Judaism Mary (as) The Holy Qur'an

Muslim Beliefs in Jesus Christ(as)

On the subject of the Muslim beliefs in Jesus Christ ( a s ) t h e r e exists large volumes of literature encompassing many diverse traditions, customs and cultures. Like the followers of other religions, Muslims also have a wide range of opinion and interpretation, especially with respect to the beliefs in our beloved Jesus Christ(as). At the outset, the very premise and source of the true Muslim beliefs about Jesus Christ (as) should be established. So without getting into a debate over the sources of these beliefs, we will resort only to the very root basis of all of our Muslim beliefs. In other words, we will resort only to the Holy Qur’ a n as the source of these beliefs. Only s e c o n d a r i l y, will we also examine the sayings or the traditions of the Holy Founder of Islam, Hadhrat Muhammad Mustafa ( s a ), the Ahadith, which elaborate the beliefs in Jesus( a s ), based on the Holy Qur’ a n . The Holy Qur’an is believed to be that book which is the direct revelation of Allah to His Prophet, Hadhrat Muhammad Mustafa(sa), which was recorded in the Prophet’s life and safeguarded without the slightest interpolation or change, to this very day. The Holy Qur’an mentions several prophets, Adam( a s ), Abraham ( a s ), J o n a h( a s ), Moses( a s ), Jesus( a s ), as well as others. With regards to the prophets of Allah, the Holy Q u r’an makes the emphatic declaration that believers ‘make no distinction between any of His Messengers’, meaning that they are all from Allah and all are to be revered and accepted. Despite mentioning so many prophets, the Holy Qur’an appears to make a special recognition of our beloved Jesus(as). It is important to point out that the Holy Qur’an describes a more comprehensive and detailed account of our beloved Jesus(as), than for any other prophet 39The Review of Religions –October 2003 The Muslim Belief in Jesus Christ(as) by Dr. Kaleem Malik, MD – Speech from Jalsa Salana USA 2003 mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. The reason for this is that perhaps there is no other individual in the history of religions whose figure generates such controversy and such diverse opinion. The Jews, Christians, Muslims and others, all hold widely different views with regards to his birth, his purpose and mission, the crucifixion and the manner of his death. The obvious diversity in these interpretations and the many myths surrounding him necessitated the need for Allah Almighty Himself to respond, and address these conflicting concerns about our beloved Jesus Christ(as). To begin with, his very name is introduced in the Holy Qur’an as: His name shall be the Messiah, Jesus, Son of Mary, honoured in this world and in the next. (Ch.3: V.46) The distinction of his name not only honours him with the title of Messiah, the Anointed one, but also uniquely recognises a fatherless birth, as ‘Son of Mary’. Although in the Gospels he was referred to as Son of man, the Holy Qur’an gives him the distinct title of Messiah, son of Mary. Since he is introduced in the Holy Qur’an as the Son of Mary, it is only fair to begin this subject of the Muslim beliefs in J e s u s( a s ), by first briefly mentioning the Muslim beliefs of M a r y, his mother. The Holy Qur’an has indeed depicted her as a most pious, righteous and chaste woman. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: O Mary, Allah has chosen thee and purified thee, and chosen thee above the women of all peoples. (Ch.3: V.43) This is the bold declaration of the Holy Qur’an, which not only exonerated a pious woman of the unfair charges and allegations against her, but the Holy Qur’an also granted her such an exalted status for mankind to always emulate. It is the Holy Qur’an that mentions her hardship, her piety, her chastity and her status. In fact, 40 The Muslim Belief in Jesus Christ (as) The Review of Religions – October 2003 there is an entire chapter in the Holy Qur’an entitled Maryam. To truly realise the weight of this position, it should be pointed out that Islam stands uniquely alone as the only other religion to accept the virgin birth. Islam is the only outside religion, which bears witness to this phenomenon and reveres Mary as an example for mankind. Coming back to Jesus(as), the Holy Qur’an draws our attention to his purpose and status: And will make him a Messenger to the children of Israel. (Ch.3: V.50) Also, Jesus(as) is reported to have said in the Holy Qur’an: And I come fulfilling that which is before me, namely, the Torah. (Ch.3: V.51) This is consistent with the Gospel record of Mathew 15:25, ‘I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’. And also Mathew 5:17, ‘think not that I have come to abolish the law, but to fulfil the law’. It is our belief that Jesus Christ(as) was commissioned for this honourable task to revitalise the true spirit of the Torah and remove misunderstandings about the Law. It was the Law of M o s e s( a s ) that after 1300 years suffered deterioration and fell into spiritual darkness. It was in response to the need of that critical hour, that Almighty Allah fulfilled His promise and granted the Israelites a Messiah to resuscitate their religion and purify them. From the