Jesus The Light And The Fragrance Of God By M.N.

Anderson
Chapter 0: Introduction Part 1: The Reappearing of Jesus Chapter 1: The End Times in the Hadith Chapter 2: Jesus' Work of Restoration Chapter 3: Jesus' Work of Destruction Chapter 4: The Matchless One Part 2: The Christ of History Chapter 5: His Character and Powers Chapter 6: The Testimony of God is Greater Chapter 7: Rainbow of Glory Chapter 8: A Time for Reflection Part 4: Strike The Truth In The Cross Chapter 1: The Theory of Substitution Chapter 2: Did Jesus Die? Chapter 3: Lifted Up In Spite Of Death

Introduction

In all the history of mankind, no person has received reactions like Jesus the Christ. Whether good or bad, complementary or derogatory, there has been no shortage of responses to the person of the Christ. They come from all kinds of people: thinkers and simple people, believers and atheists, religious and irreligious - not only from his so-called followers, but also from those of different religious persuasions. They may vary in devotion and intensity, but there are an abundance of reactions. To the Sufis, Jesus is the greatest and highest ranking of all the prophets in the succession of the prophets up to his person. 'No previous prophet, however graced with virtues of perfection, ever quite attained his degree.'[1] Furthermore, 'Jesus is the paragon of a perfect human being and the example par excellence of a true master'.[2]

To the Sufis, Jesus is the model and example of ultimate purity. To be pure 'like Jesus' is nothing less than both the work of God and the cry of the heart of the sincere worshipper. To be pure like Jesus is not the achievement of the striving heart, but it is something that requires the help and grace of God. The true Sufi will never be content with anything less than to be pure like Jesus, as in the words of the poet 'Attar.
Cleanse me, O Lord, of this filthy soul, So I may claim immortal purity for myself, like Jesus.[3]

The name Jesus was redefined by the Sufis, so that, 'in Sufi's terminology, the name Jesus stands for "love"'.[4] But of greater significance is the place Jesus held in the heart and mind of Mohammad the prophet of Islam. The reappearing of Jesus was a living topic during the time of Mohammad (as it is today), and we find that Mohammad longed to meet Jesus. For we read in the Hadith:
My hope if my age is prolonged, is to meet Jesus, Son of Mary, but if death hurries me along, then let the one who meets him give him my kind regards.[5]

Mohammad not only longed to meet Jesus but also saw that to share the brotherhood of Jesus is something to be contested. Although the prophets are all brothers, Mohammad chose Jesus to be his closest brother. No other prophet held such a place in the heart of Mohammad. To him the brotherhood of Jesus was something he deserved more than any other human being. The prophets are brothers of different mothers, but their religion is one. Of all men I am the most deserving to be the brother of Jesus Son of Mary, for there was no prophet between me and him.[6] This series of booklets is about that person the Sufis look up to as their model in purity and love. It is about that person Mohammad longed to meet, and for whose brotherhood he would compete. In this series we will reflect on the person of Jesus from the pages of the Hadith, the commentaries of the Qur'an and some Sufi writings.

1. Nurbakhash, Javad, Jesus in the Eyes of the Sufis, Khaniqahi-Nimatullahi Publications, London, 1983, p. 25. 2. Ibid., p. 9. 3. Ibid., pp. 53-54. 4. Ibid., p. 39. 5. Al Hendy, Kanzol 'Ummal, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1034. 6. Ibid., Hadith No. 1033.

Part 1: The Reappearing of Jesus
Chapter 1: The End Times in the Hadith

The end of the world has occupied the minds of many people. Countless pens have run wild trying to construct the scenario of the last days. This topic not only fascinates twentieth century man; it also fascinated the man of the sixth century. Evidence of this interest is found in the Hadith. Throughout the Hadith two personalities figure prominently: the Dajjal or false Christ, the imposter and the enemy of God; and Jesus, the Word of God, the Spirit of God, the true Christ. Although the Hadith mentions numerous conditions and signs for the Hour of Doom, the Qur'an singles out Jesus as 'the knowledge of the Hour', or his appearing as its main sign and condition.
He [Jesus] is knowledge of the Hour.[1]

Of this verse the commentary Galalayn said, 'He [Jesus] is the knowledge of the Hour. This Last Hour is known by his appearing'. Zamakhshary and Baidawi said, 'He is the sign or mark of the Hour, that is, the Last Hour; or he is a condition and a requirement for its happening or occurrence'. In this first Part we will concentrate on the portions of the Hadith that deal with the role of Jesus before the Hour of Doom. This work, however, does not take place in a vacuum, so we will also review the religious, spiritual and social conditions of the world which, according to the Hadith, will be in evidence just before his appearing. This is not an attempt to set out a countdown to the Last Hour, but to discover the place Jesus held in the minds and the hearts of the first generations of Islam. We will not discuss the relative authenticity of these Hadiths; it is enough that they have been transmitted and treasured by many trusted and faithful men. Therein lies their great significance. However, we might add a word at the outset for those who doubt the reality of the existence of the Dajjal (the false christ) and the role of Jesus before the Last Hour. To those we quote the words of the eminent scholar Al-Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn Al-'Arabi (543H), who said:
These Hadiths in which the Dajjal is mentioned by 'Muslim' [in Sahih Muslim] and others are proof to the followers of the Truth of the reality of his existence, and that he is a particular person by whom God will afflict His servants. God will enable the Dajjal to manifest some of God's omnipotent powers, such as raising the man which he kills, the appearing of the 'world's blossom and fertility' with him, his 'Paradise and Hell' and his 'two rivers', the following of the earth's treasures behind him, his command to the sky to rain and the earth to sprout ... This is the belief of the orthodox Muslims ('Ahl 'As-sunah) and all the Hadith transmitters and jurisprudence of Islam (fuqaha').[2]

Of the coming of Jesus he also said:
The coming of Jesus, peace be upon him, and his killing of the Dajjal is true and confirmed by the people of Sunna in the sound Hadith. There is nothing in logic or the revelation that denies it. So it must be upheld.[3]

Upon this testimony we shall proceed. Our first task is to survey the relevant Hadiths with a minimum of comments. This will occupy the rest of this chapter. We shall then take a closer look at what they tell us concerning the early Muslims' beliefs about the reappearance of Jesus.
The Signs of the End The Hadith describes several signs by which it will signal the closeness of the Hour. These include unfaithfulness, distress for believers, dead prayers and the increase of wickedness.
Out of my nation there will come people who will deny God and the Qur'an without being aware that they have become infidels ... the believer's joy at that time is meagre and his distress is great ... not long after the false Christ appears.[4] One of the signs of the coming of the Hour is that fifty people will pray but no one's prayer will be accepted.[5] There will come a time when he who is steadfast in the faith will be like a man who is clutching a live coal.[6]

Ali was once asked, 'O prince of the faithful, when will the false Christ come?' He then began to describe the condition of the world before the coming of the false Christ and the reappearing of Jesus:
Prayers will be dead, faithfulness will be lost, government will be weak, injustice will be regarded more than justice, princes will be wicked and their ministers will be traitors ... the readers of the Qur'an will become corrupt ... adultery and wine will be everywhere ... people will decorate the mosques and Masahif ... people will put on sheep's clothing over wolves' hearts, people will have bitter hearts and sweet tongues ...'[7] Then he was asked, `O prince of the faithful, who is the false Christ?' Ali said, 'He is Safy Ibn-Sayyad' (a person suspected of being the Dajjal). 'The false Christ will call: "Come to me, my friends, Come to me, my friends ... I am the one who created well, I am the able guide, and I am your most high God." Ali then added, 'Liar is the enemy of God.'[8] Whatever God created He will put an end to it, and this religion [Islam] will have been established. Then it will decrease, and the sign of this is that blood relations will be severed, money will be obtained by cheating, innocent blood will be shed.[9]

The Return of the Qur'an According to certain Hadiths, before the Last Hour the Qur'an will return to God.
The Hour of Doom will not come until the Qur'an returns to where it came from.[10] The Qur'an will be lifted up in one night so that not one verse will be left in anybody's Mushaf (ie. written copy of the Qur'an).[11] 'The first thing that will be lost from your religion is faithfulness, and the last thing that will remain is prayer; although some will pray they will have no faith. This Qur'an which is amongst the most eminent of you will suddenly disappear and be lifted up.' They then said, 'How can that be, since God has established it in our hearts and it is written in our Masahif (plural of Mushaf)?' He answered, 'It will be lifted up in one night and will disappear, all that is in your hearts and in your books'. Then Abd-Allah recited, '... if we willed, we could take away that which we have revealed to you' (The Qur'an 17: 86).[12]

Another Hadith states:
The Hour of Doom will not come until the Book of God [the Qur'an] be considered a disgrace, and Islam becomes like a stranger ... ill-will and disputations will multiply ... the guilty will be trusted, and the honest will be suspected ... murder will increase ... injustice, envy, malice and selfishness will

multiply ... rain will increase but the fruit of the earth will decrease. Knowledge will be rare, ignorance will overflow ... abominations will be open and a public thing ... and there shall be false preachers who will change the truth for the benefit of the wicked people of my nation.[13] The Hour of Doom will not come until the Qur'an returns to where it came from. There will be an echo like that of a beehive, then the Majestic and Powerful Lord will say, 'What is the matter?' So the Qur'an will say, 'From you I have come and to you I return, I am being read but no one acts by me.' At that time the Qur'an will be lifted up.[14] Islam will be fade like the colour of a garment ... and the Book of God will be lifted up in one night so that not one verse of it will remain on earth. And the old and aged of some remaining groups will say, 'We heard "there is no God but Allah (la-Elaha-Illa-Allah)" from our forefathers, so we say it'.[15]

Islam Becomes a Stranger Not only will the Qur'an be lifted up, according to some Hadith, the false Christ will come only after the appearing of divisions in Islam and Islam becomes like a stranger on the earth.
Before you, the People of the Book were divided into seventy-two groups, but the people of this religion [Islam] will be divided into seventy-three groups.[16] The strongholds of Islam will be knocked down, one after the other, and then there will come many deceiving guides.[17] Faith will crawl back to the Madina like a snake crawls back to its hole.[18] By Him who holds my soul in His hand, people will leave their religion in throngs just as they entered it in throngs.[19] Islam will crawl back to the land of Hejaz like a snake crawls back to its hole, or like a herd of wild goats huddling on top of a mountain ... Islam began a stranger and will return a stranger, blessed are the strangers who will restore what people ruined.[20] There will come a generation which will recite the Qur'an but it will not go beyond their collar bones. Whenever a horn [a prominent person] appears, it will be cut off. Then the false Christ will appear amongst them.[21]

The Greatest And Last Trial What a grim and dark picture the above Hadiths paint, but it becomes worse. After the weakening of Islam, the false Christ comes on the scene to deceive the peoples of the world. His is the greatest evil of all.
There has never been and will not be temptation (or sedition) greater than the temptation of the false Christ till the Hour of Doom.[22] Before the appearing of the false Christ, nothing will the believer long for and love more than death.[23] Between the creation of Adam and the Hour of Doom there is nothing more dangerous than the false Christ.[24] Narrated `Aisha, 'I heard Allah's Apostle in his prayer seeking refuge with Allah from the affliction of Ad-Dajjal [the false Christ]'.[25] On the authority of Abi Harierah, the Prophet used to say, 'O God, I take refuge in you from the torment of the grave and the torment of Hell ... and the trial of the false Christ.'[26] On the authority of Hazifah it is reported that 'when the false Christ appears even those in their graves will believe in him.'[27] He (the Dajjal) would appear on the way between Syria and Iraq and would spread mischief right and left. ... He would come to the people and invite them (to a wrong religion) and they would affirm their faith in him and respond to him. He would then give command to the sky and there would be rainfall upon the earth and it would grow crops. Then in the evening their pasturing animals would come to them with their humps very high and their udders full of milk and their flanks stretched. He would then come to another people and invite them. But they would reject him and he would go away from them and there would be drought for them and nothing would be left with them in the form of wealth. He would then walk through the waste land and say to it; Bring forth your treasures, and the treasures would come out and collect (themselves) before him like a swarm

of bees. He would then call a person brimming with youth and strike him with the sword and cut him into two pieces and (make these pieces lie at a distance which is generally) between the archer and his target. He would then call (that young man) and he will come forward laughing with his face gleaming (with happiness). It would be at this very time that Allah would send Christ, Son of Mary, and he will descend at the white minaret in the eastern side of Damascus wearing two garments lightly dyed with saffron and placing his hands on the wings of two angels. When he would lower his head, there would fall beads of perspiration from it, and when he would raise it up, beads like pearl would scatter from it. Every non-believer who would smell the odour of himself would die and his breath would reach as far as he would be able to see. He would then search for him (the Dajjal) until he would catch hold of him at the gate of Ludd and would kill him. Then a people whom Allah had protected would come to Jesus Son of Mary, and he would wipe their faces and would inform them of their ranks in Paradise.[28] The Dajjal is coming ... he will heal the blind and the leper and bring to life the dead. He will say to the people, 'I am your God'. If a person would say to him, 'You are my God' then he is deceived.[29] With the Dajjal there will be two mountains. One mountain will have trees, fruits and water, the other mountain will have smoke and fire. [About the two mountains] he will say, 'This one is Paradise, and the other one is Hell-fire'.[30] The tribulation of the Dajjal is severe, for God will send the devils from the earth's east and west and they will say to him [the Dajjal], 'We are your helpers and under your command'. He will then say to them, 'Hurry and tell people that I am their God and that I have come to them with my Paradise and my Hell'.[31] Allah is not one-eyed and behold that Dajjal is blind of the right eye and his eye would be like a floating grape.[32] Abdullah Ibn 'Umar told that Allah's Messenger stood up amongst the people and lauded Allah as He deserved, then he made a mention of the Dajjal and said: 'I warn you of him and there is no prophet who has not warned his people against the Dajjal. Even Noah warned (against him) but I am going to tell you a thing which no prophet told his people. You must know that he (the Dajjal) is one-eyed and Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, is not one-eyed. ... There would be written between his two eyes (the word) kafir (infidel) and every one who would resent his deeds would be able to read it or every Muslim would be about to read it.'[33]

The Man of the Hour Into this terrible picture of dominance by the false Christ, the Hadith tells us that God will send one who will destroy the Dajjal: this one is Jesus the Christ. The Last Hour will not take place until he has reappeared.
By God, Jesus Son of Mary will descend to judge in justice.[34] The Hour will not take place until Jesus Son of Mary descends a righteous judge and a just leader [Imam].[35] Jesus Son of Mary will descend a just judge and leader ... He will come to my grave and salute me and I will answer him back.[36] By Him who keeps my soul in His hand, Jesus Son of Mary is about to descend amongst you a righteous judge and a just leader.[37] No one has power or authority over the false Christ except Jesus Son of Mary.[38] God will kill the false Christ ... by the hands of Jesus Son of Mary.[39]

Suyuti uses a Hadith in which the false Christ deceives the masses by his miracles. Suyuti then added:
The Dajjal will proceed towards Bait al-Maqdes and climb Mount Afiq. While the Muslims are preparing their arrows to fight him, the shadow of the false Christ falls on them. Their most powerful men begin to kneel down. Others sit down from hunger, while others faint. At that time they hear a voice crying, 'Your rescue has come to you!' The Muslims then will say, 'This is the voice of a well-

nourished man'. Then the earth will shine with the light of its Lord and Jesus Son of Mary will descend ... Jesus will kill the false Christ and none of his followers will remain in hiding behind any thing, but that thing will cry and speak up, saying, 'Behind me is a follower of the false Christ!' ... people will live for forty years. No one will die, no one will get sick.[40] Jesus Son of Mary is coming again and when the false Christ sees him, he will melt like wax melts. And so Jesus will kill the false Christ.[41] The false Christ will not leave a place on earth, but subject it and tread upon it by foot, except Mecca and Madina. Wherever he attempts to enter, the angels will meet him with swords ... he will come to the red hills and the city will tremble three times ... that day will be called the day of salvation. ... then he was asked, 'O Prophet of God! Where are the Arabs in that day?' He said, 'The Arabs on that day are few ... and when Jesus looks at the false Christ he will dissolve like salt dissolves in water and runs to escape ... but Jesus will kill him'.[42] The false Christ ... has two rivers. One is glowing fire and one is white water ... if any of you should meet him, let him close his eyes and drink from the river of fire; it is cool water. But beware of the other river! It is deception ... he will come and kill a third of the Muslims and defeat another third, and one third will remain. The believers will say to each other ... 'Pray until dawn breaks and hasten in your prayer. Then go to meet your enemy'. And when they rose to pray, Jesus Son of Mary descended before them and led them in prayer. And when he finished he said, 'Get out from between me and the enemy of God.' Then the false Christ will dissolve ...[43]

Omar once asked permission from the Prophet Mohammad to kill someone called Al-Saiad (suspecting him to be the false Christ). But Mohammad said,
Leave him alone, for if he is the one we fear, you will not be able to kill him.[44]

Elsewhere Mohammad said,
If he is the one then you are not his match, but his match is Jesus Son of Mary.[45] Son of Mary will descend a just judge. He will break the cross and kill the pig ... then enmity, hatred and envy will disappear and He will call people to take money but no one will accept it.[46] It is reported of Mohammad that he said, 'God will not disappoint a nation. I am its first and Jesus is its Last.'[47] There is no prophet or messenger between me [Mohammad] and Jesus, except that Jesus will supersede me in my nation after me.[48] O people! I am but a human being. I remind you of God . . . the Hour of Doom will not come until thirty liars appear. Their last will be the false Christ who will claim he is God ... Jesus Son of Mary will come and God will destroy the false Christ ... then after that seizure, seizure, that is, death [ie. it is too late for anyone to repent].[49] ... and as they were being busy distributing the spoils of war having hung their swords by the olive trees, Satan cried to them saying: 'The Dajjal has taken your place among your families.' So they came out, and that was false. And when they came to Syria, he went out. And while they were preparing for the battle, and arranging the ranks, the time of prayer came. Then Jesus Son of Mary will descend and will lead them in prayer. And when the enemy of God [the Dajjal] will see him (Jesus), he will dissolve just as salt dissolves in water... But God will kill him [the Dajjal] by his [Jesus'] hands. And he will show them his [the Dajjal's] blood in his [Jesus'] lance.[50]

Altough there is a Hadith that speaks of Jesus' death and burial after his reappearing, the overall thrust of the Hadiths indicates the opposite as will be seen in this booklet. (See also part four of this series).

'O Prophet of Allah! What will be after the Dajjal?' He said, 'Jesus Son of Mary.' I then asked, 'What will be after Jesus Son of Mary?' He said, 'If a man had a foal, he would not be able to ride on its back until the Hour of Doom would take place'.[51]

The Day After When Jesus destroys the false Christ, a day of peace and righteousness will dawn. The Hadith shows that those living at that time will enjoy great happiness and blessing.
Jesus will descend on Mount Afiq as a guiding leader and a just judge ... He will kill the false Christ ... and establish peace ... so that if a man meets a lion, the lion will not be disturbed, and if a man takes hold of a serpent it will not harm him. The earth will produce its plants as in the days of Adam. The people of the earth will believe in Him and so there will be only one religion.[52] How happy is living after the coming of Christ Jesus! The heaven will be permitted to rain and the earth to produce, even if you plant the seeds on a smooth stone. Man will pass by the lion and not get harmed; he will tread on the serpent and not get hurt ... there shall be no hatred or animosity.[53] Jesus Son of Mary will be the just ruler and a righteous leader over my nation ... enmity and hatred will disappear ... everything that has a sting will lose its sting, so that a child will handle a snake without getting hurt and the lion without getting harmed. The wolf will be like a dog amongst the sheep, and the whole earth will be filled with peace as a vessel becomes filled with water. War will cease, the earth will be like a silver plate. Its plants will yield as in the days of Adam so that a group of people will gather around a bunch of grapes and be filled, or around a pomegranate and satisfy their hunger. The ox will be worth such and such and the horse will be worth a few Drachmas. The people then said, 'O Prophet of God, what makes the horse so cheap?' He said, 'It is because it will never be used for war.' They asked again, 'And what makes the ox dear?' He answered, '... because the whole earth will be ploughed ...'[54] Son of Mary will appear ... placing his hands on the wings of two angels ... when he lowers his head it will trickle droplets of water and when he lifts his head up, precious stones like pearls will roll from his head. Upon him the Shechina [or, he walks upon the Shechina], and the earth will shrivel before him. He will kill the false Christ ... and the Christians will say, 'This is the false Christ whom we warned people against and this is the end of the world'. And he who touches Jesus Son of Mary will become amongst the most exalted of the people. And touching Jesus will be highly regarded. He will wipe away [tears or sadness?] from people's faces [or, will anoint people's faces], and will tell them of their degrees in Paradise.[55]

When Jesus reappears, true worship will be greater than anything else in the world.
Son of Mary will descend a just judge and leader ... money will increase to the extent that no one will want it, and the one prostration for worship will be far greater than the world and all that is in it![56] The mosques will tilt for the appearing of Jesus the Christ, for he will come again ... and those who reach the time of his coming will believe on him.[57] Jesus Son of Mary will come down, He will pray the prayers and gather the multitudes and increase righteousness (Al-Halal).[58] The Christ Son of Mary will appear before the Resurrection Day. Let the people be richly satisfied by him, and have no need of anyone else.[59]

In the next chapters we will explore the significance of the above Hadiths in the shaping of the image Jesus the Christ had in the heart of the early Muslims.

1. The Qur'an 43:61. 2. Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Fitan Wa Ashrat As-sa'ah (Arabic version), section 20, footnote 4. Emphasis is in the original. 3. ibid., section 23, Hadith No. 116 (2940), footnote 1. 4. Al Hendy, Kanzol 'Ummal, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1004. 5. Ibid, Hadith No. 604. 6. Quoted by Sheikh 'Abd Al-'Aziz 'Ez Al-Din Al-Sirawany in Ahadith Said Al-Morsalin 'An Hawadeth 'Al-Qarn 'Al-'Eshrin, from Tirimizy, Dar Al-Afaq Al-Jadidah, Beirut, First edition, 1982, p. 12. 7. Al Hendy, Vol. 18, Hadith No. 791. 8. Ibid. 9. Suyuti, Commentary on the Qur'an 47:18. 10. Al Hendy, Kanz al 'Ommal, vol. 18, Hadith No. 791. 11. Ibid., Hadith No. 707. 12. Ibid., Hadith No. 710. 13. Ibid., Vol. 17, Hadith No. 754. 14. Ibid., Hadith No. 704. 15. Ibid., Hadith No. 621. See also Sunan Ibn-Magah: 2:259, and El-Sha'arany: Mukhtasar Tazkeraht El-Emam Al-Qartaby, p. 170. 16. Sahih Al-Gam'e Al-Sagir 2638, checked by Sheikh Naser Al-Din Al-Albany. Quoted by Sheikh 'Abd Al-'Aziz 'Ez Al-Din Al-Sirawany in Ahadith Said Al-Morsalin 'An Hawadeth 'Al-Qarn 'Al-'Eshrin, Dar AlAfaq Al-Jadidah, Beirut, First edition, 1982, p. 20. 17. Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 539. 18. Sahih Al-Gam'e Al-Sagir, checked by Sheikh Naser Al-Din Al-Albany, Hadith No. 1585. Quoted by Sheikh 'Abd Al-'Aziz 'Ez Al-Din Al-Sirawany in Ahadith Said Al-Morsalin 'An Hawadeth 'Al-Qarn 'Al'Eshrin, Dar Al-Afaq Al-Jadidah, Beirut, First edition, 1982, p. 56. 19. 'Aqidat Al-Ferqah Al-Nageyah, al Sabouni, Prepared by Abd Allah Hagag, Dar al-Gil Beirut, 1987, p. 212. 20. Sunan al Tirmizi, Vol. 5, p. 18, Hadith No. 2630. 21. Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 951. 22. Ibid., Hadith No. 987. 23. Ibid., Hadith No. 992. 24. Ibid., Hadith No. 935. See also Sahih Muslim, English Translation, Hadith No 7037. 25. Sahih Bukhary, Arabic-English, Vol. 9, Hadith No. 243. 26. Mosnad Ibn Hanbal, Al-Maktab Al-Islami, Beirut, 1969, Vol. 2, p. 522. See also Sahih al-Bukhary, English-Arabic, Book 9, Hadith No. 244. 27. Al Hendy, Vol. 18, Hadith No. 771. 28. Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Fitan Wa Ashrat As-sa'ah (English translation), Hadith No. 7015. 29. Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 971. 30. Ibid., Hadith No. 1001. 31. Ibid., Vol. 18, Hadith No. 769. 32. Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Fitan Wa Ashrat 'As-Sa'ah, (English translation), Hadith No. 7005. 33. Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Fitan Wa Ashrat 'As-Sa'ah (English translation), Hadith No. 7000. 34. Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1017. 35. Ibid., Vol. 18, Hadith No. 1037. 36. Ibid., Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1028.

37. Ibid., Hadith No. 1018. 38. Ibid., Hadith No. 1024. 39. Ibid., Vol. 18, Hadith No. 791. 40. Suyuti, Commentary on the Qur'an 6:158. 41. Hendy, Vol. 18, Hadith No. 812. 42. Sunan ibn Magah, Vol. 2, Hadith No. 4077. 43. Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 976. 44. Ibid., Hadith No. 1015. See also Sahih Muslim English Translation Hadith No.6990 and 6991. 45. Ibid., Hadith No. 1014. 46. Ibid., Vol. 18, Hadith No. 804. 47. Ibid., Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1025. 48. Suyuti: Al 'E'lam Behokm Isa. Quoted by Mr. Haddad in Madkhal ela al Hewar al Islamy al Masihy, Book 1, al Maktabah al Boulesiah, Lebanon, 1969, p. 181. 49. Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 994. 50. Sahih Muslim, English Translation, Kitab Al-Fitan Wa Ashrat As-sa'ah, Hadith No. 2897. 51. Al Hendy, Vol. 18, Hadith No.770. 52. Ibid., Hadith No. 808. 53. Sahih Al-Gam'e Al-Sagir, Hadith No. 4183. See also Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1020. 54. Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 919. 55. Ibid., Vol. 18, Hadith No. 814. 56. Ibid., Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1018. 57. Ibid., Vol. 18, Hadith No. 803. 58. Ibid., Hadith No. 802. 59. Ibid., Hadith No. 813.

Part 1: The Reappearing of Jesus
Chapter 2: Jesus' Work Of Restoration

Bad news gets transmitted much faster by those who do not expect to be affected by it. The victims of any tragedy are the least prepared to advertise the things which break their hearts, and so make their enemies rejoice. The first half of the Hadiths surveyed in chapter 1, culminating in those which tell of the wickedness of the Dajjal, gives a dark picture of the condition of the world. Those who were most sensitive to the reputation of what they believed to be the truth would have been unlikely to transmit these, had it not been for the hope and light that comes from the second half - the reappearing of Jesus. The transmitters of these Hadiths must have felt they could face the bad news if it was merely the beginning of the end, and if God would have the last word in the affairs of His world. No matter how evil prospers, God is greater and mightier. The Hadith speaks of two kinds of accomplishments by Jesus at his reappearing. The first is a work of restoration, the second a work of destruction. In these two lies the hope for God's ultimate victory over evil.

First Beware: Which Christ?

Deception is one of the characteristics of the Last Days. There will be a time when many claim to be the Christ. How can we determine whether they are genuine or false? First, according to the Hadith, Jesus will reappear from Heaven, not from earth. He will not re-enter the stage of history by being born as he was before. When the one who was born of a virgin comes again, he will be in full manhood. Second, the true Christ will not even make the claim that he is the Christ. His appearing from Heaven in power and glory will be the proof that he is the genuine Christ. For as the Hadith says:
Then the earth will shine with the light of its Lord ... and Jesus will kill the false Christ.[1]

This light of God will not be a localised one. Far from it - every eye will see it at the same time. The whole world will know that Jesus has come again, without the help of our advanced communication systems. No one will inform another person saying, 'Come and see the Christ', for all will be informed at the same time by the light of God. What image of Jesus the Christ did the early Muslims have? They called him Jesus Son of Mary, signifying that to them this Christ of the future was the same as the Christ of history. In other words, the Christ of the future to them did not become a super-Christ. They did not imagine or invent a new kind of Christ. The Christ of the future was a logical and normal extension of the Christ of history. If they had wanted to invent, they could have invented a new Mohammad or a new Moses to come before the Last Hour and wage war with the false Christ. They could have assigned the great achievements of Jesus in his reappearing to Idris or Abraham. But they did not. They transmitted the stories with simple faith. They sincerely believed that there was only one person capable of ridding the world of the tyranny and power of evil represented in the Dajjal and of restoring mankind back to the one true God. It is this simple faith in the power of Jesus that we will now trace, exploring its dimensions in order to rediscover the image that those early Muslims had of the Christ.
The Man of the Living Prayers

The early Muslims transmitted the Hadiths that speak of the decline of Islam and with it the decrease of righteousness. This will leave a situation of such evil that the Qur'an will be lifted up.
The Hour of Doom will not come until the Qur'an returns to where it came from.[2]

One of the conditions of the coming of the Hour is that fifty people will pray but no one's prayer will be accepted.[3] 'Prayers will be dead, faithfulness will be lost, government will be weak, injustice will be regarded more than justice.[4] The early Muslims, however, did not see this as the very end and the final victory of evil. No. They looked with hope to the one who in a world full of dead prayers, 'will pray the prayers'.

