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  • Rıdvan Demir

CHRISTIAN AND ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE OF THE CRUCIFIXION AND END OF JESUS CHRIST

Güncelleme tarihi: 17 Nis 2023



AL-HUKM-U LILLAH

(The command is with Allah (cc) / el-hukm-u lillah)



This essay focuses on the meaning in Christianity of Jesus’ mission on the cross and provides an answer from the Islamic perspective. After this preface, this essay offers two headings (on the Christian and Islamic perspectives) followed by a brief conclusion.


Biblical references are noted within the text, while quotations from encyclopedias or other references are shown in footnotes. To make a quality presentation of this vast topic within a limited space, occasionally only one Christian view may be discussed (e.g., Roman Catholic or Pauline theology.) Generally, this first heading focuses on the crucifixion and passion of Christ and the resultant forgiving of all humanity.


The Christian heading examines Jesus Christ’s mission on the cross as the greatest plan of God in the process of salvation history. The reconciliation of God and humanity through the passion of Jesus will be discussed. Key terms necessarily will be used to discuss Jesus’ mission on the cross, and it is assumed that the reader knows these words, such as incarnation, crucified, suffering, sacrifice, redemption, sin, forgiving, ransom, atonement, savior, salvation, etc. While the role of Jesus’ crucifixion in forgiving the sins of all (or at least many) people is discussed, this essay does not explore different denominational understandings within Christianity.


The heading of the Islamic perspective focuses on the rejection of the event of Jesus’ (pbuH) crucifixion and Qur’an verses which concern Jesus’ end. In several different places, the Qur’an talks of Jesus’ death and his being raised to Allah (cc). In this sense, words and verses will be discussed as they refer to and give details concerning Jesus’ end. Key concepts are interpreted according to different Islamic scholars and historic thoughts. If we understand how superstitious beliefs are introduced into Islamic understanding in the early periods, we will be able to clearly see that Jesus’ return is impossible.


All prophets before and after Jesus have died. Islam is the last revelation, and Muhammad (pbuH) is the last messenger/prophet of Allah. Therefore, this paper would prove that Jesus died naturally but not on the cross or for our sins. In Islamic theology, sin is understood as an individual responsibility and Jesus will not return. The last prophet was the Prophet Muhammad, and Islam is the last religion/revelation of Allah. Briefly, all of these will be shown to prove how Jesus actually died. Jesus’ crucifixion, his present living existence, and his coming back in the future will be disproved. In general, I concentrate on verses 157 and 158 of the Chapter of an-Nisa in the Quran that serve as a pretty clear answer to the idea of the crucifixion of Jesus.


Only a single verse exists in the Qur’an to disprove crucifixion of Jesus. I admit that possibility of different interpretations of this verse caused a certain degree of difficulty for me. However, the crucifixion is refused very clearly in the Qur’an. Therefore, the conclusion won’t discuss issues of one faith over another. Instead, I will leave the judgment of Jesus to Allah, following two verses of the Quran. This approach is also the methodology used in the Qur’an.


THE CHRISTIANITY PERSPECTIVE:

JESUS’ MISSION ON THE CROSS


Upon reaching the New Testament period, there was made a treaty between God and humankind. The reason was that the Son of God had came. There is no doubt that Jesus (pbuH) of Nazareth was the Messiah. Through God’s omniscience, he had made the greatest plan for man’s salvation. According to Christian theology, God’s divine plan for human salvation was closely linked to the Virgin Mary. God had decided to send His Son from within the Trinity to earth. That was the first step of this great plan. Jesus lived in order to accomplish this goal.

In being crucified, Jesus became the sacrifice for all humanity because this sacrifice must be completely sinless. Only a creature of this kind could be a sacrifice for the salvation of all humanity. Jesus was not born from a human father and so did not inherit sin from his human father. By having only the heavenly Father, God, Jesus was born as a unique person with special legal rights of inheritance from his heavenly Father. Therefore, according to Christian theology, since Jesus was truly the Son of God, his crucifixion could be for all humans, bringing salvation for all people. This is the second step of God’ great plan. When Jesus returns to earth as the Messianic Savior, God’s great plan will be completed.

