This is a continuation of my rebuttal (*) to Umars critique (*) of my paper (*) on Jesus crucifixion from an Islamic perspective.
Umar has the consistent habit of writing papers that he thinks refute my articles but that actually end up establishing my case since he only manages to bring out the confusing and contradictory positions of Islamic scholars. It is truly amazing that Umar doesnt see this for himself.
For instance, what makes Umars "rebuttal" so ironic is that he provides lengthy quotations from Muslim scholars who actually prove my point that the Quran is unclear regarding Jesus final hours! His own sources admit that Muslims held to different and oftentimes conflicting viewpoints even though they were all reading the same Quran! This is despite the Qurans claim that it is a clear scripture that supposedly provides further clarification regarding the matters that Jews and Christians differ:
There is, in their stories, instruction for men endued with understanding. It is not a tale invented, but a confirmation of what went before it,- a detailed exposition of all things, and a guide and a mercy to any such as believe. S. 12:111 Y. Ali
By Allah, most certainly We sent (apostles) to nations before you, but the Shaitan made their deeds fair-seeming to them, so he is their guardian today, and they shall have a painful punishment. And We have not revealed to you the Book except that you may make clear to them that about which they differ, and (as) a guidance and a mercy for a people who believe. S. 16:63-64 Shakir
With the foregoing in mind we turn our attention to addressing the main points of Umars paper, omitting material that does very little to address the issues we raised.
The Holy Qur'an is clear that Jesus (A) wasn't crucified, that the Jews didn't kill him. It says clearly that it appeared to them that Jesus was crucified, simple and clear.
The Quran is not as simple and clear as Umar makes it seem since it doesnt expressly say that Jesus wasnt killed or crucified. The Quran only says that the Jews didnt kill or crucify Christ:
and for THEIR saying, 'We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of God' -- yet THEY did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to THEM. Those who are at variance concerning him surely are in doubt regarding him; they have no knowledge of him, except the following of surmise; and THEY slew him not of a certainty -- no indeed; S. 4:157 Arberry
Umar is simply distorting what the text actually says.
The language of the passage is such that it can have more than one plausible meaning. For instance, by denying that the Jews killed or crucified Jesus does the Quran mean to suggest that Christ was never crucified or killed? If so then the testimony of history is overwhelmingly against the Quran since both Christian and non-Christian sources agree that Jesus was crucified and buried:
Or is the Quran denying that the Jews killed Jesus by crucifixion? If so then the Quran would be correct since technically the Jews didnt crucify Jesus, but the Romans did since they had the authority to put people to death via crucifixion. Specific Jews were responsible for instigating Jesus death at the hands of the Romans, but they themselves didnt personally kill or crucify him.
Moreover, the Holy Bible expressly proclaims that it was Gods will that Jesus die on the cross:
"He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;" Isaiah 53:3-10
Hence, even though the Jews in one sense were responsible for Christs death and could therefore be held accountable:
"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom THEY have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn." Zechariah 12:10
"For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved--so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God's wrath has come upon them at last!" 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16
In reality it was God who determined that the Romans through the instigation of the Jews would kill Jesus:
"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know-- this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it." Acts 2:22-24
"The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name--by faith in his name--has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled." Acts 3:13-18
"When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, "Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed"-- for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." Acts 4:23-28
If this is what the Quran is saying, that even though the Jews instigated Jesus death they still werent the ones who killed him but Allah did since this was his will, then this would be similar to what the Quran says about the battle of badr where Muslims defeated the larger contingent of the Meccan pagans:
You killed them not, but Allah killed them. And you (Muhammad SAW) threw not when you did throw but Allah threw, that He might test the believers by a fair trial from Him. Verily, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower. S. 8:17 Hilali-Khan
As the following commentaries explain:
You did not slay them, at Badr by your own might, but God slew them, by giving you assistance, and you threw not, O Muhammad (s), [against] the eyes of the [unbelieving] folk, when you threw, the pebbles, for a handful of pebbles thrown by a human being cannot strike the eyes of [every person in] a large troop, but God threw, by making that [throw] reach them. He did this in order to vanquish the disbelievers, and that He might try the believers with a fair test, a [fair] gift, namely, booty; surely God is Hearing, of their sayings, Knowing, of their conditions. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source)
(Ye (Muslims) slew them not) on the Day of Badr, (but Allah slew them) through Gabriel and the angels. (And thou (Muhammad) threwest not when thou didst throw) you did make the dust reach the faces of the idolaters, (but Allah threw) did make it so reach, (that He might test the believers) through the throwing of dust (by a fair test from Him) by giving them victory and spoils of war. (Lo! Allah is Hearer) of your supplications, (Knower) of your help. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn Abbâs; source)
It was Allah who caused the Muslims to throw and kill thereby defeating their enemies, otherwise if he hadnt done so then the Muslims would have suffered a loss. In a similar fashion it was Allah who decreed that the Jews would be responsible in causing Jesus crucifixion, otherwise they would have never been able to cause Christs death had Allah not wanted it. In the words of the Lord Jesus himself:
"For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. NO ONE TAKES IT FROM ME, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father." John 10:17-18
To reiterate the main point, the Quran does not explicitly deny that Jesus was crucified but merely denies that the Jews crucified him. The language of the text lends itself to several explanations, language which has caused Muslims to come up with varying interpretations. This merely highlights the fact that the Quran is an imperfect and incomplete book, contrary to its own assertion of being fully detailed.
Lets correct Shamoun here. The Islamic view that Jesus did not die is that:
In reality it is Umar who needs correction since he speaks of THE Islamic view as if Islam has always historically held to one position.