This one will gather disappointed, exhausted, scattered humanity, reverse the tide of wickedness and increase righteousness:
Jesus Son of Mary will come down, He will pray the prayers and gather the multitudes and increase righteousness (Al-Halal) ...[5]

The first thing Jesus will do in his reappearing is to pray. He will lead the {Muslim} army in prayer:
... and while they were preparing for the battle and arranging the ranks, the time of prayer came. Then Jesus Son of Mary ... will descend and will lead them in prayer.[6]

The early believers saw Jesus as the man of prayer. The one who just came from Heaven cannot but stay in touch with Heaven; he is in touch with God because he was with God. And when the one who is in touch with God prays, things simply do not stay the same. Not only did they see him as the one who is first and foremost in touch with God; they also saw him as the one who is in touch with the masses. He will gather around him the masses who are lost and deceived, scattered and exhausted. His prayers will have instantaneous results, because he is in touch with God. They will touch the masses, and the goodness of God will flow through him.
The Increaser of Righteousness

The early Muslims also saw Jesus as the agent and mediator between God and the masses, for through him God's righteousness flows into the world. The one who comes down from Heaven will bring with him righteousness, which is the law of Heaven. Here lies the secret of all Jesus' accomplishments, whether it is destroying evil or restoring God's creation: the bringing of people to God by prayer and in righteousness. Man was created to be God's vice regent (khalifat ie. viceregent) on earth. Even before the creation of Adam, the Qur'an states:
When thy Lord said to the angels, 'I am setting in the earth a viceroy [khalifat],' they said, 'What, wilt Thou set therein one who will do corruption there, and shed blood, while We proclaim Thy praise and call Thee Holy?'[7]

To be God's vice-regent means man has three forms of relationship. The first is vertical and upward, with his Creator, represented in worship. The second is horizontal, with his fellow man, represented in brotherhood. The third is downward, represented in caring for the earth, its plants and animals etc. When Adam disobeyed his Lord, these relationships were disrupted to this day. The first of those relationships is the most important. When this was disrupted, the disruption of the others followed automatically.
Said He [God], 'Get you down, both of you together, out of it [Paradise], each of you an enemy to each.'[8]

The story of Adam's two sons illustrates that when the upward relationship is disrupted, human relationships get disrupted too.
Then his soul prompted him to slay his brother, and he slew him, and became one of the losers.[9]

Since then there has been more blood than ink to write the history of enmity between man and his brother. The upward relationship is the anchor that secures all relationships. If God is not honoured as God, then man is not treated as man, and nature is abused as well. From this it follows that if the upward relationship will one day be completely restored, the other two relationships will also be restored. This is what the early believers of Islam saw being fulfilled by the person of Jesus. The picture painted by the early Muslims of the work of Jesus is nothing less than perfect. They believed he would restore man in three areas: man's relationship with God, man's relationship with his fellow man, and man's relationship with nature.
Man to God: A Fortaste of Paradise

The early believers held that the time of the Dajjal would be the darkest time in the whole history of mankind - the time of the greatest calamity for believers and the biggest blow to the truth.
There has never been and will not be temptation or (sedition) greater than the temptation of the false Christ until the Hour of Doom.[10]

All the trials that have faced mankind so far are small in comparison with that time, when to maintain one's faith will be like a foretaste of Hell. One Hadith states
There will come a time when he who is steadfast in the faith will be like a man who is clutching a live coal.[11]

It will be so bad that death will be the best option:
Nothing will the believer long for and love more than death.[12]

But the early believers also held that when the Christ comes, maintaining one's faith will not only become possible because of him, but worship will turn out to be the highest and most joyful experience in the believer's life. Worship will become greater than the world and all that is in it, even money, sexual pleasures, houses and land, children or power.
Son of Mary will descend a just judge and leader [Imam] ... the one prostration for worship will be far greater than the world and all that is in it![13]

Jesus, the just Imam, will lead people in prayer, and God's worship and adoration will fill their hearts. Because of his example or Imamat, people will know the proper worth of God and will choose Him and His worship, thus finding their true selves and their salvation.

'The one prostration for worship [behind Jesus] will be far greater than the world and all that is in it.' This is but a foretaste of Paradise, the breaking of Heaven into the earth! The one who comes from Heaven will capture the hearts of people by giving them a taste of Heaven. When Jesus comes, the world will be very beautiful; yet still the one prostration for worship will be far greater than that beautiful world. This worship is not worship out of fear. The language of the above Hadith is not the language of fear created by the torment of the grave or the torment of Hell. It is the language of adoration. Therefore the early Muslims sincerely believed that prayer after the coming of the Christ would not be a wasteful exercise but the most profitable business in the whole world. Jesus will first pray the prayers, then the masses will follow his example. Man, who was once estranged from God, will be turned back to God. This is the first and greatest achievement of the Christ. Man was created to worship God. That was God's purpose from the beginning. Jesus the Christ will come to fulfil God's purpose and bring man back to his creator, with the joy of the Divine purpose filling the heart of the worshipper. One feels that those early Muslims must have really longed for the Christ to come so that they might enjoy all the blessings he brings!
Man to Man: The Blunt Sword

One Hadith states:
Jesus Son of Mary will be the just ruler over my nation and a righteous leader ... enmity and hatred will disappear ... and the whole earth will be filled with peace as a vessel becomes filled with water. War will cease.[14]

The believers since the dawn of Islam have longed for the day when the sword will return to its sheath forever. The sword has caused havoc among mankind which is created in the image of God. But the Christ will put an end to it by eliminating the enmity and hatred that came after the disobedience of Adam. The above Hadith goes on to say that in that day the horse is going to be cheap because it has never been to war. But if the horse will be cheap, the sword will be useless. The sword is a symbol of force. It is not just that Jesus will cause all weapons to be obsolete; the whole earth will actually be filled with peace! After the coming of Jesus it will not be man's might that will rule but God's righteousness. No more different parties, no more divisions, no more factions, but peace and harmony. The early believers knew that the manifestation of the sword is irreversible until the coming of Jesus. It is reported that the Prophet said, `If the sword is manifested in my nation, it will not be removed until the Resurrection Day.'[15] Jesus alone can remove it. The one who can bring man to a perfect relationship with his Maker can also bring man into harmony with his brother. When God becomes the focus and the joy of all men, all men will be one. If one suffers, all will suffer. Then, for the first time, man will fulfil God's intention for his creation; instead of spreading corruption on theear th they will be united with the angels in praising God and calling Him Holy. Jesus the Christ will bring it to pass. The Christ will bring the creation of

God to its intended, preordained design. Under the rule of Jesus, all men will be equal. God created them equal; not only do they share the flesh and blood of the one man Adam. Money, however, likes to tell a different story, measuring people's worth by how much they possess. When the Christ comes, it will not be so, 'Son of Mary will descend ... and He will call people to take money but no one will accept it.'[16] Although all men will be equal, however, the Hadith tells us that `he who touches Jesus Son of Mary will become amongst the most exalted of the people.'[17] It is not money that determines the worth of people, but righteousness. The one who increases righteousness in the world also imparts God's righteousness to those who touch him. `Surely the noblest among you in the sight of God is the most God-fearing [righteous] of you.'[18] Instead of fighting for money, people will compete for righteousness which comes through touching Jesus the Christ. This miracle Jesus will perform.
Man to Nature

On the third front, the image those early believers had in their hearts of the person of Jesus is also fascinating.
How happy is living after the coming of Christ Jesus! The heaven will be permitted to rain and the earth to produce, even if you plant the seeds on a smooth stone. Man will pass by the lion and not get harmed; he will tread on the serpent and not get hurt.[19]

In the beginning, man was placed on the earth and told according to the Qur'an, 'It is assuredly given to thee neither to hunger therein, nor to go naked, neither to thirst therein nor to suffer the sun'.[20] Since the time man disobeyed his Maker, however, everything is in a continuous state of enmity with him. The animosity of nature is a constant reminder that man is in a hostile place away from God his Maker. However, the influence of Jesus extends to the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom and even the earth itself. Under his rule
everything that has a sting will lose its sting, so that a child will handle a snake without getting hurt and touch the lion without getting harmed. The wolf shall be like a dog amongst the sheep ... the plants will yield like the days of Adam ... because the whole earth will be ploughed.'[21]

The Hadith speaks of the return of blessings like the days of Adam. Does this mean the days before Adam disobeyed God or after? It cannot be the days after, for from that point his days were like ours. It refers to the days before his disobedience. At that time Adam was in total authority over the animal kingdom and was not under the threat of hunger, for he was told, 'Adam, dwell thou and thy wife in the garden, and eat thereof easefully where you desire.'[22] The lion, the wolf and even the snake will undergo a change of nature. This will not occur just in isolated cases; but every lion, every wolf and every snake will be tamed. Furthermore, not only will the animal kingdom be restored, but everything that has a sting will loose it, implying that even at the level of the insect kingdom, peace will overrule. This is a new order, bordering on a new creation - a belief that was not strange to the early believers, for they believed (as we shall see later) that God gave Jesus the power to create.

CONCLUSION

The early Muslims believed that Jesus' work of restoration will be total, perfect and worldwide. Jesus will restore both man and nature to the condition of the days of Adam before he disobeyed God. All kinds of fear will be removed, giving way to the only healthy fear, the fear of God. The creation that was once disfigured and marred will return to its original state. Man will submit to God and nature will submit to man, God's viceregent. In the time of Jesus, man will at last become God's khalifat on the earth, and all his energies, unhindered, will be free to worship God with joy.

1. Suyuti, Commentary on the Qur'an 6:158. 2. Al Hendy, Kanzol 'Ummal, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 704. 3. Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 604. 4. Hendy, Vol. 18, Hadith No. 791. 5. Hendy, Vol.18, Hadith No. 802. 6. Sahih Muslim, English Translation, Kitab Al-Fitan Wa Ashrat As-sa'ah, Hadith No. 2897. 7. The Qur'an 2: 30. 8. The Qur'an 20: 123. 9. The Qur'an 5: 30 10. Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 987. 11. Told by Tirmizi. Quoted by Sheikh 'Abd Al-'Aziz 'Ez Al-Din Al-Sirawany in Ahadith Said Al-Morsalin 'An Hawadeth 'Al-Qarn 'Al-'Eshrin, Dar Al-Afaq Al-Jadidah, Beirut, First edition, 1982, p. 12. 12. Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 992. 13. Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1018. 14. Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 919. 15. Al-Meshkat 5394, quoted by Sheikh 'Abd Al-'Aziz 'Ez Al-Din Al-Sirawany in Ahadith Said AlMorsalin 'An Hawadeth 'Al-Qarn 'Al-'Eshrin, Dar Al-Afaq Al-Jadidah, Beirut, First edition, 1982, p. 7. 16. Hendy, Vol. 18, Hadith No. 804. 17. Hendy, Vol. 18, Hadith No. 814. 18. The Qur'an 49: 13. 19. Sahih Al-Gam'e Al-Sagir, checked by Sheikh Naser Al-Din Al-Albany, Hadith No. 4183. See also Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1020; Vol. 18, Hadith No. 808. 20. The Qur'an 20: 118. 21. Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 919. 22. The Qur'an 2: 35.

Part 1: The Reappearing of Jesus
Chapter 3: Jesus' Work of Destruction

The first accomplishment of Jesus at his reappearing is one of restoration, and the second is one of destruction. Sickness and death will become a thing of the past, and the Dajjal will be destroyed. The early Muslims believed that Jesus' work will be so comprehensive that during his rule, 'No one will die, no one will get sick' [1]. When the Christ comes, death will go out and all disease will vanish from the world. This is consistent with the Hadith that says everything that has a sting will lose it. The change that Jesus will bring will include even the world of bacteria and viruses. The Qur'an teaches that Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead [2], but here he renders sickness and death inoperative. At his first appearing, Jesus raised some individuals; in his second appearing, millions will be made immune to death and free from its clutch and fear. The fear of death is a form of self-worship. The true worshipper is controlled by one fear only - the fear of God. One is a slave to that which he fears. Man was created to be God's slave alone. This is true worship. Such worship will only be fully possible when death has been made a thing of the past. This will happen under the rule of Jesus. This will be Paradise on earth. Man will have no excuse in refusing to bend the knee and worship God. Even the after-effects of death will not go unnoticed by Jesus. The Hadith says, 'He will wipe away [tears or sadness] from people's faces ...' [3]. The early believers felt that Jesus' care for the sorrowful, the bereaved and the broken-hearted is no less an achievement than his other accomplishments. No wonder the Hadith says, 'How happy is living after the coming of Christ Jesus ...' [4] Jesus will also destroy the Dajjal. Throughout all the Hadith, Jesus is the only one who engages in battle with the false Christ. It is a one to one battle - the last and greatest battle in the whole history of mankind, from the creation of Adam to the Day of Doom. It is of great interest to note that in the whole work of Jesus, whether in the past or in the future, he kills only one person, the false Christ. Throughout the Hadith, we are not told that Jesus lifts his hand against any other person. Christ is renowned for healing the sick and raising the dead, so when he kills someone we must stop and ask the reason. Why, out of all the millions of this world, is there only one that Jesus kills? The answer lies in the character of the Dajjal and his terrible effect for evil in the world.
The Character of the False Christ

Throughout all ages, when people drift away from God they lose their ability to discern the truth. They forfeit their sense of purpose and direction and become easy victims of error and evil. When people accept black as white, white automatically becomes black. When good is seen as evil, evil then comes unchallenged to crown itself as good. But although evil has always been on the march, in the last days it will not need to wear any masks. Evil will

manifest itself raw, in the flesh - so much so that the representative of wickedness, the Dajjal, will proclaim himself to be the almighty, all-wise, good God. What a blasphemy and a lie! We can summarise his character according to the Haddith under four headings.
His threat to the faith

The appearing of the Dajjal will represent the darkest night in human history. Between the creation of Adam and the Hour of Doom there is nothing more dangerous than the false Christ. [5] It will be the darkest night because men will choose between unveiled evil and the true God. And sadly the millions of this world will reject God. 'Even those in their graves will believe in him,' we are told [6]. That is, they will believe that he is God. It is easy to understand why the Prophet prayed, 'O God, I take refuge in you from the torment of the grave, and the torment of Hell ... and the trial of the false Christ' [7]. Clearly the trial of the Dajjal is nothing less than the torment of the grave and the torment of Hell. If this is how the Prophet felt about it, how will the average belie ver fair? What makes the trial of the Dajjal comparable to the torment of the grave and the torment of Hell?
His 'Divine' Powers

The eminent scholar Al-Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn Al-'Arabi (543H) said of the miracles and powers of the Dajjal that `God enabled the Dajjal to manifest some of God's omnipotent powers.' [8] The Dajjal is presented as having authority and power over the earth and sky, the plant kingdom and the animal kingdom:
He would come to the people and invite them (to a wrong religion) and they would affirm their faith in him and respond to him. He would then give command to the sky and there would be rainfall upon the earth and it would grow crops. Then in the evening their pasturing animals would come to them with their humps very high and their udders full of milk and their flanks stretched. He would then come to another people and invite them. But they would reject him and he would go away from them and there would be drought for them and nothing would be left with them in the form of wealth. He would then walk through the waste land and say to it; 'Bring forth your treasures,' and the treasures would come out and collect (themselves) before him like a swarm of bees. [9]

Not only that, but like the true Christ he will heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, and even raise the dead:
The Dajjal is coming ... he will heal the blind and the leper and bring to life the dead. He will say to the people, 'I am your God'. [10]

According to the Hadith, the damage the Dajjal will cause by his divine powers will not be local, but worldwide. He will perform miracles everywhere and so subdue the whole earth, except Mecca and Madina. [11]

Not only will the Dajjal bewitch the world by His miracles and divine powers, he will also seek to destroy all opposition. He will have such hypnotic powers that when his mere shadow falls on the Muslim army, it will cause their strongest to kneel down, sapped of the strength to stand. [12]
His claim to be judge

Far more dangerous than the Dajjal's divine powers is his ability to deceive people, claiming that he is the one who will judge the world. The early Muslims believed that God will descend to the lower Heaven to judge the world:
A caller will cry before the single Shout, 'O people, the Hour has come'. The living and the dead will hear it. And God will descend to the lower Heaven, then a caller will cry, 'Today, to whom the kingdom?' To the One Almighty God. [13]

What is the lower Heaven? The Qur'an says, 'We have adorned the lower Heaven with the adornment of the stars'. [14] So the lower Heaven is the place of the stars. The Qur'an also speaks about God judging the world by saying He will come and bring Gehenna (ie. Hell) with Him.
No indeed! When the earth is ground to powder, and thy Lord comes, and the angels rank on rank, and Gehenna is brought out, upon that day man will remember; and how shall the reminder be for him? [15]

Whether this coming and the bringing of Gehenna is physical or a mere manifestation is debatable. The early Muslims understood clearly that it was God who would bring judgment on the earth. Contrary to this, the Dajjal will claim that he is the one who has the power to punish people in Hell or reward them in Paradise. When he appears, people will see with him what the Hadith calls 'two rivers' or 'two mountains', one of which will appear to them as Hell and the other as Paradise.
The false Christ ... has two rivers. One is glowing fire and one is white water ... if any of you should meet him, let him close his eyes and drink from the river of fire; it is cool water. But beware of the other river! It is deception ... [16]

With the Dajjal there will be two mountains. One mountain will have trees, fruits and water, the other mountain will have smoke and fire. [About the two mountains] he will say, 'This one is Paradise, and the other one is Hell-fire.' [17] Those who will not be impressed by the Dajjal's miracles, will be compelled to worship him because of his 'Hell' and 'Paradise'. And so the deception of the Dajjal will constitute the greatest deception in the history of mankind.

His imitation of the true Christ

The Dajjal will try to imitate the true Christ. That is why he is called the false Christ or the lying Christ. He will have power over nature. He will heal the sick and restore sight to the blind. He will even raise the dead. Where the false Christ will try to glorify himself, the true Christ will seek to glorify God. Where the false Christ will seduce people to wickedness, the true Christ will remove enmity and hatred from the heart of mankind. If the false Christ can heal some who are sick and raise a dead man, under the rule of the true Christ sickness and death will not even exist. If the false Christ can have a mountain that he calls `Paradise', under the rule of the true Christ the whole earth will be Paradise. Perhaps the greatest contrast is the source of their power. The source of the power of the true Christ is God, but the false Christ's power is from Satan. The Dajjal is called 'the enemy of God' [18] (indeed, anyone who tries falsely to claim that he is the Almighty God is the arch-enemy of God). He is near to the devil himself: Iblis [the devil] places his throne on the waters. From there he sends his agents into the earth. The nearest to him will be the most deceiving of them all. [19] The Dajjal then is the closest being to the devil. He is Satan's instrument for spreading evil. The devils from east and west will be under the command of the Dajjal [20]. Satan will delegate his powers to him. He will be the final manifestation of the forces of evil in a human form, those forces that challenged God in the days of Adam:
Said he [Satan], `Now for Thy [God] perverting me, I shall surely sit in ambush for them on Thy straight path; then I shall come on them from before them and from behind them, from their right hands and their left hands; Thou wilt not find most of them thankful. [21]

In the person of the Dajjal, the devil will launch his final ambush at mankind.
The Reappearing of Jesus the Christ

It is in the middle of this final assault of evil, that God will send Jesus the Christ. The Hadith states:
Son of Mary will appear ... placing his hands on the wings of two angels ... when he lowers his head it will trickle droplets of water and when he lifts his head up, precious stones like pearls will roll from his head. Upon him [rests] the Shechina [or, he walks upon the Shechina], and the earth will shrivel before Him. [22]

Jesus is introduced with two angels, a visible token of Heavenly escort. The droplets of water and the rolling pearls from his head convey the freshness and riches of one who has just come from Heaven.

The Hadith then speaks of the coming of the Shechina with Jesus. This word is mentioned in the Qur'an (2: 248). Commentaries disagree on its identity, but the commentator Qartaby mentions two Hadiths from Sahih Muslim indicating that the Shechina is a cloud, or a cloud of angels, or a Spirit in the form of a cloud. In the Qur'an we also find, 'What do they look for, but that God shall come to them in the cloud-shadows, and the angels?' [23] The Shechina, then, is the same cloud that signifies the Divine presence. Indeed, the word is a Hebrew import meaning, according to the Encyclopedia of Islam, the Divine presence. Thus the Hadiths speak of the reappearing of Jesus in a very lofty, unprecedented way. It will be accompanied by a Divine presence so great that the earth will shine with nothing less than the light of God. 'Then the earth will shine with the light of its Lord and Jesus Son of Mary will descend.' [24] The expression 'the earth will shine with the light of its Lord' is also mentioned once in the Qur'an:
And the earth shall shine with the light of its Lord, and the Book shall be set in place. [25]

There is an obvious parallel between the Qur'anic verse and the Hadith. In the Hadith, the earth will shine with the light of its Lord and Jesus Son of Mary will descend. And in the Qur'an, the earth will shine with the light of its Lord and the Book will be set in place. In other words, the majesty and power of Jesus' appearing is comparable only to the Day of Judgment, when the Book of Judgment will be set in place. So then the descent of Jesus from Heaven in the Hadith corresponds to the setting of the Book of Judgment. Indeed, the reappearing of Jesus is fundamentally one of judgment. It is his coming to judge the whole world that sets him apart as the knowledge of the Hour. [26] He will come to judge, and by that people will know that there is no escape from the final judgment - just as his raising of the dead is a proof that the dead shall rise for the final judgment. [27] Shokani also said in Fath Al-Qadeer 'that the virgin birth of Isa, and his raising of the dead is a proof to the truth of the final resurrection'. [28] God, who lifted Jesus up to Himself once, will introduce him again with Divine honour as the just judge of the whole world:
By God, Jesus Son of Mary will descend to judge in justice. [29]

By Him who keeps my soul in His hand, Jesus Son of Mary is about to descend amongst you a righteous judge and a just leader ...[30]
The Greatest Battle

It was a foregone conclusion in the mind of Mohammad and the early believers that there was only one who is qualified to destroy the Dajjal, that was Jesus. Jesus was the one appointed by God for this darkest night of the world. In reality, however, the coming of the Christ is not primarily to destroy the Dajjal at all, but to judge the world and bring man into total submission under God. The Dajjal happens to be in the way, so Jesus will dispose of him. Notice that he will do this single-handed. We are not told that Jesus will be helped by any other prophet or by any army, human or angelic. When the Christ comes and leads in prayer,

the Muslim army, though under the hypnotic influence of the Dajjal, will be revived; yet it will not help Jesus in destroying the Dajjal. Its task will be a mop-up operation after the destruction of the false Christ. The Hadith's description of the method by which Christ will destroy the Dajjal is a fascinating one, to say the least. Many great battles have been won by swords and spears, troops and equipment, generals and captains, strategies and tactics, but with many casualties. The greatest battle in history however, will be fought and won by a single look!
And when the enemy of God will see him [Jesus], he will dissolve just as salt dissolves in water.31

There is no second round; indeed, there is not even a first round! All it will take is one look from the eyes of Jesus. What makes Jesus the only person qualified to destroy the Dajjal? Why is it that God will send Jesus and not Moses or Abraham or Idris? One Hadith says:
When temptations are presented to hearts like a straw mat, straw by straw, a black dot will be fixed in the heart which receives them, and a white dot in the heart that rejects them. This will continue until the heart becomes one of two: either white like pure marble, with no deception able to affect it as long as Heaven and earth remain; or black, dusty, like an upturned vessel that cannot hold anything. The black heart does not know what is fair and will not deny what is evil, but is coloured by its lust.' [32]

Bukhary records that `Satan touches every child that is born, but Jesus Son of Mary was not touched'. In other words, Jesus is not defiled. His heart is white. That is why he is the only one who can enable those who trust him to overcome the temptations of evil. Before the appearing of Christ, the world will be on the brink of total spiritual destruction. It will be blinded and be led away from the straight path. The creation that God wonderfully made, and especially man ('We indeed created man in the fairest stature' [33]), will be turning its back on the true Creator and worshipping the enemy of God. This is the greatest insult to the generosity of God the giver, the honour of the Most High, and the Divinity of the one true God. At this time the believer will be confused, for he will face the greatest trial any believer ever faced. The Prophet Mohammad prayed asking for God's protection from the Dajjal;[34] the believers will do the same. And God's answer to those prayers will be Jesus' reappearing. For Jesus will come with the clear evidence of the false Christ's identity: if the Dajjal is the Almighty, then Jesus will not be able to destroy him, but if Jesus destroys him forever, the Dajjal is not God. Jesus will destroy the Dajjal. A day is coming when their eyes will meet. The battle between the true Christ and the false Christ will not be a long, drawn-out one. It will be instantaneous. The Dajjal, with all his demonic helpers, 'divine powers' and blasphemous claims, will be no match for the Christ. It is said that all the darkness of the whole world cannot hide the light of one candle. The Dajjal will not meet 'one candle' but the one whose appearing brings the Light of God.

The swiftness and ease with which the early believers understood that Jesus would dispose of the Dajjal is an indication of the supreme place he held in their hearts and minds.
The Man for the Whole World

Once he has destroyed the Dajjal, Jesus will rule on the earth. The Hadith speaks of him as the man for the whole world, not just one locality. He is the man for all nations, not just for Jews or Christians or Muslims. It is no small task for one man to rule all the nations, yet the effects of Jesus' rule as seen by the first Muslims will be worldwide. But how and what will be the form of his government? The Hadith speaks of him as the Imam - the religious leader under God. [35] His government is not a democracy but a Godcentred society, that is, a society subject to the laws of God. God will be the ruler, and His rule will be dispensed through the person of Jesus. Under Jesus' reign, all deep-rooted racial, national and international problems will melt away. The Hadith speaks of the character of Jesus' unlimited, all-embracing rule:
And he who touches Jesus Son of Mary will become amongst the most exalted of the people. And touching Jesus will be highly regarded. He will wipe away [tears or sadness] from people's faces, and will tell them of their degrees in Paradise. [36]

Jesus the touchable

Leaders of governments are heavily guarded and no one is allowed near them except under heavy security. But not so with Jesus. He is not detached from the masses so that people cannot reach him. The one who comes from Heaven comes to share the exaltation of Heaven with people. Jesus will be available for people. He will be approachable and even touchable. During the time of his rule everything will be found in abundance. But money and its equivalent in gold and precious stones will not be sought after. One thing only will be in great demand: touching Jesus. Moreover, he will not prevent those who are unclean or unimportant from touching him. He came for the unclean and the unimportant, to make them clean and important. Jesus is not threatened or defiled by being touched by the outcasts of society, but imparts to them importance and worth. Like the rays of the sun which fall on the dirtiest places yet do not contract any impurity, so Jesus' purity remains intact.
Touching him brings exaltation

Touching Jesus, says the Hadith, brings exaltation. What is the nature of this exaltation? Is it of secular value? No. It is rather of spiritual value. Under Jesus' rule, people's spiritual worth will increase. As people touch Jesus, He will impart holiness to them - so much so that they will be spiritually among the "most exalted". They will instantly be classed as "saints".

Touching sacred objects and shrines is a religious practice in almost every religion. But when Jesus comes, he will be the one to be touched. He will become the centre of religious practice, and the blessings of Heaven will flow through him - not only power to heal the sick, but righteousness and holiness to make the hearts of people right with God. Jesus exalts people and makes them worthy of the presence of God. This is why touching Jesus will be highly regarded.
He will wipe people's faces

Jesus will also 'wipe away [tears or sadness] from peoples' faces.' Elsewhere we read that because of Jesus 'everything that has a sting will lose its sting'. [37] This applies both physically and spiritually. Everything that has a physical sting which it has used against man will lose it. The sword, for example, will vanish, and the snake will not use its fangs but become a pet. Similarly, everyone who has a spiritual sting which has been used against man will lose it. The human tongue, for example, can be more destructive than the sting of a snake, but it will lose its sting because the heart of man will lose its enmity and hatred. The grave will also lose his sting. The bitterness of loss will disappear. The stench of death will be buried.
He will reveal to them their degrees

The above Hadith speaks of another aspect of the person of Jesus: 'He will tell them of their degrees in Paradise.' The Qur'an speaks of Jesus as having the ability to know some personal secrets about the lives of people. 'I will inform you too of what things you eat, and what you treasure up in your houses.' [38] But according to the Hadith, Jesus also knows the future and final state of people. He will inform people of their ranks in Paradise, whether low or high, before they stand before God in the day of reckoning. Just as he raised the dead by God's leave, he will also tell people of their state in Paradise by God's leave. This is why the Hadith speaks of Jesus' reappearing as one of judgment in justice. His justice will be Divine. God will give him the power and the insight to apply the Divine justice of God Himself.
With Him

The Prophet and the early believers must have reflected long on the work and person of Jesus. This reflection led to a yearning to meet Jesus. The Prophet himself longed to meet Jesus at his reappearing:
My hope, if my age is prolonged, is to meet Jesus Son of Mary, but if death hurries me along, then let the one who meets him give him my kind regards. [39]

The early believers must have shared the same longing. This is beautifully put in the following Hadith:

The Christ Son of Mary will appear before the Resurrection Day. Let the people be richly satisfied by him, and have no need of anyone else. [40]

In Arabic this Hadith literally reads, 'The Christ Son of Mary will appear before the Resurrection Day, and with him, let the people dispense with anyone else'. While the work of Jesus will be all-inclusive, covering the whole created order, its most significant aspect will be that he alone will restore man to God. And with that part of his work, people will be richly satisfied. If the Christ is with them, then, who can be against them? The Dajjal, the grave, the torment of Hell: all are nothing before him! With this man Jesus, they will walk through the Valley of Death and fear no evil! 'Before the Resurrection Day' is a key expression for understanding the rich satisfaction people will experience with Jesus, for he prepares them for the Resurrection Day. Because of his work their faces will be white and radiant on that Day, shining with joy. What can any man long for before the Resurrection Day other than that his heart be found full of the joy of worship between the hands of God? Before that Day worship is not mechanical but the ultimate in religious experience, a foretaste of Paradise. Paradise will not be a foreign experience to the believer. Let the Resurrection Day come if the heart can truly experience 'the one prostration for worship [that] will be far greater than the world and all that is in it'! [41]
The One Who Comes Twice

Every prophet came once to the world and every prophet came to warn. Then his task was finished. Jesus also came to warn, but his task was not finished. For Jesus comes twice. But in his second coming there will be no warning. Every prophet came to warn his nation of the deception of the Dajjal. [42] Christ alone will come again to destroy him. Every prophet came to sow the seed hoping that one day people will worship God with all their hearts and minds and souls. Christ alone will come to harvest the world for God. Every prophet came in the interval of time. Christ will come after them all, at the end of time, to end time and usher in eternity. Every prophet came in the space of God's plan, and died in the hope that a day was coming when everything would be under God's control. Christ brings the plan to perfect completion. Has Christ then two missions to the world? Or is it one mission with two parts? His mission is one. His second appearing does not grow out of a vacuum. His total restoration of man to God is not a new work, something begun when he comes again. He appeared once with clear evidence calling people to worship God, and in his reappearing he will finish what he started in his first coming. His arrival at the end time, as we irrevocably move toward him, makes avoiding him impossible. Indeed, history proves him to be the most unavoidable man who has ever lived.

1. Suyuti, Commentary on the Qur'an 6:158. 2. The Qur'an, 3: 48, 49. See also Q. 5: 110. 3. Al Hendy, Kanzol 'Ummal, Vol. 18, Hadith No. 814. 4. Sahih Al-Gam'e Al-Sagir, checked by Sheikh Naser Al-Din Al-Albany, Hadith No. 4183. See also Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1020. 5. Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 935. 6 Ibid., Vol. 18, Hadith No. 771. 7. Mosnad Ibn Hanbal, Vol. 2, p. 522. See also Sahih Bukhary, English-Arabic, Book 9, Hadith No. 244. 8. Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Fitan Wa Ashrat As-sa'ah (Arabic version), footnote no. 4 on section 20. 9. Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Fitan Wa Ashrat As-sa'ah (English translation), Hadith No. 7015. 10. Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 971. 11. Sunan ibn Magah, Vol. 2, p. 1361, Hadith No. 4077. 12. Suyuti, Commentary on the Qur'an 6:158. 13. Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 789. 14. The Qur'an, 37: 6. See also 41: 12; 67: 5. 15. The Qur'an 89: 21, 22. 16. Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 976. 17. Ibid., Hadith No. 1001. See also Sahih Muslim English Translation Hadith No. 7012, 7013 and 7014 18. Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 593. 19. Sahih Muslim, 8:138. Quoted by Sheikh 'Abd Al-'Aziz 'Ez Al-Din Al-Sirawany in Ahadith Said AlMorsalin 'An Hawadeth 'Al-Qarn 'Al-'Eshrin, Dar Al-Afaq Al-Jadidah, Beirut, First edition, 1982, p. 80. 20. Al Hendy, Vol. 18, Hadith No. 769. 21. The Qur'an 7: 16. 22. Al Hendy, Vol. 18, Hadith No. 814. 23. The Qur'an 2: 210 24. Suyuti, Commentary on the Qur'an 6:158. 25. The Qur'an 39: 69. 26. The Qur'an 43: 61. 27. Qartabi, Fath al-Qadeer, commenting on Q. 43:61. 28. Shokani, Fath al-Qadeer, commenting on Q. 43:61. 29. Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1017. 30. Ibid., Hadith No. 1018. 31. Sahih Muslim, English Translation, Kitab Al-Fitan Wa Ashrat As-sa'ah, Hadith No. 2897. See also Sunan ibn Magah, Vol. 2, Hadith No. 4077. 32. Sahih Muslim. Quoted by Sheikh 'Abd Al-'Aziz 'Ez Al-Din Al-Sirawany in Ahadith Said Al-Morsalin 'An Hawadeth 'Al-Qarn 'Al-'Eshrin, Dar Al-Afaq Al-Jadidah, Beirut, First edition, 1982, p. 32. 33. The Qur'an 95: 4. 34. Sahih Bukhary, English-Arabic, Book 9, Hadith 244. See also Mosnad Ibn Hanbal, al-Maktab alIslami, Bierut, 1969, Vol. 2, p. 522. 35. Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1018. 36. Ibid., Vol. 18, Hadith No. 814. 37. Ibid., Vol. 17, Hadith No. 919. 38. The Qur'an 3: 49.

39. Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1034. 40. Ibid., Vol. 18, Hadith No. 813. 41. Ibid., Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1018. 42. Sahih Muslim, English translation, Kitab Al-Fitan Wa Ashrat 'As-Sa'ah, Hadith No. 7000.

Part 1: The Reappearing of Jesus
Chapter 4: The Matchless One

From our examination of the Hadith over the last three chapters, it is obvious that the early believers of Islam, including the Prophet Mohammad himself, held Jesus in high esteem. The swiftness and ease with which they understood Jesus would dispose of the Dajjal, along with the comprehensiveness of his restoration of God's creation, is an indication of the supreme place he held in their hearts and minds. If we gather some of the impressions we have gained so far about the reappearing of Jesus, the list would look like this: 1. In the Last Days, wickedness will increase so greatly on the earth that Islam will fade and the Qur'an will return to Heaven. Prayers will be dead. 2. The Dajjal will emerge to deceive the world. His deception will be the single greatest assault on the Truth of God in all time. Believers will long to die to escape it. His power will be so great that even those in their graves will believe in him. 3. The person who will conquer the Dajjal must be more powerful than him. That person is Jesus the Christ, whom God will send from Heaven for this purpose. 4. When the Dajjal sees Jesus, he will dissolve as salt dissolves in water. Jesus will destroy the greatest power of evil in history with one look. 5. After he has destroyed the Dajjal, Jesus will reverse the tide of wickedness and increase righteousness. In a world full of dead prayers he will `pray the prayers' that will change people's hearts. He will judge and restore. 6. Jesus will take over the political and spiritual leadership of the world. He will impart holiness and lead in true worship. Under his rulership, hatred and enmity will be removed, sickness and death banished, and nature renewed in perfect harmony. 7. Jesus will perform this work alone, unaided by men or angels. 8. Jesus will be the source of blessing and exaltation for all who touch Him. In him, people's deepest longings to adore and serve their Creator will be richly satisfied, and God will receive the worship He truly deserves. In short, when Jesus descends from Heaven, the earth will shine with the light of God. The early believers clearly saw the day of Jesus' reappearing as wonderful and glorious - Paradise on earth.

All this leaves us with one pressing question. If God has chosen Jesus to be His agent in all these things, who is Jesus?
The One Before Whom The Mosques Tilt

The mosques give Jesus an unparalleled reception. The Hadith says:
The mosques will tilt for the appearing of Jesus the Christ, for he will come again ... and those who reach the time of his coming will believe on him.[1]

What a reception! All the mosques of the world, bowing down to Jesus! In a time when people's eyes are blinded and their minds deceived, the stones of the mosques will pay Jesus the honour he deserves. And why not? If angels were commanded to worship and bow down to Adam, who later brought humanity out of Paradise, how much more should they worship the one who brings man back to Paradise. The mosques will not shrink from doing the same.
The Ruler Of Mohammad's Nation

Mohammad prayed for protection from the Dajjal.[2] Jesus comes to destroy the Dajjal with one look. Throughout the Hadith, there are no stories that speak of Mohammad or any other person being resurrected to battle the false Christ and fulfil God's purposes, or even to take part. Jesus will undertake this unique historical role single handed. Consequently Mohammad was happy that Jesus should supersede him as ruler of his nation. 'There is no prophet or messenger between me and Jesus, except that Jesus will supersede me in my nation after me.'[3] The general impression from the Hadith is that Mohammad's nation will be the portion of Jesus in the Last Day. Indeed, it is clear Mohammad considered it an honour for him and his nation that Jesus should be their judge. He was content that his nation will belong to Jesus before the Day of Judgment. This is clear from the Hadith that says when Jesus salutes Mohammad in the grave, Mohammad will be able to answer him back: 'Jesus Son of Mary will descend ... He will come to my grave and salute me and I will answer him back.'[4]
The Single Shout

Suyuti relates two stories about the power of Jesus to raise the dead, but with specific emphasis on the voice of Jesus.
The children of Israel came to Jesus and asked Him: 'Sam the son of Noah is buried here, not very far. Call God to raise him'. Jesus then called him with a shout, and Sam came out of the grave but with grey hair. The people exclaimed, 'He died when he was a young man - what is this white hair?' Sam replied, 'When I heard the voice of Jesus I thought it the "single cry" [or "single shout"].' [5]

In the second story Jesus raises His brother:
When Jesus was shown the grave He called him out with a shout. His brother came out with grey hair ... Jesus asked him, 'What happened to you?' He replied, 'I heard your voice and I thought it to be the "single shout".' [6]

The expression "single shout" is found in several passages in the Qur'an.
If therefore you disbelieve, how will you guard yourselves against a day that shall make the children grey-headed? [7]

These are only waiting for a single cry [or shout], to which there is no delay. [8] And listen thou for the day when the caller shall call from a near place. On the day they hear the Cry in truth, that is the day of coming forth. It is We who give life, and make to die, and to Us is the homecoming. Upon the day when the earth is split asunder from about them as they hasten forth; that is a mustering easy for Us. [9] They are waiting only for one Cry to seize them while they are yet disputing, then they will not be able to make any testament, nor will they return to their people. And the trumpet shall be blown; then behold, they are from their tombs sliding down unto their Lord. They say, 'Alas for us! Who roused us out of our sleeping-place? This is what the All-merciful promised, and the envoys spoke truly.' 'It was only one Cry; then behold, they are all arraigned before Us. So today no soul shall be wronged anything, and you shall not be recompensed, except according to what you have been doing.' [10] The Hadith explains this "single cry or shout" to be the final manifestation of God pouring His anger out on the world:
... we do not know the time of the Hour of Doom ... and so shall be the Single Shout ... there has never been a shout before that was not accompanied by God's wrath on the world. [11]

The stories told by Suyuti show that the voice of Jesus is like this final Single Shout 'to which there is no delay'. His voice causes even dead people to tremble and their hair to turn grey from horror because they think it is the Single Shout of 'the day of coming forth', that is, the Resurrection Day. Did the early Muslim community believe that it is Jesus' voice that will raise the dead in the Last Hour and usher in the final judgment of God? Suyuti's stories suggest that they did.
Jesus' Work Complete

This leaves us asking: What more is there to be accomplished that Jesus will not do? After all his achievements, can anyone improve on or add to his work? What more can desperate humanity need or hope for that Jesus will not satisfy when he reappears? What more can be accomplished after the miraculous transformation of nature to restore it to the perfect condition it was in before sin entered the world? What more can be done after the restoration to man of his authority, so he becomes for the first time since the Fall God's true khalifat? What more can be achieved after peace is established on earth and war between nations disappears?

What more can be accomplished after Jesus has established peace between man and his fellow man and eliminated hatred and envy and malice? And the Hadith will come true 'the whole earth will be filled with peace like a vessel becomes filled with water.' [12] What more can be achieved after restoring humanity to its maker and creator so that the 'one prostration for worship will be far greater than the world and all that is in it!' [13]
One Person For All

Again we ask: Who is Jesus? Who is he who satisfies all the aspirations, longings and needs of all mankind? Who is he who is going to solve all the problems of the world and restore creation to its original condition as made by God the Almighty? He is one person yet he satisfies all. One person for millions. One person for all nations. One person who fills all hearts. Why is it that only this one is greater than all the prophets in every way? What is God trying to reveal through Him? Can we afford to ignore Him? It is important to note that the greatest of all deceivers, the Dajjal, will not pretend to be Moses or Abraham or any other prophet; he will pretend to be the Christ. This is an indirect declaration that Jesus is the greatest personality that will ever appear on earth. It is a confirmation to the unique exaltation and superiority above all human beings and prophets that God himself has appointed for Jesus. Such exaltation cannot be given to a mere human being, otherwise he would be idolatrously worshipped. So who is he? Before we can answer that question, we need to look further at how the most eminent Qur'an commentators and some of the great Sufi mystics have portrayed Jesus throughout the centuries. For this we now turn to part 2 of this series.

1. Al Hendy, Vol. 18, Hadith No. 803. 2. Sahih al-Bukhary, English-Arabic, Book 9, Hadith No. 244. 3. Suyuti: Al 'E'lam Behokm Isa. Quoted by Haddad Madkhal ela al Hewar al Islamy al Masihy, Book 1, al Maktabah al Boulesiah, Lebanon, 1969, p. 181. See also Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1025. 4. Al Hendy, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 1028. 5. Suyuti, Commentary on the Qur'an 3:49. 6. ibid. 7. The Qur'an 73:17. 8. The Qur'an 38:15. 9. The Qur'an 50: 41-44. 10. The Qur'an 36: 49-54. 11. Al Hendy, Vol. 18, Hadith No. 734. 12. Ibid, Vol. 17, Hadith No. 919. 13. Ibidd., Hadith No. 1018.

Part 2: The Christ Of History
Chapter 5: His Character And Powers

In Part One we looked at Jesus the Christ who will appear in the future. In this Part we look at Jesus the Christ who appeared as a historical figure. We look at him through the pages of the Qur'an, some of its commentaries and some Sufi writings.
The Virgin Birth of Jesus

The Qur'an clearly teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin. It describes the occurrence thus:
... the angels said, 'Mary, God gives thee good tidings of a Word from Him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary. High honoured shall he be in this world and the next, near stationed to God.... 'Lord!' said Mary, 'How shall I have a son, seeing no mortal has touched me?' 'Even so,' God said, 'God creates what He will. When He decrees a thing He does but say to it "Be" and it is.' [1]

We can see from this passage that Mary had not been touched by a man and that the birth of Jesus was the result of God's decree. The unique entrance of Jesus into history was not a mere accident of nature, but an intended miracle, for, as the Qur'an states:
God knows what every female bears, and the wombs shrinking and swelling; everything with Him has its measure.[2]

God's knowledge of and purpose in the details of his creation are further emphasised by the following words:
We created not the heavens and the earth, and whatsoever between them is, as playing. [3]

God does not do things frivolously, but everything He does is done by His divine wisdom and for a definite purpose. So, while God has decreed that every human being should be born as a result of the joining together of a man and woman, He also decreed that Jesus be born of Mary, who was not touched by a man. This is accepted by Muslim scholars without dispute. The uniqueness of such an entrance was well expressed in the following statement by Shabestari:
Indubitably no man is born fatherless; only one, Jesus, exists in the world. [4]

The Perfection Of The Christ Jesus, the sinless one

One of the unique characteristics of Jesus is that he was sinless. While other people or even prophets have at one time or another erred in thought and in deed, only Jesus remained pure.

Throughout the Qur'an there is ample evidence that Abraham, Moses, David and Mohammad all sinned. Abraham found himself in need of forgiveness even though he was in such a close relationship with God that the Qur'an speaks of him disputing with God on one occasion, as the following verse states:
He was disputing with Us concerning the people of Lot. [5]

In spite of such friendship with God, Abraham still expressed a need for forgiveness when he said of God:
Who created me, and Himself guides me, ... who makes me to die, then gives me life, and who I am eager shall forgive me my offence on the day of judgement ... [6]

Moses, whom God favoured by speaking to him directly [7], also found himself in need of forgiveness after he had struck and killed an Egyptian, saying:
This is of Satan's doing ... My Lord, I have wronged myself. Forgive me! [8]

David likewise 'sought forgiveness of his Lord, and fell down, bowing, and he repented'. [9] Thus all three, Abraham, Moses and David, knew they needed God's forgiveness. Mohammad too found his sins, before prophethood, too heavy to bear. This is attested to by the Qur'an:
Did We not expand thy breast for thee and lift from thee thy burden, the burden that weighed down thy back? [10]

The burden that weighed down Mohammad's back was not a physical one, but spiritual. The word (Wezr) which is translated 'burden' in the above verse is a special word that means sins in the language of the Qur'an. For example Q.16:25 states 'that they may bear their loads (awzar, plural of wezr) complete on the day of resurrection (see also Q.6:31, 6:164, 17:15, 20:100, 35:18). While the Qur'an states previous sins in the life of Mohammad as a fact, it also speaks of 'latter' sins:
Surely We have given thee a manifest victory, that God may forgive thee thy former and thy latter sins. [11]

This is also confirmed by the Hadith that says Mohammad used to 'ask forgiveness and turn to Allah in repentance more than seventy times a day' [12] Bukhari recorded the following prayer by Mohammad:
O Allah! forgive my mistakes and my ignorance and my exceeding the limits (boundaries) of righteousness in my deeds; and forgive whatever you know better than I. O Allah! forgive the wrong I have done jokingly or seriously, and forgive my accidental and intentional errors, all that is present in me. [13]

Indeed he continued to ask for forgiveness until the last breath. [14] The sinfulness of all human beings is further attested by the Hadith that says:

Satan circulates in the human mind as blood circulates in it. [15]

One person, to whom neither the Qur'an nor the Hadith ascribe sin, is Jesus. He never sinned. He never made a mistake. He never exceeded God's boundaries wilfully or in ignorance, intentionally or accidentally, jokingly or seriously. Jesus is described in the Qur'an 19:19 as being 'a boy most pure (zakeyia)' [16], even before birth. Baidawi explains that 'a boy most pure' means 'pure from sins'. In the whole of the Qur'an no one except Jesus is described as being 'most pure' [17]. The Hadith also speaks of Jesus as being sinless. Bukhari, for example, relates the following Hadith:
When any human being is born [lit. all the children of Adam as they are born], Satan touches [lit. thrusts] him at both sides of the body with his two fingers, except Jesus, the son of Mary, whom Satan tried to touch but failed. [18]

The meaning of Satan's 'touches or thrusts', Baidawi explains, is 'to try to entice every newborn so that the child can be influenced by him'. [19] Satan, the arch-enemy of God, thus fights an unfair battle. He seeks to entice people from the very first moments of their life, and only one person overcame him in this first round. This person was Jesus. Suyuti quotes Ibn 'Abbas, who says: Amongst those who were born, only Jesus, son of Mary, was untouched by Satan and not overpowered by him. [20] Why was Jesus singled out for this matchless distinction? Some say that it was because he was anointed:
He was called the Christ because he was anointed with that which made him pure from sins, or because he was anointed by the wing of the angel Gabriel and was protected from the touch of Satan, or Christ meaning the righteous. [21]

Others see this distinction as an intrinsic property of the spirit of Jesus. Razi says:
His [Jesus'] spirit was holy, high, heavenly; shining intensely with Divine lights, and of great proximity to the spirits of the angels. [22]

Thus Jesus was like the angels who did not need to ask for forgiveness for themselves. He was sinless. Jesus' title of 'Spirit of God' also signifies purity. Some scholars say that he was called the `Spirit of God' because:
It is the custom of men that if they describe something that is extremely pure and clean, they call it spirit. [23]

The measure of how pure in fact Jesus was is this: God, the Most High, Himself called Jesus the 'Spirit from God'. While every other human being has been enticed away from obedience to God and fear of Him at some point in their life, Jesus remained perfectly pure, untouched by Satan.

The fear of God is the yardstick by which a person's standing in the sight of God is measured, as the following Qur'anic verse states:
Surely the most noble among you in the sight of God is the most God-fearing of you. [24]

It is the fear of God rather than worldly signs of beauty, wealth and power that gives a person true status before God. It is also what determines the status of the prophets and angels. The angels are superior to the prophets because they are:
... those that bear the Throne, and those round about it proclaim the praise of their Lord, and believe in Him, and they ask forgiveness for those who believe. (Q. 23:7-9).

Razi comments:
Many scholars reasoned from these verses [25] that the angels are superior to humans. They said that the angels have no need to ask for forgiveness for themselves, for if they were in need of forgiveness, they would have begun by asking for forgiveness for themselves, according to the words of the prophet: 'Begin by yourself'. Also, God said to Mohammad: '... ask forgiveness for thy sin, and for the believers, men and women' (Q. 47:19). So He commanded Mohammad to ask forgiveness first for himself and then to ask for others afterwards ... And since God did not mention that the angels did not ask for forgiveness for themselves, we can conclude that they have no need for forgiveness. The prophets were in need of forgiveness and that is evident from God's word to Mohammad. If that is established then it becomes clear that the angels are superior to humans. [26]

In the absence of their need for forgiveness it appears that the angels are more perfect in their obedience and fear of God, and thus more noble and of higher rank than human beings. Unlike human beings, they do not need forgiveness, for they are sinless. Jesus is compared to the angels and is therefore likewise pure.
Jesus, The Blessed One

As well as being sinless, Jesus was also said to be blessed. He was not only perfect in a passive way, but he was also perfect in an active way. The Qur'an states that Jesus said:
Blessed He has made me wherever I may be. [27]

According to this verse, Jesus was blessed unconditionally and continuously. If he had disobeyed God by thought, word or deed at any time, then he could not say 'Blessed He has made me wherever I may be'. The word 'blessed', explains Baidawi, means 'possessing much profit for others'. In other words, Jesus lived not for himself, but he lived for others. The exact meaning of 'profit for others' is explained by Razi, who says of Jesus:
By him God brought people to life out of deception, just as man lives by the spirit. [28]

Jesus was not content only to be free from sin, but he also actively sought to set people free from the deception of Satan, the arch-enemy of God. So vital was his endeavour that Razi likens him to the life the spirit gives to the body. Baidawi similarly describes Jesus' endeavours when he says that Jesus 'used to raise dead bodies and dead hearts to life'. [29]

Jesus did not live only to guard his personal holiness and thus to enjoy the full life that is in harmony with the will of God. He also lived to impart this life to others. Thus Jesus' perfection was not merely passive, that is, without sin; it was also active, that is, a source of blessings. In the whole of the Qur'an no person is described as 'blessed' except Jesus. It is true that the Qur'an itself is described as a blessed book. [30] The word is also used of the first holy house in Mecca which was built by the angels before the creation of Adam, [31] Lilat al-Qadr (the night during which the Qur'an was revealed). [32] And the olive tree, the light of which is likened to the light of God. [33] Thus Jesus is placed alongside the Qur'an, the first holy house built in Mecca, Lilat al-Qadr and the blessed olive tree. He is, however, the only person described in the Qur'an as blessed. Jesus is therefore both sinless and blessed. Satan was not able to touch Jesus, who remained perfect all of his life. Furthermore, Jesus' destruction of the works of the Devil was so complete that he was described as the life-giving spirit that imparts life to those who were dead because of the deceptions of Satan. The perfection of Jesus is both passive and active. In this respect his character is matchless.
The Man Of The Clear Signs

If the sinlessness and blessedness of Jesus makes him unique among the prophets, the clear signs that God invested in him makes him absolutely unique.
His ability to know the unseen

The knowledge of the unseen is a divine quality. As stated in the Qur'an: With Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them but He. [34] Mohammad himself declared in the Qur'an that he does not possess the knowledge of the unseen when he said:
Had I knowledge of the unseen I would have acquired much good, and evil would not have touched me. [35]

And again,
I do not say to you, 'I possess the treasuries of God'; and I know not the unseen. [36]

Therefore, according to the Qur'an, the knowledge of the unseen is denied to all people.God alone has the power to grant this knowledge to whom He chooses. 'God chooses out of His Messengers to whom He will' [37] to reveal it. God, the Qur'an informs us, chose to reveal the unseen to Jesus. He willed that Jesus should be the person chosen out of all His Messengers, to whom even the small details of people's lives would be revealed, including 'what things [they] eat, and what [they] treasure up in [their] houses'. [38] Those who have commented on the above verse mention many stories about Jesus' knowledge of the unseen. This power that belonged only to God was granted to Jesus from

among all the other prophets. This is another characteristic which adds to the uniqueness of the Christ.
His ability to perform miracles

Jesus' mission on Earth was to restore people to God. As pointed out earlier, he was given the unique power to free people from Satan's deception. He also was given the power to heal people from their bodily ailments as a proof that he was sent by God. Jesus' power to destroy the works of Satan was further demonstrated when he healed people from their sicknesses. His spiritual healing was evidenced by the physical healing - that is, his words were matched by his deeds. The Qur'an says that the miracles performed by Jesus were "the clear signs" of God's power. These clear signs were not granted to all the prophets. The Qur'an states:
And those Messengers, some We have preferred above others, ... And we gave Jesus Son of Mary the clear signs. [39]

Commenting on this verse, Baidawi writes:
God made Jesus' miracles the evidence of his preferment [above other prophets] because they are clear signs and great miracles. Together those miracles were not performed by anyone else. [40]

These special miracles showed not only God's preference for Jesus over the other prophets but also the measure of that preference. God gave some prophets the ability to perform some miracles, but the share of the great miracles granted to Jesus surpassed the share allowed to the other prophets. Thus we can see that by performing the physical miracles, Jesus was set apart. This also proved his power to perform miracles in the spiritual realm. His unsurpassed ability to perform both physical and spiritual miracles points to his uniqueness.
His ability to create

While Jesus' power to perform miracles was definitely unsurpassed, a measure of this power was also given to some other prophets. His power to create, however, was granted only to him. According to the Qur'an that power was not possessed by any other prophet at all. The Qur'an challenges the unbelievers by saying:
O men, a similitude is struck; so give your ear to it. Surely those upon whom you call, apart from God, shall never create a fly, though they band together to do it; and if a fly should rob them of aught, they would never rescue it from him. Feeble indeed alike are the seeker and the sought. [41]

However, according to the Qur'an, Jesus was the only person who was singled out by God to create a living thing out of clay. The Qur'an ascribes the following words to Jesus: ... I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. I will create for you out of clay as the likeness of a bird; then I will breath into it, and it will be a bird, by the leave of God. [42]

Thus the Qur'an makes clear that Jesus had the power to create out of clay, which some suggest is the same as the turning of Moses staff into a snake. However, a careful reading of the Qur'anic text proves that this is not the case. In the Qur'an God asked Moses:
'What is that, Moses, thou hast in thy right hand?' 'Why, it is my staff,' said Moses. ... Said He, 'Cast it down, Moses!' and he cast it down, and behold it was a serpent sliding. [43]

When he saw the quivering snake which had been transformed from the staff, Moses turned and ran away in fear. But God called him saying: 'Moses fear not' [44] In the above incident, God performed the miracle to convince Moses of His power. When Moses threw down the staff he did not expect it to turn into a snake; when it did so, he ran away in fear. Clearly God, not Moses, initiated the transformation. The same miracle was also performed in front of Pharaoh when God 'revealed to Moses, 'Cast thy staff'. And lo, it forthwith swallowed up their lying invention.' [45] In this incident Moses did no more than he had done in the previous incident, for it was God who told him to cast the staff down, and he merely obeyed. The initiative was God's, not Moses'. Indeed that was characteristic of how God worked miracles through Moses, as can be seen in numerous other incidents. For example when the children of Israel were thirsty, it was God who told Moses to strike the rock, [46] and when they went out of Egypt, before crossing the sea, it was God who told him to strike the sea with his staff '... and it clave, and each part was as a mighty mount.' [47] In every one of these incidents, God was the initiator. Moses was not the one who controlled the time and the manner in which the miracle was performed - it was God. When Jesus performed acts of creation, however, God allowed him the initiative of performing the miracles and of imparting life. The Qur'anic text describes the activities of Jesus in the following terms:
I will create for you out of clay ... I will breath into it, and it will be a bird, by the leave of God. I will also heal the blind and the leper, and bring to life the dead, by the leave of God. [48]

Jesus was not told by God to raise a man from the dead or to heal a blind person as Moses was. Instead, God distinguished Jesus by giving him the initiative. Moses did not breath into the staff to turn it into a living snake, but Jesus breathed into the clay and thus created a living thing from it. Ibn 'Arabi, the great Sufi writer, in answer to the question, 'By what has God distinguished every messenger?', said that:
God distinguished Adam by the knowledge of the Divine Names, and distinguished Moses by speaking (to him) and by the Torah, and distinguished the Prophet of God [Mohammad] by what he mentioned of himself that 'he was given the profundity of speech'. God distinguished Jesus by being spirit, and added the blowing (of breath) into what he created out of clay to him [that is, to Jesus], and God did not add the power of life-giving by blowing to anyone else except Jesus, apart from the Most High Himself. [49]

Creation of living things is not even remotely attributed to any other prophet, but belongs solely to the Almighty God and was given only to Jesus.
His ability to raise the dead

The Qur'an states clearly that Jesus raised people from the dead:
I will ... bring to life the dead, by the leave of God. ... Surely in that is a sign for you if you are believers. [50]

The Hadith also supports this fact by mentioning the names of those raised from the dead by Jesus even after their bodies had decomposed. The commentators agree that the power to raise the dead is one of God's omnipotent powers; it belongs to Him alone. The Qur'an thus states:
He says, who shall quicken the bones when they are decayed? Say: `He shall quicken them, who originated them the first time.' [51]

Since God is the originator or creator of life, He alone can make the dead live again. Suyuti in his commentary relates two accounts of the power of Isa to raise the dead, with specific emphasis on the voice of Isa. In the first case, Isa raises Sam, the son of Noah:
The children of Israel came to Isa asking Him saying: 'Sam the son of Noah is buried here; not very far. Call God to raise him.' Isa then called him with a shout, and Sam came out of the grave but with grey hair. The people exclaimed: 'He died when he was a young man, what is this white hair?' Sam replied: 'When I heard the voice of Isa, I thought it the 'single cry', (or the single shout).' [52]

In the second case Isa raises His brother:
... when Isa was shown the grave He called him out with a shout, his brother came out with grey hair ... Isa asked him: 'What happened to you?' He replied: 'I heard your voice and I thought it to be the "single shout".' [53]

From these two stories we can see that the voice of Isa was understood to be the shout that would raise the dead in the last day. The people who were raised understood it thus, to the extent that their hair turned grey. The reference here is to the Qur'an, 73:17:
'If therefore you disbelieve, how will you guard yourselves against a day that shall make the children grey-headed?'

And the Qur'an, 38:15 states:
'These are only waiting for a single cry (or a single shout), to which there is no delay.'

Ibn 'Araby, in Fusus Al-Hikam, said of the raising of the dead by Jesus: It was said of him, when he raised the dead, that it was him and it was not him [that is, that the raising was due to the power of God] and the spectators were amazed at a human person who raises the dead, whereas it is a Divine property to raise the dead by utterance ... the

spectator remains confused since he sees the Divine action carried out by one in human form [that is Jesus]. [54] Qashani, commenting on Ibn 'Araby's words, said:
The confusion resulted ... as people saw a human being without a shadow of a doubt, and yet out of him proceeds a Divine property; that is the raising of the dead, by utterance and invoking God's blessing. For he [Jesus] used to say [to the dead person], 'Rise! Come alive by God's permission or by God's Name, or by God,' and [the dead person] would rise and answer him back, saying, 'Here I am, at your service'. [55]

In the Hadith quoted by Suyuti, Jesus raised Sam and his brother only by an utterance, not by prayer. He called them from the realm of the dead back to life, as you call someone from one room to come into another. Jesus had authority over death. The Qur'an does not mention that any other prophet has raised people from the dead, with or without God's leave.

1. The Qur'an, 3:45-47. Arthur J. Arberry (trans), The Koran, World's Classics. 2. The Qur'an, 13: 8. 3. The Qur'an, 21:16. 4. Javad Nurbakhash, Jesus in the Eyes of the Sufis, Khaniqahi-Nimatullahi Publications, London, 1983, p. 19. 5. The Qur'an, 11:74. 6. The Qur'an, 26:78-82. 7. The Qur'an, 4:163. 8. The Qur'an 28:16. 9. The Qur'an, 38:24. 10. The Qur'an, 94:1-3. 11. The Qur'an, 48:2. See also Q. 40:55, 4:106, 47:19. The Qur'an recorded some of these sins. See Q. 9:43 and Q. 80:1. 12. Sahih Bukhari, Arabic-English, Dar al-Fikr, Vol. VIII, Hadith No. 319. The following is a sample of how Mohammad used to ask for forgiveness: O Allah! wash away my sins with the water of snow and hail, and cleanse my heart from all the sins as a white garment is cleansed from the filth, and let there be a long distance between me and my sins, as You made East and West far from each other. Sahih Bukhari, Arabic-English, Dar al-Fikr, Vol. VIII, Hadith No. 379. 13. Sahih Bukhari, Arabic-English, Dar al-Fikr, Vol. VIII, Hadith No. 408. 14. Sahih Bukhari, Arabic-English, Dar al-Fikr, Vol. V, Hadith No. 715: 'O Allah! Forgive me, and bestow Your mercy on me.' 15. Sahih Bukhari, Arabic-English, Dar al-Fikr, Vol. IV, Hadith No. 501. 16. The Qur'an 19:18. 17. "Zakeyia" also appears in Q. 18:74 to describe a little boy, but in a different context. It has been translated into English by Arthur J. Arberry as 'innocent', and Galalan interprets it as 'pure from murdering another soul'. 18. Sahih Bukhari, Arabic-English, Dar al-Fikr, Vol. IV, Hadith No. 506.

19. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 3:36. 20. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3:36. 21. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 3:45 22. Razi commenting on Q. 4:157. 23. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 4:171. 24. The Qur'an. 49:13. 25. The Qur'an, 40:7-9: 'Those who bear the Throne, and those round about it proclaim the praise of their Lord, and believe in Him, and they ask forgiveness for those who believe ...' 26. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 23:7. 27. The Qur'an, 19:31. 28. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 3:39. 29. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 4:170. 30. The Qur'an, 6:92, 155. 31. The Qur'an, 3:96. 32. The Qur'an, 44:3. 33. The Qur'an, 24:35. 34. The Qur'an, 6:59. 35. The Qur'an, 7:188. 36. The Qur'an, 6:50. (See also Q. 11:31.) 37. The Qur'an, 3:179. 38. The Qur'an, 3:49. 39. The Qur'an, 2:252, 253. 40. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 2:253. 41. The Qur'an, 22: 73. 42. The Qur'an, 3:49. (See also Q. 5:110.) 43. The Qur'an, 20:17-20. 44. The Qur'an, 27:10. 45. The Qur'an, 7:117. 46. The Qur'an, 2:60. 47. The Qur'an, 26:63. 48. The Qur'an, 26: 63. 49. At-Tirimizi, Kitab Khatm al-Awliya, (Othman I. Yahya, editor), Imperial Catholique, Beirut, 1965, p. 169 (quoted from al- Fotuhat al-Makkiah, 2:51,52). 50. The Qur'an, 3:48, 49; see also Q. 5:110. 51. The Qur'an, 36:78, 79. 52. Suyuti, Commenting on Q. 3:48, 49. 53. Suyuti, Commenting on Q. 3:48, 49. 54. Qashani, quoting Ibn 'Arabi while commenting on Fusus al-Hikam, p. 176. 55. Qashani, commenting on Fusus al-Hikam, P. 176.

