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See Death of Jesus according to:
1. Quran || 2. Hadith || 3. Ijma || 4. Early Views || 5. Modern Muslim scholars (1) || 6. Modern Muslim scholars (2) || 7. Modern Muslim scholars (3)

The Death of Jesus
according to Islamic sources - 6

by Maulana Hafiz Sher Mohammad

6. Views of modern Muslim scholars (2)

IV. Ulama of the Indo-Pakistan Sub-Continent

1. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, renowned nineteenth century Muslim educationist, social reformer, religious scholar and founder of the Ali Garh Muslim University, wrote:

i. "Now we must turn to the Holy Quran to see what it says. The Quran makes mention of Jesus’ death in four places … Firstly in Sura Aal Imran, secondly in Sura Ma’ida, … thirdly in Sura Maryam … fourthly in Sura Nisa’. Jesus was not killed by the Jews, either by stoning or by crucifixion, but he died his natural death, and God raised him in rank and status … From the first three verses it is clear that Jesus died a natural death. However, as the Ulama of Islam had followed the Christians, in accepting that Jesus had gone up to heaven alive, before looking at the Quran, so they have tried to interpret some of the words in these verses to accord with their unsound belief."

(Tafsir Ahmadi by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, vol. ii, p.48)

ii. Referring to the expression ‘in this’ (Arabic: bi-hi) in the verse: ‘And there is none of the People of the Book but will believe in this before his death’ (4:159), which is generally taken to mean in him (i.e. in Jesus) Sir Syed writes:

"This points to the words ‘And their saying: we have killed the Messiah’ [4:157], and to their saying, and not to the Messiah. So this means: ‘All the People of the Book, before their death, will believe that Jesus was killed’. After this it is said: ‘And on the day of Judgment he, i.e. Jesus, will be a witness against them’. The word ‘ala [‘against’] is used to indicate loss or harm. So the meaning is that on the day of Judgment Jesus will be a witness against their belief."

(Maktub Sir Syed, No. 2, p. 48)

iii. "Jesus spent his early life migrating from one place to another. His later life was not very long, for he was 33 years of age when he died, and at that time there were only 70 people who believed in him."

(The Ali Garh Magazine, Intikhab No. 1971, p. 48)

2. Nawab Azam Yar Jung (Maulvi Charagh Ali) writes:

" ‘As for their saying, we killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of God; they killed him not, nor did they cause his death upon the cross (ma qatalu-hu wa ma salabu-hu)’ [The Quran, 4:157]. There were two methods of executing people. The first was crucifixion, applied to those guilty of heinous crimes and to slaves, in which, after hanging from the cross for three or four days, the victim died of hunger, thirst, heat, pain of wounds and disturbed blood circulation. The second method was immediate execution which took two forms: 1.  stoning to death, 2. beheading by sword.

"This is why the Holy Quran denies both kinds of execution, i.e., Jesus was not stoned to death or beheaded, nor was he killed by crucifixion. It should be noted that the Jews believe that Jesus was first stoned, and the Christians say that he died by crucifixion. The Quran refers to both these assertions in the words wa ma qatalu-hu wa ma salabu-hu, i.e., they did not kill him by stoning or by crucifixion. It does not mean that Jesus was not nailed to the cross, for having the hands nailed to the cross, the feet tied to it, and then being taken down three hours later, is not sufficient to cause death. What is meant is to deny death by crucifixion. Wa lakin shubbiha la-hum means that it so appeared to them; and it happened in this way that to the people who crucified him Jesus appeared to be dead. Having been awake all the previous night, and having suffered shocks and pain, Jesus had fainted. But they thought he had died, and removed him from the cross.

"The ordinary commentators have written in explanation of the above words that the likeness of Jesus was cast upon some other person. This is ridiculous, for if it were to happen that when we see a particular person it may in fact be someone else upon whom his likeness has been cast, then all sorts of matters of identity would become dubious, there being no certainty in marriage, divorce, or rights of ownership. If the word shubbiha [it, or he, appeared as such] is taken to refer to Jesus, as the commentators suggest, it is an error because Jesus is mushabbahu bi-hi [one who is made to look like someone else] not mushabbahu [one that someone else is made to look like]. And if shubbiha be taken to refer to that imaginary, fictitious person who is supposed to have been crucified instead of Jesus, there is no mention at all in the Quran of such a person.

