|Ahmad Nooruddeen Jahangeer Khan, UK|
The notion of the coming of a reformer or Messiah is not only common to Jews, Christians and Muslims, it is found in all major religions, by one name or the other. For over 4 billion people in the world, that person is none other than Jesusas, son of Mary. The events leading up to his crucifixion have been documented in the gospels, but for one reason or another, little information is to be found in the Bible as to what happened afterwards. This has become such a hotly debated topic that one would come across a number of theories as to what happened to Jesusas, where he travelled and where he passed away.
For Jews, Jesusas was not the Messiah they were awaiting. It is stated in Deuteronomy: ‘for he that is hanged is accursed of God’.1 Therefore, Jesus’as death on the cross would have been the tell-tale sign for the Jews that he was a false claimant to Messiahship, and indeed, that is exactly what they believed to have happened. On the other side of the spectrum, we have the majority of Christians who will tell you that the death of Jesusas on the cross was not accursed, but was instead the ultimate sacrifice, to atone for their sins and grant them salvation. They also assert that after the crucifixion, Jesusas was raised to the heavens and is to descend once more, to establish his kingdom.
But the fact of the matter is that there is not a single eye-witness to the physical ascension of Jesusas to the heavens, and without any real evidence of this taking place, nor of someone else being placed on the cross in place of Jesusas (as is believed by some Muslims), one naturally turns to other more logical explanations for the disappearance of Jesusas after the crucifixion. Being sent by God Almighty, there was only one objective in mind. Jesusas alludes to this when he says, ‘I must preach the Kingdom of God to other cities also; For therefore l am sent’2 and in Luke he is recorded to have said, ‘And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd’.3 Researchers and historians have understood this to mean that Jesusas not only survived the crucifixion, but in fact he went on to find these lost sheep which had scattered towards the East of Jerusalem. Some readers may find this theory to be completely absurd as it is in stark contrast to the widely accepted view of the events.
Let us take a look at the evidence presented in support of the theory that Jesusas survived the crucifixion and died a natural death in Kashmir.
What the Bible Says
A significant amount of evidence is presented by the Bible itself. For example, Jesusas foretold of his fate by stating that the only sign given to his people was that of the Prophet Jonahas. Matthew records him to have said, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the Prophet Jonahas. For as Jonahas was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth’.4 In other words, just as Jonahas fell into a swoon and came out from the belly of the whale alive, so too would Jesusas survive the ordeal ahead and come out alive after 3 days.
The governor of the time, Pontius Pilate, had to make a decision of whether or not Jesusas was guilty of committing the crime he was accused of. However, after all investigations were carried out, he found Jesusas to be innocent. The New Testament lends further evidence to why Pilate came to this conclusion. His wife spoke to him telling him, ‘Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.’5 Hence, when it came to giving his verdict, Pontius Pilate refused to succumb to the pressure of the Jews in having Jesusas crucified. But instead of letting the Jews cause a riot, he asked for a bowl of water and washed his hands in it saying, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this man. The responsibility is yours!’6
Nevertheless, knowing the intentions of the Jews, Pontius Pilate made special arrangements to ensure Jesusas survived. Firstly, he set the day of the crucifixion just before the Sabbath. The reason being is that according to the Law in the Old Testament, the Jews would have no choice but to take Jesusas down from the cross before the Sabbath began.
Furthermore, the duration of crucifixion or the period of time for which Jesusas remained on the cross was not long enough to warrant his death on the cross. Criminals generally took several days to die a lingering death on the cross on account of the loss of blood from the wounds on hands and feet, the physical pain and the pangs of hunger and thirst. The minimum time of death on the cross ranged between 24 and 28 hours, but in some cases, it took several days to die on the cross. In such cases, it became necessary to break the legs of the criminals so that death may be hastened and consummated.
The New Testament tells us that Jesusas remained on the cross for a few hours only. The actual duration of time Jesusas remained on the cross was not more than three or four hours. Jesusas Christ, who was in the prime of his youth (33 years) and enjoyed excellent health, could not be expected to have died within so short a time. Especially as his legs were not broken as was done in the case of the two robbers crucified with him on the same day.