Jesus is not simply seen in the context of his life but within the context of all history. Christianity sees Jesus as Lord of history, especially the history that begins in the Old Testament. Jesus was expected to come according to all the words of the Old Testament prophets and was said to fulfill all Old Testament law. This climaxed in Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, which he made knowing that he would be killed.[1] That is why, the Old Testament is perceived as announcing “good news” for it begins the New Testament’s salvation history. Without understanding this salvation history, it is impossible to understand why Jesus intentional went to Jerusalem knowing that he would be killed.

However, Jesus was more than a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. He was a new revelation. Jesus as a servant who suffers formed a new gospel, or “good news.” God the Father incarnated in His Son transformed this gospel message into Jesus’ body. Jesus is together with God the Father and has insight of Him for eternity.[2] Jesus came for this reason: to respond to sin both in human nature and in each individual. The new revelation in Jesus is that “the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45; see also John, 1:29; 3:5). According to the Synoptic Gospel writers, Jesus was sent to bring about repentance, offer salvation, and usher in the kingdom of God. The Synoptics were informed beforehand that Jesus would suffer.[3]

Why, according to New Testament Pauline theology, did God’s plan include suffering and a predetermined individual death? Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension must be discussed as a whole. Rudolf Bultman writes that salvation was realized in the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, who gave himself willingly to death. (Phl. 2:6ff; II Cor. 8:9; Rom. 15:3). However, Bultmann claims that Jesus’ death was not propitiatory (that is, a sacrifice in the place of others) but a colossal cosmic event. If salvation means salvation from all death and sin, Bultmann believes that Paul discussed this big issue in light of a Gnostic age in which Man reaches real life in the Messiah Jesus. Thus to overcome sin, suffering, and death through Jesus is to realize the plan God proposed and provided for the salvation of humanity before creation began.

This is one view of how humans achieve salvation and overcome sin and death.[4] Paul’s understanding of salvation is not achieved with practice and worship but comes without mere human. Paul’s salvation relies on divine intervention (meddling) and the necessary divine character of Jesus. Thus, it is mandatory in Christianity that Jesus has two characters (human and divine) in one body. Otherwise salvation will never be possible in the cosmos. Thus Paul established Christian tradition and belief of salvation.[5]

Roman Catholic thinking parallels other Christian thought. Jesus the Messiah has two characters (human and divine) in one body. He is, in the words of the second Vatican Council, “the key, the focal point, and the goal of all human history.” (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, no.10). Crucifixion was the will of God that God realized for humans. Jesus taught that his suffering was divine necessity for himself, but redemptive belief is not limited to the cross. [6] The early church also interpreted sufferings from the Old Testament as applying – however discreetly – to Jesus and his cross. God’s whole plan was prepared to rely completely on Jesus. This is a very new and interesting idea. By giving himself freely to death on the cross, Jesus desired himself to be given as the sinless for sinners. Thus he realized and modeled perfect obedience to his Father God. This is the mysterious passion of Christ who as Son of God is loaded with the burden of sin for Man. His suffering was realized – not with compulsion – but with only his love and desire. Paul’s main idea about the suffering of Jesus was that Jesus not only suffered for sin, which has past, but also for our on-going sin. That suffering even continues today in the Church, which is his body.

