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Death of Jesus confirmed by Ahmad Von Denffer
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Death of Jesus as confirmed in Sunni book

Author expresses view similar to that of the Ahmadiyya Movement

(The Light & Islamic Review: Vol. 74; No. 1; January-February 1997; p. 12)

The book Islam for Children is written by Ahmad Von Denffer and published by the Islamic Foundation, Leicester, England. Mr. Von Denffer is the author of several books on Islam published by the Islamic Foundation. This publishing organization represents the views and ideology of groups such as the Jama‘at-i Islami of Pakistan, the orthodox Sunni political and religious movement founded by Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maudoodi. It is, therefore, surprising to read in this book the following passage at the end of the chapter dealing with Jesus:

“Some people say that Prophet Isa was nailed onto a cross by his enemies and that he died in this way. But we know this is not true. Allah protected Prophet Isa so that the people could not carry out their evil intentions. Allah said to Isa: I will let you die in peace and then you will come to Me and be with Me. Those who had been following you and prayed to Me and did good will be brought to Me.” (page 81 of the 1993 re-print)

The author’s statement here: Allah said to Isa: I will let you die in peace and then you will come to Me and be with Me clearly expresses the same belief as that which the Ahmadis hold, namely, that Jesus died and was then taken to Allah, following his death. The belief generally held by the so-called orthodox Muslims, including followers of Maulana Maudoodi, is that Jesus was taken up to God without dying, and in his physical earthly body. Mr. Von Denffer’s words would appear to be based on the verse of the Holy Quran which begins as follows:

“When Allah said: O Jesus, I will cause you to die (mutawaffi-ka) and exalt you (rafi‘u-ka) in My presence…” (3:54)

Those Muslim translators of the Holy Quran who hold the conventional belief that Jesus did not die, and is still alive, have been at pains not to render the words mutawaffi-ka in the above verse as “I will cause you to die” but have translated them in various forms such as “I will take you”, “I will gather you”, and then translated the next part with words such as: “and will lift you up to Myself”.

However, the Ahmadiyya Movement since its very beginning has been arguing that mutawaffi-ka can only mean causing to die, and that the ‘exaltation’ mentioned is the honouring of the soul after death by granting it nearness to God, as happens in the case of every righteous human being. Indeed, once it is accepted that these words mean “causing to die”, then it follows that the exaltation which comes afterwards could not have been bodily but spiritual, and there can be absolutely no question of Jesus returning to this world to resume his life.

Mr. Von Denffer has not only used the expression “I will let you die in peace”, but followed it with the words “and then”, which leaves no doubt that the next text, namely, “you will come to Me and be with Me”, can only refer to the spiritual exaltation after death, and cannot mean that Jesus was lifted up to God while still alive. His next statement is that the real and true followers of Jesus were also promised by Allah that they “would be brought to Me”. One can only conclude from this that the true followers of Jesus went to God’s presence in the same manner as Jesus, and this further proves that Jesus only went to God in the same way as all other righteous men and women do.

Although we do come across some instances of independent Muslim religious writers (such as Muhammad Asad) putting forward the same beilef as that of the Ahmadis about Jesus’ death, it is quite extraordinary, and probably unprecedented, to find this belief in a publication of a body like the Islamic Foundation of Leicester, England, which was set up by the orthodox Sunni religious leadership. Professor Khurshid Ahmad of the Pakistani Jama‘at-i Islami, who was an advisor to the anti-Ahmadiyya ulama in the Cape Town court cases to help them prove in court that Ahmadis are non-Muslims, was Director-General of the Islamic Foundation during the 1970s and is author of several of its publications.

This makes us wonder if Mr. Von Denffer was really aware of the broader significance of what he has written in this extract. In what has become a major and key difference of belief between Ahmadis and the Sunni religious leadership, he has advocated the Ahmadi belief as being right. It would be interesting to learn how the Islamic Foundation views the appearance of this belief in their publication.

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