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aaiil.org > Articles & Magazines > A Collection of Various Articles > A Misconception Cleared in the Holy Quran [Regarding Jesus Christ's Death] by Dr. MA Aziz

A Misconception Cleared in the Holy Quran [Regarding Jesus Christ's Death]:

by Dr. MA Aziz

And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the apostle of Allah, and they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but the matter was made dubious to them, and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it: they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they know it not for sure. Nay: Allah exalted him in His presence, and Allah is Mighty, Wise. (4:157)

Good Friday in the Christian world is marked as the day Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross. This belief by Christians is contrary to what is conveyed by the verse of the Holy Quran mentioned above.

It was our Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who brought the true version of what took place 600 or more years before his advent. He exonerated Jesus from the false accusations made by the Jews and destroyed the pagan teachings that were attributed to Jesus. To the hostile Jews our Holy Prophet (pbuh) confirmed that Jesus was the Messiah foretold in the Jews’ own Torah. To believe in his death on the cross is to discredit his prophethood. The Jews maintained that they killed Jesus on the cross and portrayed him as a false prophet. The Christians believe in the crucifixion as necessary for their redemption of sin and salvation.

Paul, who never saw Jesus alive, demolished the teaching of Jesus and admitted that the resurrection was his gospel (II Timothy): "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel" (Ch. 2:8). The doctrine of Atonement was accepted by the Church three to four centuries after Jesus had left this earth. It is stated to contradict the Bible itself from the following passages in Deuteronomy 24:16: "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin." In Jeremiah 31:30, it is stated "But every one shall die for his own iniquity."

The Nasaara or Nazarenes who claim descent from Jesus’ first disciples, unlike Pauline Christians, believed Jesus to be a prophet and a righteous man and they accused St. Paul of heretically substituting Roman customs and beliefs for the authentic teachings of Jesus and proclaiming him to be God.

The Holy Quran corroborates this accusation of the Nasaara in the following verse:

And when Allah will say: O Jesus, son of Mary, did you say to men, take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah? He will say: Glory be to Thee, it did not befit me that I should say what I had no right to say; if I had said it, Thou wouldst indeed have known it ... and I was a witness of them so long as I was among them, but when Thou didst cause me to die, Thou wert the Watcher over them, and Thou art witness of all things (5:116–117).

Another verse of the Holy Quran that helps to explain the previous two verses about the fate of Jesus at the hands of the Jews is found in chapter Al-i Imran (chapter 3). The Jews had planned to put Jesus to death in the most ignominious way — crucifixion — and Allah made a better plan to frustrate them and save Jesus from death on the cross.

The following verse clears Jesus of the false charges:

When Allah said: O Jesus, I shall cause thee to die and exalt thee in My Presence and clear thee of those who disbelieve and make those who follow thee above those who disbelieve, to the day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return, so I shall decide between you concerning that wherein you differ (3:54).

Allah caused him to die is mentioned in both verses 5:116–117 and 3:54.

The word tawaffa is used in many instances in the Holy Quran to convey the meaning of death.

Say: The angel of death, who is given charge of you, shall cause you to die, then to your Lord you will be returned.(32:11).

And of you is he who is caused to die.

In our prayers for the dead we say wa man tawaffaitahu min-naa fa tawaffahu ‘alal iman (And whoever Thou causest to die from among us, make him die in faith). The word tawaffaitani in the verse precisely means natural death and that Jesus died a natural death and not on the cross.

In chapter Al-i Imran (3), Allah revealed to our Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):

I will cause you to die and exalt you in My presence; and in chapter an-Nisa (4), this promise was fulfilled by the verse: Nay, Allah exalted him in His presence.

This promise was about the death and exaltation of Jesus Christ and his purification from the false charges of the disbelievers.

The actual meaning of the verse, therefore, is that Allah caused Jesus to die naturally and exalted him and sanctified him from the charges.

The word rafa’ after death cannot mean any physical ascension, but only exaltation in rank and degree.

In the Holy Quran, the word is used elsewhere to convey this meaning. For example, We exalt in dignity (narfa’u) whom We please; and exalted (rafa’na) for you your eminence (94:4); and We raised him (rafa’nahu) to an elevated state.

In 5:116, Jesus denies the divinity that has been ascribed to him by Christians:

It was not for me to say what I had no right to say. If I had said it, Thou wouldst indeed have known it.

To Muslims, according to the Holy Quran, Jesus was a messenger of Allah like all messengers before him — mortal.

The likeness of Jesus with Allah is truly as the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust (3:58).

When the Najran deputation visited our Holy Prophet (pbuh), he told them: "Do you not know that Jesus was conceived by a woman in the manner in which all women conceive? Then she was delivered of him as women are delivered of their children? Then he was fed as other children are fed? Then he ate food and drank and answered the call of nature as mortals do?" When the delegation answered in the affirmative to all these questions, the Holy Prophet queried: "Then how can your claim that he was God or son of God, be true?" (Imam al-Tabari)

According to Sheikh Mahmud Shaltut, Rector of Al-Azhar University, in his fatwah on Jesus recorded in Jesus in Heaven on Earth, he stated:

1. "There is nothing in the Holy Quran nor in the sacred traditions of the Holy Prophet which authorises the correctness of the belief to the contentment of heart that Jesus was taken up to heaven with his body and is alive there even now, and would descend therefrom in the latter days."

2. "The Quranic verses about Jesus show that God had promised to cause him to die a natural death, then to exalt him and save him from the mischief of the disbelievers and this promise had certainly been fulfilled. His enemies could neither kill him nor crucify him, but God completed the span of his life and then caused him to die."

As Muslims, our orientation on Truth must rest with the Holy Quran and Hadith. Our salvation is attained through our individual responsibility of the fulfilment of the Covenant with Allah as His vicegerent.

There is no vicarious atonement in Islam and no one must die for our sins.

The Quranic view of Jesus is that he was a man born of Mary and Joseph and was one of the prophets of Almighty God as is stated in 2:136 and 3:83:

Say: We believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to us, and in that which was revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and in that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and in that which was given to the prophets from their Lord; we do not make any distinction between any of them and to Him do we submit.


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