depths of spiritual ruins, emerged a son of a virgin mother, signifying that none was worthy to father such a reformer. From the depths of spiritual ruin emerged the Messiah from Allah, to gather his people, to reveal the majesty of Allah through many heavenly signs and miracles. The Holy Qur’an (Ch.3: V. 5 0 ) highlights some of the miracles of J e s u s( a s ), including healing the blind and the leprous giving life to 41 The Muslim Belief in Jesus Christ (as) The Review of Religions –October 2003 the dead, and creating birds, which will soar high in the skies. The ability to create birds is a metaphor meaning that ordinary people who accepted his teachings were spiritually transformed into birds soaring high into the spiritual horizons and above all worldly concerns. The healing powers are also understood in the spiritual sense. He restored sight to the spiritually blind, and gave life to the spiritually dead. Jesus(as) specifically referred to the Pharisees of his day as being blind because of their maladies and hypocritical nature. Indeed all reformers of Allah are spiritual physicians, because they always appear to a people who, at the time, are in need and as the Holy Q u r’an states, such people are deaf, dumb, and blind (Ch.2: V.77). The most controversial subject with regards to the Muslim beliefs in Jesus is the subject of the crucifixion. History bears ample testimony that whenever a Prophet appears before his people, it is his own people who fiercely reject him. The case of Jesus( a s ) is not an exception. We wholly and completely recognise that every human effort was made by the Jews who rejected him, to put an end to this message, to cause him every humiliation, to condemn him, to call him a liar, a false prophet, an illegitimate son, a rejected one of Allah, in short, they desired passionately to prove our beloved Jesus( a s ), to be an accursed one of Allah. The Jews of the time regarded Jesus( a s ) as a false prophet and to justify their accusations, they tried to enforce their law that according to Deuteronomy 21:23, ‘he that is hanged is accursed of God.’ Therefore if Jesus( a s ) died on the cross, the Jews would have succeeded in their design and the scriptures would prove them to be truthful, and our beloved Jesus( a s ) to be a liar and an accursed one of A l l a h . According to the Holy Qur’an, and as supported by historical, biblical and scientific evidence, the Muslim belief is that the Jews were unsuccessful in their attempt 42 The Muslim Belief in Jesus Christ (as) The Review of Religions – October 2003 to crucify and kill Jesus(as). The fundamental Qur’anic argument, which boldly comes in defence of J e s u s( a s ), is the Qur ’ a n i c declaration that Jesus is a true messenger and beloved of Allah. In response to the slandering and maligning accusation of the Jews, who wished to prove that Jesus was an accursed one of Allah, we submit that our beloved did not fit the description of an accursed of Allah. One would be said to be an accursed of Allah when his heart has become estranged from Allah… has become so darkened that there remains no ray of divine love, divine knowledge, or divine light. An accursed of Allah would mean that the bond of loyalty and trust with Allah is broken and there develops contempt and hostility. But we confess whole- heartedly, that such a description has no place for the chosen ones of Allah. Our beloved Jesus’(as) heart was never estranged from Allah and never did he demonstrate any behaviour or action that would lead one to say that he was, God forbid, an accursed of Allah. On the contrary, the Holy Qur’an declares that Jesus(as) was a noble and honoured Messenger of Allah. Even Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians 12:3, ‘that no man speaking by the spirit of God, calleth Jesus accursed’. It must be appreciated how serious these allegations are. These were the corrupted views of the followers of the very law, which Jesus(as) came to fulfil. Paul concedes to these allegations and like the Jews, accepts that Jesus was accursed and writes in Galatians 3:13, ‘Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written that cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree’. In response to the piles of accumulating allegations against J e s u s( a s ), Allah the Almighty consistently comes running to the aid of his beloved and true Prophet. Whereas the Jews planned to kill Jesus ( a s ), Allah planned to save him. The Holy Qur’an says: 43 The Muslim Belief in Jesus Christ (as) The Review of Religions –October 2003 And they (the enemies of Jesus) planned, and Allah also planned, and Allah is the Best of planners. (Ch.3: V.55) Allah had already comforted Jesus(as) and promised him that not only would He save him from their evil design, but would also establish his truthfulness. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: O Jesus I will cause thee to die a natural death and will exalt thee to Myself, and will clear thee from the charges of those who disbelieve, and will plcae those who follow thee above those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection; then to me shall be your return… (Ch.3: V.56) This was the comforting promise of Allah, that He will take the responsibility to save Jesus(as), and then remove the slanderous allegations against him, and then exalt his status, and then even extend this promise to his true followers, by also exalting their status. So, the question to ask is what then was this plan of Allah? How did Allah save Jesus ( a s ) a n d establish his truthfulness. The next verse addresses the very crucifixion. