In the third paper in this series the comparative examination of the Biblical and Islamic presentations of the states of Christ continues, studying the critical stages in the life and ministry of Christ as outlined in the Bible, and examining the Islamic equivalent (if any), to comprehend the contrasting portraits of the life of Jesus. In this paper, the bedrock of the Christian faith – the resurrection – is examined. Equally, the ascension of Jesus, common to both Islam and the Bible, will be studied, together with their distinctive characters, as will the present condition of Jesus in Paradise and His Second Coming. By this comparative ‘biographical’ analysis of the life and ministry of Jesus the differences and similarities of the two systems can be analysed, as well as the question of their respective inner consistencies or otherwise. Before going further, we should observe that for Christian theology, the state of exaltation is paradoxically, the result of the state of humiliation – Philippians 2:9-11. The position of the lowly sufferer is exchanged for that of the majestic, heavenly glory.
1. The Resurrection
A. The Biblical view
(i) The Renewed Body of Christ
Philippians 3:21 (‘who will transform the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory, according to the working whereby He is able even to subject all things unto Himself’) informs us that our resurrection bodies will be of the same pattern as that of Christ, a thought echoed in 1 John 3:2, (‘Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like him…’). Hence, His characteristics indicate the nature of our somatic lives in the future.
(a) It was a real body – Christ was not a disembodied spirit; He specifically denied this in Luke 24:39. This is underlined by the fact that he could eat – Luke 24:30; 41-43; John 21:12; Acts 10:41. This does not mean that, as Muslim polemicists like Deedat claim in Crucifixion or Cruci-fiction, p. 60, Jesus had not died at all; such an assertion is a complete non sequitor. Rather, it reveals the nature of the resurrection body – that Jesus was not a ghost, but had truly, bodily risen. At any rate, given that Muslims believe that resurrected believers will enjoy material blessings in the Final State, including eating and drinking, Deedat’s position is self-contradictory. As for Deedat’s assertion that Luke 20:36 teaches that resurrected believers are ‘angelised’, this refers only to their immortality, and the fact that immortal beings such as angels do not marry.
(b) Its essential state was invisibility and thus immateriality. Harris observes that the most common verbal form denoting His resurrection experiences is ophthe, which means ‘he came to visibility’.1 Luke 24:44 supports this, Harris notes that the beginning of an appearance is invariably mentioned, but rarely the disappearance.
(c) He was no longer bound by spatial, materia1 limits. He could walk through a sealed tomb, Matthew 28:2, 6; through closed doors, John 20; 19, 28; could transport without physical movement, Luke 24: 36; and effect instant appearance and disappearance, Luke 24:31, 36. He could materialise at will and thus localise.
(d) When localised in heaven, His body appeared radiant – Acts 7:55-56; 9: 3-9; Revelation 1:12-16.
(e) From the fact that the body was missing from the tomb, and as Thomas could feel the wound in the body, we see that it is the same body, only renewed: identity-in-transformation.
(ii) The Nature of the Resurrection
(a) It is important to distinguish the resurrection body of Christ from those raised previously. Although others had been restored to life in both Old Testament and New Testament times, e.g. 1 Kings 17:17-24; Luke 7:11-17, there is a qualitative difference between a body so-revived and the resurrection body of Christ. The former remains a normal body which the grave will one claim again: the latter is a swma pneumatikon soma pneumatikon, spiritual body, which can walk through walls (e.g. John 20:19, 26), materialise and de-materialise, etc.
(b) Another difference is that whilst a revived carnal body would eventually return to the grave, a spiritual body will not. The bodies of Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus were revived, their spirits returned to their natural bodies, and the grave would one day claim them again. Christ, however, has been resurrected through death, to a glorified body, never again to return to the grave. This is because the latter does not belong to the Present Age, but to the age to Come – the Resurrection Age. The former comes back from death, the latter through death, conquering death for eternity, Romans 6:9, ‘knowing that Christ being raised from the dead, will not die again; death has no more dominion over him. 10 For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he lives, he lives unto God.’
(iii) Significance of the Resurrection
(a) Christ is the ‘firstfruits’ of the Resurrection Age – 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23. He is the ‘bearer of destiny’ for Man, so inasmuch as the (Second) Man has risen, the Resurrection Age has arrived – its powers have invaded the Present Age. Significantly, the phrase for ‘resurrection’ used in Romans 1:4 ex anastasewv nekrwn ex anastaseos nekron is plural, indicating that His resurrection is the inauguration of the Resurrection Age. As Bruce comments, ‘…Christ’s resurrection is denoted by a phrase which hints at the future resurrection of the people of Christ; His resurrection is the first instalment of “the resurrection of the dead”, as viii.11 makes plain (cf. 1 Cor. xv. 20-23).’2
(b) This being so, the resurrection of Christ is the surety of our resurrection – 1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 6:8; 8:11. Again, Christians can look forward to a resurrection body after the pattern of the Messiah. The present possession of the Holy Spirit is the guarantee to the believer that the Spirit of Him who resurrected Jesus will equally resurrect us. Harris comments on this:
A comparison of 2 Corinthians 1.22 and 5.5 shows that for Paul ‘sealing’ denoted God’s giving of the Spirit as a pledge. But the crucial question remains: as a pledge of what? Paul states, ‘Now God himself has prepared us for this very purpose and has given us the pledge of the Spirit’ (2 Cor. 5.5). The ‘purpose’ referred to is the receipt and possession of the spiritual body which verses 1-4 have described in various ways: as the acquisition of a building from God (v. 1), as investiture with a heavenly dwelling (v. 2), and as the swallowing up of the mortal body (v.4). The Spirit, then, is the pledge God has given the believer of the acquisition of an immortal body (vv. 1-2) through the transformation of the mortal body (v. 4)… God’s gift of the Spirit is therefore not only the fulfilment of promise (Gal. 3.14; Eph. 1.13) but also the promise of fulfilment (2 Cor. 5.5; Eph. 1.14).3
(c) The Resurrection allows for the impartation of the Life of the Kingdom of God – Philippians 3:10; Acts 2:31-33; 13:32-34, 37-38; Mark 10:23, 30. The ‘other Paraclete’ of John 14:16 – i.e. the Holy Spirit – imparts the life of the Risen Jesus – Galatians 2:20.
(d) Christ is the embodiment of the Kingdom of God, and that such is perfectly realised in the Resurrection Age, Luke 20:34-35; 1 Corinthians 15:50. In Old Testament, the Kingdom of God was expressed and operated through the mediatorial reign of the House of David. Despite the fall of the latter, the prophets looked to its restoration in a new age characterised by the outpouring of the Spirit through the person of the Messiah. 4 When we examined the significance of the Baptism of Jesus, we saw that the Baptism presaged the Restoration of Israel through the Messianic reign, and that Jesus ‘is the embodiment of the Old Testament Messianic Hope, of the Kingdom of God and of the New Covenant… As Jesus begins his ministry after this, we can see that the bestowal of the Spirit was the divine ‘call’ or ‘ordination’ – the King and the Servant were to characterised by the anointing with the Spirit.’ O. P. Robertson observes in regard to the restoration of the Davidic reign through Jesus that the title ‘Christ’ indicates ‘that his distinctiveness resides in his being “anointed” by God’s Holy Spirit…’ 5
In the person of Jesus the Messiah, this new age the prophets anticipated has arrived, established through the Resurrection. Hosea 6:2 predicts that the Israelite Kingdom would be restored ‘after three days’. 1 Corinthians 15:4 alludes to this in respect to the Resurrection of Christ. Thus the Resurrection of Christ is the Restoration of Israel that the Old Testament looked toward; this is further evidence by the frequent reference in ‘Acts’ to the Resurrection as the ‘Hope of Israel’ – 23:6; 26:6-7; 28-20. Ezekiel 37:11-13 pictures the resurrection of the nation of Biblical Israel (in context, this refers to its spiritual and political restoration after the Babylonian exile, rather than to a physical restoration), and this is linked to the reign of the Davidic King i.e. the Messiah. Isaiah 49:8 predicts the restoration of Israel, a text quoted in 2 Corinthians 6:1-2. The latter announces that this has been fulfilled. The message of ‘Acts’ is that the state and nation of Israel is restored in the Resurrection of Christ. N. T. Wright states concerning this aspect of the Resurrection:
The gospel of the early church, of Paul, of the evangelists, is that the promises of the Jewish scriptures had come true in the resurrection. That is why Paul and others keep insisting that Jesus’ death and resurrection happened ‘according to the scriptures’, or in fulfilment of them… the point of such ideas is that the scriptures as a whole tell of the covenant; of the exile as the result of Israel’s god punishing his people for their sins; and of the great ‘return’ that will happen when that dark period is finally over and done. What the early church is saying, when telling the story of Jesus’ resurrection and announcing it to the world as the summons to obedient faith, is that the history of, and promises to Israel had come true in Jesus, that in his death he had taken the exile as far it could go, and that in his resurrection he had inaugurated the real return from that real exile.6
Of course, whilst fulfilled, the restoration of the True Israel is not consummated until the Return of Christ. This was the basis of the disciples’ question in 1:6 – ‘will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ The reply of Jesus with regard to the question of ‘times and seasons’ is similar to his reply to the disciples’ query in the Olivet Discourse about ‘the close of the age’ – Matthew 24:3, 36 – namely, that such is in the hands of the Father alone. The disciples rightly perceived that with Christ’s resurrection, the Resurrection Age had arrived, and queried if this was to be completed by the General Resurrection – which is the culmination of the Kingdom of God, established at the Coming of Christ. What we find in ‘Acts’ is that the Davidic State is restored, but not consummated: Acts 15:16ff regards Amos 9:11ff as fulfilled – the Restoration of the Biblical State of Israel (i.e. not the modern state claiming that title) is a past event which occurred with the Resurrection of Christ.
(e) Christ’s resurrection appoints Him, as the Son of God with power – Romans 1:4. It vindicates His claims and ministry. This is important for Christian discussion with both Jews and Muslims. We saw earlier that the apparent Muslim denial of the Crucifixion, whatever the nature of that denial, resulted from dispute between Muhammad and the Medinan Jews. The Jews, no doubt looking back to the divine curse on anyone hanging on a tree in Deuteronomy 21:22f, regarded the cursed death (i.e. crucifixion) of Jesus as the demonstration that His Messianic claims were false. Hence the statement in 1 Corinthians 1:23 that the preaching of ‘Christ crucified’ was a stumbling block to Jewish belief in Jesus as Messiah. As far as the Jews were concerned, the death of Jesus was not just their negative estimation of His Messianic claims, but more pointedly a divine judgment on Jesus, and as we saw, the Talmud precisely advanced that tenet.
Since it was essential to Muhammad’s claims to prophethood that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the rather ambiguous denial of what the Jews asserted about the crucifixion of Jesus had to be refuted in some way. For Christians, the matter is resolved by the Resurrection. The Jews had judged Jesus wrongly. God had vindicated His Anointed One. This is the import of Acts 2:32 ‘This Jesus God raised up, of which we all are witnesses… 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for sure, that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.’7 As Harris writes:
For those with eyes to see, Jesus had received divine accreditation by his ‘mighty works, wonders and signs’ (Acts 2.22). But such accreditation was effectively cancelled in the eyes of even responsive Jews, when Jesus was crucified. The cross reversed the verdict of responsive Jews and confirmed the suspicions of the unresponsive: Jesus had been rejected by God. But the Resurrection was the great divine reversal. The same one who had once declared ‘a hanged man is accursed’ Deut. 21.23) now declared ‘this hanged man is accepted’ (cf. Acts 3.1-15). He whom man rejected, God accepted and installed as his Messiah, no longer Messiah-elect or simply Messiah de jure but Messiah de facto. Since the God-appointed messianic destiny remained unfulfilled until Jesus had suffered, it was only after and because of his suffering that he could be acknowledged as Messiah in reality. Responding to the question of the high-priest at his trial before the Sanhedrin, Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed?’, Jesus spoke of their being future witnesses of his ‘sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven’ (Mark 14.62).8
The resurrection also demonstrates that God affirmed the crucifixion as the redemptive act for Humanity. Jesus did not just die as a martyr, all that He had said previously about His death being the ‘ransom’ for all, Mark 10:45 (cf. 1 Timothy 2:6) was proved to be the case. The resurrection evidences that the death of Christ is indeed the means of salvation. The cross was the path to the Messianic crown, Luke 24:46. Since He was innocent of any wrong-doing, He was crucified for our trespasses, Romans 4:25, and as the Suffering Servant, indicated at the Baptism, He was the One on whom ‘the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all’. Jesus was manifested in the flesh, and justified by the Spirit, 1 Timothy 3:16.
Of course, as the text demonstrates, the resurrection validates the claims of Jesus to divine sonship – it proves Islam wrong; Jesus is indeed, the Son of God. This claim was the very reason the Jews killed Him – John 19:7 – the resurrection is God’s answer. The voice at the Baptism and Transfiguration as to the unique sonship of Christ, the revelation Gabriel gave to Mary, Luke 1:35, the claim Jesus made to Nicodemus, the Son who had a unique relationship with the Father, Matthew 11:27, and with the Spirit in the Trinity, Matthew 29:19, the positive answer He gave to the High Priest’s question as to whether He was the Son of the Blessed in Mark 14:61-62, is shown to be true. God said it was true by resurrecting Him. Hence, those denying His unique eternal sonship will be judged, John 3:18. 2 Corinthians 13:4 ‘for he was crucified through weakness, but He lives through the power of God.’
(f) The references to Christ’s resurrection as being ‘the Hope of Israel’ indicates that this event was what the Old Testament was about, and Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 15, especially v 14, indicates this is also true of the New Testament. It is vital to the resurrection schema to recognise that Adam and Christ, being the Bearers of Destiny for the Race, are Representative prototypes for Humanity – Romans 5:18-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21-23; 47-49. Their actions and experiences had consequences for all in solidarity with them: thus, when Adam fell, Humanity fell in and with him; and when Christ rose from the dead, the New Humanity rose also. Spiritually, this becomes actual when a person receives the Holy Spirit, and thus experiences the spiritual benefits of resurrection life with Christ – Roman 7:6; Galatians 5:25. Humanity has already entered the Resurrection Age. Christ is the first fruits of the Age-to-Come – Acts 4: 2; 26: 23; 1 Corinthians 15; 20, 23; Colossians 1:18 – He is the Guarantee of our resurrection.
This is borne out by Acts 2:25-32, quoting Psalm 18 – David was confident of his own resurrection because he knew God would not allow His Holy One (Hasid) – i.e. Christ – to see corruption; David was “in Christ”, thus like Him, he would rise again. Paul repeats this thought in Acts 13:32-37 – Christ, by His resurrection, fulfilled the promises to the Patriarchs and to David. Further, we see from all this that the Resurrection of Christ is the Hope of Israel. All Israel – is the Church – is “in Christ”, and thus His Resurrection fulfils the promise of the Restoration of Israel – 1 Corinthians 15:45 has in mind, among other texts, Hosea 6:2.
(g) We summarise much of the preceding by referring to historic Christian Confessions of Faith. Article IV ‘Of the Resurrection of Christ’, of the Church of England’s 39 Articles states ‘Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again His body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature, wherefore He ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until He return to judge all men at the last day.’ Article III of the Augsburg Confession declares that Jesus
…truly rose again the third day; afterward He ascended into heaven that He might sit on the right hand of the Father, and forever reign and have dominion over all creatures, and sanctify them that believe in Him, by sending the Holy Ghost into their hearts, to rule, comfort, and quicken them, and to defend them against the devil and the power of sin. The same Christ shall openly come again to judge the quick and the dead, etc., according to the Apostles’ Creed.
Article 45 of the Heidelberg Catechism, answering the question, ‘How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?’, answers as follows: ‘First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, so that He could make us share in the righteousness which He had obtained for us by His death. Second, by His power we too are raised up to a new life. Third, Christ’s resurrection is to us a sure pledge of our glorious resurrection.’ The Second Helvetic Confession, Chapter eleven, explains the nature of the Resurrection, of Jesus in relation to the characteristics of His constitution – that He possessed a real body:
Christ Is Truly Risen from the Dead. We believe and teach that the same Jesus Christ our Lord, in his true flesh in which he was crucified and died, rose again from the dead, and that not another flesh was raised other than the one buried, or that a spirit was taken up instead of the flesh, but that he retained his true body. Therefore, while his disciples thought they saw the spirit of the Lord, he showed them his hands and feet which were marked by the prints of the nails and wounds, and added: ‘See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have’ (Luke 24:39).
(iv) Objections to the Resurrection
(a) Deceit: The disciples stole the body and circulated the idea that Christ had risen. Such was of course, the response of the Jewish authorities in Matthew 28:11-15. The likelihood that a group whose ethics stressed Truth and Peace would do this is small, but further, one may ask how realistic it is that they would be able to overcome the Prussian-like efficiency of the Roman Army in a sort of comical guerrilla operation! At any rate, no-one has ever alleged this, and as far as soldiers falling asleep on duty is concerned, cf. Acts 12:19. Moreover, people would have challenged the Christians to show their risen Messiah, and failure to do so would have undermined the cause.
It much be stressed that the Christians were speaking to a largely hostile audience who would have been quick to pick holes in their arguments. Thus the Church would have been meticulous in is presentation of the Truth. The elaborate precautions that the Hierarchy and the Governor undertook are in themselves evidence for the veracity of the gospel account. There were about five hundred witnesses of the Risen Jesus, 1 Corinthians 15:6. Above all, as we have suggested, Biblical faith is based on the fact of Christ’s resurrection, so it is difficult to imagine the disciples as continuing to believe in something like the Messianic Kingship of Jesus if its foundation was invalid.
(b) The Vision Theory: It is suggested that the psychological pressures that came upon the disciples following the death of the One they thought was the Messiah unhinged them, and that visions of Jesus were produced by this pressure. Apart from the fact that the experience of the Risen Jesus was often a group affair, we must remember that such were not the products of meditation, etc, but experienced in everyday life. Conversation occurs between the Risen Christ and His followers – scarcely appropriate for the kind of vision envisaged here. Moreover, we much remember that the disciples were not necessarily disposed to believe in the resurrection: cf. the scepticism of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Luke 24:22-24, and especially that of Thomas, John 20:24-29.
(c) The Mythical Theory: This thesis holds that the origins of the resurrection faith are to be found in Oriental Mystery cults which often stressed the death and resurrection of a god. Such theories, however, consistently fail to establish direct linkage between mystery cults and gospel accounts, and further, ignores the difference that it is the resurrected humanity of Christ in the New Testament that is emphasised.
(d) The Swoon Theory: Christ did not die but merely fainted, to be later resuscitated either naturally or by the disciples. The severe tortures Christ experienced, together with the spear in His side, rule out such a proposal. Could such a weakened man be able to push back the stone, overcome the guards, walk to and from Emmaus, etc.? What became of Him afterwards? Of course the Ahmadi/Qadiani sect, viewed as heretics by orthodox Muslims, actually do propose this hypothesis, claiming that He swooned, recovered, migrated to India and is now buried in Kashmir!
Mirza Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya, always strove to discredit the truth about Jesus. In the first volume of his book, ‘Baraheen’, he followed the traditional Islamic belief about Christ. However in 1891 he put forward a new doctrine that Jesus was crucified but did not die on the cross. Instead he swooned, was removed from the cross and later died in Galilee. According to his teaching the Qur’an (Surah 4:157-158) ‘does not deny the fact of Jesus’s being nailed to the cross, but denies his having died on it’. This was indeed a deviation from orthodox Islamic belief that Jesus was taken up to heaven by divine intervention at the cross, without having suffered crucifixion at all.
In 1899, Mirza modified this idea in his book, Masih Hindustan Main, Jesus in India. After escaping from the cross, Jesus received divine healing by the application of some special ointment. He then left Palestine and travelled to Syria, Persia and later came to India, where he stayed in Kashmir to preach the gospel to the lost tribes of Israel. According to Mirza Ahmad, Jesus died in Kashmir at the age of 120. 9
Masood has observed that despite their traditional hostility to the Qadianis, orthodox Muslim have been at worst plagiarising, at best employing the ideas of Ahmadis on many Christian dogmas. Deedat, despite his popularity among mainstream Muslims, appears to have imbibed this idea in some form. In his polemical tract, Crucifixion or Cruci-Fiction, p. 43, Deedat seems to affirm that Jesus was still alive when taken down from the cross – he contends that the Jews were ‘under the false assumption that he had died.’10 Indeed, Deedat affirms most strongly on the following page that Jesus was still alive! Gilchrist expresses his amazement that Deedat is willing to employ an Ahmadi argument like this.11 The title (and contents) of one of Deedat’s pamphlets, Resurrection or Resuscitation?, does seem to point in this direction.12
One thing is certain; according to the Qur’an, as we have seen, Jesus was either bodily assumed into Paradise, or He died as a consequence of the divine decree. Orthodox Muslims do not have the Qadiani option open to them; the body taken from the cross, whatever its identity, could not, on the basis of Islamic doctrine, have been alive when it was removed. If it were someone else, like Judas, the resurrection could not have occurred, and therefore the charade Deedat presents in his writings on the subject would have been impossible. At any rate, the Muslim belief that Jesus is now in Paradise prior to His Second Coming fatally compromises Deedat’s theory.
(e) The Gnostic/Muslim Theory: As we have seen in the previous paper, both Gnostics and Muslims (usually) believe that Christ did not really die on the Cross, but rather that a double from the crowd took His place. Gnostics held it was Simon of Cyrene, Muslims usually hold that it was Judas. There are many obvious and clear objections to this, as we have seen, but suffice it to say that the Romans were guarding Jesus, and it is hard to imagine how such a thing could have happened. A theory like this impugns the integrity of Jesus, that He would permit such an occurrence, and then appear three days later to lie by claiming His resurrection. Christ definitely claimed both death and resurrection – Revelation 1:18.
