Death of Jesus

From WikiAhmadiyya, the free encyclopedia on Islam and Ahmadiyyat

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes Jesus was a man and prophet of God who died a natural death from old age. While other sects believe Jesus is still alive and living in heaven, Ahmadis contend their views are supported by both the Quran and ahadith which repeatedly point to the death of Jesus. Aside from this, Ahmadis argue the burden of proof for those who attest a 2,000 year old man is still alive lies with those making the claim and that there is no such evidence to be found in the Quran. 

Evidence from the Quran

Verse 3:145

Muhammad is only a Messenger. Verily, all Messengers have passed away before him. If then he die or be slain, will you turn back on your heels?

- Quran 3:145

The verse states the messengers who came before Muhammadsa have passed away, giving no exception. The meaning of the verse was confirmed by the companions of Muhammadsa on his death. Umar was stood before the people refusing to accept Muhammadsa could pass away when the following incident occurred:

Abu Bakr went out while Umar bin Al-Khattab was talking to the people. Abu Bakr said: "Sit down, O Umar!" But Umar refused to sit down. So the people came to Abu Bakr and left Umar. Abu Bakr said: "To proceed, if anyone amongst you used to worship Muhammad , then Muhammad is dead, but if (anyone of) you used to worship Allah, then Allah is Alive and shall never die. Allah said: "Muhammad is only a Messenger. Verily, all Messengers have passed away before him..." (Quran 3.145) By Allah, it was as if the people never knew that Allah had revealed this Verse before till Abu Bakr recited it and all the people received it from him, and I heard everybody reciting it (then)...Umar said: "By Allah, when I heard Abu Bakr reciting it, my legs could not support me and I fell down at the very moment of hearing him reciting it, declaring that the Prophetsa had died."


Had the companions believed Jesus still to be alive, Umar could have argued there are exceptions to the verse, but he made no such claim. 

Verse 5:76

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

- Quran 5:76

The verse states messengers before Jesus passed away, adding both he and his mother 'used to eat food'. The phrase is in the past tense, confirming they no longer eat food. Moreover, Jesus is bracketed as being in the same condition as his mother - whom all Muslims agree has already passed away. Elsewhere, the Quran confirms no being can live without food:

We sent none as Messengers before thee but men to whom We sent revelations. So ask the people of the Reminder, if you know not. And We did not give them bodies that ate no food, nor were they to live for ever.

Quran 21:8-9

Verse 5:117-118

When Allah will say, “O Jesus, son of Mary, didst thou say to men, ‘Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?’”, he will answer, “Holy art Thou. I could never say that to which I had no right. If I had said it, Thou wouldst have surely known it. Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Thy mind. It is only Thou Who art the Knower of hidden things. “I said nothing to them except that which Thou didst command me — ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.’ And I was a witness over them as long as I remained among them, but since Thou didst cause me to die, Thou hast been the Watcher over them; and Thou art Witness over all things.

- Quran 5:117-118

Non-Ahmadi Muslims believe Jesus is alive in heaven and will return to Earth in the latter days. However, in this verse Jesus claims to have died after he 'remained among the Christians' and to have no knowledge of latter Christian theology regarding his being the son of God. These statements would be impossible had Jesus returned to Earth for a second period in the latter days.

Critics of the Ahmadi position claim the passage is mistranslated and the word تَوَفَّيۡتَنِى here translated as 'Thou didst cause me to die' should in fact be rendered as 'You raised me'. However this alternative translation stands against the consistent explanation of the word in Arabic dictionaries, its use in the Arabic language and even its usage in the Quran. For example, in the Islamic funeral prayer the same root word is used to pray: "Whomsoever You cause to die, let him die a believer". Meanwhile the Quran uses the word in numerous other verses to mean death:

The angel of death that has been put in charge of you will cause you to die.

- Quran 32:12

Those of you who die and leave behind wives shall bequeath to their wives provision for a year without their being turned out.

- Quran 2:241

Those whom the angels cause to die while they are pure. They say: ‘Peace be unto you! Enter Heaven because of what you used to do.’

- Quran 16:33

Those of you who die and leave wives behind.

- Quran 2:235

The meaning of the passage is verified by tradition of Muhammadsa stating he will use the same words on the Day of Ressurrection - and he was a prophet who passed away naturally:

The first to be dressed on the Day of Resurrection, will be Abraham, and some of my companions will be taken towards the left side (i.e. to the (Hell) Fire), and I will say: 'My companions! My companions!' It will be said: 'They renegade from Islam after you left them.' Then I will say as the pious slave of Allah (i.e. Jesus) said: 'And I was a witness over them as long as I remained among them, but since Thou didst cause me to die, Thou hast been the Watcher over them."

