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July 3rd, 2014

Jesus – the Descent, but not of Son of Mary

Jesus – the Descent, but not of Son of Mary

else, end of Quran, Islam and the Finality of Prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh)

Similar to Christian beliefs there is a prevailing myth in Muslims of bodily ascension of Jesus to heavens and his return towards the end of times in person. As discussed in various chapters before, Jesus never ascended bodily to heavens. Purpose of Quran is not to dwell and refute his bodily ascension, but it merely discusses Jesus like any other prophet or an exalted personality and in the due course of discussion it naturally emerges that Jesus died like any other mortal. Still, Muslims in general base their belief on certain Hadiths that Jesus, the Messiah will return. Such a 'descent' of Jesus must match his 'ascent' before. If physical ascension contradicts Quran, then his 'physical' descent will destroy Quran. Only survival of impeccable integrity of Quran is in spiritual and metaphorical ascension and descent of Jesus.

As far as Quran is concerned, there is a specific historical time line from Jesus to Prophet Muhammad and not from Muhammad to Jesus as erroneously believed by those waiting for the re-advent of Jesus son of Mary, else it will utterly contravene the following verse:

61:6. And (recall the time) when Jesus, son of Mary, said, `O Children of Israel! surely I am a Messenger sent to you by Allâh fulfilling (the prophecies contained in) the Torah which preceded me and pronouncing the good news of (the advent of) a great Messenger named Ahmad, who will come after me.' But when he (- the Prophet Muhammad) came to them with clear proofs, they said, `His are the enchanting ways separating (us from our people).'[1]

Descent of Jesus, son of Mary, to reform the whole world as believed by Muslims is factually out of his scope of work. Quran only ascribes him as a prophet and that too only for Israelites:

3:48-49. (The angels continued), `And He will teach him [– Jesus] the art of writing (and reading) and the Wisdom and the Torah and the Evangel. `And (He will appoint him) a Messenger to the Children of Israel (with the Message)…[2]

If even for a moment one believes in actual physical descent of Jesus after Prophet Muhammad, then such a myth holder will have to reconcile for oneself the following facts in Quran:

* Everything that has been or is worshiped besides Allah is dead, which includes Jesus who is worshiped as Son of God by Christians:

16:20-21. And the things whom they call upon apart from Allâh can create nothing. Rather they are themselves created. They are dead, not alive. And they do not perceive when they shall be raised (to life again).[3]

Quran even identifies Jesus by name as one of those who are worshipped besides Allah, and in light of verses above, he is then naturally dead:

5:72. Indeed, they have disbelieved who say, `Allâh – He is the Messiah, son of Mary,' …[4]

* Before we can even entertain the idea of someone leaving the physical universe alive only to return, according to Quran, without exception, no one leaves it alive, inclusive of Jesus:

7:25. And (He added), `In this (very universe) you shall live and therein you shall die and from it you shall be brought forth (in the Hereafter).'[5]

* As shown above, no one leaves this physical universe alive and there is no return either:

21:95. And it is not permissible to (the people of) a township whom We have destroyed to come back (to life of this world). [6]

23:100. `So that I may do righteous (deeds) which I failed to do (in the worldly life).' `Never, that can never be,' (is the answer he receives). It is but a word (of excuse) which he utters. And there is a barrier behind them which shall remain till the day when they shall be raised to life (again).[7]

39:42. Allâh takes away the souls (of human being) at the time of their death and (also) of those who are not (yet) dead during their sleep. He detains (the souls of) those against whom He passes the verdict of death and sends (back those of) others till a fixed period of time. There are signs in this for a people who would reflect.[8]

* There is no verse in Quran to validate the physical descent of Jesus. Rather, his mission was well defined and limited only for the Children of Israel and his mission has passed (as in past tense) with no residual future assignment:

43:59. He [–Jesus] was no more than a servant (of Ours) whom We graced with Our blessings and favours and We made him (to be) an example (of virtue and piety) for the Children of Israel.[9]

* Even if Jesus is presumably physically alive in heavens, then he must be in need of earthly food and water which are requisites to be alive:

21:7-8. (Prophet!) We sent none (as Messengers) before you but (they were) men to whom We made Our revelations. Therefore (O disbelievers!) ask the followers of the Reminder if you do not know (this). Nor did We give them such bodies as could go without food, neither were they people given unusually long lives (to enjoy).[10]

But, from Quran, we know that at least in the heavens, the earthly food cannot be heavenly food:

32:17. No soul knows what refreshment of the eyes is hidden for them: a reward for what they did.[11]

* If Jesus son of Mary is bodily alive in heavens then at least according to the following verses he is not following the dictates of his office of a prophet, which is just not possible for a prophet:

19:30. (It came to pass that the son of Mary) said, `I am indeed a servant of Allâh, He has given me the Book, and made me a Prophet.