Great tribulation has come over mankind, starting with the passion of Christ, and will continue until the parousia (Judgment Day). When human sins and transgressions are concluded in this way, it will finish them. Jesus’ constructive manner will break the power of the devil on earth.[7] God desired to realize His plan,[8] and Jesus accepted it.[9] Thus it is said: “By that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.[10]” According to S. E. Johnson, the redemptive understanding of the Synoptics is not identical to the one based on the Gospel of John’s “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John, 1:29)”[11]

In the New Testament, Jesus has the role of “being redemptive” for all man.[12] To discuss the redemptive character of Jesus and how his crucifixion related would be beneficial here for understanding the meaning of Jesus’ death. Especially in the theology of the later Pastoral Epistles, Jesus is seen as ‘Savior’ (I Tim. 1:1; II Tim. 1:10; Titus, 1:4; 2:13; 3:6) and mediator between God and men. (cf. I Tim. 2:5; 6:13-14; II Tim. 2:8; 4:1; Titus 2:11-14). The key in these letters is the view of Jesus as both man and also Son of God. I Tim. 3:16 finds the Davidic Messiah concept compatible to the Christianity’s Son of Man concept[13] where in heaven at last the messiah has formed a savior that is redemptive and finally a ‘divine creature.’ The paradox of Jesus Christ’s human and divine characters is explained as being the incarnation of God into Jesus. Logos doctrine became the second part of Christian Trinitarian theology. That is, the human incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah and Savior of the world. Jesus was one with his Father and Holy Spirit for past eternity. Christians believe that he died, rose on the third day, appeared to his disciples for forty days, ascended to God’s right hand, remains present with us, and will come again. By and by, these beliefs generated the transcendental view of Jesus’ character. In this way, Christian creed clearly began to contrast with Judaism’s understanding of Old Testament law and prophecy.[14]

According to New Testament doctrines, especially in the letter to the Hebrews, sacrifice of the Old Testament was provisional and had to cease under the New Covenant. The submission of Jesus Christ to death on the cross is understood as a perfect sacrifice. Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate the sacrifice of Christ on the cross in the Eucharist. So Jesus offers himself as a real and perfect sacrificial gift.[15] According to Holy Scriptures, Jesus has died for our sins.[16] God who would not begrudge[17] His unique son from us, even to death, for our reconciliation with Him also forgave sinners and ungodly people. So, He has submitted Jesus to death for the sake of Man.[18]

Jesus has became the sacrifice of the new covenant in the new age.[19] God has showed justice with his blood but has patience and did not punish sins, which were committed.

“God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement (or as the one who would), through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished- he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”[20]

Jesus is one mediator between God and Man. [21] The following verses are a very clear biblical passage announcing how and why God incarnated into His unique Son and why He sacrificed Himself (who is God the Father as a part of Trinity) on the cross:

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature (or, in the form) of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking very nature (or the form) of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory God the Father.” [22]

Pelikan, who is author in Encyclopedia of Religion, explains under the redemption heading of Christianity “as a religion of redemption, Christianity presents itself as the message of how, through Christ, reconciliation has been achieved between the holiness of God and the sin of a fallen humanity.” He continues briefly that this relation is very important in Christian theology (see Matt 20:28). According to metaphoric states of Christian writers who lived in the early term, it is a very important expression of Jesus himself. Jesus, who described redemption as ransom, believes he paid the price for the salvation of humans with his death on the cross. If one accepts the death of God in the body of Jesus as a battle in which God and Christ battle the devil and his allies (sin and death), the nailing of Christ to the cross becomes a point of triumph – not defeat – in Christianity. “Why God became man,” according to Anselm (c. 1033-1109), was for the radical reconciliation of God with man in a way that upheld the moral order (rectitudo) of the universe. God has not forgiven all by an instant and simple fiat but through a great plan that was forged in the beginning. Therefore, this death of God in the body of Jesus simultaneously realized both human happiness and divine justice.[23]

Jesus has came “not to be served but to serve.” (Mk 10:45 and Lk 22:27) Jesus interpreted his crucifixion as serving others. According to Martin Hengel, the author of In the Atonement,Jesus accepted death for himself in the atonement in order to cancel others’ sins.[24] The suffering and sorrow of God, therefore, are intentional themes based on the sin of humanity found in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Rabbinic Literature. God wanted to show unlimited love to humanity through the suffering and death of Jesus. However, the New Testament never links Christ’s passion (Mk 15:34) with divine ‘anger.’[25] The best illustration of ransom’s mystery in Christianity is the meaning of lutron. “To loose” does not literally refer to a commercial price, trade or exchange but means the price of redemption agency, which is paid nothing. (Like Thomas Aquinas, though, he has used the word “price.”[26])

