In much of today's decadent Western world Easter is mainly associated with a few more days off and with tasty chocolate eggs. However, for practicing Christians Easter marks the biggest, most breath taking celebration of the year! At that time they are reminded that Jesus died on a cross to pay the punishment for their sins and of his subsequent resurrection.
This profound truth that has changed the lives of countless millions of people ever since is also stongly indicated in the Quran.
WHAT DOES THE QURAN SAY ON THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS?
In Surah 19, Maryam, verse 33, Jesus said shortly after his birth:
"So Peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)"
A. Jusuf Ali wrote in the footnote number 2485 of his translation of the Holy Quran (1975): "...those who believe that he (Jesus) never died should ponder over this verse."
However, such revealing remarks made by this highly respected Muslim scholar were quickly expunged and replaced with the explanatory words "Jesus was not crucified (4:157)" by the editorial board of the new edition of "The Meaning of the Holy Qur'an!" (Amana Publications, Beltsville, U.S.A., 1989)
Here is what A. Jusuf Ali was still allowed to say about such doubtful practices in in the introduction to the above mentioned version of the Quran: "Even since the early Commentators wrote, the Arabic language has further developed, and later Commentators often abandon the interpretations of earlier Commentators without sufficient reason. In exercising our selective judgement in such cases it would be a good rule to prefer the earlier to the later interpretation, though, where a later writer has reviewed the earlier interpretations and given good reasons for his own view, he has an advantage which we must freely concede to him." (Ibid., page Xvi)
Here now are the reasons which support A.Yusuf Ali, the earlier commentator's view:
Identical words as in Sura 19, Maryam, verse 33 are used in verse 15 of the same Surah to describe the live of the prophet Yahya who died another violent death through beheading (see Ibid. footnote 2468).
Furthermore, Surah 4, Al Nisa', verse 159, also mentions the death of Jesus where interpreters again are not agreed as to the exact meaning.
There are a number of other verses in the Quran that confirm the death of Jesus:
Behold! Allah said: "O Jesus! I will take thee (Arabic: "mutawaffika") and raise thee to Myself,... (Surah 3, Ali 'Imran, verse 55, see also Surah 5, Al Ma'idah, verse 117 )
The translation of "mutawaffika" in this verse is disputed among Muslim scholars. The word and its derivation are found over 25 times in the Quran. (see 2:234,240; 3:55,193; 4:15,97, 5:117; 6:61; 8:50; 10:46,104; 12:101; 13:40; 16:28,32,70; 22:5; 32:11; 40:67,77; 47:27) In all but two places they imply death or are associated with it. In the two exception (6:60, 39:42) the context reveals that "mutawaffika" figuratively means slumber. This is not the case in the two verses that speak about the death of Jesus (3:55, 5:117)!
If Jesus did not die Surah 19, Maryam, verse 31 would not make sense. There Jesus allegedly said, "...and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity so long as I live:" According to the traditional Muslim view, Jesus was taken up to heaven alive. But nobody can seriously believe that he still gives alms up to this day!
The following Hadith about the day of judgment, collected by Al-Bukhari is further proof that Jesus died: "On the authority of Ibn Abbas: The Prophet of Allah said, '...Then I will say as the pious slave Jesus, son of Mary, said: 'And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them. When you caused me to die ("tawaffaytani") you were the watcher over them, and you are a witness to all things...'"(see, Bukhari, Nuhammad Ibn Ismail. Sahih of al-Buhari, trans. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 1984, vol. 3, number 3263. See also vol. 4, number 4349, 4463.) Since Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) referred to himself with the same phrase ("tawaffaytani") Jesus is said to have used in Surah 5, Al Ma'idah, verse 117 it becomes clear that the prophet of Islam, who died, confirms that Jesus also died! A further confirmation is found in Surahs 10, Yunus, verse 46, 13, Al Ra'd, verse 40, and 40, Ghafir, verse 77 where basically the same term that is used for Jesus' last moments, "natawaffayannaka" meaning, "we indeed cause you to die" is applied to Muhammad (p.b.u.h.)