" ‘And those who differ therein are in doubt about it; they have no knowledge of it, but follow only conjecture’ [The Quran, 4:157]. That is to say, those people who coin various explanations about the crucifixion of Jesus are in doubt, merely making guesses. In section 16 above we have described what this difference was. Firstly, the Jews asserted that they had killed Jesus. Secondly, the Christians believe that he was crucified. Thirdly, there is the view of sects such as the Basilidans and the Corinthians that in his place Joseph Simon was killed. Fourthly, there is the opinion of Barnabas that Judas Iscariot was crucified in place of Jesus. The Quran declares all these views as conjectures. …

"They killed him not for certain" [4:157], i.e., he was not killed properly as killing ought to be done, or, he was not killed for sure. How could he have been killed for certain when he only spent about three hours upon the cross, which is not sufficient to cause death.

"Bal rafa‘a-hu Allahu ilai-hi [4:158] — rather, God raised him to Himself. This is just like Abraham’s statement: ‘I flee to my Lord’ (37:99); or what is said about the Emigrants: ‘And whoever goes forth from his home fleeing to God’ (4:101). This expression is used by way of honouring and dignifying someone, and does not mean that the person spoken of was seen flying in the clouds to heaven literally and sat somewhere in heaven. There are no grounds for such notions.

"Afterwards, Jesus did indeed die, as the Quran informs elsewhere: ‘O Jesus, I will cause you to die (mutawaffi-ka) and raise you to Myself (rafi‘u-ka ilayya)" (3:55). In explaining this verse, the commentators have displayed much indecision and hesitation, and have in fact reversed the order to read: rafi‘u-ka ilayya wa mutawaffi-ka. However, this is not the Quranic wording. In another place it is even clearer: ‘When Thou didst cause me to die, Thou wast the Watcher over them’ (5:117). Jesus will say to God that after He caused him to die, He was the Watcher over his followers. Both these verses mention wafat, and this clearly proves death (maut): ‘God takes souls (yatawaffa al-anfusa) at the time of their death (maut)’ (39:42). So his death is spoken of very clearly. As to when and where he died, it is not known, just as it is not known what happened to Mary."

(Intikhab Mazamin Tahzib al-Ikhlaq, vol. iii, pp. 211 to 222, 1896 C.E.)

3. In his Punjabi work Tafsir Muhammadi, Maulvi Hafiz Muhammad of Lakhu Kay writes in verse:

"Without doubt a son resembles his father, But the Lord lives forever, He does not die, while death overtook Jesus."

(vol. i, p. 247)

"Of all the messengers of God, none survived."

(vol. i, p. 320)

4. In the Preface to the Urdu translation of the Holy Quran by Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi and Hazrat Shah Rafi-ud-Din, published in 1934 in Delhi by Nur Muhammad, proprietor of As-hul-Mutabi‘, it is stated:

"In that period, Bishop Lefroy gathered an army of missionaries and left England, promising that he would soon convert the whole of India to Christianity. Having collected a great amount of money from the people of England, and assurances from them of continuing assistance in the future, he entered India and raised a big storm. His attack on the teachings of Islam was a failure … But the attack based on the argument that Jesus was alive in heaven in his physical body, while all other prophets were buried in the earth, was in his view proving to be effective upon the general public. At that juncture, Maulvi Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani stood up and addressed Lefroy and his group, saying: ‘The Jesus you talk about is dead and buried like other mortals, and the Jesus whose coming is prophesied is myself, so you must accept me.’ By this means he made things so difficult for Lefroy that he could not shake him off. In this way, he defeated all the Christian missionaries from India to England." (page 30)

5. The late Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi wrote:

"Mutawaffi-ka means mumitu-ka [I will cause you to die] and what generally prevails amongst the public about Jesus’ life is a Jewish and Sabean fable … It is not a concealed matter that the source of Islam is the Quran, and in it there is not even one verse proving explicitly that Jesus did not die, and that he is alive and shall come down. These are only the deductions and explanations of some people, and are not free from doubt and uncertainty. How, then, can it be taken to be a fundamental Islamic belief ?"

