23 May 2012

Proof #1: Jesus' own testimony on the Judgement Day

This short dialogue takes place between God and Jesus on the Judgment Day when he is asked if he gave his followers the belief of his own and his mother's divinity. He responds in the negative and begs complete ignorance on what happened after his death. 

    “And I said nothing to them except that which Thou didst command me ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.’ And I was a witness over them as long as I remained among them, but since Thou didst cause me to die, Thou hast been the Watcher over them; and Thou art Witness over all things. (5:118) 

Argument 1:
This verse talks of two different and distinct phases of Jesus’ existence in relation to his people: one in which he was among them and the other when he was no longer among them. The boundary between these two phases is defined by the Arabic word Tawaffi. His absence from among his people is preceded by the state of Tawaffi. The question is whether Jesus is present among his people or is he absent from his people? If he is not among his people then the state of Tawaffi has surely preceded this state of absence.

Argument 2:
According to this verse, Jesus is keen to point out that the Christian belief in his divinity was not in existence as long as he was among his people, it only took root after Allah had caused Tawaffi to him. The doctrine of Jesus' “Sonship” as a part of the Holy Trinity is a well established fact among Christians, so in light of the above verse it must be concluded that Jesus has already met his Tawaffi.

The only reasonable conclusion that may be drawn from this verse is that Jesus has already gone through the state of Tawaffi, and if Tawaffi means death then this verse is directly asserting that he has already died.

Meaning of Tawaffi
This word has been used twenty four times in the Holy Qur'an, in all cases it means one of two things: death or sleep. Where the act is committed by God or the angels, and the object upon which this act is committed is a human, Tawaffi simply means death, except when it is used in conjunction with the qualifier 'night', in which case it means sleep. In all cases it applies to a person's soul and not to the body, and there is no exception to this in the entire compendium of Arabic literature, past or present.

Here is a complete list of verses using this word: 2:235, 2:241;3:194; 4:16, 4:98; 6:61, 6:62; 7:38, 7:127; 13:41; 10:47,10:105; 12:102; 16:33, 16:71; 22:6; 32:12; 39:43; 40:68, 40:78;47:28; (this reference scheme counts Bismillah as the first verse of every chapter)

Usage of Tawaffi in Hadith
Holy Prophet saw has used Tawaffi in exactly same context in relation to himself. This Hadith is taken from Buhkari Kitab-ul-Anbiya and Commentary on chapter Al-Maida:

Ibne-Abbas narrates that the Holy Prophet said: “On the Day of Judgement I will see some people from among my companions being taken to the Left. Upon seeing them I will say, ‘my companions! my companions!’. I will be told that when I parted from them they turned back on their heels. At that point I will say the same thing what (Jesus son of Mary) the righteous had said: that while I was among them I watched over them but once You caused me to die (Tawaffi) it was You alone who watched over them.”

This hadith shows that the nature of Tawaffi of Jesus is the same as the nature of Tawaffi of the Holy Prophet. If that was not the case, Holy Prophet would not have said I will say what Jesus had said …. It is noteworthy that the Holy Prophet uses the same word and uses it in the exact same context.

Furthermore, Imam Bukhari quotes Ibn-e-Abbas saying Tawaffi means death. (Bukhari Kitab-ut-Tafseer under Maidah verse 118). Note this statement from Ibn-e-Abbas is in relation to this particular verse and is taken from one of the most trusted sources of Islam.

The commonly understood meaning of the word Tawaffi is death. The same word is used in
Namaaz-e-Janaza (funeral prayers), where it is said: Cause us to die (Tawaffi) in the state of submission.

Lexical Meaning of Tawaffi
Assas-ul-Balagha, Qamoos, Taj-ul-Uroos, Lisaan-ul-Arab, Sihah-e-Johri, Farhang-e-Asaphia all agree that Tawaffi means death.

Corollary: He is never going to return
When God asks Jesus about certain Christian beliefs, he pleads ignorance and says that he has absolutely no idea what happened after his death. Remember this conversation takes place on the Day of Judgment. Now, would this be a truthful testimony if he had only a few years ago (40, as is alleged) made his second in-person appearance on earth, taken a good stock of the situation, done what he could to put matters straight and even waged a holy war against the Christians on account of their false beliefs? Surely in that circumstance his testimony would have been entirely different. He would have defended himself saying that while it is quite true that after being supernaturally raised to the heavens, and staying, supernaturally, again, alive for thousands of years, and his poor followers on observing all this unique supernatural phenomena surrounding him getting misled into concluding that he was a divine being, HOWEVER, once he landed on Earth he refuted the claims of his divinity, he worked to remove any confusion about his status as a normal human (despite the many supernatural feats he had accomplished), and had guided the Christians away from their false beliefs. He says none of this, all he has to say is I don't know! Conclusion: he never really returns.

