Quran and Jesus:
(Challenge from orthodox Nadeem Quraishi)
(Challenge from orthodox Akbarally Meherally)
(Challenge from heterodox Ahmadiyya)
Imam Shaltut's Fatwa
1992 Saudi Arabian Newspaper Article: Orthodox Muslim scholar's view on death of Jesus
Jesus in Hadith: (i.e., The Sayings of Prophet Muhammad)
e now examine the debates that are occurring within the religion of Islam. Those unfamiliar with the religion of Islam might be surprised to discover that in orthodox Islam, just as in orthodox Christianity, Jesus Christ has a huge place in its religious cosmology. Because of the apocalyptic aspirations of the world’s Muslims, Jesus’ place in Islam might be second in importance only to that of Muhammad, founder of Islam. Jesus’ important role in orthodox Islam is to be found in the apocalyptic teachings of Muhammad as recorded in his sayings called hadith.
Tediously collected from researched lines of reporters, the hadith record the words, deeds and prophecies of Muhammad. Hadith are considered the third most important source of knowledge in Islam. The Holy Quran is first, and regarded by Muslims as pure Divine revelation. The sunnah, or practices of Muhammad, are considered second. As such, although not part of the Holy Quran, hadith and sunnah are given great importance and are followed and believed by orthodox and non-orthodox Muslims. There are hadith that are considered unreliable and there is an entire science of hadith dedicated to determining which hadith are reliable and which are unreliable.
It is recorded in the apocalyptic hadith that in the last days, Jesus Christ is going to return to the world along with someone named Imam Mahdi to establish the religion of Islam as the final world religion. According to the hadith, another of his principal missions will be to “break the cross.” Many orthodox Muslims take this literally. Some Muslims who are considered heterodox view the “breaking of the cross” symbolically, meaning that Jesus would somehow destroy Christianity. This is certainly not a concept that Christians could understand or accept. There are some hadith in which Muhammad seems to be saying that this final establishment of Islam by Jesus will be quite violent, with non-Muslims being forced by Jesus to accept Islam or else face death. But here again, some Muslims view these hadith as symbolic.
Parallel to the challenge presently occurring in Christianity, the orthodox Islamic belief is now being challenged, not from outside, but from within the religion of Islam, chiefly by a non-orthodox Islamic movement called the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam. This group considers itself a renaissance movement in Islam that adheres to the Holy Quran, sunnah and hadith. However, some orthodox bodies of Islam, such as the Pakistan-based Jamaat-i-Islami, reject it as such. As we shall see later, aside from the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, there are now some orthodox Muslims who are also challenging the traditional interpretations of the apocalyptic utterances of Muhammad.
Of course, as the Quran has supreme authority over the hadith, the apocalyptic hadith, according to orthodox Islam, are given sanction by verses of the Quran that mention the status of Jesus Christ. With regard to Jesus’ alleged death on the cross, his status in orthodox Islam, curiously, seems almost parallel to his status within Christianity. Because, according to orthodox Islam, certain verses of the Quran indicate that Jesus was not crucified, but was bodily taken up to heaven.
Some orthodox interpretations, in fact, have proposed what is called the Substitution Theory, which states that Allah (the personal name of God in Islam) replaced Jesus with Judas (the disciple who betrayed Jesus, according to the Bible) so rapidly that the switch was not noticed. So while Judas was crucified, Jesus was taken up to heaven. In short, orthodox Islam shares Christianity’s belief in the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven. The only difference appears to be that while Christianity states that he died on the cross, went into a tomb, rose from the dead, and then rose to heaven, orthodox Islam teaches that he was taken straight up to heaven before death.
In the Muslim debates over Jesus, the precise challenge to the orthodox teachings concerning Jesus Christ starts, just as with Christianity, at the Crucifixion. Those Muslims opposed to the orthodox Islamic teachings regarding Jesus claim that he survived the Crucifixion, or at least is not living in heaven, since all prophets die according to Islam. The Ahmadiyya Movement, based principally on the deductions of its founder that Jesus lies dead in the tomb called the Roza Bal, strongly supports the theory of a post-crucifixion life of Jesus Christ.
