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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 - 1

by Maulana Hafiz Sher Mohammad

Translated into English by Dr. Zahid Aziz

1. Evidence of the Holy Quran

The Holy Quran emphatically proves that Jesus has passed away like other mortal human beings, and is no longer alive anywhere. It clearly states that Jesus possessed only human characteristics, and was in no way divine but a servant of God and his messenger. From birth to death, he was subject to all the physical and biological limitations that God has ordained for human beings.

First evidence: All human beings live and die in this world.

Prophets belong to the human race, and they are, therefore, subject to the eternal Divine law that human beings live and die in this world. The Quran states :

  1. "Therein (i.e. on the earth or physical world) shall you live, and therein shall you die, and therefrom shall you be raised." (7:25)
  2. "And there is for you in the earth an abode and a provision." (7: 4)
  3. "Have We not made the earth draw to itself the living and the dead." (77: 25, 26)
  4. "From it (i.e. the earth) We created you, and into it We shall return you, and from it raise you a second time." (20:55)

In these verses God has set forth His law that all human beings shall live their lives, with their physical bodies, in this world. Furthermore, it is opposed to the Divine law, according to which prophets have to bear persecution here in this world, that Jesus should be raised up to heaven when he was opposed by the Jews. His supposed physical life in heaven for two thousand years without food or drink is also opposed to the Divine law expressed in the above verses.

Second Evidence: Physical life depends on food and drink.

God has described His law, applicable not only to ordinary people but to all prophets as well, that life depends on food and drink:

  1. "We did not send before you (O Muhammad) any messenger but they surely ate food." (25:20)
  2. "We did not give them (i.e. the prophets) bodies not eating food." (21:8)

Of Jesus and his righteous mother, it is stated : "They both used to eat food" (5:7). So if Jesus no longer eats food — all Muslims hold that he does not eat food in heaven — he cannot, by the Divine law stated above, be alive with his physical body. The body requires food, so Jesus no longer eating food must be dead.

Third Evidence: Human body suffers ravages of time.

There is not a single human body in the world which is impervious to change. The living body is necessarily changing all the time. The Quran states:

  1. "And We granted abiding for ever (khuld) to no mortal before you (O Muhammad). If you die, will they abide (khalidun)" (21:34).
  2. "They (i.e. the prophets) did not abide for ever (khalidun)" (21:8).

As regards the meaning of the word khulud (translated above as abiding for ever), the famous Quranic dictionary of Imam Raghib explains:

"Khulud is that a thing be immune from decay, and that it endures in an unchanging condition. The Arabs call such a thing khulud... i.e., to persist in one condition, not being subject to change" (pp. 153, 154).

According to Arabic lexicology, therefore, khulud signifies persistence in one and the same state, with no change or decay taking place. In the verses above, a Divine law has been explained under which every person is affected by the passage of time. He is first a child, then an adult, then old and finally he dies. This is corroborated by many other verses, for example:

  1. "Allah is He Who created you from a state of weakness, then gave you strength after weakness, then ordained weakness and hoary hair after strength." (30:54)
  2. "Of you is he who is brought back to the worst part of life (i.e. old age) so that after knowledge he knows nothing." (22:5)
  3. "And whomsoever We cause to live long, We reduce to an abject state in creation. Do they not understand?" (36:68)

A general law of God has been stated here, to which no human being is an exception. From being a child, a person develops physically to attain his fullest development. After that he begins to decline, and ultimately reaches his ‘second childhood’ when he loses all his former attainments.

If, for the sake of argument, Jesus were to return to this world, he would be about 2000 years of age, and hence, according to the above Divine law, too old to be capable of doing anything at all. In fact, it is certain that, under this law, Jesus died a very long time ago.

Fourth Evidence: Death of all Prophets

  1. "The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a messenger; messengers before him had indeed passed away." (5:75)
  2. "And Muhammad is only a messenger — messengers have already passed away before him. If, then, he dies or is killed, will you turn back upon your heels?" (3:143)

The second verse here explains the first one. Both verses are similarly worded, the first referring to Jesus, and the second to the Holy Prophet Muhammad. The Quran’s verdict here is very clear for a truth-seeker. The first verse explicitly states that all prophets before Jesus had died — and all Muslims accept this. In the second verse, the same words are used to state that all prophets before the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) had died. In fact, since no prophet arose between Jesus and the Holy Prophet, the second verse could only have been revealed specifically to show that Jesus had died. Classical works of Arabic grammar tell us that, owing to the prefix al (the), the word messengers (al-rusul, lit. "the messengers") in the above two verses really means all messengers (see Bahr al-Muhit, vol. 3, p. 68).

