Jesus (as) Journeys East: Tracing the Travel

Shahzad Ahmad – UKZafir MalikCHRISTIANITY

4th April 2021Add Comment15 Min Read

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Shahzad Ahmed and Zafir Mahmood Malik, UK

In his fascination with exploring the Dervish communities living in the near and Middle East, Omar Michael Burke’s epic journey included an interesting encounter with a small Christian community in Herat, Afghanistan, in 1976. Burke notes in his book Among the Dervishes, ‘There must be a thousand of these Christians. Their chief is the Abba Yahiyya (Father John), who can recite the succession of teachers through nearly sixty generations to – Isa, son of Mary, of “Nazara,” the Kashmiri.’ [1]

According to this community, Jesus (as) of Nazareth survived the crucifixion and travelled east to Kashmir where he is revered as an ancient teacher known as ‘Yuz Asaf’. And while Burke may have considered this to be a unique and fascinating discovery, little did he know that there is a plethora of evidence rooted in ancient traditions and customs which irrefutably proves that Jesus (as) survived the crucifixion and journeyed eastwards in search of the lost tribes of Israel. 

In his pioneering and scholarly treatise Jesus in India, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), proved, using religious scriptures, evidence from medical literature and historical records, that Jesus (as) survived the crucifixion. Starting his journey from Jerusalem and passing through Iran, Jesus (as) reached Afghanistan, where he met the Jewish tribes who had settled there after Nebuchadnezzar II conquered Judea centuries before. [2]

Continuing his mission to search for these lost tribes, he eventually journeyed to Kashmir where he settled and lies buried in the neighbourhood of Khanyar in Srinagar. Scholarship on this has continued over the past hundred years with countless researchers exploring the various avenues of proof.

Evidence from the Bible & the Holy Qur’an

One of the most fundamental proofs of Jesus (as) surviving the crucifixion and travelling towards the East is found in his own words in the Gospel of Matthew, where he describes the purpose of his mission:

‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.’ [3]

The historical context to this is that the Israelites were divided into twelve tribes, out of which only two were residing in Palestine at the time of Jesus’ (as) advent: Juda and Benjamin. From historical accounts it is proven that King David established a kingdom for the Israelites around the 10th century BCE, with the Northern kingdom of Israel consisting of ten tribes. The Jewish tribes were attacked by two different powers. First, in 722 BCE, the Assyrians attacked the Northern kingdom of Israel and forced the ten tribes living there to relocate in other parts of their empire. The other two tribes were living in the Southern kingdom known as Judah. They survived this initial attack and continued living there for another millennium. 

The Northern tribes, however, scattered much further East. As Richard Foltz notes in ‘Judaism and the Silk Route’, 

‘…Ten tribes of Israel were exiled to “Halah and Habor by the River Gozan and the cities of Medes”. Since the former locations have been situated in Khurasan, it has been suggested that the Israelites’ presence in Central Asia should be considered as originating at that time. It has accordingly been proposed that these earliest exiles may have engaged in long distance overland trade.’ [4]

Similarly, Flavius Josephus, a famous Jewish historian, has written, ‘The ten tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude and not to be estimated in numbers. [5]

Many believe that the ‘lost sheep’ mentioned in the Gospels in fact refers to these ten tribes that had been scattered.

Furthermore, Jesus (as) entrusted this same task to his disciples:

‘These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”’ [6]

In obedience to this instruction of Jesus (as), the disciples went forth in this task, each assigned with a particular region to preach the message of Jesus (as) to the remaining Jewish tribes. The travels of the disciple Thomas to India are well-documented and historically proven. For example, historian William Dalrymple states, ‘The trail of St. Thomas’s journey to India begins thousands of miles from Kerala in the deserts of the Middle East…In Kerala, St Thomas was said to have converted the local Brahmins with the aid of miracles and to have built seven churches. He then headed Eastwards to the ancient temple town of Mylapore, now in the suburbs of Madras. There the saint was opposed by the orthodox Brahmins of the temple, and finally martyred. His followers built a tomb and monastery over his grave which, said the travellers, was now a pilgrimage centre for Muslims and Hindus, as well as Christians in Southern India.’ [7]