Proof #2: God's promise to Jesus

     O Jesus Indeed I will cause thee to die and exalt thee to Myself, and will clear thee of the charges of those who disbelieve, and will place those who follow thee above those who deny thee, until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me shall be your return, and I will judge between you concerning that wherein you differ (3:56) more translations

This is an important verse in this debate, quoted by both sides of the argument. Tawaffi has already been discussed in Proof 1. It clearly means Death. The other word of significance here is Rafa, which literally means 'to raise'. Rafioka Illayya, means 'raise thee to Myself'. The beginning of this verse mention two acts of God, one in which He shall cause Jesus to die (Mutawaffika), and the other where he shall raise Jesus to Himself (Rafioka Illayya). Whatever may be the meaning of Rafioka Illayya, one thing is certain that it comes after Mutawaffika. Jesus will die before he is raised. 

Could this mean that Jesus has been physically raised to the heaven? Remember that this verse only talks of Jesus being raised towards God, which is quite contrary to being raised to the heaven. Let us explore a little bit as to what could 'raising towards God' may mean. For one, it cannot mean a physical ascension, such that the body of Jesus actually makes a movement in a certain direction. For Jesus to physically move in the direction of God, from point A to point B, requires a physical existence of God. Not only that, for point B to be distinct from point A, it requires that God be not present at point A, because only then does a move towards point B makes any sense. If God is present at all points in the Universe then it is impossible for Jesus to physically move in His direction. At best Jesus can be allowed to remain physically stationary.

The alternative and more meaningful reading is that ‘rafioka’ means elevation of spritual rank. Moreover, since Jesus is alleged to have died on the cross, which according to the Old Testament is an accursed death (Deut 18:20; 21:22-23), Allah absolves him of that ignominy and adjudges his fate to have been exactly the opposite: a noble death and elevation of spiritual rank.



Proof #3: Jesus fate no different to earlier prophets

 The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a Messenger; surely, Messengers like unto him had indeed passed away before him. And his mother was a truthful woman. They both used to eat food. (5:76)

This verse makes the following assertions:

    Jesus was a messenger; messengers before him have passed away.
    Jesus and his mother used to eat food i.e. they don’t anymore.

In this verse taken from the chapter Al-Maidah both statements independently assert Jesus’ death.

Argument 1

The first part of this verse is a classic syllogistic construct. So before proceeding, a word or two about Syllogism may be appropriate. It is a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn from two given or assumed propositions (premises): a common or middle term is present in the two premises but not in the conclusion, which need not be expressed but is assumed deductible from the premises. For example if it is said: All swans are white; Henry is a swan. Syllogism dictates that Henry is white. This is very much a reasoning primitive, like a, b, c of logic.

In this verse that middle term is Rusool (messenger) connecting the two propositions: 1. The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a messenger and 2. Messengers before Jesus have passed away. Given this, the conclusion is self-evident and need not be explicitly stated in the verse itself: that Jesus has passed away as well.

It may be argued that with syllogism it is possible to reach an invalid conclusion despite individual propositions being independently true. As in: All trains are long; some buses are long; therefore some buses are trains. But the question is why did Allah choose a well known tool of reasoning if the conclusion was to be invalid? Is it to mislead the reader, one may ask? That is inconceivable. So it must be accepted that the conclusion is valid. Jesus is indeed dead like all prophets before him.

Argument 2

The above conclusion is further supported by what follows in the same verse. That Jesus and his mother used to eat food. The reason why his mother stopped eating is, indisputably, her encounter with death. Since both mother and the son have been joined together in a single statement. It can only be deduced that Jesus has stopped eating for the same reason, which is his own encounter with death.

There is not much wiggle room in interpreting this verse another way, yet it may be argued that it is possible for Jesus to have stopped eating but be still alive by some special decree of God. That avenue of escape is also blocked by the Quran. Once Quran decides that Jesus dies there is no way for him to survive. The following lays to rest the notion that Jesus is sitting hungry in the fourth heaven, but is somehow surviving:

    And we did not give them (Messengers) bodies that ate no food, nor were they to live for ever. (21:9)

Let us assume that Jesus is still alive and is, one day, going to descend from the heavens. Envisage the day of his return. After a fast of over two thousand years he would of course be looking forward to eating something. And would perhaps request his hosts, the ulema, for food to break his fast. How surprised he will be when instead of laying a sumptuous dinner in his honour, the ulema will present him with verse 76 from Al-Maidah. Jesus will be told that according to the Holy Quran he used to eat food. And in absence of any mention of his eating food in the future the ulema find themselves duty bound to deny him much deserved hospitality. Al-Maidah:76 stands in the way of Jesus eating anything. No amount of protestations from Jesus will be allowed to prevail. On one hand Ummah stands to lose the integrity of the Qur'an and on the other a starving man in need of food! Of course the Ummah cannot lose the Qur'an. So Jesus would have to save the world on an empty stomach.