Of course the threat is obvious,
and it is the same threat that is occurring within Christianity: If Jesus is
not alive in heaven, and is dead and buried in the Roza Bal, then the
apocalyptic expectations of orthodox Muslims cannot be fulfilled. Throughout
the centuries, Muslim children have been
taught that Jesus Christ is returning to establish Islam. So, right at the beginning of our new millennium, the apocalyptic expectations of two of the world’s great religions, Christianity and Islam, threaten to be rocked by the existence of and debate over the Roza Bal.
Before continuing, I will relate a true story that demonstrates how deeply imbedded is the idea amongst orthodox Muslims that Jesus Christ and Imam Mahdi are returning to this earth. (Note there is also a debate among Muslims over whether Muhammad’s prophecies about the appearance of Jesus Christ and Imam Mahdi in the latter days refers to the appearance of one person rather than two.)
Years ago I was considering the possibility of marriage to a Lebanese Muslim woman whom I first saw at a Lebanese restaurant I frequented in Chicago. I noticed that she was in the back area speaking to the owner, George, with whom I enjoyed conversation on my weekend visits to his restaurant. George arranged for us to meet.
At one of our meetings, a news-broadcast appeared covering recent turmoil in Southern Lebanon in which Israel bombed suspected terrorist camps. As images of Israeli warplanes dropping bombs on Lebanese camps appeared on the screen, she suddenly jumped up, jabbed both her fists into the air, and shouted, “Oh my Allah! Please bring Imam Mahdi to destroy these Israelis!"
She pleaded with the Divine and shouted over and over again that He send Imam Mahdi to destroy the Israelis and establish Islam. Eventually, she ran into another room and sobbed.
After about twenty minutes, she finally calmed down and returned to the room. She apologized to me, and commenced calmly explaining about the expected appearance of Imam Mahdi and Jesus Christ. Though her voice and mannerisms were very calm, what she was stating was far from that. The appearance of Imam Mahdi and Jesus Christ would mark the establishment of Islam through force. This was my first direct experience with the power and intensity of the apocalyptic aspirations of many orthodox Muslims.
We will next examine the very interesting and raging arguments occurring within Islam over the life and death of Jesus Christ. We will also, of course, examine the verses of the Holy Quran at the center of this great controversy within Islam. We present this in great detail because we assume most people are unaware of these intricate doctrinal battles. The Christian battles are more generally known, but the same is not the case regarding the Islamic doctrinal battles.
“Behold! God said: ‘O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee of the falsehoods of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the day of Resurrection. Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.” 1 (Quran, Chapter 3, v. 54)
Orthodox Muslims point to this Quranic verse to support their
interpretation of the hadith (mentioned later) that refer to a return of Jesus
Christ to establish Islam. It is important to note that all Muslims regard
only the Arabic Quran as authentic, all other language versions being a translation.
The above verse comes from the Yusuf Ali English translation, probably the
most respected by orthodox Muslims, who believe 3:54 states that Jesus was
taken up to heaven (“raise thee to Myself”) alive. It is worth noting some
other orthodox Islamic translations of 3:54:
Pickthall : “O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering thee and causing thee to ascend unto Me”
Rashad Khalifa : “O Jesus! I am terminating your life, raising you to Me...”
Mohammad Sarwar : “He told Jesus, ‘I will save you from your enemies, raise you to Myself...’”
M. H. Shakir : “O Isa (Jesus)! I am going to terminate the period of your stay (on earth) and cause you to ascend unto Me”
Al-Hilali & Khan: “O Iesa (Jesus)! I will take you and raise you to Myself...”