"...Messengers that passed away before him (Jesus)... (Surah 5, Al Ma'idah, verse 75)
>From our study so far we can say with certainty that the death and resurrection of Jesus is a fact, even in the Quran. Now we need to ask another important question:
WHEN DID JESUS DIE ACCORDING TO THE QURAN?
Islamic scholars are in disagreement about it. The Quran which professes to be a clear guidance that contains no doubts (Surah 2, Al Baqarah, verse 2; Surah 5, Al Ma'idah, verse 16) is apparently silent regarding this question which, according to the Torah and the Injil is of the utmost importance for mankind! (Isaiah 53, Matthew 26:26-28, John 3:16)
Muslims are left only with the Hadith in trying to answer this crucial question. How reliable are many of these traditions reporting the sayings and doings of Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and his companions in the light of the following facts?
>From about 1465 collections of Hadith, Muslim scholars have singled out six as being the correct ones.
They are here listed in the order of importance:
Al-Bukhari, he put his collection together 246 years after the prophets death. >From 6000,000 Hadith he selected 7200 that is 1.2%! The choices were made according to the judgment of one individual!
Muslim, he put his choices together 251 years after the prophets death.
Al Tirmize, he chose them 269 years after the prophets death.
Abu Daud selected his version 265 years after the prophets death.
Abu Abdir Rahman presented his collection 293 years after the prophets death.
Abu Abdullah Muhammad made his choices 263 years after the prophets death. ("Dictionary of Islam" by T.P. Hughes, Asia Publishing House, London, 1988, pages 639-646)
Here are some examples without any further comments. They cast considerable doubt on the reliability of the Hadith collections. (Translation mine):
"The prophet of God said: 'When a fly falls into a bowl that belongs to one of you, he should dip it in completely. Afterwards he can take it out; truly in one of its wings lies healing and in the other illness.'" (Bukhari and Abu Daud in Mishkat II, page 152)
"Jabir reported that the prophet of Allah commanded the licking of fingers and bowls saying: 'You do not know on which part the blessing lies.'" (Sahih Muslim, page 1120)
"If somebody has eaten he should not wash his hands until he has licked his hands and the bowl or someone else did it on his behalf." (Ibid. page 1119)
"Ibn Umar reported that the prophet of Allah had said: 'A believer eats through one intestine, an unbeliever through seven.' (Ibid. page 1119)
"The prophet of Allah said: 'When someone among you yawns he should cover the mouth with his hand otherwise the devil will enter it.'" (Sahih Muslim, page 1540)
In the light of these somewhat embarrassing notes that contradict medical science it is understandable if the attentive reader tries to get an answer to the question, "When did Jesus die" only from what is commonly known as the holy Books themselves.
There is only one reference in the Quran that appears to say when Jesus did not die. It is found in Surah 4, Al Nisa, 157-159
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 a surety they killed him not-
Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise- And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgement he will be a witness against them-
This passage, like all the others concerning the end of Jesus' life on earth in the Quran, is unclear. It is not surprising therefore, to find a number of interpretations concerning it. However, to say that the crucified one "was somehow or other taken for Christ" ("The Meaning of the Quran" by Maududi, Islamic Publications, Pakistan, 1992, commentary on Surah 4, Al Nisa', verse 157) would turn the Holy and Righteous God into the greatest deceiver of all! >From a Christian point of view it is totally unacceptable to think that He would be responsible for misleading 1.3 billion people who call themselves Christians today!
Some Muslims will say, "Allah can do whatever He wants. If it pleases Him, to mislead all the Christians, He has the right to do so!" However, they are not willing to use the argument of God's sovereignty, when they study the Christian concept of the Trinitarian God who sent Jesus to die on the cross for sinners.
