Syed Amer Safir, UK
The world’s more than 2 billion Christians will soon be commemorating Easter. For over 2000 years Jesus of Nazareth (as) and his crucifixion have been the subject of relentless debate and intense research. For Christians, Jesus (as) died on the cross and was resurrected to atone for the sins of mankind. People of the Jewish faith believe Jesus (as) was a false Messiah and imposter, while Muslims believe Jesus (as) to be a prophet of God and the vast majority believe that someone appeared in the place of Jesus(as) at the time of crucifixion and Jesus (as) was raised bodily to heaven.
Both Christians and the vast majority of Muslims are awaiting the physical second coming of Jesus (as) to herald an era of victory and peace in the last days, whilst people of the Jewish faith are still waiting for the first Messiah. Followers of nearly every other religion are also awaiting a saviour in the latter days. From this perspective, most of the world has a vested interest in this subject.
There is, however, an alternative narrative to the commonly held accounts: Jesus (as) survived the crucifixion, escaped Jerusalem and travelled East to India in search of the Lost Tribes of Israel. He was saved from an accursed death and fulfilled the mission he was divinely ordained for. This is the narrative presented by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who argued that this is in fact the real and authentic account of Jesus’(as) journey.
In this special edition, we take readers on a journey from the events of the crucifixion to Jesus’ (as) travels to India. All of the material is based on evidence from wide-ranging, authenticated and verified sources.
By no means do we intend to hurt the sentiments of our Christian friends. Jesus (as) holds a reverential position in Islam. The Qur’an references Jesus (as) in numerous verses and instructs Muslims, men and women, to emulate the pious character of Mary (as), after whom an entire chapter is named. Our only aim is to present what we believe to be the truth. Readers are invited to examine the evidence and form their own opinions.
While the rest of this edition is devoted to the evidence for this narrative, below I share some brief personal examples of people whose lives were transformed after discovering this alternative picture of what happened to Jesus (as) after the crucifixion. They had spent their lives doubting the conventional story of Jesus (as) but found answers and a new path to God through their discovery of this new material.
Yasmeen Malik, a retired accountant from Denmark, is one of the earliest Danish converts to Islam Ahmadiyyat. She grew up in a Lutheran family that was not significantly practicing. Yasmeen explained:
‘Even before I became a Muslim, I was very curious that when Jesus (as) on the cross said to God, “do not forsake me” – if he had such conviction in God, why would God let him down? I couldn’t understand why he had to suffer a humiliating death to be put on the cross, because the people who are put on the cross were criminals, murderers and robbers. I enquired from a priest about this, but he didn’t give a proper reply. He said, “this is what we believe in”, but I could not understand how he could die in this manner.’
Yasmeen spoke passionately and continued:
‘Later Jesus (as) comes out the cave, then he shows himself to disciples and he shows his wounds. So, I asked a priest so many questions and said, “this proves he must have been alive”.’
Things came to a head when Yasmeen was 14, when she was supposed to be confirmed. Yet Yasmeen felt that she couldn’t be confirmed since she couldn’t believe. She went regularly to the priest to learn the basics of Christianity but remained profoundly unsatisfied: ‘Whenever I asked questions about the Trinity and Jesus (as), his answers were unsatisfactory, or he said one shouldn’t ask too many questions. I said, “how can I believe in something I don’t understand?”’ Yasmeen started researching different religions and discovered the teachings of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), the Promised Messiah, and researched further into his literature and viewpoints on the crucifixion through books such as Jesus in India. Yasmeen felt she had found the answers she had been searching for.
Bilal Atkinson, from England, is an Ahmadi Muslim who converted from Christianity. A retired police officer, he worked in crime scenes dealing with forensic evidence for over two decades. Bilal explained the questions he had had growing up in the Church of England:
‘As I grew into my teenage years, I could not understand the Christian dogma of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, more commonly known as the Trinity. No one could explain to my satisfaction why there had to be three persons who represented one God. I certainly could not understand why God allowed his own son to be killed by human beings in order to pay for their sins. It sounded so very unfair and unjust.’
Bilal then explained how reading Jesus in India by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) changed his life:
‘This book, using mostly Biblical research, explains the true nature, stature and purpose of Jesus Christ (as), his survival from the cross and his locating and preaching to the ten other lost Israelite tribes, mainly found in Kashmir and what was Northern India. It is an astonishing book, and any Christian with an open mind will ponder over the evidence, and hopefully, like me, be overwhelmed and convinced by its truth. Truth will prevail over falsehood.’
We spoke to Melissa, also from England, who converted to Islam Ahmadiyyat as a teenager. A qualified secondary school religious education teacher, Melissa lives in London with her husband, who is an Imam, and two children. Melissa explained that while she attended the occasional Easter or Christmas service, she was raised to be open-minded and had never believed in Jesus’ (as) divinity: ‘The belief of the Trinity concept I found difficult to comprehend. How can God be human, yet infallible and All-Knowing?’