B. The Islamic view
[i] The Resurrection of Jesus
Taking the Qur’an and Sunnah together, as we suggested in our previous paper, it is clear that the authoritative sources of Islam deny that Jesus died on the cross. This being the case, it is clear that Islam does not hold that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, since, obviously, resurrection presumes death. Instead, Jesus is believed to have been bodily assumed – in His natural body – into Paradise. Islam, however, does hold that Jesus will one day die, and be raised again – S. 19:33 – ‘So Peace is on me the day I was born the day that I die and the Day that I shall be raised up to life (again)’! The Hadith definitely speaks of the future death of Jesus:
|Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4310Narrated by AbuHurayrahThe Prophet (peace be upon him) said: There is no prophet between me and him, that is, Jesus (peace be upon him). He will descend (to the earth). When you see him, recognise him: a man of medium height, reddish fair, wearing two light yellow garments, looking as if drops were falling down from his head though it will not be wet. He will fight the people for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill swine, and abolish jizyah. Allah will perish all religions except Islam. He will destroy the Antichrist and will live on the earth for forty years and then he will die. The Muslims will pray over him.||Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 5772Narrated by Abdullah ibn SalamThe description of Muhammad is written in the Torah and also that Jesus, son of Mary, will be buried along with him. AbuMawdud said that a place for a grave had remained in the house.Tirmidhi transmitted it|
One interesting point, considering the urgent concern of modern Muslims like Ahmed Deedat to controvert the idea of Christ’s resurrection, is that the Qur’an nowhere denies this Biblical tenet! The Qur’an does not explicitly affirm the resurrection of Jesus, but neither does it deny it. Perhaps this explains the emergence of various Hadith and traditions about Jesus to address this anomaly. In fact, were it not for the Hadith, we could, if we took the interpretation of the text in S. 4:177 proposed by Muslims like Taha, conclude that the text addressing Christ’s resurrection, S. 19:33 – ‘So Peace is on me the day I was born the day that I die and the Day that I shall be raised up to life (again)’ actually supports the Biblical view! Even if we take the majority Muslim view about the Substitution theory, it is strange that there is no explicit denial of Christ’s resurrection, given that other specific Christian dogmas are clearly denounced – ‘Say not “three”‘, ‘Jesus was no more than an apostle’, ‘the similitude of Jesus is like Adam’, the denial of His being the Son of God, etc. Given the importance of Christ’s Resurrection for Christians, and the polemics that have traditionally surrounded this belief down to the present, it is puzzling that rejection of this doctrine found no place in the Qur’an, not even the assertion that the Christians got the timing wrong!
It should be remembered that the natural meaning of mutawaffika is ’caused to die’, and its usage in S. 4:157, as well as in S. 3:55 and S. 5:117 (tawaffaitani), in the latter two texts immediately followed by His exaltation to God’s presence, do not preclude belief in the resurrection. In fact, given the fact that Muslims hold that S. 43:61 teaches the Second Coming of Jesus, it would make more sense that He had been resurrected and then exalted to Paradise, and to return bodily. After all, given that the Qur’an does seem to teach that Jesus was made to die, it would be strange and incongruous to believe that a disembodied spirit would ‘return’ from Paradise, to fight, marry and rule!
[ii] The Nature of the Resurrection Body
Since Islam does not hold that the General, Final Resurrection has commenced with the resurrection of Jesus, there is a paucity of information about the nature of the resurrection body in Islamic sources. Certainly, the future resurrection of Muhammad gives no pattern for it. According to Fiqh, the resurrection body according to Islam will be just as the natural body, though with the implication that it will be immortal.13 Some texts teach that the wounds of believers will be transformed into musk, whilst other threaten the wicked and unbelieving with disfigurement. It can be seen that one text even teaches that the souls of believers are placed inside the birds of Paradise. Most definitely, the future resurrection of Jesus after His return, reign and death presents no pattern for the resurrection body of believers. As we shall see, the Islamic view of Paradise – including during the Resurrection state – involves the resurrected body enjoying material pleasures, such as eating fruits, consuming wine and milk, and especially having sexual relations.
[iii] The Significance of the Resurrection
Jesus will be present on the Day of Resurrection, and will have two special roles. One, according to the Qur’an, will be as a witness against the Jews for disbelieving in Him – S. 4: 159 ‘And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness against them.’ The other, according to the Hadith, seems to be as the Agent of the Resurrection, but not according to the Biblical portrait. Rather, it is simply His arrival that causes it, though it must be stated that this contradicts other ahadith which present Jesus as living for forty years after Hid descent, and also give priority to Muhammad:
Sahih Muslim Hadith 293
Narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah
I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: A section of my people will not cease fighting for the Truth and will prevail till the Day of Resurrection. He said: Jesus son of Mary would then descend and their (Muslims’) commander would invite him to come and lead them in prayer, but he would say: No, some amongst you are commanders over some (amongst you). This is the honour from Allah for this Ummah.
Rather than the activity of Jesus, we find instead that Muhammad‘s role of intercession will be vital, although this is to be found in the Hadith, as opposed to the Qur’an, which merely affirms the reality of the Day of Resurrection, and of God’s action in bringing it about.14 According to the Hadith, Muhammad will have eschatological priority over other prophets, and cause Paradise to receive Muslims – ‘On the Day of Resurrection I shall be the bearer of the banner of praise under which will be Adam and the others… I shall be the first intercessor and the first whose intercession is accepted on the Day of Resurrection… I shall be the first to rattle the knocker of Paradise, and Allah will open for me and bring me into it accompanied by the poor ones among the believers… I shall be the most honourable in Allah’s estimation among those of earliest and latest times….’15 to intercede for us with our Lord? So they will come to Adam and will say: You are the Father of mankind; Allah created you with His hand He made His angels bow down to you and He taught you the names of everything, so intercede for us with you Lord so that He may give us relief form this place where we are. And he will say: I am not in a position [to do that] – and he will mention his wrongdoing and will feel ashamed and will say: Go to Noah, for he is the first messenger that Allah sent to the inhabitants of the earth. So they will come to him and he will say: I am not in a position [to do that] – and he will mention his having requested something of his Lord about which he had no [proper] knowledge (Quran Chapter 11 Verses 45-46), and he will feel ashamed and will say: Go to the Friend of the Merciful (Abraham). So they will come to him and he will say: I am not in a position [to do that]. Go to Moses, a servant to whom Allah talked and to whom He gave the Torah. So they will come to him and he will say: I am not in a position [to do that] – and he will mention the taking of a life other that for a life (Quran Chapter 28 Verses 15-16), and he will fell ashamed in the sight of his Lord and will say: Go to Jesus, Allah’s servant and messenger, Allah’s word and spirit. So they will come to him and he will say: I am not in a position [to do that]. Go to Muhammad (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), a servant to whom Allah has forgiven all his wrongdoing, past and future.So they will come to me and I shall set forth to ask permission to come to my Lord, and permission will be given, and when I shall see my Lord I shall prostrate myself. He will leave me thus for such time as it pleases Him, and then it will be said [to me]: Raise your head. Ask and it will be granted. Speak and it will be heard. Intercede and your intercession will be accepted. So I shall raise my head and praise Him with a form of praise that He will teach me. Then I shall intercede and He will set me a limit [as to the number of people], so I shall admit them into Paradise. Then I shall return to Him, and when I shall see my Lord [I shall bow down] as before. Then I shall intercede and He will set me a limit [as to the number of people]. So I shall admit them into Paradise. Then I shall return for a third time, then a fourth, and I shall say: There remains in Hell-fire only those whom the Quran has confined and who must be there for eternity. There shall come out of Hell-fire he who has said: There is no god but Allah and who has in his heart goodness weighing a barley-corn; then there shall come out of Hell-fire he who has said: There is no god but Allah and who has in his heart goodness weighing a grain of wheat; then there shall come out of Hell-fire he who has said: There is no god but Allah and who has in his heart goodness weighing an atom.Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 5762Narrated by Abdullah ibn AbbasWhen some of the companions of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) were sitting he came out, and when he came near them he heard them discussing. One of them said Allah had taken Abraham as a friend, another said He spoke direct to Moses, another said Jesus was Allah’s word and spirit, and another said Allah chose Adam. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) then came out to them and said, “I have heard what you said, and you wonder that Abraham was Allah’s friend, as indeed he was; that Moses was Allah’s confidant, as indeed he was; that Jesus was His spirit and word, as indeed he was; and that Adam was chosen by Allah, as indeed he was. I am the one whom Allah loves, and this is no boast. On the Day of Resurrection I shall be the bearer of the banner of praise under which will be Adam and the others, and this is no boast. I shall be the first intercessor and the first whose intercession is accepted on the Day of Resurrection, and this is no boast. I shall be the first to rattle the knocker of Paradise, and Allah will open for me and bring me into it accompanied by the poor ones among the believers, and this is no boast. I shall be the most honourable in Allah’s estimation among those of earliest and latest times, and this is no boast.”Tirmidhi and Darimi transmitted it.
Sahih Muslim Hadith 380
Narrated by AbuHurayrah and Hudhayfah
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, would gather the people. The believers would stand until the Paradise is brought near them. They would come to Adam and say: O our father, open Paradise for us. He would say: What turned ye out from Paradise was the sin of your father, Adam. I am not in a position to do that; you should go to my son, Ibrahim, the Friend of Allah. He (the Holy Prophet) said: He (Ibrahim) would say: I am not in a position to do that. Verily I had been the Friend (of Allah) from a long time ago; you should approach Moses (peace be upon him) with whom Allah conversed. They would come to Moses (peace be upon him) but he would say: I am not in a position to do that; you should go to Jesus, the Word of Allah and His spirit. Jesus (peace be upon him) would say: I am not in a position to do that. So they would come to Muhammad (peace be upon him). He would then be permitted (to open the door of Paradise)…]
A similar tradition states clearly that Muhammad (and therefore not Jesus) will be the chief of all the people on the Day of Resurrection.16 Indeed, one tradition implies that Muhammad may be more important than Jesus on the Day of Resurrection, if, as is probably the implication, Muhammad has more followers on that Day than any other prophet.17This is also supported by the belief that Muhammad will be the first to be resurrected, clearly demonstrating that the position of Jesus has been supplanted by Muhammad:
|Sahih Muslim Hadith 5655Narrated by AbuHurayrahAllah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: I shall be pre-eminent amongst the descendants of Adam on the Day of Resurrection and I will be the first intercessor and the first whose intercession will be accepted (by Allah).||Sahih Muslim Hadith 389Narrated by AbuHurayrahThe Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said: There is for every apostle a prayer which is granted, but every prophet showed haste in his prayer. I have, however, reserved my prayer for the intercession of my Ummah on the Day of Resurrection, and it would be granted, if Allah so willed, in case of everyone amongst my Ummah provided he dies without associating anything with Allah.|
|Sahih Muslim Hadith 284Narrated by Anas ibn MalikThe Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: I will come to the gate of Paradise on the Day of Resurrection, and would seek it opening, and the keeper would say: Who art thou? I would say: Muhammad. He would then say: It is for thee that I have been ordered, and not to open it for anyone before thee.||Sahih Muslim Hadith 381Narrated by Anas ibn MalikThe Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: I would be the first among people to intercede in the Paradise and amongst the apostles I would have the largest following (on the Day of Resurrection).|
|Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 9.524Narrated by Abu Said Al KhudriThe Prophet said, “The people will fall unconscious on the Day of Resurrection, then suddenly I will see Moses holding one of the pillars of the Throne.” Abu Huraira said: The Prophet said, “I will be the first person to be resurrected and will see Moses holding the Throne.”||Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.732Narrated by Jubair bin MutimAllah’s Apostle said, “I have five names: I am Muhammad and Ahmad; I am Al-Mahi through whom Allah will eliminate infidelity; I am Al-Hashir who will be the first to be resurrected, the people being resurrected there after; and I am also Al-‘Aqib (i.e. There will be no prophet after me).”|
|Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 5762Narrated by Abdullah ibn AbbasWhen some of the companions of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) were sitting he came out, and when he came near them he heard them discussing. One of them said Allah had taken Abraham as a friend, another said He spoke direct to Moses, another said Jesus was Allah’s word and spirit, and another said Allah chose Adam. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) then came out to them and said, “I have heard what you said, and you wonder that Abraham was Allah’s friend, as indeed he was; that Moses was Allah’s confidant, as indeed he was; that Jesus was His spirit and word, as indeed he was; and that Adam was chosen by Allah, as indeed he was. I am the one whom Allah loves, and this is no boast. On the Day of Resurrection I shall be the bearer of the banner of praise under which will be Adam and the others, and this is no boast. I shall be the first intercessor and the first whose intercession is accepted on the Day of Resurrection, and this is no boast. I shall be the first to rattle the knocker of Paradise, and Allah will open for me and bring me into it accompanied by the poor ones among the believers, and this is no boast. I shall be the most honourable in Allah’s estimation among those of earliest and latest times, and this is no boast.”Tirmidhi and Darimi transmitted it.||Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 5761Narrated by AbuSa’idAllah’s Messenger said, “I shall be pre-eminent among the descendants of Adam on the Day of Resurrection, and this is no boast; and in my hand will be the banner of praise, and this is no boast. There will be no prophet, Adam or any other, who will not be under my banner. I shall be the first from whom the Earth will be cleft open, and this is no boast.”Tirmidhi transmitted it.|
Other ahadith appear to contradict this claim of Muhammad’s priority.18It can be seen that the unique and crucial position Jesus holds in Christianity is given to Muhammad in Islam. However, the differences are singular; Muhammad, unlike Jesus, did not rise from the dead, and so it follows he is not the pledge of the General Resurrection. In Eschatological terms, this means that unlike the Biblical schema, according to Islam, the powers of the Age to Come have not invaded the Present Age. At any rate, since Islam does not have the sense of ‘eternal life’ realised in the present, but simply holds that Man, having made the Shahadah, is capable of submission to divine precepts, the importance of Christ’s resurrection for the present sanctification of the believer does not arise. As for the Hope of Israel and its relation to Christ’s resurrection, this has no direct equivalent in Islam.
However, it could be argued that there is a rough equivalent to the Restoration of Israel in the ministry of Jesus bringing the Gospel to testify to the truth of the Torah. In our previous paper we noted that Yusuf Ali comments on Surah Al-Ahqaf 46:12: ‘The last revealed Book which was a Code of Life (Shari’at) was the Book of Moses; for that of Jesus was not such a Code, but merely moral precepts to sweep away the corruptions that had crept in…’ In that regard, the resurrection of Jesus along Biblical lines would be superfluous. At any rate, it is the Muslim Ummah, rather than the Christians, the Ummah of Jesus, who will have priority on the Day of Resurrection. 19 They are also the first Ummah to come forward on that Day, and Muhammad will be the first to raise his head. 20
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.239
Narrated by Abu Huraira
Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) said, ‘We (Muslims) are the last (people to come in the world) but (will be) the foremost (on the Day of Resurrection).’
2. The Ascension
A. The Biblical view
(i) The Fact of the Ascension
Luke refers to it twice, Luke 24:50ff; 50 ‘And He led them out as far as Bethany: and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. 51 And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: 53 and were continually in the temple, blessing God.’ In Acts 1:6-11 we read the following:
6 ‘They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, are you at this time restoring the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father has set within His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit comes upon you: and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they were looking continually into heaven as he went, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 who said, You men of Galilee, why are you looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven shall come in the same way as you saw him going into heaven.’
The structure of John depends on the schema of Descent-Ascent: 6:62 – ‘What then if you should see the Son of man ascending where he was previously?'; 14:2 – ‘In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were otherwise, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.'; 14:12 – ‘Truly, Truly, I say unto you, whoever believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and he will do greater works than these; because I go to the Father'; 16:5 – ‘But now I go to Him who sent me’, 10 – ‘…I am going to the Father, and you shall see me no more’ (cf. v17), 28 ‘I went forth from the Father, and came into the world: again, I am leaving the world, and going to the Father.'; 17:5 ‘And now, Father, glorify me together with yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was'; 20:17 – ‘Jesus said to her, Do not hold on to me; for I have not yet ascended to the Father: but go to my brothers, and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.”‘. The theme is that Jesus will ascend to where He was before – Heaven. This testifies to His pre-existence, and thus His deity.
The nature of Ephesians 1:20ff implies the reality of the Ascension – ‘…when He raised Him from the dead, and caused Him to sit at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 and He put all things in subjection under His feet, and made Him to be head over all things to the church…’ Ephesians 4:8-10 is explicit in affirming its reality – ‘8 … When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men. 9 (Now this, “He ascended”, what does it mean other than that he also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)’. 1 Timothy 3:16 in all probability refers to it – ‘taken up in glory’.
The same is true of 1 Peter 3:22 – ‘who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven; angels and authorities and powers being made subject to Him’. Hebrews 1:3 (‘when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high’) and 6:19-20 (‘…which enters within the veil; 20 where as a forerunner Jesus entered for us, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek’) imply it, with 4:14 (‘Having then a great high priest, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God’) and 9:12 (‘…through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place…’), 24 (‘For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with hands, like a pattern of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us’) being explicit. It is essential to the heavenly Session of Christ, and texts mentioning the Second Coming of Christ, e.g. Philippians 3:20 presume it (‘For our citizenship is in heaven; from where we also wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ’) – if He is to return from heaven, He must have first ascended there.
It is interesting to observe the differences between the Qur’anic and Biblical views of the Ascension at this point. The Qur’anic material mentioning the ascension is sparse and ambiguous, whereas as we can see, there is abundant Biblical evidence for the event, both at the time, and predicted by Jesus Himself, despite the claims of Deedat that it is generally absent from the gospels (he seems to ignore the Gospel of John).21 He also ignores the evidence of the Apostle Peter. Moreover, unlike the ‘substitution’ rescue most orthodox Muslims believe, the Biblical presentation of the ascension reveals a public event – one witnessed by a number of people – Luke 24:33ff (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:6); Acts 1:1-14. Harris notes the use of the imperfect tense anaphereto in Luke 24:51 – ‘he was [slowly] taken up’, and the reference in Acts 1:9 to a cloud removing Jesus from the sight of His disciples.22
The Muslim view, however, depends purely on belief in the Qur’an as revelation. Obviously, the ‘Muslim ascension’ could have had no eyewitnesses, and so none could have recorded it. There is no objective evidence for it. The Biblical ascension, did have eyewitnesses. As we can see, the event is given mention elsewhere in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul was literally stopped in his tracks by the vision of the Ascended Jesus – 1 Corinthians 15:8. The very fact that Jesus predicted His Second Coming implied it. The event has real significance, not least because Jesus in heaven continues to perform His ministry, unlike the Islamic portrait. The Biblical narrative of the Ascension is more logically consistent than that of Islam in this respect. Nor does it rely on a purported revelation six hundred years after the event for evidence.
(ii) Its Nature
It represents a change in the location of Jesus – He moves from one place (earth) to another (heaven): this must be stated, since not only is the condition of Jesus changed, i.e. from humiliation to exaltation, but the place wherein this glory is realised is necessarily different – heaven, not the cursed earth Jesus ascends to a heavenly throne.
The Ascension is a bodily assumption of Jesus – it is not just His spirit that is taken up. It is a necessary event, since only in heaven could he be enthroned, and also because the cursed earth is not the proper place for the resurrection body – 1 Corinthians 15:44, 48-49. A heavenly body demands a heavenly home. The event points to the manner of the Second Coming – that of a visible, bodily return – Acts 1:11. This is important for the comparison with the Islamic viewpoint. This verse indicates the parallel between two supernatural events – the ascension of Christ to heaven, and His return from there – that it will occur in like manner. The same is not true of Islam.
(iii) Its Significance
Christ was with the disciples for forty days teaching and convincing them of the reality and nature of the Resurrection e.g. Luke 24:42. In this respect, the bodily ascension of Jesus evidences the truth of His resurrection (and thus prior death). As we have seen, many people had the chance to vie the resurrected one, and the fact that He was the assumed into heaven disproves the Qadiani/Deedat theory that Jesus did not really die or rise again. His death had supernatural connotations, His resurrection was obviously supernatural, so was the event which marked His departure from the Earth. The fact that He was received into Heaven marks the divine acceptance of His sacrifice and ministry. It was the public testimony by God, similar to the Voice at the Baptism and Transfiguration, as to the nature of Christ – His unique sonship – ‘I am ascending to My Father…’ John 6:62 points to the ascension as indicating Christ’s pre-existence – ‘where He was before‘. It is His return to heavenly glory – Philippians 2:8-9ff. This was true of neither Enoch nor Elijah.
Further, as Harris points out, the resurrected body of Jesus did not have a natural habitat on the present earth, but rather in heaven.23 As Hebrew 9:24 puts it, Christ has entered ‘into heaven itself.’ Henceforth, there was no opportunity for ordinary sight of Jesus – faith alone was the vehicle (cf. John 16:10.) His earthly ministry is completed, and He ascends to begin His heavenly Royal and Intercessory work. It is necessary for His purpose of preparing a place for His disciples – John 14:2-3. Matthew 28:19-20 points to the fact that Christ’s kingdom is of a universal, rather than particularist nature – and effectively this could only be exercised from heaven. Linked to the preceding point, it is essential for Jesus to ascend to heaven for the Spirit to be poured out on all flesh – John 16:7-10: the Spirit is the sign of the Kingdom – Acts 2:33.
The Westminster Confession of Faith summarises Biblical revelation about the resurrection and ascension of Jesus in Article four of Chapter eight: ‘On the third day He arose from the dead, with the same body in which He suffered, with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sits at the right hand of His Father, making intercession, and shall return, to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.’ Article 46 of the Heidelberg Catechism answers the question:
The Catechism further develops this theme by exploring the aspects of the ascension, specifically in answer to ‘How does Christ’s ascension into heaven benefit us?’, which it answers by declaring: ‘First, He is our Advocate in heaven before His Father. Second, we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge that He, our Head, will also take us, His members, up to Himself. Third, He sends us His Spirit…’ The Second Helvetic Confession examines the purpose and character of Christ’s ascension in its eleventh chapter:
Christ Is Truly Ascended Into Heaven. We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ, in his same flesh, ascended above all visible heavens into the highest heaven, that is, the dwelling-place of God and the blessed ones, at the right hand of God the Father. Although it signifies an equal participation in glory and majesty, it is also taken to be a certain place about which the Lord, speaking in the Gospel, says: ‘I go to prepare a place for you’ (John 14:2). The apostle Peter also says: ‘Heaven must receive Christ until the time of restoring all things’ (Acts 3:21).
B. The Islamic view
It is significant that although Muslims, especially those holding to the ‘substitution’ theory of the crucifixion, believe Jesus ascended to Paradise, there appears to be no significance to the subject in either the Qur’an or Hadith other than the idea that in some way, this frustrated Jewish intentions, and the obvious, bare fact that at His Second Coming, Jesus will descend from Paradise. At best, on the ‘substitution’ theory, the ascension was a rescue mission. Obviously, it was not visible, not attended by angels, and did not involve a change in status. According to the ‘substitution’ theory, it was a bodily assumption, although this is not clear from the Qur’an. Rather, it is an implication from the Hadith, based on the idea of His return.