Meaning of khala

It should be remembered that the word khala (translated above as "passed away") in the past tense without a particle, when used about human beings, refers to their death (see Lisan al-‘Arab and Aqrab al-Mawarad). In the Quran too, whenever the words qad khalat without the particle ila are used about any persons, the meaning is that they passed away and died, and will not return to this world. For instance:

  1. "Those are a people that have passed away (qad khalat)." (2:134)
  2. "…before which other nations have passed away (qad khalat)." (13:30)
  3. "…among nations that have passed away (qad khalat) before them." (46:18)
  4. "Such has been the way of Allah with those who have passed away (khalat) before." (33:38)

In interpreting the two verses about all prophets before Jesus and the Holy Prophet (may peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) having passed away, the commentators have generally adopted the same meaning:

"The Holy Prophet would leave the world as had done previous prophets, by natural death or murder." (Qanwa ‘ala Baidawi, vol. 3, p.124)

In fact, the above verse about the Holy Prophet (3:143) itself clarifies the meaning of khala (passing away of all previous prophets) by using the words "if he dies or is killed" with regard to him. Obviously, the "passing away" of all previous prophets must also be one or other of "dying" or "being killed".

Fifth Evidence: All "gods" are dead

All those who are taken to be gods besides the One God are described by the Quran as "dead":

"And those whom they call on besides Allah created nothing, while they are themselves created. Dead (are they), not living. And they know not when they will be raised." (16:20-21)

And as to Jesus being taken for a god, the Quran itself bears witness:

"Certainly they disbelieve who say: ‘Allah, He is the Messiah, son of Mary’." (5:72)

These verses prove conclusively that Jesus, who is taken to be ‘god’ by a large section of mankind and is called by them as "Lord Jesus", must have been dead when these verses were revealed. Otherwise, this exception would have been mentioned here.

After amwat — "Dead (are they)" — the words ghairu ahya’-in — "not living" — clarify the matter absolutely, and re-affirm the death of these "gods".

Sixth Evidence: Jesus’ second coming contradicts Finality of Prophethood

Jesus’ coming again into this world would infringe the principle of the Finality of Prophethood because the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) is the last and final prophet according to that principle. The Quran says:

"Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last of the prophets." (33:40)

The Holy Prophet’s being the last prophet (Khatam an-nabiyyin) necessitates that after him there should not appear any prophet, neither a new one nor a former one. Just as the coming of a fresh prophet would infringe the Finality of Prophethood, so would the appearance of a former prophet, because the Last Prophet is the one who appears after all other prophets. If Jesus comes after the Holy Prophet, he (Jesus) would be the Last Prophet, the Khatam an-nabiyyin.

It is wrong to argue that, in his supposed second coming, Jesus would not be a prophet (nabi). For the Quran says:

"Jesus said: I am a servant of God: He has given me the Book and made me a prophet, and made me blessed wherever I may be." (19:30-31)

So, were he to return to this world he would still be a prophet. His coming without prophethood would be meaningless, for the task of leadership of the Muslims (Imamah) and successorship to the Holy Prophet (Khilafah) could be performed by a member of the Muslim community. Hence it stands proved that Jesus died, as did all other prophets, and that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) is the Last Prophet.

Seventh Evidence: Holy Quran specifically mentions Jesus’ death

Having explained so many general principles on the subject of life and death, it was not necessary that the Holy Quran should speak specifically of the death of Jesus. Nevertheless, Almighty God has particularly mentioned Jesus’ death in the Quran. When the Jews succeeded in their plans to have Jesus sentenced to crucifixion, he prayed to God to be delivered from this fate, and was answered by Him thus :

"O Jesus, I will cause you to die, and exalt you to My presence, and clear you of those who disbelieve and make those who follow you above those who disbelieve till the day of Judgment." (3:54)

Here God made with Jesus four promises:

  1. "Cause you to die" (tawaffa), i.e., Jesus would not be killed by the Jews, but would die a natural death.
  2. "Exalt you in My presence" (raf‘a), i.e., he would not be crucified, which the Jews sought to do to prove him accursed, but rather he would receive Divine nearness. In fact, raf‘a is the opposite of wad‘a, the latter meaning disgrace and the former meaning honouring.
  3. "Clear you of those who disbelieve" (tathir), i.e., he would be cleared of the Jews’ allegations against him, as he was by the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
  4. "Make those who follow you above those who disbelieve till the day of Judgement", i.e. his followers would forever have the upper hand over his rejectors.

