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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 - 5

by Maulana Hafiz Sher Mohammad

5. Views of modern Muslim scholars (1)

I. Scholars of Arabia

1. In his Quranic commentary, Allama Abdul Rahman Sa‘di writes:

"God honoured Jesus by causing his disciples to spread in the world, in his life-time and after his death (mamat)."

(Tafsir al-Manan, published in Makka)

2. In The Message of the Quran, published by the Muslim World League of Makka in 1964, the author, Muhammad Asad, translates the verse 3:55 of the Quran in the following English words:

"Lo! God said: O Jesus! Verily, I shall cause thee to die, and exalt thee unto Me."

Verse 5:117 is rendered as:

"And I bore witness to what they did as long as I dwelt amongst them; but since Thou hast caused me to die, Thou alone hast been their keeper. For Thou art witness unto everything".

In the footnote to verse 4:157 the translator elucidates:

"Thus the Quran categorically denies the story of the crucifixion of Jesus. There exist, among Muslims, many fanciful legends telling us that at the last moment God substituted for Jesus a person closely resembling him (according to some accounts, that person was Judas), who was subsequently crucified in his place. However, none of these legends finds the slightest support in the Quran or in authentic Traditions, and the stories produced in this connection by the classical commentators of the Quran must be summarily rejected."

The next footnote contains the statement:

"Nowhere in the Quran is there any warrant for the popular belief of many Muslims that God has ‘taken up’ Jesus bodily into heaven."

II. Egyptian Scholars

1. The famous Egyptian reformist personality Mufti Muhammad Abduh believed that Jesus had died:

i. "In the Tafsir al-Manar, the teacher and Imam (Muhammad Abduh), after taking the apparent meaning of the verse, has stated that tawaffa bears its obvious significance, i.e., causing to die. The raising (raf‘) comes after that, and it is spiritual elevation."

(Qasas al-Anbiya by Abdul Wahab al-Najar, p. 428)

ii. "Tawaffa here means causing to die, as in the obvious and comprehensible significance."


2. Allama Rashid Raza, the famous disciple of Mufti Muhammad Abduh, writes:

"Hence Jesus’ escape to India and his death in that country is not against reason and sense."

(Quranic Commentary by Al-Sayyid Rashid Raza, part vi, pp. 42, 43)

3. Mahmud Shaltut, former Mufti of Egypt and ex-Rector of al-Azhar University, Cairo, writes:

i. "There is no authority in the Quran or the Sunna which can satisfy the heart upon the belief that Jesus was taken up to heaven with his body and that he is still alive there and that he shall descend therefrom to earth in the last days."

(Al-Fatawa, published by Al-Idara al-‘Ama lil-Saqafat al-Islamiyya bil-Azhar, pp. 52-58)

ii. "The Quranic verses in this connection indicate that God had promised Jesus that He would cause him to die at the appointed time, and elevate him to Himself, and protect him from the disbelievers. This promise has been fulfilled. His enemies could not kill him or crucify him; instead, God caused him to die at the end of his appointed term and elevated him to Himself."


4. Al-Ustaz Mustafa al-Maraghi:

i. Commentating on the verse, Ya ‘Isa inni mutawaffi-ka, he notes:

"In this verse is the glad tiding of his (Jesus’) deliverance from their (the Jewish) plot and his life reaching its appointed term. They would not be able to harm him as they intended by their evil plan. Tawaffa means the ordinary death, and raf‘ (elevating) is for the spirit after death. The meaning is ‘I will cause you to die (mumitu-ka), and after death (maut) I will establish you in an exalted position in My presence’, as God has said of the prophet Idris: ‘He elevated him to a high state’."

(Tafsir al-Maraghi, part iii, p. 165)

ii. In explanation of verse 3:143 of the Quran, he writes:

"It means that Muhammad is but mortal. There have been messengers before him, so they died, and some, like Zacharia and Yahya, were killed. It was not ordained for anyone of them to live forever. So if he (Holy Prophet Muhammad) dies, as had Moses, Jesus, and other prophets died …."

