and even the Holy Bible. Tarah died when Abraham was a young boy. According to the Islamic tradition, there were Prophets who came before Abraham as well, and it is our belief that they guarded it, until it made its way to Abraham. Abraham gave it to his son Ishmael (a). Together, they built the Ka’ba in Makkah, and placed in its corner from the Ark of the Covenant the black stone (Hajr al Aswad). (See for example, Ark of the Covenant Found in Mecca by Mathematician Anatoly Fomenko, one of the world’s leading experts in topology and statistics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXt_EyeRnLc
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The Children of Ishmael
The Ark then continued to be in the possession of the Children of Ishmael, amongst whom were both Prophets (Salih, Hud, the Prophet sent to the people of ar-Raas etc.) and Kings (the Kedarites, the descendents of Qedar, the Nabateans etc.). The Kedarites were such a powerful tribe that they were even mentioned in the Torah, Assyrian Tablets and by the ancient Greeks. We read in the Bible,
“And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve mighty princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation” (Genesis 17:20)
From Jethro to Moses
Have you ever wondered why the Children of Ishmael were free, and mighty, while the Children of Israel were still enslaved to the Pharaoh? Amongst the descendents of Ishmael, the Islamic tradition holds that the Ark was eventually inherited by the Prophet Shuaib (Jethro), whose daughter Safura (Zipporah) married Moses. Jethro was an Ishmaelite, not an Israelite. Moses and Aaron were descendents of Ladi (Levi) the son of Yaqub (Jacob), the son of Isaac, the younger son of Abraham. The Banu Nadhir tribe were also from amongst the descendents of Levi, and the Mother of Believers Lady Safia (r), the wife of the Messenger of God (s) also descended from it.
I would like to point out here that the identity and lineage of Jethro has been confused by some historians, just as some of them confused Tarah, the father of Abraham with Azar. The truth is, Jethro was an Ishmaelite. The Holy Qur’an states, “To the people of Madyan (Madian) (We sent) their brother Shu’aib ” [Qur'an, 7:85], according to this author, and even according to the Holy Bible, the Midianites were Ishmaelites. See, Genesis 37:25-36 and Judges 8:22,24,26, were the Midianites are referred to as “the Ishmaelites”.
Moses served Jethro the Ishmaelite Prophet for a number of years, learnt from him, and was given guardianship of the Ark of the Covenant by him, and the staff of Adam from it, to go and set the Children of Israel free. Through the blessings of the Ark, the Children of Israel became free, and the Pharaoh was destroyed. The Ark stayed with the Children of Israel from this stage in history onwards, and they placed in it the relics of Moses and Aaron as well.
When the Children of Israel began to disobey God and kill Prophets, it was taken from them and hidden during the era of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. The Israelites then asked the Prophet Shamwil (Samuel) to pray God sends them a King, to fight in God’s way and take back their lost lands.
Saul and David
Samuel prayed, and as he was a Prophet, God heard his prayer. Talut (Saul) was appointed as the King of the Children of Israel, and the sign of his Kingdom was that he would be given the Ark of the Covenant (al Baqarah, 246-249). Saul was a descendent of Ben Yamin (Benjamin), the younger brother of Yusuf (Joseph), the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. Saul promised to marry his daughter to the person who would kill Goliath, and the Quran states David [alaihi salam], who was a direct descendent of Yahuda (Judah), the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, killed Goliath, and inherited it and the Kingdom from Saul. David now became the King of the Children of Israel. The Bible states that David, the greatest King of the Children of Israel also lived amongst the Ishmaelites, see (Psalm 120:5) and his son Solomon (alaihi salam); is reported to have said, “I am as dark and lovely as the tents of Kedar” (Song of Solomon 1:5).
Solomon and Sheba
King Solomon inherited the Ark of the Covenant from David. He also built the Temple, in Jerusalem, in honor of the Seal of Prophets, Muhammad, who was to come to it on the night of Ma’raj, and lead all Prophets in prayer. However, the topic of the Temple is for another time. Solomon married Sheba (Bilquis), and from her had a son. Inner Islamic traditions have it that Solomon gave the responsibility of guarding of the Ark of the Covenant to his son from Sheba, who carried it to Ethiopia after the death of Solomon, which was still kept a secret until sometime. Some non-Muslims also agreed with this theory, see for example, History Channel’s “Ark of Covenant in Ethiopia“, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOqLpT6HKzY
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Islamic tradition holds the reason the Ark was sent to Ethiopia by Solomon was because the delegation of the Seal of Prophets, Muhammad ibn Abdullah (s) was going to come to Ethiopia, and the descendents of Solomon and Sheba would surrender it to him through them.