Furthermore, Keralan-born essayist Paul Zacharia has also mentioned details about Thomas’ travels to India in Smithsonian Journeys Quarterly. He writes, ‘Modern Syrian Christians of Kerala (the majority Christian population here) believe that the Apostle Thomas – the one who so famously questioned Jesus – visited here in AD 52 and baptized their forefathers…Thomas’s name remains ubiquitous in Kerala, appearing on everything from baptism registers and the neon signs of jewellery stores and bakeries to the nameplates of dental surgeons and real estate developers’ ads.’ [8]

The Holy Qur’an also states that the mission of Jesus (as) was to preach to the Israelites, ‘And will make him a Messenger to the children of Israel.’ [9] Thus, in order for Jesus (as) to have fulfilled his mission, it was necessary that he travelled Eastwards to locate the scattered tribes of the Israelites and preach to them the message of God.

Whilst citing evidence from the sayings of the Holy Prophet (sa), Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) states:

‘Reliable reports in the Ahadith show that the Holy Prophet (as) said that Jesus lived to an advanced age of 125. Besides, all the sects of Islam believe that Jesus had two unique characteristics as are not to be found in any other prophet: 

i. He lived to the ripe old age of 125 years. 

ii. He extensively travelled in many parts of the world and was therefore called ‘the travelling prophet.’ [10]

Evidence from Medical Research

Since the mission of Jesus (as) was to gather the ‘Lost Tribes of Israel’, it was necessary for him to travel to those parts of the world where the descendants of the Jewish tribes lived. Historical records show that these Jewish tribes had come to settle in parts of Asia such as Afghanistan, India and Kashmir. John Noel in an article in Asia Magazine in 1930 under the title, ‘The Heavenly High Snow Peaks of Kashmir’ writes about Kashmiris as follows:

‘One thing about them strikes you with enormous force. They seem more perfectly Jewish than the purest Jews you have ever seen, not because they wear a flowing cloak-like dress that conforms to your idea of Biblical garments, but because their faces have the Jewish cast of features. The curious coincidence – or is it a coincidence? – is that there is a strong tradition in Kashmir of its connection with the Jews.’ [11]

Similarly, James Milne in his book, The Road to Kashmir states that the ‘three races (Afghans, Afridis, and Kashmiris) have large aquiline features and skins which have been well described as subdued Jews.’ [12]

Medical evidence also proves these ancient tribes had Jewish roots. For example, ‘The “Bene Israel” is a Jewish community in western India whose origins are unknown. DNA samples were collected by the researchers from the School of Oriental Studies in London assessing genetic similarities between the Indian Bene Israel tribe, the indigenous Indian population and the Jewish population. The marker of ancient Jewish heritage (Haplogroup 9 comprising the CMH pattern), was found in high frequency in the Bene Israel and in a much lower frequency in the indigenous Indian group. Such data clearly suggests that the Bene Israel population have characteristics of Jewish parentage.’ [13] In other words, people who share a Haplogroup are descended from a common ancestor. And the prevalence of Haplogroup 9 in the Bene Israel population is strong evidence that they link back to the Lost Tribes of Israel. (A detailed article published in The Review of Religions, March 2012 edition outlines further evidence from a genetic perspective to show the links between the Jewish tribes) 

Traces of Jewish Tribes in Afghanistan

Moreover, there is historical evidence to corroborate this theory. Numerous works of the 14th through 17th centuries detail the evidence that describes that the lost tribes went to Afghanistan. In his book, The Garden of the Learned in the History of Great Men and Genealogies, Abu Suleman Daud bin Abul Fazal Muhammad Albenaketi traces the ancestry of the Afghans to the Israelites. Written in the 14th century, this is one of the most ancient manuscripts available in this regard. [14]

Similarly, in the 17th century, Bukhtawar Khan provided in The Mirror of the World a detailed account of the migration of the Afghans from the Holy Land to Kabul and other places in Afghanistan. [15] Furthermore, Hafiz Rahmat bin Shah Alam in his book Khulasat-ul-Ansab and Fareed-ud-Din Ahmad in Risala-i-Ansab-i-Afghana also draw links between the Afghans and the Jewish people through their genealogies. They both prove that the Afghans are descendants of the Israelites through King Talut. [16]

In addition to these countless ancient sources, only a few of which have been presented in this article, more recently western scholarship has also documented the historic link between the Afghans and the Israelites. For example, George Moore in his famous work, Lost Tribes, published in 1861, gave a profound insight into the origins of the Afghan roots. Whilst analysing their links with the Israelites, he writes, ‘And we find that the very natural character of Israel reappears in all its life and reality in countries where people call themselves Bani Israel and universally claim to be the descendants of the Lost Tribes. The nomenclature of their tribes and districts, both in ancient geography, and at the present day, confirms this universal natural tradition. Lastly, we have the route of the Israelites from Media to Afghanistan and India marked by a series of intermediate stations bearing the names of several of the tribes and clearly indicating the stages of their long and arduous journey.’