With little reflection it can become amply clear that the belief in a living Jesus as is in fact a grave insult to the person of our Holy Master, Muhammad saw. If there was someone who deserved to live and to return, it had to be Muhammad saw. How can it be that our Holy Master lies buried while a Bani-Israeli prophet lives in the heaven? It is an abomination to consider that a prophet who received nothing by way of spiritual training from the Holy Prophet would get to spiritually rejuvenate Holy Prophet’s ummah in the later days. Remember that Jesus is not a spiritual pupil of the Holy Prophet. As far as Jesus is concerned he is not indebted to the Holy Prophet in any manner whatsoever. On the other hand, if the scenario of Jesus’ return is true, Holy Prophet would find himself greatly indebted to him. It would be Jesus who would save the ummah of the Holy Prophet from destruction. A generous favor, indeed, extended from Jesus to the Holy Prophet, which the Holy Prophet will have no way of returning, even partially. So Jesus's declaration in the New Testament that “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last”, would prove correct in a much larger context than its original import, which was limited to certain people and was confined to that period in time. Ultimately, it would be Jesus alone who would save the world. The fact that there was Muhammad saw somewhere between the first and second appearance of Jesus, would only be a footnote in religious history. Jesus would indisputably emerge as the ultimate savior. There is no escaping this sad conclusion for those who accept and await the literal reappearance of Jesus as part of their belief system. But, thankfully and mercifully, this concept is nipped in the bud by the Holy Quran with its unequivocal declaration that Jesus has died. May his soul rest in peace.

“Your Imam from amongst you”

Holy Prophet saw said that Issa (Jesus) to come will be from within the Ummah. He used the words Imamokum Minkum: that he will be “your imam from amongst you”. This hadith is sourced from Bukhari and Muslim and is therefore of the highest reliability:

Abu Huraira narrates that the Holy Prophet saw said that (O Muslims!) how would you feel when son of Mary will descend amongst you and he will be your imam from amongst you.

This narration rules out the possibility that the ‘son of Mary’ who is to come is the old Jesus. The one to come and lead the Muslims will be from amongst them, the people of Muhammad saw. Whereas Jesus was a Bani-Israeli from the people of Moses. In the Holy Qur'an his charter is described as limited to a particular race: the Children of Israel (see 3:50, 61:7). A prophet sent to the Children of Israel would be an outsider to the Muslims. Muslims being the followers of the Universal Prophet Muhammad saw come from all races of the world, not just the Children of Israel. Jesus is simply not qualified to address the Muslims and a global audience. If he were to return in person, Muslims on the authority of the Holy Qur'an, would be justified in refusing his leadership.

Also the word nazala, which means ‘to descend’, needs to be clarified. It happens to be one of the principal stumbling blocks for those who approach this issue with pre-conceived notions. In Arabic, this expression is used to signify high importance, usefulness or glory. The Holy Quran uses it in relation to the creation of clothing, iron and cattle (see 7:27, 57:26 and 39:7). Each of which is described as having ‘descended’ and each has, without doubt, played a critical role in the progress of human civilization. The same word is used in relation to the Holy Prophet saw himself (see 65:11-12)! Of course no one understands it to mean that the Holy Prophet descended from the heavens. Therefore ‘descending’ of the messiah only signifies his high status and the critical role he would play in bringing about the rejuvenation of Islam. His advent would be a source of great blessing for the Muslims. He would be born within the Ummah, and is metaphorically given the name Jesus son of Mary to indicate his remarkable similarity with that prophet, even though he would be a completely different person.

The question arises as to why has he been called Jesus? Why not by some other name? To understand this one needs to be attuned to the language of scriptures and prophets, which is always high in metaphors and analogies especially when it comes to prophecies. Since the Holy Prophet Muhammad saw was a prophet like Moses therefore the messiah who was to appear among his people has been given the same name as the messiah who came to the people of Moses. That beautifully completes the analogy between Muhammad saw and Moses. Furthermore, in naming him Jesus, a whole gamut of clues and signs is provided which would prove invaluable in his identification when he comes. His time of coming, his circumstances, the state of the Muslims of his time, and a whole host of other indicators are all succinctly conveyed by naming him Jesus.

In conclusion, that messiah, the saviour of the people of Muhammad saw, would be from amongst them. He would entirely owe his spiritual excellence to the Holy Prophet and all his victories and achievements would in fact be victories of the Holy Prophet saw.

Proof #4: Prophets before Muhammad have all died

And Muhammad is but a messenger. Verily all Messengers have passed away before him. If then he dies or is slain, will you turn back on your heels? (3:145) 

Two points are being made here with reference to the Holy Prophet saw:

1. Since prophets before him have all died, so also will this prophet die, and his death would not be indicative of a defect in his prophet hood.
2. If it were necessary for prophets to live forever then show us a single instance from among earlier prophets who is still alive.

If Jesus as, who came some six hundred years before the Holy Prophet saw, was still alive then neither of these arguments would hold.

The construct used here is similar to that used in 5:76 (discussed earlier). It opens with the statement that prophets before Muhammad saw have all died. For ‘death’ the Arabic expression khalat has been used, which means to pass away. Some argue that in addition to death, khalat could also mean just about any manner of departing including bodily ascending to the heaven, or some other atypical departure, while still alive. Arabic usage of khalat would resist this interpretation but anyhow presently we will not get into lexical discussion. This verse spares us that trouble as it internally provides a complete translation of this word. It says:If then he dies or is slain, will you turn back on your heels?Hence the two ways in which a prophet can pass away are either he dies a natural death or he is slain. There is no third possibility mentioned, which can only mean it does not exist. If it is assumed there were a third, fourth or fifth manner in which prophets had passed away in the past, then those should also have been listed here. Otherwise this verse would be incomplete and factually incorrect, which is not expected of the Word of Allah. To help understand why, consider the following similarly constructed statement. This analogy is drawn from cricket:

If Javed is neither bold nor caught, would you doubt he is still playing?