As indicated previously, there is no parallel in Islam between the method of Christ’s ascent to Paradise and His return from there – one is secret and invisible, the other is open and visible. As we shall see, unlike the Biblical concept of the Ascension, there is no sense in Islam of the ascent of Jesus being a continuation of His ministry; rather, it is an interlude. Though there might be some indication that His ascent to heaven aided His relatives (see below), it does nothing for the generality of the human race. He has not gone to prepare a place for anyone. It can be seen that there is no logical progression in the Qur’an between the earthly ministry of Jesus and His ascension. Effectively, His ministry terminates until the time of His return. There is no meaningful significance for the Ascension in the ministry of the Islamic Jesus.
Perhaps this is partly because Muhammad supplants Jesus in this respect. We have already seen that one aspect of the Miraj is roughly equivalent to the Transfiguration. However temporary Muhammad’s Ascent to the heavens may be, according to Islam he accomplishes more during this short-lived event than Jesus does in all the time He is there. Jesus, as we shall see in the next section, ‘The Session’, performs no function whatsoever in Paradise according to Islam. Muhammad, however, manages to establish the actual number of prayers Muslims will have to say, by bargaining with God.24We shall see in the next section that in this respect, the consequences of the ascent of Muhammad is equivalent to the effects of Christ’s session – the establishment of His kingdom, the New Testament Church, and its nature as a worshipping community through the gift of the Spirit.
3. The Heavenly Session
A. The Biblical view
We have noted the connection between the Resurrection and the Kingdom. The time Christ actually commenced His cosmic reign was after the Ascension, when He was seated at the right hand of the Father. We note the following:
The Resurrection is defined in Acts 13:32-34 as the fulfilment of the Promises to the Patriarchs and to David – ’32 And we bring you good tidings of the promise made to the Patriarchs, 33 that God has fulfilled this for us, their progeny, in that He raised up Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, You are My Son, this day have I begotten You. 34 And having raised Him up from the dead, never to return to corruption, He has spoken thus, “I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.”‘ The reference to David indicates that the nature of the Promise/Covenant involves Kingship, Genesis. 17:6 respecting Abraham’s progeny – ‘kings shall from you’. McComiskey writes about this aspect of the promise to Abraham: ‘…as the history of the ancient Hebrews unfolded, and they became a nation in their own land, they felt the need for a king and the Israelite monarchy was born. It was then this promise to Abraham began to be realized.’25
The Covenant commitment to Abraham that royalty will be his offspring is narrowed specifically to the House of David in 2 Samuel 7:12-14, which promises David that his offspring will be king – ‘I will establish your offspring after you… 13 …I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son…’ It is significant that Psalm 72:17 states that the Promise to Abraham that all nations will be blessed through him is renewed but the fulfilment thereof is assigned to the Davidic King, so that the Seed of Abraham will be the Son of David: ‘His name shall endure for ever; His name shall continue as long as the sun: All nations shall be blessed in him; And men shall call him blessed’. The fulfilment of all these covenant promises is found in Matthew 1:1, which refers to Jesus as ‘the son of David, the son of Abraham’.
Further, 2 Samuel 7:14 states that the son of David would also be the son of God, reiterated in Psalm 2:7, which Acts 13:33 states is fulfilled in the Resurrection. We should note that 2 Samuel 7:12 LXX says anastasw to sperma mou meta se …anastaso to sperma mou meta se… which may be translated ‘I will resurrect your offspring after you…’26 Most importantly, it is clear that the throne of David is coterminously the throne of the Lord God – 1 Chronicles 29:23 – ‘Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king…’ [Significantly, the Kingdom is stated to be both God’s and Christ’s – Ephesians. 5:5]. It is clear that the aspect of divine sonship involved here is synonymous with kingship – when the son of David mounted the throne, then he became the son of God in this sense. As the Heir of David the King, he was the Heir of God, but he was only inaugurated as such and entered into the full exercise of his power when he ascended the throne. This necessitated His death and resurrection, and thus His Ascension into heaven.
This is the meaning of Acts 13:33, and we can see the significance of 2:30-31 – ‘…knowing that God had sworn to him (David) to sit the fruit of his loins upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ…’ and the throne of David is located at the right hand of God in heaven – v33 – ‘Being therefore lifted-up to the right hand of God’. The Session of Christ fulfils the covenant with David, reconstituting the Biblical State of Israel, 15:16 (‘After these things I will return, and I will rebuild the fallen tabernacle of David’). Of course, Christ was already a King before the resurrection and Session, but with the latter, He is inaugurated into the exercise of His full authority, particularly to the Cosmic aspects of such – the exercise of Kingship was no longer confined to Palestine. This is the significance of Acts 2:36 – ‘…God has made Him Lord and Christ…’, ‘lord’ here signifying kingship, rather than deity.
This also demonstrates the logical consistency of the Biblical view. Jesus is presented as continuing in heaven the ministry He exercised and proclaimed on the earth – the Kingdom of God (better, the Reign of God) – Mark 1:15 (‘The Time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God is near’) and Luke 17:21 (‘the kingdom of God is in your midst’). The essential difference is one of intensification – this ministry is unchallenged and universal (not limited to Palestine). One of the great Biblical scholars of he twentieth century was George Eldon Ladd, who wrote extensively on the Kingdom of God. He made the point that the Kingdom of God was present in ‘Jesus’ person and message.’27 His disciples, the recipients of His ‘messianic salvation became the true Israel…’28 This continues with the Session, by the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have already seen the relation of the gift of the Spirit to the restoration and resurrection of Israel and the Davidic monarchy, especially with regard to Ezekiel 37:13ff:
13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, and caused you to come up out of your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land: and you shall know that I, The Lord, have spoken it and performed it, says the Lord…. 23 …I will …cleanse them: so shall they be My people, and I will be their God. 24 and My servant David shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk according to My ordinances, and observe My statutes, and do them.
On the Day of Pentecost, the Resurrected Davidic King – the Messiah – bestowed the Spirit on the true Israel, that they might have eternal life and walk blamelessly before God. We should remember the import of Romans 1:4 – the Resurrection of Jesus was not only individual, but commenced the collective resurrection of redeemed Humanity. When he rose from the dead, Israel was resurrected, and the Holy Spirit imparted the eternal life of the risen Messiah to His disciples, making them the true Israel. This is the context and meaning of Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:33 – ‘Being therefore exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this, which you see and hear.’ Those who received the Holy Spirit of the Messianic Davidic King – He is actually called the Spirit of Christ – Romans 8:9; 1 Peter 1:11 – become the true subjects of the Davidic King, and thus the true Israel. F. F. Bruce writes about this:
… on the Day of Pentecost, seven weeks after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples ‘were all filled with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:4). When the crowd of spectators was amazed at the visible and audible phenomena which marked the event, Peter explained that Jesus, crucified by men but raised from the dead by God, was now ‘exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear’ (Acts 2:33).
The baptism of the Spirit, or baptism with the Spirit, is thus the work of the risen Christ. By this act he brought his church into being. The church – the people of God in New Testament times – is continuous with the people of God in Old Testament times; but on that day of Pentecost it experienced a new beginning, a spiritual rebirth. Jesus is the representative of the people of God in Old and New Testament times alike; when he descended into death and rose again, the people of God symbolically died and rose with him. ‘The Spirit of him raised Jesus from the dead’ now came to dwell in his followers and made them a new community – the community of which Jesus had said ‘I will build my church, and the gates of Hades [the powers of death] shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18) Whereas the people of God in Old Testament times; had been almost entirely confined to members of one nation the reborn people of God, endowed by Jesus with his speedily came to embrace men and women of many nations. …in 1 Corinthians 12:13…’in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body’ … the meaning of the Pentecostal event is made plain. It is the risen Christ who baptizes his people – all his people –’in one Spirit’, and by this baptism they are incorporated ‘into one body’..29
We should remember the connection of the Spirit with the first manifestation of the restoration of Israel at the Baptism of Jesus. The timing of the Pentecostal outpouring is significant. The Spirit could only be given when Jesus was enthroned in heaven, by the right hand of the Father. Jesus had promised the Spirit to His disciples in John 16:7ff, and connected this to His exaltation – ‘Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 and when He comes, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: …10 of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will no longer see me…’ Again, there is clear, logical progression and consistency in the Biblical presentation.
We find this same logical progression and consistency with respect to the cosmopolitan nature of Christ’s kingship. We have seen that the covenant-promise to Abraham stated that all nations would be blessed through him and his progeny, and in Psalm 72:17 this is specifically related to the Davidic King – i.e. the Messiah. It can be seen that the renewed Israel would be a multi-ethnic people. Muslims like Badawi, as we have seen earlier, claim that Jesus was only an emissary to the Jews, usually citing Matthew 15:24 ‘But He answered and said, I was only not sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ In doing so they ignore the context of the narrative – that Jesus was testing the faith of the Canaanite woman, and that once she passes the test, He grants her request.
Jesus also predicted that whilst many Jews would reject the gospel, many Gentiles would receive it – Luke 13:28 ‘There shall be weeping and the gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, but yourselves cast out. 29 And they shall come from the east and west, and from the north and south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.’ When Jesus witnessed the faith of the Roman Centurion, He predicted the incoming of the Gentiles – Matthew 8:10 And when Jesus heard it, he was amazed, and said to His followers, Verily I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel. 11 And I say to you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven: 12 but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.’
Of course, in the main, Jesus’ earthly ministry was largely restricted to Palestine and the adjacent lands, which meant that His primary focus was on Jews, but we can see from these predictions that Jesus definitely saw His ministry as leading to the salvation of Gentiles and their incorporation into the People of God. John 3:16 states that the reason for the Incarnation was that God loved the world, and not just the Jews. Jesus was conscious that His death would draw all humanity – John 12:32 ‘And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Myself.’ It can be seen that the Session is a logical progression from the Passion in this respect. Similarly, the ironic, unintentional prophecy of the High Priest testified that Jesus would die in the nation’s stead, to which the inspired gospel adds that He would die in the stead of all humanity – John 11:49-52 ‘…Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, it is expedient that one man should die for the people, so that the whole nation does not perish… being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; and not for the nation only, but that He might also gather together into one the children of God that are scattered abroad.’
The last words of Jesus before His ascension concerned the salvation of the Gentiles – Matthew 28:19 – ‘Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit'; Acts 1:8 ‘But you shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.’ Jesus, as universal king, employs the Church as His instrument to extend His kingdom. Specifically, this occurs after the conversion of Cornelius and the Gentiles in Acts 10:44-45. This was discussed at the Council of Jerusalem, where James, Jesus’ half-brother, stated the following:
Acts 15:14 Simeon (i.e. Peter) has reported how first God visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15 And with this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 16 After these things I will return, And I will rebuild the fallen tabernacle of David; And I will repair its ruins, And I will establish it: 17 That the remnant of men may seek after the Lord, And all the Gentiles, upon whom My name is called…
The word translated ‘people’ is laov laos– i.e. ‘chosen people’ in a religious sense rather than eynov ethnos – an ethnic group. Essentially, the visitation of God to these Gentiles made them members of the people of God. Hence, it can be seen that with the Session the full significance of the term ‘Messiah’ – the anointed Davidic King is realised. He reigns over all, and brings about the extension of the reign of the House of David to include all humanity. His message and work was for all humanity, as He demonstrated when he healed the servant of the centurion and the daughter of the Canaanite woman, He died for all humanity, as testified by the Gospels, He commissioned the Church to proselytise all humanity, at Pentecost, as Risen, Ascended King He poured out the Holy Spirit on all Humanity – Acts 2:17 ‘And it shall be in the last days, says God, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh…’, and His reign is specifically over all humanity. When He returns, He will judge and resurrect all humanity – Matthew 25:32. Again, the Session is a logical progression of His other work.
(a) The ‘right hand’ is the place of royal honour and dignity – 1 Kings 2:19. It is questionable if too much should be made of the fact that Jesus is presented as ‘sitting'; He is not resting in the sense of sleeping or being inactive. Note that He is presented as being at the right hand of God, Romans 8:34; 1 Peter 3:22; standing, Acts 7:56; walking, Revelation 2:1. The point of emphasis is simply that Christ is exalted to the place of divine power.
Christ had stated that He would be seated at the right hand of power – Matthew. 26:64. The terminology is drawn from Psalm 110:1 – ‘The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’, which verse is quote in Acts 2:34 to indicate its fulfilment. The fact that Christ conflated Psalm 110 with Daniel 7:13-14 in Matthew 26:64 indicates that His position as the Son of Man (a title referring to His heavenly origins, as Daniel 7:13-14 demonstrates) is connected to the Session. In Daniel 7 the ‘one like a son of man’ comes to God, to receive universal authority. It is significant that in Matthew. 25:31, 34 the Son of Man is a King. Reference to the event is also made in Acts 5:31; Ephesians. 1:20-22; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:3, 13; 7:26; 10:12-13; 12:2; Revelation 3:21; 22:1. Christ is referred to as a King in Romans 14:9; 1 Corinthians. 15:24-28; Hebrews 2:7, 8.
(b) The Session is presented as a past event in certain texts, e.g. Acts 2:33ff, 5:31, Hebrews 1:3, 10:12, etc. As Harris says, ‘The fact of ‘sitting down’ points to the completion of a task. When Christ ‘sat down’ the words ‘mission accomplished’ were written over his earthly career’.30 In Philippians 2:5-11, Christ is exalted to the highest place, having been obedient to the extent of enduring the crucifixion. To quote Harris again, ‘The heavenly glory he had enjoyed in the Father’s presence before his incarnation had been restored – and augmented. Jesus is now ‘crowned with (fresh) glory…’. At his exaltation he not only re-entered glory but entered into new glory (Luke 24:26; 1 Peter 1:21)…’31
Whilst Christians are destined to rule with Christ, Matthew. 19:28; 2 Timothy 2:12, and are enthroned with Him, Ephesians. 2:6, Christ’s own throne is unique. The phrase ‘at His right hand’ is never ascribed to anyone but Christ.
(c) It is also a present event – as previously stated, He is active now in exercising His reign. The principal characteristic of the latter is the destruction of His enemies. The Heidelberg Catechism rhetorically asks ‘Why is it added, “And sits at the right hand of God?”‘, to which the answer is given ‘Christ ascended into heaven to manifest Himself there as Head of His Church, through whom the Father governs all things.’ It further questions:
Although in some places this cosmological conflict is presented as a work the Father does for Christ, e.g. Acts 2:35, elsewhere it is an act that the Son performs – 1 Corinthians. 15:24-27. Taken in line with Ephesians. 5:5, this indicates that cosmic governance is synergistic and that the Son’s role is thus mediatorial. The ‘enemies’ involved are spiritual forces, both demonic Principalities, Ephesians. 1:20-22, Sin, 1 Corinthians. 15:56-57, and Death, v26, whereupon the terminus of His mediatorial reign is reached, v24, and He returns in glory to the earth.
It is clear from Galatians. 4:3, 9 that the Apostle Paul regards Paganism, Judaism and heretical Christianity as demonic, principally because they reject or undermine the Christ-event. The subjugation and destruction of false religion is thus a major facet of the Session. The first instance of the public, cataclysmic display of the Session of the Son of Man in destroying His foes is the Destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in AD 70, whereupon it would be signified that the Son of Man had come on the clouds to God and been given universal authority, Matthew 24:30. Because it is universal authority, Christ will perform this everywhere for as long as he reigns, and because it is cosmic, it means that there is nowhere in this universe that the power of Satan can withstand that of Christ.
This is indeed what we find in the Biblical presentation of the Session. From the time Jesus begins His ministry, He confronts the Forces of Darkness. Immediately after the Baptism, He successfully faced the assault of Satan in the desert. Thereafter, we find Him exorcising demons – note what He says in Matthew 12:28 ‘But if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.’ The fight against demonic forces was also accomplished on the Cross – John 12:31 – ‘Now the Prince of this world will be cast out'; Colossians 2:15 ‘having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.’ Hence, at the Session, Jesus perpetuates this ministry. The Kingly reign of Christ both on the earth and from heaven confronts demons. The injunction to perform exorcisms was also a command to His disciples, Matthew 10:8, and after Pentecost we find the disciples continuing this ministry – e.g. Acts 19:12. Moreover, this clash of kingdoms continues directly in the ministry of Jesus from heaven.
In Philippians 2:9 we read that one consequence of the exaltation is precisely this cosmic confrontation which results in Messianic triumph – ‘Therefore God highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, whether in heaven and on earth and under the earth’. Harris identifies those in heaven with angels, and those under the earth with demons or the dead or with the ‘angelic powers that were commonly thought to rule over the astral, terrestrial, and chthonic regions of the universe.’32 This idea seems to lie behind the thought of Ephesians 6:12 ‘For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.’ This verse in itself points to the fact that the ministry of Christ in heaven is partly realised through the activity of those to whom the Messiah gave the Holy Spirit.
The Church is able to perform this ministry because of the exalted dominion of Christ over the cosmic forces of evil, as a result of God’s power, Ephesians 1:20 ‘which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come’ It is clear that the Session actively subjects the cosmic forces to Jesus – 1 Peter 3:22 ‘who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.’ Several texts, quoting or alluding to Psalm 110, indicate that the Session actively subjugates the cosmic enemies of Christ – 1 Corinthians 15:25 ‘For he must reign, until he has put all his enemies under his feet’ (cf. Hebrews 1:13; 10:13).
The other present aspect of the Session is Christ’s heavenly intercession. Jesus is not only a King, but a priest. In fact, He is a King-Priest, after the order of Melchizedek, again a quote from Psalm 110, e.g. Hebrews 5:10 ‘named by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.’ The cross was a priestly work of intercession, Jesus offering the sacrifice of Himself to God for the sins of the world. The death of Christ both propitiates the wrath of God against Man’s sin and expiates sin from Man – Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10. This sacrifice is a once-for-all act, Hebrews 9:12; 10:12, but it has continuing consequences. Jesus has a present work as intercessory Advocate in Heaven; as 1 John 2:1-2 presents, if we sin, He acts as our Advocate (paraklhtov parakletos) with the Father. John Murray writes concerning this:
… if Christ as priest after the order of Melchizedek is the mediator and surety of the new covenant as the everlasting covenant, this means that his priestly function is operative in the consummating action which will bring to final and perfect fruition the redemptive counsel of God. The ever-active priestly activity of Christ is thus brought into relation with the consummation of redemption, just as it is his priestly function of making propitiation which ensured by its once-for-all transcendent efficacy and perfection that redemption would be consummated. In other words, the priestly activity of the Redeemer is central in the whole redemptive process. It is because he is a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek that redemption in its Old Testament adumbration had saving effectiveness, that redemption in its objective accomplishment has meaning, and that redemption in its consummation will be achieved.
The heavenly high priesthood of Christ means, therefore, that Christ appears in the presence of God at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens to present himself as the perfected high priest to plead on the basis of what he has accomplished the fulfilment of all the promises, the bestowment of all the benefits, and enduement with all the graces secured and ratified by his own high priestly offering. This is a ministry directed to the Father. This it is pre-eminently. The Godward reference is primary here as it is also in the once-for-all priestly offering. But it is also a ministry on behalf of men. As directed to the Father it has no relevance except as he is appointed for men in things pertaining to God (cf. Heb. 5:1). But since it is a ministry on behalf of men, it is also a ministry which reaches to men in that it involves the administration of the house of God upon earth and the ministration of succour to the people of God in all their temptations and tribulations.33
Hence, it is the very presence of Jesus in heaven that acts as intercession. Romans 8:34 links the death of Christ to His continual intercession for believers, and presents this as also liked to the resurrection – ‘who is the one that condemns? It is Christ Jesus that died, rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.’ A similar point is made in Hebrews 7:25 ‘Therefore also He is able to save to the uttermost those that draw near to God through him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them.’ This intercession could only function in the true, heavenly sanctuary – not in the earthly Jerusalem – Hebrews 8:2. As Guthrie states, ‘The work of mediation between God and man depended on the entrance into heaven of the mediator, as the intercessory nature of the Jewish high priest depended on his gaining access to the holy of holies. The session at the right hand of God, secured through the ascension, gives Christ as our heavenly high priest an inestimable advantage over the Aaronic priests.’34 It is clear from Romans 8:34 that this continuing ministry is exercised as a consequence of the Session. Harris writes:
…Christ is presented as a levitical high-priest of the Aaronic order before his session, and a royal high-priest of the order of Melchizedek after his session. Just as the levitical high-priest fulfilled his ministry only when he had brought the victim’s blood inside the holy place, so Christ did not fulfil his Aaronic high-priestly role until he had entered the heavenly sanctuary with his own blood and had sat down at God’s right hand (Heb. 9.11-12; 10.12). Thereafter he fulfils a priesthood of the Meichizedekian type, acting as a minister in the real sanctuary (Heb. 8.1), interceding for his people (Heb. 7.25; 9.24) and offering up their praise (Heb. 13.15; cf. 1 Pet. 2.5), and guaranteeing their permanent and free access into the holy place (Heb. 4.16; 10.19-22).35
B. The Islamic view
We have previously noted ahadith about the Miraj mentioning that Muhammad encountered other prophets in his ascent to Paradise, Jesus being among them. This bare fact alone is mentioned. In the Biblical presentation, the Return of Christ is a logical progression of His heavenly activity. He returns to complete His reign and all-round work of salvation. In heaven, He ruled, until His foes were made His footstool. The last foe, Death, is consumed at His return. With regard to the presence of Jesus in Paradise according to Islam, however, it can only be considered an interruption in His active service to Allah. There is no logical consistency between the presence of Jesus in Paradise and His return, as in the Bible. We are not told what Jesus is doing in Paradise, and there seems to be no indication that He is either reigning or uniquely interceding there as in the Biblical portrait. This in itself makes His return all the more incongruous. His very presence there is irrelevant. It should also be asked of those Muslims holding to the ‘substitution’ theory as to why Jesus remained in Paradise after the threat from the Jews passed – certainly after Christianity was given toleration by the Roman Empire? An American Muslim has faced this question, without giving a satisfactory answer:
As far as what Jesus is now doing up in Heaven, this is a matter of the Unseen known only to Almighty God, and as such, it can only be known through Divine Revelation. I have personally never heard any hadeeths that describe what Jesus, peace be upon him, is doing up in Heaven (not that this necessarily means there aren’t any), but as a Muslim, I am not allowed to guess when it comes to matters of the Unseen. Certainly, one might say that ‘there doesn’t seem much point in this’ but part of Islam is trusting in the wisdom of Almighty God… Certainly, Almighty God could have allowed him to be killed (just like other prophets were killed), just as He could have explained what happened to him in greater detail, if He so wished. However, He – due to His Wisdom – chose not to.36
In the absence of data to the contrary, we can only assume that Jesus is held to be behaving in the normal way Muslims in Paradise conduct themselves – enjoying the sensual delights of the place. The Islamic portrait of Paradise involves luxury, rivers of milk and wine, robes and silk, and heavenly voluptuous maidens whose only function is sexual satisfaction for the master.37This in itself makes the Islamic position logically inconsistent – the hooris warn the ‘earthly’ wife that her husband is only a ‘passing guest’, but according to Islam, Jesus will return to earth. Further, He will cease to enjoy these hooris, replacing them, for a while, with a presumably less desirable woman, only to enjoy them again after His death following His forty-year reign on the earth.