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, And for their (the Jews) saying, ‘We did kill the Messiah, Jesus, Son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah;’ whereas they slew him not, nor c rucified 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 t h e reof, but only follow a conjecture; and they did not convert this conjecture into a certainty.. (Ch.4: V.158) The events of the Passion of the Crucifixion have long been accepted as a mystery. But, what we have here is the unveiling of that Divine promise made to Jesus(as) by Allah Himself. 44 The Muslim Belief in Jesus Christ (as) The Review of Religions – October 2003 The Holy Qur’an vindicates Jesus(as) and states that the Jews were not successful in their attempts to kill him. But rather to them, he only appeared and looked as if he was dead. In reality he was very much alive. It may be worth, at this point, summarising and recapping the various different beliefs with regards to this event so that we may appreciate the true and correct beliefs of Muslims. Up to now, we know of four camps or prevailing schools of thought. The Jews believe that he was accursed and a false prophet and so to prove it they believe that they successfully killed him by crucifying him on the cross. Our mainstream Christian brethren believe as the Jews that Jesus(as) suffered the death of the crucifixion. But in doing so he atoned for the sins of mankind. They believe that after 2 to 3 hours on the cross he died, and on the third day he rose resurrected from the dead and lived a short while in secrecy amongst his disciples, and then bodily ascended to the heavens. He is also believed to bodily return in the same manner in the latter days and offer a final salvation to mankind. Whoso does not accept him, according to some, he will proceed to cast them in eternal hell. To d a y ’s mainstream Muslims believe that Jesus(as) was never even put on the cross. Rather, at that critical hour of danger to his life, today’s Muslims believe that Allah created a Jesus(as) look-alike impostor and crucified him instead. Jesus( a s ) meantime was bodily lifted to some unknown station in the sky. They too also believe that in the Latter Days, he will bodily descend from the sky, this time return as a Muslim and offer Islam to mankind. Whoso does not accept, he will slaughter. It should be emphatically pointed out that neither did the Holy Founder of Islam, Hadhrat M u h a m m a d( s a ), share this view, nor did his companions share this current view of our contemporary Muslims today. In fact, the Holy 45 The Muslim Belief in Jesus Christ (as) The Review of Religions –October 2003 Qur’an rejects this view in its t o t a l i t y. This distorted view evolved centuries after the demise of the Holy Prophet(sa). This view has much in common with the second camp due to the great Christian and Hellenistic influences and mixing of ideologies and cultures, which followed the crusades. F i n a l l y, the fourth camp is offered, for mankind to judge for itself. This was the belief of the Holy Founder of Islam, Hadhrat Muhammad Mustafa( s a ), and in accordance with the Qur’ a n i c teaching, that Jesus Christ(as) not only survived the ordeal of the crucifixion but went on to fulfil two major prophecies. The first prophecy is that he declares: ‘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.’ (John 10:16) He was referring to the lost tribes of Israel who as we know had migrated towards the east and were not in Judea at the time, but scattered. The second prophecy, in his own words solves the mystery of the crucifixion. Jesus(as) gave the most powerful sign of Jonah( a s ), that, just as Jonah(as) for three days was in the belly of the fish, so shall the Son of Man be in the belly of the earth (Matthew 12:39). It is the Muslim belief that prophets fulfil their stated mission as a testimony and proof of their truthfulness as being chosen by Allah. It is only the light of the Holy Qur’an that enables one to fully realise that Jesus(as) actually fulfilled these promises. The Qur’an does not deny the fact that Jesus(as) was on the cross. The Qur’an only denies him dying on the cross. The Qur’an declares that the Jews and the enemies of J e s u s( a s ) were not successful in their design to kill him and make him accursed. This was the strongly held belief of the Holy Prophet Muhammad( s a ), that Jesus(as) died a natural and noble death after having lived to an old age. 46 The Muslim Belief in Jesus Christ (as) The Review of Religions – October 2003 On this controversial subject of the crucifixion, there are volumes of books spanning various disciplines of science, medicine, h i s t o r y, including the biblical sources, all of which today support the claim that the Holy Qur’an made 1400 years ago, that our beloved Jesus(as) survived the ordeal of the cross and fulfilled his stated mission. From