Natural Death of Hazrat Jesus (as), Son of Mary

The greatest hurdle for the non-Ahmadi Muslims in accepting Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), the Founder of Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, as the Promised Messiah and Mahdi is their belief regarding Hazrat Eisa (peace be on him); that as soon as the Jews resolved to lay hold on him, God raised Hazrat Eisa(as) to Heaven, and in place of him, caught hold of one of his enemies and, making him in the same appearance as Hazrat Eisa(as), had this enemy of Jesus(as) put on the Cross instead of Jesus(as) himself. They further believe that he is still in Heaven since his ascent, without undergoing any change, and this very Hazrat Eisa(as) will descend for the reformation of the Muslims, and to make Islam dominate over all other religions.

This concept of the non-Ahmadies is entirely against the Holy Quran, the Traditions of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of God be on him) and the consensus of the early scholars of Islam, as shall be explained in this series. Insha Allah.

The Holy Quran

In the last section of the Fifth Chapter of the Quran, on questioning from God, whether he taught Trinity to his people, Hazrat Jesus(as)‘ denial is mentioned in clear words. It is further stated by him that he is not even aware of their associating him with God. Then continuing his exoneration from the blame, he says:

“I said nothing to them except that which Thou didst command me– `Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord’ and I was a witness over them as long as I remained among them, but since Thou didst cause me to die, Thou hast been the Watcher over them, and Thou art Witness over all things.” (5:118)

The corruption of the Christians has been categorically stated in the Holy Quran:

“Indeed they are disbelievers who say, `Surely Allah is none but the Messiah, son of Mary’.” (5:73) “They are surely disbelievers who say’, `Allah is the third of three; `there is no God but the One God.” (5:74)

As God in the name of Hazrat Jesus(as) declares that Christians became corrupt after the death of Hazrat Jesus(as), how can we think that Hazrat Jesus(as) is not dead but alive in heaven?

Imam Bukhari in his book, Sahih Bukhari–the most authentic book after the Book of God, has quoted the saying of Hazrat Ibn Abbas(ra) under the commentary of Verse 5:118: “Qaala Ibno Abbasin Mutawaffeeka Mumeetoka“, i.e., Hazrat Ibn Abbas(ra) said, the meaning of Tawafee is death.

Imam Bukhari has named a Bab (Chapter)–Babo Tawaffiyo Rasool-ullahi Sallallaho Alaihi Wa Sallam, in which the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of God be on him) has connoted the meaning of Hazrat Jesus’(as) Tawaffee as that of his own Tawaffee. The Holy Prophet(saw) said:

“On the day of Qiyamat some people of my Ummat would be taken towards Hell. Then I shall say, `O my Lord! these are my companions’, Then it would be said! `thou don’t know what they innovated after thee’. Then, I shall say as the righteous servant said: `I was a witness over them as long as I remained among them, but since Thou didst cause me to die, Thou hast been the Watcher over them.’” (Bukhari Kitabul Tafseer, Vol. 3, p. 79, Vol. II, p. 159)

Again, we also read in the Holy Quran:

“O Jesus! indeed I will cause thee to die and exalt thee to Myself, and will clear thee of (the charges of) those who disbelieve, and will place those who follow thee above those who deny thee, until the Day of Resurrection.” (3:56)

Hazrat Jesus(as) was exalted (or raised) to God after his death like all other righteous servants of God. The words `exalt thee’ or `raise thee’ come after the words `cause to die’. We have no right to change the order of the Holy Quran. It is reported that the Holy Prophet(saw) was asked, whether he would make the circuit of Safa first or that of the Marwa. He replied, Abdao Bima Bada-Allaho–I shall start with what Allah has started. Hence, we have to keep the order of the Quran. The meaning of Tawaffee has already been given.