‘The crucifixion itself seemed like a paradox to me personally. If Jesus (as) was supposed to be God at least in part or in spirit, why would God allow him to be killed? In other words, why and how could God kill himself? In my view, God was infallible, without beginning or end but above all Everlasting. Therefore, the temporary death and physical ascension of Jesus (as) just never quite sat right with me.’
Melissa then also discovered the narrative that Jesus (as) had in fact survived the crucifixion, and explained the impact it had on her:
‘When I learnt that there was an alternative narrative, a logical evidential series of events regarding the crucifixion of Jesus (as), everything made complete sense. In a nutshell, Jesus (as) was put on the cross, then taken off the cross prematurely due to the Sabbath and presumed dead, but nonetheless still alive. He was taken to a secluded cave and given herbal remedies with healing properties to recover. Following this he was strong enough to walk and meet with people. This completely made sense: Jesus(as) who was a reformer Prophet, a follower of Moses (as) and his Mosaic law, which taught the Oneness of God was sent for a specific people – the twelve tribes of Israel. His message was to unite them as one monotheistic body. ’
I spoke to Yusuf Pender, a former Christian from Western Ireland, now living in Galway and studying Christian theology at University. Asking him about his life journey, he replied:
‘I did something very few Christians have done – read the Bible! I read the catechism in which you learn very specific verses that support the Christian doctrine, such as John 3:16. But I was interested in religion so I read the whole Bible. My view of Jesus (as) changed because I found the narrative to be very human and not divine.’
‘The narrative of Jesus (as) that Christians know lends itself to fiction – it’s so fantastical that it borders on fiction and you begin to question – can someone physically go to heaven like this? You question if Jesus (as) even existed.’
‘When I started reading the Bible and thinking of Jesus (as) as a human being he seemed someone I could relate to more and readily believe existed. According to Jesus (as) in the Bible he was preaching about the Torah and oneness of God and righteousness, whereas the Cosmic Christ – Christ as God – doesn’t resonate with most people in reality.’
‘When I was introduced to Islam and what Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah (as), says about Jesus (as), in his literature and Jesus in India, etc., it struck a chord because I found basically someone who believed what I had come to realise, that Jesus(as) was a prophet and a human being and he wasn’t more than that. Although the Promised Messiah(as) does quote the Qur’an and Hadith, he also showed from the Bible that there was so much evidence. It kept the respect of Jesus(as) as a true messenger of God but explained those exaggerations and discrepancies in scripture – he didn’t just say this didn’t happen in this way, he actually gave reasons why we should believe this and where we can see this has happened and why this has happened.’
Dr Ali P Carmichael lives in Staffordshire in the UK and is from Northern Ireland. Born as a Protestant Christian, he converted to Islam Ahmadiyyat in 1992 and is a consultant nephrologist. His personal journey drew on his scientific background and expertise:
‘The understanding about the life of Jesus (as) after the events of the crucifixion is an important factor that brought me near Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam. Being a doctor with scientific training, I sought a rational and plausible explanation for things I believed in. When I was introduced to the concept of Jesus (as) surviving the events of the crucifixion and travelling in search of his lost tribes, it appeared an acceptable concept. A small handbook called Death on The Cross collates Biblical references regarding the crucifixion. This book uses the references given in the Bible to argue that Jesus (as) survived the events of crucifixion. I found this quite a novel and interesting concept. Logic would suggest that either Jesus (as) died on the cross or he survived; any other explanation did not appear rational to me. If Jesus(as) died on the cross, then he would have failed to fulfil his mission to reform the lost tribes. I found this difficult to believe.’
The next stage in Dr Carmichael’s journey involved further research into what then may have happened after the crucifixion. He explained further:
‘At the same time, it was not rational to accept that Jesus (as), who was met by his disciples in a physical body and showed them crucifixion wounds on his hands and feet, and who ate a meal like an ordinary human being, would have ascended to the skies with his physical body. In my quest to clarify my understanding, I undertook further reading around Jesus (as) in India. The book Jesus in India, written by the Promised Messiah (as), Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, gives powerful historical and logical evidence to argue that Jesus (as) survived the events of the crucifixion and travelled to India in search of the lost tribes of Israel. The logic, clarity, and depth of the evidence given in this book were convincing. The rational explanation given in the book fitted like a completed jigsaw. Realising this concept clarified to me the incredibly high status of Jesus (as).’
These are only a handful of examples; there are scores of similar stories from around the world, all echoing similar sentiments – people questioned the conventional story of the crucifixion. Those questions led them to search for answers, ultimately finding satisfactory answers in the material of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as). Their lives changed forever, and for the better.
We invite our readers to approach the material of this edition with an open mind and to evaluate the evidence presented for themselves. We hope and pray it will prove to be as life-changing for you as it has been for so many others.
About the Author: Syed Amer Safir is the Chief Editor of The Review of Religions.