Finally, there is a glaring logical inconsistency in the Islamic presentation of the ministry of Jesus associated with His title – al-Masih the Messiah. We have seen that the term refers to the eschatological Davidic King, and surely a king is meant to reign. In the Biblical narrative that is exactly what Christ does in glory when He sits on His heavenly throne. The Islamic Jesus, however, does nothing of the sort when He ascends on high to Paradise. His presence in Paradise is pointless and irrelevant in relation to His title, and the reverse is true as well. It is difficult to see how Muslims can address this inconsistency in their schema.
There is one Hadith that implies that a martyr intercedes for his relatives, presumably meaning that his good deed is merited to their account as well.38 If Jesus is counted in some way as a martyr, He may be considered as performing this function. There is no indication that the presence of Jesus in Paradise aids His followers. He is not preparing a place for them, nor performing any salvatory or even prophetic role whatsoever. He is not subjecting His enemies. Instead of Jesus being at the right hand of God, the possibility of Muhammad occupying this position is proposed, with the difference that this occurs after the Resurrection, and from the second hadith in view, the place of supremacy and the role of intercession performed by Jesus during the Session is effected by Muhammad after the Last Day:
|Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 936Narrated by Ruwayfi’Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: He who invokes blessings upon Muhammad saying: O Allah, cause him to occupy the nearest seat to Thee on the Day of Resurrection, my intercession will be assured for him.Transmitted by Ahmad.||Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.588Narrated by Jabir bin AbdullahAllah’s Apostle said, “Whoever after listening to the Adhan says, ‘Allahumma Rabba hadhihi-d-da’ watit-tammati was-salatil qa’imati, ati Muhammadan al-wasilata wal-fadilata, wab’ athhu maqaman mahmudan-il-ladhi wa’ adtahu (O Allah! Lord of this perfect call (of not ascribing partners to You) and of the regular prayer which is going to be established! Kindly give Muhammad the right of intercession and superiority and send him (on the Day of Judgment) to the best and the highest place in Paradise which You promised him)’, then intercession for me will be permitted for him on the Day of Resurrection).”|
It is also clear from this and from another hadith that the right of intercession on the Day of Resurrection belongs to Muhammad, rather than Jesus; another implication of the same tradition is that Jesus was only called to one nation, and so any idea of universal, cosmic kingship for Christ, despite the obvious connotations of the technical phrase Al-Masih, must be rejected by Islam:
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.429
Narrated by Jabir bin Abdullah
Allah’s Apostle said, ‘I have been given five things which were not given to any amongst the Prophets before me. These are:
1. Allah made me victorious by awe (by His frightening my enemies) for a distance of one month’s journey.
2. The earth has been made for me (and for my followers) a place for praying and a thing to perform Tayammum. Therefore my followers can pray wherever the time of a prayer is due.
3. The booty has been made Halal (lawful) for me (and was not made so for anyone else).
4. Every Prophet used to be sent to his nation exclusively but I have been sent to all mankind.
5. I have been given the right of intercession (on the Day of Resurrection.)’
An inference from other ahadith must be that there is no special act or prayer of intercession possible for Jesus in that He, like other prophets, has used up His special prayer already, leaving only Muhammad with the unique prayer of intercession:
|Sahih Muslim Hadith 389Narrated by AbuHurayrahThe Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said: There is for every apostle a prayer which is granted, but every prophet showed haste in his prayer. I have, however, reserved my prayer for the intercession of my Ummah on the Day of Resurrection, and it would be granted, if Allah so willed, in case of everyone amongst my Ummah provided he dies without associating anything with Allah.||Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 9.566Narrated by Abu HurairaAllah’s Apostle said, “For every Prophet there is one invocation which is definitely fulfilled by Allah, and I wish, if Allah will, to keep my that (special) invocation as to be the intercession for my followers on the Day of Resurrection.”|
It should be stated that there are contradictory statements in both the Qur’an and Hadith that indicate that Allah alone is the intercessor, different ayat that He allows others to perform this function, traditions that others than Muhammad can perform a present work of intercession, such as the martyrs we examined earlier, and that even Fasting and the Qur’an perform this activity.39 Despite this, there are other aspects that point to Muhammad supplanting Jesus. After his ascent, Muhammad was properly able to establish the Muslim Ummah by the revelation of liturgical prayer, i.e., Salat. Just as the presence of the Holy Spirit produces the New Covenant Church, so the existence of Salat is the key to Islam, since it includes belief in the Qur’an and Muhammad:
Fiqh-us-Sunnah 1.75 Prayer
The prayer is a type of worship consisting of specific statements and actions. It is begun by pronouncing the greatness of Allah, and is concluded with salutations of peace. As prayer is the essence of Islam, we will discuss it here in detail. To state it simply, prayer must exist, for without it Islam can not stand. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “The head of the matter is Islam, its pillar is the prayer, and the top of its hump is jihad in the way of Allah.” It was the first act of worship that was made obligatory by Allah. Its obligation was revealed directly to the Prophet, during his ascension to heaven. Said Anas, “The prayers were made obligatory on the Prophet, upon whom be peace, the night of his ascension to heaven. At first, they were fifty in number, but were reduced several times until they were five. Then it was proclaimed, ‘O Muhammad, the order is not changed. These five are (equivalent) to the fifty.” As to the authenticity of the report, it is related by Ahmad, an-Nasa’i and at-Tirmidhi, who said it is sahih…
It follows that the Miraj also subsumes the act of Jesus at Pentecost. Likewise, it was after the Miraj that Muhammad was able to establish the Islamic State at Medina, again equivalent to Jesus being enthroned on high after His ascension, and in equivalence to Jesus overcoming His foes, Muhammad after his ascent to power in Medina subjected and destroyed his foes – pagans, Jews and Hypocrites by jihad:
Maududi Sura Introductions Surah 17. Al-Israa
This Surah takes its name (Bani Israil) from v. 4. But this name is merely a distinctive appellation like the names of many other surahs and not a descriptive title, and does not mean that “Bani Isra’il” is the theme of this Surah…. The very first verse indicates that this Surah was revealed on the occasion of Miraj (Ascension). According to the Traditions and books on the life of the Holy Prophet, this event happened one year before Hijrah. Thus, this Surah is one of those which were revealed in the last stage of Prophethood at Makkah…
The Holy Prophet had been propagating Tauhid for the previous twelve years and his opponents had been doing all they could to make his Mission a failure, but in spite of all their opposition, Islam had spread to every corner of Arabia and there was hardly any clan which had not been influenced by his invitation. In Makkah itself the true Believers had formed themselves into a small community and were ready and willing to face every danger to make Islam a success. Besides them, a very large number of the people of Aus and Khazraj (two influential clans of Al- Madinah) had accepted Islam. Thus the time had come for the Holy Prophet to emigrate from Makkah to Al-Madinah and there gather together the scattered Muslims and establish a state based on the principles of Islam. These were the conditions when Mi’raj took place and on his return the Holy Prophet brought down the Message contained in this Surah.
4. The Second Coming
A. The Biblical view
Just as there are four schools of Islamic law, so there are four ‘schools’ of interpretation about the Second Coming among Christians – Amillennialist, Postmillennialist, Historic Premillennialist and Dispensational Premillennialist. All agree that the Second Coming of Christ will finally result in the General Resurrection, Last Judgment and cosmic metamorphosis. There are different nuances within these schools. Hence, what follows is largely based on common understandings of the event; where distinctive elements intrude, they follow the Amillennial viewpoint, regarding the Battle of Armageddon as fulfilled in the Destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, and that the verses in Matthew 24 up to and including v35 refer to the latter event, whilst from v36 onwards we encounter the prophecy of the Second Coming. 40 [An excellent book examining the four views is that edited by R. G. Clouse, The Meaning of the Millennium, (IVP, Illinois, 1977)].
(a) No one knows the time of the Second Coming. Neither will any sign be given: Jesus made it quite clear that the event will be of the same character as the Flood – no sign will be given of the impending act. Even Jesus, as to His human nature, was unaware of its timing – Matthew 24:36. When we study the texts concerning the situation preceding the Flood, we note that no indication was given, apart from the preaching of Noah – 2 Peter 2:5; rather, life went on as normal – Matthew 24:39 (there is no indication in either text of an intensification of evil during the period of Noah’s construction of the Ark) – it will come as a complete shock.
(b) This is reinforced by Luke 17:22ff – the event will be as unpredictable as lightning, and as with Sodom, life will go on as usual with no outstanding, obvious supernatural indication of coming judgment.
(c) The Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, e.g. 2 Peter 3:10. A thief gives no advance warning of the time of his approach, verbal or otherwise.
(d) The fact that life will go on as normal is further underlined by 1 Thessalonians 5:3 – Jesus will return at a time of peace and safety. At times of conflict and danger, men tend to more seriously consider their spiritual state and future, but with the passing of such they revert to type.
The text indicates that Jesus will return at a period of general security, involving world peace prior to His Second Coming. In this situation, the Second Coming will be like the arrival of the initial labour pains of an expectant mother.
This is not to say that certain things will not occur first – the revelation of the Man of Lawlessness, for example (if in fact such is yet future), or the Great Tribulation of AD 70, but nothing will indicate the timing of the Parousia.
[ii] Its Nature
The Second Coming will have the following characteristics:
It is a personal return, not figurative – Acts 1:11 indicates that the Return will be of the same fashion as the Ascension, which was personal, cf. Matthew 24:44; Acts 3:19-21; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Philippians 3:20: 1 Thessalonians 2:19, etc. Jesus Himself will directly return to the earth from Heaven.
It is not a spiritual return – cf. again Acts 1:11. Jesus will bodily return to the earth. Critics have pointed to the meaning of Parousia as ‘presence’, which may indicate the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost; however, other words are used – apokalupsi’ (‘revelation’), and epiphaneia (‘manifestation’) – which point to a public event. Moreover, the New Testament epistles speak of it as a future event – Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 4:15, 16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Titus 2:13.
Acts 1:11 implies this, as do Colossians 3:4; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28 – ‘so Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to those that wait for him, unto salvation.’ The disciples saw Jesus ascend into Heaven, we will witness His return from there.
It will catch people by surprise – Matthew 24: 37-44; 25:1-12; Mark 13:33-37; 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3; Revelation 16:15. This follows from what we examined about the issue of timing – Jesus will come like a thief in the night.
When Jesus returns, history as we know it will cease – 1 Corinthians 15:24 – then the end will come.
His first coming was in humiliation; His second will be in glory – a glorified body, royal apparel – Hebrews 9:28; myriad angels will accompany Him – 2 Thessalonians 1:7; archangels will herald Him – 1 Thessalonians 4:16; He returns in sovereignty, having conquered His enemies – 1 Corinthians 15:25.
[iii] Its Purpose
(a) To crown His reign: He is ruling now – 1 Corinthians 15:25, but He returns because He has completed the process of overcoming His foes; in fact, He will not return until He has made His enemies His footstool, Acts 2:34-35, until the ‘times of restoration’, 3:21.
When we consider points (b) and (c), we observe a logical progression between Christ’s work on the cross and His ascension and Session. His death conquered him who had the power of death, the Devil – Hebrews 2:14. The Devil was also exorcised by the Cross – John 12:31. It was for this reason the Incarnation took place – 1 John 3:8. During the Session, He reigned until His foes became His footstool; at the Second Coming, they are damned to Hell for all eternity. The Last Enemy is death, 1 Corinthians 15:26, conquered at the cross, vanquished at Christ’s Resurrection, annihilated by the Second Coming with the concomitant General Resurrection – 1 Corinthians 15:54.
Equally, the election we noted as characterising the Restoration of Israel in Christ’s ministry, from the Baptism onwards, and then applied to all humanity, is climaxed at His Return, when the Righteous inherit the New Heaven and the New Earth, whilst those who rejected Jesus as Lord and Saviour are damned to Hell.
(b) To resurrect the dead: 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:16. The Dead in Christ rise first, followed by those believers yet alive being rapt into the air. This completes the General Resurrection commenced with Christ’s own resurrection.
(c) To judge all humanity, living and dead, and to damn all demons – Acts 10:42; 17:31; Romans 2:3-16; 1 Corinthians 4:5 etc. Matthew 25:31ff indicates that the Righteous and the Wicked are separated at this point, the latter to Hell, the former to their ‘inheritance’ – the Renewed earth. The destiny of demons is settled – they are removed from this sphere, and damned to Hell with those rejecting the Lordship of Christ – Matthew 25:41.
(d) To establish the New Earth: the cursed earth is laid bare, and the Renewed Earth formed, 2 Peter 3:7, 10, 12, 13; cf. Acts 3:21. Just as we are resurrected, so is the earth – Romans 8:18-24. The ancient promise to righteous Israelites, those who truly walked in the faith of Abraham, that they would inherit the Land, Psalm 37:11, and renewed to the cosmopolitan True Israel at the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:5, where it is expanded to include the entire earth, now comes to fruition, in fulfilment of the covenant-promise to Abraham that his offspring would inherit the Land and ultimately, the earth – Romans 4:13. This brings us full circle to the promises to the Patriarchs, and demonstrates the logical consistency of the Biblical position. What is important for us at this point is that this is effected by the Return of Christ in glory.
There is no indication in the New Testament of Christ returning to any particular locality – not even in Revelation 20. Acts 1:11 speaks only of the manner of the event. Appeal is sometimes made to Zechariah 14:4 – that He will tip His toe on the Mount of Olives, but this is unviable because:
(a) The language is anthropomorthic – no first century Jew imagined YHWH as having literal, physical feet (cf. Old Testament terms like ‘outstretched arm’, ‘the Hand of YHWH’, etc.). Furthermore, there is no indication that this is a Messianic prophecy; usually, such predictions are couched in terms describing the Messiah as ‘David’, ‘the Branch’, etc. However, such titles or descriptions are completely absent.
(b) The second half of Zechariah belongs to the genre of apocalyptic and prophetic imagery – and so should not be interpreted in a crass literalistic fashion.
(c) The text speaks of the Temple, localised worship, and sacrifices, v21 – all obsolete in the New Testament age – Hebrews 8:13.
(d) Zechariah 14 is set in a time of war, whereas the New Testament represents Jesus as returning at a time of peace. Further, Christ’s conflict with the demonic forces is cosmic and spiritual, not physical.
(e) The New Testament presents Jesus as being in the air and then on the throne at His coming: and the fact that the Judgment and the Resurrection occur at this time would seem to undermine a literal understanding of Zechariah 14.
(f) At any rate, the old earth is laid bare at His coming, so old localities are destroyed.
We can summarize Biblical teaching on the Return of Christ by examining the Westminster Confession of Faith declares about the Second Coming of Christ in Chapter XXXIII – ‘Of the Last Judgment':
- God has appointed a day, wherein He will judge the world, in righteousness, by Jesus Christ, to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father. In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.
- The end of God’s appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of His mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of His justice, in the damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient. For then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fullness of joy and refreshing, which shall come from the presence of the Lord; but the wicked who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.
- As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin; and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity: so will He have that day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come; and may be ever prepared to say, Come Lord Jesus, come quickly, Amen.
B. The Islamic view
Muslims are agreed that Jesus will return to earth one day. It is an essential element of their faith. However, there is little or no indication in the Qur’an that this will definitely occur. The text that is usually presented as evidence for this is S. Az-Zukhruf 43:61 – ‘And (Jesus) shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment): therefore have no doubt about the (Hour) but follow ye Me: this is a Straight Way.’ Yusuf Ali comments: ‘This is understood to refer to the second coming of Jesus in the Last Days before the Resurrection, when he will destroy the false doctrines that pass under his name, and prepare the way for the universal acceptance of Islam, the Gospel of Unity and Peace, the Straight Way of the Qur’an. (43.61)’
Gilchrist observes that this interpretation commands wide support among Muslims: ‘Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi also has a similar comment on this verse in his translation, saying “The reference is to the second advent of Jesus” (The Holy Qur’an, Vol.2, p.493B). Indeed the vast majority of Muslim commentators take Surah 43.61 to be a prophecy of the descension of Jesus to earth, an interpretation sustained for centuries in Muslim writings. The anticipated event has become known as the nuzul-i-Isa, the “descension of Jesus”.’41
However, it should be observed that Yusuf Ali is interpreting, rather than strictly translating the Arabic here at this point (which can be either ‘it’ or ‘he’ – obviously, Yusuf Ali chooses the latter pronoun to make it refer to Jesus); Pickthall renders it ‘there is knowledge of the Hour’, which is closer to the original, especially as ilm is usually translated by ‘knowledge’ rather than ‘sign’. It does well to examine the context:
57 When (Jesus) the son of Mary is held up as an example behold thy people raise a clamour thereat (in ridicule)!
58 And they say ‘Are Our gods best or He?’ This they set forth to thee only by way of disputation: yea they are a contentious people.
59 He was no more than a servant: We granted Our favour to him and We made him an example to the Children of Israel.
60 And if it were Our Will We could make angels from amongst you succeeding each other on the earth.
61 And (Jesus) shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment): therefore have no doubt about the (Hour) but follow ye Me: this is a Straight Way.
62 Let not the Evil One hinder you: for he is to you an enemy avowed.
63 When Jesus came with Clear Signs he said: ‘Now have I come to you with Wisdom and in order to make clear to you some of the (points) on which ye dispute: therefore fear Allah and obey me.
64 ‘For Allah; He is my Lord and your Lord: so worship ye Him: this is a Straight Way.’
65 But sects from among themselves fell into disagreement: then woe to the wrongdoers from the Penalty of a Grievous Day!
66 Do they only wait for the Hour that it should come on them all of a sudden while they perceive not?
It should be remembered that the objects of the passage are the pagans, rather than Jews or Christians. The assertion that Jesus was only a ‘servant’ in v59 is in response to the mockery of the Meccans that Jesus was a foreign god, and is not directed at Christian dogma. It merely corrects the defamation by the pagans. Previously in the chapter, Moses is presented as a messenger who faced mockery from the pagans, vv. 46-47, 54. As a result of the Egyptian obstinacy, the pagans were destroyed, v55, as an example for others, v. 56. Similarly, the contemporary pagans mocked Jesus when Muhammad referred to Him, and again, Jesus is quoted as an example, v57. As elsewhere, there is obvious typological correspondence here – the Meccans mocked Muhammad, as previous messengers were mocked by the peoples to whom they were sent – vv. 6-7 – ‘How many a Prophet did We send among the men of old. And never came there unto them a Prophet but they used to mock him.’ The next verse, v8, recounts that the recalcitrant were destroyed by Allah, an example for others. Like Muhammad, the former messengers were ‘warners’, v23 – specifically of the Hour of Judgment.
It is important to note that the antecedent verse to ayah 61 refers not to Jesus, but to the angels. The connection between v59 – where Jesus is presented as an example to Israel –i.e. of warning, and v60, where it states that if Allah had willed, he could have set angels as viceroys on the earth, is that the Meccans are presented as worshipping the angels, and claiming they were female – vv. 16-20. In this light, we can see that v60 is denying the pagan claim that the Daughters of Allah were ‘partners’ with Allah; rather, they – the angels – were subject to Him, to the extent that if Allah willed, He could have sent them to be His deputies on the earth – thus making mockery of the assertion that they were co-equal objects of power and devotion alongside Him.
Hence, the warning for polytheists is that Allah has set a Day for Judgment – the fact that Allah is uniquely sovereign – to the extent that He can command the angels – is for knowledge of the Hour. No one should doubt the reality of the Hour, and that Allah alone has knowledge of it – a persistent theme in the Qur’an, e.g. S. 7:187; 31:34; 33:63; 41:47. This becomes especially apparent when we compare 43:61 with a verse later in the chapter, but continuing the theme of the passage under consideration – v85 ‘And blessed is He unto Whom belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and with Whom there is knowledge of the Hour…’ Of course, this sovereign power is exercised even over the angels. Just as previous messengers like Jesus declared, as Muhammad now reiterated, people should only worship Allah. Those worshipping others than He should note that it has been revealed that there is an Hour of Judgment, when the pagans will be destroyed, cf. v66. This is the import of the passage.
It follows from all this that S. 43:61 is not predicting the Second Coming of Christ. Possibly, one reason Muslim exegetes have sought to hang the doctrine on this particular verse is that in its absence, there is no clear indication in the Qur’an of the Second Coming of Christ, and the ambiguity of this text allows them to suggest this ayah as its foundation. Undoubtedly, Muslims have been prompted to uphold the Second Coming of Christ because otherwise, there is a glaring logical inconsistency in the Qur’an concerning Jesus. Surah Maryam 19:33 presents Jesus as stating ‘So Peace is on me the day I was born the day that I die and the Day that I shall be raised up to life (again)’. This demands that Jesus one day expire, and be resurrected. Obviously, if Jesus is in Paradise, He cannot die, so logically, He must return to earth again if only for this purpose.
In all probability, it is partly also for this reason that the Hadith traditions about the Second Coming of Christ emerged. Gilchrist notes that ‘The Hadith teach unambiguously that Jesus will return towards the end of the world. There are no less than seventy accredited traditions supporting this doctrine and they are regarded as mutawatir, “universally-attested” traditions of unquestioned reliability.’42 Indeed, this is most definitely the unambiguous testimony of many ahadith, which begs the question as to why there is such an abundance of clear texts in the Hadith corpus when there is so little (or even nothing) in the Qur’an on the subject? The difference is salutary, and reveals a logical inconsistency between the Qur’an and Hadith. There is no logical progression between the inactivity of Jesus in Paradise and what He does at His return.