1) He ASCENDED to God
2) He will return back to earth and DIE, and will later on be RESURRECTED.
To begin with, this is not what the Quran teaches since it doesnt say that Christ will return from heaven in order to die. This is simply one view among many and is based on interpreting specific Quranic passages (i.e. Q. 4:159; 43:61) in light of later Islamic reports, not on the plain meaning of the texts themselves.
There are certain Islamic traditions, however, that claim that Jesus was beaten, scourged, crucified and eventually died:
According to al-Muthanna Ishaq b. al-Hajjaj Isma'il b. 'Abd al-Karim 'Abd al-Samad b. Ma'qil Wahb: When Jesus son of Mary was told by God that he was about to leave this world, he became afraid of death and grieved. He summoned the apostles and prepared food for them saying, "Come to me tonight. I have something to discuss with you." When they assembled at night, he served them with supper. When they finished the meal, he began to wash their hands, cleansing them with his hands, and wiping their hands with his garment. But they considered it a grievous act and were displeased, whereupon Jesus said, "Indeed, he who rejects anything I do tonight, is not of mine, and I am not of his." Then he said, "What I have done with you tonight in serving you the meal, washing your hands with mine-this is to make you and me equal. You consider me the best of you, so do not be arrogant towards one another. Sacrifice yourselves for one another, just as I sacrifice myself for you. My request of you is that you call out to God; call fervently to postpone my end." When they turned to pray and sought to be fervent, they fell asleep and could not pray. He began to wake them, saying, "Praise be God, could you not watch one night to help me?" They said, "By God, we do not know what happened to us, we were keeping vigil but were unable to keep awake tonight, and as soon as we attempted to pray, we were prevented from doing so." He said, "The shepherd is taken away, the flock disperses."
He began to use such language announcing his death. Then he said, "The truth is that one of you shall deny me thrice before the cock-crow, and one of you will shall sell me for a few coins, and he shall eat my price." They walked out and dispersed. The Jews were looking for him. They seized Simeon, one of the apostles, and said, "This one is a companion of his." But he denied it, and said, "I am not his companion." So they left him. Then another caught him, but he denied it again. Then he heard the cock crow, and wept. When morning came, one of the apostles came to the Jews, and said, "What will you give me if I lead you to Christ?" And they set for him thirty pieces of silver. He took those, and led them to him. Before that they were not sure of Christ. But now they seized him, chained him, tied him with cord, and began to lead him away, saying, "You revived the dead, chased away the devil, and cured the possessed, will you not set yourself free from this cord?" They spat upon him and threw thorns upon him, until they brought the wooden board upon which they wanted to crucify him. But God raised him up to Himself and they crucified "only a likeness of that shown them." A week passed. Then his mother and the woman whom Jesus healed and cured from derangement came weeping at the place of crucifixion. But Jesus came to them and said, "Why are you weeping?" They said, "Because of you;" whereupon he replied, "God raised me up to Himself, and nothing but good has happened to me. Only a likeness was shown to them. Instruct the apostles to meet me at place such and such." They met him at that place, eleven of them, as the one who had betrayed him and led the Jews to him was missing. Jesus asked the apostles about him. They said, "He rued what he had done, AND STRANGLED HIMSELF TO DEATH." Jesus said, "Had he repented, God would have forgiven him." He asked them about John, a youth who was following them, and said, "He is with you. Go! Each of you will speak the language of a people to warn and summon them."
According to Ibn Humayd Ibn Ishaq an impeccable authority Wahb b. Munabbih al-Yamani: GOD ALLOWED JESUS, THE SON OF MARY, TO DIE AT THREE O'CLOCK IN THE DAY; then He took him unto himself.
According to Ibn Humayd Salamah Ibn Ishaq: The Christians assert that God granted him death for seven hours of the day, and then resurrected him saying, "Descend upon Mary Magdalene on her mountain, for nobody wept for thee as she did, nor did anybody grieve for thee as she did. Let her assemble for thee the apostles, and send them forth as preachers for God, for you have not done that." God let him descend to her; the mountain was aglow with light as he descended, and she gathered the apostles. Jesus sent them out and commanded to tell men IN HIS NAME of the divine injunction. Then God raised Jesus unto Himself, gave him wings of an angel and dressed him in radiance. No longer did Jesus relish food or drink; he was flying along with the angels, around the throne.
He was (both) human and angelic, celestial and terrestrial. The apostles then dispersed, as commanded. The night on which he was sent down is celebrated by the Christians with frankincense." (The History of Al-Tabari: The Ancient Kingdoms, translated by Moshe Perlmann [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1987], Volume IV, pp. 120-123; bold, capital and italic emphasis ours)
According to Ibn Humayd Salamah Ibn Ishaq 'Umar b. 'Abdullah b. Urwah b. al-Zubayr Ibn Sulaym al-Ansari al-Zuraqi: One of our women was under a vow to appear on al-Jamma', a mountain in 'Aqiq near Madinah, and I went with her. We stood on the mountain and, lo and behold, there was a huge grave with two huge stone slabs over it- one at the head, one at the feet. On them was an inscription in the ancient script (musnad) which I could not decipher. I carried the slabs with me halfway down the mountain, they proved too heavy, however, so I threw one (down) and descended with the other. I showed it to readers of Syriac (to determine) whether they knew its script; but they did not. I showed it to psalm (zabur) copyists from the Yaman and those versed in reading the musnad script; but they did not recognize it, either.
As I found nobody who recognized it, I threw it under a coffer we had, and there it lay for years. Then people from Mah in Persia cam to us looking for pearls, and I said to them, "Do you have a script?" "Yes," they said. I brought out the stone for them and lo and behold, they read it. It was in their script, "This is the tomb of Jesus, son of Mary, God's messenger to the people of this land." They were its people at that time. Among them HE DIED, SO THEY BURIED HIM ON THE MOUNTAINTOP.