Part 2: The Christ of History
Chapter 6: The Testimony of God is Greater The Prophets Wrote of Him

The prophets gave serious consideration to two important figures: they prophesied of the true Christ and they warned of the false one, the Dajjal. Razi says that according to certain Muslim scholars: Jesus was called the Word of God, because it was prophesied of him in the books of the prophets before him. [1] In contrast, the Hadith speaks of the Dajjal, the false Christ against whom the prophets warned their nations thus:
I warn you of him and there is no prophet who has not warned his people against the Dajjal. Even Noah warned [against him]. [2]

Jesus was not prophesied about just in passing by one or two of the prophets. Rather, the prophecies about him must have been so numerous, significant, and specific that He was called the Word of God. The prophets can only speak that which is communicated to them by God, so it is vitally significant that the prophets prior to Jesus should prophesy concerning him. No other prophet deserved such Divine attention. If such attention was given to the Dajjal, it was because he represented the greatest darkness and deception in the history of mankind. Concerning Jesus the opposite is equally true. The great prophetic attention given to Jesus was because he was the greatest manifestation of divine light and truth in the history of mankind. If evil and ignorant men vehemently resist Christ, the prophets, inspired by God acknowledge his importance. The prophet Yehia (John the Baptist) is one example.
Christ Was Bowed Down To In The Womb

Jesus is the only prophet who was believed upon while still in his mother's womb. The commentators agree that Yehia (John the Baptist) was the first to believe that Jesus is the Word of God. [3] In fact, he did so while both he and Jesus were still in their mother's wombs. Razi reported the following:
... the mother of Jesus met the mother of Yehia, peace be upon them. Both were pregnant: one with Jesus; the other with Yehia. Yehia's mother said to Mary, 'Do you feel I am pregnant?' Mary said, 'I am also pregnant.' The wife of Zekaraiah said, 'I found that he who is inside me bows down to the one inside of you.' This is what is meant by John's confirming (or believing in) the Word of God which is Jesus, found in the Qur'an, 3:39 ... John who shall confirm a Word from God. [4]

Ibn Kathir also reported the same story.

Ibn Abbas confirms that belief when he says that Yehia was older than Jesus by six months, and that he was the first to believe and confirm that Jesus is 'the word of God' and 'His Spirit'. [5] Although Yehia was a great prophet [6] who is called in the Qur'an a sayed [7] (meaning 'leader of the believers', [8] and 'the prominent one who is sought as the authority and the example in religion') [9], he bowed down in the womb to Jesus. Yehia was also older than Jesus by six months. According to custom, one would expect Jesus, because he is younger, to bow down to Yehia, but instead we find Yehia bowing down to Jesus. It is interesting to note that we are not told that Jesus believed or confirmed that Yehia is a prophet, yet we are told that Yehia, despite being older than Jesus, is the first to acknowledge that Jesus is the Word of God. Although both were prophets, Yehia bowed down to Jesus. Jesus deserved respect and honour above that of a prophet because he was more than a prophet. He is the Word of God.
Christ Was Given Complete Revelation

The Qur'an speaks of Jesus as having been taught by God the whole of God's revealed word:
And He will teach him [Jesus], the Book [Al-Kitab], the Wisdom, the Torah, the Injil [the Gospel]. [10]

Commenting on this verse, Razi says that:
He who mastered the secrets of the book that God the Most High has revealed and then God reveals to him another book after that, and made plain to him its secrets, then this is the ultimate goal, and the high degree in knowledge, understanding and the mastering of the intellectual and religious secrets, and the knowledge of wisdom high and low. [11]

Baidawi explains that the 'Book' mentioned in the above verse is 'a generic word for the revealed Scriptures'. To the Qur'anic statement 'the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, the Injil (the Gospel)' nothing else could be added, for this includes all of the revealed word of God. It is clear from the above that none of the other prophets were given the total revelation of the Holy Books except Jesus.
Christ Was Confirmed By The Holy Spirit

Another distinguishing characteristic of Jesus is that he and he alone was confirmed and fortified by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was continuously accompanied by the Holy Spirit from his conception to his ascension. As the Qur'an states:
We gave Jesus Son of Mary the clear signs, and confirmed him with the Holy Spirit. [12]

Razi comments on this verse as follows:
The Exclusive allotment of Gabriel [that is, the Holy Spirit] to Jesus is a most distinguishing characteristic, so that not a single prophet among the prophets was thus distinguished. [13]

Razi also states that it was Gabriel

who ... proclaimed the good news to Mary concerning her birth [of Jesus], and Jesus was conceived by the breathing of Gabriel; he brought him up in all situations, and he used to walk with him [with Jesus] wherever he walked. [14]

It is clear then that the Holy Spirit accompanied Jesus and was the overseeing power throughout all of his life. As Razi states, Gabriel 'did not leave Jesus [even] for one hour'. [15] Mohammad, on the other hand, was only visited by Gabriel. He once asked Gabriel, 'What prevents you from visiting us more than you visit us now?', to which Gabriel replied, 'We angels descend not but by the command of your Lord'. [16] The accompanying of Jesus by the Holy Spirit was uninterrupted. To understand this togetherness of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we need to know something about the place of the Holy Spirit [Gabriel] in God's kingdom. According to Razi, Gabriel is the chief of the archangels, who themselves are the most superior among angels. This position is accompanied by certain privileges and responsibilities given to Gabriel by God. First, Gabriel was entrusted with relaying God's message to the prophets. [17] Second, God the Most High mentioned him in the Qur'an before any other angel. Gabriel is the archangel concerned with Inspiration and knowledge, while Michael is the one concerned with providing subsistence and food. Knowledge, that is spiritual food, is more honoured than physical food, so it follows that Gabriel is more honoured than Michael. Third, God made Gabriel second to Himself. Fourth, God called him the Holy Spirit. Fifth, Gabriel was given the power to make the friends of God victorious and to destroy His enemies. Sixth, God commended Gabriel, saying: 'Truly this is the word of a noble Messenger having power, with the Lord of the throne secure, obeyed, moreover trusty.' (Q. 81: 20). Gabriel's mission is therefore to be the messenger of God (rasul Allah) to all the prophets ... his domain ('umah) is all the prophets. He is honoured before God because God made him the mediator between Himself and His noblest servants ... the prophets ... God made him second to Himself ... Gabriel is the Imam and the example of the angels. He is trustworthy. [18] We can deduce from the above that the Holy Spirit (Gabriel) is the leader and Imam of all the angels. He is more honoured than Michael, he occupies the highest possible place because he is second to God the Most High, and he is the messenger to the prophets, that is, the prophet to the prophets. Because Jesus was sinless, he was constantly accompanied by the Holy Spirit. Had there been any blemish in Jesus, the Holy Spirit would have left Jesus at least for that time or in that aspect of his life. But Jesus was constantly the centre of attention of the chief of angels, who is second to the Most High God. This is a unique honour which belonged only to Jesus.

Christ Is Near-Stationed To God

Razi says that the spirit of Jesus was:
holy, high, heavenly, shining intensely with Divine lights, and of great proximity to the spirits of the angels (or somuch like the spirits of the angels). [19]

The Qur'an does not say that the spirit of Jesus is like the spirits of the angels, rather that Jesus is near-stationed to God Himself. Razi's expression implies that Jesus' spirit is nearstationed to the angels, but the Qur'anic expression states that Jesus is near-stationed to none other than God. We read in the Qur'an, 3: 45-47 that the angels said to Mary:
God gives thee good tidings of a Word from Him whose name is the Messiah, Jesus Son of Mary; high honoured shall he be in this world and the next, near stationed to God.

Razi's explanation of the meaning of 'near-stationed to God' gives us a clearer picture of this nearness:
This is the same great praise given to the angels, so God by this description has ranked Jesus with the same degree and place as the angels. [20]

It is important to note that the angels mentioned in Razi's comment are not ordinary angels; rather, they are angels who surround the Throne of God. How near then is Jesus to God? The answer is clearly found in the fact that God sent the closest one to Himself, the Holy Spirit (Gabriel), to dwell with Jesus. God did not send Mikhaiel or Israfil but the Imam of all the angels, and the one who is next only to the Most High God. According to Razi, Gabriel is not only next to God in rank, but he also enjoys an intimate relationship with God. Explaining the meaning of the expression 'Our Spirit', [21] Razi writes:
He [God] called him [Gabriel] His Spirit because he is the cause of the life of religion or to indicate His love and nearness to him, as you would say to your beloved 'my spirit'. [22]

Thus Gabriel is both ranked next to God and the most loved by God. God's allotment of Gabriel to accompany Jesus is an indication of how precious Jesus was to God, for the value of the gift is an indication of the worth of the recipient. There is nothing more precious than the permanent company of the Holy Spirit, except the presence of God Himself.
Christ Was Lifted Up To Be With G od

The Qur'an clearly states that Jesus was lifted up to be with God and is alive today:
... they slew Him not of certainty - no indeed; God raised him [Jesus] up to Him, God is All-mighty, All-wise. [23]

... God said, 'Jesus I will take Thee to Me and will raise thee to Me'. [24]

The Qur'an also uses the words "raise" or "lift up" in relation to Mohammad:
Did we not exalt [literally "raise"] thy fame?' [25]

In this instance, however, it is Mohammad's fame that is being lifted up, rather than Mohammad himself. The word "raise" is also used in relation to the prophet Idris, who was said to have been 'raised ... up to a high place'. [26] The place up to which Idris was lifted is not identified. Furthermore, the fact that he was lifted up to a "place" suggests that it was a physical location rather than in the spiritual realm. Razi says that the preferred meaning of "raised" is "lifted", because lifting of Idris is associated with a physical place rather than being raised in rank. [27] In the case of Jesus, however, the Qur'an states that:
... God said, Jesus 'I will take Thee to Me and will raise thee to Me.' [28]

Clearly, Jesus was not lifted up to a high place like the prophet Idris. Rather, he was lifted up to be with God. Razi says of the Qur'an, 4:158:
The lifting up of Jesus ... is attested to by this verse and its equivalent in the Qur'an, 3: 55. That proves that the lifting up of Jesus to God as a reward is greater than Paradise and all that is in it of physical pleasures. And that verse opens to you the door of the knowledge of the spiritual joys. [29]

Thus, according to Razi, the lifting up of Jesus to God is greater than Paradise, with all of its hundred levels, [30] its lowest and its highest. And what is greater than Paradise and all that is in it of physical pleasures? The answer is: God's presence. [31] Razi adds elsewhere that the meaning of 'I will raise thee to Me' is 'I am raising thee to the Presence of My Honour', [32] the highest honour for all eternity. Unlike the prophet Idris, Jesus was not lifted up to a place, for the above verse does not specify a place. Instead, it repeats that Jesus was 'lifted up to God', or (as Razi puts it), 'Jesus was lifted up to the presence of God's honour' - that is, to be with God. He is higher than all. During his life on earth, Jesus was distinguished and favoured by the continuous presence of God's Spirit. Now he is enjoying the ultimate: God Himself.
Christ Is The Knowledge Of The Hour

Christ being the knowledge of the hour has been dealt with in Part One, but we will briefly reiterate some of the points relevant to this section. Although the Hadith mentions numerous signs of the Hour of Doom, the Qur'an singles out Jesus as the knowledge of the hour:
He is knowledge of the Hour; doubt not concerning it, and follow me. [33]

Some commentators say that in this verse the knowledge of the Hour is the Qur'an. However, the majority of reputable commentators say that the verse refers to Jesus, as the following explainations show:

It is he, meaning Jesus, [who] is a condition by whom the Hour is known. [34] The Last Hour is known by His appearing; that is, by the appearing of Jesus, the knowledge of the Hour. [35] He [Jesus] is the sign or mark of the Hour, that is, the Last Hour; or he is a condition and a requirement of its happening. [36]

According to these statements, Jesus is either a mark of the Hour or a requirement for its happening. Some say he is the knowledge of the Hour because of his mighty miracles. Shokani, in Fath al-Qadeer says that:
... the virgin birth of Jesus, and his raising of the dead is a proof of the truth of the final resurrection. [37]

Ibn-Kathir says that:
The miracles God performed by the hands of Jesus of raising the dead, and healing the sick, are the sufficient proof for the certainty of the Hour of Doom'. [38]

Ibn-Kathir then goes on to reject the opinion that the verse is talking about the Qur'an:
The truth is that the verse refers to Jesus, for the context of the verses is about him, and the meaning is that Jesus will come before the Resurrection Day. [39]

Commenting on the second part of the verse Ibn-Kathir says:
Doubt not concerning it; that is, do not doubt it, for it certainly will take place. [40]

Thus, both Shokani and Ibn-Kathir say that the miracles of Jesus dispel every doubt about the reality of the Hour. Some may deny the certainty of the Hour, but the Qur'an singles out Jesus to be the hope of the resurrection and God's just recompense.
Christ, God's Choice For The Last Battle

The Hadith repeatedly speak of the Dajjal who will appear before the Hour of Doom, cause a lot of trouble in the world and claim to be God the Almighty. One Hadith says:
There would be no creation [creating more trouble] than the Dajjal right from the creation of Adam to the Last Hour. [41]

On the authority of Hazifah, it is claimed that:
When the false Christ appears even those in their graves will believe in him. [42]

Al-Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al-'Arabi (543H) says:
These Hadiths in which the Dajjal is mentioned by Muslim [in Sahih Muslim] and others is a proof to the followers of the Truth of the reality of his existence, and that he is a particular person by whom God will afflict His servants. God will enable the Dajjal to manifest some of God's omnipotent

powers, such as raising the man which he kills, the appearing of the "world's blossom and fertility" with him, his Paradise and Hell and his two rivers, the following of the earth's treasures behind him, his command to the sky to rain and the earth to sprout. [43]

The Hadith, however, also speaks of Jesus coming again to kill the Dajjal, establish peace and restore faith in the only true God. This has been dealt with in detail in Part One. So, according to the Hadith, a false Christ will appear before the Hour of Doom. His appearing will be the greatest deception ever experienced by people, the ultimate manifestation of evil and the worst assault on faith in the only true God from the time of creation to the Hour of Doom. Also according to the Hadith, only Christ is able to destroy Dajjal and restore faith in the true and living God. When God sees humanity on the brink of disaster, He will not send a prophet or even Gabriel the chief of the angels. The battle of the ages will be won by Jesus single handedly, for the Hadith says:
Jesus son of Mary will descend ... and he will lead the people in prayer. When the enemy of God (Dajjal) sees him, he will dissolve like salt dissolves in water. [44]

Why is Jesus the only person qualified to destroy the Dajjal? Why will God send Jesus and not Moses, Abraham or Idris? The answer is found in the following Hadith:
When temptations are presented to the hearts like a straw mat, straw by straw, in the heart which receives it a black dot will be fixed. And whose heart rejects it will have a white dot fixed in it, until the heart becomes one of two; either white like pure marble, with no deception able to affect him as long as heaven and earth remain. The other will be black, dusty, like an upturned vessel that can not hold anything. [45]

Suyuti quotes Ibn 'Abbas who said:
... amongst those who were born, only over Jesus, son of Mary, Satan had no power; nor had he the ability to touch. [46]

Thus Jesus is above the Dajjal's powers which cannot influence or touch him. He is therefore God's choice for the Hour of Doom. He is the only one qualified to save the world from the greatest evil and deception.
Christ Is Forever Eminent

The Qur'an describes only two persons as being eminent: Moses and Jesus. Of Moses it says:
O believers, be not as those who hurt Moses, but God declared him quit of what they said, and he was high honoured (eminent) with God. [47]

And of Jesus it stated that the angels:
Mary, God gives thee good tidings of a Word from Him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, Son of Mary; high honoured (eminent) shall he be in this world and the next, near stationed to God. [48]

Moses was eminent, but the eminence of Jesus is eternal. He is eminent (wajih) not only in this life but also in the life to come. Razi quotes some of the comments of the Arabic linguists on the word 'wajih':
The 'wajih' is he who is distinguished. Because the most honourable part of the body is the face (the root word of 'wajih' is face - 'wajh'), so the face was made a metaphor for nobility and perfection. [49]

Moses was the most distinguished of all the prophets until Jesus came. Jesus' distinction is superior to that of Moses. It will never be surpassed, for the Qur'an states that Jesus was 'wajih' both during his earthly life and is going to be 'wajih' in the life to come. If anyone else is more distinguished than Jesus, then it could not be said that Jesus shall be 'wajih' in the life to come. This is reinforced by Razi's metaphor. There is only one face to any body and hence there is only one who is distinguished both in earthly life and the life to come. Jesus then is the 'face' of this life, that is, the most honourable member in this life. And he is also the 'face' of the life to come, that is, the most honourable person in the life to come. Jesus' distinction above all is continuous, incontestable and final throughout all eternity. Commenting on the meaning of 'eminence', Shokani says:
eminence is power and authority. [50]

What is the nature of this eminence? Baidawi and the other commentators say that:
eminence in this life is prophecy, and in the life to come is intercession. [51]

Elaborating on this, Razi says:
Jesus is distinguished (wajih) in this life, because his requests are granted. He raised the dead, healed the blind and the leper by his prayers. He is distinguished in the life to come because He [God] made him intercede on behalf of his true people, and [God] accepts his intercession for them. [52]

According to Razi, we can get some idea of the kind of intercession Jesus is granted in the life to come by looking at his acts of intercession during his life on earth. During that time, Jesus, through intercession, brought the dead back to life. His acts of intercession were more powerful than death. His intercession in the life to come is more powerful than Hell. Jesus' eminence (wajahah) in his earthly life is a measure of hisemin ence in the life to come. His words produce results with men and with God because they are powerful to cleanse them from their sins and to raise the dead. His words are stronger than sin, death and Hell because Hell derives its power from sin. Concerning one of the aspects of Jesus' eminence in his earthly life, Baidawi said:
God made his miracles the reason for his preferment because they are clear signs and great miracles. When put together those miracles, were not performed by anyone else. [53]

In Baidawi's view, then, just as Jesus' eminence in his earthly life was not matched by any one else, his eminence in the life to come will not be matched either.

1. Razi, at-Tafsir a l-Kabir, commenting on the Qur'an 3:39. 2. Sahih Muslim, (English translation), Kitab al-Fitan wa ashrat 'as-Sa'ah, Hadith No. 7000. 3. Razi, commenting on Q. 3:39 that says '... John who shall confirm a Word from God' said that 'What is meant by "Word of God" is Isa, peace be upon him. This is the choice of the majority of commentators.' 4. Razi, commenting on Q. 3:39 5. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 3: 39. (See also Suyuti commenting on the same verse.) 6. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3: 39 said 'A caller called from heaven saying that Yehia is the greatest amongst those born of women.' 7. The Qur'an, 3:39. 8. Galalan, commenting on Q 3:39. 9. Razi, at-tafsir al-Kabir, on Q. 3:39. 10. The Qur'an, 3:48. 11. Razi, at-tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 3:48. 12. The Qur'an, 2:87. 13. Razi, at-tafsir AL-Kabir, commenting on Q. 2:87. 14. Razi, at-tafsir Al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 2:87. 15. Razi, at-tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 3:52-55. 16. Sahih Bukhari, M. Muhsin Khan (English translation), vol.VI, Hadith 255. 17. Razi, at-tafsir alKabir, commenting on on Q. 2:30. 18. Razi, at-tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 2:30. 19. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 4:157. 20. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 3:45. 21. The Qur'an, 19:17: 'We sent unto her Our Spirit that presented himself to her a man without fault.' 22. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 19:17. 23. The Qur'an, 4:157, 158. 24. The Qur'an, 3:55. 25. The Qur'an, 94:4. 26. The Qur'an, 19:57. 27. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q.19:57. 28. The Qur'an, 3: 55. 29. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 4:158. 30. Yousef Al-Qaradawi, 'Elewah Mostafa' and 'Ali Gammar, at-Twahid, Qatar, 1968, p. 205. 31. This is not foreign to Islamic theology. Razi said that the Muslims who follow the Moshabaha theology 'hung on to the above verse and deduced from it that God must be in some particular place, in heaven since Isa was lifted up bodily to be with God.' (Razi, at-Tafsir Al-Kabir, on Q. 3:55.) 32. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 4:158. 33. The Qur'an, 43:61. 34. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 43:61. 35. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 43:61.

36. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 43:61. 37. Shokani, commenting on Q. 43:61. 38. Ibn-Kathir, commenting on Q. 43:61. 39. Ibn-Kathir, commenting on Q. 43:61. 40. Ibn-Kathir, commenting on Q. 43:61. 41. Kitab al-Fitan Wa Ashrat as-sa'ah, translated into English by Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 7037. 42. Al Hendy, Kanz al 'Ommal, vol. 18, Hadith No. 771. 43. Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Fitan wa Ashrat as-sa'ah, footnote no. 4 of section 20 of the Arabic version. Note that the English translation is not true to the Arabic original Arabic. The phrase 'the Dajjal manifests some of God's omnipotent powers' was incorrectly translated into: 'he would possess certain unnatural powers in him'. 44. Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Fitan Wa Ashrat As-sa'ah, (the Arabic edition), section 9, Hadith no. 34(2897). 45. 'Abd Al-'Aziz 'Ez Al-Din Al-Sirawany in Ahadith Said Al-Morsalin' An Hawadeth 'Al-Qarn 'Al-'Eshrin (1st ed.), Dar Al-Afaq Al-Jadidah, Beirut, 1982, p. 32. (from Sahih Muslim) 46. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3:36. 47. The Qur'an, 33:69. 48. The Qur'an, 3:45. 49. Razi, at-Tafsir al-kabir, commenting on Q. 3:45. 50. Shukani, Fath al-Qadir, commenting on Q. 3:45. 51. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 3:45. 52. Razi, at-Tafsiral-Kabir , commenting on Q. 3:45. 53. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 2:253.

Part 2: The Christ of History
Chapter 7: Rainbow of Glory

The commentators who reflected on the person of Christ found themselves expressing their wonder in absolute terms. They felt no exaggeration in describing him with the loftiest possible descriptions. They found it very natural to crown him with such a rainbow of glory.
Christ is Like Adam

The Qur'an states that Jesus is like Adam:
... the likeness of Jesus, in God's sight, is as Adam's likeness. [1]

Baidawi also refers to this likeness. Amongst the various explanations he gives of Jesus' title 'the Word of God', he says that Jesus is called the word of God because:
he is like Adam without a father, so he is like the unprecedented wonders of the original creations (Al-bid'iyat) which is the world of the bidding [of God, or God's affairs], or he is like the Book of God. [2]

Jesus is like Adam in two ways: first, he had no earthly father; and second, he was in the original state of creation, as Adam had been before he disobeyed God (that is, Jesus was born

sinless and lived a sinless life). On the other hand, Jesus is not like Adam in that he restores and creates, whereas Adam through his actions was the cause of humankind's downfall and expulsion from Paradise. As the following Hadith states:
The Prophet Moses is disputing and taking exception to Adam saying, 'O Adam, you are our father yet you failed us,' that is, 'You made us fall in disappointment, which is deprivation (and brought us out of Paradise); that is, you were the cause of our expulsion from the place of bliss and permanence, to the place of misery and ruin.' [3]

Baidawi says that, unlike Adam, Jesus 'used to raise dead bodies and dead hearts to life' [4] and in the course of explaining the expression 'confirmed by the Holy Spirit' which was continuous, Jesus was continuously confirmed
... by the words by which religion lives, the human soul has eternal life and cleanses [people] from sins. [5]

Also, Razi says that 'by him God brought people to life out of deception, just as man lives by the spirit'. [6] Thus, unlike Adam who by his disobedience brought misery to humanity, Jesus brought dead people back to life and immortality and hope to dead hearts. Jesus was like Adam when Adam was in the original perfect state, and unlike Adam, who failed the human race, because he was the instrument of life, hope and immortality.
Christ is Like the Book of God

In Baidawi's comments on the Qur'an, 3: 39 quoted above, he says that Jesus is called the Word of God because 'he is like the Book of God'. [7] How is Jesus like the Book of God? First, Jesus and the Book of God have the same effect on people's lives. Razi states:
He was the cause of people's spiritual life in their religion. [8]

Both Jesus and the Book of God have the power to transform lives. Jesus was confirmed with 'the words by which the human soul lives eternally, and cleanses from sins.' [9] Thus Jesus is the Book of God in a human form, cleansing people from their sins, and imparting eternal life. Second, both are called 'spirit'. Razi states:
God, describing the Qur'an, said: 'Even so We have revealed to thee a Spirit of Our bidding.' [10]

This title was given only to Jesus, Gabriel the head of the angelic powers and the Qur'an. Razi, in the above quotation, equates Jesus with the Qur'an as the cause of spiritual effects on people's lives because both were given one and the same title of spirit. Third, both Jesus and the Book of God belong to the world of God's bidding, for as Baidawi says:

He [Jesus] is like the unprecedented wonders of the original creations (al-bid'iyat) which is the world of the bidding [of God, or God's affairs] or he is like the Book of God. [11]

The world of God's bidding includes the Qur'an. It is thus described:
Even so, We have revealed to thee a Spirit of Our bidding. Thou knewest not what the Book was, nor belief. [12]

The Qur'an describes the Spirit of God thus:
They will question thee concerning the Spirit. Say the 'Spirit is of the bidding of my Lord.' [13]

It is not surprising, then, that Baidawi mentions that Jesus is like the Book of God straight after stating that Jesus belongs to the world of God's bidding. It is interesting to note that the same word (alqa) which is used to describe the coming of the Qur'an is also used to describe the coming of Jesus. Of the Qur'an we read:
Thou didst not hope that the Book should be cast (yolqa) unto thee, except it be as a mercy from thy Lord; so be thou not a partisan of the unbelievers. [14]

Of Jesus the Qur'an says:
The Messiah, Jesus Son of Mary, was only the Messenger of God, and His Word that He committed (alqaha) to Mary, and a Spirit from Him. [15]

It is not surprising, then, that Razi did not hesitate to say that Jesus is the Word of Truth. For while commenting on the statement, 'That is Jesus, Son of Mary, in word of truth, concerning which they are doubting' (Q. 19: 34), he said:
... Jesus himself is the Word of Truth because 'the Truth' is the name of God. So there is no difference between saying Jesus is the word of God and saying Jesus is the word of Truth. [16]

Thus, just as the Book of God is the truth concerning God, Jesus is the Word of Truth concerning God. Finally, concerning the Word of God the Qur'an states that 'God's word is uppermost'. [17] Jesus too is now uppermost, for as the Qur'an states:
God raised him [Jesus] up to Him ... [18]

Is there any higher uppermost than being raised up to God Himself? So Jesus and the Book of God are alike in that both are life-giving, both are called spirit, both belong to the world of God's bidding and both are uppermost. It cannot be said of Abraham or Moses or any other prophet that they are like the Book of God. The commentators who contemplated the different facets of the character of Jesus did not find it difficult to state that Jesus is like the Book of God. In fact this likeness fits Jesus so naturally.

Christ is like Gabriel

Jesus is also like Gabriel, the angel of inspiration, the bringer of the Book of God to the prophets. The points of similarity between Jesus and Gabriel are the same as those mentioned of the similarities between Jesus and the Book of God mentioned earlier. As we noted in the previous section, both Jesus and the Book of God belong to the world of God's bidding. And so does Gabriel. Also, Jesus and Gabriel are called spirit, and their effect on human souls is so vital that without them people have no life, as is clear from the following statements made by Razi. Regarding Jesus being called the Spirit of God, Razi says:
... because by him, God brought people to life out of deception, just as man lives by the spirit... [19]

And elsewhere he says of Gabriel:
Just as the spirit is the cause of man's life, so Gabriel ... is the cause of life to the hearts, by the knowledge he imparts. [20]

It is clear from this that the names of Jesus and Gabriel could be exchanged without any change in the meaning of the two quotations. This interchangeability is also evident in Baidawi's comment on the confirming of Jesus with the Holy Spirit: '... "by the Holy Spirit" meaning Gabriel, or the spirit of Jesus ...' [21] Baidawi shows no distinction between the confirmation being that of the spirit of Jesus or of Gabriel. If there was a difference, Baidawi would not have placed them alongside each other as he has. Razi likewise places the spirit of Jesus alongside Gabriel. Commenting on the Qur'an, 16:2 ('He sends down the angels with the Spirit of His command'), he says that what is meant by the Spirit is: 'Inspiration', that is, the Word of God ... Calling the 'Inspiration' Spirit is very suitable and appropriate, and what strengthens that [interpretation] is that the word spirit was given in description of Gabriel ... in the Qur'an, 26:193 ('Brought down by the Faithful Spirit') and in description of Jesus in the Qur'an 4: 170, and this description is a good one because due to the existence of both of them, life of the heart and guidance and knowledge (of God) resulted. [22] Thus Razi says that Jesus and Gabriel have the same effect on people's hearts. Jesus and Gabriel are also the same because both were messengers to the prop hets, or the prophets to the prophets. Jesus was the object of Yehia's (John the Baptist's) faith. Jesus was honoured by Yehia, who bowed to him while he was still in the womb. We are told that Yehia was the first to believe that Jesus is the word of God. Jesus did not bow to Yehia, but the opposite happened. Jesus was a prophet to Yehia the prophet. In this Jesus is like Gabriel, the prophet to the prophets. It is no wonder that all the prophets under Divine inspiration spoke of his coming.