To be complete, this statement needs to enumerate, without omission, all ways of completion of innings. Otherwise it is defective and is of no help in telling us anything about Javed and his innings. Anyone with basic knowledge of the laws of cricket knows that Javed's innings could have been completed in a number of other ways. For example he could have been out hit-wicket, run out, or he could been out handling the ball, or he could have simply exceeded the allotted time for the match. But the statement defaults on mentioning any of these and arbitrarily limits itself to only two. So we are left with the following choices: we could insist there are only two ways of completing innings—notwithstanding laws of cricket and accounts of countless matches. Or we could declare this statement to be incomplete and defective. Anyone with basic knowledge of cricket has no choice but to opt for the latter. This statement fails to inform us whether Javed is out, or is playing, or even whether he will ever complete his innings. In fact it tells us nothing. To attribute a defective statement like this to the Holy Quran is problematic, to say the least.

Therefore, omission asserts impossibility. If any prophet had passed away by ascending to heaven then it could not have been excluded from mention here. Clearly Jesus is very much in mind when reading this verse because, after all, among the prophets he is nearest in time to Hazrat Muhammad saw and therefore his fate needs to be accounted for before anyone else's. In 4:158 it is stated he was not slain. Therefore, he could only have died a natural death.

In the translation of the verse above, universal quantifier “all” has been inserted before “Messengers”. It is important to explain this inclusion lest someone thinks of it as a dishonest addition to strengthen own argument. It is true that “all” does not appear in the Arabic text however its inclusion is implied in view of the conclusion being drawn, which is the prediction of Muhammad’ssawdeath and its certainty of occurrence. That conclusion can only be reasonably reached if the opening premise applied to all prophets. If all is replaced with the alternate some, this verse would be saying that Holy Prophet is sure to die because some prophets before him also died. Clearly the conclusion does not follow the premise. If only some died then why on that basis should Muhammad saw die? Replacing all with some will only make sense if the argument being made were that Muhammad saw may or may not die, which is just not the case.

Consensus of the Companions

Is there any hadith which speaks of the companions discussing and asserting Jesus' death one way or another? The problem in finding such a hadith is that arguments over death of people long gone, whether it occurred or not, is hardly engaged upon by the sane. Absence of any hadith to this effect in fact points to Jesus' death and not his life. No one, for example, in the year 2006 holds discussion forums on George Washington, the first president of the United States, being alive or dead, which tells us that his disposition is not a subject of interest or argument and all agree that he has died. It would be a poor reflection on someones intelligence to needlessly labour the point that George Washington has died. Similarly the companions of the Holy Prophet saw did not hold discussions on the death of Moses, Isaac, Abraham, Noah, Adam and neither did they discuss the dispostion of Jesus simply because they believed him to have died and there was no reason to question it such that it became a topic of interest. There is however one remarkable incident which leaves little doubt as to where they stood on the matter of death of all prophets including Jesus. That incident occurred after the death of the Holy Prophet saw. He was not yet buried and the companions were in a highly emotional state, many refusing to believe his death even though they could see his body lying in front of them. The following narrative is taken from Sahih Bukhari:

Abdullah bin Abbas narrates that when Abu Bakr arrived Umar was addressing the people. He said, “O‘ Umar sit down.” Umar did not sit but people left him and turned their attention towards Abu Bakr, who then said, “Those amongst you who worshipped Muhammad saw should know that Muhammad saw has died. Those who worshipped Allah should be satisfied that Allah is alive and is impervious to suffering death. Allah has said that Muhammad saw is but a messenger. Verily all Messengers have passed away before him. If then he dies or is slain, will you turn back on your heels? Those among you who turn back on their heels will not harm Allah a whit and Allah will reward those who are thankful.”
In another narration it said that Umarra was in such an agitated state that with his sword drawn he promised to strike down anyone who said that the Holy Prophet saw had died. Abu Bakrra on learning of these disturbing developments removed the covering from Holy Prophet's saw face, kissed his forehead, and said that surely Allah would not subject him to two deaths. He understood that Holy Prophet saw was not going to return. He then gathered everyone in the Masjid-al-Nabwi and recited 3:145 (the verse under discussion). Those who were in doubt realised what had come to pass. Umar went weak in the knees and collapsed. It is said that it felt like this verse was being revealed for the first time. With great wisdom Abu Bakr had brought the delicate situation under control. This verse was sufficient to prove to all present that Muhammad saw had passed away like the earlier prophets. If it was the general belief that even one among the earlier prophets was still alive surely Abu Bakr's reasoning would have failed. If khalat did not mean death, Umar could not have been convinced and would have protested and brought up the case of Jesus. On the contrary no one uttered a word of protest and all concluded on the authority of this verse that Muhammad saw had died like prophets before him.

Proof #5: Prophets need to eat to live

And We did not give them bodies that ate no food, nor were they to live for ever. (21:9) 

This verse makes the following statements about prophets:

They cannot survive without food.
They do not live for ever.

