- THE QURAN ON THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS
- WHEN DID JESUS DIE ACCORDING TO THE QURAN?
- WHY DID JESUS HAVE TO DIE?
In much of today’s decadent Western world Easter is mainly associated with a few more days off and tasty chocolate eggs. However, for practising Christians it marks the biggest, most breath-taking celebration of the year! The festival of Easter reminds them that Jesus died on a cross to pay the punishment for the sins of the world and of his subsequent resurrection. The purpose of this article is to examine what the Quran has to say on this profound truth that has changed the lives of countless millions of people.
2. QURAN ON THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS
In Surah 3, Al Imran, verse 144 we find some general references with regards to prophets:
“Muhammad is only a messenger; all the [other] messengers have passed away before him…”
This verse emphasises the mortality of the Prophet and that of all other prophets, including Jesus, who preceded him in time. The translation is justified by the emphasis of this passage on the permanence of Allāh in contrast to the impermanence of prophets. Muslim commentators take this as a reference to a battle in which fighters deserted because they thought Muhammad had been killed. Surah 5, Al Maida, verse 111, uses the same Arabic word ‘rasul’ that describes the prophet of Islam and applies it to Jesus who, in spite of being special and unique, is nevertheless still a messenger.
In Surah 19, Maryam, verse 33, Jesus allegedly said shortly after 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)’
Abdullah Yusuf Ali wrote in footnote number 2485 of his translation of the Holy Quran (The meaning of the glorious Qurān text, translation and commentary, Cairo, Egypt, Dar Al-Kitab Al-Masri, 1938, edition: 3rd ed., also in the 1975 edition): ‘…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. Yusuf Ali was still allowed to say about such doubtful practices in the introduction to the above mentioned revised 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.’ (Page XVI) These now are the reasons which support A.Yusuf Ali, the earlier commentator’s view:
Identical words as in Surah 19, Maryam, verse 33 are used in verse 15 of the same Surah to describe the life of the prophet Yahya who died another violent death through beheading (cf. footnote 2468 in the 1938 and 1975 editions). 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, 55, also Surah 5, Al Ma’idah, verse 117)
The translation of ‘mutawaffika’ in this verse is disputed among Muslim scholars. The word and its derivations 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 exceptions (6:60, 39:42) the contexts reveal that ‘mutawaffika’ is used in a figurative way and refers to 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 judgement, 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…’ (Bukhari, Muhammad 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 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 Surah 10, Yunus, verse 46, Surah 13, Al Ra’d, verse 40, and Surah 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. 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:
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