the medical and historical perspective, in a brief nutshell, the probability of survival from hanging on the cross for only 2-3 hours is indisputably clear. The usual custom of hanging for days in this slow and torturous death was not applicable to Jesus( a s ). Clearly Allah’s plan was different as evident from the Bible itself, which describes some amazing events. It was Allah’s plan to create every possibility for J e s u s( a s ) to survive and not undergo the usual custom. The scene that is described is one of chaos, earthquakes, eclipses, curtain of the temple torn, the graves of many saints opened and so on. This was the hand of Allah, which removed Jesus(as) from the cross within 2-3 hours, understandably in a state, which seemingly may have resembled death. In fact, so doubtful was his death that the only real expert of the time on the art of crucifixion, the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate marvels and doubts that Jesus(as) is dead. He is handed over not to his enemies but his friends, who care for him, bring him ointments, the best healing agents of the time and care after him. This is why Jesus(as) chose the example of Jonah. Jonah survived the seemingly impossible odds, revived and emerged out alive from the fish. It was the same scenario of seemingly impossible odds which Jesus( a s ) had to overcome, to survive in like m a n n e r, to revive and emerg e from the belly of the earth, in exact likeness to Jonah(as). After having been revived and resuscitated, he continues his mission as evident from the accounts of the Bible and of h i s t o r y. He eats, rests, seeks s h e l t e r, disguises himself, and meets with his disciples in secret, in the same physical body. 47 The Muslim Belief in Jesus Christ (as) The Review of Religions –October 2003 I wish to leave you with a key aspect of the Muslim belief in J e s u s( a s ). To d a y, Jesus( a s ) a g a i n stands in the centre of a key debate. Almost universally, mankind awaits a Reformer. As already mentioned, many believe that Jesus ( a s ) himself will physically and bodily return from the heavens and offer salvation. After all, Jesus(as) himself did lay great emphasis on his returning in the Latter Days. But how will he come? Jesus(as) himself gives the answer. He settles the method or manner of his second coming once and for all. This was the very question, which was put to him by the Jews who awaited the second coming of Elijah(as) to physically descend from the heavens and serve as the spiritual harbinger for the Messiah. How clearly did Jesus(as) dispel their false beliefs and practices. He passed the verdict for all of time to come, that no man would descend from the sky, neither recycled from the past or from the present or even from the future. By identifying John the Baptist as the spiritual Second coming of Elijah ( a s ), Jesus has solved the issue in a most profound manner, for all of time. There is no doubting his prophecy of the Second Coming. Mathew 24 is full of this very prophecy, which cannot be ignored. The time is described as one of unrest, and turmoil. Nations will rise against nations, wars, famines, earthquakes, man will turn away from faith and the world will be filled with wickedness and darkness. ‘For as lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man… Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away.’ (Matthew 24:27) The Holy Founder of Islam(sa) has used even more detail to describe the Latter Days as being filled with irreligion, materialism and godless pursuits. He referred to the coming of the Promised Messiah, as one who would find the world filled with sin and faith having vanished and ascended to the stars. At one time he said that even if faith disappears and 48 The Muslim Belief in Jesus Christ (as) The Review of Religions – October 2003 ascends to the stars, this Promised Messiah will reach into the stars and bring it back and re-establish faith in the hearts of men. Today we are witnessing the fulfilment of those great prophecies of the Bible, the Holy Qur’an, the Hadith and other holy Scriptures. The Latter Days have arrived with powerful fulfilment of those prophecies. The verdict of our beloved Jesus(as) is clear. It is our belief that the Promised M e s s i a h( a s ) has appeared as predicted. Syedna Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) has appeared in the likeness and spirit of Jesus(as), just as Jesus(as) described John the Baptist(as) to have come in the likeness of Elijah(as). The worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community recognises the fulfilment of Allah’s promises. We celebrate the righteousness of Mary and her Immaculate Conception. We celebrate the fulfilment of Allah’s promise to save Jesus(as) from the clutches of his enemies and establish his truthfulness. We celebrate the fulfilment of his prophecy as a Sign of Allah, to not only survive like Jonah(as) but also to gather the Lost Sheep as he predicted. We celebrate the great service he has provided about giving the glad tidings of the coming of Prophet Muhammad(sa) as recorded in various places of the Gospels. And today we credit Jesus(as) for settling once and for all, the way to recognise the Promised Messiah. Amidst the sea of controversy, of mystery and false notions, the Holy Qur’an had emerged to remove the injustices and restore, with justice, the correct beliefs in the heart of man. Beliefs which would appeal to the heart and beliefs which would appeal to the intellect. 