Another verse of the Holy Quran runs thus:

“And Muhammad is only a Messenger. Verily, (all) Messengers have passed away before him. If then he die or be slain, will you turn your back on your heels?” (3:145)

In this verse of the Holy Quran the passing away of all the Messengers who came before the Holy Prophet(saw) has been pronounced; and the passing away has been adjudged only in two ways–either by death or through assassination. Had there been any third way of passing away (like that of ascending to heaven) it should have been mentioned by God. As a matter of fact this verse (3:145) has been revealed specifically to declare the death of Hazrat Jesus(as), as the passing away of other Messengers had already been mentioned in 5:76 wherein Allah says:

“The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a Messenger; surely Messengers like unto him had indeed passed away before him. And his mother was a truthful woman. They both used to eat food.”

It is an admitted fact that the ceasing of Mary’s eating was due to her death, hence, on the same analogy, the ceasing of Hazrat Jesus’(as) eating too was due to his death, as both have been mentioned equally.

Regarding the above quoted verse (3:145), it should be noted that when the Holy Prophet(saw) died, the companions became stupefied with grief. Hazrat Umarra, of all persons, was so afflicted by grief that he unsheathed his sword and declared that whosoever said the Holy Prophet(saw) was dead would lose his head. He began to say that the Holy Prophet(saw) had disappeared temporarily from their midst, even as Hazrat Moses(as) had disappeared on a call from God. Hazrat Moses(as) returned to his people after forty days, so would the Holy Prophet(saw). None of the companions dared to resist and deny what he said. Imam Bukhari reports:

“Abdullah Bin Abbas narrated that Abu Bakr came out while Umar was conversing with the people. He said to Umar to sit but he refused to comply with. So, the people turned towards him (Abu Bakr) and left Umar. Then Abu Bakr said: Whoever amongst you worshipped Muhammad, let him know that Muhammad is dead, and whoever amongst you worshipped Allah, let him know that Allah is Living, there is no death for Him. Allah has said, `And Muhammad is only a Messenger. Verily, all Messengers have passed away before him…’ The narrator says, by God, the people did not know that God had sent down this verse until Abu Bakr has recited it. So, the people in their entirety learnt it from him; then, whosoever amongst the people heard it recited it. Then Saeed Bin Musayyeb has told me, that Umar swearing by God said, did not know of this verse till he heard it from Abu Bakr, and consequently his legs could not support him, he staggered and fell down in an outburst of grief.” (Bukhari Kitabun Nabiyye Ila Kisra Wa Qaisara, Musnad Imam Abu Hanifa, p. 188, Hamamul Islamiyya, p. 54, Bukhari, Vol. 2, Manaqib Abu Bakr)

Now, if the companions present on this occasion thought that Hazrat Jesus(as) had been alive in Heaven for 600 years, they would have stood up and pointed out to Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra), that it was wrong to say that all the earlier prophets had died. If Hazrat Jesus(as) could remain alive, why not the Holy Prophe(saw)? All the companions who heard this verse (3:145) and heard Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra)‘s argument based upon the verse, not only remained silent but began to rejoice over it and went about the town reciting it. This proves beyond doubt that the companions agreed with Hazrat Abu Bakr’s(as) interpretation of the verse that all prophets before the Holy Prophet(saw) had died.

Another verse of the Holy Quran which proves the death of Hazrat Jesus(as) is:

“We granted not abiding life to any human being before thee. If then thou shouldst die, shall they have abiding life?” (21:35)

God loves the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) more than He loves anyone else. He was the purpose for all creation as Hadith says: “Had I not created thee I would have created neither heaven nor earth.”

Hence, if any man deserved to remain alive and ascend to heaven, it was our Holy Prophet(saw). If he has died in the usual way, other prophets have died in the same way. We know too well that the deniers of the Holy Prophet(saw) challenged him and asked him if he could perform the miracle of ascent to Heaven? They said:

“We will not believe except if you ascend to Heaven. And we will not believe in your ascent unless you bring to us from Heaven a Book which we may then read.” (17:94)

In reply to this challenge, God did not empower the Holy Prophet(saw) to show the miracle which the Holy Prophet’s(saw) deniers asked him to show. Instead, God made the Prophet say: “Holy is my Lord! I am not but a man sent as Messenger.” (17:94) Knowing this, how can we think the Holy Prophet(saw) should rise to Heaven, but die in the normal way and be buried here in this earth, and Hazrat Jesus(as) should go to Heaven and remain alive for these two thousand years?