(Ilham al-Rahman fi-tafsir al-Quran, vol. ii, p. 49)

6. The late Maulana Abul Kalam Azad expresses his view as follows:

i. Upon receiving a letter which read:

"Dear Maulana: … these Mirza’i [i.e., Ahmadi] people ascribe various views to you, and even give references from Wakil, Tazkira, etc., that you believe in Jesus’ death, and that you praised Mirza (Ghulam Ahmad) Sahib. Please write a conclusive book so that they dare not speak again. You should also state therein that it abrogates all your previous writings and views, thus leaving no scope for anyone to bring up old matters. — Inam-Ullah Khan, Baluchistan"

The Maulana replied:

"1. The death of Jesus is mentioned in the Quran itself.

"2. The question of praising or criticising the Mirza Sahib does not arise because:

‘If you are bad, you cannot be good,

He himself is bad who considers you to be bad’."

(Malfuzat-i Azad, compiled by Muhammad Ajmal Khan, Maktaba Mahaul, Karachi, pp. 129, 130)

ii. "The belief (in Jesus being alive) by its nature is in every way a Christian doctrine which has appeared in an Islamic guise."

(Naqsh Azad, p. 102, compiled by Maulana Ghulam Rasul Mahr)

7. Allama Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal

i. He wrote in a poem:

"Is the son of Mary dead, or does he live?

Are Divine attributes separate from God, or one with His Person?

Is the Coming one the Nazarene Jesus, or a Mujaddid having the son of Mary’s qualities?

Are the Divine words created, or pre-existing from eternity, In which belief does lie the salvation of the Ummah?

Are not sufficient for the Muslims today, These Lat and Manat [idols] carved out by theology."

(Armaghan Hijaz, p. 227)

ii. "I can only tell you what I believe. I consider the Hadith reports about the Mahdi, the coming Messiah, and mujaddidiyya, to be derived from Persian and non-Arab conceptions. They have no connection with Arab concepts or the true spirit of the Quran."

(Iqbal Nama, ‘Collection of the Letters of Iqbal’, vol. ii, letter to Chaudhary Muhammad Ahsan, p. 231)

iii. "Look for the descent of God upon the minaret of your own heart,

And give up waiting even for the Mahdi or Jesus."

(Baqiyat Iqbal, p. 451).

iv. "As far as I understand the meaning of this movement, the Ahmadis believe that Jesus died the death of a mortal human being, and the return of the Messiah refers to a person who bears spiritual similarity to him. This belief gives this movement a rational appearance."

(Khutbat Madras; also, Newspaper Mujahid, 13 February 1935; and Allama Iqbal ka paigham millat-i-Islamiyya kai nam, p. 22)

v. It is written about him:

"Jamal-ud-Din Afghani, Allama Iqbal, and many other thinkers believe that no Mahdi or Messiah will now descend from heaven."

(Zamindar, Lahore, 27 July 1952)

8. Maulana Sayyid Sulaiman Nadawi wrote:

i. "Looking at the birth of Jesus, his death and the doctrine of Trinity, some American critics and rationalists now believe that Jesus was just a mythical figure."

(Khutbat Madras, p. 42, Sermon No. 2, published by the Lahore Academy, 205 Circular Road, Lahore)

ii. "It appears from this that even before Sir Syed [Ahmad Khan] some Ulama held the same viewpoint as his on this question [of Jesus’ death]. People today who make this issue a standard for determining belief or disbelief in Islam are indulging in extremism."

(Mu‘araf, March 1930, p. 171)

iii. In a letter from a high ranking Pakistan Government official, published by Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi in his newspaper Sidq-i-Jadid of Lucknow (India), the following is recorded about Maulana Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi’s view of the "descent" of Jesus:

"The Maulana said: ‘I do not hold this belief myself and consider the hadith reports about it to be unsound.’ The Maulana had disclosed this view of his to Maulana Ihtasham-ul-Haq, but had added that since to oppose this belief gives rise to much trouble, he refrained from expressing it, and also because this belief did not relate to the fundamentals of Islam."