George Moore further notes, ‘Sir William Jones, Sir John Malcolm and missionary Chamberlain, after full investigation, were of the opinion that the Ten Tribes migrated to India, Tibet and Kashmir through Afghanistan.’ [17] Aside from George Moore, and the aforementioned scholars he referred to, General Sir George Macmuun, Col. G. B. Malleson, Col. Failson, George Bell, E. Balfour, Sir Henry Yule and Sir George Rose all have written on this topic and drawn the same conclusion independently.

Traces of Jewish Tribes in Kashmir

Just like in the case of the Afghan genealogy, there is a plethora of evidence which also trace the origins of the Kashmiri people to the Israelites. 

Early historians of Kashmir such as Mulla Nadiri in his book Tarikh Kashmir (History of Kashmir), Mulla Ahmad in the book Waqqiya-i-Kashmir (Events of Kashmir), and Abdul Qadar Bin Qazi-ul-Quzat Wasil Ali Khan in his book Hashmat-i-Kashmirhave emphatically stated that the Kashmiris were descendents of the Israelites.

Former Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaher Lal Nehru, who was also a scholar of history, states, ‘All over Central Asia, in Kashmir and Ladakh and Tibet and even farther North, there is still a strong belief that Jesus or Isa travelled about there.’ [18]

W. Moorcroft, G.Trebeck and H. Wilson in their book Travels in the Himalayan Provinces note, ‘the physical and the ethnical character, which so sharply marks off the Kashmiris from all surrounding races, has always struck observing visitors to the valley and they have universally connected them with the Jews.’ [19]

Sir Francis Younghusband, who served as the British Representative in Kashmir for many years, wrote in the early 1900s, ‘Here may be seen fine old patriarchal types, just as we picture to ourselves the Israelitish heroes of old. Some, indeed, say…that these Kashmiris are the lost tribes of Israel and certainly as I have already said, there are real biblical types to be seen everywhere in Kashmir and especially among the upland villages. Here the Israelitish shepherd tending his flocks and herds may any day be seen.’ [20]

The Tomb of Jesus (as) in Kashmir

Among the countless unique insights into the life of Jesus (as) post-crucifixion, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), in his treatise Jesus in India outlined the exact burial place of Jesus (as) in the Khanyar quarter of Srinagar, Kashmir. [21]

This discovery has been further corroborated by recent scholars. For example, Sir Francis Younghusband further writes in his book Kashmir, ‘There resided in Kashmir some 1900 years ago a saint of the name of Yuz Asaf, who preached in parables and used many of the same parables as Christ uses, as, for instance, the parable of the sower.  His tomb is in Srinagar…and the theory is that Yuz Asaf and Jesus are one and the same person.  When the people are in appearance of such a decided Jewish cast, it is curious that such a theory should exist.’ [22]

Similarly, Sheikh Al-Said-us-Sadiq, who lived in the third and fourth centuries of the Muslim era, and who wrote over 200 books, writes as follows:

‘Then Yuz Asaf, after roaming about in many cities, reached that country which is called Kashmir. He travelled in it far and wide and stayed there and spent his (remaining) life there, until death overtook him, and he left the earthly body and was elevated towards the Light. But, before his death he sent for a disciple of his, Ba’bad (Thomas) by name, who used to serve him and was well-served in all matters. He (Yuz Asaf) expressed his late will to him and said: My time for departing from this world has come. Carry on your duties properly and turn not back from truth, and say your prayers regularly. He then directed Ba’bad (Thomas) to prepare a tomb over him (at the very place he died). He then stretched his legs towards the West and head towards the east and died. May God bless him.’ [23]