According to Ibn Humayd Salamah Ibn Ishaq: The rest of the apostles were assaulted, viciously exposed to the sun, tortured, and dishonorably paraded. The Roman king, who ruled over them and who was an idol-worshiper, heard this. He was told that a man among the Israelites, subject to his rule, WAS ASSAULTED AND SLAIN. The man had announced to them that he was God's messenger. He performed miracles, revived the dead and healed the sick. He created a bird of clay, breathed into it, and it flew, by God's permission. He told them of hidden things. The king exclaimed, "But why did you not mention this to me, about him and them? By God, had I known, I would not have let them have a free hand against him!" Then he sent for the apostles and snatched them from the hands of the Israelites. He asked the apostles about the faith of Jesus and about his fate. They told him, whereupon he embraced their faith. The king released Sergius, and concealed him. He took THE WOODEN CROSS WHICH JESUS HAD BEEN CRUCIFIED, AND HE HONORED AND PRESERVED IT BECAUSE JESUS HAD TOUCHED IT. The king thus became an enemy of the Israelites, and killed many of them. From this arose Christianity in Rome. (Tabari, pp. 123-124; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Anyone remotely familiar with the Gospel traditions can see how they have heavily influenced the foregoing narratives. The question that Umar is going to have to address is how can Muslims such as Wahb bin Munabbih, who happened to be a follower of Muhammads companions, and others believe that Jesus was beaten and scourged, with some even narrating that the cross on which Jesus was placed was preserved, if the Quran so clearly denies that Jesus was killed or crucified? The answer should be rather obvious.
As pointed earlier, one view is that Jesus did not die, but was raised to heaven in his body, a view supported by Ibn Kathir:
And (remember) when Allah said: "O `Isa! I will take you and raise you to Myself.'') When `Isa ascended, those who were in the house came out. When those surrounding the house saw the man who looked like `Isa, they thought that he was `Isa. So they took him at night, crucified him and placed a crown of thorns on his head. The Jews then boasted that they killed `Isa and some Christians accepted their false claim, due to their ignorance and lack of reason. As for those who were in the house with `Isa, they witnessed his ascension to heaven, while the rest thought that the Jews killed `Isa by crucifixion. They even said that Maryam sat under the corpse of the crucified man and cried, and they say that the dead man spoke to her. All this was a test from Allah for His servants out of His wisdom. Allah explained this matter in the Glorious Qur'an which He sent to His honorable Messenger, whom He supported with miracles and clear, unequivocal evidence. Allah is the Most Truthful, and He is the Lord of the worlds Who knows the secrets, what the hearts conceal, the hidden matters in heaven and earth, what has occurred, what will occur, and what would occur if it was decreed. He said,
(Tafsir Ibn Kathir for Sura 4 Ayat 157)
Umar omitted a portion of Ibn Kathirs statements which help put things in proper perspective (note: he does quote the specific part later on in his article):
These Verses tell us that Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) was lifted up to the heaven after his opponents from Jews complained and misled the king of that time, as they wanted to slay him and crucify him.
Ibn Abu Hatim has narrated from Ibn Abbas saying: "'When Allah wanted to lift him up to heaven, Jesus came to his companions in the house. There were twelve people, with some from among his disciples. He had just a bath, and his head was still dribbling with water. He said to them: 'There are those among you who will disbelieve in me twelve times after he had believed in me! Then he said: 'Who will from among you take my likeness and be killed in my place, so will become in my rank?' A young youth came forwards. But Jesus said to him: 'Sit down! Then he repeated the same question, and the same youth stood up and came forwards, and said: I.' Jesus said: 'You are the one,' and then the likeness of Jesus was put on him, and Jesus was lifted up to the heaven from the window of his house.
Jews came looking for him. They took the youth and killed him and then crucified him
Hasan Basri and Ibn Ishaq said: The king who ordered the killing of Jesus, was David bin Naura. He commanded Jesus to be killed and hanged. They surrounded Jesus who was in a house inside Bait-ul-Maqdis. It was a Saturday night. When they were about to enter the house, his likeness was put on one of those who were present there with him. And Jesus was lifted up from the window of that house to the heaven. When the police entered the house they found the youth on whom the likeness of Jesus was put, so they took him and crucified him. Even they put a crown of thorns on his head to mock him. Those Christians who were not present there at that time, believed what Jews claimed, that they killed Jesus. (Elevation or Crucifixion of Jesus? By Ibn Kathir (Stories of the Prophets); sources: 1; 2; bold and italic emphasis ours)
The foregoing raises some more questions, such as why is there absolutely no ancient historical evidence supporting the position that Jesus likeness was cast upon one of the disciples who was subsequently crucified in his place? Where is the data from the first century which mentions the name of this apostle who volunteered to die in Jesus place? All the extant evidence we have which comes from the very eye and ear witnesses of Christ emphatically proclaim that it was Jesus who was crucified, buried and resurrected by the power of God.
Ibn Kathir doesnt stop here:
Ibn Jarir has narrated from Wahb bin Munabbih, saying: Jesus came along with seventeen of his disciples to a house. Then police came and surrounded the house. However, when they entered the house, Allah put the likeness of Jesus on all of those who were there. They were confused, and said: "You have bewitched us. Either Jesus come to us, or we will kill of you." Jesus said to his companions: "Who can buy today a place in Jannah (Paradise)?" A man said: "I"' and went out, claiming: "I am Jesus." They took him and crucified him, and so they were deluded in their belief that they have killed Jesus, and so are the Christians. But Jesus was lifted up to Allah on that day.
