The Second Coming of Jesus

From WikiAhmadiyya, the free encyclopedia on Islam and Ahmadiyyat

The Second Coming or Second Advent of Jesus are a series of prophecies found in Christian and Islamic scripture foretelling his reappearance in the latter days. Ahmadis believe these prophecies are metaphors fulfilled in the person of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

The Second Coming in Ahadith

Prophecy of Jesus' return in Bukhari

Numerous ahadith deal with the second coming of Jesus. One of the most significant - from Bukhari, the most authentic ahadith collection according to both the Sunni and Ahmadi sects of Islam - reads:

Allah's Messengersa 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).

- Bukhari

Ahmadis argue the above tradition cannot be taken literally for several reasons. Firstly, the Quran makes it clear Jesus has already passed away. Secondly, no prophet has ever been kept alive 2,000 years to return to Earth to slaughter pigs and break crosses. Such tasks are not only impossible for a single person to carry out on a global scale, but are not fit with the stature of a prophet. Neither has any prophet in history arrived to distribute money and make people rich. Basic economic theory proves this would be a pointless endeavour, with the increase of money simply leading to inflation and therefore being entirely devalued. Rather, the prophecy is taken by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to be a metaphor. 

Meaning of the advent of 'the son of Mary'

Had the hadith above named the coming spiritual reformer as 'Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad', so many Muslim boys would have been given this name as to render the prophecy entirely meaningless. Instead, the hadith instructs the Muslims to recognise the advent of the reformer by his spiritual characteristics: his similarities with Jesus. These similarities are numerous. For example, both Jesus and Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad were non-law bearing propehts; Jesus followed the law as revealed previously to Moses in the Torah while Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad followed the law revealed previously to Muhammadsa in the Quran. Jesus being a non-law bearing prophet was asserted by Jesus himself in the Bible and is also mentioned in the Quran:

We sent down the Torah wherein was guidance and light. By it did the Prophets, who were obedient to Us, judge for the Jews, as did the godly people and those learned in the Law; for they were required to preserve the Book of Allah, and because they were guardians over it. Therefore fear not men but fear Me; and barter not My Signs for a paltry price. And whoso judges not by that which Allah has sent down, these it is who are the disbelievers. And therein We prescribed for them: A life for a life, and an eye for an eye, and a nose for a nose, and an ear for an ear, and a tooth for a tooth, and for other injuries equitable retaliation. And whoso waives the right thereto, it shall be an expiation for his sins; and whoso judges not by what Allah has sent down, these it is who are wrongdoers. And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, fulfilling that which was revealed before him in the Torah.

- Quran 5:45-47

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

- Bible, Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus and Ahmad were both born approximately 1300 years after their respective scriptures (Torah, Quran) were first revealed. Their births were both rare: Jesus was born without a father while Ahmad was born a twin. Both lived after their Asian nations had been conquered by European empires of the time, with Israel conquered by the Romans and the Muslims of India conquered by the British. Both were rejected by their people (Jews, Muslims) who expected warrior messiahs to lead them to victory in battle, but were met by peaceful men who advocated obeying the law, as shown by the teachings of Jesus recorded in the Bible:

I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

- Bible, Matthew 5:39

Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him.

- Bible, Mark 12:17

The religious opponents of both Jesus and Ahmad attempted to attack them physically, took them to court in false cases and if the Turin Shroud is proven to be real, Jesus and Ahmad are the only prophets whose photographic images exist. Ahmadis also believe Jesus may have escaped from his persecutors in Israel and traveled to India, meaning both appeared in the same region. 

Meaning of 'descends amongst you'

The phrase 'descends' is not to be taken literally, as it is commonly used metaphorically in Islamic scripture to refer to divine blessings:

Allah has indeed sent down to you a Reminder - A Messenger.

- Quran 65:11-12

We sent down iron.

- Quran 57:26

There is not a thing but with Us are the treasures thereof and We send it not down except in a known measure.

- Quran 15:22

Meaning of 'he will break the cross...'

The breaking of the cross is a reference to the fact he will arrive in an era in which Christianity - which universally carries the symbol of the cross - will have gained political and religious dominance. During Ahmad's life (1835-1908) the Christian empires ruled most of the world and their missionaries converted millions to Christianity in Muslim lands. Pigs symbolise the proliferation of immoral behaviour in the age, which the messiah would combat. The increase in money, which noone would accept, referred to the increase in spiritual treasures, which would be rejected by the majority of Muslims. Ahmad's collection of writings are known as 'Ruhani Khuzain' meaning 'spiritual treasures'. 

Physical Return of Jesus Impossible

Ahmadis dismiss the belief Jesus himself will literally return from heaven for several reasons. Firstly, the Quran asserts he has already passed away. Secondly, the Quran states no person who enters heaven will ever leave:

Verily, the righteous will be placed amid gardens and fountains. ‘Enter therein with peace, in safety.’ And We shall remove whatever of rancour may be in their breasts so that they will become as brothers seated on thrones, facing one another. Fatigue shall not touch them there, nor shall they ever be ejected therefrom.