Negus of Ethiopia: Ashama bin Al-Abjar
Islamic tradition then holds, the Emperor of Ethiopia Negus, Ashama bin Al-Abjar, embraced Islam secretly on the hands of the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, Ja’far ibn Abi Talib who resembled the Holy Prophet so much in looks, that people often mistook him for the Prophet Muhammad (s). The Ark was surrendered to him by Negus. The proof he embraced Islam, was that the Prophet Muhammad prayed the funeral prayer over him (al-Najashi), and called him pious.
Additionally, there are clear verses in the Holy Qur’an which speak of this victory, that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa aalihi wa sallam) was granted, that the Ark of the Coventant was in his possession, but most people, other than Saints fail to notice them, similar to how the Ashab (Sahabah, Companions) felt after Abu Bakr al-Siddiq’s sermon after the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) passed on, that they had heard the verses 3:144 from Surah Aal ‘Imran for the first time. Abdullah ibn Abbas is reported to have said after hearing the sermon of Abu Bakr al-Siddq , “It seemed that the verse of the Holy Qur’an to which Abu Bakr referred was just revealed, although we had recited it several times in the past”.
The verses in the Holy Qur’an which corroborate this fact that the Ark with the
Covenant in it (Tabut Sakina, Ark of the Covenant) was actually in possession of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) prior to the Hijrah are found in Surah al-Taubah and Surah al-Fath, wherein the Ark (Tabut) with the Covenant (Sakina) (referred to Tabut Sakina in al-Baqarah, v.248) is referred to in specific as “Sakina“
Here are the verses, “But Allah did send Sakina on the Messenger and on the Believers, and sent down forces which ye saw not: He punished the Unbelievers; thus doth He reward those without Faith” (9:26)
and ,“If ye help not (the Holy Prophet), (it is no matter): for Allah did indeed help him, when the Unbelievers drove him out: he had no more than one companion; they two were in the cave, and he said to his companion, “Have no fear, for Allah is with us”: then Allah sent down Sakina upon him, and strengthened him with forces which ye saw not, and humbled to the depths the word of the Unbelievers. But the word of Allah is exalted to the heights: for Allah is Exalted in might, Wise” (9:40)
and, “While the Unbelievers got up in their hearts heat and cant – the heat and cant of ignorance,- Allah sent down Sakina to his Messenger and to the Believers, and made them stick close to the command of self-restraint; and well were they entitled to it and worthy of it. And Allah has full knowledge of all things.” (48:26)
The Zulfiqar Sword and ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib
It then follows that the Zulfiqar sword was taken out from it (the Tabut Sakina, Ark of the Covenant) and granted to the spiritual successor of the Prophet, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib. The Ark of the Covenant was the best kept secret of the first two of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, due to which both of them gave their spiritual allegiance to the first Imam of spirituality on the 18th of Dhul Hijjah, known as the day of Ghadir Khum, wherein the Prophet appointed ‘Ali as his spiritual successor, and the Guardian of Believers by declaring, “Whoever has me as his Master, ‘Ali is his Master”. Dr. Tahir Qadri writes in his book; ‘The Ghadir Declaration’, when commenting on Hadith 5: “Manāwī has written in Fayd-ul-qadīr (6:217) that when Abū Bakr and ‘Umar had heard the Prophet’s saying — One who has me as his Master has ‘Ali as his Master — they said to ‘Ali: O son of Abū Tālib! You have become the master of every male and female believer, morning and evening (for ever).”
Bloodline of the Holy Prophet (S): The Twelve Imams as Guardians
From the Ghadir Declaration onwards, the new guardian of the Ark of the Covenant, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib was granted a distinct status by the Rightly Guided Companions, and allegiance to this secret administration continued from their time onwards. Professor Tahir ul-Qadri writes in Hadith 47 of his book ‘Ghadir Declaration’, “Umar ibn Khattab said: One who has Allāh’s Messenger as his master has ‘Alī as his master. Sālim narrates: ‘Umar was asked why he always treated ‘Ali differently from other Companions. (At this) ‘Umar replied: Indeed that (‘Alī) is my master”. Any indifference or disrespect towards him was regarded by the Rightly Guided Sahabah as a sure sign of nifaq and wickedness, to the extent there are even reports of the second Rightly Guided Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab strangling someone who disrespected ‘Ali in his presence, stating that anyone who did not regard ‘Ali as his Master could never be a true believer. Professor Tahir Qadri writes in his book the ‘Ghadir Declaration’ Hadith 46, “It is narrated by ‘Umar that two Bedouins came to him disputing with each other. He said to ‘Ali: O Abū Hasan: decide between these two. So he decided between them (and settled their dispute). One of them said: Is he the only one left to decide between us? (At this) ‘Umar moved towards him and caught him by his collar and said: May you be dead! Do you know who he is? He is my master and the master of every believer (and) one who does not acknowledge him as his master is not a believer.”