Now it was all of Jesus apostles who were made to look like him! How unfortunate that Umar cannot see that Ibn Kathirs comments expose just how incoherent and irrational Islam is, and just how wicked and deceptive Allah can truly be. Ibn Kathir wants us to believe that God wouldnt allow Jesus to die on the cross but would cause someone else, specifically one of the disciples, to die in his place and even go as far as changing his appearance in order to make him look like Christ! Thus, instead of Jesus dying as our substitute Ibn Kathir has a substitute die in Jesus place!
Interestingly, one Muslim candidly admits that, by making one of Jesus followers look like him and die in his place, Allah was in fact acting deceitfully:
However, Allah deceived these people. He saved and raised His Prophet from them, leaving them in disarray in the darkness of their transgression, thinking that they had successfully achieved their goal. Allah made their hearts hard, and defiant of the truth, disgracing them in such disgrace that it will remain with them until the Day of Resurrection. This is why Allah said,
"And they plotted, and Allah planned too. And Allah is the Best of those who plot."
55. "And (remember) when Allah said: "O `Isa! I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify [save] you from those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieve till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute.''
56. "As to those who disbelieve, I will punish them with severe torment in this world and in the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers.''
57. "And as for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, Allah will pay them their reward in full. And Allah does not like the wrongdoers."
58. "This is what We recite to you of the verses and the Wise Reminder."
(Ibn Juferi, The Jews plot to kill Jesus, peace be upon him, August 24, 2006; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Here is what Umar will say regarding my questioning Allahs morality and ethical standards for causing an innocent person to look like Jesus in order to deceive people into thinking that he was Christ so as to get him killed:
Sam Shamoun raises two important objections here:
1) If God allowed for an innocent victim to die, why shouldnt it have just been Jesus
2) Why didnt God just take Isa (A) up in front of everyone, so that his enemies could see, and believe?
Objection no#1 is pretty simple to answer, just look at the verses given in the introduction, and then see if a Merciful God would still allow his anointed one (the Messiah) to be killed.
In other words, Allah showed mercy by sparing his Messiah from being crucified through lying and deceiving the people into thinking that the person they killed was Jesus, when in reality it was someone else made to look like him! How merciful of Allah to prevent his Messiah from getting killed by allowing some other innocent victim to die in his place!
The obvious question to ask is where was Allahs mercy for the victim who died in Jesus place? If Umar responds by saying that Allah rewarded that person with paradise for what he did which justifies Allahs acts then why not simply allow Jesus to die on the cross and give him the reward of heaven instead? Furthermore, if Allah was going to let anyone die then why not simply permit Christ to be killed? But if it wasnt Allahs purpose that Jesus should be crucified then why have anyone crucified at all?
Not realizing what my point was Umar decides to attack straw man by explaining why God didnt simply raise Jesus in front of the unbelievers, since they wouldnt believe such signs anyway! To prove his assertion he proceeds to cite Mark 8:11-12, Matthew 12:24-27 and some Islamic narrations where Muhammad allegedly performed miracles which the unbelievers refused to believe. This wasnt the point I was making, i.e. that God should have raised Jesus in front of them in order to convert them. Here is what I wrote:
After sifting through all these conflicting reports we are still left to wonder if it was Titawus, Judas Iscariot, or the watchman who was made to resemble Jesus? And if it was one of the twelve, or thirteen, or seventeen, or nineteen (?!) disciples who died in Jesus' place, which one of them was it? Furthermore, if God would allow an innocent victim to die in Christ's place, why not just let Jesus die? Finally, what was the point of allowing someone else to die at all when God could have easily taken Jesus to heaven in full view of his enemies? This would have been the greatest act God could have performed IN VINDICATING Jesus from all the lies of Christ's enemies.
I said nothing about converting the unbelievers, but of exposing their lies and slanders by causing Jesus to ascend in full view of the people. This would have served as the greatest vindication of the integrity of Jesus, that he is Gods messenger, thereby silencing all the lies of the unbelievers completely, irrespective of whether they would believe in this miracle or not.
Umar resorts to more straw men.
The view that he was raised to heaven (the ascension) is not what Shamoun is trying to imply, and that is the last thing noted in Sura 19:33, where it says:
"... And that day I shall be raised up to life ".
Or in other words, " The day I shall be RESURRECTED".
Contrary to Umars assertion I wasnt focusing merely on the ascension of Christ, but on the fact that Muslims believe that he ascended before his resurrection. It is ironic that Umar will even quote my words where I make this very point without realizing how this basically exposes that he is doing nothing more than attacking a straw man.
Shamoun mixed up the resurrection with Jesus ascending to heaven, as he says:
"According to Islamic belief John the Baptist lived and died and will be raised to dwell in paradise at the culmination of time. And yet certain Muslims have Jesus ascending to God before dying, destroying the chronological sequence of the passage."
It is clear, Sura 19:33 talks about:
1) His birth
2) His death
3) The day he gets RESURRECTED.
The correct interpretation of Sura 19:33 is as follows:
And Salam (peace) be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!) This is his affirmation that `he is a worshipper of Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, and that he is a creature created by Allah. He (`Isa) will live, die and be resurrected, just like the other creatures that Allah has created. However, he will have peace in these situations, which are the most difficult situations for Allah's creatures.' May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him
(Tafsir Ibn Kathir)
So lets just summarize the main point here:
Jesus ascension is not the same as what is being spoken about in the Ayat, which is the Resurrection. The Muslim view is that indeed Jesus will die and be resurrected when he returns (as confirmed by the Ayat), and he ascended to heaven, this view in no way contradicts the Noble Ayat.