49 The Muslim Belief in Jesus Christ (as) The Review of Religions –October 2003 50 The Review of Religions – October 2003 I am from Malaysia and we believe that by the time Imam Mahdi comes to this world, Islam will be the stro n g e s t religion in the world. What is confusing is that if we say that this religion is the stro n g e s t religion then why is it that for the past three years when Bosnia was suffering attack from the Christian community, no Islamic country came f o rward to help? Why is America involved instead? Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru): You have asked two questions in one. The second question I advise you to address to Saudi Arabia, to Kuwait, to Jordan, to Syria and to such other countries you are blaming for the absolute lack of interest in Muslim affairs. I am not answerable for what they do. I am answerable only on behalf of the Ahmadiyya community with our belief that the Imam Mahdi has come. As far as your hearsay reports about Imam Mahdi suddenly transforming the world of Islam QUESTIONER Belief and Guidance Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the F o u rth Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, (God’s mercy be upon his soul), offered to people of all nationalities, faiths and beliefs the opportunity of raising questions and issues that were of interest to them. Presented below are answers to some questions that were raised in two sessions held in London. Compiled by Amatul Hadi Ahmad 51The Review of Religions –October 2003 into the most powerful people on earth is concerned, I disagree with that view as false on the count of contrary historical evidence. No man who was ever raised by God as a prophet or a messenger or a reformer brought about such a miracle in the world – not even the Holy Prophet(sa). Fourteen hundred years have passed and still you yourself are quoting the example of the Bosnians being Muslims completely helpless and laid at the mercy of their non-Muslim e n e m y. Here, it is not the Christians who have perpetrated any crime against them – that is also wrong. Those who have perpetrated the most horrid crime against the Muslims are people without any religion – they are practically atheist and morally destitute. Why blame Christianity unnecessarily for crimes committed by non- Christians! Coming back to the question of Imam Mahdi, I remind you of the basic fundamental principle that God has been enunciated repeatedly in the Holy Qur’an [But thou wilt never find any change in the way of Allah (Ch.35: V.44)] and that is God’s ways in relation to mankind, in relation to religion, have become part of human history and of religious history and you will never see any change in the conduct of God in relation to the attitude of the people on earth and [the Holy Qur’an] repeatedly challenges man to find one single instance where God changed His way and His attitude to the problem. Whenever He raised a prophet, He chose a person who, whilst belonging to the stronger sections of society, was individually weak and was never supported by any powerful group. Every prophet came independently as a single person yet he gained a following through a very strong and persistent struggle and endeav- our that he continued regardless of the pressure of the enemy against him. The miracle which is the Sunna of God, that is the way of God, in this case which was common to all prophets was that despite the fact that they were neither supported by any Beliefs and Guidance 52 The Review of Religions – October 2003 powerful social group, economic group, religious group or political group, yet they invariably emerged victorious. They achieved success through a slow process of change that began with moral change and that change itself was not brought about by a spell cast by the prophet. That change was brought about by human sacrifices. Each person who answered the call of the prophet accepted a miserable life for the sake of truth. He was put into the mill of torture and persecution and the society that had previously honoured him, now treated him as a low person and in this there is no inconsistency in the ways of God, if you find out about those ways through human history. From the time of Adam(as) up to the time of the Holy Prophet(sa) this is the story of the prophets repeated over and over again, exactly like this. U l t i m a t e l y, if people did not reform and rejected the prophet altogether, then the people were wiped out, not the prophets. What happened to the people of Noah(as)? What happened to the people of Lot ( a s )? Religious history, as preserved in the Holy Q u r’an, is most reliable and unchangeable. How can you fit your concept of Imam Mahdi in that history? Where can you fit it if you believe that somebody is Divinely appointed and with his supernatural powers he destroys the rest of the world and makes those who share his views and his religion conquerors of the whole world? Why should that be so if those people are themselves