(Sidq-i Jadid, Lucknow, 28 October 1955)

9. Khwaja Hasan Nizami of Delhi wrote:

i. "Westerners believe that Jesus ascended to heaven. The Quran contradicts this Christian belief, for it contains the verse: inni mutawaffi-ka wa rafi‘u-ka ilayya, i.e., ‘O Jesus, I am about to cause you to die, and grant you exaltation and elevation unto Myself ’. This verse proves the death of Jesus. However, there is another verse saying: wa ma qatalu-hu wa ma salabu-hu wa lakin shubbiha la-hum, i.e., the Jews neither killed nor crucified Jesus, but they fell into doubt. This verse proves that Jesus was not put upon the cross, but died his own death. Rising to heaven does not mean that he went up to heaven but that his status in the estimation of God was raised."

(Roznamcha, 16 November 1931, p. 15)

ii. "Some people say that Jesus is alive in the fourth heaven. It is proved from the Quran that Jesus was neither murdered nor crucified, but it is not proved that he ascended to heaven alive and is still living. On the contrary, the Quran says: ‘O Jesus, We shall cause you to die and then elevate your status in Our sight, or, raise you to Us’. The word wafat occurs first, and it means to die."

(Newspaper Munadi, Delhi, 18 September 1936, p. 16)

10. In his famous book Tazkira, after discussing historical testimony relating to the death of Jesus, Allama Inayat-ullah Khan Mashriqi wrote:

"It is clearly proved today that the prophets were great experts in the laws of nature, and very knowledgeable in the sciences. To be so well-informed is not only true prophethood but also conveys the exemplary lesson that Jesus’ death too was according to the Divine law regarding which the Quran says: ‘You will not find any change in the law of God’ (Sura Al-Fatir)."

(Tazkira, vol. i, footnote, pp.16-17)

11. Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, editor of newspaper Zamindar, wrote:

i. "If the moral and spiritual teaching left behind with the Israelites by Jesus after his death (wasal) is examined, it appears that only such people could benefit from this inheritance as live in cloisters and monasteries, leading the lives of hermits."

(Punjab Review, compiled by Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, vol. i, no. 1, 8 August 1901)

ii. Disclosing Maulana Zafar Ali Khan’s view on the issue of Jesus’ death, Maulvi Abdur-Rahman, the Khateeb of the Jami‘ Mosque, Wazirabad, writes:

"On around 25th August, taking with me Maulana Sayyid Inayat-ullah Shah, the Khateeb of Jami‘ Mosque Gujrat, I went to visit Maulana Zafar Ali Khan at Karamabad. Also present there were Mr. Salik the editor of Inqalab and Maulana Chiragh Hasan Hasrat the editor of the daily Ihsan. During the conversation, the mention of Mr. Inayat-ullah Mashriqi came up. Maulana Zafar Ali Khan greatly praised Mr. Mashriqi’s sincerity of heart. In answer to this, I told the Maulana that Mr. Mashriqi’s beliefs ran counter to Islamic teachings. For instance, in his Tazkira he has denied that Jesus is still alive. The Maulana replied:

‘Belief in Jesus being still alive is not an Islamic belief. Many Muslims have rejected it.’

He was supported in strong words by Maulana Charagh Hasan Hasrat. Hearing this denial of Jesus being alive from Maulana Zafar Ali Khan’s tongue pained me beyond words. I said to myself: My God! this is the same Maulana Zafar Ali Khan who has been a leading opponent of the Ahmadis for forty years, and yet his own belief is exactly the same as that of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad."

(Newspaper Mujahid, 12 September, 1935).

Next: 7. Modern Muslim scholars (3)

 Death of Jesus according to: 1. Quran || 2. Hadith || 3. Ijma || 4. Early Views || 5. Modern Muslim scholars (1) || 6. Modern Muslim scholars (2) || 7. Modern Muslim scholars (3)