While Jesus and Gabriel are alike, Jesus has an added distinction. It is stated by Baidawi, that Jesus was 'called spirit because he used to raise dead bodies and dead hearts to life.' Jesus did not do this metaphorically; he actually did it in time and space. Baidawi says:
'By the holy spirit' meaning Gabriel, or the spirit of Jesus ... or the Majestic Name which Jesus used to raise the dead. [23]

Even though Baidawi does not make a distinction between Gabriel, the spirit of Jesus and the Name of God, I would like to do so for this reason: the raising of the dead is a divine power and hence it is appropriate to ascribe it to God, but not to Gabriel. And so the most appropriate rendering of the title 'the Holy Spirit' is the 'Majestic Name of God', or the 'Spirit of Jesus'. It is this distinction that made Qasemi, a later commentator, see the title 'the Holy Spirit' as referring to the spirit of Jesus and not to Gabriel. He said:
... by the Holy Spirit ... is the pure spirit which God breathed into him and distinguished him from others that He created, for the most High said 'And Spirit from Him' and he, by the Spirit, had the added distinction of having raised many people from the dead. [24]

Nowhere in the Qur'an are we told that Gabriel was given the power to bring dead people back to life. As we have seen previously, this was given only to Jesus. This seems to be the most appropriate interpretation of the confirming of Jesus with the Holy Spirit of Jesus, because the powers of creating and raising the dead belong to God alone and not to Gabriel. Jesus is therefore like Adam, an unprecedented wonder and he is like the Book of God in that he is alive even today. He is also like Gabriel, the bringer of the Book of God, and like the Name of God that raised the dead. This indeed is an impressive array of qualities. Similarities between Gabriel and Jesus are striking and numerous. Let us consider one of these. In his comment on the Qur'an, 16:2 quoted above, Razi equates Jesus and Gabriel (the Holy Spirit), for both are the cause of 'life of the heart and guidance and knowledge [of God]' in people. Once more we can see the oneness of the Holy Spirit and Jesus. This is a unique position that Jesus occupied, as is further indicated by the Qur'anic verse:
And we gave to Moses the Book, and after him sent succeeding Messengers; and we gave Jesus Son of Mary the clear signs, and confirmed him with the Holy Spirit. [25]

Razi rightly observes about this verse that:
The Exclusive allotment of Gabriel [in the Qur'anic text it is the Holy Spirit, not Gabriel] to Jesus is a most distinguishing characteristic, so that not a single prophet of the prophets was thus distinguished. [26]

According to the above statement, the angels who bear the Throne are superior to the prophets, and Gabriel is superior to them. As we have also seen before, Jesus is the only prophet who did not sin and hence did not ask for forgiveness, but possessed a spirit that

... was holy, high, heavenly, shining intensely with Divine lights, and of great proximity to the spirits of the angels. [27]

According to this statement, Jesus was pure and his spirit was very similar to the spirits of the angels. But that is not all, Jesus is superior to all the prophets, as stated previously, but more significantly, his spirit was also interchangeable with Gabriel, the most superior of all the angels.
The Miracle of Christ's Words

The commentators felt that the expression 'confirmed with the Holy Spirit' regarding Jesus is of great importance. In commenting on the Qur'an, 5: 113, Baidawi said of this expression:
... 'with the Holy Spirit' may mean 'with Gabriel', or the spirit of Jesus, or with the words by which religion lives, or with the words by which the human soul lives eternally, and cleanses [people] from sins, or the Majestic Name by which Jesus used to raise the dead. [28]

Razi sees this as being 'a most distinguishing characteristic, so that not a single prophet of the prophets was thus distinguished'. [29] Commentators have considered this expression to be of great significance. They believed this confirming to be as powerful as God's Name, by which the dead can be raised, or the words that proceed out of the mouth of Jesus, which have the power to cleanse people from their sin and to impart eternal life. Commentators considered this distinguishing characteristic to be exclusively Jesus'. Other prophets had power only to warn people from the consequences of sin, but not to cleanse people from their sins and give them eternal life. Jesus was the only prophet who had these powers. The task of Gabriel is believed have been to pass the message of God to other prophets, and then return to attend to the Throne of God, but the task of Gabriel to Jesus was a continuous presence. There with Jesus all the time was the presence of the chief of the angels who is in charge of the angels around the Throne of God the most high, who are engaged in continuous praise and worship. It is not strange then that the commentators moved from defining the confirming of the Holy Spirit as Gabriel, to 'the words by which religion lives, or 'with the words' by which the human soul lives eternally, and cleanses (people) from sins, or the Majestic Name by which Jesus raised the dead' [30] being continuously at the disposal of Jesus. Thus, according to the commentators, the words of Jesus are powerful enough to give life, both eternal and physical, and to cleanse people from their sins. This power belongs exclusively to Jesus. How can that be, when this power is strictly Divine? [31] Ibn 'Araby answered this question when he spoke of the confusion of the spectators on their seeing the divine action of raising the dead by a man. Razi tells the following story about Jesus' disciples:
The disciples of Jesus were twelve in number. This is how they believed in him ... Jesus came across a group of fishermen, amongst them Simion, Jacob and John the son of Zabadi. Jesus ... said to them: 'Now you catch fish, but if you follow me you will catch people for eternal life.' So they asked a miracle of him. Simion had been trying all night to catch fish but caught nothing. Jesus commanded

him to throw his net again, and this time they caught so many fish that the net was about to tear. They asked for help from a nearby ship, and both ships were filled with fish. So they believed in him. [32]

Christ's claim to be able to catch people for eternal life was a great claim indeed. The disciples wanted proof that if they followed him they would catch people for eternal life. Baidawi said that Jesus had the words that impart eternal life. Because the giving of eternal life and the raising of the dead are divine powers, the disciples must have been confused as to how a mere man could perform these acts. So, they wanted Jesus to prove to them that he was capable of doing just that. The followers of Jesus did not ask for proof that he is a prophet; rather, they wanted proof of his power to give eternal life. Thus we can conclude that Jesus did raise people from the dead, that he is able to cleanse people from sins and that he gives people eternal life. This indeed is the miracle of miracles.
Christ, The Saviour

Only two people, according to the Qur'an, were given their names by God before their birth. They were Yehia and Isa (Jesus). Of Isa the Qur'an says:
The angels said, 'Mary, God gives thee good tidings of a Word from Him whose name is Messiah, Isa, Son of Mary ...' [33]

It is worth noting two things about the name 'Isa'. First, Qasemi, in his commentary entitled Mahasen at-Ta'aweel, says:
The name Isa is an Arabic form, from a Greek word, which means saviour, and it is equivalent to Joshua in Hebrew. [34]

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he must have spoken her language, which was a form of Hebrew. Second, that name was given to Jesus by God before his birth. It was not given to him by human beings but by God, whose words are not like people's words. The Qur'an describes the words of God thus:
Perfect are the words of thy Lord in truthfulness and justice; no man can change His words. [35]

and:
God speaks the truth, and guides on the way. [36]

God speaks without exaggeration, only with exactness and perfection. Christ was given the name Jesus by the All-knowing God. His name was as much 'Jesus' as it was 'Son of Mary'. This name given to him by God means 'saviour'. In what way is Jesus a saviour? Is he a saviour because he will rid the world of the false Christ? Or is there another dimension to his salvation? Suyuti relates the following story:

When Jesus and Yehia would come to a village, Jesus would seek the sinners of the village while Yehia would go to the virtuous people of the village. So Yehia asked him: 'Why do you seek the sinful people?' Jesus answered: 'I am a physician, I came only to heal the sick.' [37]

What this story is telling us is that Jesus came to heal the people that were sick from sin and to give them life. He came to save those who are victims of the assaults of Satan. This healing was so complete that he was 'called spirit because he used to raise dead bodies and dead hearts to life.' [38] What kind of life did Jesus give to the sinners he saved? When Razi relates the story of how Jesus came across the group of fishermen including Simion, Jacob and John, he tells us that Jesus said to them, 'Now you catch fish, but if you follow me you will catch people for eternal life'. Jesus is God's appointed saviour. When he was on earth he saved people from their sins. His lifting to be with God does not stop his saving activities. He is God's mighty arm that saves people eternally, especially those who are sick from sins.
Christ, The King

One of the names given to Jesus in the Qur'an is 'the Christ'. [39] Here are a number of meanings of 'Christ' given by various scholars:
The Christ means the blessed one. [40]

He was called the Christ because whoever was sick and Jesus stroked him by His hand must be cured of his sickness. [41] He was called the Christ because He surveyed the earth and did not remain in one place. [42] He was called the Christ because He used to anoint the heads of the orphans for God. [43] He was called the Christ because He was anointed with that which made him pure from sins. [44] He was called the Christ because He was anointed with pure blessed oil used only for anointing prophets. [45] He was called the Christ because He was anointed by the wing of the angel Gabriel and was protected from the touch of Satan. [46] Beauty is an anointing, and so beauty was manifested on him. [47] He was called the Christ because he surveyed the earth, in other words, He can travel through the whole length of it in a short time. Or because, when He came out of His mothers womb, He was already anointed with oil. [48] ... Christ meaning the king. Or Christ meaning 'the righteous' [49] In the above statements the word 'anoint' is the one most frequently used. It refers to Jesus as being anointed or anointing others.

Because of the various meanings of the name 'Christ', we need to look at the original meaning of the word. It is a Hebrew word and not Arabic, as is Gabriel. Baidawi confirms this when he says that 'the word 'Christ' (al-Masih) is originally a Hebrew word (Mashih)'. [50] Qasemi looked at the original meaning of the name 'Christ'. He had this to say:
The original meaning of the title is this: according to their revealed law, whoever the Imam (the religious leader) anoints with the holy ointment, becomes pure, worthy for the kingdom and knowledge and the high degrees of sainthood, and blessed. So the Most High God has indicated, by that title, that Jesus, is in a state of continuous blessedness which results from such anointing, even though he was not anointed. [51]

Qasemi's uses the word 'anoint' in a similar fashion to the commentators quoted above. However, he adds that this anointing makes the anointed person worthy of being a king, equipped with knowledge and the high degree of sainthood so that he can rule in righteousness. Qasemi then goes on to apply that meaning to Jesus, saying that the title was given to Jesus by God, and that Jesus is in a continuous state of blessedness, even though he was not anointed by anyone. Qasemi's explanation is supported by two of the meanings given by Razi, that is, that the 'Christ means the king or the righteous,' [52] and that 'When He came out of His mother's womb, He was already anointed with oil.' [53] Thus, Jesus is the righteous king, even though he was not anointed by any person, but was born already anointed. We now need to ask 'Who anointed Jesus?' If he was not anointed by men, it must have been God the Most High who anointed him., who also gave Jesus the title 'Christ' before he was even born. He is the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the Christ of God. Christ was anointed by God to be king. He was born a king by divine appointment. He is the living king, for when one is anointed by a mortal, both the anointed and the anointee pass away; but the one whom the eternal living God anoints, he is king forever, he is alive with God.
Christ, The Poor Man

Even though Jesus was an anointed king, his life was characterised by material poverty. Razi says:
He was called Zakiya, although he did not own anything from this world. But if you see someone in the market who owns nothing, you class him as a miserable person. For he who is Zaky is the one who has money, but God says he was Zakiya, for poverty was his way of life, and his riches were wisdom and the Book. [54]

What Razi means is that Jesus was poor in worldly possessions yet he was rich in God. Suyuti tells us that Christ was
'born beside a donkey stable and the angels were encompassing him,' [55] 'He had no house to sleep in,' [56] but 'spent the night where evening found him.' [57]

He was a poor and humble king; not born in a palace, not even in a house, but where animals were kept. He was a king who did not even seek the comfort of a house in which to sleep by night. The only property he had was 'the clothes he wore over his skin.' [58] He was a king who came to seek those who were rejected by society. And so he 'kept company with the weak and the poor.' [59] What is the difference between the poverty of Jesus and the poverty of the rest of the world? The main difference is this: When a poor man has an opportunity to accumulate some wealth, he will do that with all his power. Jesus, however, had all the opportunities in the world, yet he put them all aside. He did not even store food for the next day, for as he said:
Every day comes with its sustenance. [60]

In the heart of every poor person there is room for the wealth of this world in some measure. In the heart of Jesus, however, there was room only for God and the poor people of this world. What a wonderful image this is of Christ. Even though he had the knowledge of the unseen and could 'have acquired much good', [61] he chose poverty. He chose to suffer with the lowest of society. No one was poor like him, and no one was rich in God like him.
Christ, The Highest Example

Regarding the character of Jesus, Suyuti states that Jesus said:
Ask me (so that you may learn of me), for my heart is gentle and my spirit is humble. [62]

Although he was a king and his influence and power were unparalleled, he did not loose his humility. In him power and gentleness were not in conflict, majesty and humility were in harmony. Jesus was a poor and humble king, but his kingdom was built on the strongest foundation, that is, love. Suyuti relates God saying to Jesus:
I endowed you with loving the poor and having mercy on them. You love them and they love you. They will be satisfied to have you as their spiritual guide and leader, and you will be happy to have them as your companions and followers. [63]

Jesus' followers obeyed him out of the highest of motives: love, which is free from fear of punishment and allows people to keep their dignity. Jesus called his followers to a life of perfection. He also called his chosen people to be a light to other people, saying:
If you want to be God's chosen people and a light to mankind, forgive those who unjustly treat you, and seek those who do not seek you, and be kind to those who injure you, and lend those who will not pay you back. [64]

Because God is merciful, His chosen people are likewise called to show mercy, so that they might exemplify the Qur'anic description of those 'who avert evil with good'. [65] In keeping with this description, Razi related the following incident:
A man called Shaqiq Ibn Ibrahim Al-Balthami disguised himself and went to another man called 'Abd Allah Al-Mubarak, who asked: 'Where did you come from?' 'From Balkh', he said. 'Do you know Shaqiq?' he asked. 'Yes,' he answered. 'How do you describe his followers?' he asked. Shaqiq said: 'If they are refused something they become patient and if they get given something they show gratitude.' Abd Allah then said: 'This is how our dogs react.' Shaqiq then exclaimed: 'How then should those who are perfect react?' Abd Allah said: 'Those (perfect people), when refused (something), they are thankful, and when given (something) they prefer others to have it.' [66]

Jesus' kingdom is a kingdom that conquers by love, mercy and by averting evil with good. Jesus is the personification of this kingdom. He is the highest example for people to follow. In the Qur'an, we read that Jesus was given by Mohammad as an example:
... when the Son of Mary is cited as an example, behold, thy people turn away from it and say, 'What, are our gods better or he?' [67]

Commenting on that verse Mugahed and Qatada said:
the people of Quraysh said that Mohammad wants us to worship Jesus as the Christians do. [68]

Jesus' example was so highly regarded that the unbelievers in Quraysh asked: '... are our gods better or he?' Jesus' example required a response from the people of Quraysh, who saw him as a threat to their own gods. His example forces people to decide, either to hide behind their false gods or to worship the true and only God. Jesus' example brings to the surface either our best or our worst, because he is the highest example.
Christ Met The Greatest Resistance

Various commentators tell us that Jesus started preaching his message at the age of thirty, [69] and that he was lifted up to heaven when he was thirty-three-and-half years old. [70] That means that his public mission lasted only three-and-half years. During those three-anda-half years Jesus did not only raise people from the dead, he also searched people's souls and became the very touchstone of their deepest spiritual experience. [71] Although he was a man of gentle heart and a humble spirit, [72] he was immovable. [73] In spite of the many miracles he performed, and the many benefits he brought to the masses, he was opposed more vehemently then any other prophet had ever been. 'Abbas al-'Aqqad, a modern Egyptian scholar, has said that: the opposition which confronted Jesus [was] ... the most implacable of any experienced by the prophets of God; more intense in its range and quality than the resistance of other days to other messengers. [74]

This opposition was determined to do away with Jesus no matter what the cost. The author of the City of Wrong, Dr. Kamel Husain, tells us that the Jewish leaders schemed to kill Jesus, and adds that the mere desire to kill him was sufficient to make their act as the most extreme iniquity ever perpetrated in the whole of history:
It was Friday that day, but quite unlike any other day: a day when mankind went grievously astray, so far astray that they reached the extreme of iniquity. [75]

And a few lines later, he adds:
... in this desire of theirs, lay the supreme tragedy of humanity. [76]

Dr. Husain later says:
Thus was accomplished the greatest of the crimes of history - the crime of the condemnation of Christ to crucifixion. [77]

Dr. Husain says that the attempt to kill Christ was the greatest crime in history. Many prophets also suffered much at the hands of the unbelievers, yet 'Abbas al-'Aqqad singles out Christ as the one who was resisted most. Other martyrs also suffered gruesome deaths, yet even the thought of killing Christ outweighs these in the magnitude of its wickedness. Christ was rejected by the people of Quraysh who chose to worship their idols. Christ was rejected by most of the Jews of his time; from them he met the greatest resistance ever. Christ is still being resisted in spite of all God's attestations to who he is.

1. The Qur'an, 3:59. 2. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 3:39. 3. Irshad as-Sary le-Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari , vol. 9, p. 357. (See also Sahih al-Bukhari , Part 8, Bab Tahaag Adam Wa Musa.) 4. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 4:170. 5. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 5:113. 6. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 3:39. 7. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 3:39. 8. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 4:171. 9. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 5:113. 10. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 4:171. 11. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 3:39. 12. The Qur'an, 42:52. 13. The Qur'an, 17:85. 14. The Qur'an, 28:86. 15. The Qur'an, 4:171. 16. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting son Q. 19:34. 17. The Qur'an, 9:40. 18. The Qur'an, 4:157, 158.

19. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 3: 39. 20. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 2:87. 21. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 5:113. 22. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 16:2: 'He sends down the angels with the Spirit of His command.' 23. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 2:87. 24. Qasemi, on commenting on Q. 2:87. 25. The Qur'an, 2:87. 26. Razi, commenting on Q. 2:87. 27. Razi, commenting on Q. 4:157. 28. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 5:113. 29. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, Q. 2:87. 30. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 5:113. 31. The Qur'an, 9:72 'God has promised the believers, men and women, gardens underneath which rivers flow, forever therein to dwell.' 32. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, on Q. 3:52. 33. The Qur'an, 3:45. 34. Qasemi, commenting on Q. 3:45. 35. The Qur'an, 6:115. 36. The Qur'an, 33:5. 37. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3:48. 38. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 4:170. 39. The Qur'an, 3 45, and 4:171. 40. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 3:45. 41. Qurtuby, commentary on Q. 3:45. 42. Qurtuby, commentary on Q. 3:45. 43. Qurtuby, commentary on Q. 3:45. 44. Qurtuby, commentary on Q. 3:45. 45. Qurtuby, commentary on Q. 3:45. 46. Qurtuby, commentary on Q. 3:45. 47. Qurtuby, commentary on Q. 3:45. 48. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 3:45. 49. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 3:45. 50. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 3:45. 51. Qasemi, commenting on Q. 3:45. 52. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 3:45. 53. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 3:45. 54. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, on Q.19:19. 55. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3:36. 56. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3:48. 57. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3:48. 58. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3:48. 59. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3:48. 60. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3:48. 61. The Qur'an, 7:188. 62. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3:48.

63. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3:48. 64. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3:48. 65. The Qur'an, 13:22. 66. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 13:22. 67. The Qur'an , 43:57. 68. Ibn-Kathir, commenting on Q. 43: 57. 69. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3:49. 70. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3:49. 71. 'Abd at-Tafahum', The Muslim World, vol. xIvi., no. 2, April 1956, PP. 132-133. 72. Suyuti, commenting on Q. 3: 48. 73. Othman I. Yahya (ed.), Al-Tirimizi, Kitab Khatm Al-Awliya, Imperial Catholique, Beirut, 1965, P. 62. 74. 'Abd at-Tafahum', The Muslim World, vol. xIvi, no. 2, April 1956, P. 133. 75. Mohammad Kamel Husain, Qaryah Zalimah, Cairo, 1954, PP. 1-3. 76. Mohammad Kamel Husain, Qaryah Zalimah, Cairo, 1954, PP. 1-3. 77. Mohammad Kamel Husain, Qaryah Zalimah, Cairo, 1954, P. 74.

Part 2: The Christ of History
Chapter 8: A Time for Reflection

As we did in Part One about the Christ of the future, let us make a quick overview of what we have learned about the Christ of history as Muslim scholars have seen him. 1. Jesus' miraculous virgin birth is 'like the unprecedented wonders of the original creation'. [1] 2. Jesus was sinless. 3. Jesus is described as blessed, continuously and unconditionally. 4. Jesus is the man of miracles. 'Together those miracles were not performed by anyone else.' [2] 5. Jesus, according to the Qur'an, is the only one who created from clay, by his breath by God's leave. 6. Jesus, according to the Qur'an, is the only one who raised people from the dead, by God's leave, and he did so by utterance. ie. by a word. 7. Jesus is the only person concerning whose coming all the prophets prophesied. He was called the Word of God, because he was prophesied about in the books of the prophets before his birth. [3] 8 Jesus is the only prophet to whom another prophet bowed while he was still in the womb. 9. No one was given the complete revelation except Jesus. [4] 10. Jesus is the only one who was confirmed by the Holy Spirit, [5] with whom the Spirit dwelled all the time. 11. While others will be given certain degrees in Paradise as their reward, Jesus' reward is greater than all of Paradise, for Jesus' reward is nothing less than God. Jesus is the only person who was lifted up to God. 12. The Qur'an singles out Jesus from all the prophets as the Knowledge of the Hour, to be the proof and hope of the resurrection, and of God's just recompense. 13. Jesus is God's choice to defeat God's enemy, the Dajjal. 14. Jesus is the only one, according to the Qur'an, who is described as eminent in both this life and the life to come. Jesus' miracles are an indication of his eminence in the life to come. 15. Jesus is the only one who is like Adam, yet unlike Adam he remained perfect.

16. Jesus is the only one who is likened to the Book of God [6] and the Qur'an. [7] 17. Jesus is like Gabriel. 18 Jesus' words are powerful enough even to give eternal life, cleanse from sin and 'cause the life of religion'. [8] 19. God named Jesus, meaning 'Saviour'. He lived up to this name, and is still alive. He is God's appointed saviour. 20. One of the titles given to Jesus by God is 'Christ', meaning 'king'. Mortals anoint mortal kings, but the one anointed by the living God is king forever. 21. Jesus was truly poor by his own choice, in order that people might be rich in God. 22. Christ is the highest example. 23. Out of all the prophets, Jesus was the most greatly opposed. The mere contemplation of killing him constituted the greatest crime in history. 24. Jesus will come to judge the whole world. From the above summary, we can see that Jesus was distinguished by God. His distinctions were many. The Sufi scholars have contemplated long on what should be the personality of what they called the Perfect Man. They described him and wondered who is he and what his nature could be? Such contemplation is reflected in the following discussion:
He is the summation of the possible [9] and Divine truths.....the servant, who must be called God's Vice-Regent and Representative. He has complete influence over all that is possible. He has the perfect will, and He is the most perfect (Divine) manifestation....The scholars differed as to whether it is possible that there could be two such Perfect Men? Or can there only be one person? If there is only one person, who is He? To which part of existence does He belong? Is He a human being? Is he a Jinn? Or is He an angel? [10]

In answer to the first question, it is obvious there is only one Perfect Man. He is Jesus the Christ. Unlike the rest of humanity, Jesus was perfect in every possible way. He possessed all virtues, and in that, he is incomparable. Furthermore, some of Jesus' distinguishing characteristics cannot be contested. Concerning his miracles one might argue that in the future someone else may perform greater miracles than Jesus. Even the miracle of his virgin birth may be repeated. However, Jesus' role as the Judge of the World who will destroy Dajjal, as the sign of the Hour and as eminent in the life to come cannot be contested. He is the only one to have been chosen by God to bear these distinctions. This sets Jesus apart from the rest of humanity, and indeed from other prophets. Jesus is the Perfect Man, the only Perfect Man, for: No other person was born of a virgin. No other person has been described as sinless, most pure and blessed. No other person has performed all the miracles Jesus performed. No other person raised the dead by utterance or created as Jesus did. No other person was prophesied about by the prophets before him. No other person was believed in and introduced by the bowing down of a prophet. No other person was given the complete revelation by God. No other person enjoyed the continuous presence of the Holy Spirit. No other person was lifted up to be with God. No other person shares with Jesus the honour of being the Knowledge of the Hour.

No other person will share in the task of destroying the Dajjal. No other person was described as the most eminent in this world and the world to come. No other person was likened to Gabriel, and the Book of God. No other person's words are said to give eternal life and cleanse people from sins. No other person was named 'Isa' (Jesus) by God, meaning 'Saviour'. No other person has been called by God 'Christ', meaning king, and no other person was called by God the 'Word of God' and the 'Spirit of God'. No other person was poor like him, nor rich in God like him. No other person was presented as the highest example. No other person met as vehement resistance as Jesus. No other person will share Jesus' role as the Judge of the whole world. Why has Jesus been set apart from the whole of the created order? Why are all these distinguishing characteristics seen only in him? The answer lies in the fact that these characteristics are not of human origin, they are not an accident; they are the divine attestations to the prominence of Jesus. Consider the first point; the fact that Jesus was born of a virgin. It was not an accident but a deliberate, divine act. Should the reader observe that a printer, in the process of sending books to different locations, wraps them in various types of inexpensive paper, yet he sends one different book wrapped in cloth of purest white silk, he would be justified in believing that such deliberate care on the part of the sender is saying that this particular book is precious and unique. The Qur'an states the following of the virgin Mary: 'Mary, God has chosen thee and purified thee; He has chosen thee above all women' [11]. God, from the very beginning, has set him above every one else by this deliberate, divine act. Or consider the lifting up of Jesus to be with God. This again is not the result of an evolutionary process but another deliberate, divine act. In most households there are many different kinds of books. If one were to observe that all the books in that household, after being read and used for many years are placed in the garage, yet one book was kept in the most honourable place forever, he would be similarly right in believing that this book is forever more precious than all the other books. Peasants and prophets came to this world and then returned to dust. Jesus did not. He was lifted up to be with God. Thus we can see from beginning to end God has intentionally set Jesus above every one. Those who reflected on the person of Jesus, were captivated by his uniqueness. To the Sufis, Jesus is the Seal of the universal sainthood. And the following words of Tirimizi are a good summation of the Christ as set forth in this second Part of our book. Tirimizi wrote about the seal of the saints:
This is a servant. God undertook to work through him. In God's hand he moves. By God he utters, and hears, and sees, and punishes, and comprehends. God distinguished him in his earth, and made him the leader (Imam) of his creation, the focus of the inhabitants of heaven, the sweet basil of the soul, and God's private possession, the object of God's protection, the mine of God's secrets. And he is God's whip in His earth; by him He chastises His creation, and by looking at him God raises back to life dead hearts, and restores the people to His way, and by him God revives His claims upon mankind. ... He is the key to the right way, and the light of the world. He is the trustee over the leaf

of the saints, and their leader, and the one, standing, glorifying his Lord, before the messenger of God! By him the messenger regarding him will boast, God will extol his name in that station, and the eye of the messenger will be delighted!

God has captured his heart all the days of his life, and graced him with His heavenly wisdom, and presented him with His monotheism, and kept his way from the blemish of seeing the self, and the shadow of desire. God trusted him with the leaf of the saints and made known to him their stations, and revealed to him their ranks. He is the master of the nobles, he is the virtuous of the wise, the healing of all medicine, and the leader of the physicians. His words arrest the hearts; seeing him is healing to the souls. His arrival vanquishes desires; his nearness cleanses from defilements. He is a spring, that his light blossoms forever; an autumn, that its fruits are tirelessly harvested, a cave to be resorted to for refuge, and a mine whose treasures are hoped for. He is a division between truth and falsehood. He is the righteous and the divider, the saint and the expert and the spokesman. He is God's one in His earth! [12] Some might argue that this may have been written to describe the seal of the Mohammedan sainthood Ibn 'Arabi. Yet Ibn 'Arabi himself considered Jesus to be his master. In al-Fotuhat al-Makkiah, another book by Ibn 'Arabi, we read the following: [13]
The seals are two - a seal by which God seals the universal sainthood and a seal by which God seals the Mohammedan sainthood. The seal of the sainthood, in the absolute sense, is Jesus. He is the saint of the absolute prophethood in the time of this nation ... He will come at the end time as the inheritor and the seal, no saint after him ... He is Jesus. He is from us and he is our master! [14]

By Ibn 'Araby's admission Jesus is the master of the seal of the Mohammedan sainthood. Ibn 'Arabi, the seal of the Mohammedan Sainthood owes his repentance to Jesus the Word of God. Listen to him saying,
I met with him [that is Ibn-'Araby met with Jesus] many times, he is the one who instructed me and helped me to repent (literally it says, upon his hands I repented). He invoked God's blessing in my favour so that I can be firm in the faith in this life and the next; and he called me beloved, and commanded me to renounce the world and to be an ascetic. [15]

If Tirimizi's description was said of Ibn 'Arabi what would he say of his master then? The question that still remains unanswered is this: What is the nature of Jesus the Christ? What is the nature of the Perfect Man? We will answer that question in Part Three.

1. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 3:39. 2. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 2:253.

3. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 3:39. 4. The Qur'an, 3:48. 5. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 2:87. 6. Baidawi, commenting on Q. 3:39. 7. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 4:171. 8. Baidawi, commenting on 5:113. 9. The word used is al-Mumkinat: plural of Mumkin: the possibilities. In logic a distinction is made between Mumkin (possible), Wajib (necessary) and ja'iz (contingent); from the metaphysical point of view the possible amounts principally to the necessary, since of necessity every possibilty has the reality that conforms to its nature. Defined by Burckhardt, Titus, An Introduction To Sufi Doctrine, Thorsons Publishers Limited, Wellingborough Northamptonshire, 1976, p121,122 10. Al-Tirimizi, Kitab Khatm al-Awliya, Edited by Othman I. Yahya, Imperial Catholique, Beirut, 1965, P.274. 11. The Qur'an, 3:42. 12. Al-Tirimizi, Kitab Khatm al-Awliya, (Othman I. Yahya, editor), Imperial Catholique, Beirut, 1965, pp. 457-458 (quoted from Nawader Al-Osul, pp. 157-158. 13. Al-Tirimizi, Kitab Khatm al-Awliya, (Othman I. Yahya, editor), Imperial Catholique, Beirut, 1965, p. 161 (quoted from Fotuhat Makkiah, 2:49.) 14. Al-Tirimizi, Kitab Khatm al-Awliya, Edited by Othman I. Yahya, Imperial Catholique, Beirut, 1965, p. 161. 15. Al-Tirimizi, Kitab Khatm al-Awliya, Edited by Othman I. Yahya, Imperial Catholique, Beirut, 1965, P.162

Part 4: Strike The Truth In The Cross
Chapter 1: The Theory of Substitution

In this fourth part of our book we investigate the controversial subject of Jesus' exit from this earth to be with God. It is a subject which has generated much heat and discussion, not only between Muslims and Christians, but also amongst Muslims themselves across the centuries. The question is: 'Was Jesus lifted up, body and spirit to be with God, without experiencing death on the over or was he crucified, dead, then raised from the dead and lifted up?' Here we deal with that old question, firstly by looking at the material presented by commentators of the Qur'an, tracing the thoughts of those of early times through to the present day; and secondly, by examining the contribution some modern thinkers have made on the subject. Before we begin, however, we must remember that it is the Truth we seek to know, and not merely the traditions handed down by our forefathers. The truth is never afraid of testing, nor does it shy away from scrutiny. The Qur'an states:
God strikes both the true and the false. As for the scum, it vanishes as jetsam, and what profits men abides in the earth. [1] Dr. Qaradawi, commenting on this verse said, The Qur'an likens the Truth with running water and a useful metal, and likens what is false with the scum or the foam of water which goes downstream ... and what remains is the Truth. [2] The truth, any truth, can stand the strikes of the hammers of investigation and criticism, but error and falsehood will burst and vanish at the slightest touch, as does foam. The Truth is not afraid of being handled, touched, examined from a closer vantage point, but error shrinks from any of these things. Error can only stand behind the label "Do Not Touch". Truth is so solid that it can bear to be struck by men, by demons, even by God Himself, as the above Qur'anic verse states.

THE QUR'ANIC PASSAGES The following are the passages in the Qur'an which deal with our subject. Two translations will be cited, N.J. Dawood of the Penguin Classics, and A.J. Arburry of the World's Classics.
1. 'Peace be upon me, the day I was born, and the day I die, the day I am raised up alive' [3] (A.J. Arburry). Dawood's translation is substantially the same.