It is mentioned in 5:76 that Jesus used to eat food. Since he does not eat anymore, so according to this verse, his corporeal existence must have terminated, i.e. he has died.
It further states that Prophets do not live for ever. “Live for ever” should not be taken too literally as the concept of eternity is abstract and unfathomable. An argument of this nature that limits itself only to negation of eternity carries very little meaning. Come eternity, no one will be around to check if anyone still survives. One way to understand this is to ask the question if a million year lifespan would run afoul of this verse? Or would a thousand? Clearly both would. The fact is that any lifespan that could be classed as unnatural or aberrational in its extent is disallowed here. If Jesus is still alive, it would make him some 2000 years old! Needless to say, that is unnatural for an ordinary person as well as a prophet.

Proof #6: Indignities of old age

And there are some of you who are caused to die prematurely, and there are others who are driven to the worst part of life with the result that they knew nothing after having had knowledge (22:6)

In this verse Allah divides people into two groups in relation to how long they live:

-The first group covers the majority of mankind: those who die before they reach old age. They die prematurely in the sense that by design they could have lived longer had they not suffered some illness, accident or harm.

-In the second group, people reach the natural limits of their life and progressively lose command over their faculties as they waste from a state of life towards a state of death. In this verse Allah calls it the “worst” part of life, where it is reduced to a loathsome, wretched existence. Mentally they start regressing and become more and more like a child. Further deterioration causes them to forget their life experience. Higher order mental activity in the cerebrum slows and brain function becomes limited to performing its primordial duty of regulating breathing and heartbeat. For those who still do not perish, their mind becomes a blank slate. There remains no residual memory, emotion or feeling. Finally and mercifully, death encroaches and claims its victim who was long gone anyway.

In view of this it is clear that as far as the course of life is concerned, Allah the Creator Who knows the design of man, divides mankind into these two groups. Jesus as, a human, has no choice but to fall into one or the other group. Either he has already met his death at its appointed and appropriate hour some two thousand years ago, or, he is still alive and therefore subject to the inescapable ravages of time such that his constitution would have deteriorated to a degree where it would be immaterial whether he lives or does not live. In that state, his continued existence cannot possibly be of any benefit to himself or to the mankind.

Proof #7: On unnatural lifespans

We granted not everlasting life to any human being before thee. If then thou shouldst die, shall they live here for ever? Every soul shall taste of death; (21:35-36) 

In simple idiomatic terms this verse declares that no one before the Holy Prophetsaw was granted a life span longer than common human experience such that he or she still lives. Those who were born before the Holy Prophet and can reasonably be expected to have died, have all died. The word everlasting does not mean eternal, since eternity cannot be squeezed “before” any event in time. Once a limit is put on the arrow of time, in this case, the birth of the Holy Prophet, eternity stands breached since it cannot exist in bounded space. No one could have existed, or not existed for that matter, in eternity, before the Holy Prophet. What follows lays bare the intent of the verse. It builds a conclusion on the opening statement and puts the question: “If then you should die”. Here if then can only mean that the Holy Prophet will experience death because those before him all experienced death in the normal course.

There is another fundamental problem with the contention that everlasting means eternal. In that case a question is being posed to the Holy Prophet which he is not capable of answering. From his perspective, eternity has not yet expired, nor it ever can expire for him or anyone else. So it is impossible for him to be a judge of someone “before him” being still alive when eternity ‘happens’. Projecting this scenario to the future does not help either for two reasons: one, eternity is unreachable and, two, he is mortal, which is also the conclusion of this verse. Holy Prophet can only be a witness to unusual life spans, and that is exactly what is being denied here.

Jesus as who preceded the Holy Prophet saw by about 600 years is firmly in the cross hairs of this verse and cannot possibly survive its clear verdict.

Proof #8: It's curtains for earlier prophets

Those are a people that have passed away; for them is what they earned, and for you shall be what you earn; and you shall not be questioned as to what they did. (2:135

The preceding verses mention a number of prophets. This verse declares the prophets of the bygone days all dead. For them is what they earned, meaning their accounts are closed and their actions have come to an end. There is a finality and closure as far as their actions are concerned, so also there is a separation between us and them. This verse is in fact a corollary of Holy Prophet Muhammad saw being the Khataman Nabiyeen, the Seal of the Prophets. Earlier

Prophets have no unfinished business left and hence there is no need to keep any of them unnaturally alive in the recesses of the heavens. In other words, it is not their problem anymore. The task of spreading the message of God is in the safe and capable hands of the Holy Prophet of Islam, may peace and blessing of Allah be upon him. All spiritual blessings and ranks now flow through his person. Holy Prophet saw is in no need of help from a prophet sent to another people. Through his power of spiritual purification he is capable of raising such souls from among his own people as would help him in his mission, some of whom may even reach the status of a prophet while staying subservient to him. That is entirely consistent with his status of Khataman Nabiyeen, whereas the return of an earlier prophet to rescue his mission, a prophet who received nothing by way of spiritual food from him, is a rank insult and is tantamount to breaking that seal.