Let me expose Umars straw man. My reference to John should have made it clear to him that I wasnt speaking merely of Christs ascension, but how his life and death are supposed to parallel Johns. After all, I dont believe that the Quran is speaking merely of Johns ascension into heaven when it says that he will be raised but to his eventual resurrection from the dead.
I will go step by step in order to assist Umar in understanding the point so that he can refrain from attacking straw men.
In the first place, the Islamic reports claim that John is in the second heaven with Jesus:
... Then we ascended to the second heaven. It was asked, 'Who is it?' Gabriel said, 'Gabriel.' It was said, 'Who is with you?' He said, 'Muhammad' It was asked, 'Has he been sent for?' He said, 'Yes.' It was said, 'He is welcomed. What a wonderful visit his is!" Then I met Jesus and Yahya (John) who said, 'You are welcomed, O brother and a Prophet.' (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 429)
This means that the sequence of Johns life goes something like this:
Yet this is not what Muslims like Umar would want us to believe. They want us to accept that Jesus was born, was taken into heaven without dying, will return to the earth and eventually die! This clearly goes against the plain reading of Q. 19:15 and 33 which uses the exact language in relation to the birth, death and resurrection of both John and Jesus.
Moreover, the Quran presents additional similarities between John and Jesus, making it evident that the author of the Quran deliberately intended to parallel their lives with one another. For instance:
Seeing that their lives are so similar we would expect that their deaths would be somewhat similar as well. Since history testifies that Herod killed John, showing that this was the way that God intended for him to die, we would expect that Christ would experience a similar fate. Lo and behold, this is precisely what we find history attesting, that Jesus died violently by means of crucifixion!
There is additional proof from the Quran that Jesus died at his first coming, some of which was cited in my paper. I had mentioned Q. 3:144 which says that all the messengers before Muhammad died:
And Muhammad is no more than an apostle; the apostles have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heels, he will by no means do harm to Allah in the least and Allah will reward the grateful. Shakir
I even quoted the comments of the late Maulana Muhammad Ali who used this reference to support that Jesus died. The following citations further solidify this point:
And We sent none before thee, but men to whom We made revelation -- question the People of the Remembrance, if you do not know -- nor did We fashion them as bodies that ate not food, neither were they immortal; S. 21:7-8 Arberry
We have not assigned to any mortal BEFORE THEE to live forever; therefore, if thou diest, will they live forever? Every soul shall taste of death; and We try you with evil and good for a testing, then unto Us you shall be returned. S. 21:34-35 Arberry
The human messengers were not immortals, the Quran says, which clearly shows that Jesus must have died at some point in his earthly ministry; otherwise the Quran is contradicting itself!
In light of his gross misunderstanding Umar has the audacity to say:
Moreover, Shamoun's interpretation itself is very ludicrous. The Holy Prophet (S) also ascended to heaven (Me'raj), yet we do not say he died first then ascended. Obviously, since he has confused ascension with resurrection, he would find a contradiction.
It shouldnt be hard to see that Umar has committed the fallacy of false analogy since Muhammads life is never paralleled with that of Johns, so it is irrelevant whether he ascended or not. Moreover, the Quran never mentions Muhammads Meraj, which is itself a mirage, an illusion plagiarized from the stories of other religious figures who were believed to have been given a vision of heaven (cf. this article).
In fact, the story of Muhammads alleged night journey contains a gross historical anachronism, a quite blatant error, which the readers can see here:
This is simply more evidence that this journey never took place, except perhaps in Muhammads imagination or that of the Muslims who concocted this fable.
As if Umars logical fallacies couldnt get any worse he says:
The commentary for that Ayat is pretty simple. Allah SWT has enjoined prayer, and charity forever. The Muslims are even commanded to do this:
And be steadfast in prayer; practise regular charity; and bow down your heads with those who bow down (in worship). (Sura Al Baqara Ayat 43)
What Isa (A) is basically saying is that Allah SWT has told him, as well as everyone else, to pray to God, and to give charity "as long as you live", which is basically showing the importance of it, as charity and praying Salaat leads one to Paradise.
In the first place, the Quran nowhere states that charity is enjoined upon Muslims forever. The reader should see why this claim is simply absurd in light of the fact that the Quran speaks of Muslims dwelling in paradise forever. What need will there be for charity in paradise when all the believers will be given immortal bodies, rivers of wine, milk, honey, and water to drink, meats and fruits to eat, couches to recline on, maidens to sleep with etc.?
This leads us to our second point. Since Jesus is in paradise he is no longer under any obligation to spend in charity. After all, there is no needy person in paradise whom Jesus can give alms to! Yet the Quran expressly says that Jesus is obligated to give alms as long as he lives, which means that he must have died before ascending to heaven.
We break down our argument step by step so as to make it easier for Umar to get the point:
Hopefully Umar will now understand this particular argument.
Umar quotes Sunni writer G.F. Haddad who claims:
Every Muslim should know that Isa (A) will return and kill the Dajjal (anti-Christ) in the end times. Regardless of a view on these Ayats, every Muslim should believe that Isa (A) will return, as Sheikh G.F. Haddad says:
The difference of opinion whether `Isa died or was raised to the heaven alive and in the body, is also unrelated to his descent at the end of time.
Regardless of everything else Jesus WILL descend from the heaven. He will destroy the cross and kill the swine. The sincere among the Jews and Christians will enter Islam at his hand while the insincere will deny him and join the Dajjal - the Arch-Liar. He will renew the Shari`a of our Prophet Muhammad and kill the Dajjal. He will marry and have children and die together with the last band of believers left on earth, after which the Hour will rise. This is our Sunni faith and whoever wishes to disbelieve let them disbelieve.