2. 'He said: "Isa (Jesus), I am about to cause you to die and lift you up to me. I shall take you away from the unbelievers and exalt your followers above them till the Day of the Resurrection."' [4] (N.J. Dawood) 'When God said, "Isa, I will take thee to me, and will raise thee to me, and I will purify thee of those who believe not. I will set thy followers above the unbelievers till the resurrection day.'" [5] (A.J. Arburry) 3. 'They declared: "We have put to death the Messiah Isa son of Mary, the apostle of Allah." They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but they thought they did. Those that disagreed about him were in doubt concerning his death, for what they

knew about it was sheer conjecture, they were not sure that they had slain him. Allah lifted him up to His presence; He is mighty and wise.' [6] (N.J. Dawood) 'And for their saying, "We slew the Messiah, Isa son of Mary, the messenger of God"yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him; only a likeness of that was shown to them. And those who are at variance concerning him are in doubt regarding him; they have no knowledge of him, except the following of surmise; and they slew him not of a certainty - no indeed; God raised him up to Him; God is All-mighty and Wise.' [7] (A.J. Arburry) 4. 'And when God said, 'O Isa son of Mary, didst thou say unto men "take me and my mother as gods, apart from God?". He said "To Thee be Glory! It is not mine to say what I have no right to ...I was a witness over them, while I remained among them, but when thou didst take me to Thyself, Thou wast Thyself the watcher over them, Thou Thyself art witness of everything."' [8] (A.J. Arburry). Dawood's translation is substantially the same.
A SURVEY OF THE INTERPRETATIONS OF THE QUR'ANIC PASSAGES Following the development of the interpretation of the above passages, beginning with the earliest reports (as far as possible) to the latest theories, we will rely on Tabari's commentary, as it is the earliest commentary available dealing with the subject at some length, and it is also the one which influenced subsequent commentators, right up to the present day. [9]

Tabari records two kinds of reports about what is believed to have happened to Jesus. We will cite the samples that typify each kind, then survey Tabari's analysis of them. Later on we will survey the subsequent interpretations of the Qur'anic passages by other commentators.
TABARI'S REPORTS THE FIRST KIND OF REPORT

Tabari gives the following report which seems to be the earliest report on the belief that someone else was substituted for Jesus and so was killed instead of Jesus. According to one group of traditions, as a result of Jesus' request for a substitute to be killed in his place, only one person had the likeness of Jesus cast upon him. Tabari records six traditions with this particular feature, of which this is a representative example :
The Jews surrounded Jesus, and nineteen of his disciples in a house. Jesus then said to his disciples, 'Who will take my likeness and get killed, and Paradise will be his?' One of the disciples accepted, and Jesus was lifted up. When the disciples came out the Jews saw that they were nineteen in number. The disciples told the Jews that Jesus was lifted up to heaven. The Jews counted them and found that one of their number was missing, yet they saw that one who accepted the likeness of Jesus amongst them, so they were in doubt concerning him. They then killed that man, thinking him to be Jesus, and crucified him. [10]

In another tradition all the disciples were turned to the likeness of Jesus. There is only one report with this particular feature. Tabari relates; on the authority of a Jewish convert called Wahb, the following story:

Jesus and seventeen of his disciples went into a house. There, they were surrounded [by the Jews who were seeking Jesus]. So when they entered, God cast the likeness of Jesus on the whole group. The Jews exclaimed, 'You have cast a spell on us! Either bring forth Jesus or we shall kill you all' Jesus then said to the disciples: 'Who amongst you will buy today Paradise in exchange of his life?'. One of the disciples said: 'I will' So he went out saying: I am Jesus. Being changed into the likeness of Jesus, they then took him and killed him, believing him to be Jesus. Hence, 'It was made only to appear so to them'. And the Christians also believed the same. And God lifted Jesus up that day. [11]

THE SECOND KIND OF REPORT

Here is the only sample of the second kind of Tabari's reports. This version differs in many ways from the others, the essential difference being that in this one, Jesus does not ask for a volunteer to take his place and so die instead of him, but God cast the likeness of Jesus on some unspecified person. This report is also related on the authority of the same man called Wahb.
When God informed Jesus that he would soon leave this world, He was troubled by death, and grieved. He therefore called the disciples together for a meal saying, 'Come all of you tonight for I have a favour to ask of you.' When they all had come, He served them Himself, and when they had finished eating, He washed their hands and helped them to perform their ablutions with His own hands, and wiped their hands on His garments. The disciples considered this as an act below the master's dignity and expressed their disapproval. But Jesus said, 'Anyone who disagrees with Me in what I do tonight is not of me, nor I of him.' Thus they accepted. When He had finished, he said, 'As for what I have done for you tonight, serving you at table and washing your hands with My own hands, let that be an example for you. You consider Me the best of you, so let no one among you consider himself better than the others, and let each one of you offer his life for the others as I have laid down (or sacrificed) my life for you. As for the favour I ask of you, it is that you pray to God fervently that He may prolong My life.'

But when the disciples stood up to pray, they were overcome by sleep, so they were unable to pray. He began to rouse them, but they were too sleepy ... Then Jesus said, 'The shepherd will be taken away and the sheep will be scattered'. He continued, 'In truth, I say to you, one of you will deny Me three times before the cock crows. And another will sell Me for a few pieces of silver and consume My price'. After this they left Him and went out, each going his own way. The Jews then came seeking Him, and they seized Sham'un , saying, 'He is one of his companions', but he denied, saying, 'I am not his companion'. Others also seized him and he likewise denied. Then he heard the crowing of a cock, and he wept bitterly. The next morning, one of His disciples went to the Jews and said, 'What will you give me if I lead you to the Christ?' They gave him thirty pieces of silver, which he took and led them to Him. Before that, however, they became under an illusion [or an apparition appeared to them or they imagined it]. Thus they took Him after ascertaining that it was He, and tied Him with a rope. They dragged Him, saying, 'You raised the dead and cast out Satan, and healed those who were demon possessed, can you not save yourself from this rope?' They also spat on Him and placed thorns

upon His head. Then they brought Him to the wood on which they wanted to crucify Him. God, however, took Him up to Himself and they crucified the man who seemed to them to be Jesus. Then Jesus remained seven days. Then His mother and the woman whom Jesus cured from madness came to weep in the place where the crucified one was. Jesus came to them and said, 'For whom do you weep?' They answered, 'For you' He said, 'God had taken Me up to Himself and no harm befell Me. For this is a thing which only appeared to them. Go now and tell the disciples to meet Me at such and such a place' So eleven disciples went and met Him, but the one who sold Him and led the Jews to Him was missing. Jesus asked His companions about Him and they said, 'He regretted what he did, so he hanged and killed himself.' Jesus said, 'Had he repented, God surely would have pardoned him.' [12]
TABARI'S ANALYSIS OF THE FIRST KIND OF REPORT Let us consider Tabari's analysis of the first kind of report, that is, where Jesus asked for someone to have his likeness cast upon him.

Tabari found a problem with all versions of these reports because they included this request, since it would have made the disciples fully aware of what actually happened. [13] And that, according to Tabari's understanding of the Qur'anic verse (Q. 4:157,158), would make the followers of Jesus certain of what actually happened, not uncertain and confused, following conjecture, as the Qur'anic verse states. The request of Jesus for a volunteer (according to Tabari's understanding of that verse) contradicts the Qur'an. Tabari believed that neither the disciples nor the Jews knew what actually happened. The disciples of Jesus sincerely believed that Jesus was crucified, and so were not lying. They simply reported what they saw with their eyes, but their eyes deceived them. What they saw was not in reality Jesus dying on the cross. From that time on all the followers of Jesus did not know what actually happened to him, until the time of the Qur'an, when the true story was revealed. Here, the problem is stated in Tabari's words:
The disciples would have been eye witnesses of the lifting up of Jesus, and eye witnesses of the transforming of the disciple who consented to have the likeness of Jesus cast upon him. So the disciples would not be confused or in doubt as to what actually happened. Though their enemies the Jews would have been confused as they thought that the one they killed was Jesus.... For how can the disciples be confused when they heard the words of Jesus: 'Who among you would consent to have my likeness (shabahi) cast upon him, be killed, and be my companion in Paradise?'... and also heard the answer of his disciple: 'I would', and witnessed the transforming of that disciple into the likeness of Jesus? [14]

In the second version, where all the disciples had the likeness of Jesus cast upon them, there is an atmosphere of confusion. In this case, everywhere the disciples looked they saw the likeness of Jesus. But the problem of Jesus' request for a volunteer to take his place still remains. Although all had the likeness of Jesus, yet they knew the one who volunteered was the one then killed. This version also would leave only the Jews confused about the true identity of the crucified one, and not the disciples of Jesus. Again, that is contrary to the

belief that both the Jews and the disciples did not know what actually happened. For both the Jews and the followers of Jesus say that Jesus was crucified. It is not only that the above versions pose this problem but it could be argued they also make one of the disciples to be a liar, with the consent of Jesus, for he claimed to be Jesus when he was not. These stories then have problems. Tabari, however, prefers the two reports given on the authority of Wahb. He prefers the report in which all the disciples were changed to look like Jesus, but with the provision that Jesus' request for a substitute be omitted altogether from the report. [15] The alternative acceptable report also given on the authority of Wahb, has Jesus betrayed by one of his disciples. In this report, Jesus does not ask for a substitute to take his place:
The disciples of Jesus deserted him before the Jews came to arrest him. Jesus then remained alone, but his likeness was cast on one of his disciples who had been with him in the house and subsequently left him. In this way he was changed. This man was killed and the disciples and the Jews thought that the one who was killed was Jesus, since they saw his likeness on him. The truth was hidden from them ... the disciples then cannot be considered as liars because they simply told what they saw as it appeared to them. [16]

Tabari's finding then is this: Jesus did not ask for a volunteer, but somehow the likeness of Jesus was cast on someone who then died on the cross instead of Jesus. TABARI'S THEORY CHALLENGED Tabari's theory has been challenged, for without Jesus' request for a volunteer to die on the cross instead of him, God is presented as an unjust God who made an innocent man to suffer for another against his will. Here is what Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub had to say concerning this problem:
Important to most of the substitutionist interpretations is the idea that whoever bore the likeness of Jesus, and consequently his suffering and death, did so voluntarily. It must have been felt by Hadith transmitters and commentators that for God to cause an innocent man to die unjustly to save another would be divine wrongdoing (zulm), which cannot be predicated of God. Thus the theory which eventually gained most popularity was that one of the disciples voluntarily accepted death as a ransom for his master. [17]

So we are back to square one, with a theory retaining the inherent problem of Jesus' request for a volunteer, that was rejected by Tabari. If that substitute voluntarily accepted death in place of Jesus, then we have the inescapable objection which was rightfully and logically raised by Tabari. How can the disciples be confused, having heard the request of Jesus and the answer of his disciple, and having witnessed the transforming of that disciple into the likeness of Jesus? [18] This being contrary to the Qur'an 4:158. If, however, we accept Tabari's theory, that would make God to be unjust; for He cast the likeness of Jesus on someone against his will, causing one that was innocent to be killed. This substitution theory, contradicts the Qur'an as well as the character of God!

THE PUNISHMENT SUBSTITUTION

After Tabari the substitution theory was not totally rejected, but took a new form. In this new form, God is completely clear of the charge of injustice. Some versions of this theory go like this:
When God changed those who insulted Jesus and his mother into animals, [as a result of Jesus' request to God], Judas the leader of the Jews heard about it, and was afraid that he might be transformed to an animal too. So he gathered the Jews together and agreed to kill Jesus. Gabriel made Jesus enter the top part of a house with a sky light in the ceiling. Then Gabriel lifted him up. Judas the leader of the Jews sent one of his friends, whose name was Titanus, into the house to kill him, but he could not see him, so he delayed. The people outside thought he was fighting with him in the upper part of the house. There God cast the likeness of Jesus on that man, and when he came out to his friends, they killed him and crucified him. Some say that God cast the likeness of Jesus only on the man's face and not on his body. The people said, 'The face is Jesus' face but the body is Titanus' body'' Others said, 'If this is Titanus, then where is Jesus, and if this is Jesus, where is Titanus?' [19]

In this version Jesus did not ask for a volunteer, and the one who was kille d and crucified was not an innocent man, so he deserved to be killed. In this report neither the Jews nor the disciples knew what actually happened. Indeed they were confused, for the face was that of Jesus but the body was that of Titanus. Here Tabari's lost link is found, and his objection is answered. Also, God is not portrayed as unjust. This report was related on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas, who was one of the very early companions of the Prophet (he was four years old when the Prophet died). So that tradition must have been known to Tabari. One wonders why, then, Tabari did not use this report. It would have been a perfect one for his understanding of Q. 4:157,158. Indeed this report does not appear at all in Tabari's collection of the reports he mentions in his commentary!
THE PROBLEM OF THE SUBSTITUTION THEORY The theory of substitution in whatever form it took was not safe from the scrutiny of those who wrestled with this issue. A commentator who carefully analysed and discussed the substitution theory and its implications at great length was Fakhr ad-Din al-Razi (d. 606/1209).

Razi, after surveying all the forms of the substitution theory, said, 'These forms (of the substitution theory) are contradictory and conflicting and God knows the truth of the matter.' [20] But this contradictory nature did not cause Razi to reject the substitution theory totally, for he understood the Qur'anic verse, 'They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but they thought they did' [21] to mean that God did cast the likeness of Jesus upon someone, who was killed instead of Jesus. [22] Razi, however, admits there are six problems with the theory of substitution. 1. Razi asked the question, 'If it can be claimed that the likeness of one man could be cast on another, this would open the gate of sophistry. For if we see Zayd, maybe he is not Zayd, but it is the likeness of Zayd that was cast on another. Then no marriage or ownership rights could be ascertained. Further, this would lead to doubt concerning historically transmitted reports. This historical transmission provides a sure source of knowledge... If, however, we allow the possibility of the occurrence of such confusion of identity, this would lead to doubt

concerning the historically transmitted reports and in turn this would finally lead people to doubt all sacred laws... 'In sum, the opening of such a gate of sophistry necessitates doubting the truthfulness of historical reports, and this in turn leads to doubt in fundamentals, and that leads to doubting the prophethood of all prophets. This is a path leading to doubt in fundamentals, and must therefore be rejected.' [23] 2. Since 'the Most High God commanded Gabriel to accompany Jesus in most circumstances (for that is what the commentators said of His words 'I confirmed you with the Holy Spirit'), and since the tip of one of the wings of Gabriel is sufficient to destroy the whole world, how then is it that Gabriel was unable to protect him from the Jews? Besides he [Jesus] himself was able to raise the dead and heal the blind and the leper. How is it that he could not destroy those Jews who intended to harm him...?' [24] 3. If 'God, the Most High, was able to save him from his enemies by lifting him up to Himself, what was the advantage of casting the likeness of Jesus on another, except the charge that the innocent substitute died to no real gain for himself?' 4. 'If the likeness of Jesus was cast on some one else and Jesus was lifted up to heaven, leaving people to believe that the crucified was Jesus when he was not; that amounts to forcing ignorance and deception on people. And that is not worthy of God's wisdom.' 5. 'The Christians in masses, east and west, in spite of their strong love for Jesus, and their exaggeration concerning him, reported that they saw him dying on the cross. If we deny their report, that would be doubting the historically transmitted reports, and such doubt necessitates doubt in the prophethood of Mohammad, and the prophethood of Jesus, even their existence, and the existence of all the prophets.' 6. 'It is historically transmitted that the crucified remained alive for quite a while on the cross, if he was not Jesus he must have expressed his own agony, and said 'I am not Jesus but I am someone else'. He also must have tried very hard to convince people of his case. But since nothing like that was reported, it follows then that the claim of a substitute is not true.' [25] The important point drawn from Razi's writings is this: Once we doubt that Zayd is Zayd, but suspect that Zayd might be someone else, what guarantee is there that Jesus was Jesus or Mohammad was Mohammad? And what guarantee is there now that what they said is truly what they said? If divine knowledge or anything is to be reliable, such confusion cannot be admitted, for then how can we be certain of anything at all?

RAZI'S POSSIBLE SCENARIO Razi offers the opinion of some who said:
When Christ was taken up, the Jews took a man whom they killed, claiming that he was Jesus, for Jesus was a man little given to social intercourse, and thus known only to a few chosen companions. The Christian agreement in the transmission of the crucifixion goes back to a few people whose agreement on a false report is not improbable." [26]

Dr. Ayoub gives a more detailed account of the above story: 'The Jews sought to kill Jesus, but God took him up to Himself. They therefore took another whom they crucified on a high and isolated hill, allowing no one to come near him until his features had changed beyond

recognition. They were thus able to conceal the fact of Jesus' Ascension, which they witnessed, and to spread false reports of his death and crucifixion.' [27] (Emphasis added) The main idea behind the above story is to remove the problem that God is the author of this deception and the cause of this confusion of identity, because 'for God to allow such confusion of identity for whatever reason would be too irrational and therefore inadmissible.' [28] In this solution, it is not God who is the author of this confusion of identity, but the Jews. God is not portrayed here as a deceiver but as helpless against the scheming of the Jews. For the Jews win and God loses control. His purpose has been defeated. For the Jews have managed to conceal the fact of Jesus' Ascension, which is a mighty work of God. The Jews managed to make it void as if God did not do it. In the above solution while God's justice and rationality are met, as far as those who hold this view are concerned, God's purpose in the Ascension of Jesus, is thwarted and the Jews are seen as outsmarting God. This theory makes a mockery of God's sovereignty and greatness. The earliest form of substitution was based on divine deception, but this one is based on human deception which turns the power of God to naught. Furthermore, according to the above story, if the Jews were eye witnesses of the Ascension, were the disciples also eye witnesses? Would God reveal the Ascension to the unbelieving Jews and hide it from the faithful band of the followers of Jesus, and leave them in darkness, ignorance and grief? And if they were eye witnesses, then the disciples could have told everyone that the crucified one was not Jesus but that it was a lie, and that Jesus was lifted up to be with God. If this theory were true then the Jews have also succeeded in misleading the followers of Jesus, and thus thwarted God's purpose. These disciples believed in him and the Qur'an called them 'Shuhoud', that is 'eye witnesses' when it said of them: 'Count us amongst the witnesses' [29] Razi himself, commenting on the description of the disciples as witnesses said, 'The request of the disciples to be counted amongst the witnesses was answered, and God made them prophets and apostles.' [30] Could those disciples whom God made prophets and apostles be so cut off from God that they knew neither what actually happened to Jesus, nor that the Jews were only lying concerning the crucified one? Razi also said that 'since the disciples were described as witnesses, their testimony was associated with God's mention, and this is a high degree and a great rank.' [31] If those whose mention is placed along side God's witness were deceived by the Jews, that would make a mockery of the testimony of God to the disciples of Jesus. Besides God could have easily revealed to those disciples of Jesus that he was not crucified, and that the Jews were only telling a lie. Such a theory would run contrary to the purpose of God in establishing His truth, and contrary to the nature of God, who miraculously lifted Jesus up but could do nothing for his followers. If the substitution theory makes a mockery of divine justice this theory would make mockery of God's covenant with the faithful band that followed Jesus.

THE INFLUENCE OF THE GOSPEL OF BARNABAS The 'Gospel of Barnabas' did not appear until the sixteenth century. With the appearing of this 'gospel' we see the return of one of the old forms of the substitution theory. This gospel tells us:
Judas Iscariot led the Jews and Roman soldiers to arrest Jesus at night in a house. When God saw the danger approaching his servant He ordered Gabriel and Mikhaiel and Rafaiel and Oryiel, His ambassadors, to take Jesus from the world. So they took Him out of the southern window of the house and carried Him up to heaven. All the disciples were asleep, and the wonderful God acted wonderfully, insomuch that Judas was so changed in speech and in face that the disciples believed him to be Jesus. And Judas, having awakened the disciples, was seeking where the master was. The disciples marvelled, and answered: 'Thou, Lord, art our master'. He smiling said: 'Now are ye foolish, that know not me to be Judas Iscariot.' ... The soldiers came and arrested Judas, then he was taken and crucified. He lost his mind so that his incoherent protests were considered as those of a madman. Jesus, on the other hand, appeared after three days to his mother and the rest of the disciples to comfort and reassure them that he did not die, he even requested from the four angels to testify that he did not die. Then before their eyes the four angels carried him up into heaven. [32]

After so many modifications to the substitution theory, Dr. Ayoub had this to say about the Gospel of Barnabas:
This is most probably a late work, written under Islamic influence and agreeing with Islam on many crucial points. [33]

In other words it is most probably a forged work, written under Islamic influence. Because of that influence the author took an obvious Islamic position on many crucial points in the debate between Christians and Muslims. This gospel also contradicts the Qur'an in that it calls Mohammad the 'Christ'. Nowhere in the Qur'an do we find that Mohammad is called the Christ, rather it is Jesus Son of Mary who is called the Christ. The Gospel of Barnabas, then, teaches a version of the old substitution theory, with Judas as the one who was crucified. But the earliest reports tell us that Judas committed suicide, so the Gospel of Barnabas contradicts the earliest reports collected by Tabari. Thus we have come back full circle back to the earliest interpretation of the words 'shubbiha lahum' as meaning 'another took his likeness and was substituted for him'. Once more we are back to square one!
THE REJECTION OF THE SUBSTITUTION THEORY

Traditional commentators like Sayed Qutb clung to the Gospel of Barnabas as their evidence for the substitution theory, while modern thinkers shy away from it. So the latest interpretations of the Qur'anic verses on the subject fall into two groups. One group insists on the substitution theory, like that of Sayed Qotb [34], while others, mainly modern thinkers, refuse the substitution theory totally. Modern thinkers are aware of the embarrassment caused by this confusion. Here is what Dr. Kamel Hussein had to say:

The idea of a substitute for Christ is a very crude way of explaining the Qur'anic text. They had to explain a lot to the masses. No cultured Muslim believes in this nowadays. The text is taken to mean that the Jews thought they killed Christ but God raised Him in a way we can leave unexplained among the several mysteries which we have taken for granted on faith alone. [35] [emphasis added]

Dr. Hussein rejects the substitution theory. It so lacked simplicity and the ring of truth that it had to be modified repeatedly to cover all the holes. It is a crude way of explaining the Qur'anic text; the idea of a substitute is not well thought out. Even after almost one thousand years of modifications, thinkers still discard it as a backward thing that belongs to the uncultured, and hopefully to the past. It is an insult to the intelligence of the thinking man. Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub also said:
The substitution theory will not do, regardless of its form or purpose... it makes a mockery of divine justice and the primordial covenant of God with humanity. [36]

The theory of substitution in any form is rooted in and based on divine deception, whether the deception of Jesus' disciples or the deception of the Jews. If it involves the deception of the disciples, then it turns the Merciful God into a monster (God forbid), for how can God deceive the disciples of Jesus, the faithful band that believed His messenger, and after them the followers of Jesus generation after generation? And if it involves the deception of the Jews, that also does not fit the character of God; nor does it confound the arrogance of the Jews, for they still believe that they killed Jesus, and boast about it. What the Jews needed, was to be shown without a shadow of a doubt that they had no power over Jesus. And if some say that the Jews did see Jesus ascending to heaven, but the disciples did not (hence the report of the Christians that Jesus was crucified) then this amounts to saying that God allowed the infidel Jews to see the Ascension, but the faithful followers were denied this sight and were left in darkness and despair. If this was so, what sort of message would those Hawariyun (the disciples of Jesus) have had for the world, if all they had to say was that Jesus was only crucified and did not ascend? If they claimed he ascended, yet did not see him ascending they would have been the greatest liars in the history of mankind. How could the prophet to whom God gave the clearest evidence, confuse his disciples and his followers? The Gospel of Barnabas tells us that although Jesus appeared to the disciples after his Ascension, they all dispersed into the different parts of the world, and kept silent about the true story, which they knew very well. Only the supposed Barnabas had the courage to write the true story and the world had to wait for sixteen centuries after the event to know what actually happened. Is this the way God reveals His truth? The historically transmitted reports by the followers of Jesus are well known all over the world, as Razi observed: 'The Christians in their masses, east and west, in spite of their strong love for Jesus, and their exaggeration concerning him, reported that they saw him dying on the cross.' This must have been what the disciples of Jesus taught as they spread east and west. The substitution theory insults and mocks both man and God, and therefore must be rejected.

1. The Qur'an, 13:17. 2. Dr. Qaradawi, al-Iyman wal-Hayat, seventh ed., Cairo, Maktabat Wahbah, 1980 , P. 5. 3. The Qur'an, 19: 33. 4. The Qur'an, 3: 55. 5. The Qur'an, 3: 55. 6. The Qur'an, 4:157,158. 7. The Qur'an, 4:157,158. 8. The Qur'an, 5:116-120. 9. Ayoub, Mahmoud M., "Towards an Islamic Christology II", The Muslim World, Vol. LXX, April 1980, No. 2, p. 92. 10. Tabari, commenting on Q. 4:157, ref. No. 10783. 11. Ibid., ref. No. 10779. 12. Ibid., ref. No. 10780. 13. Ibid., 4:157. 14. Tabari, comments after ref. No. 10789. 15. Tabari, commenting on the Qur'an, 4:157. 16. Ibid. 17. Ayoub, Mahmoud M., "Towards an Islamic Christology II", The Muslim World, Vol. LXX, April 1980, No. 2, P 97. 18. Tabari, comments after ref. No. 10789. 19. Magma'u al-Bayan, Abu 'Ali al-Fadl Ibn al-Hasan al-Tubrusi, commenting on Q. 4:157. 20. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, Commenting on Q. 4:157. 21. The Qur'an, 4:157,158. 22. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, Commenting on Q. 3: 55. 23. Ibid., Commenting on Q. 4:157. 24. Ibid., Commenting on Q. 3:55. 25. Ibid., Commenting on Q. 3:55. 26. Ibid., Commenting on Q. 4:157. 27. Ayoub, Mahmoud M., "Towards an Islamic Christology II", The Muslim World, Vol. LXX, April 1980, No. 2, P. 102. 28. Ibid., P. 102. 29. The Qur'an 3:53. 30. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, Commenting on Q. 3: 53. 31. Ibid. 32. The Gospel of Barnabas, translated from Italian MS by Lonsdale and Laura Ragg, sections 214 221. 33. Ayoub, Mahmoud M., "Towards an Islamic Christology II", The Muslim World, Vol. LXX, April 1980, No. 2, P. 113. 34. Sayed Qutb, Fi Zelal al- Qur'an, commenting on Q. 4:157. 35. City of Wrong, Kenneth Cragg, London, 1960, P. 222. 36. Ayoub, Mahmoud M., "Towards an Islamic Christology II", The Muslim World, Vol. LXX, April 1980, No. 2, P. 104.

Part 4: Strike The Truth In The Cross
Chapter 2: Did Jesus Die?

It is a fact that the vast majority of Muslims believe in the substitution theory. Though modern thinkers like Dr. Ayoub and Dr. Hussein tell us that the theory of substitution makes mockery of divine justice, and belongs to the uncultured [1], the Muslim masses have been led to believe it and zealously defend it. Not only do the masses believe in the substitution theory but they also believe that Jesus did not die. However, modern thinkers insist that Jesus did die. Dr. Ayoub said that 'the verb, tawaffa, in general usage, means in its passive form, tuwuffi, to die.' [2] He then added, 'It was early reported on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that the word mutawaffika means 'causing you to die', i.e. 'mumituka.' Then in a footnote he said, 'Most commentators mention this as an alternative. Modern thinkers generally insist on it.' [3] (For example see 'abd al-Karim 'abd Allah alAniazi in his book, Elaykum Ya 'Ulama' al-Gharb, 1985, p. 27.) It is amazing to know also that even Wahb spoke of the death of Jesus amongst the many versions of the stories he told. Suyuti relates that,
Ibn Garir and Ibn Abi Hatem on the authority of Wahb said, 'God caused Jesus Son of Mary to die three hours then lifted him up.'' Ibn 'Asaker said on the authority of Wahb that 'God caused Jesus son of Mary to die for three days then God resurrected and lifted him up.' And al-Hakem said on the authority of Wahb 'God caused Jesus son of Mary to die for seven hours then restored his life.' [4] [emphasis added]

That was rejected by Tabari. It is fascinating to note that Wahb even said that Jesus died for three days and God resurrected him and lifted him up. Again Dr. Ayoub found no difficulty in stating that the Qur'an plainly asserts that Jesus did die:
The Qur'an ... does not deny the death of Christ. Rather it challenges human beings who in their folly have deluded themselves into believing that they would vanquish the divine Word, Jesus the messenger of God. The death of Christ is asserted several times and in various contexts, see for example, S.3:55; 5:117; 19:33. [5]

According to Dr. Ayoub the Qur'an asserts the death of Christ several times and in various contexts. He does not appeal to any clever exegetical exercise, but to the clear passages of the Qur'an.
SOME BELIEVE HE WAS CRUCIFIED Not only do some Muslim thinkers assert Jesus did die, there are others who assert that Jesus died on the cross. The philosopher Abu Ya'qub Ishaq al-Sagastani said,
Without doubt murder and crucifixion were inflicted upon his body. The pronoun (hu) since it appeared at the end of the words 'murdered him' 'qataluhu', or crucified him is a pointing letter to the spirit (huwiyya) of Jesus. So in this exists the evidence that he who suffered death and crucifixion was not the spirit (huwiyya) of Jesus. [6] [empasis added]

The philosopher Sagastani sees that the Qur'an denies the crucifixion of the spirit of Jesus but undoubtedly affirms the physical crucifixion of the body of Jesus. Mahmoud Mohammad Taha the leader of the Republican Brothers in Sudan, wrote in a booklet titled al-Masih:
The belief of the Muslims that Jesus did not die is based on Sura 4:157. [7] But it is clear that that verse does not give that understanding ... specially if we take into consideration the other verse in which God said, 'Isa [Jesus] I am about to cause you to die and lift you up to me', [8] and also the words, 'Peace be upon me, the day I was born, and the day I die, the day I am raised up alive'. [9] Naturally the Qur'an does not contradict itself, for the the expression 'mutawaffika' means that he will die ... and also the expression 'the day I die' points in the same direction. So the straight understanding becomes that the Christ was killed, then raised up. And that is what is pointed to by the words of God, 'and they slew him not of a certainty - no indeed', [10] which means that without any doubt they killed him, as they thought they did, but they slew him not of a certainty which is the same expression as 'they thought they did' [11] ... this meaning appears in the Qur'an in other places such as the words of God, 'you did not slay them, but God did, and when thou throwest, it was not thyself that threw, but God threw'. [12] And the meaning of that verse is that, when you killed them, it was not you who killed them, but it was God. [13]

Thus Mamoud Mohammad Taha, like the philosopher Sagastani understood from the same Qur'anic passages that Jesus was killed by the Jews without a doubt, then raised up by God. With Dr. Ayoub he found no difficulty in concluding that the Qur'an speaks plainly of the death of Jesus, otherwise the Qur'an would be contradicting itself. He then proceeded to prove that this mode of expressing the death of Christ is not unique but has a parallel in the Qur'an, indeed it is an affirmation in the form of negation.
SECULAR HISTORIANS ACCEPT THE CRUCIFIXION What adds weight to the belief that the Christ was crucified is 'the fact that secular historians also accept the crucifixion as a fact. No serious modern historian doubts that Jesus was crucified.' [14]

Historians, regardless of their interpretation of the crucifixion, (that is, whether or not they attach any spiritual significance to it), have accepted the crucifixion as a historical fact. The experts, in sifting what belongs to history, compared with what belongs to myth or dogma, have cast their verdict in favour of the historicity of the crucifixion of Jesus. Not only historians, but other great minds like Tagore the brilliant Bengali poet and winner of the Nobel prize, accepted the crucifixion as a fact. Tagore wrote:
From His eternal seat Christ comes down to this earth, where, ages ago, in the bitter cup of death He poured His deathless life for those who came to the call and those who remained away. He looks about Him, and sees the weapons of evil that wounded his own age. The arrogant spikes and spears, the slim, sly knives, the scimitar in diplomatic sheath, crooked and cruel, are hissing and raining sparks as they are sharpened on monster wheels.

