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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 - 2

by Maulana Hafiz Sher Mohammad

2. Evidence of the Hadith

We have shown from numerous verses of the Holy Quran that Jesus is not alive in heaven but that he died in his own time as did other prophets. No doubt should, therefore, remain in the mind of any just and truth-loving person about this matter. But, for further satisfaction of the seekers after truth, we now present some sayings (Hadith reports) of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, who of course was the recipient of Quranic revelation and its premier commentator, to decide this issue so thoroughly that each and every Muslim would have to bow to the verdict.

First Hadith: Meaning of Tawaffa

"It is reported from Ibn Abbas that the Holy Prophet said in a sermon: O people! You will be gathered to your Lord (on the day of Judgment) ... and some people from my Umma will be taken and dragged towards hell. I shall say: ‘O Lord, but these are my people’. It will be replied: ‘You do not know what they did after you’. Then I shall say as did that righteous servant of God (i.e., Jesus) say: ‘I was a witness of them so long as I was among them, but when Thou didst cause me to die (tawaffaitani) Thou wast Watcher over them’ ..." (Bukhari, Kitab al-Tafsir, under Surah Ma’idah)

The last words of the Holy Prophet ("I was witness of them ...") are taken from the verse 5:117 of the Holy Quran where Jesus is quoted as replying in these very words on the Day of Judgment. It is agreed by all Muslims that, when these words are used by the Holy Prophet in the above Hadith report, the meaning of tawaffaitani occurring there is "Thou didst cause me to die". So obviously they have the same meaning when used by Jesus, i.e., Jesus was taken from his people by death, not by rising alive to heaven.

Second Hadith: All Prophets had to die

In his last illness, during which he died, the Holy Prophet Muhammad entered the mosque with the support of two men to give the following address:

"O people! I have heard that you fear the death of your Prophet. Did any prophet before me live on so that I should be expected to live on amongst you? Listen! I am about to meet my Lord, and so will you. So I bid you to treat well the early muhajirs." (Al-anwar ul-Muhammadiyya min al-Muwahib al-Ladinya, Egypt, p. 317)

This hadith settles the meaning of the three Quranic verses:

"Muhammad is only a messenger, messengers before him have indeed passed away" (3:144);

"And We made no mortal before thee to live on forever" (21:34);


Nor did they (the prophets) live on forever" (21:8).

Had any prophet at all still been alive, the Holy Prophet could not have uttered the words above. So Jesus was dead by that time.

Third Hadith: Death within a century

  1. "There is no one alive today but will be dead before a hundred years have passed over it." (Muslim, Kanz al-Ummal, vol. 7, p. 170)
  2. "The Holy Prophet said: ‘Allah sends a wind every hundred years which takes the soul of every believer’. This hadith is sound in transmission." (Mustadrak, vol. 4, p. 475)

These hadith show that all those who were alive in the Holy Prophet’s time died within a hundred years. Had Jesus been alive (in heaven as is supposed) he too would have died within that period.

Fourth Hadith: Jesus’ age given as 120

"Aisha (God be pleased with her) said that, in his illness in which he died, the Holy Prophet said: ‘Every year Gabriel used to repeat the Holy Quran with me once, but this year he has done it twice. He has informed me that there is no prophet but he lives half as long as the one who preceded him. And he has told me that Jesus lived a hundred and twenty years, and I see that I am about to leave this world at sixty’."

(Hujjaj al-Kiramah, p. 428; Kanz al-Ummal, vol. 6, p. 160, from Hazrat Fatima; and Mawahib al-Ladinya, vol. 1, p. 42)

The Tabarani says concerning this hadith: "Its narrations are reliable, and it is reported in a number of different versions". The hadith here leaves no room to doubt at all. It not only announces Jesus’ death but gives his age as 120 years. And it is reported through at least three channels: from Aisha, Ibn Umar and Fatima. This hadith is, therefore, sound and a very clear proof of Jesus’ death.

Fifth Hadith: Jesus dead like Moses

  1. The Holy Prophet Muhammad said: "Had Moses or Jesus been alive, they would have had to follow me." (Al-Yawaqit wal-Jawahir, p. 24; Fath al-Bayan, vol. 2, p. 246; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, under verse 81 of Al Imran)
  2. "Had Jesus been alive he would have had to follow me." (Sharh Fiqh Akbar, Egyptian ed., p. 99)
  3. "No. 19: If Moses and Jesus were alive, they would have but followed me." (English text from Al-Islam, published by the Fiji Muslim Youth Organization, vol. 4, Oct. 1974)

The above hadith clearly show that both Moses and Jesus were considered to be dead by the Holy Prophet.