Another Quranic reference used by Orthodox Muslims in support of their beliefs about Jesus’ ascension to heaven is chapter 4, verses 157-158:
“That they said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah,’ but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them. And those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.” (Quran, Chapter 4, vs.157-158)
Still other orthodox translations of the above verse follow the same pattern. So the generally accepted orthodox Muslim translations of the verses in question suggest that Jesus Christ was not crucified, but he was somehow taken up to heaven. The following interpretation of Chapter 4, verse 157 speaks to the Substitution Theory mentioned earlier:
“And because of their saying (in boast) ‘We killed Messiah Isa (Jesus) son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,’ but they killed him not, nor crucified him. But the resemblance of Isa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man)” (Hilali & Khan translation)
This interpretation of 4:157 is no longer universally accepted amongst orthodox Muslims. For example, Nadeem Quraishi, an orthodox Muslim who no longer accepts these translations, offers his proof that these are erroneous translations of the Arabic language:
“Behold! Allah said: ‘O Isa! I shall cause you to die and I shall exalt you towards me and I shall clear you of those who reject Faith, and I am going to make those who follow you above those who reject Faith—until the day of Awakening. Then towards Me is your return, so that I shall decide among you as to that in which you used to differ’”
Aside from the above challenge to the standard orthodox Islamic translations of the verses in question, the Ahmadiyya Movement interprets 3:54 similarly to Mr. Quraishi’s version:
“Remember the time when Allah said, ‘O Jesus, I will cause thee to die a natural death and raise thee to Myself, and will clear thee of the charges of those who disbelieve, and will exalt those who follow thee above those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, and I will judge between you concerning that wherein you differ.’”
gain more insight into this new challenge to orthodox Islam occurring within
its own ranks, the reader is encouraged to visit Nadeem Quraishi’s website, “Jesus (pbuh): Dead or Alive?”
. If you are unfamiliar with the issue of the
death of Jesus Christ in Islam, then Mr. Quraishi’s website is must reading.
Nadeem Quraishi meticulously breaks down the Arabic of the Quran in his attempt
to prove that the words of 3:54 generally translated by orthodox translators as
“take thee” have been translated incorrectly, and that the true translation of
the Arabic word, wafat, is not “take thee,” or “gather thee,” but “die”
or “cause to die” or “death.” Quraishi offers the following examples in the
Quran where the word wafat is used,
and demonstrates that in every case where wafat was
mentioned in the Quran, the translators—even the orthodox
translators—translated wafat as “die” or
“death” and not as “taken up.” So Quraishi asks, for what reason did the
translators, when they translated 3:54, decide to depart from the standard way
of translating wafat as “death,”
and choose, instead, to translate it as “take thee,” i.e., physically take up
to heaven? Below are 20 examples that Quraishi cites where orthodox Muslim
translators translated wafat as “death”
or “die” in the Quran, and not as “take thee.”
This is a clear demonstration of
the tedious and heated arguments within Islam over this issue. Again, Quraishi, an orthodox Muslim himself,
offers a biting criticism of the orthodox stand, claiming to stick steadfastly
to the original Arabic meanings. In this case he focuses on the Arabic word,
translated in the orthodox translation of 3:54 as, “raise.” And again Quraishi
backs up his views by citing many other Quranic verses where the word rafa is used to mean “exalted,” or raise in status, not raise bodily,
in the literal sense:
Koranic clause or phrase
Chapter & verse
|"...and We have raised some of them above others in rank." (...wa rafa’ na...)||Chapter 43, verse 32|
|"And We have exalted for you your mention" (WA rafa’ NA)||Chapter 94, verse 4|
|"...We exalt in degrees whom We please" (...narfa’u darazaa...)||Chapter 6, verse 83|
|"And We raised him to an elevated state." (WA rafa’naa hu...)||Chapter 19, verse 57|
|"And He raises some of you above the others in degrees..." (WA rafa’ aa ba’dakum...)||Chapter 6, verse 165|
|"And had We wished We would invariably exalted him; ..." (...rafa’naa hu...)||Chapter 7, verse 176|
|"It will abase it will exalt" (...rafi’aah...)||Chapter 56, verse 3|
|"...all pure speech and all good deed, --He exalts it..." (...yarfa’uhu...)||Chapter 35, verse 10|
|"in (certain) houses which Allah has permitted to be raised up... (...an turfa’a WA yuzkara...)||Chapter 24, verse 36|
Regarding the orthodox translations of 4: 157-158 mentioned earlier, Quraishi departs slightly from the generally accepted orthodox translation of those verses and offers the following:
“And (because of) their saying: ‘Surely we have killed the Masih, Isa, son of Maryam, the Rasul of Allah,’ and they could not murder him, nor could they kill him by crucifixion, but he was made to resemble to them. And verily those who differ regarding him are certainly in a doubt about him. They have no knowledge about it but are merely following a guess; and they could not kill him for certain; On the contrary, Allah exalted him towards Himself. And Allah is Exalted in Power, most Wise.”
