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Happy Easter to Christian friends out there.
Thanks. Happy Easter to you.
The Qur’anic record, like the desert region where it was revealed, is very arid, concentrated and lacking in detail, where the passage of time is muted. On the other hand, the Gospel record is very detailed and follows a long, complicated timeline.
Christians linger over the conspiracy of the Jewish establishment and the collusion of the Roman occupiers to condemn Jesus (peace be on him) to death by crucifixion. He appears to die on the cross and is entombed but then is no longer in the tomb and there are claims that he has been seen, alive, by some of his disciples. Then, after 40 long days, his disciples say that God raised him, living, up to heaven.
This narrative, which takes many pages in the Christian Gospel accounts, is concisely reported in its essential details by an amazingly short passage in the Qur’an:
“They [the Jewish conspirators] boasted ‘We killed the Messiah Jesus Son of Mary’, but they did not kill him. Their crucifixion attempt failed although to them it appeared to succeed. Those who differ about the details are full of doubts and have no sure knowledge but only follow conjecture. For surely they did not kill him. No, not at all. Allah raised him up to Himself, and Allah is exalted in power and in wisdom.” (4:157-8)
Some Muslims (most today) believe that another person, not Jesus (peace be on him) was crucified. Others (especially among early Muslims) accept the claim that he was nailed to the cross and died in his flesh but was immediately raised up to heaven by God, where he will live until the his second coming, and that he was spared the corruption and sleep of the grave.
That earlier opinion is in line with the Qur’anic teaching about martyrs:
“Do not say of those who are killed on Allah’s Path, ‘They are dead.’ No! They are alive although it does not appear so to you.”(2:154)
“Do not think of those killed on God’s Path as being dead. No! They are alive, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord.” (3:169)
Unlike Christians, Muslims do not believe in the divine nature of Jesus (peace be on him) or that he was a propiatory sacrifice for sin. Like the Jews, and the declaration of Jesus himself, we believe that God is ONE and that his Divine Mercy is sufficient for our forgiveness. However, Muslims and Christians share important beliefs about Jesus. Most of them are succinctly given in a single Qur’anic passage:
“The Messiah, Jesus Son of Mary, was Allah’s prophet and his Word, that he bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him.” (4:171)
According to the extra-Qur’anic Traditions, at the End Time, each community of believers will cross the bridge separating this world from the next to stand before God’s judgment.
According to Ghazali in “Durra”, the Muslims will come forward and God will separate them into two groups: the righteous, bound for Glory, and the unrighteous, bound for the Fire.
“Then, Jesus (peace be on him) will be called before the Throne of Judgment beside which stands since his Ascension the throne of Jesus (peace be on him).
“Then God will say to him, “Take your place on your throne and recite aloud the Gospel that Gabriel transmitted to you.”
“‘Amen Lord,’ said Jesus and he stood up to read. All eyes were on him because his voice and chanting were pleasant to hear, for Jesus is ablest man to recite the Gospel, which in his mouth, seems so fresh and new that the Christian monks thought they were hearing every verse for the first time.
“The Chrisians will then [like the Muslims] be divided into two groups: the unfaithful with the unfaithful and the faithful with the faithful.”
So, at this Eastertide and approaching Ascentiontide, we Muslims can join with our Christian friends to say, in words of the Catholic Breviary:
“He is risen. He is risen indeed.”
“‘I ascend to my God and to your God,’ alleluia.
“The Lord has prepared for him, alleluia, a throne in heaven, alleluia.”
As Jesus said (in his native Aramaic):
Peace be with you all.
That’s a very interesting argument, Qalam. Thank you for sharing it.
I’m rather skeptical of the traditional belief that Hazrat Isa (AS) was physically raised to the heavens (much less resurrected) for various reasons, but you do highlight an intriguing convergence that had not occurred to me. The Quran does speak of him being “raised”–whether that’s a metaphor for exaltation or meant literally–so it seems to me that one can argue that a Muslim can say, “He is risen.” (Who knew that there was a Muslim argument for any aspect of Easter??)
Granted, if Muslims were to say that, they’d mean it in very different way. For one thing, this “rising” would have been through Allah’s power, as opposed to his own.
I’m curious, who among the early Muslims “accept the claim that he was nailed to the cross and died in his flesh but was immediately raised up to heaven by God, where he will live until the his second coming, and that he was spared the corruption and sleep of the grave.”???
Also, Allahu alim but it might also be worth mentioning the view of some of the early Christians who had “docetic” tendancies. They didn’t necesarily believe that there was another person in Jesus’ place, but they believed that the reality of the situation was different from its superficial appearance.
I found that claim surprising, too, Abdul-Halim.
The idea that Jesus (peace be upon him) was indeed nailed to the cross is related in the “Annales” of Tabari and in the “Kamil” of Ibn Athir:
“Jesus Son of Mary was in the throes of death for three hours. Then Allah raised him up to himself.”
In the “Tafsir” of Razi, there is a long discussion of the distinction between the death of the physical body and the persistence of the Spirit. A mention is made that this was also the position taken by the Christian Nestorians.
In the “Rasa’il” of Ikhwan al-Safa, we read:
“[Pontius Pilate] gave the order for him to be crucified. His humanity was crucified and his two hands were nailed to the two members of the cross. [This is consistent with the Romans' use of two equal-length timbers arranged in the form of the letter X.] He hung there from noon until the end of the afternoon.”
Yes, this is the first time I’ve heard of that view attributed to early Muslims.
The only thing similar which I’ve heard: It is my understanding that the Ahmadiyya (and at one point Ahmed Deedat) endorsed the “swooning theory” that Jesus fainted on the cross but didn’t die. Instead he was revived at a later point.
svend – A christian does not make any sort of separation between God’s power and Jesus’ power. They are the same as both are God, one and indivisible.
The distinction of persons that most christians use is an accommodation for human language in an attempt to describe a complex phenomenon, one that we humans have always had difficulty doing, using words to describe God (Allah).
I wish you all a blessed Easter season.
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