Jesus Christ was chosen for all people by God and represents “eternal salvation.” His sufferings and triumph are not theoretical but experiential. In Christianity suffering is not merely defeated; it is encountered and then transfigured. [27] Such salvation is the heart of the gospel, i.e. the church’s message. Humankind needs to get away from their sins as a necessary part of this divine plan. Divine action has been executed in the life of Jesus and is continued by him.[28] As Savior, Jesus is closely related to the redemption doctrine of Christian theology in light of many New Testament verses. Indeed, according to Christian scholars, being the Savior means Jesus Christ is the ransom and redemption for all humanity through himself on the cross as a necessary part of God the Father’s new covenant through His unique and eternal Son the Messiah.

To conclude, sins of all humankind will be forgiven only through his sacrifice. This is the essential plan of God who has decided before time. Nevertheless, it has been claimed by some that particular people, such as Jews, were the cause of Christ’s crucifixion. However, the Roman Catholic Church declared concerning this great theoretical question in the Second Vatican Council that: “neither all Jews who were of Jesus’ term nor today’s could not be blamed for the suffering of Christ.” Accusations of greater Jewish blame for Jesus’ death are completely repudiated by Christian thought that sees Jesus’ death as a necessary part of God’s eternal plan to redeem humans from sin and death. [29]


THE ANSWER OF ISLAM

The word messiah[30] is repeated eleven times in nine places in the Qur’an. Jesus[31] is a name, and Messiah is a title of Jesus in the Qur’an, but to accept Jesus as Son of God or as Lord and to believe in his divine character has been rejected by Allah in verses of the Qur’an.[32] Islam denies that Jesus is God’s son, so the incarnation of God is rejected. [33] Neither does the Qur’an accept that the sins of all people (or even of many) were forgiven through the suffering of Jesus during the last weekend of his life. Islam also teaches that the Children of Israel (the Jew people, not all of them) it planned to kill Jesus and claimed: “we killed the son of Mary, the Messiah.” However, they, in fact, could not kill him[34] since Jesus had already been raised up (elevated) to the level of Allah.[35] The Qur’an does mention Jesus’ birth and death;[36] however, this does not mean Jesus now lives.

According to Islam, Jesus was not crucified.[37] The Qur’an does not deal with all the issues of Jesus’ true nature and details of how Jesus was saved from Jewish hands, his death or how he was raised up.[38] The general Islamic understanding holds that Jesus’ resurrection will occur like all people: after the apocalypse, not like the pre-apocalypse Christian understanding of his resurrection. The apocalypse in Islam is the end time when all people are resurrected.

Jesus was the Messiah (Savior King), however, and the Jews rejected him and derided him by jeeringly calling him “King.”[39] The Qur’an criticizes Jews saying, “They said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah’; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not.”[40] In Islam, the belief in Jesus’ crucifixion has never been accepted, although it is the most important belief in Christianity. Islam holds an understanding of individual sin and responsibility for that sin. Each person has the duty and responsibility for what he or she does.

The issue of whether Jesus was crucified or just appeared to be crucified is central to the Qur’an’s explanation of Jesus’ end. According to the modern interpreter Suleyman Ates, although the expression of shubbihalahum is translated as ‘it appears to them,’ according to the context, it is more suitably interpreted as ‘this event is doubtful for them.’ In this sense, they have deep doubt on this issue. (Here, “they” probably refers to Christians, though possibly Jews, living at the time of Jesus. It can also mean all people living during Jesus’ time.) “They” have not certain and clear knowledge (yaqin) and also have supposition (zan or than). The Qur’an states that “they did not kill clearly.”[41]