The Ahmadiyya translation is the following:
“And for their saying, ‘We did slay the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah,’ whereas they slew him not, nor did they bring about his death on the cross, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified; and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it; they have no certain knowledge thereof, but only pursue a conjecture; and they did not arrive at a certainty concerning it. On the contrary, Allah exalted him to Himself. And Allah is Mighty, Wise.”
You will note that the orthodox interpretation of 4:157-158 cited earlier suggests that Jesus Christ was not even placed upon the cross, period (“nor crucified him”). But the interpretations of orthodox Muslim Nadeem Quraishi, as well as the Ahmadiyya interpretation, simply state that Jesus did not die on the cross. Here again, in 4:157-158, is the dispute over the word, rafa, with the orthodox translation offering, “raised him up,” suggesting the actual physical raising up of Jesus Christ to heaven, and the non-orthodox translation offering, “exalted him towards,” or in the case of the Ahmadiyya, “exalted him to,” suggesting a spiritual exaltation.
Perhaps the single largest threat to the orthodox Islamic view of Jesus from its own community is from Imam Shaltut a deep and powerful Islamic scholar who became the highest Islamic authority of the most prestigious Muslim school on earth, Al-Azhar University. In October, 1958, he became Rector of Al-Azhar University. His religious and scholastic credentials within the world of Islam were impeccable. He issued a “fatwa” (decree) stating that God promised Jesus a natural death. Below is Imam Shaltut’s fatwa:
"These are the verses of the Holy Qur'an which relate all that Jesus experienced at the hands of his people. The last verse relates an incident in the Hereafter when Allah will ask Jesus concerning him and his mother being worshipped in the world and Jesus will reply that he did not say anything to his followers except that which God had commanded him, that is, worship Allah who is your God and my God, and he kept watch over them during the period of his stay among them and that he did not know what they did after Allah caused him to die.
"The word, tawaffa, has been used in the Holy Qur'an in the sense of death so many times that it has become its foremost meaning. This word is used in its different sense only when there is a clear indication as to the other meaning."
"The word tawaffaaytani in this particular verse primarily means natural death which is known to everybody. The Arabic-speaking people understand this and only this meaning of the word with reference to the context. Therefore, had there been nothing else to indicate the death of Jesus in this verse, even then it would have been improper and incorrect to state that the Messiah Jesus was alive and not dead.
"There is no room for the view that the word wafat here means the death of Jesus after his descent from heaven--a view held by some who think that Jesus is still alive in the heaven and would come down from there in latter days. For, this verse clearly denotes the relation of Jesus with his own people and not with other people of latter days. The people of the latter age would admittedly be the followers of Muhammad and not Jesus.
"However, in Surah Al Nisa, the passage, 'Nay, Allah exalted him in His presence' has been interpreted by some, nay most commentators, as raising him up to heaven. They observe that Allah cast his likeness on somebody else and Jesus himself was lifted up to heaven with his body and he is alive there and will descend from there in latter days. Thereafter, he will annihilate the swine and break the cross. They argue this on the basis of the story:
"Firstly on the report in which the descent of Jesus is mentioned after the appearance of the Dajaal [Anti-Christ]. "But these reports are at variance with and contradictory to one another in their word and meaning. The difference is so great that there is no room for any reconciliation among them. The scholars of Hadith have plainly stated this fact. Moreover, they are reported by Wahab bin Munnabba and Ba'ab Akbar, who were converts from the people of the Book [Jews or Christians]. And their status is well known to the critics of Traditions.
"Secondly, on the report of Abu Huraira that mentions the descent of Jesus. If this report is proved to be true, even then it would be an isolated report. And there is a consensus of opinion of the scholars of Hadith that such isolated reports can neither be made the basis of doctrinal beliefs nor can they be trusted with regard to things unseen.