‘And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour, Jesusas cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, LAMA SABACHTHANI, My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?’7
This shows that Jesusas retained his consciousness up to the ninth hour of the day and then he fell into a swoon, that the New Testament writers call “giving up the ghost”.8
Another measure carried out by Pontius Pilate was allowing Jesus’as body to be taken by his friends and not his enemies. If he had not done so, there is no doubt that the Jews would not have allowed Jesusas to see another day.
Blood, Herbs and Genealogy
According to Jewish law, criminals were to be taken down from the cross and killed immediately before the Sabbath, which would begin at dusk. As it was quickly approaching, the two thieves next to Jesusas had their legs broken, but they did not break the legs of Jesusas as he already seemed to have passed away. The Gospel of John records that one of the Roman soldiers pierced his side and out gushed forth blood and water,9 a sure medical sign that his heart was still pumping and that he was alive.
Since the Roman soldiers saw no movement and thought him dead, they reported it to their superiors, and so Jesusas was given over to his disciples, namely Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus: ‘And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesusas by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds [weight].’ Nicodemus thus applied a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloe on his body.10 The two herbs are significant and very important as they show further proof that the disciples knew that Jesusas was still alive, since both herbs have healing properties and were used as medicine in the ancient world. To apply these to a dead man would have been against all reason, so surely the application of these herbs, also known as Marham-e-Isa, was because Jesusas did not actually die.
All this evidence points to the fact that those around Jesusas knew he was alive, otherwise all their efforts in trying to heal him would have been in vain. After three days Jesusas was seen by his followers, but by then he had already conveyed his message to the two tribes of Bani Israel who resided in the Holy Land. But the task at hand was to convey the message of God Almighty to all the tribes of Israel. So what next? Jesusas himself had already told those around him:
‘For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.’11
‘And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.’12
‘And he said unto them, l must preach the Kingdom of God to other cities also; For therefore I am sent.’13
‘But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel’.14
From the quotations given above, it is clear that Jesus’as mission was to preach to all the twelve tribes of Israel that were scattered in the Eastern countries extending from Palestine to India at the time of Jesus’as appearance. Of the twelve tribes of Israel there were at that time, only two tribes were in Palestine, while the other ten were found scattered in the lands stretching from Palestine to India. Jesusas cannot be said to have been successful in his mission if he did not address and preach to the ten lost sheep of Israel. Jesus’as supposed death on the cross at the early age of 33 gives a shattering blow to the mission on which he was sent.15
Apart from the compelling historical and Biblical evidence of Jesusas surviving the cross and moving to the East in search of the lost tribes, one would also find striking evidence from a genetic point of view of the Jews to have settled to the East, not to mention the traditions carried forth with them and the fact that some of the inhabitants in these areas continue to call themselves ‘Beni Israel’. (Further information on this can be found in – ‘The Lost Tribes of Israel in India – A Genetic Perspective’16, Professor Amtul Razzaq Carmichael, March 2012). Therefore, if this is the case, there is no doubt Jesusas would have gone on to visit them, preaching the message revealed to him by God.
The Tomb of a Prophet From Bani Israel
With all the evidence of Jesusas surviving the crucifixion and with the traces of the Bani Israel tribes across Afghanistan and North-West India, the question remains of the actual death of Jesusas.
In fact, there is a burial place in Srinagar, Kashmir, where some of the Israelites had settled. It is known by the locals as ‘Rozabal’ i.e. the Honoured Tomb, for a prophet by the name of Yuz Asaf. This prophet was recorded to have traveled from the West during the reign of Raja Gopdatta, i.e. the 1st century. The name Yuz Asaf may well be a derivative of Yusu or Yehoshua, the Arabic or Hebrew names of Jesusas.
What’s more, local traditions state that the entombed was of Ahl-e-Kitab [People of the Book – Jews and Christians]. Extensive research was also conducted on this tomb by the famous historian and former Head of Archaeology for the State of Kashmir, Professor Fida Hassnain. He has written several detailed books concluding that Jesusas is most certainly the prophet buried here.