19:31. `And He has made me blessed wherever I may be, and He has enjoined upon me prayer and alms-giving so long as I live.

19:32. `And (He has made me) dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me arrogant, graceless.

19:33. `And peace was upon me the day I was born, and (peace will be upon me) the day I die, and the day I shall be raised up to life (again).'

19:34. Such was Jesus, son of Mary. (This is) a statement of true facts (about him), concerning which they so deeply disagree.[12]

Thus, there is a clear declaration by Jesus in Quran that he will be – alms-giving so long as I live. If Jesus is physically alive as of today, irrespective of him being in heavens, then he must be giving alms even now. While in heavens, the ‘alive’ Jesus cannot give alms, a fundamental requirement of all the prophets while on this earth, unless there is a flourishing earthly economy in heavens as well and there are needy in need of alms of others, which of course is not possible in heaven. Thus if Jesus is bodily alive, then for sure he is not in Paradise, because by definition in heaven there is happiness, comfort and plenty for everyone and no one carries a begging bowl asking for alms:

56:88-89. And if he (the departed person) belongs to those who have attained nearness (to God and are His chosen ones), Then (he will have) happiness, comfort and plenty and Garden of Bliss.[13]

* Admittedly, Jesus, a prophet while not earth now, must be in heavens. But, the question of his descent back to earth is plain impossible, because once in heaven, always in heaven:

15:48. They shall suffer no fatigue, nor shall they ever be ejected from there [–the Paradise].[14]

Not only the Paradise dwellers will live in there forever, they will never even want to return to the former earthly abode:

18:108. Wherein they shall abide forever, having no desire to be removed from there [–the Paradise].[15]

In all fairness, it will be injustice to any one in heaven to be made to return to the earthly abode, especially Prophet Jesus who has already endured hardships, trials and tribulations.

It is only the Hell dwellers, not Jesus, who would wish to return back to this worldly life:

2:167. And (at that time) the followers shall say, `If we could only return (to the life of the world)…[16]

* By today's counting, if Jesus were to return to earth while being alive in heavens all the while, he would be more than 2000 years old and still counting. Whereas, Quran does not allow such a perpetual physical life:

21:34. And We did not grant living forever to any mortal before you [– Muhammad]. If you die, will they live forever?[17]

* Even if we presume that Jesus is alive somewhere in heavens and is now at least 2000 years old, if not older, then, according to Quran, like any human, he could not have escaped dementia and weakened body, a dysfunctional state by now:

22:5. …We have indeed created you from dust, then, from a sperm-drop, then from a blood clot, and then from a lump of flesh (partly) formed and (partly) unformed that We make (Our power and the real state of things) clear to you. And We cause to stay in the wombs (that drop of fluid) when We please (to make a perfectly formed being) for a given period of time, then We bring you forth (formed) as infants, then (We bring you up) with the result that you reach your prime. And there are some of you who are called to death (early) and there are others of you who are made to live to the worst part of life; a miserable very old age, with the result that they know nothing after (having had) knowledge…[18]

30:54. (It is) Allâh alone Who creates you in (a state of) weakness, He then replaces your weakness with strength (of youth) and again (replaces your) strength with weakness and gray hair (of old age). He creates what He will. He is the All-Knowing, the All-Powerful.[19]

36:68. We reverse the mechanism of the person to whom We grant (extraordinary) long life by making the state of his constitution weak. Do they not (even then) make use of their understanding?[20]

* By the standards of Quran, for all those who believe in an ever-living Jesus, Quran states that Jesus is like all other Messengers before him who have passed away, and so did he:

