Easter, Crucifixion and Ascension From Islamic Perspective

Easter, Crucifixion and Ascension From Islamic Perspective March 30, 2024


As the Christian world is observing the holy week culminating in crucifixion and ascension, most of my Christian friends are (often pleasantly) surprised to hear about the Islamic views on Jesus. There is a significant difference in the Christian and islamic(and other religions) view on “Jesus dying for our sins” and certainly on his divinity, however there are many similarities that I would like to share here.

Before we talk about the end of Jesus’ life as we know it, let’s review Islam’s view on his birth. Jesus is viewed as one of the Prophets in Islam- not just any Prophet but on of the 5 most exalted Prophets. Others being Noah, Abraham, Moses and Muhammad-peace be upon them all. His mother Mary is also revered by Muslims. In fact there is a whole chapter (Surah)in the Qur’an named after her- the only chapter named after a woman. The Qur’an has a similar description of the annunciation as the canonized Gospels.

But there is a story not mentioned in any of the canonized Gospels- one where Jesus speaks from the cradle when the villagers arrived and started to question Mary about her innocence. The following passages are from chapter 19 (Surah Maryam or Mary). Rather than answering them herself, she pointed to the baby Jesus, who then defended her mother.

But she pointed to the baby. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?” He (Jesus) said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He has given me revelation and made me a Prophet; And He has made me blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live; (He) has made me kind to my mother, and not insolent, unblessed; So peace (Salam) 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)“! Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute. The Qur’an 19:29-34

In this set of verse, the new born Jesus is already talking about his death and his ascension.

Jesus the Messiah: Jesus’ birth is once again narrated in another set of verses in chapter 3, showing that not only did Mary know about Jesus’ ability to talk from the cradle, she also knew what her son will mean to the world and that her son will be the long-awaited Messiah:

Behold! The angels said: “O Mary! Allah gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ [masiyah, messiah] Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah; He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be (of the company) of the righteous.” 3:45–46

However the Qur’an is very clear that Jesus is neither divine nor a son of God- a point of significant deviation between Christian and Muslims(and all other religions).

What about Crucifixion and Ascension?

Muslims believe that Jesus did not die on the cross but did ascended to heaven in bodily form, only to return in his second coming before the Day of Judgment, when he will bring peace, rule the world with justice, and kill the antichrist. They believe that he was made to appear to die on the cross. As to who actually died on the cross is not mentioned in the Qur’an, and commentators widely vary in their opinion, from Judas Iscariot to Simon of Cyrene.

Behold! God said: “O Jesus! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear (purify) you (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow you superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall you all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein you dispute.” 3:55

According to the commentary by Pooya Yazdi, the followers of Jesus believed his message and accepted him as a prophet of God, believed in his teachings and his prophecy about the coming of Muhammad.

That they said (in boast), We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. Nay! God took him up to Himself; and God is Mighty, Wise. 4:157–158

And they contrived and Allah contrived and Allah is best of the contrivers. 3:54 (Fakhry).

Most translators use the word “planned” or “plotted” for “contrived.”

The majority of Muslim scholars and interpreters of the Qur’an believe the message in the Qur’an is that God will not allow His faithful servant to suffer and succumb to the enemies’ plots and allow the enemies of Jesus, and in turn of God, a final victory. Thus his whole life was a miracle—from his conception, to his life, to the miracles he performed, and to his (apparent) death, and ascension.


Portions of the post was adapted from my books “The Quran: With or Against the Bible?”, and “The Three Abrahamic Testaments”.
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