corrupt – if they are at least as corrupt as other people are? What justice would there be in God bringing about a revolution in favour of such a people as you find in many Muslim states? If you really study the current history of Muslim states you will find that most of the people living there have become dishonest and corrupt, indulging in all the ill practices that are to be found in the rest of the world. Name a crime that is found elsewhere in the world but is not found in a Muslim state. Why, therefore, one fine morning should the Imam Mahdi appear and say, ‘All Beliefs and Guidance 53The Review of Religions –October 2003 right, do whatever you please – religion does not appear for the purpose of revolutionising morals and conduct – religion only comes to establish the supremacy of one people and that is all. Hence, I have come and you shall emerge as victorious. I will hand over the keys of the world to you and disappear back to nothingness’. Can you agree with such a scheme of things? It is impossible! How did the idea of the physical ascent of Jesus(as) enter the Muslim ideology? Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru): The idea of physical ascent of J e s u s( a s ) infiltrated the Muslim world very gradually. It was about three hundred years after the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam that it penetrated Muslim thinking. As to why it infiltrated Muslim thinking is a very important question that needs to be carefully addressed. The Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam had prophesied that, some time in the future, Jesus Christ( a s ) w o u l d ‘descend’ although he did not mention from where he would descend. He never stated that this ‘descent’ would be from A s – Samaa, that is from the heavens, but he did state that Jesus ( a s ) would ‘descend’. The Holy Qur’an states regarding the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) himself that he ‘descended’. The Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam is the only Prophet who has been referred in the Holy Qur’an as having ‘descended’. The Holy Prophet( s a ) w a s , therefore, fully supported by Qur’anic usage of the term to refer to the future ‘descent’ of Jesus Christ ( a s ). Hence, his statement to the effect that there would be no Prophet between him and the time of ‘descent’ of Jesus Christ(as). It was because the word ‘Jesus’ was a personal name indicating the historical J e s u s( a s ) who had lived many centuries ago that gradually the Muslim scholars came to believe that if Jesus Christ( a s ) i s mentioned by name, it had to be the one who appeared [in Nazareth] among the followers QUESTIONER Beliefs and Guidance 54 The Review of Religions – October 2003 of Moses(as), that it had to be the person of Jesus Christ ( a s ). Consequently, this idea became so entrenched in their beliefs that gradually it became part of their doctrine. Moreover, in order to justify the notion of the ‘descent’ of Jesus Christ(as), they also began to claim that Jesus Christ(as) must also have ascended physically [up to heaven], their argument being that he could not descend unless he had ascended in the first instance. They accepted his ascension up to heaven but in the process completely overlooked the fact that nowhere in the Holy Qur’an has it been mentioned that Jesus Christ(as) was raised bodily to heaven. The only reference that can be found in the Holy Qur’an that is similar to this is the following verse that states: On the contrary, Allah exalted him to Himself. (Ch.4: V.159) That is to say, God did the Rafa’a of Jesus Christ(as) to Himself. We, the Ahmadis, point out that the misinterpretation of this verse does not in any way help the cause of the Muslim scholars who believe in the physical ascent of Jesus( a s ) because the question then arises as to where was God when He raised Jesus(as) to Himself? Was not God present where Jesus(as) was physically? Does God not occupy the entire universe? Was God not present above Jesus (as), below Jesus(as), to the right of him and to the left of him? It is a fact that no body can move physically to God as God is not a physical body and bodies can only move in the direction of bodies. This is an inviolable law – it is as good today as it ever was. You can try the experiment yourself – that which is a body cannot move towards a spirit. A body can only move in the direction of a body. Hence, the interpretation given to the above verse by Muslim scholars, that God lifted Jesus(as) physically to Himself, would indicate that God was not present where Jesus(as) was prior to his ascent, that God was somewhere in the heavens, in mid-universe. This would have to be the result of their a rgument because if God had Beliefs and Guidance 55The Review of Religions –October 2003 lifted Jesus(as) to Himself, God should have continued lifting him to the boundaries of the heavens. However, according to the Muslim clerics, Jesus(as) was left somewhere in the middle of the heavens as if God occupies only that space! They do not understand because they are prejudiced. They want to prove a point in which they already have an entrenched belief. According to the Holy Qur’an, the word ‘Nuzool’ or ‘descent’ does not indicate a physical