- Bukhari

Verse 16:21-22

Those on whom they call beside Allah create not anything, but they are themselves created. They are dead, not living; and they know not when they will be raised.

- Quran 16:21-22

The gods of other religions are dead, presumably including Jesus who is worshiped by Christians.

Verse 19:31-32

He said, ‘I am a servant of Allah. He has given me the Book, and made me a Prophet; ‘And He has made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and has enjoined upon me Prayer and almsgiving so long as I live.'

- Quran 19:31-32

Jesus affirms in the Quran that he is to give alms (charity) 'so long as I live'. However, if he is in heaven - as non-Ahmadi Muslims attest - there is nobody in heaven in need of charity and therefore Jesus can no longer be alive. 

Verse 36:69

Him whom We grant long life - We revert him to a weak condition of creation.

- Quran 36:69

If Jesus were alive and to return to Earth after 2,000 years of life, according to the laws of nature as illustrated in the Quran, he must be so weak from old age as to be unable to perform any task required of a prophet. 

Evidence from the Ahadith

There would be none amongst the created beings living on the earth (who would survive this century).

- Muslim

If Moses and Jesus had been alive, they would have no choice but to follow me. 

- ibn Kathir

Jesus, son of Mary, lived to 120 years.

- Tabarani

Alleged Physical Ascension of Jesus to Heaven

Many non-Ahmadi Muslims believe Jesus to be alive, having physically ascended to heaven 2,000 years ago. The view is based on the following passage:

Their saying, ‘We did kill the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah;’ whereas they slew him not, nor crucified him...On the contrary, Allah exalted him to Himself.

Quran 4:158-159

The crux of the debate revolves around the word رَّفَعَهُ translated above as 'exalt' but interpreted by non-Ahmadi Muslims to literally mean 'physically raise to heaven'. However in other verses the Quran reveal the true meaning of the word:

And they planned, and Allah also planned; and Allah is the Best of planners. When Allah said, ‘O Jesus, I will cause thee to die a natural death and will exalt thee to Myself.'

- Quran 3:55-56

Here the Quran uses the same root word, رَافِعُ (once again translated above as 'exalt') but makes it clear the exaltation will occur after Jesus has passed away. This leaves no doubt Jesus passed away prior to exaltation and therefore is no longer living.

These Messengers have We exalted, some of them above others: among them there are those to whom Allah spoke; and some of them He exalted by degrees of rank. And We gave Jesus, son of Mary, clear proofs.

Quran 2.254

In this verse, the same word رَفَعَ (exalted) is used to refer to numerous messengers  - not only Jesus. However, Ahmadis and non-Ahmadi Muslims alike agree that in this instance the word does not refer to physical ascension to heaven but to being raised in spiritual rank. 

Relate the story of Idris as mentioned in the Book. He was a truthful man and a Prophet. And We exalted him to a lofty station.

Quran 19:57-58

Above the same root word is used رَفَعۡنَـٰهُ ('We exalted him) about the prophet Idris. Yet this is not interpreted to mean he was physically raised alive to heaven. nor is it interpreted to mean he will return to Earth in the latter days. Rather both Ahmadi Muslims and non-Ahmadi Muslims here agree the word means Idris was raised in spiritual rank. 

Consistently the Quran uses this root word to refer to raising of spiritual rank and not to physical ascension. Arabic tradition follows the same pattern and in the five daily prayers Muslims recite 'O Lord, forgive me, have mercy on me, improve my situation, grant me provision and raise me in status' during the sitting position, with the word ارْفَعْنِي - here clearly praying to be raised in status, rather than to be physically raised alive to heaven. Then we read:

No one will humble himself for Allah’s sake except that Allah raises his status.

- Muslim

In the original Arabic of the above hadith, we read that every humble person will be رَفَعَ - clearly meaning they will be raised in status and not that each humble person will be physical raised to heaven.

Confirming the only possible interpretation of the word in the verse above is the exaltation of Jesus' spiritual rank is the fact the Quran states it is impossible for any human to ascend to heaven:

They say, ‘We will never believe thee until thou cause a spring to gush forth for us from the earth; ‘Or thou have a garden of datepalms and vines, and cause streams to gush forth in the midst thereof in abundance; ‘Or thou cause the heaven to fall upon us in pieces, as thou hast claimed, or thou bring Allah and the angels before us face to face; ‘Or thou have a house of gold or thou ascend up into heaven; and we will not believe in thy ascension until thou send down to us a book that we can read.’ Say, ‘Holy is my Lord! I am not but a man sent as a Messenger.’ 

- Quran 17:91-95

In the verse above, Muhammadsa is commanded to inform the disbelievers that it is impossible for any man to be given the sign of ascending to heaven.

See also