5:75. The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a Messenger, all the Messengers have (like him) passed away before him…[21]

Similarly, Quran builds up the case further for the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad who might not believe is his future death, when it states, just like in above verse, all Messengers before Muhammad including Jesus have passed away, and by implication so will he, and he did:

3:144. And Muhammad is but a Messenger. Surely, all Messengers [all – i.e. without exception] have passed away before him…[22]

* The questions thus remains, can the dead including Jesus, return to life and that too as a fully grown adult? Not so, as per Quran, dead cannot return to this worldly life:

23:99-100. Behold! when death approaches one of them (- the rebellious ones) he says (making entreaties repeatedly), `Send me back, My Lord! send me back,

23:100. `So that I may do righteous (deeds) which I failed to do (in the worldly life).' `Never, that can never be,' (is the answer he receives). It is but a word (of excuse) which he utters. And there is a barrier behind them which shall remain till the day when they shall be raised to life (again).[23]

39:42. ALLÂH takes away the souls (of human being) at the time of their death and (also) of those who are not (yet) dead during their sleep. He detains (the souls of) those against whom He passes the verdict of death and sends (back those of) others till a fixed period of time. There are signs in this for a people who would reflect.[24]

* While Jesus, a non-Arabic speaking, if he is in heavens, on his return, what would be his language? Who will teach him Arabic which is the medium of Quran and Hadith. Still, a prophet cannot deliver the full nuances of the Book, but in his own tongue, Aramaic and not Arabic in case of Jesus:

19:97. (Prophet!) We have made this (Qur'ân) easy (by revealing it) in your own tongue, that you may give glad tidings thereby to those who guard against evil and warn thereby a people stubbornly given to contention.[25]

44:58. And We have made this (Qur'ân) easy (by revealing it) in your (Arabic) tongue, so that the people may take heed.[26]

All would agree that Jesus was non-Arab. Arabic was not his mother tongue. Whatever he preached of the Evengel, it must have been like any prophet in your own tongue, i.e. Aramaic for Jesus. Since when has a prophet preached in a foreign language that is expected of Jesus son of Mary on his second advent?

* Quran sets in stone the two necessary components for a prophethood, the Revelation and that too through the medium of Gabriel:

26:192. And verily this (Qur'ân) is a revelation from the Lord of the worlds.

26:193. The Spirit, Faithful to the Trust (– Gabriel) has descended with it.

26:194. (Revealing it) to your heart with the result that you became of the Warners (– a Prophet of God);[27]

The above verses clearly elucidate the pre-requisites for a Prophet, firstly the Revelation itself and secondly the angel Gabriel bearing that Revelation. It is only after these requirements are met when the recipient becomes a Prophet i.e. with the result that you became of the Warners. History bears witness that no revelation from the High came via Gabriel after it terminated with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

When Jesus returns, who will be his source of Divine communication? Will it be the angel Gabriel? If it is Gabriel, then it will create many complications for Islam. Firstly, with the finality of prophethood of Muhammad, Gabriel is in permanent retirement. Any further return of Gabriel on his job after Prophet Muhammad, no matter how briefly, to communicate with any future Prophet(s) the prophetic revelation will break the seal of prophethood of the Last Prophet, Prophet Muhammad:

33:40. Muhammad is no father to any man among you but (he is rather) the Messenger of Allâh and the Seal of the Prophets. Indeed Allâh has full knowledge of all things.[28]

Last prophet is ‘Last’ only if he comes as the last one, which was none other than Prophet Muhammad.

Secondly, a non-Gabriel only medium of revelation eliminates the status of the recipient from a prophet to a non-prophet, which is just not possible in case of any prophet, because once a prophet, always a prophet. There is no termination of prophethood for a mortal once put in place by a Divine command. Prophets are never fired from their office.