According to Islamic sources, other people were crucified in the place of the man Jesus. According to some Islamic comments on the crucifixion, Judas Iscariot, who showed Jewish and Roman authorities Jesus’ location in the Garden of Gethsemane, had his face transfigured at the moment he betrayed Jesus and was crucified in Jesus’ place. According to other reports, Simon Le Cyrenee, who was given the task of carrying Jesus’ cross, was crucified instead of Jesus. Others say still others were crucified.[42] These different comments about Jesus and his end have caused arguments between Muslim, Christians, and Christian-Muslim scholars. Arguments about the end of Jesus on earth and his death focus on Aali Imran Chapter / Surah, verse / ayah 55, in the Qur’an. Allah uses the words “teveffi” and “ref'” in this verse. “Teveffi” means to dispatch or kill, and “ref'” means to raise or elevate. Allah says in the verse being mentioned:

“Behold! Allah said: ‘O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection. Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.’”[43]


Allah states that Jesus will die, that he would rise to Allah (who will clear him from the lies of unbelievers), and that followers of Jesus will be superior to unbelievers until the judgment day of Allah, who declares His last judgment.[44] In this verse the Qur’an uses teveffi (to kill or take the soul) followed by ref’ (to raise or elevate). According to Ilyas Celebi, author of the Encyclopedia of Islam material on Isa (Jesus), teveffi indicates his soul was taken from his body. In Arabic this means, “to kill;” however, some Muslim scholars use teveffi to connote “to elevate or rise (from earth to heaven.)” Other Muslim scholars discuss this word as meaning “to keep the soul in sleep.”[45] According to the general understanding of Muslim scholars, Jesus was elevated to heaven with his body and soul. Likewise, according to traditional Muslim scholars, teveffi means to kill, so that Jesus was raised with his body and soul, not only with his body. However, according to modern scholars, God spoke to Jesus and said “I will raise you to Myself” – implying here only Jesus’ soul. The soul is the reality of humans, but the body is like clothing. The body increases or decreases, but the unchanging part of humans is their souls.[46]


According to the important modern scholar Suleyman Ates, this thought concerning the meaning of this verse is suitable because:

1. The Qur’an states that the laws of creation will not change. The body and soul of Jesus cannot both be raised because it is clearly contrary to one verse of et-Taha Chapter.[47] One material cannot elevate unless it changes its nature and accepts exterior force as material. Besides, it had not happened like that to anybody else beforehand in history.

2. If “heaven” refers to the physical heaven, it means that Jesus was elevated the stars. If the meaning is the immaterial heaven, the body cannot go but only the soul can go because the immaterial heaven is not a place in which material bodies can dwell.

3. The Qur’an expresses very clearly that Jesus was not elevated to heaven but to Allah. That is a very important difference. Without doubt, being elevated to Allah is very different from being elevated to heaven. According to the Qur’an Jesus was elevated to Allah not heaven. As a result, we need to examine and think about this verse again. Understanding the sentence “bel rafe’a hullahu ileyh” as “Allah elevated him to heaven” would mean that Allah has a place in heaven. However, that it is impossible, according to Islam, for Allah to be in one place since Allah is everywhere.

Elevating to the material heaven is very different from elevating to Allah, the immaterial. For Jesus to rise to Allah does not mean to rise to heaven. Allah owns the heavens and the earth. Allah is in the earth and heavens, but we cannot think of Allah as being contained in the heavens because that opposes Islamic belief. Therefore, the meaning of the verse, as said of Ibn Cureyc, is the elevation of Jesus’ soul, meaning that Jesus was elevated to glory and honor; he was esteemed by Allah. Thus, Allah saved Jesus from aggressors and elevated him beyond measure, by the grace of Allah.[48]

As a matter of fact, Ilyas Celebi and Suleyman Ates agree that where the “ref” concept appears in a verse in the Aali Imran Chapter, if it is used for lifeless creatures it means materially elevated, but where this word is used for living creatures it means immaterially elevated. Ref is perfectly clear in other passages of the Qur’an and implies being raised of soul or degree.[49] Interestingly, while teveffi and ref clearly mean “I will take you and raise you to Myself,” some Muslim scholars (especially Mufassirs who are interpreters of the Qur’an) understand the sentence as “I will raise you to heaven.” Why?