But the most fearful of them all, at the hands of the slaughterers, are those on which has been engraved His own name, that are fashioned from the texts of His own words fused in the fire of hatred and hammered by hypocritical greed. He presses His hand upon His heart; He feels that the age-long moment of His death has not yet ended, that new nails, turned out countless in numbers by those who are learned in cunning craftsmanship, pierce Him in every joint. They had hurt Him once, standing at the shadow of their temple; they are born anew in crowds.

From before their sacred altar they shout to the soldiers, 'Strike' And the Son of Man in agony cries, 'My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me?' [15] Tagore must have been aware of the view that the Christ was not crucified and someone else died on the cross, because he was living amongst millions of Muslim. But he chose to believe in the historicity of the crucifixion. He spoke of the crucifixion as an event that took place in time, 'where, ages ago, in the bitter cup of death He poured His deathless life'. Tagor, though a poet, was not talking about a myth. The tragedy of his own time, represented in the merciless murder of the innocent was of the same kind as that which killed the Christ. Listen to him say:
the age-long moment of His death has not yet ended, that new nails, turned out in countless numbers by those who are learned in cunning craftsmanship, pierce Him in every joint. They had hurt Him once...

Tagore, did not question the historicity of the crucifixion, but accepted it, although he was aware of the views of his fellow countrymen who believed otherwise.
AHMAD SHAWQI BELIEVED JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED

The great Egyptian poet Ahmad Shawqi who is called by his people the prince of the poets accepted the historicity of the crucifixion. In one of his poems he wrote:
Jesus, your way was mercy, love, perfection and peace to the world. You were not a shedder of blood, and the weak and the orphans to you were not insignificant. You who are the bearer of the world's sufferings, yet sufferings were multiplied in your name. You made the world into one brotherhood, but in your name relationships are severed. ....

Shouts in the name of the cross are heard by those who are enemies of God and his Spirit. They mixed your cross with knives, guns, and every tool of destruction and death. [16]

Ahmad Shawqi, like Tagor, was aware of the beliefs of the majority of Muslims, yet he chose to believe in the suffering of Jesus on the cross.
THIRTEEN HUNDRED YEARS OF ERROR

The Muslim masses, then, for almost thirteen hundred years have been believing not only a false report claiming that a substitute died for Jesus on the cross, and a teaching that is contrary to the Qur'an; namely that Jesus did not die, before his being lifted up. For modern thinkers tell us that the Qur'an plainly asserts the death of Jesus. For thirteen hundred years, not only has the average man in the street been mistaken in his belief on this issue, but many devout Muslims have blindly accepted it, and vigorously defended it as God's truth. One might ask why millions upon millions of sincere Muslims have believed that which is error, for so long, while the Qur'an plainly asserts that Jesus did die.

IF THERE WAS NO SUBSTITUTE - WHAT NOW?

It is important to note that in every Muslim story told about what happened to Jesus and his substitute, there is a crucifixion. This crucifixion of Jesus is denied, but nevertheless a crucifixion is mentioned in every single story. Dr. Ayoub said, "They [the commentators] accepted a crucifixion as an historical fact.... but denied it of Jesus." [17] A crucifixion is accepted by the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims. The dispute is over who was on that cross. Now if there was no substitute on the cross, (the cross is the only undisputed historical fact), who then was on it? Someone was there, bleeding and dying. Modern Muslim thinkers have discarded the substitution theory and insist that Jesus died. Most, however, prefer to leave the manner of his death alone. But if we bring together the historical fact of the cross, the impossibility of a substitute and the insistence of modern thinkers that Jesus did die, the answer is simple: It was Jesus who was on the cross. It is how he died.
WHERE ARE THE HAWARIYUN (DISCIPLES)?

Whatever theory we discuss we must ask ourselves the question: Where were the Hawariyun? That is, where were the disciples of Jesus in the plan and purpose of God? Men's theories can take them away from the scene of the cross, so that they could not be eye witnesses, and yet they had a critical place in the plan of God. The Qur'an says of them,
And when Jesus perceived their unbelief, he said, 'Who will be my helpers unto God?' The apostles said, 'We will be helpers of God' ... inscribe us therefore with those who bear witness. [18]

The Qur'an called them 'helpers of God'; they were to make the Truth of God victorious and known. Where is their voice for God and His Truth concerning the crucifixion? If Jesus was

not crucified, these 'helpers of God' would have spoken fiercely of what they believed to be the truth, and filled the whole world with it, and even died for it. Where then is the voice of God's helpers? Mohammad Kamel Husein writes of them as 'the finest band of men that could be conceived, lacking neither in faith nor in resolve.' [19] Did they just sit down to let the lies of the Jews spread like fire to be believed by the whole world? Could the disciples, whose rank had been elevated to those 'who bear witness' hide themselves in the shadows of forgetfulness, and silence? If so, they do not deserve to be called 'helpers of God' or 'witnesses', but disappointers of God and the Truth. But that is not what they did, for they did speak fearlessly of the crucifixion and the resurrection; so much so that even those who are not followers of Jesus know the disciples' report, that Jesus died and rose again on the third day.
DID 'THE CLEAREST EVIDENCE' END IN CONFUSION?

The theories we have studied are simply not consistent with the manner in which God was dealing with humanity in the life of Jesus. The Qur'an states that Jesus came with the clear evidence. This clarity was God's stamp throughout his life. Is it consistent with God's dealings, then, to cloud the last day of Jesus' time on earth with confusion? Or is it more consistent with God's ways, to say that this clarity was uninterrupted and that Jesus was crucified? The Jews did their worst and God did His best, raising Jesus up. In Q. 4:157 the Qur'an states:
And for their saying, 'We slew the Messiah, Isa [Jesus] son of Mary, the messenger of God' yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him; only a likeness of that was shown to them. And those who are at variance concerning him are in doubt regarding him; they have no knowledge of him, except the following of surmise; and they slew him not of a certainty - no indeed; God raised him up to Him; God is All-mighty and Wise.

This verse is an emphatic denial of the Jews' boasting; it is an emphatic denial of their claim that theirs is the victory. That is what the Qur'an denies, not the actual death and the actual crucifixion of Jesus. The mode of expression in this verse is found in the Qur'an in different forms. When the Qur'an speaks of those who have eyes but do not see [20] it does not mean that they are blind, but that they do not perceive the truth. Similarly when the Qur'an speaks of those who do not hear, it is the perception of what they actually heard that they have denied. It is the same with the Jews, they killed the Christ, but their perception that they had finally destroyed him is denied. They thought that by their crucifying him, he would be finished, but he rose from the dead. The crucifixion was not the last word. The resurrection was. So they thought they had killed him on the cross, but they had not, for he rose again. There is a parallel between the death of Jesus and that of Mohammad's grandson, al-Husein. One writer, commenting on the tragic murder of al-Husein, said,
On the tenth of the month of Moharam in the year 61H, al-Husein was killed and all those who were with him of men, youth and children, except Imam Ali son of al-Husein. And people said that al-Husein wasted his life and the lives of those with him ... But time proved the opposite. For the pure blood of al-Husein did not dry up on the soil of Karbala'a until the throne of the Amawites was quaked and the seat of Yazid was shaken. They were

days when the power of the Amawite crumbled in shame. And the wonderful victory was on the side of the reformation [of al-Husein].... [21]

This is the same sentiment that answers the boasting of the Jews who said, 'We killed the Christ'. The people said that Al-Husein 'wasted his life... but time proved the opposite'; that is, he did not waste his life. But that is not to say he was not killed, for he was. And so it was with Jesus. al-Husein was killed by those who were supposed to accept him and honour him, Jesus likewise.
THE IMPACT OF TABARI AND WAHB

If the Christ died on the cross why did the early commentators, and the many Muslim generations after them, believe (contrary to the plain teaching of the Qur'an, and to the understanding of modern Muslim thinkers) that Jesus did not die? Remember Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub's words: 'The substitutionist theory will not do, regardless of its form or purpose. First, it makes a mockery of divine justice and the primordial covenant of God with humanity.' [22] Why have the commentators propounded many theories to avoid the historical facts and the teaching of other Muslim leaders that the Christ had been crucified? The answer to that question can be traced back to two people, who in turn influenced subsequent commentators and hence the Muslim masses. These two are Tabari and Wahb Ibn Munabbeh. Dr. Ayoub tells us: 'The traditions relating the story of Jesus are told on the authority of either Jewish converts like Wahb Ibn Munabbeh, or of unnamed Christian converts as in the traditions of Ibn Isaq.' [23] In other words, the source of the stories about what is supposed to have happened could be traced back to some unknown Christian converts or a man called Wahb. When Tabari was analysing the different traditions he preferred the two versions of Wahb's story. Tabari then influenced almost all the commentators after him. On these two persons we shall now focus. But first we must say a brief word about the phenomenon of recorded Islamic history.
THE BEGINNING OF RECORDING ISLAMIC HISTORY

This phenomenon concerns fabricated historical reports that were mixed with early Islamic historical material. One scholar said about the transmission of early Islamic historical material in general:
The historical accounts of early Islam used to be transmitted orally .... then came a generation that committed this oral material to writing. And by the beginning of the third century (H) paper-making was introduced and this material began to take the form of written reports, with every report dealing with only one topic...

These first written reports formed the first nucleus for subsequent historians...

In spite of what has been said, i.e. that these reports were not well arranged and not carefully organised, and that most of them lack verification and accuracy and even include possible fabrication, they nevertheless provided historians like Tabari and Ya'qouby with a flood of historical material, though this flood was so overflowing that subsequent historians could not sift, and could not get rid of the contradictions, the exaggerations, and the forgery in it. They could not detect the work of the fabricators in it, for the fabricators - sad to say - have found such a wide entrance to these reports. [24] That is not to cast doubt on the historicity of basic Islamic events, but to warn readers of Islamic history that not everything is above board, that there are forgeries which have slipped in since the early period. These forgeries are not single incidents here and there, but a great flood. The damage is irreversible for fabrication was mixed with fact to such an extent that later historians could not sift or eradicate the forgeries. Some scholars have collected up to 620 Hadith fabricators and liars [not 620 Hadiths, but Hadith transmitters] who were quoted by others as authorities in Hadith and history. [25] Some examples will be cited later. It is worth noting again, however, that Tabari was one of the commentators who drew on this vast volume of fabricated material. Another kind of material that crept in, in many different forms was what scholars call 'alIsra'iliyat': supposed stories some of which were in the form of historical material, others supposedly in the form of the revealed books of the Jews and the Christians. This material was transmitted through Christian and Jewish converts to Islam, like Wahb. Dr. Qaradawi commented on the 'Isra'ilyiat' and Wahb Ibn Munabbeh in particular, as follows, (and I paraphrase):
What disfigured our literary heritage, especially the field of expounding the Qur'an (Tafsir), were the 'Isra'iliyat' that crept into it, and disturbed its order. This started, regretfully, very early, that is, since the time of the companions and the followers [of the prophet]. It started with people like K'ab al-Ahbar and Wahb Ibn Munabbeh, and others who were converted to Islam from the People of the Book [i.e. Jews and Christians] - also through what reached the Muslims from Jewish and Christian books.

The infiltration of the 'Isra'iliyat' was small at the beginning, then it began to increase, unintentionally. This gave way to plotting, scheming and intentional conspiracy. Because the Jews were defeated militarily by the Muslims and wanting to resist by using another weapon - an intellectual one - they slipped in the 'Isra'iliyat' and, within a short period, the books of Muslims were full of it. [26] Here again we notice the extent of the 'creeping in'. Dr. Qaradawi wrote that within a short time the books of the Muslims became full of it. The 'Isra'iliyat' particularly affected the science of Tafsir, that is, the expounding and explaining of the Qur'an. The substitution theory belongs to the flood of forgery that later historians could not detect, and which Tabari used on the authority of Wahb, one of the instruments of transmitting the

'Isra'iliyat'. As we have seen, it is only recently that modern thinkers have discarded the theory.
MORE ON WAHB

Here are some extracts by Muhammad Abd El-Ghani Hasan, from his book Attarikh 'End alMuslemeen, that give us a better picture of Wahb.
Wahb was from San'aa of Yemen; died 110 or 114 H. He was Ikhbary (a storyteller) and not a Hadith transmitter. But his main interest was what is called "Isra'iliyat" (that is, stories that were heard from the Jewish people) which were transmitted to him through men like K'aab al Ahbar (who died 32-34 H.) ... which Wahb inserted into Islamic stories. [27] The most important thing to note from the above is that Wahb was not a Hadith transmitter, that is, he was not counted or classed as an authority on the words or the Sunnah of the prophet. He was, rather, a storyteller, and his main interest was the 'Isra'iliyat'. The authority of a storyteller is far inferior to that of a Hadith transmitter, for the latter's final authority is the prophet, but the storyteller, specially of the Isra'iliyat, cannot claim that authority.

It is no wonder, then, that those storytellers (Ikhbariyeen) have no authority in any serious work, as one scholar commented: '...scrutineers of the truth place no weight on the reporting of those 'Ikhbariyeen' (storytellers). They do not rely on them and shame those who quote them in any serious scientific work.' [28] Muhammad Abd El-Ghani Hasan wrote:
We will not leave Wahb Ibn Munabeh without summarising the critics' opinion of him. They said that he did not seek accuracy in his reporting and he was not above making false claims. The historian al-Sakhawi, the author of, 'al-daw'a Allam'e and al-'Elan Be-Tawbikh Liman Zama-Tarikh', considers the reporting of Wahb to be unworthy of serious historians .. [29]

Other Muslims see 'Wahb Ibn Munabbeh as the First Zionist' [30] and thus place him at the very top of the enemies of Islam. So Wahb, even as a storyteller, lacked integrity. For that reason no serious historian relies on him. One can understand why modern thinkers shy away from the theory of substitution and treat it with contempt, for they see it as a mockery of God's justice, not only because it does not stand against the scrutiny of reason, but also because Wahb who was its perpetrator was a cheap storyteller. There are guidelines for accepting or rejecting Hadith. The following is one of them:
The scholars and the critics of Hadith transmitters have agreed that whoever was proven to be a liar or a fabricator of Hadith is to be 'punished by rejecting even his truthfulness, ignoring his virtues, and his Hadith is not to be accepted after that.' [31]

If only the commentators had applied this rule to Wahb, and rejected his report, a lot of confusion and error would have been avoided.

Here is another rule for determining the truth of any report:
Logic, accuracy and Islam are essential conditions for any transmitter. If these conditions are missing, or one of them, the transmitter's story must be rejected and his Hadith discarded. [32]

As we have seen, Wahb's reporting lacked logic, and accuracy. There is even a question about his conversion to Islam. And some label him as the first Zionist. Wahb's reporting should have been rejected completely. But sadly this was not so.
THE INFLUENCE OF TABARI

Tabari's influence on subsequent commentators on this subject is unquestionable. Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub wrote:
The classical tradition is epitomized in the monumental commentary of Tabari (d. 310/923) which has influenced subsequent commentators down to the present. Other works of the classical period differ little from that of Tabari, which they take as their source and starting point. [33]

Dr. Sobhy al-Saleh said, 'Almost all subsequent commentators after Tabari were entirely dependent on him.' [34] Literally he said that they 'lived off him'. Tabari is called "Sheikh al-Mufasereen", that is, the chief and head of the commentators. Dr. Yousif Qaradawi, in one of his many books, makes the following remark on this famous commentator as a historian:
The idea that dominated Tabari when he wrote his 'history' was to collect and record without sifting and examining either the authority or the reported events of his historical material.

So whoever had something to report was quoted by Tabari, acknowledging the source of that report, even if the reporter was a weak one, or suspected one, or even a disregarded one ... some of those authorities, the researcher will find, were dropped completely, others differ in reliability, while others are reliable. So out of Tabari's men: Muhammad Ibn Ishaq, the author of 'The Life of the Prophet', was criticised bitterly by Imam Malek ... Waqedi was accused of falsehood by some leading transmitters of Hadith ... Hesham Ibn Muhammad al-Kalby and his father, were accused of being liars. And Saif Ibn 'Omar al-Tamimi was a fabricator of Hadith, and was accused of being an atheist ... And there were many more, who are regarded as unworthy of mention by learned men of Hadith. For that reason scrutineers of the truth place no weight on the reporting of those 'Ikhbareyeen' (storytellers) - they do not rely on them and shame those who quote them in any serious scientific work. [35]

No wonder then that Dr. Qaradawi acknowledges that 'Tabari treated historical issues in a careless and cheap manner.' [36] He added
May Allah forgive Imam Tabari, for his carelessness has disfigured the history of the dawn of Islam, and harmed the first bearers of the message. [37]

Modern thinkers like Dr. Ayoub would agree whole-heartedly with Dr. Qaradawi's last statement. Imam Tabari not only has disfigured the history of the dawn of Islam, but also made a mockery of the justice of God to this day, by propagating the reporting of the Ikhbareyeen, and Wahb in particular. Even though, according to Dr. Qaradawi, "scrutineers of the truth place no weight on the reporting of the Ikhbareyeen, they do not rely on them and shame those who quote them in any serious scientific work"[38], one Ikhbary, Wahb, has influenced the Islamic 'Ummah more than the most reliable Hadith transmitters on the issue of the crucifixion of Jesus.
TABARI AS A COMMENTATOR

It is not only that Tabari as a historian 'treated historical issues in a careless and cheap manner' [39], he also, as a commentator, made some serious errors. Dr. Qaradawi wrote that 'in spite of his [Tabari's] high rank and the place of his commentary, he sometimes chose weak explanations - nay very weak explanations - such as [the explanation given of husbands disciplining of women in] "banish them to their couches, and beat them". [40] Tabari said that this meant tie them by that which ties the camel, so the meaning becomes: 'Tie the women in order to force them to do that which they refused to do.' [41] Such a sentiment is abhorred by the cultured and the uncultured alike nowadays but that was Tabari's choice of meaning. Also Dr. Qaradawi criticised Tabari's choice for the explanation of the verses, 'Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down; they are the unbelievers.' [42] Tabari said 'those intended are the people of the Book (that is the Jews and the Christians)'. [43] Dr. Qaradawi, in disagreeing with Tabari's interpretation, said: 'What is under consideration here is the general wording, not the special causes.' He then added that the above verses were mentioned in front of Hazifah Ibn al-Yaman by a man who said that the people intended are the children of Israel. Hazifah then said: 'Yes, they are your brothers, the children of Israel, if to you belongs everything that is sweet and to them belongs everything that is bitter! Meaning, how can the children of Israel be described by blasphemy, injustice and iniquity if they do not judge according to what God has sent down upon them, and you are not so described if you do not judge according to what God has sent down upon you?' [44] Then Dr. Qaradawi concluded the chapter by saying: 'The goal is to avoid the weak interpretations and opinions, no matter what the authority of their source. For as 'Ali said, "Truth is not known by those who call themselves men of Truth, but know the Truth, then you shall know its men"' [45]

THE PROBLEM OF FABRICATION

The advice of Dr. Qaradawi to avoid the weak interpretations (even if their authority is the chief of the commentators, Imam Tabari), is far too late. For unfortunately the rest of the commentators have been greatly influenced by Tabari. They almost lived off his original work. Dr. Qaradawi was not the only one who admitted the existence of forgeries and criticised the lack of careful investigation by other writers in Islamic material. Appealing to Imam Tabari as a final authority, another author wrote:
The enemies of Islam who spread amongst its followers and pretended to be Muslims ... have managed to insert in the Hadith of the prophet and his biography, the biography of the companions, the history of Islam, and the Hadith that expounds the Qur'an, many [fabricated] things. For we will not find in the history of previous nations those who have invented for one of their prophets 150 imaginary companions. And, in spite of that, we find the great majority of Muslims have innocently accepted, as pure, what they inherited ... And when their research ends with an incident from the history of the companions by Tabari, or an incident of the biography of the prophet by Ibn Hisham, they then become confident, full of assurance and relaxed, and do not take the trouble to sift the errors from what has been written, but copy and follow the authors of those books like the blind who follows his guide. As we have seen in the book of 'Abd Allah Ibn Sab'a the extent of the fabrication in the historical work of Tabari, which is considered the most trusted historical source concerning the companions, disfigured and turned the historical facts upside down. [46]

To invent and forge certain material is one thing, but to invent people who do not exist is completely another. These works of forgery did not turn only Islamic historical facts upside down, but also turned the historicity of the crucifixion upside down for generations of Muslims. Fabrication and forgery did not only involve distant past histories of other nations, but also included a sacred branch of Islamic material known as 'asbab an-Nuzul i.e.; the occasions of revelation which provide the historical context of the Qur'an. One scholar commented:
The writings of the older generations who wrote on the reasons of the inspiration ['asbab alnuzul, i.e. the occasions in which a particular verse was revealed], were subjected to strong criticism, in spite of the fact that their authors were very pious, careful, scientific and faithful. Yet our criticism today will be stronger and more severe, and what we have against them will be more bitter and appalling ... The commentator Suyuti boldly criticised the shortcomings and weaknesses of these works. We had hoped the shortcomings were the only weaknesses in the old works, but they are also full of historical mistakes, illogical reasoning, incredible exaggerations and strange rarities!

'Al Wahidi, for example, when he read The Cow: 114, did not conclude that it was a general threat to those who trifled with places of worship and try to stop God's ordinances... but he fell into an ugly historical error. If that error was his personally, that would have been of no consequence. But to force error on the text of the Qur'an is a thing that is not permissible for him or for any other person.

It is amazing to see that al-Wahidi unashamedly mentions Qatadah who said that this verse is about Bakhtnassar the Babylonian and his friends who captured the Jews, and destroyed Bait al-Maqdes and were helped by the Nasara [the Christians]. He mentions that the Nasara were united with Bakhtnassar in the destruction of Bait alMaqdes, despite the fact that this event took place 633 years before the birth of Christ. He then added:
Al-Wahidi might be forgiven for this because he was not a historian ... " And even the ugly error made by al-Wahidi's ignorance of the historical events might be excused if we ascribe he was referring to Adrinal the Roman, whom the Jews called Bakhtnassar the Second, who came 130 years after Christ. He had built a city on the ruins of Jerusalem, made Roman baths in it, built a temple for Zeus on the ruins of Solomon's temple, and prevented the Jews from entering the city.

If we have an excuse for al-Wahidi, what excuse can we find for Ibn Garir al-Tabari, the commentator and historian who not only mentioned Bakhtnassar's incident as alWahidi did, but he chooses it from a group of options declaring: 'The best explanation of them all concerning the Cow:114, "And who does greater evil than he who bars God's places of worship, so that His Name be not praised in them" is the Christians (Nasara). For they are the ones who sought to destroy Bait al-Maqdes, and helped Bakhtnassar in doing that, and prevented the believers of the children of Israel from praying in it after the return of Bakhtnassar to his own land.' Then he added:
Why did Ibn Garir al-Tabari, the great historian and a trusted faithful one, prefer this opinion? Would it be scientifically honest to explain away his error by claiming that he meant Bakhtnassar the Second, thus defending him and being biased towards him? Or rather to acknowledge the historical error into which even the greatest scientists and the truest faithful fell? If we examine such historical errors that were forced on the reasons of inspiration (Asbab An-nuzul), and made the Qur'an say that which it did not say, it would take us a long time, and our wandering would be extensive. [47]

Here is another example of one of Tabari's errors. This time it concerns a simple historical fact which can be seen by all. Piety and religious faithfulness are not a guarantee of freedom from error. Imam Tabari made mistakes that all can see. Would it be scientifically honest to explain away his errors, or to admit them? It is far better to side with the truth than to side with the greatest commentators. Just as Tabari chose from different options in the story concerning Bakhtnassar and was wrong, so he also chose from different options concerning the crucifixion of Jesus and was proven to be wrong again. It is not only concerning the crucifixion (an event which occurred 900 years before the time of Tabari) that historical data was wrongly selected by Imam Tabari and others. His historical data concerning the reasons of inspiration was also incorrect, even though this was 300 (not 900) years before Tabari's time and transmitted by people who had its interest in heart. The listing of such historical errors would take us a long time, and our wandering too would be extensive. Dr. Qaradawi quoted another Muslim scholar concerning the use of the 'Isra'iliyat' :

Permission to talk about them [the 'Isra'iliyat'] is one thing, although we cannot prove or deny them, but to use them to explain the Qur'an, and to make it a quotation or a story in the meaning of the Qur'anic text, or to specify that which was not specified, or to detail that which is general is another thing. For accepting the 'Isra'iliyat' beside the word of Allah, gives the impression that that which we cannot prove or deny, stands to explain the word of Allah, ... God forbid. There is no stronger confirmation of their stories and sayings than to link them with the Book of Allah, and give them the place of clarifying and explaining the word of Allah. O Allah, forgive us. [48]

The acceptance of the substitution theory is based on the speciality of Wahb, the 'Isra'iliyat'. It is the same 'Isra'iliyat that Imam Tabari used to explain the Qur'anic verses about the crucifixion of Jesus. After Tabari, most commentators have continued to do the same, to the present day. Dr. Qaradawi requested forgiveness for Imam Tabari when he said: 'May Allah forgive Imam Tabari, for his carelessness has disfigured the history of the dawn of Islam, and harmed the first bearers of the message.' [49] He requested forgiveness from Allah on behalf of all who used the 'Isra'iliyat to expound the Qur'an, when he said 'O Allah forgive us.' But this plea for forgiveness should also include its use in relation to the crucifixion of Jesus. It is the only appropriate response if the record is to be set straight.

1. City of Wrong, Kenneth Cragg, London,1960, p. 222. 2. Ayoub, Mahmoud M., "Towards an Islamic Christology II", The Muslim World, Vol. LXX, April 1980, No. 2, p. 107. 3. Ibid.. 4. Suyuti, commenting on the Qur'an, 3:55. 5. Ayoub, Mahmoud M., Towards an Islamic Christology II, The Muslim World, Vol. LXX, April 1980, No. 2, p. 106. 6. Al-Sagastani, Abu Ya'qub Ishaq, Kitab Ithbat al-Nubuwat, Al-Matb'aa al-Kathulikiah, Beirut, Lebanon, 1966, p. 185. 7. The verse, "And for their saying, 'We slew the Messiah, Isa son of Mary, the messenger of God' yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him; only a likeness of that was shown to them. " (A.J. Arburry), or "They declared; 'We have put to death the Messiah Isa son of Mary, the apostle of Allah.' They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but they thought they did." (N.J. Dawood) 8. The Qur'an, 3:55, (N.J. Dawood) 9. The Qur'an, 19:33. 10. The Qur'an, 4:157,158. 11. The Qur'an, 4:157, (N.J. Dawood) 12. The Qur'an, 8:17. 13. Mamoud Mohammad Taha, al-Masih, first edition, 1981, al-'Ikhwan al-Gomhuriyun, 'Um Durman, Sudan, p.9,10. 14. Geoffery Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur'an, Sheldon P., London, 1976, p.116. 15. Tagore, Collected Poems and Plays of Rabindranath Tagore, the Macmillan Company, New York, 1937, pp. 453, 454. 16. Ahmad Shawqi, As-Shawqiyat, Poem al-Andalus al-Gadidah, Dar al-Kutub, al-'Elmeyah, Beirut

Lebanon, p.179. 17. Ayoub, Mahmoud M., "Towards an Islamic Christology II", The Muslim World, Vol. LXX, April 1980, No. 2, p. 96. 18. The Qur'an, 3:52, 53. 19.'Abd al-Tafahum, The Muslim World, commenting on City of Wrong, Vol. xlvi. No. 2, April 1956, p. 139. 20. The Qur'an, 7:179. 21. Mohammad Bahr al-'Uloum, al-Hasan wa al-Hosein Imaman in Qama wa in Qa'ada, Dar azZahra'a, Beirout Lebanon, 1983 second edition, p. 62. 22. Ayoub, Mahmoud M., "Towards an Islamic Christology II", The Muslim World, Vol. LXX, April 1980, No. 2, p. 104. 23. Ibid., p. 96. 24. Muhammad abd el-Ghani Hasan, at-Tarikh 'end al-Muslemeen, Ketabuka No. 32. Dar alMa'aref,1977, pp. 22, 23. 25. Mohammad Bahr al-'Uloum, al-Hasan wa al-Hosein Imaman in Qama wa in Qa'ada, Dar azZahra'a, Beirout Lebanon, 1983 second edition, p. 44. 26. Qaradawi, Dr. Yousif, Thaqafat al-Da'iah, Mu'asasat ar-Resalah, Beirut,1979, p. 41. 27. Muhammad Abd al-Ghani Hasan, at-Tarikh 'end al-Muslemeen, Ketaboka No. 32. Dar alMa'aref,1977, p. 12. 28. Qaradawi, Dr. Yousif, Thaqafat al-Da'iah, Mu'asasat al-Resalah, Beirut,1979, p. 109-110. 29. Muhammad Abd El-Ghani Hasan, at-Tarikh 'end al-Muslemeen, Ketaboka No. 32. Dar alMa'aref,1977, p. 13. 30. Mahmoud abu Rayah, abu Horayrah, third edition, Dar el-Ma'aref, Egypt, 1969, p. 93. 31. Sobhy as-Saleh, 'Uloum al-Hadith wa Mustalahatoh, Dar 'al-'Elm LelMalaayeen, Beirut Lebanon, Fifteenth Edition 1984, p. 69. 32. Ibid., p. 126. 33. Ayoub, Mahmoud M., "Towards an Islamic Christology II", The Muslim World, Vol. LXX, April 1980, No. 2, p. 92. 34. Sobhy as-Saleh, Mabaheth Fi 'Ulum Al-Qur'an, 1983, p. 290. 35. Qaradawi, Dr. Yousif, Thaqafat al-Da'iah, Mu'asasat al-Resalah, Beirut,1979, pp. 109-110. 36. Ibid., p. 111. 37. Ibid. 38. Ibid., pp. 109-110. 39. Ibid., p. 111. 40. The Qur'an, 4:34. 41. Qaradawi, Dr. Yousif, Thaqafat al-Da'iah, Mu'asasat al-Resalah, Beirut, 1979, p. 51. 42. The Qur'an, 5:45. 43. Qaradawi, Dr. Yousif, Thaqafat al-Da'iah, Mu'asasat al-Resalah, Beirut,1979, p. 51. 44. Ibid. 45. Ibid. 46. Megalat al-Hadi, fourth year second issue, an article by Mortada al-'askari, p. 70. 47. Sobhy as-Saleh, Mabaheth fi 'Ulum al-Qur'an, 1983, pp. 135-139. 48. Qaradawi, Dr. Yousif, Thaqafat al-Da'iah, Mu'asasat al-Resalah, Beirut,1979, p. 43. 49. Ibid. p. 111.