Further inconsistencies concern the difference on the one hand between the paucity of references to the work of Christ in general in the Qur’an, where He does precious little, and further, which are relatively trivial in comparison to Muhammad, and on the other to the abundance of information on the crucial work Jesus performs after His return. Again, given His very secondary and textually impoverished work in the Qur’an in contrast to Muhammad, why is it He, rather than Muhammad, who performs such a vital eschatological role before the Hour? Once again, we see that Islamic doctrine is devoid of logical progression and consistency.
The Hadith traditions link Christ’s return with a conflict between the Roman (i.e. Byzantine Empire) and the Muslims, and with the emergence of the Antichrist. Obviously, this tradition is embarrassing for modern Muslim exegetes since the Byzantine Empire ceased to exist in the fifteenth century!43 The Hadith is even more uncomfortable for Muslims holding to the infallibility of prophetic revelation, or at least that ahadith are reliable guides, since it states that one third of the Islamic army will immediately proceed to conquer Constantinople – at the time the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The problem is, the city was actually conquered by the Muslim Ottomans in 1453! On this basis, the return of Christ should have occurred centuries ago. The fact that it did not happen disproves the Hadith as a reliable guide, and as such, raises questions about Islam itself.
This is further compounded by the fact that according to sahih ahadith, Muhammad expected Jesus to return imminently, which leaves Muslims with the unenviable option that either Muhammad was mistaken, and thus not a true prophet, or that the Hadith corpus is questionable as a reliable source:
|Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.657Narrated by Abu HurairaAllah’s Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely (Jesus,) the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly (as a Just Ruler); he will break the Cross and kill the pigs and there will be no Jizya (i.e. taxation taken from non-Muslims). Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it, and a single prostration to Allah (in prayer) will be better than the whole world and whatever is in it.” Abu Huraira added “If you wish, you can recite (this verse of the Holy Book): ‘And there is none of the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him (i.e. Jesus as an Apostle of Allah and a human being) Before his death. And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness against them.” (4.159)||Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 3.425Narrated by Abu HurairaAllah’s Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, son of Mary (Jesus) will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) as a just ruler and will break the cross and kill the pig and abolish the Jizya (a tax taken from the non-Muslims who are in the protection of the Muslim government). Then there will be abundance of money and nobody will accept charitable gifts.|
A further problem for Muslims is that many of the ahadith relating to the Second Coming of Christ refer to Him killing the Dajjal al-Masih – the Antichrist. Yet there are traditions indicating that the Dajjal was alive at the time of Muhammad, someone by the name of Ibn Sayyad, and since he can ultimately be killed, we have to assume that he was a man, not a demon or something else.44 Given that Jesus has not returned, that must mean that Ibn Sayyad is getting very long in the tooth! Either that, or he died, undermining the eschatological prophecies of Islam. A recent Muslim publication refers to the Dajjal in a way that seems to be an attempt to explain away this contradiction: ‘…the Dajjal, the person, the final leader of the Roman (i.e. Western) One World Empire, a man of Jewish descent (described in the Hadith in the likeness of a Jew by name of Ibn Sayyad…’45 However, the texts do not state that the Dajjal is like Ibn Sayyad, but indicate that he is indeed the Antichrist.
Another tradition implies that he cannot be killed – except, we presume in the light of other traditions, by Jesus.46It should be noted that yet another text indicates that the Dajjal should have appeared and been overcome by the Muslims after the succession of their victories against Arabia, Persia and the Byzantines. A similar tradition about the Muslims fighting the Byzantines and then hearing of the activity of the Dajjal excludes reference to Jesus. Another, strange tradition (also excluding reference to Jesus) indicates that Constantinople will be conquered by Jews apparently converted to Islam, who will there learn of the actions of the Dajjal. According to one hadith, Ibn Sayyad disappeared after a battle.47
What is particularly incongruous is that one hadith claims that every prophet since Noah predicted the coming of the Dajjal!48 Why this should be so, given what little the Qur’an states about Jesus, is difficult to fathom. The natural assumption is of a figure in opposition to Muhammad, rather than Jesus. Certainly, we never find Jesus in the Qur’an predicting the coming of the Antichrist, nor anyone nor anything comparable. Indeed, we never find any prophet in the Qur’an – not even Muhammad – making such a prophecy. We have to depend entirely on the Hadith for this information. This is perhaps the best indication that the entire dogmas of the Second Coming of Jesus and the Antichrist have been borrowed and adapted from Christian sources. The idea of the last battle was probably borrowed from traditions about Armageddon, as a recent Muslim publication inadvertently suggests by referring to these events as ‘the Muslim version of Armageddon…’49
[ii] Its Nature
The Second Coming according to Islam will have the following features:
The very fact that Jesus fights and ultimately dies after His return is evidence that His return is literal, not spiritual. This undermines Qadiani assertions about their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, being the spiritual Second Coming of Jesus.50
This is implied in our previous point. From the descriptions in the Hadith, it is clear that Jesus bodily returns to the earth. His marriage and begetting of children surely demand this, as does the fact that He will die:
Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4310
Narrated by AbuHurayrah
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: There is no prophet between me and him, that is, Jesus (peace be upon him). He will descend (to the earth). When you see him, recognise him: a man of medium height, reddish fair, wearing two light yellow garments, looking as if drops were falling down from his head though it will not be wet. He will fight the people for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill swine, and abolish jizyah. Allah will perish all religions except Islam. He will destroy the Antichrist and will live on the earth for forty years and then he will die. The Muslims will pray over him.
The hadith we examined in the previous section, with the imperative that Jesus should be recognised, implies that His return will be visible. However, given that according to another hadith, He seems to return to a normal earth, and to a specific locality – Damascus – it is unlikely that we should compare this with the Biblical portrait.
Sahih Muslim Hadith 7015
Narrated by An-Nawwas ibn Sam’an
…It will at this very time that Allah will send Christ, son of Mary. He will descend at the white minaret on the eastern side of Damascus, wearing two garments lightly dyed with saffron and placing his hands on the wings of two Angels…
There does not appear to be the same indication that Jesus will return like a thief in the night. Rather, the traditions, without giving a definite, specific date as to His return, do indicate the occasion wherein His descent occurs. We have already seen that one tradition relates this to the conquest of Constantinople, and others to the emergence of the Dajjal. Given that the Dajjal is said to appear either forty days, forty months or forty years before the coming of Christ, it should be possible to plot the timing of Christ’s descent, even to the point of the exact minute, since He returns at the time for prayer, and so the element of sudden surprise is absent from the Islamic presentation.
|Sahih Muslim Hadith 7023Narrated by Abdullah ibn AmrSomeone came to him and said: What is this hadith that you narrate that the Last Hour will come at a certain time? Thereupon he said: Hallowed be Allah, there is no god but Allah (or words to the same effect). I have decided that I shall not narrate anything to anyone now. I have only said that you will see after some time an important event: that the (sacred) House (Ka’bah) will be burnt and it definitely happen. He then reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: The Dajjal will appear in my Ummah and he will stay (in the world) for forty – I cannot say whether he meant forty days, forty months or forty years. Allah will then send Jesus, son of Mary, who will resemble Urwah ibn Mas’ud. He (Jesus Christ) will chase him and kill him. Then people will live for seven years, during which time there will be no rancour between any two persons. After that Allah will send a cold wind from the direction of Syria. None will survive on Earth, having a speck of good in him or faith in him: he will die. Even if some among you were to enter the innermost part of the mountain, this wind would reach that place also and cause your death. I heard Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) as saying: Only the wicked people will survive and they will be as careless as birds with the characteristics of beasts. They will never appreciate good nor condemn evil. Then Satan will come to them, in human form, and would say: Don’t you respond? They will say: What do you order us to do? He will command them to worship the idols but, in spite of this, they will have an abundance of sustenance and lead comfortable lives. Then the trumpet will be blown and he who hears it will bend his neck to one side and raise it from the other side. The first one to hear that trumpet will be the person who is busy in setting right the cistern meant for supplying water to the camels. He will faint and the other people will also faint. Then Allah will send or He will cause to be sent rain which will be like dew and there will grow out of it the bodies of people. Then the second trumpet will be blown and they will stand up and begin to look (around). Then it will be said: O people, go to your Lord. They will be made to stand there and they will be questioned. Then it will be said: Bring out a group (of them) for the Hell-Fire. It will be asked: How much? It will be said: Nine hundred and ninety-nine out of one thousand for the Hell-Fire. That will be the day that will make the children old because of its terror and that will be the day about which it has been said: “On the day when the shank will be uncovered”.||Sahih Muslim Hadith 6924Narrated by AbuHurayrahAllah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) said: The Last Hour will not come until the Romans land at al-A’maq or in Dabiq. An army consisting of the best (soldiers) of the people on Earth at that time will come from Medina (to oppose them). When they arrange themselves in ranks, the Romans will say: Do not stand between us and those (Muslims) who took prisoners from among us. Let us fight them. The Muslims will say: Nay, by Allah, we shall never turn aside from you and from our brethren so that you may fight them. They will then fight and a third (part) of the army, whom Allah will never forgive, will run away. A third (part of the army), which will be constituted of excellent martyrs in Allah’s eyes, would be killed. The third who will never be put on trial will win and they will be the conquerors of Constantinople. As they are busy in distributing the spoils of war (amongst themselves) after hanging their swords by the olive trees, Satan will cry: The Dajjal has taken your place among your families. They will then come out, but it will be of no avail. When they reach Syria, he will come out while they are still preparing themselves for battle, drawing up the ranks. Certainly, the time of prayer will come and then Jesus (peace be upon him), son of Mary, descend and will lead them in prayer. When the enemy of Allah see him, it will (disappear) just as salt dissolves in water and if he (Jesus) were not to confront them at all, even then it would dissolve completely. Allah would kill them by his hand and he would show them their blood on his lance (the lance of Jesus Christ).|
Inasmuch as the traditions relate that Jesus will slay the Dajjal during a great battle, then convert the world to Islam, and thereafter rule for forty years, it can be argued that a definite change occurs in History. However, History as we know it does not end with the return of Christ – the End, though imminent, does not occur as yet, and He has minimal role in the Resurrection and Judgement, as we have seen. One tradition, however, does imply that His return is linked to the Resurrection, although it must be said that it contradicts other ahadith and the Qur’an:
Sahih Muslim Hadith 293
Narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah
I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: A section of my people will not cease fighting for the Truth and will prevail till the Day of Resurrection. He said: Jesus son of Mary would then descend and their (Muslims’) commander would invite him to come and lead them in prayer, but he would say: No, some amongst you are commanders over some (amongst you). This is the honour from Allah for this Ummah.
The Islamic Jesus, like the Biblical Jesus, returns accompanied by angels, though in a different way:
Sahih Muslim Hadith 7015
Narrated by An-Nawwas ibn Sam’an
…It will at this very time that Allah will send Christ, son of Mary. He will descend …placing his hands on the wings of two Angels…
However, in the Islamic narrative, only two angels return with Him, and do so for the obvious reason that He cannot fly! There is nothing comparable to the Biblical narrative where myriad angels accompany Jesus as His heavenly retinue. Jesus returns to conquer in the Islamic portrait, rather than as conqueror, following the Biblical presentation. Given that He eventually dies, the Islamic narrative does not present the glorious picture of Jesus we find in the Bible.
[iii] Its Purpose
(a) To destroy the Dajjal
We have already seen traditions that Jesus slays the Dajjal, and we can quote Abu-Dawood 4310 on this ‘…He will destroy the Antichrist….’ This occurs in a literal battle in Palestine, near Lydda. The Muslim idea of Christ killing the Dajjal probably resulted from a misunderstanding of 2 Thessalonians 2:8, which refers to Jesus destroying the Man of Lawlessness ‘with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming’. Neither in the Bible nor the Qur’an do we ever encounter Jesus physically killing anyone, again indicating that the Islamic presentation is devoid of logical consistency and progression.
Part of the problem is the identity of the Antichrist. There have been many candidates for the post, from Nero to Hitler, though the Reformers and the Puritans were keen on recognising the Papacy as an institution as the guilty party: Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXV, article VI: ‘There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof, but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.’ When we examine the most extensive treatment of the subject in the first epistle of John, although one cannot be dogmatic about this, the indications are that ‘antichrist’ is generic, rather than individual title, referring to incipient Gnosticism:
1 John 2:18 ‘Little children, it is the last hour: and as you heard that antichrist comes, even now have there arisen many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last hour'; 1 John 2:22 ‘Who is the liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, even he that denies the Father and the Son'; 1 John 4:3 ‘and every spirit that confesses not Jesus is not of God: and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is in the world already'; 2 John 1:7 ‘For many deceivers are gone forth into the world, even those that do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.’
Chilton, after examining these texts, aptly states that ‘…Antichrist is a description of both the system of apostasy and individual apostates. In other words, Antichrist was the fulfilment of Jesus’ prophecy that a time of great apostasy would come, when ” many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and will mislead many” (Matthew 24:10-11).’ 51 When Jesus returns, all that stood against Him will be destroyed in Hell. No one will be physically killed. The terminology in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 is metaphorical in this respect. Significantly, the Islamic Jesus destroys some of the Wicked by His body odour (!), suggesting an adaptation of the Biblical portrait:
Sahih Muslim Hadith 7015
Narrated by An-Nawwas ibn Sam’an
…It will at this very time that Allah will send Christ, son of Mary… Every non-believer who smells the odour of his body will die and his breath will reach as far as he is able to see. He will then search for him (Dajjal) until he catches hold of him at the gate of Ludd and kills him…
In the final analysis, the Islamic Christ’s destruction of the Dajjal contrasts most unfavourably with the Biblical Christ’s glorious if grim role in the Final Judgment of all the Wicked.
(b) To establish the global supremacy of Islam
In the Bible, when Jesus returns the Final Judgment ensues, and only true, born-again Christians remain to inherit the new earth. It is then too late to repent and receive Christ as Saviour. However, this is not the case with Islam. Christ’s return ends the presence of all other religions, including Judaism and Christianity. In one tradition Allah Himself is the Agent of this, albeit occurring as a consequence of the Second Coming. In other traditions, Jesus plays an active role, especially against Jews and Christians. He destroys crosses and pigs, and abolishes the Jizyah, because Jews and Christians (and all other religious believers) having been slain, there is no place for it.
|Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 3.656Narrated by Abu HurairaAllah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jizya tax. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it (as charitable gifts).||Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 3.425Narrated by Abu HurairaAllah’s Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, son of Mary (Jesus) will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) as a just ruler and will break the cross and kill the pig and abolish the Jizya (a tax taken from the non-Muslims who are in the protection of the Muslim government). Then there will be abundance of money and nobody will accept charitable gifts.|
|Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4310Narrated by AbuHurayrahThe Prophet (peace be upon him) said: There is no prophet between me and him, that is, Jesus (peace be upon him). He will descend (to the earth). When you see him, recognise him: a man of medium height, reddish fair, wearing two light yellow garments, looking as if drops were falling down from his head though it will not be wet. He will fight the people for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill swine, and abolish jizyah. Allah will perish all religions except Islam. He will destroy the Antichrist and will live on the earth for forty years and then he will die. The Muslims will pray over him.||Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.657Narrated by Abu HurairaAllah’s Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely (Jesus,) the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly (as a Just Ruler); he will break the Cross and kill the pigs and there will be no Jizya (i.e. taxation taken from non-Muslims). Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it, and a single prostration to Allah (in prayer) will be better than the whole world and whatever is in it.” Abu Huraira added “If you wish, you can recite (this verse of the Holy Book): ‘And there is none of the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him (i.e. Jesus as an Apostle of Allah and a human being) Before his death. And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness against them.” (4.159)|
Squires quotes the 12th Century Muslim writer Ibn Taymiyyah on the subject:
“Almighty God did not state that Christ died, nor that he was killed. He said, rather: “0 Jesus, I am gathering you and causing you to ascend to Me, and am cleansing you of those who disbelieve” (Qur’an 3:55)… When he descends, the Jews and Christians will believe that he is the messenger of God — not rejecting him as do the Jews now, nor claiming that he is God as do the Christians. God states that they will put faith in him when he descends to earth. It is stated that he was raised up to God when He said: “I am gathering you and causing you to ascend to Me” (Qur’an 3:55). He will descend to earth before the Day of Resurrection and then he will die. By this God has informed us that they will believe in him before Christ’s death, as He also says elsewhere (Qur’an 43:59-65). In the sound hadith reports from the Prophet he said:
It is impending that the son of Mary will descend among you as a just judge, a righteous imam; he will break the cross, kill the pig, and impose the jizya.52
Another modern Muslim writer after examining the traditions about establishing the supremacy of Islam and the destruction of other faiths, states the following:
‘To break the Cross and kill the swine’ means that Christianity will cease to exist as a separate religion. The entire creed of Christianity is based on the doctrine that God caused His only son (the Prophet Jesus) to die an ‘accursed’ death on the Cross, which made him the Atonement for the sin of man. And the distinction of the Christians among the prophetic communities is that they abandoned the whole Divine Law and only took this doctrine; so much so that they made the swine lawful, which was forbidden in the Law of all the Prophets. Therefore, when the Prophet Jesus will himself declare: ‘I am neither son of God, nor did I die on the Cross, nor became atonement for anybody’s sin,’ the Christian faith will have no basis left for it. Likewise, when he will declare that he had neither made the swine lawful for his followers nor given them the freedom to disobey the Law, the other distinctions of Christianity will also disappear.
In other words it means: ‘All kinds of differences among the communities will disappear and human beings will join one community, the Community of Islam; thus, war will be put to an end to, and jizyah will cease to be imposed.’53
(c) To rule for forty years
There is abundant evidence from the Hadith that Jesus will rule after His return, having slain the Antichrist and destroyed all other religions:
|Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 3.656Narrated by Abu HurairaAllah’s Apostle said, “… the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jizya tax. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it (as charitable gifts).||Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 3.425Narrated by Abu HurairaAllah’s Apostle said, “…son of Mary (Jesus) will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) as a just ruler and will break the cross and kill the pig and abolish the Jizya (a tax taken from the non-Muslims who are in the protection of the Muslim government). Then there will be abundance of money and nobody will accept charitable gifts.|
Effectively, Jesus becomes Caliph or Imam of the global Islamic State. Of course, this actually allows for Jesus to realise some aspect of the force of His title in the Qur’an – al-Masih, although in practice, this picture has nothing resembling the glorious reign of Christ for all eternity that we find following His Return in the Bible. It is limited – for no apparent reason – to a mere forty years! Then, after dying, He does not continue to reign in any sense, but presumably returns to the sensuous joys of Paradise. Once again, Islam dogma is incongruous, and deficient in logical consistency and progression. Whilst on the earth, Christ’s reign is characterised by material prosperity, religious exclusivism, and the implementation of the Shari’ah – the Christians are warned about the supercession of the Injil by the Qur’an in the following hadith:
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.658
Narrated by Abu Huraira
Allah’s Apostle said “How will you be when the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you and he will judge people by the Law of the Qur’an and not by the law of Gospel?
However, despite the fact that Jesus judges upon His Second Coming, He does not return to effect the Last Judgment. Squires specifically denies this:
This is because all of the Qur’anic verses and hadeeths that refer to Jesus’ death refer when he returns to earth in the time of the Mahdi. However, your statement that ‘…when Jesus comes back to Earth to judge people (including Muhammad? – interesting to know what you think about this)’, is not correct. It seems as though you’ve confused Christian beliefs with Muslim beliefs. As the last paragraph of Ibn Taymiyyah’s quotation said, Islam certainly does not teach that Jesus, peace be upon him, will come to judge people – especially Muhammad, peace be upon him. Neither the Qur’an nor the authentic hadeeths record such a thing…54
Another incongruous tradition, is that despite Jesus returning to be the Emir of the globe, He rejects the honour of leading Salat, probably because Islam wants to undermine the status given Him in the Bible as our great High Priest:
Sahih Muslim Hadith 293
Narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah
I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: A section of my people will not cease fighting for the Truth and will prevail till the Day of Resurrection. He said: Jesus son of Mary would then descend and their (Muslims’) commander would invite him to come and lead them in prayer, but he would say: No, some amongst you are commanders over some (amongst you). This is the honour from Allah for this Ummah.