“And those on whom they call beside Allah create not anything, but they are themselves created. They are dead, not living; and they know not when they will be raised.” (16:21,22)

Hazrat Jesus(as) is also among those to whom they call beside Allah (5:73), hence, he is dead.

The Traditions

  1. The Holy Prophet(saw) said:

    “If Moses and Jesus had been alive, they would have had to believe in me and follow me.” (Zurqani, Vol. VI, p. 54, Tibrani Kabeer, Alyawaqeet Wal Jawahir, Vol. II, p. 23)

  2. During his last illness, the Holy Prophet(saw) said to his daughter Hazrat Fatima(ra):

    “Once in every year, Gabriel recited the Quran to me. This year he recited twice. He also told me that every succeeding prophet has lived to half the age of his predecessor. He told me that Jesus, son of Mary, lived to 120 years. Therefore, I think, I may live to about 60 years.” (Mawahib-ud-Duniya by Qastalani, Vol. I, p. 42, Kanzul Ummal Vol. 6, p. 160)

The Scholars

Imam Malik said Hazrat Jesus had died. (Majma Biharul Anwar, Vol. I, p. 286) The opinions of Imam Bukhari, Ibn Abbas, and the companions of the Holy Prophet have already been indicated.

Refutation of Arguments Given in Support of Jesus’ Physical Ascension to Heaven

ARGUMENT: Allah says in the Holy Quran: “…But they killed him (Jesus) not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them and those who differ therein are full of doubt, with no (certain) knowledge but only conjecture to follow, for a surely they killed him not; Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.” (4:158-159)

REFUTATION: It is absurd to think that one who is neither killed, nor put to death by putting on the Cross has necessarily ascended bodily to heaven. Do the Non-Ahmadies believe that Hazrat Musa(as) or the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) are alive in heaven as they were neither killed nor put to death by crucifixion? Besides, the Arabic words Maa Salabooho do not deny the fact of Hazrat Jesus’(as) being nailed to the Cross but deny his having died on it as is clear from Arabic lexicon. They say Salaba Ash-Shaia, i.e., he burned the thing. Salabal Izama means, he extracted the marrow out of the bones. Salabal Lissa means, he crucified the thief, i.e., he put him to death in a certain well-known manner (Lane & Aqrab). In crucifixion one was nailed to a framework made in the form of a cross and, being kept without food and drink, slowly died of pain, hunger, fatigue, and exposure.

ARGUMENT: The words Wa Laakin Shubbiha Lahum in verse 4:158 means that the likeness of Hazrat Jesus(as) was cast upon another person–Judas or somebody else who was then crucified in place of Hazrat Jesus(as).

REFUTATION: The curious part of it is that there is not only one story that speaks of the casting of the likeness of Hazrat Jesus(as), there are several stories. But intelligent commentators like Abu Hayyaan have discarded all such stories. The word Shubbiha means, he was made to appear like, or was made to resemble. Now the question arises, who is the person who was made to appear “like one crucified”. Clearly it was Hazrat Jesus(as) whom the Jews tried to crucify or slay. Nobody else can be meant here, for there is absolutely no reference to any other person in the context. The context cannot be twisted as to make room for somebody else of whom no mention at all is made in the verse. To what then was Hazrat Jesus(as) made like? The context provides a clear answer to that question. The Jews did not kill him by crucifixion, but he was made to appear to them like “one crucified”, and thus it was that they wrongly took him for dead. It was thus Hazrat Jesus(as) who was made to resemble “one crucified”. This interpretation is not only in perfect harmony with the context but is also clearly borne out by all relevant facts of history.

The second meaning of the expression Shubbiha Lahum is, that “the matter became confused to them.” This interpretation is also clearly borne out by history, for, although the Jews asserted that they had put Hazrat Jesus(as) to death by suspending him on the Cross, they were not sure of it and the circumstances being obscure, the matter had certainly become confused to them. The fact that the Jews themselves were not sure whether Hazrat Jesus(as) had actually died on the Cross is supported by the Bible and by all authentic historical facts.