The above verse proves that Jesus has died, for raf‘a (exaltation to God’s presence) is attained only after death when all the material veils have been removed. Every righteous person is granted raf‘a to God after his death. The Holy Prophet has said:

"When a believer nears death, angels come to him. So if he is righteous, they say: ‘O pure soul! leave, you were in a pure body’ … So that pure soul comes out, then they take it to the heavens and its gates are opened for it." (Mishkat).

Hence, whenever a righteous individual dies, the angels take his soul up to heaven. The very same happened in Jesus’ case, so that after his death it was his soul that was raised to heaven, and he joined the ranks of the righteous among the dead.

Thus God fulfilled all the above promises in order: He rescued Jesus from the hands of the Jews, and eventually granted him a natural death; after his death, God honoured his soul with Divine nearness; He cleared him of the Jews’ allegations against him through the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) and He gave Jesus’ followers the upper hand over his rejectors.

Eight Evidence: Christians went astray after Jesus’ death

Jesus’ statement, on the Day of Judgment, that his people made him a "god" after his death, is recorded in the Holy Quran as follows:

"And when God will say: ‘O Jesus, did you say to men, Take me and my mother for two gods besides God?’ He will reply: ‘Glory be to Thee! it was not for me to say what I had no right to say. If I had said it, Thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Thy mind. Surely Thou art the great Knower of the unseen. I said to them naught save as Thou didst command me: Serve God, my Lord and your Lord; and I was a witness of them so long as I was among them, but when Thou didst cause me to die Thou wast the Watcher over them. And Thou art Witness of all things’." (5:116, 117)

This extract proves the following:

  1. Jesus shall deny preaching the erroneous present-day Christian doctrine of his divinity;
  2. He shall confirm the teaching he actually gave to his people;
  3. So long as Jesus was among his people, his followers held correct beliefs;
  4. It was after Jesus’ tawaffa (translated above as ‘Thou didst cause me to die’) that their beliefs became corrupted.

Meaning of tawaffa

Lexicons of Arabic tell us that tawaffa Allahu fulan-an, i.e., ‘God did the act of tawaffa to such a one’, means that God took his soul and caused him to die. This is the meaning given in Taj al-‘urus, Al-Qamus, Surah, Asas al-Balaghah, Al-Sihah and Kullyat abi-l-Baqa.

In the above verse, Jesus speaks of two distinct periods of time. The first one is mentioned in the words "so long as I was among them", and the second one when only "Thou wast the Watcher over them"; ‘them’ being Jesus’ people, the Christians. The first period (that of Jesus’ presence among his people) changed into the second period (that of only God, not Jesus, being their watcher) as a result of tawaffaitani or "when Thou didst cause me (Jesus) to die".

Now according to the above verse, the Christians held right beliefs in the first period, and wrong views in the second. As the Quran tells us repeatedly, and as all Muslims believe, Christian beliefs had become corrupted (or, in other words, the second period had begun) by the time of the advent of the Holy Prophet. So Jesus was dead by that time, as the second period was to come after tawaffaitani or the death of Jesus.


According to the Holy Quran, Jesus holds no more than the following three positions:

  1. He is a mortal from among mortals;
  2. He is a prophet of God from among the prophets;
  3. He is one of those who is worshipped as god by some people.

The Jews believe him to be an ordinary mortal, while the Christians worship him. The Muslims accept him as one of God’s prophets. The Quran has proved Jesus to be dead with respect to each one of the above three positions.

1. Jesus as an ordinary mortal:

The Quran states:

"We have not made before thee (O Muhammad) any mortal to abide for ever. If you die, will they (the opponents) abide?" (21:34)

This verse shows that the human body is never immune from change, and that it must live and die here in this world. As Jesus too was human, he must be subject to the laws God has established for men. Therefore, under the Quranic law "every soul must taste of death", he has died.

2. Jesus as a prophet:

"And Muhammad is only a messenger —messengers have already passed away before him." (3:143)

This verse proves the death of all previous messengers by the time of its revelation. Jesus was thus dead by that time.

3. Jesus as a supposed Deity:

As regards all those who are taken for gods besides Allah, the Quran tells us:

"Dead (are they), not living. And they know not when they will be raised." (16:21)

It is universally known, and confirmed by the Quran, that Christians believe Jesus to be divine and call to him in their prayers. So, according to the above verse, Jesus is dead and "will not answer them till the day of Judgment."

Hence it is fully and conclusively proved that Jesus died long ago, and belief in his continued life is against the clearest teachings of the Holy Quran.

Next: 2. Hadith



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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