One piece of evidence was the direction in which the actual tomb was facing. Jews traditionally buried their dead in an East-West facing direction. The same is to be found with this tomb.
Another sure sign was the artistic rendition of footprints. Near the grave, in the right-hand corner is a stone with the footsteps of a man carved in it. But the distinguishing feature of this is that it has the marks of wounds sustained from a crucifixion, as has been pointed out by many researchers.
Thirdly, according to local traditions and histories of the Kashmiris, this prophet was not originally from among them, but had traveled from the West. More specifically, they mention him to have come from the area of Egypt where Jesusas is also documented to have spent time.
If Jesusas truly did travel in search of the lost tribes of Israel, then one cannot disregard the substantial evidence of Jesus’as burial in the Rozabal.
The Holy Qur’an
The Holy Qur’an also speaks in great detail about various aspects of Jesus’as life, as well as his death; clearly establishing the fact that he survived the crucifixion and traveled to Kashmir in search of the lost tribes of the House of Israel.
‘And their saying, “We did kill the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah;” whereas they slew him not, nor crucified him, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified; and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it; they have no definite knowledge thereof, but only follow a conjecture; and they did not convert this conjecture into a certainty.’17
In another chapter of the Holy Qur’an, a conversation between God and Jesusas has been recorded:
‘And 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.’18
Expounding on these verses of the Holy Qur’an, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra, the second worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim writes:
‘The latter portion of the verse conclusively proves two things: 1) that Jesusas is dead and not alive, as supposed by most of present-day Muslims; 2) that he is not to return to this earth a second time in his own person. The inference is beyond any shadow of doubt. From the verse it is clear that no interval intervened between Jesus’as life on this earth and his death. As long as he was alive, he kept a careful watch over his followers and saw to it that they did not deviate from the right path, but he did not know what occurred to them after his death. This shows: 1) that it was by death and not by his supposed ascension to heaven that Jesusas became separated from his people, and 2) that it was only after his death that his people deified him. Now, as his followers have already gone astray, it definitely follows that Jesusas is dead, for, as the verse points out, it was after his death that he began to be worshipped as God.
Similarly, the fact that this verse speaks of Jesusas as expressing ignorance of his followers having taken him and his mother for gods after he had left them, proves that he is not to come back to this earth. For, if he were to come back to this earth and see with his own eyes the corruption of his followers, he could not express ignorance of his deification by his people. In that case, the answer of Jesusas pleading his ignorance would amount to a veritable lie. Thus, the verse definitely and clearly proves that Jesusas is dead and that he will never come back to this world.’19
Thus, the time in which this prophet appeared to these tribes, the fact that he was of Bani Israel and traveled from the West, the name given on his tomb and the signs of survival from the crucifixion all point in the direction of none other than Jesusas son of Mary. His death in this manner is one of honour for it would denote that he fulfilled all that God Almighty required of him and defied all odds in doing so. His death on the cross would signify nothing more than disap- pointment and disgrace.
About the Author: Ahmad Nooruddeen Jahangheer Khan is an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and serves as the Deputy Editor of the Christianity Section of The Review of Religions.
- The Bible, Deuteronomy 21:23.
- The Bible, Luke 4:43.
- The Bible, John 10:16.
- The Bible, Matthew 12:39-40.
- The Bible, Matthew 27:19.
- The Bible, Matthew 27:24.
- The Bible, Mark 15:33-34.
- Maulana Abul Ata Jalandhri, Death on the Cross, 7.
- The Bible, John 19:31-34.
- The Bible, John 19:38-42.
- The Bible, Luke 19:10.
- The Bible, John 10:16.
- The Bible, Luke 4:43.
- The Bible, Matthew 15:24.
- Maulana Abul Ata Jalandhri, Death on the Cross, 9.
- The Review of Religions, March 2012.
- Holy Qur’an 4:158.
- Holy Qur’an 5:117.
- Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra, The Holy Qur’an with Translation and Commentary (Islam International Publications, 1988), 667.