Sixth Hadith: Tomb of Jesus

The Holy Prophet said:

"May the curse of God be upon the Jews and the Christians who made the graves of their prophets into places of worship."

(Bukhari, Kitab as-Salat, p. 296)

The Holy Prophet said this because he was anxious that the Muslims should avoid the evil of making the tomb of their prophet into a place of worship, as Jews and Christians had done with their prophets’ graves. The Jews had had numerous prophets but the prophet properly recognised by the Christians is only one — Jesus. This hadith shows that the Holy Prophet believed that Jesus had a tomb. And, in fact, this is the place where Jesus was kept after being removed from the cross (till he recovered from his wounds), which Christians revere greatly. Obviously, according to this hadith, Jesus did not rise up to heaven.

Seventh Hadith: Jesus in company of the dead

The various hadith about the Holy Prophet’s Mi‘raj record:

  1. "Adam is in the first heaven ... Joseph is in the second heaven, and his cousins Yahya (John the Baptist) and Jesus are in the third heaven, and Idris is in the fourth heaven." (Kanz al-Ummal, vol. vi, p. 120)

    The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw Yahya and Jesus in the same place; and as the former, indeed every other prophet seen, is dead, so must Jesus be.

  2. The above hadith is corroborated by another that tells us that in the Mi‘raj vision the Holy Prophet met the spirits of all the previous prophets (see Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Urdu ed. published in Karachi, vol. iii, p. 18).

Eighth Hadith: Jesus "descent" on night of Mi‘raj

A hadith about the Mi‘raj records:

"Then the Holy Prophet descended in Jerusalem, along with all the other prophets. At the time of prayers, he lead them all in prayer."

(Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Urdu ed., vol. iii, p. 23)

Among "all" the prophets is included Jesus. Had he, unlike other prophets, been alive physically in heaven, his "descent" to Jerusalem would have been with his material body. In that case he would have had to rise up to heaven physically a second time. But the Quran mentions only one raf‘ ("exaltation" which is misunderstood as "rising up to heaven") of Jesus!

This difficulty does not arise if we believe, as is clear from the various hadith about Mi‘raj, that Jesus was in the same state (i.e. dead) as all the other prophets seen in the vision.

Ninth Hadith: Holy Prophet’s discussion with a Christian delegation

"When a delegation of sixty men from the (Christian) people of Najran came to the Holy Prophet, their chief priest discussed with him the status of Jesus and asked him as to who Jesus’ father was. The Holy Prophet said: ‘Do you not know that a son resembles his father?’ They replied: ‘Yes’. He said: A lastum ta‘lamuna anna rabbana la yamutu wa anna Isa ata ‘alaihi-l-fana’, i.e., Do you not know that our Lord lives for ever while Jesus perished."

(Asbab an-nuzul, by Imam Abu-l-Hasan Ali ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi of Neshapur, published in Egypt, p. 53)

What clearer testimony could there be that Jesus has died than this saying from the blessed tongue of the Holy Prophet!

Tenth Hadith: Two different descriptions of Jesus

In Sahih al-Bukhari, there are recorded two different physical descriptions of Jesus — one applying to the past Messiah and the other to the Messiah whose advent in the latter days is prophesied.

1. In the Mi‘raj the Messiah seen with Moses, Abraham and other prophets by the Holy Prophet, was described by him thus:

  1. "I saw Jesus. He was a man of a reddish complexion." (Bukhari, Kitab al-anbiya, ch. 24)
  2. "I saw Jesus, Moses and Abraham. Jesus had a reddish complexion, curly hair and a wide chest." (ibid., ch. 48)

It is clear from both these Hadith reports that by Jesus, who was seen here along with Abraham and Moses, is meant the Israelite prophet. He had a red complexion and curly hair.