The following is the English translation of the information displayed on the signpost that stands outside the Tomb of Jesus Christ. The information contains the views of Khwaja Azam Deddmari, who compiled his Tarikh-i-Azam in about 1729 A.D, ‘Nearby is situated the stone of the grave which, according to the people, is the prophets who arrived from a far-off place during ancient times. Anointed for Kashmir: This spot is famous as the resting place of a messenger: I have read in an ancient book that a prince from a foreign land arrived here and engaged himself in piety and prayers [and] became a messenger of God for the Kashmiri people. In that ancient book his name is mentioned as Yuz Asaf.’ [24] (For further reading, see “The Israelite Origin of People of Afghanistan and Kashmir and Evidence of Jesusas in India” in the  April 2002 edition of The Review of Religions.)

The aforementioned evidence is just a dip in the vast ocean of ongoing academic research into Jesus’ (as) travels towards the East and finally settling in Kashmir. Whilst many believe him to have ascended into the Heavens and await his advent in the latter days, the evidence, however, stands in stark contrast and undoubtedly will change the course of religious history and tradition. 

About the Authors: Shahzad Ahmed and Zafir Mahmood Malik are both associate editors at The Review of Religions. They are both Imams of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Shahzad Ahmed has a BA degree in English from the University of Greenwich. He appears regularly as a panellist on various programmes on Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International (MTA) including Islamic Jurisprudence. Zafir Mahmood Malik regularly appears as a panelist on MTA International and Voice of Islam radio station answering questions on Islam.


endnotes

1. Omar M. Burke, Among the Dervishes (London: Octagon Press, 1993), 111.

2. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam AhmadasJesus in India (Qadian, India: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2016).

3. The Bible, Matthew 15:24.

4. Richard Foltz, “Judaism and The Silk Route,” The History Teacher 32, 1 (1998): 9. doi:10.2307/494416.

5. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-ten-lost-tribes.

6. The Bible, Matthew 10:5-6.

7. William Dalrymple, “The Incredible Journey,” The Guardian, April 14, 2000. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2000/apr/15/books.guardianreview.

8. Paul Zacharia, “The Surprisingly Early History Of Christianity In India,” Smithsonian Magazine, February 19, 2016. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/how-christianity-came-to-india-kerala-180958117/.

9. The Holy Qur’an, 3:50.

10. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam AhmadasJesus in India, (Qadian, India: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2016), 62.

11. Aziz A. Chaudhary, “The Israelite Origin of People of Afghanistan and Kashmir,” The Review of Religions, April 2002, 42.

12. https://www.alislam.org/articles/lost-tribes-of-israel/.

13. https://www.reviewofreligions.org/6107/the-lost-tribes-of-israel-in-india-a-genetic-perspective.

14. Aziz A. Chaudhary, “The Israelite Origin of People of Afghanistan and Kashmir,” The Review of Religions, April 2002, 36.

15. Aziz A. Chaudhary, “The Israelite Origin of People of Afghanistan and Kashmir,” The Review of Religions, April 2002, 37.

16. https://www.alislam.org/articles/lost-tribes-of-israel/.

17. Ibid.

18. Leonard Fernando, Christianity In India: Two Thousand Years of Faith (India: Penguin, Viking, 2004), 28.

19. Aziz A. Chaudhary, “The Israelite Origin of People of Afghanistan and Kashmir,” The Review of Religions, April 2002, 41.

20. Sir Francis Younghusband, Kashmir (London: A. & C. Black Ltd, 1909), 107, 112.

21. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam AhmadasJesus in India, (Qadian, India: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2016), 14.

22. Sir Francis Younghusband, Kashmir (London: A. & C. Black Ltd, 1909), 112.

23. https://www.alislam.org/articles/lost-tribes-of-israel/.

24. Abubakr Ben Ishmael Salahuddin, “Evidence of Jesus in India,” The Review of Religions, April 2002, 64. 

Related Posts:

  1. An Alternative Narrative: How the Crucifixion of Jesus (as) Unfolded
  2. ‘Sowing the Seed’ – Jesus in India
  3. What Jesus (as) Really Said About Heaven and Hell: A Response to an Article in TIME
  4. Commemorating Jesus as a Muslim

source Jesus (as) Journeys East: Tracing the Travel | The Review of Religions

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