A further problem in the Islamic eschatological schema is that of the role of the Mahdi, the rightly-guided one, who fills the world with justice and righteousness. Shi’ite Muslims identify him with the Twelfth Imam. Sunni Muslims merely reckon him to be a descendant of Muhammad through his daughter Fatima. The concept is absent from the Qur’an, found only in the Hadith: Yusuf Ali comments:
Before his death: Interpreters are not agreed as to the exact meaning. Those who hold that Jesus did not die refer the pronoun ‘his’ to Jesus. They say that Jesus is still living in the body and that he will appear just before the Final Day, after the coming of the Mahdi, when the world will be purified of sin and unbelief…
The Hadith reveals that the coming of the Mahdi, who will reign for seven years, will be an era of just government (i.e. Shari’ah) and material prosperity:
|Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4272Narrated by AbuSa’id al-KhudriThe Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The Mahdi will be of my stock, and will have a broad forehead a prominent nose. He will fill the earth will equity and justice as it was filled with oppression and tyranny, and he will rule for seven years.||Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4271Narrated by Umm Salamah, Ummul Mu’mininThe Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The Mahdi will be of my family, of the descendants of Fatimah. Abdullah ibn Ja’far said: I heard AbulMalih praising Ali ibn Nufayl and describing his good qualities.|
|Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 5455Narrated by AbuSa’id al-KhudriThe Prophet (peace be upon him) said in the course of the story about the Mahdi, that a man would come to him and say, “Give me, give me, Mahdi,” and he would pour into his garment as much as he was able to carry.Tirmidhi transmitted it.||Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 6278Narrated by Ja’far as-SadiqAllah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “…How can a people perish of which I am the first, the Mahdi the middle and the Messiah the last? But in the course of that there will be a crooked party which does not belong to me and to which I do not belong.”Razin transmitted it.|
|Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4276ANarrated by Ali ibn AbuTalibAbuIshaq told that Ali looked at his son al-Hasan and said: This son of mine is a sayyid (chief) as named by the Prophet (peace be upon him), and from his loins will come forth a man who will be called by the name of your Prophet (peace be upon him) and resemble him in conduct but not in appearance. He then mentioned the story about his filling the earth with justice.||Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4645Narrated by AbuBakrahThe Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said to al-Hasan ibn Ali. This son of mine is a Sayyid (chief), and I hope Allah may reconcile two parties of my community by means of him. Hammad’s version has: And perhaps Allah may reconcile two large parties of Muslims by means of him.|
|Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4269Narrated by Abdullah ibn Mas’udThe Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If only one day of this world remained. Allah would lengthen that day (according to the version of Za’idah), till He raised up in it a man who belongs to me or to my family whose father’s name is the same as my father’s, who will fill the earth with equity and justice as it has been filled with oppression and tyranny (according to the version of Fitr). Sufyan’s version says: The world will not pass away before the Arabs are ruled by a man of my family whose name will be the same as mine.||Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4270Narrated by Ali ibn AbuTalibThe Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If only one day of this time (world) remained, Allah would raise up a man from my family who would fill this earth with justice as it has been filled with oppression.Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4277Narrated by Ali ibn AbuTalibThe Prophet (peace be upon him) said: A man called al-Harith ibn Harrath will come forth from Ma Wara an-Nahr. His army will be led by a man called Mansur who will establish or consolidate things for Muhammad’s family as Quraysh consolidated them for the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him). Every believer must help him, or he said: respond to his sermons.|
Again, there is a lack of logical progression here. It appears that the Mahdi does practically everything Jesus does, only within a shorter time-frame. In fact, from this, it appears that the crucial function of Jesus is to slay the Dajjal and end all other religions. Other than this, the golden age will have already existed for seven years prior to His coming, making ‘date-fixing’ for His return easier. Again, contradictions abound; if the world has been subjected to the rule of the Mahdi, how can we harmonise with other ahadith about the Muslims fighting the Romans? What happens to the Mahdi; does he abdicate in favour of Jesus, or is he killed by the Dajjal or someone else? There is a tradition which may relate to the Mahdi, and if this is so, he dies at the end of his seven year reign; the parallel between this figure and Jesus is such that it is even mentioned that las with the death of Jesus, the Muslims will recite funeral prayers over him:
Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4273
Narrated by Umm Salamah, Ummul Mu’minin
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Disagreement will occur at the death of a caliph and a man of the people of Medina will come flying forth to Mecca. Some of the people of Mecca will come to him, bring him out against his will and swear allegiance to him between the Corner and the Maqam. An expeditionary force will then be sent against him from Syria but will be swallowed up in the desert between Mecca and Medina. When the people see that, the eminent saints of Syria and the best people of Iraq will come to him and swear allegiance to him between the Corner and the Maqam. Then there will arise a man of Quraysh whose maternal uncles belong to Kalb and send against them an expeditionary force which will be overcome by them, and that is the expedition of Kalb. Disappointed will be the one who does not receive the booty of Kalb. He will divide the property, and will govern the people by the Sunnah of their Prophet (peace be upon him) and establish Islam on Earth. He will remain seven years, then die, and the Muslims will pray over him.
(d) To marry
A tradition is quoted by the polemical Muslim writer ur-Rahim from the Kitab al Wafa’ of Ibn al-Jauzi that after His descent, Jesus will marry and have children.55 It is likely that the tradition arose because of Muslim discomfort at the idea of an unmarried prophet, especially in the light of Muhammad’s polygamy. It may also be a reaction to the Biblical portrait of the Church being the spiritual Bride of Christ. However, there is a decided paucity of evidence for this tradition in the Hadith.
(e) To die
We have already seen that the death of Christ is required by the text of the Qur’an, and the Hadith resolves this embarrassment by relocating it to after His Second Coming. This is something of an anticlimax after Jesus destroying the Antichrist and presiding over a golden age. Undoubtedly, by presenting it in this way, Muslim authors hoped to undermine faith in Jesus as the eternal Messianic King. After all, as the Qadianis realised, it is embarrassing that Islam’s ‘Final Prophet’ died whilst its penultimate one remains alive! Masood quotes Mirza Ahmed ‘We cannot tolerate the thought that our Master [i.e. Muhammad] is dead and buried, while Jesus is alive and in Heaven. We feel humiliated before Christians.’56
It is quite clear both from S. 4:159 and the following ahadith that Jesus will die at the close of His forty-year reign:
|Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4310Narrated by AbuHurayrah… He will destroy the Antichrist and will live on the earth for forty years and then he will die…||Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.657Narrated by Abu Huraira…”If you wish, you can recite (this verse of the Holy Book): ‘And there is none of the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him … Before his death…” (4.159)|
It is also clear from the fact that Muslims have prepared a grave for Him in Medina that they expect Jesus to die at this time:
Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 5772
Narrated by Abdullah ibn Salam
The description of Muhammad is written in the Torah and also that Jesus, son of Mary, will be buried along with him. AbuMawdud said that a place for a grave had remained in the house.
Tirmidhi transmitted it.
It can be seen from what the Hadith states that Jesus is believed to return to Damascus. Masood notes that Muslims will place a ladder for Him by the minaret so He can climb down!57 Again, this is in glaring contrast to the Biblical Return of Christ. Why Jesus should return to Syria is difficult to fathom, since the bulk of Jesus’ ministry – as Muslims agree – was in Palestine, so it would surely make more sense for Him to return to Jerusalem, Bethlehem or Nazareth. Even in the Muslim schema, Jesus then moves to Palestine.
In conclusion to our examination of the Second Coming of Christ , we should note that practically everything Jesus does after His return in the Islamic portrait could have been done by anyone else; in fact, we find almost exact equivalence with the activity of the Mahdi. The specific presence of Jesus is superfluous. This arises out of the contradictions of Islamic Christology and its careless borrowing from Christian sources. In many ways, the typology of prophethood is reversed. The Jesus of Islamic Christology in the end is essentially Muhammad transmogrified into Christ.
As Muhammad moved from Mecca to Medina to escape persecution by the pagans, so Jesus is rapt to Paradise to escape the Jews. As Muhammad later returned in triumph to Mecca after physically fighting his foes, Jesus returns from His place of ‘Hijrah’ to literally fight His enemies. Just like Muhammad, the purpose of the jihad the Muslim Jesus fights against the foes of Islam is to establish a pure Islamic State. As ruler, just as Muhammad cleansed the holy city of Mecca of idols and instituted the pure worship of Allah, Jesus will similarly cleanse the holy city of Jerusalem, where He originally operated, by ridding Palestine – and the entire earth – of crosses and swine, supposed innovative religious corruptions by Christians of the primal Islamic doctrines of ‘the Muslim prophet’ Jesus. Like Muhammad, he rules according to the Shari’ah. Finally, like Muhammad, He marries and dies like any other human being.
Again, in order to harmonise the contradiction of Jesus being in Paradise when He must one day die, Islam borrows from Christian sources to present an eschatological Muhammad who is re-classified as Jesus who does on a grander scale what Islam’s prophet himself did – even to the point of warring against Jews and Christians! Of course, the pieces will not fit together, because the Jesus of Islam is not the Messiah of History – especially when we consider that History is His Story. To find the true Jesus, and a portrait that unlike Islam, is characterised by logical consistency and progression, we must look to the Bible alone.
- Harris, M. J.,Raised Immortal: Resurrection and Immortality in the New Testament, (Marshall, Morgan and Scott, London, 1983), pp. 53-54. ↩
- Bruce, F. F., The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, (Tyndale, London, 1963), p. 74. ↩
- Harris, Raised Immortal, p. 144. ↩
- Ladd, G. E., I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus, (Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1975), pp. 63-64. See also Harris, Raised Immortal, pp. 95-96. ↩
- Robertson, O. Palmer, The Christ of the Covenants, (Presbyterian & Reformed, Phillipsburg, 1980), p. 220. ↩
- Wright, N. T., The New Testament and the People of God, (SPCK, London, 1992), p. 400. ↩
- Acts 2:24ff: 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pangs of death: because it was not possible for Him to be held in its power. 29 Brothers, I may say to you freely of the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins he would set one upon his throne; 31 he foreseeing this spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he left to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus did God raise up, of which we all are witnesses… 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for sure, that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brothers, what shall we do? 38 And Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ to the remission of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ↩
- Harris, Raised Immortal, p. 73. ↩
- Masood, Steven, Jesus and the Indian Messiah, (Word of Life, Oldham, 1994), p. 49. ↩
- Deedat, Ahmed,Crucifixion or Cruci-Fiction, (IPC, Birmingham, 1984), p. 43. ↩
- Gilchrist, John, The Crucifixion of Christ: A Fact, Not Fiction, (Jesus to the Muslims, Benoni, 1985), pp. 15-16. ↩
- Deedat, Ahmed,Resurrection or Resuscitation, http://home2.swipnet.se/~w-20479/Resur.htm ↩
- GENERAL TEACHING FROM THE QUR’AN:
Surah Al-Qiyamat 75 1 I do call to witness the Resurrection Day; 3 Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones?… 4 Nay We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers.
Surah Al-Hajj 22 5 O mankind! if ye have a doubt about the Resurrection (consider) that We created you out of dust then out of sperm then out of a leech-like clot then out a morsel of flesh partly formed and partly unformed in order that We may manifest (Our Power) to you; and We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term then do We bring you out as babes then (foster you) that ye may reach your age of full strength; and some of you are called to die and some are sent back to the feeblest old age so that they know nothing after having known (much). And (further) thou seest the earth barren and lifeless but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to life) it swells and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs). 6 This is so because Allah is the Reality: it is He Who gives life to the dead and it is He Who has power over all things. 7 And verily the Hour will come: there can be no doubt about it or about (the fact) that Allah will raise up all who are in the graves.
Surah Al-Baqara 2 258 Hast thou not turned thy vision to one who disputed with Abraham about his Lord because Allah had granted him power? Abraham said: “My Lord is He Who Giveth life and death.” He said: “I give life and death.” Said Abraham: “but it is Allah that causeth the sun to rise from the East do thou then cause him to rise from the West.” Thus was he confounded who (in arrogance) rejected faith. Nor doth Allah give guidance to a people unjust. 259 Or (take) the similitude of one who passed by a hamlet all in ruins to its roofs. He said: “Oh! how shall Allah bring it (ever) to life after (this) its death?” But Allah caused him to die for a hundred years then raised him up (again). He said: “How long didst thou tarry (thus)?” He said: “(perhaps) a day or part of a day.” He said: “Nay thou hast tarried thus a hundred years; but look at thy food and thy drink; they show no signs of age; and look at thy donkey: and that We may make of thee a Sign unto the people look further at the bones how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh! When this was shown clearly to him he said: “I know that Allah hath power over all things.” 260 Behold! Abraham said: “My Lord! show me how thou givest life to the dead. He said: “Dost thou not then believe?” He said: “Yea! but to satisfy my own understanding.” He said: “Take four birds; tame them to turn to thee; put a portion of them on every hill and call to them; they will come to thee (flying) with speed. Then know that Allah is Exalted in Power Wise.”
AL-RISALA (Maliki Manual)
1.05 RESURRECTION AND JUDGEMENT
Surely the Resurrection will come to pass, there is no doubt about it; and surely Allah will raise to life the dead as He created them before.
And surely Allah shall multiply the reward of His faithful servants, and forgive them their major sins when they repent. He shall forgive them their venial sins when they keep away from the mortal sins. He shall deal with the person who failed to repent from mortal sins, in accordance with His wishes. Allah shall not forgive associating other deities with Him, but shall forgive whom He wills for committing sins which fall short of that.
He would bring out of hellfire the faithful servant He punishes and would cause him to enter paradise. Whoever does good of the size of an atom shall be rewarded for it. Those of the Prophet’s community who committed mortal sins shall be taken out of hellfire through the intercession of the Prophet.
Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 4459, Narrated by Ka’b ibn Murrah, “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, ‘If anyone grows a grey hair in Islam it will be a light to him on the Day of Resurrection.'” Tirmidhi and Nasa’i transmitted it.
Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4190, Narrated by Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-’As, “The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Do not pluck out grey hair. If any believer grows a grey hair in Islam, he will have light on the Day of Resurrection. (This is Sufyan’s version). Yahya’s version says: Allah will record on his behalf a good deed for it, and will blot out a sin for it.”
Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 2535, Narrated by Mu’adh ibn Jabal, “The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: If anyone fights in Allah’s path as long as the time between two milkings of a she-camel, Paradise will be assured for him. If anyone sincerely asks Allah for being killed and then dies or is killed, there will be a reward of a martyr for him. Ibn al-Musaffa added from here: If anyone is wounded in Allah’s path, or suffers a misfortune, it will come on the Day of resurrection as copious as possible, its colour saffron, and its odour musk; and if anyone suffers from ulcers while in Allah’s path, he will have on him the stamp of the martyrs.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 6.253, Narrated by Abu Huraira, “Allah’s Apostle said, ‘On the Day of Resurrection, a huge fat man will come who will not weigh, the weight of the wing of a mosquito in Allah’s Sight,” and then the Prophet added, “We shall not give them any weight on the Day of Resurrection.'” (18.105)
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.238, Narrated by Abu Huraira, “The Prophet said, ‘A wound which a Muslim receives in Allah’s cause will appear on the Day of Resurrection as it was at the time of infliction; blood will be flowing from the wound and its colour will be that of the blood but will smell like musk.'”
Sahih Muslim Hadith 0750, Narrated by Mu’awiyah ibn AbuSufyan, “When the Mu’adhdhin called (Muslims) to prayer. Mu’awiyah said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying: The Mu’adhdhins will have the longest necks on the Day or Resurrection.”
Sahih Muslim Hadith 367, Narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah, “Jabir was asked about the arrival (of people on the Day of Resurrection). He said: We shall come on the Day of Resurrection like this like this and see, carefully that which concerns “elevated people”. He (the narrator) said: Then the people would be summoned with their idols whom they worshipped, one after another. Then our Lord would come to us and say: For whom are you waiting? They would say: We are waiting for our Lord. He would say: I am your Lord. They would say: (We are not sure) until we gaze at Thee. He would manifest Himself smilingly to them, and would go with them and they would follow Him. Every person, whether a hypocrite or a believer, would be endowed with a light. There would be spikes and hooks on the bridge of Hell, which would catch hold of those whom Allah will. Then the light of the hypocrites would be extinguished, and the believers would secure salvation. The first group to achieve it would comprise seventy thousand men who would have the brightness of the full moon on their faces, and they would not be called to account. Then the faces of the people immediately following them will be like the brightest stars in Heaven. This is how (the groups would follow one after another). Then the stage of intercession would come, and they (who are permitted to intercede) would intercede until he who has declared: “There is no god but Allah” and has in his heart virtue of the weight of a barley grain would come out of the Fire. They would be then brought into the courtyard of Paradise. The inhabitants of Paradise would begin to sprinkle water over them until they sprout like the sprouting of a plant in flood water, and their burns would disappear. They would ask their Lord until they are granted (the bounties) of the world and with them ten more besides.”
Fiqh-us-Sunnah 4.89b, The Questioning in the Grave
Al ahl al-Sunnah wa Al-Jama’ah agree that each person will be questioned after his death, whether he is buried or not. Even if a person were eaten by carnivorous animals or burnt to ashes and thrown into the air or drowned in the sea, he or she would be questioned about his or her deeds, and rewarded with good or evil depending on his or her deeds in life. Both the body and the soul together experience punishment or reward. Ibn al-Qayyim said, “The early Muslim community and its prominent scholars held that after death, a person is either in bliss or torment both physically and spiritually. After its separation from the body, the soul endures a state of happiness or punishment. At times, when the soul rejoins the body, both of them receive torture or joy. On the Day of Resurrection, the souls will be returned to the bodies and they will rise from their graves and stand before the Lord of the worlds. The Muslims, Christians, and Jews all believe in the resurrection of the body.
Al-Maruzi related that Imam Ahmad said, “The punishment in the grave is a reality, and only he who is misguided or wants to misguide others denies it.” Hanbal said, “I asked Abu Abdallah about the punishment in the grave. He said, ‘These are the sound hadith and we believe in them and affirm them. We affirm everything that comes from the Prophet, peace be upon him, with a sound chain of narrators. If we were to confirm a report as being from the Prophet, peace be upon him, and then reject it or oppose it, we would be denying the Word of Allah, “Whatever the Messenger gives you, take it”.’ I asked him, ‘Is the punishment of the grave a reality?’ He said, ‘Yes, it is a reality. The people are punished in their graves. ‘ I heard Abu Abdallah saying, ‘We believe in the punishment of the grave, in Munkar and Nakir (the two questioning angels), and that the deceased will be questioned in their graves.’ The Qur’an states that ‘Allah will establish in strength those who believe in the Word, that stands firm in this world and in the Hereafter,’ Qur’an 14.27 that is, in the grave.”
Ahmad ibn al-Qasim said, I asked, ‘O Abu Abdallah! Do you believe in Munkar and Nakir and what is related concerning the punishment of the grave? ‘ He said, ‘Glory to Allah. Yes, we do confirm that and we declare so.’I said, ‘This expression that you use, is it Munkar and Nakir? Or do you call them, “The two angels?”‘ He answered: ‘Munkar and Nakir.’I said, ‘They say, “There is no mention of Munkar and Nakir in the hadith”.’ He replied, ‘Of course there is. There is Munkar and Nakir’.”
Al-Hafiz said in Al-Fath, “Ahmad ibn Hazm and Ibn Hubairah are of the opinion that the questioning is addressed to the soul only, without its returning to the body. The majority of Muslim scholars, however, disagree with them. They say, ‘The soul is returned to the body or some of it, as is confirmed by the hadith. Had the punishment been directed at the soul only, there would not be concern for the body. The scattered parts of a body should pose no problem, for Allah is able to give life to any part of a body, and then address the questioning to that particular part. Likewise, He is able to gather all its parts easily’.”
Those who hold that the questioning will be addressed only to the soul say that if one were to examine the body in the grave at the time of the questioning, one will notice no trace of its sitting or any other movement. One will also notice that the grave is neither more narrow nor spacious. Similar is the case of those who are not buried in any grave, e.g., the people who are crucified. To counter this objection, it is maintained that it is not impossible. Rather, in physical life we find a similar example, namely, sleeping. A sleeping person experiences both pleasure and pain, but his companion cannot notice any of its effects on him. In fact, even a person who is wide awake also feels pain and pleasure when he hears or thinks of his painful or pleasant experiences, but its effects cannot be noticed. Considering the unseen in the light of what is seen or guessing about life after death in terms of the present life is the mistake of this fallacious thinking.
Obviously Allah has screened the sights and sounds of the other world from man, and with our limited physical faculties, we are incapable of perceiving the vast kingdom of heavens, unless Allah wills it. The opinion of the majority in this respect is supported by various hadith. The Prophet, peace be upon him, for example, told us, “the deceased hears the sound of their footsteps”; “his ribs are altered because of the embrace of the grave”; “the sound of his voice resounds when the angel strikes him with a hammer”; “he is struck between his ears,” or “they (the two angels) will cause him to sit up.” All these hadith refer to various bodily conditions. We will mention here some of the sound hadith concerning this subject.
Zaid ibn Thabit reported, “The Prophet, peace be upon him, was going with us toward the dwellings of Banu an-Najjar. He was riding a pony, which spooked and he nearly fell off. He found four, five, or six graves there, and asked, ‘Which of you knows about those lying in these graves?’ Someone said, ‘ I do . ‘ Thereupon the Prophet, peace be upon him, asked, ‘ In what state did they die? ‘ He replied, ‘They died as polytheists. ‘ He said, “These people are passing through an ordeal in the graves. You would stop burying your dead in the graves if you heard the torment in the grave that I hear. If it were not for this fact, I should have certainly made you listen to it.’ Then turning his face toward us, he admonished, ‘Seek refuge with Allah from the torment of Hell.’ They replied, ‘We seek refuge with Allah from the torment of Hell.’ He said, ‘Seek refuge with Allah from the torment of the grave.’ They said, ‘We seek refuge with Allah from the torment of the grave. ‘ He warned, ‘Seek refuge with Allah from temptations both visible and invisible.’ They replied, ‘We seek refuge with Allah from temptation (fitnah) in every visible and invisible form.’ Then he added, ‘Seek refuge with Allah from the temptation of the Dajjal.’ They said, ‘We seek refuge with Allah from the temptation of the Dajjal’.” (Muslim)
Qatadah reported that Anas ibn Malik said, “The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, ‘When a human is laid in his grave and his companions return and he hears their footsteps, two angels will come to him and make him sit and ask him, “What did you say about this man, Muhammad, may peace be upon him?” He will say, “I testify that he is Allah’s servant and His Messenger.” Then it will be said to him, “Look at your place in Hell-Fire. Allah has exchanged for you a place in Paradise instead of it”.’ The Prophet, peace be upon him, added, ‘The dead person will see both his places. As for a non-believer or a hypocrite, he will respond to the angels, “I do not know, but I used to say what the people used to say ! ” It will be said to him, “Neither did you know nor did you seek guidance from those who had knowledge.” Then he will be hit with an iron hammer between his two ears, and he will cry and that cry will be heard by all except human beings and jinns’.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Al-Bara ibn ‘Azib reported: The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, ‘When a Muslim is questioned in his grave, he bears witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’ According to one report, the verse, ‘Allah will establish in strength those who believe with the Word, that stands firm in this world and in the Hereafter’ (Qur’an 14.27) was revealed concerning the punishment of the grave. The deceased will be asked, ‘Who is your Lord?’ He will say, ‘Allah is my Lord and Muhammad is my Prophet.’ That is what is meant by the statement of Allah, ‘Allah will make firm those who believe with a firm statement in this life and in the hereafter’.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and Sunan)
Ahmad and Abu Hatim reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “When a deceased person is laid in his grave, he hears the sound of the footsteps of people as they go away. If he is a believer, the prayer will stand by his head, the fasting will be to his right, alms to his left, and all other good deeds of charity, kindness to relations, and good behaviour will be by his feet. The deceased will be questioned by the angels at his head. The prayer will say, ‘There is no entrance through me.’ Then he will be questioned by his right side where fasting will say, ‘There is no entrance through me.’ Then he will be questioned by his left side where charity will say, ‘There is no entrance through me.’ Then he will be questioned by his feet where the good acts of voluntary charity, kindness to relations, and good behaviour will say, ‘There is no entrance through me.’ Then they will say to him, ‘Get up.’ And he will get up. The sun will appear to him and it will begin to set. Then they will ask, ‘This man who was among you, what do you say about him? What is your testimony about him?’ The man will say, ‘Let me pray.’ The angels will say, ‘You will pray. Answer our question. What do you think about this man who was among you? What do you say concerning him? What do you testify concerning him?’ The deceased will say, I bear witness that Muhammad was the Messenger of Allah who brought the truth from Allah.’ The deceased will be told, ‘According to this you lived, died, and according to this you will be resurrected, if Allah wills.’
