THE FIRE OF EASTER IN JERUSALEM

From: Chronology of the Muslim scholar Al-Biruni (973 - 1048). Translated by Gotthard Strohmaier: Al Biruni / In the Garden of Science / Reklam - Leipzig 1991.

In the four gospels it is written that Christ on that day, namely on a Thursday, sent one of his disciples to Jerusalem. He arranged for a man carrying a pitcher on his shoulder to meet him, and ordered him to instruct this man, to prepare a meal for him and his disciples, for celebrating with him the passover. The addressed person prepared the unleavented bread and whatever else the Jews need for passover. At night Christ came to him and celebrated the

passover at his place with the disciples in a room upstairs. He also washed their feet to honour them. Priests now do the same with their colleagues on this night. Then he spoke to them: "Knoweth that one of you will betray and abandon me on this night." After this he left the room and ascended to the mount of olives. Also Judas Iscariot, who was one of the disciples, went away

and slandered him to the priests and the prominent jews, received for this

a gift of thirty drachmas and lead them to him. They captured him, beat him, placed a crown of thorns on him, insulted him, committed all manner of evil against him and tortured him on this night until the morning. Then they crucified him on the third hour of Friday according to the reports of Matthew, Marcus and Lucas. John on the other hand, claims that he was crucified on the sixth hour of the day. This is Good Friday. With him two robbers were crucified on Mount Zion, that is called the "skull" and in Hebrew it is called golgotha. He died, as they say, on the ninth hour. Joseph of Arimathia, called bulutani (Note: from greek "boloutes", councilman) asked for him from their commander Pilate. He in turn delivered him, and Joseph burried him in a grave, that he had prepared for himself.

On the night of Saturday, which follows Good Friday, the announcement to the dead of the comming of Christ is celebrated. On the evening of this Saturday is the feast of the resurrection, and they claim that Christ remained one day and two nights in the grave, then he rose from his grave on the morning of the third day, and that is the Sunday on which the fasting ends.

A story is told about Easter Saturday, which astonishes the scientists and which they would hardly recognize as being true. And had adversaries not been unanimous in reports about this, and had they not reported that they themselves had seen it, and had prominent scholars and other people not handed this down in their books, one could not acquiesce in this. I have read it in books and also heard it from Al-Farag ibn Salih from Baghdad, that in the middle of the church of the resurrection (Note:

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre) in Jerusalem the grave of Christ is carved beneath the earth into a rock Over it is a dome, and over this dome rises another bigger dome. Around the Rock are pedestals, From where the muslims look on. The Christians and whoever else comes on this day to the site of the grave, implore and call upon God, the exalted, from noon to evening. Also the muezzin of the mosque, the leader in prayer and the emir of the city come and sit near the grave. They bring lamps, that they leave there while it is still closed. The

Christians have extinguished their lamps and torches already prior to this and wait, until they see a pure white fire, which causes a lamp to ignite. From this fire, the lamps in the mosques and in the churches are lit. Then a report is written to the Caliph about the time, at which the fire descended. If it occurred soon after the noon hour, a fertile year is expected, but if it is delayed until the evening or later, then an infertile one is expected. The same source also tells that a governor brought a copper wire instead of a wick, in order that it won't ignite and the whole thing would fail to occur. But as the fire descended, the copper burned.

The descent of this fire from above on a day, which recurs after a specified time span, gives us occasion to be astounded. However, as far as its origin is concerned, without there being any visible material present for it, there is something even more amazing and yet beyond doubt, since the requirements for the truth of what is reported are fulfilled. In an Egyptian village, there is a church, which was attended by people, on whose word can be relied upon, whose opinions are accepted, and of whom one can be certain that they have not fallen prey to a swindle and that they do not wish to perpetrate a swindle on others They say, that there is in it a subterranean cavern, down to which some twenty odd steps lead. In it there is a bed, beneath which a man and a boy are wrapped in a leather blanket. Above this there is a marble vessel, which contains in it a glass jug with a copper wick inside it which in turn has a flaxen wick inside it. This wick is ignited and oil is poured on it. It does not take long, before the glass jug fills up with oil and it spills over into the marble vessel. It is then used for the church. Al-Gaihani reports that once a trustworthy man visited the place and removed the jug from the vessel. He emptied the oil out of the jug as well as out of the flame and blew the flame out. Then he put everything back in its place with the exception of the oil, for he substituted another kind that he had with him. He also substituted the wick for another one and ignited it. It did not take long before the oil overflowed in the glass jug and into the marble vessel, and this without any visible initial matter. He also mentions, the flame ceases to burn and the oil no longer flows over, when the dead man is removed from underneath the bed. He also reports the following about the inhabitants of this village. If a woman feels herself to be pregnant, she lifts the dead boy up and lays him in her lap. Then the child in her womb moves, if it is a true pregnancy. Otherwise she gives up hope, if she does not sense any movement.