descent and the word R a f a ’ a does not indicate physical ascent. These are, in fact, Arabic words and as such their usage should be understood in accordance with the Arabic lexicon. The word Rafa’a, or ascent in the direction of God, when used in the Holy Q u r’an, does not imply a physical ascent towards God. Neither has it been used by the Holy Prophet(sa) in his statements regarding this subject with the implication of physical ascent. The greatest R a f a ’ a was the ascent of the Holy Prophet ( s a ) himself. However, it was not a physical ascent but a spiritual one. These are all aspects that need to be considered further in greater detail but unfortunately the shortage of time in today’s venue does not permit this. However, I hope the questioner will understand this issue from our point of view that these ideas infiltrated Muslim thought not in the first few centuries of Islam but later on. The process of infiltration was further aided by Beliefs and Guidance ACCORDING TO THE HOLY QUR’AN, THE WORD ‘NUZOOL’ OR ‘DESCENT’ DOES NOT INDICATE A PHYSICAL DESCENT AND THE WORD RAFA’A DOES NOT INDICATE PHYSICAL ASCENT. THESE ARE, IN FACT, ARABIC WORDS AND AS SUCH THEIR USAGE SHOULD BE UNDERSTOOD IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ARABIC LEXICON 56 The Review of Religions – October 2003 the Muslims who had converted from Christianity. We also believe that there was a deliberate attempt on the part of the hypocrites, that is those people who became Muslims but in fact wanted to destroy Islamic values from within. This combination of factors took the Muslim scholars onto a path that could never reach a resolution. Unfortunately, this is what we find even today. The fact is that Jesus Christ(as) never ascended physically to heaven, hence, he would never return by descending physically. To whose advantage – to the advantage of the clerics who rule the world of Islam as despots and demagogues. Unless Jesus( a s ) returns, their authority cannot be snatched away from them and because such a Jesus would never descend so they will continue to enjoy their despotic rule of the world of Islam as they are doing today. Although these issues are peripheral to this question, they need to be pointed out. Consider for yourself the fact that the ascent of Jesus(as) has no meaning. Prior to Jesus( a s ), God did not adopt the method of physical ascent to maintain the spiritual community. It has never been the case prior to Jesus(as)that a person was raised, ascending bodily and then descending according to the wishes of the people of the time. How can such an event occur now when it has never occurred before? However, [to explain this issue more fully] we can quote the example of Elijah(as). The earlier Scriptures state that Elijah( a s ) would one day descend bodily. The Scriptures are very clear about this. Elijah(as) is assumed to have ascended bodily to heaven and it is clearly prophesied that Elijah(as) would descend on the same fiery chariot upon which he ascended. All the Christians would support this prophecy and that it is clearly stated in the Scriptures. However, when Jesus(as) claimed to be from God, the people around him asked about Elijah(as). How could they believe in the so-called Christ until Elijah(as) returned? It was absolutely right. Elijah( a s ) m u s t Beliefs and Guidance ‘descend’ before the advent of Christ and they, quite rightly, asked where he was. In response J e s u s( a s ) pointed to John( a s ) t h e Baptist. He told the people that J o h n( a s ) the Baptist was the awaited ‘Elijah’ whether they wished to believe this or not. Hence, the issue has been resolved once and for all. If Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) Sahib of Qadian is right in his claim that he is the spiritual manifestation of Jesus( a s ), then J e s u s( a s ) is right [in his interpretation of earlier scriptures regarding Elijah( a s )]. If, on the contrary, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam A h m a d( a s ) Sahib of Qadian is wrong, then Jesus(as) is wrong. They are both responding to the same situation. I don’t know why Muslim clerics seem unable to understand this. How can they reject Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) Sahib and accept Jesus C h r i s t( a s ) who had issued the verdict that people regarding whom there is a truthful prophecy about their ‘descent’ back to this world at some later period, would appear again but never in the form of a physical descent. The claim of such a prophecy is fulfilled in the form of another person who is born among the people of that time. The name of the parents of such a person are different from the names of the parents of the person whose manifestation he represents – even his own name is different from the earlier person, yet such a person fulfils the prophecy. It is true that the prophecy of the Holy Prophet(sa) regarding the future Messiah stated that it was ‘Jesus son of Mary’ who would ‘descend’ and this is no different from the earlier prophecy regarding the ‘descent’ of Elijah(as). Hence, it is this similarity between the two prophecies and their claims that prove that the Ahmadiyya interpretation is correct. 57 Beliefs and Guidance The Review of Religions –October 2003