Quran 15:46-49

Moreover, Ahmadis point to numerous verses of the Quran and the Bible which state Jesus was a messenger to the Jewish nation - not to the Muslims - and was taught the Torah and the Gospels, not the Quran:

The angels said, ‘O Mary, Allah gives thee glad tidings of a word from Him; his name shall be the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, honoured in this world and in the next, and of those who are granted nearness to God;‘And he shall speak to the people in the cradle and when of middle age, and he shall be of the righteous.’She said, ‘My Lord, how shall I have a son, when no man has touched me?’ He said, “Such is the way of Allah, He creates what He pleases. When He decrees a thing, He says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is. “And He will teach him the Book and the Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; “And will make him a Messenger to the children of Israel (to say): ‘I come to you.'

- Quran 3:46-50

Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

- Bible, Matthew 15:21-24

Previous prophecies fulfilled metaphorically

Numerous religious prophecies have been fulfilled in the form of metaphors in the past. Most notably, the prophet Elijah was said by the Bible to have ascended to heaven, to return at a later date, in exactly the same terms later used for Jesus:

Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

- Bible, 2 Kings 2:12

I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

- Bible, Malachi 4:5

However the Bible later goes on to state this prophecy was a metaphor fulfilled by the advent of a prophet with similar spiritual characteristics to Elijah:

But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah

- Bible, Luke 1:13-17

For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elijah, which was for to come.

- Bible, Matthew 11:13-14

Notably, the Quran acknowledges the links between Elijah, John and Jesus when it divides the prophets into categories and maintains these three together:

That is Our argument which We gave to Abraham against his people. We exalt in degrees of rank whomso We please. Thy Lord is indeed Wise, All-Knowing. And We gave him Isaac and Jacob; each did We guide aright, and Noah did We guide aright aforetime, and of his progeny, David and Solomon and Job and Joseph and Moses and Aaron. Thus do We reward those who do good. And We guided Zachariah and John and Jesus and Elijah; each one of them was of the virtuous. And We also guided Ishmael and Elisha and Jonah and Lot; and each one did We exalt above the people.

- Quran 6:84-87

The Quran further adds that religious language often employs metaphors and parables:

He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book; in it there are verses that are decisive in meaning — they are the basis of the Book — and there are others that are susceptible of different interpretations. But those in whose hearts is perversity pursue such thereof as are susceptible of different interpretations, seeking discord and seeking wrong interpretation of it. And none knows its right interpretation except Allah and those who are firmly grounded in knowledge; they say, ‘We believe in it; the whole is from our Lord.’ — And none heed except those gifted with understanding.

- Quran 3:8

Dost thou not see how Allah sets forth the similitude of a good word? It is like a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches reach into heaven. [14:26] It brings forth its fruit at all times by the command of its Lord. And Allah sets forth similitudes for men that they may reflect.

- Quran 14:25

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a lustrous niche, wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a glittering star. It is lit from a blessed tree — an olive — neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would well-nigh glow forth even though fire touched it not. Light upon light! Allah guides to His light whomsoever He will. And Allah sets forth parables to men, and Allah knows all things full well.

- Quran 24:36

Truly, We have set forth for men in this Qur’an every kind of parable

- Quran 30:59

In fact the Quran repeatedly gives examples of religious prophecies which constituted metaphors, for instance:

The King said, ‘I see in a dream seven fat kine which seven lean ones eat up, and seven green ears of corn and seven others withered. O ye chiefs, explain to me the meaning of my dream if you can interpret a dream.’ 

They replied, ‘They are confused dreams, and we do not know the interpretation of such confused dreams.’

And he of the two who had escaped, and who now remembered after a time, said, ‘I will let you know its interpretation, therefore send ye me.’

‘Joseph! O thou man of truth, explain to us the meaning of seven fat kine which seven lean ones devour, and of seven green ears of corn and seven others withered; that I may return to the people so that they may know.’ 

He replied, ‘You shall sow for seven years, working hard and continuously, and leave what you reap in its ear, except a little which you shall eat. Then there shall come after that seven hard years which shall consume all that you shall have laid by in advance for them except a little which you may preserve.'

- Quran 12:44-49

The Second Coming in the Bible

Matthew 23:37-39

Jesus told his companions:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! Look, your house is left to you desolate! For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!'

Matthew 23:37-39

Jesus informs the people of Jerusalem that their 'house is left to you desolate' as they 'kill the prophets', meaning prophethood will no longer remain among them. Further they will not "see me from now until you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!'" Ahmadis believe this part of the prophecy refers to the prophet of Islam, Muhammadsa, who had the Quran revealed to him, beginning with the opening verse 'In the name of Allah...' 

Moreover, Muhammadsa taught Muslims to recite the following 'durood' prayer in each of the five daily prayers:

O Allah! Send Your Blessings on Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as You sent your Blessings on Abraham and on the family of Abraham...

- Bukhari

Muslims therefore believe it was Muhammadsa who was to be blessed in the name of the Lord. Ahmadis further infer that as Jesus will only be seen again by those who bless Muhammadsa, one will have to become a Muslim first to recognise the second coming of the messiah. Were Jesus to physically descend from the sky, the religious beliefs of the witnesses would be irrelevant to their ability to recognise him. This is cited as evidence for the second coming being a metaphor referring to a messiah being born among the Muslims. 