PART 4: STRIKE THE TRUTH IN THE CROSS
Chapter 3: Lifted Up In Spite Of Death THE CHRIST AND AL-HUSEIN Truth has its own special ring, no matter under what circumstances or in which generation it is told. That ring of truth can be detected in accounts of both the crucifixion of Jesus and the murder of alHusein, the grandson of the prophet of Islam.

In both tragedies greed played its part: Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, and the army leader who killed al-Husein was promised the governorship of a great province. Both Jesus and al-Husein felt thirsty as a result of being wounded, bleeding and exhausted. AlHusein requested a drink of water from his enemies and was denied.[1] Jesus expressed His thirst, and was offered vinegar, which He refused. Their experience was real. Both were robbed of their clothing: The Roman soldiers took the garments of Jesus while He was still on the cross. Enemies of al-Husein took his turban, his sword, his shirt, his shoes, and the last man came, but finding nothing, cut off his finger and took his ring.[2] Both al-Husein and Jesus prayed for their enemies. Al-Husein prayed for vengeance against them, asking God to withhold the rain, to give them years of starvation like those of Joseph, and to drink a bitter cup.[3] Jesus prayed to God for forgiveness for his murderers, on the grounds that they did not know what they were doing. Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub, in his book Redemptive Suffering in Islam noted another similarity. He said of the suffering of Jesus:
In the garden of Gethsemane, Christ prayed that the bitter cup of death be taken away from him, but finally he committed his life and will to the divine will. In this submission to the will of God, he transcended the human plane of existence, and thus attained victory on the cross as a divine hero. He was abandoned by God and men, as we see in his cry, 'My God, why hast thou forsaken me?' Yet he declared before his crucifixion that if he had so willed, God would have sent legions of angels to defend him. Thus the cross became his throne of glory and the wreath of thorns his crown of victory. These elements of the archetypical life and struggle of the divine hero, as exemplified in Christ, instructively parallel the life and struggle of al-Husein.[4]

Dr. Ayoub saw Jesus' death on the cross and the death of al-Husein as transcending the human plane of existence of humility and defeat to the level of submission to the divine will, which is victory and triumph. So the cross, the tool of execution, becomes the throne of glory; and the crown of thorns, which was intended as mocking, became the crown of victory. But it is important to note that in the above statement of Dr. Ayoub, the validity of the parallel between the two lives can only be true if Jesus suffered and died. If Jesus did not suffer and die on the cross, there is no parallel, for myth cannot parallel history. If the crucifixion of Jesus is but a myth or mere story, it cannot be the archetype of the suffering and death of al-Husein. Only reality can parallel reality, only truth can parallel truth. As Dr. Ayoub wrote, al-Husein spent his last moments 'in a Gethsemane of sorrow and tears.'[5]

The similarities even include the claim that, like Jesus, al-Husein was not murdered, 'for some have stressed unequivocally that al-Husein did not die, but was taken up to heaven, and that his likeness was assumed by someone else.'[6] This claim is flatly denied by those who know the historically transmitted reports:
The sixth Imam was asked what he thought of those who held such a view. He answered, 'These are liars ... for they have given the lie to the prophet and the Imams after him, in saying that al-Husein was not killed ... These are not of my community (Shi'ah) and I am innocent of them. This group has been regarded by the Twelve Shi'is as extremists (ghulat) and delegators (mufawwidah)'. The sixth Imam concludes his statement by cursing the ghulat and mufawwidah.

Moreover, it is related on the authority of the twelfth Imam, as transmitted by his first representative (wakil): 'As for those who claim that al-Husein was not killed, this is infidelity (kufr) lying and straying away (dalalah) from the right.'[7] Just as the crucifixion of Jesus was denied by claiming that a double took his likeness, alHusein's murder was also denied with the same claim. And just as new versions of what was supposed to have happened to Jesus were forged, so it was with the murder of al-Husein. Here is one version of how it happened: It is attributed to one of the sixth Imam's most important disciples, al-Mufaddal, who said:
Tell me, O master, concerning al-Husein, how it seemed to men that they killed him as it seemed before to them concerning the killing of Jesus?' Al-Sadiq said: 'This is one of the secrets of God which He made hidden from men, making it known only to the faithful of His servants, the elect ones. For the Imam enters into bodies as he chooses and leaves them as he chooses, as one would remove his cloak or shirt, without any fear or doubt. As they gathered to slay al-Husein, he left his body and God lifted him up to Him. Thus God prevented the enemies from catching him ...[8]

The Imam continued: 'When the soldiers surrounded al-Husein, he called Gabriel, Mikhael, and Israfil, and they answered, "Here we are (labbayk), O our Lord.' He ordered them, 'Lift me up in the air.' Thus they lifted al-Husein and his servant Gabriel...' The sixth Imam turned to his disciple and said, 'O Mufaddal, you have been granted much good, for you have received esoteric knowledge. Beware that you keep the secret of God hidden. Disclose it only to a sincere friend (wali). For if you were to disclose it to our enemies, you would help in the destruction of your own soul." As alMufaddal showed his surprise that such wonderful things should be hidden from men, the sixth Imam concluded, 'Yes, for God wished to be worshipped in secret.'[9] It is interesting to note that this statement is attributed to the sixth Imam, who categorically condemned those who claimed that a substitute was killed instead of al-Husein, calling them liars, infidels and accursed. But forgers used the same method, for that is what they made Barnabas say, in the fabricated work, 'The Gospel of Barnabas'. Just as the fabricators hid behind the authority of the sixth Imam to propagate the lie that al-Husein was not murdered, so they also hid behind the authority of Barnabas to propagate the lie that Jesus was not crucified.

Another explanation attributed to the sixth Imam sheds light on the reason for the introduction of such fabrications:
Said al-Mufaddal, 'I said to My master, al-Sadiq, tell me about the killing of the Imam and how that could happen'. He smiled, showing his teeth, and said, 'Perhaps you mean the killing of al-Husein and the death of Zakariyyah [Zechariah] and Yehia [John the Baptist] and Isa'... [al-Sadiq continued], 'These are, O Mufaddal, the pure ones of God, His friends (awliya') and elect. You (people) imagine them to have tasted the pain of the sharp steel at the hands of their enemies. But this was only outwardly (fi al-zahir) so that the proof, or contention (hujjah) of God may be established against them. But that they could be actually killed, that cannot be, as God preserves His friends and elect.'[10]

This is the underlying principle that gave rise to the theory of substitution not only for Jesus and al-Husein, but also of 'Ali (one of Mohammad's companions). This is the seed of the theory, the first step away from the truth about the death of Jesus, alHusein and 'Ali. What happened to Jesus and al-Husein and 'Ali was explained as only external - for the eyes of the onlookers, whereas in reality their blood was not shed. And why? Because they are the pure ones of God, the friends of God and His elect, whom God must preserve. 'That they could actually be killed, that cannot be' Otherwise, their enemies would have triumphed. However al-Husein was killed: He was killed gradually, first by randomly shot arrows, then by wounds inflicted on him by stones and the swords of those passing by, who did not wish to kill him... He was left naked on the sand...alone, unable to move, he sat on the ground and uttered a pathetic cry for help:
Is there no one to defend the women of the Apostle of Allah? Is there not one professing the oneness of Allah (muwahhid), who would fear God for our sake? Is there no one to come to our help, seeking thereby that which Allah has in store as a reward for those who would aid us?[11]

One can argue theologically that the murder of al-Husein was impossible, and that his lifting up was the only possible alternative. For how could any Muslim lift a finger to harm the grandson of the prophet? To have the majority of the Muslims doing nothing to help the grandson of the prophet is unthinkable, let alone to actually harm him. To read that his supporters were only eighteen in number is unbelievable. To read that the head of the grandson of the prophet was mocked by a man who confessed the prophethood of Muhammad is illogical, etc., etc. But then we come through theological reasoning to a position that is contrary to the historical facts. We can turn the historical facts upside down. And all the historical after-effects of his death would have been based on nothing. The multitude of books written on his death would become a farce. What emerges out of all this is that just as the efforts to corrupt the truth concerning the death of al-Husein could not change the fact that he was murdered by decapitation in the desert of Karbala'a, so the fabrications surrounding the death of Jesus can never change the facts of His death by crucifixion and His bodily resurrection after three days.

MY GOD MY GOD It has been argued that Jesus' final struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane revealed a tragic flaw in his heroic character.[12] Razi, commenting on the patience of the prophet Job and answering the objection, 'Does not complaining impair the virtue of being patient?', quotes Sifyan Ibn 'Ayinah, who said,
He who complains to God the Most High cannot be considered fearful, if in his complaint he was accepting the will of God, for enjoying suffering is not a condition of patience. Did you not hear the words of Jacob [Q. 12:86], 'I make complaint of my anguish and sorrow unto God'?[13]

In the light of this, Jesus' struggle was not a flaw in his heroic character but an insight into the perfect process of submission, in which the perfect servant cleaves to God despite the opposing forces. This struggle is like that of the process by which a seed unfolds to upturn the rock that obstructs its growth. A life without difficulties and hence without struggl e does not constitute heroism, but rather a life which unfolds in the face of opposing forces that unfolds upwardly to God in perfect submission The sword of death could not sever the relationship between Jesus and God. Jesus emerged victorious and the sword of death was left blunt. Some have concluded that the cry on the cross, 'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me' could not have been that of Jesus, because it portrays him as lacking submission to the will of God. However, closer examination shows that only Jesus could utter such a statement on the cross. The moment of death reveals man's true nature, especially if he is a religious man. It is a universal phenomenon that many religious men just before this moment of death seek the forgiveness of their sins. This was the experience of Muhammad:
'Aisha the wife of the prophet reported: 'I heard the prophet and listened to him before his death, while he was lying supported on his back, and he was saying, "O Allah ! Forgive me and bestow Your mercy on me, and let me meet the highest (Companion of the Hereafter)."'[14]

This is a revealing comment on the relationship between the dying man and God. The request for forgiveness reveals the dying one as the transgressor; it points to the party that did not keep the covenant. However, the words of Jesus on the cross contain no confession of sin, and no request for forgiveness. If the victim on the cross was not Jesus, chances are that the substitute would have sought forgiveness. But the absence of such a statement from the cross is in line with what we know of the sinless character of Jesus. The more sensitive the dying person is, or the more pious, the more remorseful he will be in confessing his sins - even those the average person would not consider worth mentioning. Those little sins cause the same remorse as big ones. The character of the Christ belonged to the transcendent level, and the whiter the page the clearer the stain, even one sin in Jesus would have shown up starkly. But what do we find being uttered in those final moments? Not one confession, not one mark against himself, but

a statement concerning God. We do not have any reference about what Jesus did to God, as with the rest of mankind, but a statement concerning what God did to Jesus! To understand the implications of this statement we must understand something about the war between Satan and God. The suffering of the prophet Job serves as an illustration.
Ayoub [Job] was an upright man and Satan wanted to prove that Job's praise and gratitude to God were not because Ayoub feared God, but because God had given Ayoub many blessings. Satan argued that if all these blessings were taken away from Ayoub he would blaspheme and deny God. God then gave Satan permission to destroy all that Ayoub had. Satan destroyed his camels by fire, but Ayoub remained steadfast in his faith. Then he killed all his sheep, but Ayoub did not deny God. Then he destroyed his oxen and the rest of his belongings, but Ayoub remained faithful.

Satan went back and requested that he should have power over Ayoub's children, for that would be more effective than destroying his belongings. Having been given permission by God, Satan killed Ayoub's children. Distraught, Ayoub placed dust over his head, then sought forgiveness from God, but he did not blaspheme God. Satan finally went back and said, 'To Ayoub the loss of belongings and children is a little thing, but if you give me power over his body, I can assure you that if he himself suffers in his own body he will blaspheme You.' So God granted him his request, and Satan afflicted Ayoub in his body. Ayoub's flesh and skin began to fall off him, and though he complained to God yet he did not blaspheme.[15] Ayoub's ultimate test was not in his belongings, neither in his children, but in the closest thing to his soul - in that which directly affected him. His acid test of loyalty to God was extremely personal. Indeed, it is the afflictions that touch us personally that reveal our inner nature. Now Satan comes to afflict every person in the particular area that constitutes his greatest advantage. Satan attacks where it will cause the most damage. He comes to rob the person of whatever represents the cornerstone, or the most vital aspect of his being. When Satan came to afflict Jesus, which area would he attack? Which area represented the most vital aspect of Jesus' being, which if attacked would sustain the greatest damage? To Ayoub this area was his own body, but to Jesus it was his union with God. For this was what set Jesus apart from all others. This union was his joy, his riches, his belonging. It was the strength of his inner being. It was upon this area that any attack should be concentrated - the area of ultimate testing. Those who are of the dust are tested in their flesh, but He who is of God had to be tested in His union with God. To attack the union of Jesus with God is to touch Jesus himself, just as Ayoub was attacked in his body. It is the most personal, direct and devastating assault on Jesus himself. This abandonment by God experienced by Jesus was the ultimate form of suffering. This explains the struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was not due to fear of death but it was the struggle of one who eternally experienced one-ness with God, yet in time was to experience the abandonment of God.

Jesus on the cross experienced the scorching heat of spiritual desert, the absence of the Divine, which is Hell. This was the most bitter cup of all. Yet it is here we hear the words 'My God, My God'. Jesus, although forsaken by God, and afflicted with the ultimate affliction, takes the confession of God, His God to this spiritual barrenness, to hell. When Adam surrendered his will to the enemy of God, he was implying that Satan is right and God is wrong (God forbid), and in effect he was denying that God is God - at least for the duration of his disobedience. But if God is not God at all times, He cannot be God at all. So while Adam denied God in the paradise, the Christ confessed God in hell. The confession that Adam denied in the presence of God in paradise, Jesus upheld in spite of the abandonment of God. That confession of God in spite of Hell, to the last drop of blood on the cross, is the ultimate victory. Finally Jesus' statement on the cross was not a question directed to God in the hope of receiving an answer, but a statement expressing his current spiritual experience.[16]
THE TRUTH WAS STRUCK But why was Jesus hated by the Jews? Why was He condemned to death on the cross? Why did the Jews plot to kill the man who healed their sick, opened the eyes of the blind, He even raised some of the dead? Traditional Muslim scholars never paid serious attention to that point.

However, the author of al-Insan al-kamel (i.e. The Perfect Man) gives the clue as to the reason why the Jews wanted to kill Jesus when he wrote 'the extra thing that Jesus brought, apart from what is in the Torah is that He revealed the secret of Lordship and Power.'[17]. Then he stated the implication of this: 'For the revealing of the secret of Lordship is blasphemy'[18] It is this charge of blasphemy that the Jews used to crucify Jesus. And that is also why alHallaj[19] was killed. For the Hallaj, being a man, made a statement that was considered to be blasphemous. His most famous words are, 'Ma fil-jubbati el'la-Allah', that is, 'There is nothing in the Jubba [his garment] except Allah'. Another such statement was made in his reply to one of his opponents al-Shibli, in the mosque of al-Mansur, when he said, 'Analhaqq', that is 'I am [God]', so proclaiming that he had no other 'I' than God.[20] He also said: 'The important thing is to proceed seven times around the ka'ba of one's heart.' His opponents therefore accused him of being a rebel, who wished to destroy the ka'ba of Mecca.[21] As a result he was sentenced to death by the pronounced formula: 'It is lawful to shed your blood.' Al-Hallaj was handed over to the chief of police, and in the evening in his cell, he exhorted himself to face martyrdom and foresaw his glorious resurrection. Next day, before an enormous crowd, al-Hallaj, with a crown on his head, was beaten, half killed, and exposed still alive on a gibbet. Those who had signed for his condemnation cried out: 'Let his blood be on our heads'. He was then decapitated, his body sprinkled with oil and burned, and the ashes thrown into the Tigris from the top of a minaret on the 27, March 922.[22] It is not myth that has this quality of repeating itself, but history. The similarities between the death of al-Hallaj and the death of Jesus are quite remarkable. al-Hallaj was accused of claiming divinity as was Jesus. It is interesting to note that in all the traditions mentioned by Tabari, the reason why the Jews sought to kill Jesus is not mentioned at all. Some have suggested it was because Jesus proclaimed that God is love. But that is not controversial enough to be a reason to kill him. Jesus had no political ambitions, He was the poorest of the poor, His companions were not

high-class or considered among the powerful, but rather were weak and poor. The reason the Jews sought to kill Him was because he claimed divinity. But there is another factor in Jesus' death that repeated itself, in the death of al-Hallaj. The opponents of al-Hallaj, to insure his complete removal, had to have a political component in their accusations. So they accused him of being 'an agitator and a rebel who was a threat to the order of the community.'[23] The same accusation was levelled against Jesus 900 years before the death of al-Hallaj. Even the accusation that al-Hallaj wished to destroy the ka'ba had its counterpart in the accusation against Jesus, that He said he would destroy the Temple and then rebuild it three days. However, all who claim Divinity died and remained dead, except Jesus. He rose again, to prove that He is the Eternal, Uncreated Word of God. It is reported that al-Hallaj said to his disciples as he was being taken to be executed: 'Do not be upset over this: in thirty days I will return to you.'[24] Others reported him as predicting to those present that he would return in forty days.[25] Nevertheless, after his death and cremation, his ashes were thrown into the Tigris River. And as a result of the promise of his return, 'his disciples still waited there on the bank of the Tigris, in the hope that he would arise from it.'[26] Where are the followers of al-Hallaj today? They do not exist,[27] for the claims of al-Hallaj were not substantiated; they did not come true. He promised his disciples he would return, but he remained dead. Jesus, on the other hand spoke of His resurrection, and showed Himself to His followers. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, there would be as few followers of Jesus as there are followers of al-Hallaj. However, the faith of the followers of Jesus is based on his resurrection from the dead. The Qur'an said: 'God strikes both the true and the false. As for the scum, it vanishes as jetsam, and what profits men abides in the earth...'[28] The truth has been struck, and has proved stronger than death. For by the death of Jesus on the cross, the truth was struck. Jesus' claim to divinity was subjected to the acid test, and the truth became victorious. Jesus rose again. His claims to divinity were not blasphemous, they were defended and attested to by God. Jesus was killed on the cross because He claimed to be the Fragrance of God, the Radiance of God, the Power of God, the Love of God, and the perfect Servant of God. All these are summed up in the title 'the Son of God'. Because of this claim He was crucified, and everyone who rejects this claim of Jesus is siding with the Jews who crucified Jesus. Every one who passes a verdict on Jesus is actually passing a verdict on himself. God's verdict on Jesus, demonstrated by his rising from the dead, was God's seal of approval on the truth of Jesus' claims. Ikhwan as-Safa (a religious group who regarded themselves as Muslims but were open to other points of views as well) believed in the actual crucifixion of Jesus. This is what they believed:

When God desired to cause Jesus to die and to lift Him up to Himself, his disciples met with Him in Jerusalem in one room, and He said to them, 'I am going to my to Father and your Father, and before leaving my human nature (nasuti), I give you a commandment, and exact a promise from you, and make a covenant with you, so he who accepts My commandment and fulfils My covenant, will be with Me tomorrow. And he who does not accept My commandment, does not belong to Me and I do not belong to him.'

They said, 'What is the commandment?' He said, 'Go to the kings of the end of the earth and tell them what I have taught you, and call them to what I called you to, and do not be afraid of them, for when I leave My human nature, I will stand in the air in the right hand side of My Father and your Father, and I will be with you wherever you go, confirming you with victory and help by My Father's leave! Go to them and call them gently, and heal them, and command that which is good, and rebuke that which is evil, until you get killed, crucified or expelled from that country'. They said to Him, 'How can we know the truthfulness of what you command us?' He answered, 'I am the first to do just that!' He went out to the people next day, and began to call them, and to preach to them, until He was taken to the king of the Jews, who commanded that He should be crucified. So they crucified His human nature. And they nailed His hands to the wood of the cross, and He remained crucified from the forenoon to the afternoon. He asked for water but they gave Him vinegar instead. His body was pierced by a spear, and was buried in the place of the cross [or the wood]. Forty persons were assigned to guard His grave. All this took place in the presence of His disciples and acquaintances, so when they saw all that, they were convinced and knew that he did not command them to do anything different from what he himself did. Then, after three days, they met with Him in the place where He promised to see them. They saw the sign that was between them and Him, and the news spread in Israel that Jesus was not killed, and they opened the grave but the human nature (nasut) was not found! ... And those disciples who accepted His commandment scattered in the different parts of the world ... calling people to the teaching of the Christ, so that most of them were killed, and the message of the Christ spread east and west by the works of the disciples of Jesus.[29] Elsewhere we read in Ikhwan al-Safa the following:
The Christ consented to God's decree and was led to the destined fate, and yielded His human nature to the Jews most willingly, accepting God's decree, which is His foreknowledge of all that existed before its existence.[30]

The Christ, then, died and rose again from the dead. The fact of his death on the cross still shines after almost 2000 years, for 'lies written in ink can never disguise facts written in blood', no matter how pious, even well-intended these lies may be. Jesus, then, is the only Person who died and was resurrected and lifted up to be with God, never to die again. Idris was lifted up to a high place, but he did not die. Jesus was lifted up in spite of death. This is God's Word, who prevailed over death. It is in the resurrection of Jesus that we see God's declaration of who Jesus was and is.

APPENDIX DEEDAT AND THE CRUCIFIXION

In this appendix to part four we will comment on Mr. Deedat's approach to the death and resurrection of Jesus. (Mr. Deedat, from South Africa, is a follower of the Ahmadiyya which is considered a cult by traditional Muslims.). (For a complete commentary on Deedat's approach read John Gilchrist's books The Crucifixion Of Christ: A Fact Not Fiction, and What Was The Sign Of Jonah? available from MERCSA, PO Box 342, Mondeor 2110, South Africa.) Traditional Muslims and in particular Muslim scholars disagree with Deedat on many points. The Muslim Digest devoted an entire issue attacking and exposing Deedat as a threat both to Muslims and non-Muslims. The Muslim Digest had this to say about Mr. Deedat:
This issue of the MUSLIM DIGEST representing the months of July, August, September and October is almost entirely devoted in the public interest - both Muslim and non-Muslim through an indictment against Mr. Ahmad Deedat of the Islamic Propagation Centre, for his various detrimental and dangerous activities, both within and outside of the Muslim community.. he has caused much pain within the Muslim community itself... concerned Muslims, therefore called upon the MUSLIM DIGEST to indict him and to make not only Mr. Deedat realise his various dangerous WEAKNESSES, but through such an indictment, also make responsible members of the Muslim community realise the seriousness of such WEAKNESSES on Deedat's part.[31] (emphasis in the original)

Mr. Deedat in his approach, has revived the swoon theory, a theory propagated around 1800, which says that Jesus did not die on the cross, but merely fainted, and was buried alive, and subsequently revived in the cool air of the tomb.
DEEDAT AND THE HADITH Deedat bases his claims on what are called the ambiguous verses of the Qur'an. He says that the Qur'anic verse 4:157 is one of these ambiguous verses. Instead of explaining the ambiguous verses in the light of the clear verses that teach that Jesus did die, Deedat advances the swoon theory.

His theory, however, should be tested using a principle established by the early Muslims who were careful to transmit only the authentic Hadith. One of the tests used by Muslims to determine the authenticity of a Hadith was this: 'If the Hadith reporter claims to transmit of the knowledgeable that which the knowledgeable did not know, his report cannot be accepted.'[32] In other words, if those who are closer to the historical events, and consequently in the know, said nothing about a particular event, then how can those who came later in history, who are less knowledgeable, venture to assert their knowledge of that event? The application of this test is particularly valuable in historical investigations. If the prophet of Islam (who spoke on a multitude of subjects, some far less important than our topic) did not speak of the swoon theory, and the companions did not mention it, what authority has 'Gulam Ahmad (the prophet of the Ahmadiyya sect) who lived more than eighteen hundred years after the event, to advance the swoon theory? Was he more knowledgable than the

prophet of Islam and his companions? Not only is there no mention in the Hadith of a swoon theory, there is not even one fabricated Hadith to that effect. This is a case of the less knowledgable reporting that which the knowledgable did not report. Therefore, using the above rule of common sense, Deedat's theory must be rejected. Indeed Muslim scholarship vehemently disagrees with Mr. Deedat on this topic. Here is an extract from a letter written to Mr. Deedat published in the Muslim Digest:
Your thesis, forceful as it may be, is an anti-thesis of the view held by the majority of the Muslims, in particular the Ahl-Hadith followers. Their view is opposed to your thesis. They believe that Jesus was never put on the cross and was 'taken up'. Your arguments very ably axed by the Ahl-Hadith's fundamental belief about Jesus. They were present in the hall. Amazing as it may be, your every blow to their fundamental belief made them clap with joy! So much so that they even shouted 'Allah-o-Akbar,' not knowing that their own fundamental belief was systematically and logically being elimenated! As they clapped and cheered I remembered the Qur'anic verse: 'Deaf, Dumb, Blind' (Q. 2:18).[33]

These are strong words about Mr. Deedat and his deaf, dumb, blind cheering audience. We can see that neither Ahl-al-Hadith 'who were present in the hall' nor the story tellers mentioned anything about the swoon theory. From a Muslim point of view Deedat's theory must be rejected.
DEEDAT AND THE QUR'AN Deedat does not mention in his book what happened to Jesus after he was revived. Did Jesus later die and was He then buried in Kashmir, as the Ahmadiyya sect teaches? This is unlikely because it would be in contradiction to the teaching of mainstream Islam that says Jesus was lifted up alive to be with God (Q. 3:55 & 4:157).

So if we give Deedat the benefit of the doubt we would assume that he is a good Muslim and hence he believes that Jesus was resuscitated by his friends, and after crawling from the tomb was lifted up alive and stationed in the place of honour near God. Yet according to this belief, God barely managed to keep Jesus alive, this is the same Jesus who raised others from the dead, according to the Qur'an! What a pathetic picture Deedat paints of the Almighty God! Even the theory of substitution does more justice to the character of God than the swoon theory, for in the substitution theory the Jews could not harm Jesus. However, according to the swoon theory the Jews could have inflicted all the humiliation they desired upon God's anointed. As a result, to the outside world the Jews are victorious, and God and His anointed are the losers. If God was going to lift Jesus up, just as there is no reason for a substitute, there is no need to have Jesus humiliated on the cross. The picture Mr. Deedat paints of Jesus is as pathetic and offensive as the one he painted of God, and once again Deedat's pictures differ from the picture (of Jesus this time) depicted in the Qur'an. According to the Qur'an, Jesus all His life was confirmed and fortified by the Holy Spirit, and was later lifted up to be with God. According to the Qur'an Jesus was the one who knew the unseen, healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind and raised the dead. In contrast, Deedat's picture of Jesus is an insult to the spirit and intention of the Qur'an.

Jesus is portrayed by Mr. Deedat as being so afraid of being killed by the Jews that He disguised himself as a gardener, and when He appeared to Mary Magdalene, He was so weak and in such agony that He said to her 'Do not touch me!' Mr. Deedat would have us believe that this one who disguised himself and hid from the Jews in fear, was later lifted up to the glories of heaven near the throne of God Almighty Himself. Mr. Deedat infers that God was unable to protect Him from the Jews, that the only place God could protect Jesus was in heaven. As if God were saying to Jesus 'Be careful, because if the Jews catch and kill you they will spoil the divine plan. I can lift you up against all physical laws, but I cannot protect you from the Jews.' This is the ultimate conclusion of Deedat's theory, and what a blasphemy it is!
THE DEATH BLOW Strauss, a relentless critic of the Christian faith wrote:
It is evident that this view [the swoon theory] of the resurrection of Jesus, apart from the difficulties which it involves, does not solve the problem which is here under consideration the origin, that is of the Christian church by faith in the miraculous resurrection of a Messiah. It is impossible that a being who had been stolen half dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening, and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to his sufferings, could have given the disciples the impression that he was a conqueror over death and the grave, the prince of life, an impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry.[34]

There is no smoke without fire: an injured, weak and disillusioned Jesus could not have inspired or motivated the petrified and dispirited disciples to stand against the hatred of the Jews and the might of the Roman Empire. However, a risen Christ who conquered death could. This is the fire that produced Christianity, the power that changed chicken hearted men into heroes who regarded it an honour to be mutilated and killed by the Roman Empire rather than deny their faith in the resurrected Jesus Christ.

1. `Abd al-Wahab al-Kashi, Masra' al-Husayn, Dar al-Zahra', Beirut, 1981, p. 89. 2. Ibid., p. 97. 3. Ibid., p. 31. 4. Mahmoud Ayoub, Redemptive Suffering in Islam, Mouton Publishers, New York, 1987, p. 121. 5. Ibid. 6. Ibid., p. 135. 7. Ibid. 8. Ibid., pp. 248, 249. 9. Ibid. 10. Ibid., pp. 248, 245, 246. 11. Ibid., pp. 118, 119. 12.. Ibid., p. 121. 13. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, Commenting on The Qur'an, 21:83. 14. Sahih al-Bukhari, Hilal Yayinlari, Arabic-English version, 2nd. edition 1976, Vol 4, Hadith No. 715. 15. Razi, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, Commenting on The Qur'an, 21:83.

16. Such form of expression is found in the Qur'an, and the Torah, where God asks a question, not because he will be informed, God forbid, but to communicate something to us. 17. Gilani, al-Insan al-Kamel, Part 1, p. 69. 18. Ibid. 19. He is Abu 'L-Mughith al-Husayn b. Mansur b. Mahamma al-Baydawi, Arabic speaking mystic theologian (244-309/857-922). 20. The Encyclopaedia of Islam, new edition, Leiden E.J. Brill, London Luzac & co., 1971, vol.III, pp. 99-102. 21. The Encyclopaedia of Islam, new edition, Leiden E.J. Brill, London Luzac & co., 1971, vol.III, p. 101. 22. Ibid. 23. Ibid., p. 102. 24. Massignon, The Passion of al-Hallaj, translated from french by Herbert Mason, 1982, Vol.I, p. 597. 25. Ibid. 26. Ibid., p. 571. 27. The Encyclopaedia of Islam, new edition, Leiden E.J. Brill, London Luzac&co., 1971, vol.III, p. 103. 28. The Qur'an, 13:17 29. Ikhwan al-Safa, Dar Beirut lel-Teba'a wal-Nashr, Beirut, 1957, Vol IV, pp. 30-32. 30. Ibid., p. 74. 31. THE MUSLIM DIGEST, Durban, South Africa, 1986, p. 2. 32. Sobhi as-Saleh, `Ulum al-Hadith wa-Mustalahoh, Dar al-'Elm lel-Malayeen, 1984, p. 126. 33. THE MUSLIM DIGEST, Durban, South Africa, 1986, p. 35. 34. James Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1909, p. 43.

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