"Thirdly, on the report about the Miraj which narrates that when the Prophet went up and began to have the gates of heaven opened one after another and entered them as they were opened, he saw Jesus and his cousin John on the second heaven. For us it is enough to prove the weakness of this evidence, that many interpreters of the Traditions have taken this contact of the Prophet with other prophets to have a spiritual phenomenon and not a physical one."
"Strangely enough they interpret the word rafa in this verse in light of the report concerning the Miraj and deduce therefrom that Jesus was bodily raised up. And there are others who regard the meeting of the Prophet with Jesus to be a physical one on the basis of this verse (i.e., Nay! Allah exalted him in His presence). thus when these people interpret the Hadith they quote this verse to support their imaginary meaning of the Hadith and while interpreting the verse they cite this Hadith to support their imaginary explanation of the verse.
"When we turn to the revealed words of God: 'I will cause you to die and exalt you in My presence' in Surah Al-Nisa, we find that the latter verse fulfills the promise that was made in the former one. This promise was about the death and exaltation of Jesus Christ, and his exoneration from the false charges of the disbelievers. Thus even if the latter verse had mentioned just his rafa, towards God and had no reference to his death and exoneration from the false charges, even then it should have been our duty to take note of all these matters that are referred to in the former verse; so that both the verses might be reconciled.
"The actual meaning of the verse therefore is that God caused Jesus to die and exalted him and sanctified him against the charges of his enemies. Allama Alusi has interpreted this verse in many ways. The clearest of these interpretations is that I will complete the lease of your life and will cause you to die and will not let those people dominate you who try to kill you. For, completing the period of his life and causing him to die a natural death indicates that Jesus was saved from being slain and from the mischief of his enemies. Obviously, rafa after death cannot mean any physical ascension, but only exaltation in rank, especially when the words, I will clear you of those who disbelieve' are present along with it. This shows that it is a question of spiritual honor and exaltation."
"All these expressions signify only shelter, protection and coming under His care. So one fails to understand how the word heaven is deduced from the word 'towards Him.' And such and offense is committed on account of a belief in such stories and narratives which are devoid of accuracy, not to speak of established unauthenticity."
"To sum up:
(Shaltut, Sheikh Mahmud: Al Rislah, Cairo: Vol. 10., No. 465)
We often receive comments from orthodox Muslim critics of our website that the issue of the death of Jesus physically is not a debatable issue within orthodox Islam, and that the world's Muslim scholars are united on this subject, all "unanimously" believing, so we are told, that Jesus was raised physically to heaven. They state to us that their scripture, the Quran, is "clear" in that it says that Jesus was taken up to heaven. Well, as we've shown above, it does not at all seem that there exists unanimity of opinion within orthodox Islam over this issue.
We are also told by these critics that the information we present here is either an "old" issue which has been settled a long time ago, or is an issue relegated only to heterodox Islamic organizations that are considered to be apostates from the religion of Islam. Well, we recently came across an article that appeared on September 18, 1992--very recently--in the Saudi Arabian newspaper called, Arab News. A Saudi Arabian orthodox Muslim religious scholar named Adil Salahi writes for that paper and offers answers to questions that are submitted by orthodox Muslims [Saudi Arabia is an orthodox Muslim country]. The following 1992 exchange clearly demonstrates, as we've shown above, that the issue of the humanity of Jesus Christ is still hotly debated even within the orthodox Islamic world. This exchange appeared on page 9 of the religious page of Arab News. The religious page of that newspaper is entitled, Islam in Perspective. First, the question that was posed by the reader:
|"May I put to you a question that you have answered before: 'Had the death of Jesus Christ preceded the miracle of his ascension?' After reading your question in which you said that Jesus Christ did not die, I happened to read a book entitled Deep into the Quran by Dr. Kamal Umar, an eminent Pakistani author. He comes decidedly in favour of the view that Jesus Christ died a natural death. I am sending you a photocopy of the relevant pages, requesting you to clear the controversy."|
Adil Salahi gives his response in detail. Any highlighting, of course, is ours:
"I have certainly answered that question by saying that Jesus Christ did not die, but Allah raised him to Himself. In this, I have only given the view of the majority of scholars, including contemporary ones. I have quoted the Quranic verse which says in reference to what the Jews used to assert: "And their statement. 'We have killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of Allah'. They certainly have neither killed him nor crucified him, although it was made to appear so to them." This verse concludes with a categorical statement: "For certain they have not killed him, but Allah has raised him to Himself. Allah is Almighty, Wise."