Proof #9: Synopsis of Jesus' life

‘And peace was on me the day I was born, and peace there will be on me the day I shall die, and the day I shall be raised up to life again.’’ (19:34) 

Here Jesus refers to three principal events of his existence: the day of his birth, the day of his death and his resurrection on the Day of Judgement. One would expect that in addition to these three events his purported ascent and the subsequent descent in the Latter days would be important enough to merit a mention, yet we find them conspicuously absent. If real, these

momentous and unprecedented events with enormous consequences for himself and the rest of the humanity would be quite at par with his birth, death and resurrection  yet Allah makes no mention of it here or anywhere else in the Holy Quran. On the contrary, numerous verses assert his death as having already occurred, some directly and others indirectly, while not a single verse speaks of his corporeal ascent to the heavens, his future descent nor his continued survival. One can only conclude that it is a figment of some people's imagination that is unequivocally rejected by the Holy Quran.

Proof #10: Life limited to the terrestrial

But Satan caused them both to slip by means of it and drove them out of the state in which they were. And We said: ‘Go forth; some of you are enemies of others, and for you there is an abode in the earth and a provision for a time.’ (2:37)

This verse clearly fixes earth as the place of life-long abode for man. As long as he lives, man's corporeal existence is to remain confined to the terrestrial world. Once a person dies, his astral body or the soul departs and joins the dead in the celestial world, leaving behind the physical body to decay, disintegrate and become fodder for the lesser creatures—‘dust to dust’, in other words. Man is born in the mundane, lives in the mundane and is going to die in the mundane. It is like a prison with death being the only possible avenue of escape. This verse rejects the idea of Jesus or, for that matter, anybody else going up to the heavens alive. Holy Prophet saw in his special vision known as the Mairaj, saw him in the Second Heavens accompanied by Prophet Yahya. This reference is from Sahih Bukhari:

Narrated by Malik bin Sasaa that the Holy Prophet saw said: “while I was lying in the Kaaba ... and Gabriel set out with me till we reached the nearest heaven ... I saw Adam there. Gabriel said to me, ‘This is your father, Adam; pay him your greetings.’ So I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O' pious son and pious Prophet saw.’ Then Gabriel ascended with me till we reached the second heaven... there I saw John and Jesus who were cousins to each other. Gabriel said to me, ‘These are John and Jesus; pay them your greetings.’ So I greeted them and both of them returned my greetings and said, ‘You are welcomed, O' pious brother and pious Prophet saw...”

This evidence is also problematic for a living Jesus. What is he doing among the dead? Such absurd intermixing of the living and the dead is intellectually indefensible and exposes religion to ridicule. Muslims would be well-advised to reject the idea of a living Jesus, an idea which grants him a supra-human status and elevates him above the creation and encroaching upon divinity. It is a deeply damaging belief, which is contrary to Tauheed and is helpful to Christians in their claimed divinity and son ship of Jesus.

Proof #11: Unstoppable Ageing

And him whom We grant long life—We revert him to a weak state in creation. Will they not then understand? (36:69) 

This verse describes the process of ageing as an unstoppable natural phenomenon from which no man is exempt. Jesus would be subject to its sanction just like anyone else. Once having reached physical maturity and prime, he would have steadily aged and grown weaker over the years before becoming an old man. Not long after that he would have met his death. There is nothing remarkable in that. His fate could be no different to any other human being. However, if we are to believe that he is still alive as he incredibly steps into the third millennium of his life, then according to the verdict of this verse, his physical and mental faculties would be in a state of such advanced decrepitude that his existence would be utterly meaningless. That is the only form of life which this verse would allow him: a life that is indistinguishable from death itself.

Proof #12: The inevitable decline

The example of life on earth is like that of water that We cause to descend from heaven. Then with it mingles the vegetation of the earth of which both the people and the cattle partake. It continues to be so until the earth blossoms forth in full bloom and ripens into loveliness—then while those who possess it deem themselves supreme over it, there suddenly descends Our decree at night or during the day. Then We render it a field that is mown down as if it had not existed the day before. Thus do we expound our Signs for a people who reflect. (10:25)

Another expression of the same universal law that covers all life. Like vegetation, life blossoms to a full bloom and then withers away and dies. Is Jesus exempt from the certainty of this universal law?

Proof #13: The conjecture

And their saying, 'We did kill the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah;' whereas they slew him not, nor crucified him, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified; and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it; they have no definite knowledge thereof, but only follow a conjecture; and they did not convert this conjecture into a certainty; On the contrary, Allah exalted him to Himself. And Allah is Mighty, Wise. (4:158-159)
The emphasis is upon their failure to murder Jesus by any means. The reader is reminded that the very beginning of the verse refers to the Jewish boast that they had succeeded in murdering Jesus.

This Jewish claim is firmly rejected by the Holy Quran. That is why by the end of verse, the conclusive declaration is that whatever may have happened they certainly failed to kill him. This implies that it is not the act of crucifixion which is denied. What is denied is death by crucifixion.

Walakin Shubbiha Lahum: the word Shubbiha in the text must be carefully studied. The context of the preceding verse would not permit the implied reference to any other than Jesus or alternatively it could refer to the incident in general. In conformity with the rules of grammar the implied pronoun in the word Shubbiha can refer to none other than Jesus Christ himself. This means that it was he who was obscured and made to appear to them similar to someone else. Hence as Jesus was hung upon the cross he hung in the likeness of someone else. Evidently the denial is not that of crucifixion or apparent death thereupon but the denial is death by crucifixion. There was certainly great confusion as to what actually happened. So the verse continues to build the scenario of confusion and doubt. All else is nothing but conjecture. That is the final conclusion.