Muslims like Ahmad Deedat (see, "Crucifixion or Crucifixion?", H.M Bageel (see, "Christian Muslim Dialogue") and the Ahmadiyyas give new meanings to a number of verses from the Biblical account on the death and the resurrection. According to them Jesus was crucified but he did not die on the cross, he only swooned. By coming up with these unsubstantiated theories they actually contradict Surah 4, Al Nisa', verse 157 which is traditionally interpreted to mean that he was not crucified:
.........But they killed him not, nor crucified him,.......
To justify their position they say that the words in the Quran ".........nor crucified him......." mean that Jesus did not die as a result of the crucifixion (See the Ahmadiyya version of the Quran with footnotes, Volume 2, page 583). They think that to be crucified means to be killed and since Jesus only swooned he was not crucified in the sense that he did not die from it. Verses like the one in Acts 2,23 proves them wrong. There we read that the words "to crucify" (=to nail on a cross) do not necessarily mean "to kill." If it was not so why would Peter have been inspired by God to say:
"This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross."
If the words "nailing him to the cross" would be equal to "death" there would be no need for one or the other! (See also Acts 5:30)
In retrospect it is truly amazing how people like Ahmad Deedat who even contradict their own Quran are still tolerated by the Muslims community in general to represent their religion in debates and in literature. Only God knows how much damage they have done to thousands of souls.
How then should we interpret Surah 4, Al Nisa', verses 157-159 in the light of what has been said so far?
In Muhammad's (p.b.u.h.) time Muslims were commanded to seek advice in a particular question from those who possess the previous Scriptures, the Jews and the Christians. (Surah 16, Al Nahl, verse 43; Surah 21, Al Anbiya, 7) Therefore, it is surely right to do it in this case as well.
The Jews were boasting THEY had crucified and killed Jesus because they were convinced he was a false prophet. Against their arrogance verse 157 says, "THEY slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them." The Biblical accounts tell us that Jesus was not killed by the Jews in the last instance, but because God brought about his deliberate and well-thought out plan. In Acts 2:23 we read:
"This man (Jesus) was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked man, put him to death by nailing him to the cross."
It only appeared to the Jews that they successfully killed Jesus whereas in reality God, in his sovereignty, even used those wicked people in order to bring about his purposes. The emphasis is not that the Jews killed Jesus but that God allowed them to do so! Verse 157 seems to speak out against this wrong, boastful emphasis only not against the fact that Jesus was killed.
Verse 158 speaks about the ascension of Jesus, when he was taken up to heaven which is well documented in the Injil (Luke 24:50-51, John 6:62, Acts 1:9-11, 1 Timothy 3:16) and undisputed by both Muslims and Christians.
Verse 159 seems to say that none of the Jews will believe in Jesus before they die and on the day of resurrection it will be too late for them to change their minds.
The Torah, Zabur, and the Injil agree unanimously that Jesus died for our sins on a cross nearly 2000 years ago and that he was raised up to life again! (Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Matthew 26:26-28; 27:50)
Secular history too confirms the bedrock of Christianity, the death and resurrection of Jesus. The names of the historians are Pliny, Cornelius Tacitus, Thallus and particularly Josephus, a Jewish general who defected to the Romans and wrote the Jewish history for them. (Antiquitates indaicae, Vol. 18, III:3)
Throughout this study it has become clear that the Quran agrees for certain with the Bible and with secular history that Jesus dies at some stage and is definitely alive today! Furthermore we found possible evidence in the Quran that Jesus indeed died on the cross and rose again which confirms the clear accounts of the Bible (Torah, Zabur, Injil) and of secular history. We therefore have four reliable witnesses in favour of the Easter story and one which is at least partially certain (Quran).
It is now left to the reader to come to a decision regarding this crucial matter. In case of doubt I would like to suggest that you pray to Allah to show you who Jesus really is. I will certainly pray with you!
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