* According to Quran, on the Last Day every prophet has to stand witness for his people:

16:84. And (beware of) the day when We shall raise a witness from every nation, then those who were ungrateful shall not be given leave (to make amends) nor shall they be afforded an opportunity to approach the threshold (of God) to offer a plea or an excuse (and thus solicit His good will).[29]

In case of Jews and Christians, as their prophet, Jesus will be a witness against them:

4:159. And there is none of the people of the Scripture (- the Jews and the Christians) but most certainly will believe in this (incident, that Jesus died on the cross) before his (actual) death, (while as a matter of fact they have no sure knowledge about Jesus dying on the cross). And on the Day of Resurrection he (- Jesus) will be a witness against them.[30]

Will then Jesus son of Mary, a prophet for Israelites, even though allegedly having lived among the believers of Muhammad by his second coming, stand witness next to Prophet Muhammad for the Muslims? Not so, Quran clearly states that the Prophet Muhammad will be that witness:

4:41. How then (shall these wrongdoers fare) when We call a witness from every nation and when We call you (O Prophet!) to stand witness over these (followers of yours)? On that day those who disbelieved and disobeyed the Messenger would wish that the earth were made level with them. They shall not be able to conceal anything from Allâh.[31]

It can thus be safely extrapolated that a prophet has no role for followers of another prophet.

* Will Jesus on his alleged physical return be a follower of Prophet Muhammad? If so, then it negates the very definition of a prophet in Quran, according to which each prophet is a leader, not a follower of another prophet:

4:64. And We have sent no Messenger but that he should be obeyed by the leave of Allâh [via the medium of Gabriel v. 26.192-4][32]

* It is the promise of Allah that righteous amongst the followers of Prophet Muhammad will be elevated to the status of successors (vouchsafed with both spiritual and temporal leadership) on the earth as He made successors (from among) their predecessors, namely the likes of the prophets of Israelites:

24:55. Allâh has promised those of you who believe and do deeds of righteousness that surely, He will make them successors (vouchsafed with both spiritual and temporal leadership) on the earth as He made successors (from among) their predecessors [–e.g. the followers of Moses], and that He will surely establish for them their Faith which He has approved for them, and that He will surely replace their state of fear with a state of security and peace. They will worship Me (alone) and they will not associate anything with Me. And those who show ingratitude for all the favours done to them after that (His promise is fulfilled), it is they who will be reckoned as the worst disobedient.[33]

The above verse, in light of possible return of Jesus holds true only and only if the said 'Jesus' is re-born like an ordinary mortal and grows up and does deeds of righteousness first, before he is able to be one of the successors of Prophet Muhammad, but then he will be as Jesus, not the Jesus son of Mary, contrary to as envisioned by Muslims in general.

Maulana Muhammad Ali in his book "The Promised Messiah and Mahdi" makes the following argument for advent of Jesus like rather than Jesus son of Mary, in section ‘The evidence of the Quran that the Messiah shall be raised from the nation of Muhammad’[34]:

1. Reports [i.e. Hadiths] are only an exposition of the Qur'an, the evidence of the Qur'an being the strongest of them all. When we turn to the Qur'an we find that it mentions the raising of khallfahs (successors) of the Prophet Muhammad from among this ummah. In chapter the Light we observe:

“Allah has promised to those of you who believe and do good that He will most certainly make them successors in the earth as He made successors before them. [24:55]. Here 'before them' refers to Israelites. As the Prophet has been compared with Moses and called the like of him – “Surely We have sent to you a Messenger, a witness, against you, as We sent Messenger to Pharaoh [73:15] similarly his successors have been likened to the successors of Moses. Thus this verse cannot bear the possibility of the appearance of Jesus Christ in person who was a successor of Moses. The logical conclusion is that as in the nation of Moses, Messiah was raised by God, similarly a like of the Messiah will appear in the nation of Muhammad. In other words this verse implies the coming of the like of Messiah and not Jesus Christ himself in person.

2. The second strong evidence is that prophethood has come to an end with Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him) and Jesus Christ was a prophet according to the Qur'an. It is, therefore, not possible that he should appear after the Prophet Muhammad. If he does come then Jesus Christ, and not the Prophet Muhammad, will be the khãtam al-nabiyyin (the seal of the prophets). Obviously, prophethood will come to an end with a prophet who comes last of all. The thought, that although Jesus Christ would appear last of all but as the Prophet Muhammad was the last in his appointment, therefore he was indeed the last of the prophets, is groundless. If a battle has to be fought and won, only that general would be called the last general who has won it irrespective of the date of his appointment. If A and Z were two generals appointed for this post, A being appointed before Z, and A was still alive when Z died and at last it was he who won the battle, then every wise person would call him the last general. Similarly if Jesus Christ, the prophet of God, would come after Muhammad and the final victory and dominance of Islam would take place at his hand, then he would be called the last of the prophets. The correct view, therefore, is that no prophet, neither new nor old, shall appear after the Prophet Muhammad.