If the word Shubbiha refers to the incident as such, this would point to the diverging claims of the two disputing parties as to what had happened. Neither of the parties were certain of the validity of their claims. For instance the belief of Jesus' death by crucifixion and later resurrection was not based on any tangible grounds but was merely conjectural. Likewise the Jewish claim of Jesus' death upon the cross was no less conjectural. Hence their appeal to Pilate for the possession of Jesus' body. In fact they clearly expressed their doubts regarding the entire episode of his so-called death and they warned Pilate that in the likelihood of his survival he might reappear in public claiming that he had risen from the dead (Matthew 27:63-64).

It is to this that the last part of the verse under study refers, when it says wa innalladhina. Certainly those who differ about it (or about him as to what actually befell him) were themselves in doubt.

Bal rafa'ahullahu ilaihi: the majority of orthodox Muslims infer from this part of the verse that the connotation of Bal refers to the act of crucifixion i.e., instead of letting him die upon the cross, God rescued him by raising him bodily to somewhere in the heavens. As such he should be living somewhere in space in the same corporeal form that he possessed prior to the attempt of his crucifixion. This interpretation raises many difficult questions, mainly:

(a) If Jesus was not crucified at all, is the entire history of crucifixion emphatically denied and the whole episode just a fiction or delusion suffered by the Jews, the Christians and the Romans alike?

(b) Where in the verse is the claim that Jesus was raised bodily to the heavens? All that is mentioned simply is that God exalted him to Himself.

As to the first question the orthodox build a fantastic scenario according to which the fact of the crucifixion itself is not denied but is claimed that the person who was crucified was not Jesus but someone else who was given the likeness of Jesus by some angels at the command of God. Hence the doubt and conjectures were about the identity of the person who was crucified. Evidently this explanation creates only more problems than it solves. Moreover the entire tale is absolutely without foundation. No scriptural evidence or evidence based on the traditions of the Holy Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is ever presented to support this bizzare claim which simply adds more conjectural confusion.

It is as if this explanation of the verse dawned only upon the medieval scholars while the Messenger of God, peace be upon him, remained himself completely unaware of it.

As to the second question the weakness of the claim is apparent from the wording of the Holy Quran. The word rafa'a means elevated. Whenever Allah elevates a person the elevation always refers to the status of the person, never to his body. In fact it is impossible to translate this verse in any way other than the said meaning i.e., the elevation of spiritual station.

The verse declares that Allah elevated Jesus to himself. Evidently no point in space of the heavens is mentioned to which Allah raised him. He raised him to Himself while He was present where Jesus was. No place in heaven or earth is empty of Allah's presence. So when someone is said to be raised to Him, a bodily movement is impossible and inconceivable. According to the Ahmadiyya understanding of this verse, the connotation on the contrary refers to the Jewish claim of the accursed death of Jesus. Obviously the opposite of curse is nearness to God.1

1. The Holy Quran translated by Maulvi Sher Ali published by Islam International Publication Ltd 2006; notes under verse 4:158, 159.

Proof #14: The fallacy

And there is none among the People of the Book but will believe in it before his death; and on the Day of Resurrection he (Jesus) shall be a witness against them (4:160)

This verse contains three implied references, two of which are hanging and therefore controversial. Depending on where they are turned this verse gives different meaning, of which some make sense and others less so.

Understanding #1

And there is none among the People of the Book but will believe in him (Jesus) before his (Jesus) death; …

Many scholars who believe in Jesus to be still alive base their claim on this understanding. By pointing both references bihi and mauti-him to Jesus, they contend that each and every one of the People of the Book will believe in Jesus at some indeterminate time in future, and this will happen before Jesus’ own death. The logic goes that since not all Jews have yet believed in Jesus, therefore this verse mandates Jesus to be still alive. They say this event will occur after Jesus descends from the heavens.

As to how will this come about? It is said that upon his return Jesus will wage a war of extermination against the Jews. But before going on an all-out offensive, he will give them a clear ultimatum: they can accept him and live or they can reject him and die. And forthwith he will begin the killing process that will spare not a single rejecting Jew. This is a key point. This understanding does not allow even a single rejecting Jew to survive. The usage of the all inclusive in-min-ahlil-kitabi at the beginning of the verse requires that 100% of the Jews must participate in of what follows—here, ‘belief in Jesus’. What better way to ensure 100% participation than to kill 100% of those who do not! When Jesus is done with the holy massacre the only type of Jew left alive will be one who believes in him. And having accomplished this, Jesus will have successfully removed the primary obstacle to his own death and in due course will die. But until then, he remains very much alive, they say.