It was through the power of the Ark that the Rightly Guided Caliphs were able to bring Jerusalem into the Islamic dominion, as well as the entire Middle East (more or less), defeating every army who marched against them. However, during the reign of ‘Ali, the fourth Caliph, the Ark came under danger through the civil wars instigated by the camps of the rebels of the battles of Jamal, and Siffin, and so it was secretly hidden in Antioch or around it. The secret of its location remained a sworn secret within the illustrious sons of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Twelve Imams. Its secret location was granted to Hasan ibn ‘Ali, then from him to Husayn ibn ‘Ali, and through their descendents, its secret location will known by the Mahdi (a), the Twelfth Imam, a King and the last of the Rightly Guided Caliphs; “then there shall be a Caliphate again, on the pattern of Prophetship” (Ahmad). Al Mahdi will be from the Ahlul Bayt; the bloodline of the Prophet Muhammad, from the descents of Abraham and Ishmael. It is on this account that the earliest generation of Muslims prayed in every prayer, “O God, bless Muhammad, and the Family of Muhammad, as thou blessed Abraham, and the Family of Abraham”.
A Symbol of the Ark
“As for the Mahdi himself, he has a sword and a divinely inspired political policy (siyasa)” [Al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya, 366, Vol. 3, p. 327- 328].
It is also interesting to learn that the Zulfiqar sword was historically a symbol of power for Muslims. In fact, the first flag commissioned and carried into battle by the Victorious Sultan Selim I in 1519, when he claimed the Caliphate to himself and the House of Osman (the longest lasting empire in history), after vanquishing the last Abbasid Caliph al-Mutawakkil II, had the Zulfiqar sword on it as a symbol of the Prophet’s and his religion’s promised and eternal victory. See, http://flagspot.net/flags/tr-zulf.html
" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;. The Ottoman Caliphs used the Zulfiqar as a symbol of power and carried Zulfiqar flags into their battles against their enemies.
It will be brought forth by Al Mahdi
Al Suyuti wrote, “The reason he will be known as the Mahdi is that he will show the way to a hidden thing. He will bring the Ark (of the Covenant) to light from a place called Antioch.” (Suyuti, al-Hawi li’l Fatawa, II, 82,). See, http://www.harunyahya.com/articles/32ar ... enant.html
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Related by Sulaiman ibn Isa (radhi Allahu ta’ala anhu): “I was informed that the Ark of the Covenant will emerge from the Tabariyya Sea through the efforts of Imam al-Mahdi. It will be placed before him at the Sacred House (Bayt al-Muqaddas in Jerusalem). When the descendents of Judah (the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham) see this (Ark), all except a few will embrace Islam.” (Ibn Hammad transmitted in al-Fitan (1:360#1050); and Suyuti copied it in al-Hawi li’l Fatawa (II:83).
Hence, according to multiple Islamic traditions, the Ark of the Covenant will finally be ‘taken out’ by Imam Al Mahdi (a), who will be its true and rightful heir, as a descendent of both Abraham, Ishmael and the Seal of Prophets, Muhammad (s), from the bloodline of ‘Ali and Fatima al-Zahra (r). After retrieving this sacred Prophetic treasure of his ancestors, he will be coronated King of the Kingdom of Heaven in Jerusalem by Jesus Christ, upon his Second Coming.
It is reported in Tazkia Lil Qurtabi on Page 704-706 that Huzaifa, a trusted Companion of the Prophet (s) once asked him (s) about the Ark of the Covenant, where upon the Apostle of God (s) informed him “it would be brought forth by Al Mahdi”. Thereafter, Huzaifa states the Holy Prophet (s) recited the following verses of the Quran in reference to this,
4 And We decreed for the Children of Israel in the Scripture: Ye verily will work corruption in the earth twice, and ye will become great tyrants.
5 So when the time for the first of the two came, We roused against you slaves of Ours of great might who ravaged (your) country, and it was a threat performed.
6 Then we gave you once again your turn against them, and We aided you with wealth and children and made you more in soldiery.
7 (Saying): If ye do good, ye do good for your own souls, and if ye do evil, it is for them (in like manner). So, when the time for the second (of the judgments) came (We roused against you others of Our slaves) to ravage you, and to enter the Temple even as they entered it the first time, and to lay waste all that they conquered with an utter wasting.
8 It may be that your Lord will have mercy on you, but if ye repeat (the crime) We shall repeat (the punishment), and We have appointed hell a dungeon for the disbelievers. (Quran, 17:4-8)
And Allah Knows Best!
The Hidden Islamic History of the Ark of the Covenant: By Sayyid Ahmed Amiruddin