ARGUMENT: The words in verse 4:159 Bal Rafa’ahollaho Ilaihi –“Nay Allah raised him up unto Himself” clearly shows that Allah lifted Hazrat Jesus’(as) body to heaven.

REFUTATION: As a matter of fact the referred Arabic words simply mean that Allah exalted him (Hazrat Jesus(as)) to Himself. Here the exaltation is the exaltation of the soul of which the Jews were trying to deprive him by putting to death through crucifixion, but Allah frustrated them in their evil designs. The detail of their failure is given in Part One of this publication.

In the Holy Quran, the Traditions of the Holy Prophet(saw), the Commentaries and in the Arabic idioms, whenever the word Rafa’a is used by Allah for a human being, it always connotes exaltation of ranks and spiritual nearness, because no fixed abode can be, or has ever been, assigned to God as the Holy Quran declares: “And He is Allah, both in the heavens and in the earth.” (6:4) “So withersoever you turn, there will be the face of Allah.” (2:116) “And We are nearer to him than even his jugular vein.” (50:17) Hence, Rafa’a Ilallah does not necessitate one’s physical ascension to heaven, rather this Rafa’a–exaltation is achieved on this very earth.

As a matter of fact that word Rafa’a has never been used in the entire Holy Quran nor in the Traditions of the Holy Prophet(saw) as a connotation of physical ascension to heaven as is clear from the following references:

  1. Wa Lau Shi’naa La Rafa’anaaho Bihaa Wa Laakinnahoo Akhlada Ilal Ardhi–“And if We had pleased, We would have exalted him thereby; but he inclined to the earth.” (7:177) Here the commentators are unanimous in their interpretation of the exaltation of the ranks of the referred person. It is never meant to indicate the intention of physically raising up the referred person to heaven.
  2. Wa Rafa’anaaho Makaanan Aliyyaa–“And We exalted him (Hazrat Idris(as)) to lofty station.” (19:58) Likewise see: 24:37; 80:14-15; 56:35; 58:12.
  3. Idha Tawaza Al-Abdo Rafa’ahollaho Ilas Samaa Is-Saabiati–“When a person shows humility, Allah lifts him up to the seventh heaven.” (Kanzul Ummaal Vol. 2, page 53) This Hadith clearly shows that even if the word Samaa (sky) had been used here instead of Allah, the verse could not have meant anything else but spiritual honor and exaltation. Will the non-Ahmadies believe that every act of humility literally lifts a person up to heaven in both body and spirit? Certainly, there can be no bigger folly than such an inference. Why then draw such inference in the case of Jesus(as)? Why should he be sent up to heaven alive? Was not this earth sufficient for him as the Quran declared: Alam Najalil Arza Kifaatan Ahya’an Wa Amwaatan–“Have We not made the earth sufficient for the living and the dead?” (77:26-27)
  4. All the Muslims are aware of the fact that there occurs the word Warfa’anee (and exalt me in ranks) in the prayer which the Holy Prophet(saw) used to pray between two Sajdas (prostrations). (Kitab Ibn Maja) All the Muslims supplicate this prayer between two Sajdas in their Salat, but does any one ever think that he is supplicating for his physical ascension to heaven? Or, is there any doubt regarding the Holy Prophet(saw)‘s Rafa’a (exaltation of ranks) despite his sojourn on this very earth?
  5. In the Commentary of the Holy Quran known as Tafseer Saafi under the verse Maa Muhammadun Illa Rasool Qad Khalat Min Qablihir Rusul (3:145) the demise of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) has been mentioned in he following words: Hatta Idha Da’a Allaho Nabiyyahoo Wa Rafa’a Hoo Ilaihi–“Until when Allah called His Prophet and exalted him to Himself.” Now here are words Rafa’a Hoo Ilaihi used for the Holy Prophet(saw) had never been interpreted as his corporal ascension to heaven. Is it not strange and outright blasphemy to interpret the word Rafa’a for the Holy Prophet(saw) as exaltation of his ranks, and for Jesus(as) as his physical ascension to heaven?