“Then a door to Paradise will be opened for him. He will be told, ‘This is your place in Paradise and what Allah has prepared for you. ‘ At this the desire and happiness of the deceased will increase. His grave will be enlarged 70 arms-length and his grave will be lit up. His body will change to his original form and his spirit will be placed in a bird dangling by the trees of Paradise in a nice breeze.” The Prophet, peace be upon him, added, “That is what is meant by the statement of Allah, ‘Allah will establish in strength those who believe with the Word that stands firm, in this world and in the Hereafter’.” He also mentioned the unbeliever and said, “His grave will be compressed, so that his ribs will be crushed together. About this the Qur’an says, ‘Verily, for him is a narrow life and We will resurrect him blind on the Day of Resurrection’.” Qur’an 20.124
Samura ibn Jundub reported, “The Prophet, peace be upon him, after the prayers would turn toward us and ask us, ‘Did any one of you have a dream?’ If someone had, he would relate it. Upon hearing it the Prophet, peace be upon him, would say, ‘Whatsoever Allah wills (is done).’ One day he questioned us saying, ‘Did anyone of you have a dream?’ They answered, ‘No.’ Then the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, ‘But I saw tonight two men. They came to me. They held my hand and took me to the holy land. We came across a man Iying down, and behold, another man was standing over his head, holding a big rock. Behold, he was throwing the rock at the man’s head, crushing it. The rock rolled away and the thrower followed it and brought it back. By the time he reached the man, his head was restored to its normal state. The thrower then did the same as he had done before. I asked my two companions, “Who are these two people?” They said, “Proceed!” So we proceeded and came to a man lying flat on his back and another man standing over his head with an iron hook. Behold, he would put the hook in one side of the man’s mouth and tear off that side of his face to the back of the neck and similarly tear his nose from front to back and his eye from front to back. Then he turned to the other side of the man’s face and did just as he had done with the other side. As soon as he tore one side, the other side returned to its normal state. Then he returned to it to repeat what he had done before. I said to my two companions, “Who are these two people?” They said to me, “Proceed!” So we proceeded and saw a hole like an oven, narrow at the top and wide at the bottom, and fire burning in it. In that oven there were naked men and women, and behold, flames of fire were reaching them from underneath, and when it reached them, they would be raised high until they were close to the mouth of the oven. Then the fire subsided and they went back inside it again. I asked, “Who are these?” They said to me, “Proceed!” And so we proceeded and came to a river of blood. And behold, in the middle of the river was a man standing, and on the bank there was one who had many stones. The man who was in the river would try to leave but the other man would throw rocks into his mouth so that he would return to where he was. Every time the former tried to leave, the other would throw rocks into his mouth. Then he would return to where he was. I asked, “Who are these people?” They replied, “Proceed! Proceed!” We proceeded until we came to a man with a repulsive appearance, the most repulsive appearance you ever saw in a man! Beside him there was a fire and he was kindling it and running around it. I asked my companions, “Who is this (man)?” They said to me, “Proceed! Proceed!” So we proceeded until we reached a garden of deep green dense vegetation, bedecked with all sorts of spring colours. In the middle of the garden there was a very tall man. I could hardly see his head because of his great height. And around him there were more children than I had ever seen before. I said to my companions, “Who is this?” They replied, “Proceed! Proceed!” So we proceeded until we came to a huge majestic garden, greater and better than I have ever seen! My two companions said to me, “Go up,” and I went up.’
“The Prophet, peace be upon him, added, ‘So we ascended until we reached a city built of gold and silver bricks. We went to its gate and asked the gatekeeper to open the gate. It was opened and we entered the city. There we found men with one side of their bodies as handsome as the most handsome person you have ever seen, and the other side as ugly as the ugliest person you have ever seen. My two companions ordered those men to throw themselves into the river. Behold, there was a river flowing through the city, and its water was as white as milk. Those men went and threw themselves in it and then returned to us after the ugliness of their bodies had disappeared and they turned in the best shape.’ I said to them, “I have seen many wonders tonight. What is the meaning of all that I have seen?”
They replied, “We will inform you. As for the first man you came upon whose head was being crushed with the rock, he is the symbol of the one who studies the Qur’an and then neither recites it nor acts on it, and sleeps, neglects the enjoined prayers. As for the man you came upon whose mouth, nostrils, and eyes were torn off from front to back, he is the symbol of the man who goes out of his house in the morning and tells so many lies that it spreads all over the world. And those naked men and women whom you saw in the oven, they are the adulterers and the adulteresses, and the man whom you saw in the river of blood is the usurer. As for the man by the base of the tree, he was Abraham. As for the children around him, they are the children of the people. (The narrator added, “Some Muslims asked the Prophet. peace be upon him, ‘O Messenger of Allah! What about the children of pagans?’ The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied, ‘And also the children of pagans’.”) And the man whom you saw near the fire kindling it and going round it, is Malik, the gatekeeper of Hell.”‘ “The Prophet, peace be upon him, added, ‘My two companions explained, “The men you saw half handsome and half ugly were those persons who had mixed an act that was good with another that was bad, but Allah forgave them.” The first house is the common believer’s house. As for this house, it is the house of martyrs. I am Gabriel and this is Michael. Now, raise your head.”
When I raised my head, I saw a palace that looked like a cloud. They said, “This is your home.” I said, “Let me enter my house.” They said, “You still have some life to complete on earth. Upon completing it, you may come to your home”.’ (Al-Bukhari) Ibn al-Qayyim explained, “This is a text that pertains to the punishment of barzakh, for a vision by the Prophets is like revelation demonstrating the reality.” Al-Tahawi reported from Ibn Mas’ud that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “A person was ordered to be lashed a hundred times in his grave. He continuously asked Allah to decrease his punishment until only one lash remained. His grave was totally filled by fire. When the fire was removed, he regained consciousness and asked, ‘Why was I lashed?’ He was told, ‘You offered a prayer once without proper purification, and you passed by an oppressed person but you did not help him’.”
Anas reported, “The Prophet, peace be upon him, once heard a voice from a grave. He asked, ‘When did this one die?’ They said, ‘He died during the pre-Islamic era.’ He was pleased to hear that and remarked, ‘Had I not feared that you would stop burying your dead, I would have asked Allah to let you hear the punishment of the grave’.” (Reported by Nasa’i and Muslim)
‘Abdallah ibn ‘Umar reported, “The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, ‘This is (Sa’d ibn Mu’adh), for whom the Throne (of Allah) moved. The doors of Heaven were opened for him and seventy thousand angels participated (in his funeral prayer). (His grave) was compressed and later on was expanded for him’.”(Nasa’i)
Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 5112, Narrated by Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-’As, “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, ‘The proud will be resurrected like specks on the Day of Resurrection in the form of men, covered all round with ignominy. They will be driven to a prison in Jahannam called Bawlas with the hottest fire rising over them, and will be given to drink the liquid of the inhabitants of Hell, which is tinat al-khabal.'” Transmitted by Tirmidhi.
Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4855, Narrated by Ammar, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: He who is two-faced in this world will have two tongues of fire on the Day of Resurrection.”
Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 5674, Narrated by AbuHurayrah, “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, ‘On the Day of Resurrection the molar tooth of an infidel will be like Uhud, his thigh like al-Bayda’, and his abode in Hell a three-nights’ journey like ar-Rabadhah.'” Tirmidhi transmitted it.
Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 1850, Narrated by Hubshi ibn Junadah, “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, ‘Begging is not allowable to a rich man, or to one who has strength and is sound in limb, but only to one who is in grinding poverty or is seriously in debt. If anyone begs to increase thereby his property, it will appear as laceration on his face on the Day of Resurrection and as heated stones which he will eat from Jahannam. So let him who wishes ask little, and let him who wishes ask much.'” Tirmidhi transmitted it. ↩
- Interestingly, this Hadith about the Day of Judgment clearly reflect Biblical eschatological teaching in Matthew 25:34ff where the Judge is Jesus: Sahih Muslim Hadith 6232, Narrated by AbuHurayrah, “Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) said, Verily, Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, will say on the Day of Resurrection: O son of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit Me. He will say: O my Lord, how could I visit Thee when Thou art the Lord of the worlds? Thereupon He will say: Didn’t you know that a certain servant of Mine was sick but you did not visit him, and were you not aware that if you had visited him, you would have found Me by him? O son of Adam, I asked you for food but you did not feed Me. He will say: My Lord, how could I feed Thee when Thou art the Lord of the worlds? He will say: Didn’t you know that a certain servant of Mine asked you for food but you did not feed him, and were you not aware that if you had fed him you would have found him by My side? (The Lord will again say:) O son of Adam, I asked you for something to drink but you did not provide Me with any. He will say: My Lord, how could I provide Thee with something to drink when Thou art the Lord of the worlds? Thereupon He will say: A certain servant of Mine asked you for a drink but you did not provide him with one, and had you provided him with a drink you would have found him near Me.” ↩
- Hadith Qudsi, Hadith Qudsi 36The believers will gather together on the Day of Resurrection and will say: Should we not ask [someone ↩
- Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 6.236, Narrated by Abu Huraira, “Some (cooked) meat was brought to Allah Apostle and the meat of a forearm was presented to him as he used to like it. He ate a morsel of it and said, ‘I will be the chief of all the people on the Day of Resurrection.’ Do you know the reason for it? Allah will gather all the human beings of early generations as well as late generations on one plain so that the announcer will be able to make them all hear his voice and the watcher will be able to see all of them. The sun will come so close to the people that they will suffer such distress and trouble as they will not be able to bear or stand. Then the people will say, ‘Don’t you see to what state you have reached? Won’t you look for someone who can intercede for you with your Lord?’ Some people will say to some others, ‘Go to Adam.’ So they will go to Adam and say to him, ‘You are the father of mankind; Allah created you with His Own Hand, and breathed into you of His Spirit (meaning the spirit which he created for you); and ordered the angels to prostrate before you; so (please) intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are? Don’t you see what condition we have reached?’ Adam will say, ‘Today my Lord has become angry as He has never become before, nor will ever become thereafter. He forbade me (to eat of the fruit of) the tree, but I disobeyed Him. Myself! Myself! Myself! (has more need for intercession). Go to someone else; go to Noah.’ So they will go to Noah and say (to him), ‘O Noah! You are the first (of Allah’s Messengers) to the people of the earth, and Allah has named you a thankful slave; please intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’ He will say, ‘Today my Lord has become angry as He has never become nor will ever become thereafter. I had (in the world) the right to make one definitely accepted invocation, and I made it against my nation. Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Abraham.’ They will go to Abraham and say, ‘O Abraham! You are Allah’s Apostle and His Khalil from among the people of the earth; so please intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’ He will say to them, ‘My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before, nor will ever become thereafter. I had told three lies (Abu Haiyan (the sub-narrator) mentioned them in the Hadith. Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Moses.’ The people will then go to Moses and say, ‘O Moses! You art Allah’s Apostle and Allah gave you superiority above the others with this message and with His direct Talk to you; (please) intercede for us with your Lord! Don’t you see in what state we are?’ Moses will say, ‘My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before, nor will become thereafter, I killed a person whom I had not been ordered to kill. Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Jesus.’ So they will go to Jesus and say, ‘O Jesus! You are Allah’s Apostle and His Word which He sent to Mary, and a superior soul created by Him, and you talked to the people while still young in the cradle. Please intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’ Jesus will say, ‘My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before nor will ever become thereafter. Jesus will not mention any sin, but will say, ‘Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Muhammad.’ So they will come to me and say, ‘O Muhammad ! You are Allah’s Apostle and the last of the prophets, and Allah forgave your early and late sins. (Please) intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’ ‘ The Prophet added, ‘Then I will go beneath Allah’s Throne and fall in prostration before my Lord. And then Allah will guide me to such praises and glorification to Him as He has never guided anybody else before me. Then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad! Raise your head. Ask, and it will be granted. Intercede! It (your intercession) will be accepted.’ So I will raise my head and say, ‘My followers, O my Lord! My followers, O my Lord’. It will be said, ‘O Muhammad! Let those of your followers who have no accounts, enter through such a gate of the gates of Paradise as lies on the right; and they will share the other gates with the people.’ ‘ The Prophet further said, ‘By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, the distance between every two gate-posts of Paradise is like the distance between Mecca and Busra (in Sham).’Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 9.532CNarrated by AnasThe Prophet said, “The believers will be kept (waiting) on the Day of Resurrection so long that they will become worried and say, ‘Let us ask somebody to intercede for us with our Lord so that He may relieve us from our place.’ Then they will go to Adam and say, ‘You are Adam, the father of the people. Allah created you with His Own Hand and made you reside in His Paradise and ordered His angels to prostrate before you, and taught you the names of all things will you intercede for us with your Lord so that He may relieve us from this place of ours? Adam will say, ‘I am not fit for this undertaking.’ He will mention his mistakes he had committed, i.e., his eating off the tree though he had been forbidden to do so. He will add, ‘Go to Noah, the first prophet sent by Allah to the people of the Earth.’ The people will go to Noah who will say, ‘I am not fit for this undertaking.’ He will mention his mistake which he had done, i.e., his asking his Lord without knowledge. He will say (to them), ‘Go to Abraham, Khalil Ar-Rahman.’ They will go to Abraham who will say, ‘I am not fit for this undertaking.’ He would mention three words by which he told a lie, and say (to them), ‘Go to Moses, a slave whom Allah gave the Torah and spoke to, directly and brought near Him, for conversation.’They will go to Moses who will say, ‘I am not fit for this undertaking.’ He will mention his mistake he made, i.e., killing a person, and will say (to them), ‘Go to Jesus, Allah’s slave and His Apostle, and a soul created by Him and His Word.’ (Be: And it was.) They will go to Jesus who will say, ‘I am not fit for this undertaking but you’d better go to Muhammad, the slave whose past and future sins have been forgiven by Allah.’ So they will come to me, and I will ask my Lord’s permission to enter His House and then I will be permitted. When I see Him I will fall down in prostration before Him, and He will leave me (in prostration) as long as He will, and then He will say, ‘O Muhammad, lift up your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted, and ask (for anything) for it will be granted.’ Then I will raise my head and glorify my Lord with certain praises which He has taught me. Allah will put a limit for me (to intercede for a certain type of people) I will take them out and make them enter Paradise.” (Qatada said: I heard Anas saying that, the Prophet said, “I will go out and take them out of Hell (Fire) and let them enter Paradise, and then I will return and ask my Lord for permission to enter His House and I will be permitted.)”When I will see Him I will fall down in prostration before Him and He will leave me in prostration as long as He will let me (in that state), and then He will say, ‘O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted, and ask, your request will be granted.’ ” The Prophet added, “So I will raise my head and glorify and praise Him as He has taught me. Then I will intercede and He will put a limit for me (to intercede for a certain type of people). I will take them out and let them enter Paradise.” (Qatada added: I heard Anas saying that) the Prophet said, “I will go out and take them out of Hell (Fire) and let them enter Paradise, and I will return for the third time and will ask my Lord for permission to enter His house, and I will be allowed to enter.)”
When I see Him, I will fall down in prostration before Him, and will remain in prostration as long as He will, and then He will say, ‘Raise your head, O Muhammad, and speak, for you will be listened to, and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted, and ask, for your request will be granted.’ So I will raise my head and praise Allah as He has taught me and then I will intercede and He will put a limit for me (to intercede for a certain type of people). I will take them out and let them enter Paradise.” (Qatada said: I heard Anas saying that the Prophet said, “So I will go out and take them out of Hell (Fire) and let them enter Paradise, till none will remain in the Fire except those whom Quran will imprison (i.e., those who are destined for eternal life in the fire).)” The narrator then recited the Verse: “It may be that your Lord will raise you to a Station of Praise and Glory.” (17.79) The narrator added: This is the Station of Praise and Glory which Allah has promised to your Prophet. ↩
- Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 6.504, Narrated by Abu Huraira, “The Prophet said, ‘Every Prophet was given miracles because of which people believed, but what I have been given, is Divine Inspiration which Allah has revealed to me. So I hope that my followers will outnumber the followers of the other Prophets on the Day of Resurrection.’” ↩
- Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.626Narrated by Abu HurairaOnce while a Jew was selling something, he was offered a price that he was not pleased with. So, he said, “No, by Him Who gave Moses superiority over all human beings!” Hearing him, an Ansari man got up and slapped him on the face and said, “You say: By Him Who Gave Moses superiority over all human beings although the Prophet (Muhammad) is present amongst us!” The Jew went to the Prophet and said, “O Abu-l-Qasim! I am under the assurance and contract of security, so what right does so-and-so have to slap me?” The Prophet asked the other, “Why have you slapped”. He told him the whole story. The Prophet became angry, till anger appeared on his face, and said, “Don’t give superiority to any prophet amongst Allah’s Prophets, for when the trumpet will be blown, everyone on the earth and in the heavens will become unconscious except those whom Allah will exempt. The trumpet will be blown for the second time and I will be the first to be resurrected to see Moses holding Allah’s Throne. I will not know whether the unconsciousness which Moses received on the Day of Tur has been sufficient for him, or has he got up before me. And I do not say that there is anybody who is better than Yunus bin Matta.”Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 9.564Narrated by Abu Huraira”A man from the Muslims and a man from the Jews quarrelled, and the Muslim said, “By Him Who gave superiority to Muhammad over all the people!” The Jew said, “By Him Who gave superiority to Moses over all the people!” On that the Muslim lifted his hand and slapped the Jew. The Jew went to Allah’s Apostle and informed him of all that had happened between him and the Muslim. The Prophet said, “Do not give me superiority over Moses, for the people will fall unconscious on the Day of Resurrection, I will be the first to regain consciousness and behold, Moses will be standing there, holding the side of the Throne. I will not know whether he has been one of those who have fallen unconscious and then regained consciousness before me, or if he has been one of those exempted by Allah (from falling unconscious).” (See Hadith No. 524, Vol. 8)
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 8.524, Narrated by Abu Huraira, “Two men, a Muslim and a Jew, abused each other. The Muslim said, ‘By Him Who gave superiority to Muhammad over all the people.’ On that, the Jew said, ‘By Him Who gave superiority to Moses over all the people.’ The Muslim became furious at that and slapped the Jew in the face. The Jew went to Allah’s Apostle and informed him of what had happened between him and the Muslim. Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Don’t give me superiority over Moses, for the people will fall unconscious on the Day of Resurrection and I will be the first to gain consciousness, and behold! Moses will be there holding the side of Allah’s Throne. I will not know whether Moses has been among those people who have become unconscious and then has regained consciousness before me, or has been among those exempted by Allah from falling unconscious.'” ↩
- Sahih Muslim Hadith 1862, Narrated by AbuHurayrah and Hudhayfah, “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: It was Friday from which Allah diverted those who were before us. For the Jews (the day set aside for prayer) was Sabt (Saturday), and for the Christians it was Sunday. And Allah turned towards us and guided us to Friday (as the day of prayer) for us. In fact, He (Allah) made Friday, Saturday and Sunday (as days of prayer). In this order would they (Jews and Christians) come after us on the Day of Resurrection. We are the last of (the Ummah) among the people in this world and the first among the created to be judged on the Day of Resurrection. In one narration it is: ‘to be judged among them’.” ↩
- Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 299, Narrated by AbudDarda’, “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: I shall be the first to be permitted to fall in prostration on the Day of Resurrection and I shall be the first to whom permission will be given to raise his head. I shall then look in front of me, and recognise my Ummah amongst the other Ummahs; I shall do the same behind me, on my right hand and on my left. Someone said: Allah’s Messenger, how will you recognise your Ummah among the peoples from Noah’s time onwards? He said: They (the people of Ummah) will have white faces, arms and legs because of the traces of ablution and none beside them will be like them. I shall recognise them because they will be given their scrolls in their right hand and I shall recognise them with their posterity (going) before them.Transmitted by Ahmad.” ↩
- Deedat, Ahmed, Is the Bible God’s Word?, (IPC, Birmingham, 1980), p. 17. ↩
- Harris, Raised Immortal, p. 88. ↩
- Harris, Raised Immortal, p. 92. ↩
- Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 9.608Narrated by Anas bin MalikThe night Allah’s Apostle was taken for a journey from the sacred mosque (of Mecca) Al-Ka’ba: Three persons came to him (in a dream) while he was sleeping in the Sacred Mosque before the Divine Inspiration was revealed to Him. One of them said, “Which of them is he?” The middle (second) angel said, “He is the best of them.” The last (third) angle said, “Take the best of them.” Only that much happened on that night and he did not see them till they came on another night, i.e. after the Divine Inspiration was revealed to him, and he saw them, his eyes were asleep but his heart was not – and so is the case with the prophets: their eyes sleep while their hearts do not sleep. So those angels did not talk to him till they carried him and placed him beside the well of ZamZam. From among them Gabriel took charge of him. Gabriel cut open (the part of his body) between his throat and the middle of his chest (heart) and took all the material out of his chest and abdomen and then washed it with ZamZam water with his own hands till he cleansed the inside of his body, and then a gold tray containing a gold bowl full of belief and wisdom was brought and then Gabriel stuffed his chest and throat blood vessels with it and then closed it (the chest). He then ascended with him to the heaven of the world and knocked on one of its doors.The dwellers of the Heaven asked, “Who is it?” He said, “Gabriel.” They said, “Who is accompanying you?” He said, “Muhammad.” They said, “Has he been called?” He said, “Yes.” They said, “He is welcomed.” So the dwellers of the Heaven became pleased with his arrival, and they did not know what Allah would do to the Prophet on earth unless Allah informed them. The Prophet met Adam over the nearest Heaven. Gabriel said to the Prophet, “He is your father; greet him.” The Prophet greeted him and Adam returned his greeting and said, “Welcome, O my Son! O what a good son you are!” Behold, he saw two flowing rivers, while he was in the nearest sky. He asked, “What are these two rivers, O Gabriel?” Gabriel said, “These are the sources of the Nile and the Euphrates.”Then Gabriel took him around that Heaven and behold, he saw another river at the bank of which there was a palace built of pearls and emerald. He put his hand into the river and found its mud like musk Adhfar. He asked, “What is this, O Gabriel?” Gabriel said, “This is the Kauthar which your Lord has kept for you.” Then Gabriel ascended (with him) to the second Heaven and the angels asked the same questions as those on the first Heaven, i.e., “Who is it?” Gabriel replied, “Gabriel.” They asked, “Who is accompanying you?” He said, “Muhammad.” They asked, “Has he been sent for?” He said, “Yes.” Then they said, “He is welcomed.) Then he (Gabriel) ascended with the Prophet to the third Heaven, and the angels said the same as the angels of the first and the second Heavens had said.Then he ascended with him to the fourth Heaven and they said the same; and then he ascended with him to the fifth Heaven and they said the same; and then he ascended with him to the sixth Heaven and they said the same; then he ascended with him to the seventh Heaven and they said the same. On each Heaven there were prophets whose names he had mentioned and of whom I remember Idris on the second Heaven, Aaron on the fourth Heaven, another prophet whose name I don’t remember, on the fifth Heaven, Abraham on the sixth Heaven, and Moses on the seventh Heaven because of his privilege of talking to Allah directly. Moses said (to Allah), “O Lord! I thought that none would be raised up above me.”But Gabriel ascended with him (the Prophet) for a distance above that, the distance of which only Allah knows, till he reached the Lote Tree (beyond which none may pass) and then the Irresistible, the Lord of Honour and Majesty approached and came closer till he (Gabriel) was about two bow lengths or (even) nearer. (It is said that it was Gabriel who approached and came closer to the Prophet. Among the things which Allah revealed to him then, was: “Fifty prayers were enjoined on his followers in a day and a night.”Then the Prophet descended till he met Moses, and then Moses stopped him and asked, “O Muhammad! What did your Lord enjoin upon you?” The Prophet replied, “He enjoined upon me to perform fifty prayers in a day and a night.” Moses said, “Your followers cannot do that; Go back so that your Lord may reduce it for you and for them.” So the Prophet turned to Gabriel as if he wanted to consult him about that issue. Gabriel told him of his opinion, saying, “Yes, if you wish.” So Gabriel ascended with him to the Irresistible and said while he was in his place, “O Lord, please lighten our burden as my followers cannot do that.” So Allah deducted for him ten prayers where upon he returned to Moses who stopped him again and kept on sending him back to his Lord till the enjoined prayers were reduced to only five prayers.