(Online Source: http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=7&ID=1789&CATE=24: Fatwa on the Belief in the Descent of Isa by Hajj Gibril)
The above reference can also be accessed here: ; .
Before we address this, it is pertinent that we quote Haddads position regarding Jesus final hours:
1. There is no difference of opinion among the Ulema of reports and of Tafsir that `Isa, upon him peace, was raised to heaven with his material body as narrated from Ibn `Abbas by al-Tabari and from Qatada by Ibn Sa`d and is now alive with his body in the first heaven just as Idris is now alive with his body in the fourth although there is divergence concerning the latter, upon our Prophet and them blessings and peace
Ibn Sa`d, Tabaqat (1:53).
Al-Tabari, Tarikh (1:495).
Al-Baghawi, Tafsir (3:200).
Ibn Taymiyya, Fatawa (4:322-323).
Ibn Kathir, Bidaya (6:291).
Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari (7:209), Talkhis al-Habir (3:214).
`Azim Abadi, `Awn al-Ma`bud (11:307, 11:311-313).
2. Further, it is mass-transmitted (mutawatir) that `Isa will descend again from the heaven both body and soul, and this can only be after he had been raised there body and soul, upon him peace. In fact, the hadith of his descent in the two Sahihs mentions that his head will be dripping with water. This is a reference to (a) the presence of a physical body and (b) the suspension of time for him since his head was dripping with water just before he was raised up, as narrated from Ibn `Abbas by al-Tabari, Ibn Abi Hatim, al-Nasa'i, and Ibn Abi Shayba with a chain meeting the criterion of Imam Muslim according to Ibn Kathir.
Ibn Abi Shayba (6:339).
Al-Nasa'i, al-Sunan al-Kubra (6:489).
Al-Tabari, Tafsir (28:92).
Abu Ghudda in Anwar Shah Kashmiri, al-Tasrih (p. 116-117).
Ibn Kathir, Bidaya (2:92), Tafsir (1:366, 1:574-575, 4:363).
Ibn Taymiyya, Fatawa (4:322-323).
Al-Ghumari, `Aqidat Ahl al-Islam (p. 25-37). (Isa physically raised alive to heaven; source)
In light of the foregoing it should be apparent that it does indeed matter whether one believes that Jesus died before he physically ascended to heaven. After all, if Jesus died then the only way he could be taken into heaven both body and soul is if God first resurrected him. Thus, this view comes closer to the Christian position that Jesus died and was raised from the grave before ascending into glory!
Moreover, this also means that Jesus dies twice and will be resurrected twice, which further destroys the parallel with John the Baptists life. Remember that the Quran parallels their lives which means that since John died once and will be raised only once Jesus will therefore only die and be raised once as well. Otherwise, the parallelism is destroyed.
Thus, if Haddad and these Muslim sources are correct regarding Jesus ascending with his body into heaven then Jesus has already been raised from the dead, since the Quran is clear that he already died, which therefore refutes their assertion that he will die when he returns.
Umar makes it worse for himself since he cites www.islamonline.net to show that the word tawaffa can refer to taking or making someone fall asleep:
The Arabic word "mutawaffika" is derived from the root "tawaffa" and is referred always in the Quran as meaning "to cause someone to die". However, the word originally means "taking". One says: "tawaffaytu min fulanin ma liya `alayhi". Meaning: "I have taken back my debt from so and so". It also means "To make someone fall asleep". This meaning is mentioned in the Quranic verse that reads: "It is He who doth take your souls (yatawaffakum) by night, and hath knowledge of all that ye have done by day: by day doth He raise you up (yab`athukum) again; that a term appointed be fulfilled; In the end unto Him will be your return; then will He show you the truth of all that ye did." (Al-An`am: 60)
To read the complete fatwa please go here.
Since Umar conveniently placed emphasis on the wrong part of the paragraph, overlooking the part which soundly refutes him, we will help him see what he obviously wanted to gloss over:
The Arabic word "mutawaffika" is derived from the root "tawaffa" and is referred ALWAYS IN THE QURAN AS MEANING "TO CAUSE SOMEONE TO DIE".
The above source clearly admits that the verb is always used in the Quran to mean death! Hence, if the Quran always uses the term to mean death then this only further proves that Jesus died.
We aren't the only ones to see it this way since other Muslims readily agree that the clear implication of the verb is that Allah caused Jesus to die before his ascension:
Even if it is accepted that Aal Imraan 3: 144 entails the implication, which Mr. Katz has mentioned, it is quite clear that Al-Nisaa 4: 157 - 158 does not say that God raised Jesus (pbuh), while he was still alive. There is no reason to assume that Jesus (pbuh) was still alive, when God raised him up. In fact, Aal Imraan 3: 55 clearly declares that before God raised Jesus (pbuh) up to Him, He caused Jesus (pbuh) to die. Aal Imraan 3: 55 reads as:
When God said, 'Jesus, I shall cause you to die and raise you up to Myself.
I am sure this would clarify the issue for the readers. (Moiz Amjad, Did Jesus (pbuh) Die?; source)
We have explained that according to the Qur'an God caused Jesus to die and then raised him up. Verses 157-158 of Surah Al Nisaa' say nothing in regards to Jesus being alive or dead, but rather, refutes both Christian and Jewish claims regarding the crucifixion. The Jews claimed they killed him but the Qur'an says that they never achieved their goals; they neither humiliated him nor killed him. At the same time this negated the Christian claims that Jesus suffered and died for the sins of people. Aal Imraan 3:55 reads as follows... It is quite clear that God said to Jesus that He will cause him to die and therefore is our understanding... Considering that the Qur'an mentions Jesus' death and does not mention any replacement then it should be clear that our understanding does not stray from the Qur'anic text. (Ronnie Hassan, Is Jesus (pbuh) Alive?; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Furthermore, adopting the original meaning of the term only causes Umar additional problems since taking back ones debt is simply another way of saying that the debt has been paid or fulfilled. In reference to Christ this would imply that God had completed Jesus earthly term, that Christ fulfilled his mission and God was now taking him back. But this means that there is no second coming for Jesus since his earthly mission has been fulfilled, he has completed the full term of his ministry!