ARGUMENT: Allah says in the Holy Quran: “And there is none of the people of the Book must believe in him before his death and on the Day of Judgement he will be a witness against them.” (4:160) As Jews and Christians have not all believed in Hazrat Jesus(as), therefore, he must be alive with his physical body in heaven, and after descending from heaven in the last days he shall turn them into believers.

REFUTATION: Although the words of verse 4:160 do not show that Hazrat Jesus(as) is now sitting in the sky in his physical body, yet the fantastic conclusion is drawn. But it is forgotten that if Hazrat Jesus(as) be supported to be alive, even then all Jews and Christians cannot believe in Hazrat Jesus(as); because many generations of them are dead. How can they then believe? So it is clear that if they have all to believe in Hazrat Jesus(as), it must be supposed that along with him the Jews and Christians are also alive, which is obviously absurd. Besides, if the interpretation of the Non-Ahmadies is accepted for the sake of argument, then it establishes contradictions in the Holy Quran as is clear from the following references:

  1. “Nay, but Allah has sealed them because of their disbelief, so they believe no but little.” (4:156)
  2. “So, We have caused enmity and hatred among them till the Day of Resurrection.” (5:15)
  3. “When Allah said, O Jesus, I will cause thee to die…and will place those who follow thee above those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection.” (3:56)

These verses clearly show that all Jews shall not believe in Hazrat Jesus(as), hence, the interpretation of the Non-Ahmadies is entirely wrong. The correct translation of the verse 4:160 without twisting words so as to yield far-fetched meanings is: “And there is none among the People of the Book but will believe in it (the crucifixion of Jesus) before his death; and on the Day of Resurrection, he (Jesus) shall be a witness among them.” What the Quranic verse lays down is that every Jew and Christian must according to their creeds, continue to believe in the death of Hazrat Jesus(as) on the Cross. The Jew because he wants to show that according to Deuteronomy 21:23 the curse of God fell upon Hazrat Jesus(as), and the Christian because he wants to affirm the doctrine of Atonement as mentioned in Galatians 3:13. So both these peoples go on sticking to this absurd and unfounded belief (Jesus’(as) death on the Cross) in the face of all reason and all established facts of history. The attempts to make the words La Yominanna Bihee Qabla Mautehee (will believe in it before his death) mean “will believe in him (Jesus) before his (Jesus) death” is simply ridiculous. The context spurns the idea, as does the second reading of the expression, viz., Mautihee (his death) reported by Ubayy in Ibn Jareer, Vol. 6, page 13.

ARGUMENT: Allah says in the Holy Quran: “And behold I did restrain the children of Israel from (violence to) thee when thou did show them the clear signs.” (5:111) This verse clearly shows that the Jews could not even touch Hazrat Jesus(as). But if it is accepted that he was hanged on the Cross, his hands bled, and he was taken down from the Cross after suffering a lot of troubles, then this verse proves false.

REFUTATION: There is not a single word which connotes that Allah restrained the Jews from violence to Hazrat Jesus(as), hence, the Non-Ahmadi translator Allaama Yusuf Ali had no other choice but to put the words “violence to” in brackets. The verse does not mean that Jesus suffered no persecution at the hands of enemies. A similar expression has been used with regard to the early Muslims in the Quran: Yaa Ayyuhalladheena Aamanudh-Karoo Ni’Amatillahi Alaikum Idh Hamma Qaumun An Yabsotoo Ilaikum Aidiy-hum Fa Kaffa Aidiyahum Ankum (5:12)–“O ye who believe! remember Allah’s favor upon you when a people intended to stretch out their hands against you, but He withheld their hands from you.” But it is a well-known fact that they had to pass through grievous trials and tribulations. As a matter of fact the reference in the verse (5:111) is to the attempts of the Jews to kill Hazrat Jesus(as) on the Cross, from which accursed death God delivered him. Similar protection was promised to the Holy Prophet(saw) (in 5:68) but that did not mean that his enemies would not be allowed to do him any physical harm whatsoever. It only means that they would not be permitted to take his life so as to render him unfit for his work.