In conclusion, since the source of belief in return of Jesus is based upon authentic Hadiths in Sahih Satta collection, such a pronouncement is a prophecy in metaphorical sense of a person who in the light of v. 24:55 will be like Jesus, but not Jesus son of Mary.

A Few Words About Mahdi

Similar to re-advent of Jesus, the advent of 'Mahdi' too is metaphorical who is believed by general Muslims to coercively convert mankind, unlike all the prophets before, by the tip of the sword, which if so, itself contravenes the basic doctrine of Islam i.e.

2:256. There is no compulsion of any sort in religion (as) the right way does stand obviously distinguished from the way of error…[35]

18:29. And say, `It is the truth from your Lord, therefore let him who wishes (it) believe (in it) and let him who wishes (otherwise) disbelieve (in it).'…[36]

The role of Mahdi to spread the truth is a much needed one, but only with wisdom and goodly and kind exhortation, and in the manner of one who argues with them in the most pleasant and best manner:

16:125. (Prophet!) call the people to the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly and kind exhortation, and argue with them in the most pleasant and best manner. Surely, your Lord knows very well who has gone astray from His path, and He knows very well the guided ones to the right path.[37]

And while arguing, the Mahdi has to maintain the standards of decorum of speech in Quran:

6:107. If Allâh had (enforced) His will, they would not have associated partners with Him. And We have not made you a guardian over them, nor are you a disposer of their affairs.

6:108. Do not revile those whom they call upon besides Allâh, lest they should revile Allâh transgressingly (and) through lack of knowledge. Just [as] We made their deeds fair-seeming to them so have We made to each people fairseeming what they do. Then to their Lord is their return, so He will inform them as to what they have been doing.[38]

Thus, the prophesized Mahdi cannot be bloody but only bloodless. The only ‘weapon’ for Mahdi, like any Muslim is the peace and  logic of Jihad by the mighty arguments in Quran:

25:52. So do not follow the disbelievers, and strive hard against them with the help of this (Qur'ân), a mighty striving.[39]

 


[1] Al-Saff – The Ranks: Nooruddin
[2] Al-i-Imran – Family of Amran: Nooruddin
[3] Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
[4] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[5] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[6] Al-Anbiya – The Prophets: Nooruddin
[7] Al-Muminum – The Believers: Nooruddin
[8] Al-Zumur – Multitudes: Nooruddin
[9] Al-Zukhruf – The Ornament: Nooruddin
[10] Al-Anbiya – The Prophets: Nooruddin
[11] Al-Sajdah – The Adoration: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[12] Maryam – Mary: Nooruddin
[13] Al-Waqiah – The Great Event: Nooruddin
[14] Al-Hijr – The Rock: Nooruddin
[15] Al-Kahf – The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[16] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[17] Al-Anbiya – The Prophets: Nooruddin
[18] Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
[19] Al-Rum – The Byzantines: Nooruddin
[20] Ya Sin – O Perfect Man!: Nooruddin
[21] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[22] Al-i-Imran – Family of Amran: Nooruddin
[23] Al-Muminun – The Believers: Nooruddin
[24] Al-Zumur – The Multitudes: Nooruddin
[25] Maryam – The Mary: Nooruddin
[26] Al-Dukhan – The Drought: Nooruddin
[27] Al-Shuara – The Poets: Nooruddin
[28] Al-Ahzab – The Confederates: Nooruddin
[29] Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
[30] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[31] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[32] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[33] Al-Furqan – The Standard of Truth and Falsehood: Nooruddin
[34] “Promised Messiah and Mahdi” by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 11-12,, translated by S. Muhammad Tufail M.A., Ahmadiyyah Anjuman Ishaat Islam, Lahore (W. Pakistan), Third Edition, pub: 1959.
[35] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[36] Al-Kahf – The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[37] Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
[38] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
[39] Al-Furqan – The Standard of Truth and Falsehood: Nooruddin

 

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