Of course the first problem here is the genocide of the Jews, but that apparently is a non-issue with the proponents of this translation. They are resigned, if not quite comfortable, to nearly complete extermination of the Jews as a race. Trying to shame them into changing their minds is probably not going to work, so let us focus on dialectical analysis and see if that leads somewhere. The expression in-min when applied to a group of people or things means each and everyone of them with no exclusions permitted. In this verse it is applied to the People of the Book, i.e. the Jews. While it simply means all Jews, past and present, the proponents of #1, have placed a number of exclusions on it. All Jews who have existed and died before Jesus’ reappearance are excluded. All those who reject him after his reappearance are also excluded (they will be killed by him, of course). It is also said that after the extermination of the world Jewry and subsequent death of Jesus, qiyamah, the calamity that will bring the world to an end, will soon follow; yet at other places it is also said that the world will be choke-full of disbelievers when it happens. The question is, if everyone ends up believing in Jesus and by extension in God and Muhammad, who, on earth, would be these non-believers? It turns out these wretched people will be those Jews and others who will go “astray” after Jesus’ death. One would imagine that the Jews converted under duress would be particularly eager to revert the moment Jesus dies and the threat to their lives is lifted. Who could blame them for that? Anyways, that is the third exclusion. So the term which connotes universal inclusion, gets progressively sliced such that only a very thin sliver of its intended targets remain its purview. This, in my opinion, is mutilating a uniquely all-inclusive clause. Let the reader be the judge.

Understanding #2

And there is none among the People of the Book but will believe in him (Jesus) before his (person of the Book) death; …

Proponents of this translation say that in their death-throes Jews are forced by angles to believe in Jesus. This, obviously, is impossible to verify. However, it does not help the argument of Jesus' life or death either way.

What it “really” means:

Clearly, the first translation is logically absurd and also in violation of Arabic usage, not withstanding it requires extreme cruelty on the Jews; a type of cruelty that would make Nazi era atrocities look quite tame by comparison. The second translation is acceptable only in that it is neither provable nor disprovable.

Here is an alternate reading of the verse which clarifies its meaning.
 And there is none among the People of the Book but will believe in it (conjecture expressed in 4:158) before his (own) death; …

The previous verses (4:158-159) state that though they claim to have killed Jesus, yet it is merely a conjecture about which certainty eludes them, and they are in a state of doubt about it. They neither managed to kill him, nor did they successfully crucify him; they tried to humiliate him, whereas Allah exalted him. It is this conjecture to which the implied reference bihi turns in 4:160. It means the state of doubt of Jews/Christians on this matter will remain as long as they live, only in the afterlife will this matter be resolved for them, and not in the way they expect.

Proof #15: Aging—a fact of life

It is Allah Who created you in a state of weakness, and after weakness gave strength; then after strength, caused weakness and old age. He creates what He pleases. He is the All-knowing, the All-Powerful. (30:55)

It is hard to believe that any one would wish for Jesus to still be alive and cursed with over 2000 years of aging. A normal lifespan becomes painful after only 90 or so years, 2000 years of age would be an impossible existence. The Holy Quran terms aging an incontrovertible principle applicable on all life forms, including Jesus. Age eventually brings with it a loss of physical and mental powers. It is unstoppable and irreversible. If something is alive, it ages. Born in a state of weakness, man begins to gains strength until reaching a physical and mental peak, then decline sets in progressively diminishing one's faculties, until in advanced old age existence becomes a sort of living death with ones dignity entirely compromised. Mercifully, most people die before reaching this terminal stage.

Jesus is a man, he may be a prophet but that does not make him exempt from this fact of life. Quran supports the contention that if he were still alive, his existence would be degraded to a state of mental death. Aging for 2000 years is perhaps the worst fate imaginable, and would not be suffered by a revered prophet of God. There is no precedent for what existence at that kind of age would be like, though we can imagine that such a person would be incapable of rational, coherent thought. His brain would be physically destroyed and muscles atrophied to complete uselessness. Rather than pin the hopes of the entire ummah's rescue on such a person, would it not be better to let him just die?

Also see:

Proof #16: Inescapable death

Then We fashioned the sperm into a clot; then We fashioned the clot into a shapeless lump; then We fashioned bones out of thisshapeless lump; then We clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed it into another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators. (23:15)

Then after that you must surely die. (23:16)

Here, the process of creation is described as it goes through its various stages in the womb. Once a complete human specimen is delivered, it begins its inevitable journey to its death. Jesus would have gone through the very same process and would have met his eventual and timely death in due course.

While Quran presents an overwhelming evidence of Jesus' natural death, yet there are many who remain insistent on his continued life. It is a difficult position to defend, which goes against nature as well as the Word of God. But the defenders of the indefensible are usually of the unyielding kind. When beaten on all fronts, at some point they take refuge in the last of all fall-back shelters—their very last line of defense: Fine, he is dead! but is it not in the power of God to bring him back to life? They just have to have him back! That question, mercifully, is also answered right here in the next verse:

Then on the Day of Resurrection will you be raised up. (23:17) 
Yes he will be raised, but not here. It will be in the Hereafter, along with everyone else. There he will not be asked to save the politics of the Muslim ummah, fight wars for them or grant them global domination, while they idle about and watch the wholesale slaughter of the infidels. Such macabre and cruel expectations are products of sick minds and will never be fulfilled.  When Jesus is raised, like everyone else, he will only be asked to give an account of himself, a glimpse of which is given in the Holy Quran and is discussed here.

30 Verses from Holy Quran that proves the death of Isa (as)

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