ARGUMENT: The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be him) is reported to have said: Kaifa Antum Idha Nazala Feekum Ibno Maryama Wa Imaamokum Minkum –“How would it be with you when the son of Mary will descend among you and you will have a leader raised from among you.” (Bukhari, Kitabul-Anbiya, Chapter Nazul Isa bin Maryam) The word Nazul, it is argued, signifies that Hazrat Jesus(as) must come down physically from the high heavens, hence, he is physically alive in heaven. Besides, the Holy Prophet(saw) said that the son of Mary will come, so it must be Hazrat Jesus(as) himself who should come personally.

REFUTATION: In the first place, there is no word Minas-Samaa from heaven, mentioned in the Tradition. No doubt there are two points which need explanation: One Nazool and the other Ibn Maryam. It should be remembered that the word Nazalamay mean “he descended” but it cannot by any stretch of meaning, signify “he descended physically from the heavens”. There is not the slightest justification for this.

The same word is used about the coming of the Holy Prophet(saw). Says the Holy Quran: Qad Anzalallaho Ilaikum Dhikran Rasoolan Yatloo Alaikum Aayaatillahi–“Allah has indeed sent down to you a Reminder, a Messenger, who recites unto you the clear signs of Allah.” (65:11-12) But No one can say that the Holy Prophet(saw) came down from the heavens physically.

Then God says: Wa Anzalnal Hadeeda–“And We sent down iron” (57:26), and we know that it is not thrown down from the heavens. Likewise the word Nazool has been mentioned about cattle in 39:7; about raiment in 7:27. Even this word had been used for each and every thing in 15:22 where Allah says: Wa In Min Shai-in Illaa Indinna Khazaainohoo Wa Maa Nonazzilohoo Illaa Biqadarin Ma’aloom–“And there is not a thing but with Us are the treasures thereof and We send it not down except in known measure.” Hence, it appears that all things in nature descend from God–are gifted by God–and yet they do not drop from Heaven. Their creation takes place in and on and through this very earth. Therefore, the word Nazool (descend), when used for the coming of the Messiah, can have no other meaning. It can only point to the importance, the blessedness and the spiritual significance of the Promised Messiah. It is not in the least intended to suggest that he would physically drop from Heaven to earth.

IBN MARYAM–Son of Mary:

As the promised Imam was to be the Messiah, therefore, the Holy Prophet(saw) called him the son of Mary. The name of one is generally given to another when there is striking resemblance between the two. Abu Sufyan, after meeting Heraclius, said to his companions: Laqad Amara Amrubno Abee Kabshata Innahoo Yakhaafohoo Maliko Banee Asfara–“Of a certainty, the son of Abee Kabshah has succeeded, because even the king of Bani Asfar fears him”. (Bukhari) Everyone knows that the Holy Prophet(saw) was not the son of Abi Kabshah, but Abu Sufyan calls him as such because he believed in the Unity of God like the son of Abi Kabshah.

Metaphors abound in all languages. Is it not a fact that a person who excels in the virtue of charity, is metaphorically called Hatam of Tai? If the name Ibn Maryam is the name of a known individual, is not Hatam the name of a known individual? If by giving this name to another person, nobody is misled into thinking that this person is the original Hatam, need anybody think that when the Promised One is named Isa Ibn Maryam or Jesus(as), son of Mary, it must mean the self-same Hazrat Jesus(as), son of Mary, who appeared almost 2000 years ago?

Hence, when it is narrated in the Traditions that Jesus son of Mary will come, it should not be taken literally but rather to be understood in the metaphorical sense as has been interpreted by a scholar of great repute and regenerator of his century, Mohyuddin Ibn Arabi, when he says: “His descent in latter ages will be with a different body.” (Tafsir Araisul Bayan, Vol. I, P. 262) So the inference of Non-Ahmadies from the above quoted tradition of Bukhari to prove the physical life of Jesus in heaven is altogether repugnant to the teachings of the Quran, the common metaphors, and to the high spiritual status of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of God be him).


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