Finally, to say that Jesus was taken during his sleep, or was caused to fall asleep, is basically a denial of his physical ascension into heaven. After all, sleep here would be a euphemism for death, thereby implying that Jesus soul was taken out of his body causing him to die physically. In other words, this interpretation basically means that Allah caused Jesus to experience physical death which led to the ascension of his soul into heaven, conflicting with the Muslim view that he was taken into heaven with his body.
Umar quotes the late Sheikh Jadul-Haq `Ali Jadul-Haq who claims that anyone who believes that Jesus was killed or crucified can no longer be called a Muslim:
The above is absolute nonsense! As mentioned earlier by the Sheikh, any Muslim who says Isa (A) was crucified can not be considered a Muslim anymore:
"A sound belief of every Muslim should be that Jesus was taken up and saved from killing and crucifixion. Anyone who believes in the idea that Jesus was killed and crucified can no longer be called a Muslim."
Apart from this being nothing more than the fallacy of appealing to authority Umar fails to realize how this backfires against both his colleagues and himself. After all, some of Umars fellow writers hold in high esteem certain Muslim debaters and polemicists who actually believe that Jesus was crucified but that he did not die on the cross. This theory is known as the apparent death or swoon theory.
An example of such a Muslim who holds to this erroneous view is apologist Shabir Ally, who even tried to defend this theory (quite unsuccessfully I might add) in his debate with Dr. William Lane Craig, "Did Jesus of Nazareth Physically Rise from the Dead?", held on Monday, March 4, 2003 at the University of Toronto. When confronted in the question and answer period by Christian Apologist Tony Costa jr. as to why Mr. Ally was promoting the Ahmadiyya position of the swoon theory, seeing that this view is considered heretical by orthodox Muslims, the latter responded:
So whereas Sunni Muslims believe that Jesus will be coming again a second time on the authority of many authentic reports back to the prophet Muhammad, reported in authentic collections like Bukhari and Muslims and so on, the Ahmadiyya group believes that Jesus will not come again because he has actually already returned in the person of the founder of that group. I believe that Jesus will come again.
Now our position seem to intersect on the point of Jesus surviving death on the cross. I have looked at the reports that are generally followed by Sunni Muslims, understanding that someone else was substituted for Jesus on the cross, and I have seen that although there are a variety of reports, the commentators cannot agree precisely on what has happened here and how exactly a substitute was given. And it appears that they are following reports which originated in Iraq, according to an excellent analysis done by Neal Robinson, whos a Muslim now, in his book Christ in Islam and Christianity. And looking at the quranic text itself, which is the best interpretation of itself, we see that the quranic text ends with a summary which says wama qataloohu yaqeenan, "they did not kill him definitely", Bal rafaAAahu Allahu ilayhi, "but God raised him to himself." I take this to be a summary of the whole discussion on what has happened to Jesus. There was a plot to kill him but they neither killed him nor crucified him, crucified him in the sense of killing him by crucifixion. That is a definition that has been given in Tafsir-Ul-Quran by Abdul Majid Daryabadi, which is a Sunni Tafsir on the Quran. So I am well within my ranks and I havent changed positions on that, but perhaps interpretations.
Thus, if Umars Sheikh is correct then Shabir is a false Muslim, which contradicts the position of Umars fellow writer Sami Zaatari. Zaatari has written a few rebuttals to certain Salafis where he comes to the defense of Shabir:
Exposing his ignorance of Islamic knowledge and its people, Sami cackles, "lol you guys are so pathetic you attack jamal badawi, shabir ally, zakir naik, and many other great scholars and sheikhs. you guys live in your own world, well guess what, all the non-salafee muslims dont have to listen to your rubbish." Aside from the fact that the names Sami mentions are far from "great scholars and sheikhs," the fact that each of the people named by brother Sami all have legitimate criticisms held against them pretty much renders Samis assertion here as nothing more than accusations based on love of personalities rather than love of truth and Sunnah.
They are indeed great scholars, and have helped many Muslims, unlike you, what do you do? You simply write articles against Muslims! Note how ignorant this man is, he is now going off on Shabir Ally, Jamal Badawi, and DR.Zakir Naik! This in itself shows what a problem people like Rasheed to our the Islamic community.
As the old adage goes, "know the men by the truth and not the truth by the men." This is how we Salafees judge the people. Take Shabir Ally, for examplea man I have known personally for some time. He is very similar to Samis beloved Osama in that he accepts and rejects authentic hadeeths according to what agrees or disagrees with his flawed reasoning and intellect. Worse than that, however, is the fact that he holds the heretic belief of the Qadarees: that Allah does not know things until they happen. He has been advised by many over the past few years (including brother Dr. Bilal Philips) and continues in vain to prove his views as valid by way of semantic tomfoolery. He attempts to dupe his opponents into thinking that he does not really believe that Allah does not know everything using sophistry. However, despite his repeated endeavoursagain, similar to Osamashe continues to expose that he still holds the same twisted notions and heretic beliefs concerning Allahs pre-decree and foreknowledge of everything that is, was and will be.