2. Bukhari has recorded a hadith in which the Holy Prophet relates a dream of his about the future:

"In a state of sleep I saw myself circumambulating the Ka’ba, and I saw a man of a wheatish complexion with straight hair. I asked who it was. They said: This is the Messiah, son of Mary." (Bukhari, Kitab al-Fitn, ch. 22, ‘Mention of Dajjal’)

Thus, where Jesus is mentioned along with Abraham and Moses, he is described as of a reddish complexion and curly hair; but where he is seen along with the Dajjal in a dream about the future, he is said to have a wheatish complexion with straight hair. Evidently these two different descriptions do not apply to one and the same person. So Jesus, the Israelite prophet, whom the Holy Prophet saw in the Mi‘raj vision, and the Messiah who was to appear in the latter days to kill the evil Dajjal, are two different persons.

The Israelite Messiah, Jesus, died, as is made clear by the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s sayings. And the Messiah whose advent in the latter days has been prophesied by the Holy Prophet, was to be from the Muslim community, and not an Israelite prophet. This is borne out by the following three Hadith reports:

  1. ‘Ulama’u ummati ka anbiya’i bani Israil, i.e., "The learned ones of my community are like the prophets of the Israelites."
  2. Ala inna-hu Khalifati fi ummati min ba‘di, i.e., "Certainly he (the Messiah to come) is my khalifa after me in my community."
  3. Fa amma-kum min-kum, i.e., "He shall be your Imam from among yourselves."


From all the Hadith reports quoted above, the following conclusions are drawn:

First hadith: The Holy Prophet Muhammad has referred to his own death using the words falamma tawaffaitani. Since these very words are used in the Holy Quran in respect of Jesus, it proves that he, too, has died.

Second hadith: The Holy Prophet asked his companions if any one at all of the previous prophets had survived so that he too would be expected to go on living. Had Jesus been alive the Holy Prophet could not have used this argument. Or, his companions would have argued back that as Jesus was alive the Holy Prophet need not die either. This shows that the Holy Prophet and his companions believed Jesus to be dead.

Third hadith: The Holy Prophet prophesied that all the believers living then would be dead within a hundred years. So even if Jesus had been alive then, he would have died in the specified period.

Fourth hadith: Just as the ages of various prophets, for example, Moses, David, Solomon, etc., are recorded in Hadith, Jesus’ age is noted in a hadith as being 120 years.

Fifth hadith: Had Jesus been alive, the Holy Prophet could not have said that "Moses and Jesus would have been my followers had they been still alive".

Sixth hadith: The Holy Prophet has made a reference to the tomb of Jesus.

Seventh hadith: On the night of the great Mi‘raj the Holy Prophet saw Jesus and Yahya (John the Baptist) together in the same place. Yahya being dead, shows that Jesus also was dead. The Holy Prophet met not the physical bodies but the souls of the prophets in the Mi‘raj experience.

Eighth hadith: On the Mi‘raj night all the other prophets, including Jesus, were led in prayer by the Holy Prophet Muhammad in the mosque at Jerusalem. This shows that Jesus was dead, for otherwise he would have descended to Jerusalem physically, and then ascended to heaven a second time — something which no one believes. This vision of leading all the previous prophets in prayer signified that the holy Prophet was the Khatam al-anbiya, and the one to whom the followers of these prophets would now have to render obedience.

Ninth hadith: The Holy Prophet’s discussions with the Christian delegation from Najran show that he believed Jesus to be dead.

Tenth hadith: In Bukhari two different physical descriptions of Jesus are recorded: one where he was seen along with other prophets in the Mi‘raj; and the other where he is seen circumambulating the Ka‘ba with the Dajjal in a dream of the Holy Prophet relating to the latter days, i.e., in the distant future.

This proves that Jesus, the Israelite prophet was dead, for the Messiah of the latter days was to be another person. It should be noted that prophecies invariably require interpretation and are not necessarily fulfilled exactly literally. The reason is that when a prophet or other righteous person is shown future events by God Almighty, it is in the form of visions or dreams seen by their spiritual, not physical, eyes. All holy scriptures are agreed that most dreams and visions require interpretation. This also applies to the Holy Prophet’s prophecies relating to "the descent of the Messiah", Dajjal, Gog and Magog, the Dabbat al-ard, etc.

Just because there are prophecies speaking of the "coming" of the Messiah, one cannot deduce therefrom that Jesus is still alive, while on the other hand numerous verses of the Quran and many Hadith reports declare forcefully that Jesus is not alive but died, and even his age is given as 120 years.

Next: 3. Ijma

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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