"There are a number of hadiths [sayings of Muhammad] which speak of the return of Jesus Christ to this world when he will resume his mission of preaching when the message of the Oneness of Allah. That will definitely be the Divine message in its final form, i.e. Islam, as preached by Prophet Muhammad (peace be on them both). Those Hadiths and the Quranic statements which speak of the raising of the Prophet Jesus provide a full justification for the view of the majority of scholars that Jesus Christ did not die but was raised by Allah and that he will make a second appearance at a time which will be appointed by Allah Himself and known to Him alone.
"However, there are references to Jesus Christ in the Quran which use a term that is most frequently used to indicate death although not necessarily so. Linguistically speaking, the word means the completion of a term. When it refers to life, it means the completion of one's life and its termination by death. It is used in this sense in other verses of the Quran. Dr. Kamal Umar quotes these verses in his book and translates them as referring to the death of Jesus. Thus, he gives the translation of Verse 55 of Surah 3 as follows: "When Allah said: Isa! (this is the Arabic name of Jesus) certainly I would cause you to die and would raise you to Myself and will protect you from those people who rejected you." In this respect, Dr. Umar is not alone.
"A number of scholars, some of them prominent indeed, have expressed this view and argued that this expression which occurs in three different verses in the Quran, means actually that Jesus Christ died a natural death. They point out that Allah has protected him from his enemies, by foiling their attempts to kill or crucify him. There is no argument among Muslim scholars that Jesus Christ was neither killed nor crucified. But, as you see, some scholars argue that he died a natural death. "When these scholars refer to the "Ascension" of Jesus, or, use the Quranic expression, his being raised to Allah, they interpret this as having an abstract sense. According to them, it means that his position with Allah has been enhanced and he has been given a very high status.
"This is indeed the case, because Jesus Christ is one of the five messengers of Allah who have shown the greatest resolve in their service of Allah's cause. The other four are: Noah, Abraham, Moses and Muhammad (peace be on them all). "When these scholars speak about the Hadiths which tell of the second coming of Jesus Christ and what he will be doing, such as breaking the cross, killing the pig and preaching the message of Oneness of Allah, they cast strong doubts about their authenticity. Their argument is not without validity.
"Where does this leave us? The answer is that there are two views: The first, which is held by a majority of scholars, is that Jesus Christ did not die but was raised by Allah and that he will make a second coming at a time determined by Allah, when he will be preaching the message of Islam. The other view is that Jesus Christ died a natural death after Allah had saved him from his enemies. Both groups of scholars agree that Jesus Christ was neither killed nor crucified. Needless to say, those who subscribe to the second view do not speak of a second coming of Jesus Christ. "What we need to know is that the raising of Jesus Christ alive to Heaven is not an article of Islamic faith.
"This means that if a person denies it he is not an unbeliever. A person is not considered to be an unbeliever for preferring a reasonable and valid interpretation of a Quranic verse. Had the Quranic verse been of the sort that cannot admit more than one interpretation, then denying its meaning could easily land the person who makes such a denial in the class of unbelievers. This means that a person may adopt the view he prefers, but when he does so, he should arrive at the conclusion he prefers after carefully studying the matter and considering the evidence in support of their view. Dr. Umar has made a choice to which he is certainly entitled. I chose the view and I am equally entitled to it."
Apparently, the passionate belief of the majority of orthodox Muslims that Jesus Christ will physically return in the last days and establish Islam as the dominant religion, is only one interpretation, according to Adil Salahi and other orthodox Muslim scholars, and not the only one.