Men like Shabir are mere feigners of Islamic knowledge and scholarship.
Quite frankly, since I do not trust you, I will personally email Shabir Ally and ask him about this, quoting you, and I will see what he has to say, since you are not to be trusted. You call Muslims kaffirs, you take the Quran out of context, so you are unfit for trust, no offense.
Secondly, I challenge you, I CHALLENGE YOU TO CALL SHABIR ALLY A KAFFIR, go on, go do it so everyone sees how lost people like you are.
Yes men like Shabir Ally are nobodies right? Yes, it is you, the great Salafi scholar Rasheed GONZALES who knows all and is the great scholar of Islam. Please, people are going to laugh at you, all you do is write articles against Muslims rather than Christian polemic! You are a joke, and you are unfit to judge anyone.
The Salafi sheikhs you mention, who are they? Where are they? I never see them do anything for Muslims, it is scholars like Shabir Ally, Zakir Naik, Jamal Badawi, and the great scholar Ahmed deedat who were the actual scholars who did something for the Muslims in defending Islam and refuting Christianity, in fact I guarantee you anything that the majority of readers will not recognized any of those scholars you mentioned, but they will recognize Ahmed deedat, Jamal badawi, and Shabir Ally. (Responding to Gonzales article on me; source)
He also says in the conclusion of another article:
It can be said without a doubt that Shabir Ally is a great scholar, and a great brother to have in Islam, and no doubt Shabir Ally ranks up with the other great scholars such as Ahmed Deedat, and Jamal Badawi. (Does Shabir Ally claim that Allah is not All-Knowing? Shabir Ally responds; source)
Umar has now placed himself in a dilemma. If Sheikh Jadul-Haq is correct then Ally is a heretic, and by implication so is Zaatari for defending him. This would also mean that Rasheeed Gonzales, the Salafi to whom Zaatari was responding, is correct for questioning Allys orthodoxy. But if Zaatari is right that Ally is an orthodox scholar then Umar and his Sheikh are not only wrong, but also have become infidels or unbelievers for pronouncing a fellow Muslim as an unbeliever! Moreover, if Zaatari is correct then this means one can in fact still be a Muslim and hold to Jesus being crucified!
This isnt the only time that Umar has contradicted his fellow colleagues, he did it another time by contradicting both Osama Abdallah and Bassam Zawadi in regard to whether Q. 33:52 was abrogated or not (*).
I had quoted a narration where an unnamed prophet that was beaten cried out to God to forgive his tormentors:
Narrated Ibn Masud:
As if I saw the Prophet talking about one of the Prophets whose nation had beaten him and caused him to bleed, while he was cleaning the blood of his face and saying, "O Allah! Forgive my nation for they have no knowledge." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 683)
And showed how similar this is to what the Gospels say happened to Jesus on the cross:
"There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, `Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." Luke 23:32-34 NKJV
Here is what Umar has to say about this:
Here, the Holy Prophet (S) is narrating that the Prophet was *cleaning* the blood off his face. In the biblical verse however, Jesus couldnt do that since he was crucified on the cross, his two hands being nailed to the end of the cross.
Moreover, the hadith doesnt make mention of a crucifixion, it just says that the Prophet was beaten by the people of the nation.
If Sam Shamoun wants to assert that the hadith is referring to Isa (A) then he will be facing a problem since the hadith doesnt mention a crucifixion, just the Prophet being beaten, and then the Prophet saying "O Allah! Forgive my nation, for they have no knowledge." If this hadith refers to Jesus, then that means that the Gospel writers misquoted Jesus, by adding his words into events that never took place (such as the crucifixion).
Umar is operating under several assumptions, all of which are simply erroneous. He assumes that the only way this hadith can be a reference to Jesus if it happens to completely agree with every detail found in the Gospels. This fails to take into account that both the Quran and the Islamic narrations garble up and distort the biblical stories.
Umar then assumes that since the hadith doesnt mention crucifixion this further refutes any connection with Jesus. Umar is merely arguing from silence since the text doesnt say one way or the other whether the person was crucified or not, it neither affirms nor denies it. Umar thinks that the hadith somehow suggests that the people simply beat the prophet and then stopped, yet one can just as easily assume that their beating culminated with the prophet being crucified.
Umar further assumes that the text of al-Bukhari refers to the prophet cleaning his face with his hands, which somehow provides strong evidence that this cannot refer to Jesus whose hands were nailed and couldnt therefore wipe blood from his face. The problem is with Umars assumption that the Arabic can only mean that the prophet cleaned his face with his hands, whereas another translation shows that this isnt the only plausible meaning of the narrative:
3290. It is related that 'Abdullah said, "It is as if I could visualise the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, recounting about one of the Prophets whose people had beaten him and made him bleed. While the blood WAS RUNNING DOWN his face, he was saying, 'O Allah, forgive my people! They do not know.'" (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 64. Book of the Prophets; source)
As Bewleys rendering shows, the report doesnt necessarily say that the prophet wiped his face, but that the blood was running down his face! In light of this rendition, there is no conflict with what Lukes Gospel reports since Bewleys version shows that these words could have been spoken during the time Jesus was hanging on the cross.
Umar provided a quote which made the following candid admission:
The view I find myself inclined to is that Allah Almighty has taken Jesus up from among his enemies, rescuing him from them. Hence, they neither killed nor crucified him as Christians claim. His enemies were in fact confused with regards to him. At any rate, he was saved, but how? We do not know.
Indeed, no Muslim definitely knows but neither does the Quran!
Lord Jesus willing, we will follow this up with an analysis of Umars defense of the late Ahmad Deedat who sought to defend the swoon theory of Jesus crucifixion in his debates, lectures and writings.
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