Matthew 24:3-37

Jesus told his companions:

The disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come...

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. 

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. 

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

...But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Matthew 24:3-37

The prophecy repeatedly states Jesus will arrive at a time of false prophets. Ahmadis refer these to individuals such as John Alexander Dowie and John Hugh Smyth Piggot. He will arrive in an era of wars like no other; a reference which can be taken to refer to the two world wars which killed tens of millions. Pestilences are mentioned and during the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's, lifetime plague broke out in his native India killing millions. Earthquakes are mentioned and in 1904 Ahmad foretold a coming earthquake. The following year in India an earthquake led to the death of 20,000 people in the district of Kangra. The fulfillment of these prophecies is taken to be the 'beginning of sorrows'.

The prophecy goes on that the followers of the messiah will be killed and that they will be 'hated of all nations'. Ahmadi Muslims have been killed for their beliefs in several countries and were unanimously declared disbelievers by every country in the World Muslim League in 1974

The prophecy goes on that others will claim to 'be offended' by the beliefs of the followers of the messiah. In 1984, Pakistan introduced a law which threatened to specifically imprison any and all Ahmadis who 'in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims' from other sects. 

'Iniquity shall abound' refers to an era of particular moral degradation around the world and goes on 'this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations'. This spread of Jesus' gospels from the Bible refers in particular to the invention of the printing press and the development of empires belonging to Christian nations around the world in the 1800s, which allowed Christian missionaries to preach globally and convert millions through the spread of the gospels in a previously unprecedented manner.

The prophecy continues: 'For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be'. This prophecy appears to refer to the invention of modern photographic technology and that the messiah shall come to the east of Jesus' homeland in the Middle East. Muhammadsa also repeated this statement on the location of the messiah's advent:

Jesus son of Marry will descend at the white minaret to the east of Damascus.

- Abu Dawud

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad lived in India - directly to the East of both Jesus' homeland of Israel and Damascus - and Ahmad's photograph within his lifetime was published in newspapers in the distant western land of the USA. In Ahmad's hometown, a large white minaret has been built. 

The prophecy goes on to discuss heavenly signs involving the sun, moon and stars. This prophecy has been repeated and elaborated in the Quran:

When the sun is wrapped up, And when the stars are obscured, And when the mountains are made to move, And when the she-camels, tenmonth pregnant, are abandoned, And when the beasts are gathered together, And when the seas are made to flow forth one into the other, And when people are brought together, And when the girl-child buried alive is questioned about, ‘For what crime was she killed?’ And when books are spread abroad. And when the heaven is laid bare.

- Quran 81:2-12

Lunar and solar eclipses over Ahmad's hometown during his lifetime. The reference to stars being obscured is taken as reference to the passing of Muslim saints based on the following tradition of Muhammadsa:

The stars are a source of security for the sky and when the stars disappear there comes to the sky, i. e. (it meets the same fate) as it has been promised (it would plunge into darkness). And I am a source of safety and security to my Companions and when I would go away there would fall to the lot (of my Companions) as they have been promised with and my Companions are a source of security for the Umma and as they would go there would fall to the lot of my Umma as (its people) have been promised.

- Muslim

'Mountains are made to move' could infer the invention of modern technology which allowed tunnels to be built through mountains for the first time during Ahmad's lifetime.

'When the she-camels, tenmonth pregnant, are abandoned' appears to refer to how camels were the most useful mode of travel for Arabs during the time of Muhammadsa. To abandon a pregnant camel - ie two camels - would have been unthinkable. Yet the invention of modern modes of travel and the wealth of the oil boom in Arab lands over the past century has seen exactly this occur. 

'When the beasts are gathered together' is taken to refer to the establishment of modern zoos, which became popular during Ahmad's lifetime.  

'When the seas are made to flow forth one into the other' refers to the two seas either side of Muhammad'ssa native Arabia. They were joined for the first time by the building of the Suez Canal during Ahmad's lifetime. 

'When books are spread abroad' appears to reiterate the Bible's prophecy on the spreading of the Bible (see above) while 'the heaven is laid bare' appears to refer to the invention of modern telescopes allowing the universe to be observed.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's Claim

If I am in error in claiming to be the Promised Messiah, then why don't you try to make the Promised Messiah you have in mind descend from heaven in these very days, for I am here and he for whom you are waiting is nowhere to be seen. My claim can only be effectively refuted if he descends from heaven and I am proved to be false. If you are indeed truthful, you should supplicate all together that the Messiah son of Mary should soon be seen descending from heaven. If you are indeed in the right, your prayer will be heard, for the prayers of the righteous are accepted in contrast to the prayers of the false, but you may be certain that this prayer of yours will not be accepted as you are in error. The Messiah has come but you have failed to recognise him. Your vain hope will never be fulfilled. This age will pass and no one from among you will see the Messiah descending from heaven.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Izala-e-Auham