There are many sayings of Muhammad that deal
with the return of Jesus, and we will list a few of them below. The orthodox
Islamic world believes that Jesus will return physically. It would interpret
any of the hadith listed in this section in the literal sense. The Ahmadi
Muslims believe that the hadith referring to the return of Jesus are metaphorical,
and point to some other individual who will appear “in the latter days.” This
individual will not be the same Jesus, according to the Ahmadiyya interpretation, but will be someone who will carry the same peaceful
qualities of Jesus, spreading Islam through peaceful means. In support of
this viewpoint of a spiritual, rather than a physical, return of Jesus Christ,
it is very interesting that the Ahmadis reference a Christian source—the Gospels—as
“Verily I say unto
you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than
John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven
is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom
of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the
prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this
is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
(Bible, Matthew 11: 11-15)
In Matthew 11:11-15 Jesus Christ claims that John the
Baptist, a contemporary of Jesus who baptized Jesus, actually is the “return”
of Elias, who the Old Testament foretold would return. Drawing a parallel, the Ahmadiyya viewpoint
claims Jesus Christ will not return physically—as orthodox Muslims and orthodox
Christians believe—since he is dead and buried in the Roza Bal.
Before citing the hadith relating to the return of Jesus, please note: These sayings are located in many of the Islamic books of hadith. As such, we will not give any particular reference. But the reader can easily verify my references and find these hadith, thanks to the Internet: just go to a search engine and type, “Imam Mahdi.” Now, this is just a little tricky, because after you find a site that lists hadith relating to Imam Mahdi, you’ll have to look in that site to find hadith about Jesus. This is because orthodox Islamic belief, as we stated earlier, states that two people are coming back in the last days for the purpose of establishing Islam: First will come Imam Mahdi, then will come Jesus to assist him. Now I’ll reproduce just a few hadith that mention the return of Jesus Christ:
“A group of my Ummah
[community] will fight for the truth until near the day of judgment when Jesus,
the son of Mary, will descend, and the leader of them will ask him to lead
the prayer, but Jesus will decline, saying: ‘No, Verily, among you Allah has
made leaders for others and He has bestowed His bounty upon them.’”
“After the completion of Fajr Salaat [congregational dawn prayers], Hadhrat Isa [Jesus] will open the door behind him where Dajjal [Antichrist], accompanied by 70,000 Yahudis [Jews] will be. He will indicate with his hand to move away between him (Jesus) and Dajjal. Dajjal will then see Hadhrat Isa. At that time every Kafir [disbeliever, non-Muslim] on whom the breath of Hadhrat Isa will reach, will die. His breath will reach up to the distance of his eyesight. The Muslims will then come down from the mountains and break loose on the army of Dajjal. There will be war, Dajjal will retreat, and Hadhrat Isa will pursue Dajjal. Hadhrat Isa will have two flexible swords and one shield with him and with these he will kill Dajjal at the Gate of Hudd. He will show the Muslims the blood of Dajjal, which will get on his shield. Eventually the Yahudis will be selected and killed. The swine will be killed and the cross broken. People will revert to Islam. Wars will end, and people will return to their respective countries. One Jamaat [group] of Muslims will remain in his service and companionship. Hadhrat Isa will go to Fajr Rawha and perform Haj or Umrah [pilgrimage] from there. He will also go to the grave of Rasulullah [the Messenger of Allah, i.e., Muhammad] and present his greetings and Rasulullah will reply. People will live comfortable lives. The wall of Yajooj and Majooj [Gog and Magog] will then break.”
“Abu Hurayrah said, ‘The Prophet
said, ‘By Him in Whose hand is my soul, surely the son of Mary (Jesus) will
come down among you as a just ruler. He will break the cross, kill the pigs
and abolish the Jizyah [tax for non-Muslims]. Wealth will be in such abundance
that no one will care about it, and a single prostration in prayer will be
better than the world and all that is in it.’’”
Without a doubt, the Roza Bal and a possible post-crucifixion life of Jesus Christ are issues that directly impact the Islamic world. Orthodox Muslims hold dear and deep in their hearts the expectation of Jesus Christ’s return to establish Islam as the world religion, and to create a world where, as one of the above hadith states, “People will live comfortable lives.” In the Islamic world of today, where large pockets of poverty still exist, such a return would certainly be most welcomed.