Then Moses stopped him when the prayers had been reduced to five and said, “O Muhammad! By Allah, I tried to persuade my nation, Bani Israel to do less than this, but they could not do it and gave it up. However, your followers are weaker in body, heart, sight and hearing, so return to your Lord so that He may lighten your burden.”
The Prophet turned towards Gabriel for advice and Gabriel did not disapprove of that. So he ascended with him for the fifth time. The Prophet said, “O Lord, my followers are weak in their bodies, hearts, hearing and constitution, so lighten our burden.” On that the Irresistible said, “O Muhammad!” the Prophet replied, “Labbaik and Sa’daik.” Allah said, “The Word that comes from Me does not change, so it will be as I enjoined on you in the Mother of the Book.” Allah added, “Every good deed will be rewarded as ten times so it is fifty (prayers) in the Mother of the Book (in reward) but you are to perform only five (in practice).”
The Prophet returned to Moses who asked, “What have you done?” He said, “He has lightened our burden: He has given us for every good deed a tenfold reward.” Moses said, “By Allah! I tried to make Bani Israel observe less than that, but they gave it up. So go back to your Lord that He may lighten your burden further.” Allah’s Apostle said, “O Moses! By Allah, I feel shy of returning too many times to my Lord.” On that Gabriel said, “Descend in Allah’s Name.” The Prophet then woke while he was in the Sacred Mosque (at Mecca). ↩
- McComiskey, T. E., The Covenants of Promise: A theology of the Old Testament Covenants, (IVP, Nottingham, 1985), pp. 57-58. ↩
- Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, p. 330. ↩
- Ladd, G. E., The Presence of the Future, (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids/Cambridge, 1974), p. 250. ↩
- Ladd, The Presence of the Future, p. 250. ↩
- Bruce, F. F., The Work of Christ, (Kingsway, Eastbourne, 1979, 1984 edition), pp. 45-46. ↩
- Harris, Raised Immortal, p. 79. ↩
- Harris, Raised Immortal, p. 80. ↩
- Harris, Raised Immortal, pp. 81-82. ↩
- Murray, John, Collected Writings, Vol. 1: The Claims of Truth, (Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1976), p. 48. ↩
- Guthrie, Donald, New Testament Theology, (IVP, Leicester, 1981), p. 399. ↩
- Harris,Raised Immortal, p. 83. ↩
- Squires, Abu Iman ‘Abd ar-Rahman Robert, The Muslim View of the Ascension of Jesus, http://www.muslim-answers.org/ascend.htm ↩
- Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 3834, Narrated by Al-Miqdam ibn Ma’dikarib, “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, ‘The martyr receives six good things from Allah: he is forgiven at the first shedding of his blood; he is shown his abode in Paradise; he is preserved from the punishment in the grave; he is kept safe from the greatest terror; he has placed on his head the crown of honour, a ruby of which is better than the world and what it contains; he is married to seventy-two wives of the maidens with large dark eyes; and is made intercessor for seventy of his relatives.’” Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah transmitted it. ↩
- Surah Ad-Dukhan 44 51 “As to the Righteous (they will be) in a position of Security 52 Among Gardens and Springs; 53 Dressed in fine silk and in rich brocade they will face each other; 54 So; and We shall Join them to Companions with beautiful big and lustrous eyes.55 There can they call for every kind of fruit in peace and security; 56 Nor will they there taste Death except the first Death; and He will preserve them from the Penalty of the Blazing Fire
Surah Ar-Rahman 55 46 But for such as fear the time when they will stand before (the Judgment Seat of) their Lord there will be two Gardens 47 Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny? 48 Containing all kinds (of trees and delights)… 50 In them (each) will be two Springs flowing (free); … 52 In them will be Fruits of every kind two and two… 54 They will recline on Carpets whose inner linings will be of rich brocade: the Fruit of the Gardens will be Near (and easy of reach)… 56 In them will be (Maidens) Chaste restraining their glances whom no man or Jinn before them has touched… 58 Like unto rubies and coral… 60 Is there any Reward for Good other than Good? … 62 And besides these two there are two other Gardens… 64 Dark green in colour (from plentiful watering)… 66 In them (each) will be two springs pouring forth water in continuous abundance… 68 In them will be Fruits and dates and pomegranates… 70 In them will be fair (companions) good beautiful… 72 Companions restrained (as to their glances) in (goodly) pavilions… 74 Whom no man or Jinn before them has touched… 76 Reclining on green Cushions and rich Carpets of beauty.
Surah Al-Waqi’a 56 10 And those Foremost (in Faith) will be Foremost (in the Hereafter). 11 These will be those Nearest to Allah: 12 In Gardens of Bliss: 13 A number of people from those of old 14 And a few from those of later times. 15 (They will be) on Thrones encrusted (with gold and precious stones). 16 Reclining on them facing each other. 17 Round about them will (serve) youths of perpetual (freshness). 18 With goblets (shining) beakers and cups (filled) out of clear-flowing fountains: 19 No after-ache will they receive therefrom nor will they suffer intoxication: 20 And with fruits any that they may select; 21 And the flesh of fowls any that they may desire. 22 And (there will be) Companions with beautiful big and lustrous eyes 23 Like unto Pearls well-guarded. 24 A Reward for the Deeds of their past (Life). 25 No frivolity will they hear therein nor any taint of ill 26 Only the saying “Peace! Peace.” 27 The Companions of the Right Hand what will be the Companions of the Right Hand? 28 (They will be) among lote trees without thorns 29 Among Talh trees with flowers (or fruits) piled one above another 30 In shade long-extended 31 By water flowing constantly 32 And fruit in abundance 33 Whose season is not limited nor (supply) forbidden 34 And on Thrones (of Dignity) raised high. 35 We have created (their Companions) of special creation. 36 And made them virgin-pure (and undefiled) 37 Beloved (by nature) equal in age 38 For the companions of the Right Hand.
Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 1967, Narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘Paradise is decorated for Ramadan from the beginning of the year till a following year, and when the first day of Ramadan comes, a wind under the throne blows some of the leaves of paradise on the maidens with large bright eyes, and they say, ‘My Lord, appoint us husbands from among Thy servants, with whom we shall be happy and who will be happy with us.'” Bayhaqi transmitted it in Shu’ab al-Iman.
Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 3258, Narrated by Mu’adh ibn Jabal, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that no woman annoyed her husband in this world without his wife among the large-eyed maidens saying, ‘You must not annoy him. Allah curse you! He is only a passing guest with you and is about to leave you to come to us.'” Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah transmitted it, Tirmidhi saying this is a gharib tradition.
Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 5649, Narrated by Ali ibn AbuTalib, “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, in Paradise there is a meeting-place for the large-eyed maidens who will raise voices such as created beings have never heard and say, ‘We are the women who live for ever and do not pass away, we are the women in affluent circumstances who will not be destitute, we are the women who are pleased and not displeased. Blessed are those who belong to us and to whom we belong!'” Tirmidhi transmitted it.
Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4759, Narrated by Mu’adh ibn Jabal, “The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: if anyone suppresses anger when he is in a position to give vent to it, Allah, the Exalted, will call him on the Day of Resurrection over the heads of all creatures, and ask him to choose any of the bright and large eyed maidens he wishes.” ↩
- Surah Az-Zumar 39 43 Or choose they intercessors other than Allah? Say: What! Even though they have power over nothing and have no intelligence?44 Say: Unto Allah belongeth all intercession. His is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. And afterward unto Him ye will be brought back.Surah Ta-ha 20109 On that Day no intercession availeth save (that of) him unto whom the Beneficent hath given leave and whose He accepteth:
Surah An-Najm 53:26And how many angels are in the heavens whose intercession availeth naught save after Allah giveth leave to whom He chooseth and accepteth!
Surah Saba 34:23 No intercession availeth with Him save for him whom He permitteth. Yet, when fear is banished from their hearts, they say: What was it that your Lord said? They say: The Truth. And He is the Sublime, the Great.
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.98, Narrated by Abu Huraira, “I said: ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Who will be the luckiest person, who will gain your intercession on the Day of Resurrection?’ Allah’s Apostle said: ‘O Abu Huraira! …The luckiest person who will have my intercession on the Day of Resurrection will be the one who said sincerely from the bottom of his heart. None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.’…”
Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 1963, Narrated by Abdullah ibn Amr, “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, ‘Fasting and the Qur’an intercede for a man. Fasting says, “O my Lord, I have kept him away from his food and his passions by day, so accept my intercession for him.” The Qur’an says, “I have kept him away from sleep by night, so accept my intercession for him.’ Then their intercession is accepted.”‘” Bayhaqi transmitted it in Shu’ab al-Iman.
Sahih Muslim Hadith 367, Narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah, “Jabir was asked about the arrival (of people on the Day of Resurrection). He said: We shall come on the Day of Resurrection like this like this and see, carefully , that which concerns “elevated people”. He (the narrator) said: Then the people would be summoned with their idols whom they worshipped, one after another. Then our Lord would come to us and say: For whom are you waiting? They would say: We are waiting for our Lord. He would say: I am your Lord. They would say: (We are not sure) until we gaze at Thee. He would manifest Himself smilingly to them, and would go with them and they would follow Him. Every person, whether a hypocrite or a believer, would be endowed with a light. There would be spikes and hooks on the bridge of Hell, which would catch hold of those whom Allah will. Then the light of the hypocrites would be extinguished, and the believers would secure salvation. The first group to achieve it would comprise seventy thousand men who would have the brightness of the full moon on their faces, and they would not be called to account. Then the faces of the people immediately following them will be like the brightest stars in Heaven. This is how (the groups would follow one after another). Then the stage of intercession would come, and they (who are permitted to intercede) would intercede until he who has declared: “There is no god but Allah” and has in his heart virtue of the weight of a barley grain would come out of the Fire. They would be then brought into the courtyard of Paradise. The inhabitants of Paradise would begin to sprinkle water over them until they sprout like the sprouting of a plant in flood water, and their burns would disappear. They would ask their Lord until they are granted (the bounties) of the world and with them ten more besides.
Sahih Muslim Hadith 2071, Narrated by Aisha, “Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) said: If a company of Muslims numbering one hundred pray over a dead person, all of them interceding for him, their intercession for him will be accepted.” ↩
- See Pratney, Winkie & Chant, Barry, The Return, (Sovereign World, Chichester, 1988), p. 87ff. Also, Bruce, F. F., The Hard Sayings of Jesus, (Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1983), p. 225ff. ↩
- Gilchrist, John, Nuzul-i-Isa: The Second Coming of Jesus Christ, (Jesus to the Muslims, Benoni, 1986), p. 8. ↩
- Gilchrist, Nuzul-i-Isa, p. 8. ↩
- Sahih Muslim Hadith 6924, Narrated by AbuHurayrah, “Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) said: The Last Hour will not come until the Romans land at al-A’maq or in Dabiq. An army consisting of the best (soldiers) of the people on Earth at that time will come from Medina (to oppose them). When they arrange themselves in ranks, the Romans will say: Do not stand between us and those (Muslims) who took prisoners from among us. Let us fight them. The Muslims will say: Nay, by Allah, we shall never turn aside from you and from our brethren so that you may fight them. They will then fight and a third (part) of the army, whom Allah will never forgive, will run away. A third (part of the army), which will be constituted of excellent martyrs in Allah’s eyes, would be killed. The third who will never be put on trial will win and they will be the conquerors of Constantinople. As they are busy in distributing the spoils of war (amongst themselves) after hanging their swords by the olive trees, Satan will cry: The Dajjal has taken your place among your families. They will then come out, but it will be of no avail. When they reach Syria, he will come out while they are still preparing themselves for battle, drawing up the ranks. Certainly, the time of prayer will come and then Jesus (peace be upon him), son of Mary, descend and will lead them in prayer. When the enemy of Allah see him, it will (disappear) just as salt dissolves in water and if he (Jesus) were not to confront them at all, even then it would dissolve completely. Allah would kill them by his hand and he would show them their blood on his lance (the lance of Jesus Christ).” ↩
- Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 9.453, Narrated by Muhammad bin Al Munkadir, “I saw Jabir bin ‘Abdullah swearing by Allah that Ibn Sayyad was the Dajjal. I said to Jabir, ‘How can you swear by Allah?’ Jabir said, ‘I have heard ‘Umar swearing by Allah regarding this matter in the presence of the Prophet and the Prophet did not disapprove of it.'”
Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4317, Narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah, “Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir told that he saw Jabir ibn Abdullah swearing by Allah that Ibn as-Sa’id was the Dajjal (Antichrist). I expressed my surprise by saying: You swear by Allah! He said: I heard Umar swearing to that in the presence of the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him), but the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) did not make any objection to it.”
Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4316, Narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar, “Nafi’ told that Ibn Umar used to say: I swear by Allah that I do not doubt that Antichrist is Ibn Sayyad.”
Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4314, Narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah, “The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said one day from the pulpit: When some people were sailing in the sea, their food was finished. An island appeared to them. They went out seeking bread. They were met by the Jassasah (the Antichrist’s spy). I said to AbuSalamah: What is the Jassasah? He replied: A woman trailing the hair of her skin and of her head. She said: In this castle. He then narrated the rest of the (No. 4311) tradition. He asked about the palm-trees of Baysan and the spring of Zughar. He said: He is the Antichrist. Ibn Salamah said to me: There is something more in this tradition, which I could not remember. He said: Jabir testified that it was he who was Ibn Sayyad. I said: He died. He said: Let him die. I said: He accepted Islam. He said: Let him accept Islam. I said: He entered Medina. He said: Let him enter Medina.”
Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4311, Narrated by Fatimah, daughter of Qays, “The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) once delayed the congregational night prayer. He came out and said: The talk of Tamim ad-Dari detained me. He transmitted it to me from a man who was on one of the islands of the sea. All of a sudden he found a woman who was trailing her hair. He asked: Who are you? She said: I am the Jassasah. Go to that castle. So I came to it and found a man who was trailing his hair, chained in iron collars, and leaping between Heaven and Earth. I asked: Who are you? He replied: I am the Dajjal (Antichrist). Has the Prophet of the unlettered people come forth now? I replied: Yes. He said: Have they obeyed him or disobeyed him? I said: No, they have obeyed him. He said: That is better for them.”
Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4283, Narrated by Abdullah ibn Busr, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The time between the great war and the conquest of the city (Constantinople) will be six years, and the Dajjal (Antichrist) will come forth in the seventh.”
Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4282, Narrated by Mu’adh ibn Jabal, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The greatest war, the conquest of Constantinople and the coming forth of the Dajjal (Antichrist) will take place within a period of seven months.”
Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4281, Narrated by Mu’adh ibn Jabal, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The flourishing state of Jerusalem will be when Yathrib is in ruins, the ruined state of Yathrib will be when the great war comes, the outbreak of the great war will be at the conquest of Constantinople and the conquest of Constantinople when the Dajjal (Antichrist) comes forth. He (the Prophet) struck his thigh or his shoulder with his hand and said: This is as true as you are here or as you are sitting (meaning Mu’adh ibn Jabal).”
Sahih Muslim Hadith 6930, Narrated by Nafi’ ibn Utbah, “We were with Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) on an expedition when there came to Allah”a Apostle (peace be upon him) some people from the west. Dressed in woollen clothes, they stood near a hillock and met Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) as was sitting. I said to myself: I had better go to them and stand between him and them so that they may not attack him. Then I thought that perhaps there were secret negotiations going on between them. However, I went to them and stood between them and him and remember four of the words (on that occasion), which I repeat (on the fingers of my hand), that he (Allah’s Apostle p.) said: You will attack Arabia and Allah will enable you to conquer it, then you will attack Persia and He will cause you to conquer it. Then you will attack Rome and Allah will enable you to conquer it, then you will attack the Dajjal and Allah will enable you to conquer him. Nafi said: Jabir, we thought that the Dajjal would appear after Rome (Syrian territory) was conquered.”
Sahih Muslim Hadith 6927, Narrated by Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, “Once there blew a red storm in Kufah and there came a person who had nothing to say but (these words): Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, the Last Hour has come. He (Abdullah ibn Mas’ud) was sitting reclining against something, and he said: The Last Hour will not come until the people divide inheritance and rejoice over booty. Then He said pointing towards Syria, with a gesture of his hand like this: The enemy will muster strength against the Muslims and the Muslims will muster strength against them (Syrians). I said: You mean Rome? He said: Yes, and there will be a terrible fight. The Muslims will prepare a detachment (for fighting unto death) which will not return unless victorious. They will fight until darkness intervenes. Both sides will return without being victorious and both will be wiped out. The Muslims will again prepare a detachment for fighting unto death so that they may not return unless victorious. When it is the fourth day, a new detachment from the remnant of the Muslims will be prepared and Allah will decree that the enemy will be routed. They would fight such a fight the like of which has not been seen, so fierce that even if a bird were to pass their flanks, it would fall down dead before reaching the other end. (There will be such a large scale massacre) that when counting will be done, (only) one out of a hundred men related to one another would be found alive. So what can be the joy at the spoils of such war and what inheritance can be divided? They will be in this very state when they will hear of a calamity more horrible than this. A cry will reach them: The Dajjal has taken your place among your offspring. They will therefore throw away what is in their hands and go forward, sending ten horsemen as a scouting party. Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) said: I know their names, the names of their forefathers and the colour of their horses. They will be the best horsemen on the surface of the Earth on that day or among the best horsemen on the surface of the Earth on that day.”
Sahih Muslim Hadith 6979, Narrated by AbuHurayrah, “Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) said: You have heard of the city, one side of which is inclined and the other is on the coast (Constantinople). They said: Yes, Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him). Thereupon he said: The Last Hour will not come until seventy thousand people from Banu Isra’il attack it. When they land there, they will neither fight with weapons nor shower arrows but will only say: “There is no god but Allah and Allah is the Greatest,” and one side of it will fall. Thawr (one of the narrators) said: I think that he said: The area on the coast. Then they will say for the second time: “There is no god but Allah and Allah is the Greatest,” and the other side will also fall. They will say: “There is no god but Allah is the Greatest,” and the gates will be opened for them and they will enter. They will be collecting spoils of war and distributing them among themselves when a noise will be heard and it will be said: Verily, the Dajjal has come. Thus they will leave everything there and turn to (confront) him.” ↩
- Bleher, S. M., The New Millennium through Muslim Eyes, (UKIM Dawah Centre, Birmingham, 1999), p. 7. ↩
- Sahih Muslim Hadith 6990, Narrated by Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, “We were along with Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) that we happened to pass by children amongst whom there was Ibn Sayyad. The children made their way but Ibn Sayyad kept sitting there (and it seemed) as if Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) did not like it (his sitting with the children) and said to him: May your nose be besmeared with dust, don’t you bear testimony to the fact that I am the Messenger of Allah? Thereupon he said: No, but you should bear testimony that I am the messenger of Allah. Thereupon Umar ibn al-Khattab said: Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) permit me that I should kill him. Thereupon Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) said: If he is that person who is in your mind (Dajjal), you will not be able to kill him.” ↩
- Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4318Narrated by Jabir ibn AbdullahWe saw the last of Ibn Sayyad at the battle of the Harrah. ↩
- Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4738, Narrated by AbuUbaydah ibn al-Jarrah, “I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say: There has been no Prophet after Noah who has not warned his people about the antichrist (Dajjal), and I warn you of him. The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) described him to us, saying: Perhaps some who have seen me and heard my words will live till his time. The people asked: Apostle of Allah! what will be the condition of our hearts on that day? Like what we are today? He replied: Or better.” ↩
- Bleher, The New Millennium through Muslim Eyes, p. 7. ↩
- Massod, Jesus and the Indian Messiah, p. 136. ↩
- Chilton, David, The Great Tribulation, (Dominion Press, Fort Worth, 1987), p. 35. ↩
- Squires, The Muslim View of the Ascension of Jesus, (quoting from A Muslim Theologian’s Response to Christianity, edited and translated by Thomas F. Michel, Caravan Books, Delmar, New York, 1984, pages 305-308, English translation of Ibn Taymiyyah’s al-Jawab as-Saheeh). ↩
- Sharfi, M. Zakiuddin, Did the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)predict the Second Coming of Jesus and World War III? (Islamic Publications, Lahore, 1984), p. 6 (the actual pages are unpaginated; I have counted from the page after the preface). ↩
- Squires, The Muslim View of the Ascension of Jesus. ↩
- ur-Rahim, Muhammad ‘Ata, Jesus Prophet of Islam, (Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an Inc., Elmhurst, 1991), pp. 227-228. ↩
- Massod, Jesus and the Indian Messiah, p. 53. ↩
- Massod, Jesus and the Indian Messiah, pp. 136-137. ↩