(Ibid., part iv, p. 87)

5. Allama Muhammad Farid Wajadi notes the views of some research scholars as:

"Others have said that God caused Jesus to die as he causes people in general to die. Then his spirit was raised to God, as is shown by the words: Inni mutawaffi-ka wa rafi‘u-ka ilayya."

(Da’irat-ul-Mu‘arif, Islamic Encyclopedia, vol. vi, p. 784)

6. The famous Lebanese scholar Ahmad Al-‘Ajuz writes:

"Jesus certainly died on earth according to God’s words inni mutawaffi-ka which mean ‘I will cause you to die’ (mumitu-ka). Death (maut) is something that is bound to happen, as God said through Jesus’ tongue: ‘Peace be upon me the day I was born and the day I die’."

(Signed: Ahmad al- ‘Ajuz)

7. Al-Ustaz Abdul Karim al-Sharif writes:

"As the Quran has mentioned, God caused the Messiah to die physically, and raised him to Himself and purified him, just as He causes us to die, raises us to Himself, and purifies us."

(Al-Nafkhat al-Ula min al-Ta’wil)

8. Al-Ustaz Abdul Wahab al-Najjar comments on the Quranic verse Kuntu ‘alai-him shahid-an ma dumtu fi-him (5:117), as follows:

"Jesus watched over his followers and gave them good exhortations till his death (wafat). After that, God was the Watcher over them."

(Qasas al-Anbiya, 4th edition, 1956)

9. In his article Hal al-Quran Mu‘jiza (‘Is the Quran a miracle?’), Dr Ahmad Zaki Abu Shadi writes:

"It is a well known teaching of Islam that God is everywhere, and that He is the light of the heaven and the earth. So the words ‘He raised him (Jesus) to Himself’ do not have the physical meaning that He lifted him up to heaven, as is the Christian belief. … Raf‘ here means to rescue and to honour, as opposed to a degraded death on the cross in the manner in which criminals are executed. Other interpretations that some Muslim commentators have adopted are more akin to poetry than to sound logic, and the reliability of these commentators’ scholarship is rather limited."

(Al-Mawahib Azar, Argentina, March 1955)

10. Egypt’s famous literary figure, Al-Ustaz ‘Abbas Mahmud al-‘Aqad, writes:

"In this connection there is a historical report which cannot be ignored because it deserves great attention. This report relates to the tomb to be found in the Khanyar area of the capital of Kashmir, and known as the grave of the Prophet or the grave of Jesus. It is recorded in the book Tarikh al-‘Azma, written about 200 years ago, that the grave is that of a Prophet called Yuz Asaf. The people of Kashmir report from their ancestors that this prophet came to that land two thousand years ago."

(Hayat al-Masih fil-Tarikh wa Kushuf al-‘Asr al-Hadith, p. 213)

11. In a poem in praise of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, Allama Ibn Rashid al-Baghdadi writes:

Mahauna bi-ka al-adyan lau ‘asha rusulu-na
la-ja’a-ka ‘Isa tabi‘-an wa Kalim

"Through you all other religions were superseded; had previous prophets been still alive, Jesus and Moses would have been your followers."

(Diwan Ma‘dan al-Azafat, published in Beirut, p. 28)

III. Iranian Scholars

1. Iran’s famous religious scholar Zain al-‘Abidin, whose Quranic commentary was published with the support of the Iranian Government, translates in it the verse Ya ‘Isa inni mutawaffi-ka as meaning that Jesus’ soul, and not his body, was raised to God’s presence (vol. i, p. 268).

2. In a poetic verse, Mirza Abul Hasan Qa-ani Sherazi says:

"Jesus has gone up to the skies, but has left his earthly body here."

Next: 6. Modern Muslim scholars (2)

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)
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