Why have some Islamic scholars understood this verse to mean to raise to heaven as in Christian theology? The Qur’an clearly rejects the notion of Jesus’ crucifixion. On the contrary, the Jews of that time were made to think he was crucified. Instead, Jesus’ soul was taken by Allah, and he was elevated to Allah. According to the Qur’an this expression of ‘elevation’ means exaltation of his soul and his ranking. There are two reasons the notion of Jesus being elevated to heaven and his prospect of returning back entered Islam. First, the commentaries of the Qur’an (Mufassirs) coming from Christian and Jewish backgrounds (converted Muslims) brought to Islam the interpretations from their beliefs and cultures of an expected messiah, which is called Israiliyyat.

Second, the hadiths, purport Jesus’ return. However, each hadith requires meticulous investigation, and opposed to what is commonly believed, only a few of the hadiths regarding the return of Jesus are accurate.[50] Indeed, in different Hadiths, Abu Hurayrah reported that Jesus would descend to the earth as a sign of the apocalypse. These Hadiths were reported by Abu Hurayrah with different chains (sanads or “ways”) in Bukhari, Muslim, and Tirmizi:

Abu Hurayrah said, ‘The Prophet said, 'The son of Mary will come down as a just leader. He will break the cross, and kill the pigs. Peace will prevail, and people will use their swords as sickles. Every harmful beast will be made harmless; the sky will send down rain in abundance, and the earth will bring forth its blessings. A child will play with a fox and not come to any harm; a wolf will graze with sheep and a lion with cattle, without harming them.'’”[51]

Allah has clearly explained that Jesus’ body died in verse 55 of the Aali Imran Chapter and verse 117 of the al-Maidah Chapter. Jesus was not killed by others. Allah ended Jesus’ life naturally. Therefore, his immaterial degree was raised when his soul was raised as the souls of all prophets are raised by Allah, who proffers all good things for His prophets. In the Qur’an, it is declared that Jesus will die. Nobody gave eternal life before Muhammad in the 34th verse of al-Anbiya Chapter, which informs that Muhammad will die a day to prove that Jesus has died,[52] according to Ilyas Celebi, author of the Encyclopedia of Islam material on Isa (Jesus) which concerns the death of Jesus under the heading of ilm-iKalam (belief system/credo).

In summary, I want to align various (and conflicting) Islamic insights concerning the end and return of Jesus that are very important for this essay and concerned verses of the Qur’an.

1. Jesus will return. These insights are promulgated by the Kalam scholars Ahl-i Sunnah (adherents or followers of the Prophet Muhammad), Salafiyya (followers of early term) and Shi’a. Jesus rose with his body and soul (ruh ma’al casad) together when the people who denied Jesus wanted to kill him. He will descend before the apocalypse, believe, and follow the revelation of the Prophet Muhammad. He will kill the Antichrist (Daggala) and bring justice to earth. Verses of the Qur’an and Hadiths support this belief, and Selefiyye (followers of early term) and Shi’a / Shi’ite interpreted the verses as saying that Jesus was not killed by his enemies but was permitted to die a natural death by Allah.[53] The Qur’an uses the word teveffi to mean Jesus is killed by Allah (Note past tense/siga-i maadi, however present tense/siga-i mudaari). Thus, according to this verse, Allah will kill Jesus before the apocalypse. He still lives and will return before the apocalypse, because other verses have said that as well. All the People of the Book (Ahl-i Kitab) will have faith in Jesus before his death,[54] and Jesus’ return will be explained as a sign of apocalypse.[55]

2. Jesus will not return. Mu’tazila Kalam scholars (as well as contemporary Sunni scholars Ahmad Amin, Abdulkarim al-Hatib, Ebu Rayye, and Muhammad Izzad Darvaza) agree. When the enemies of Jesus wanted to kill him, Allah raised to himself the soul of Jesus by a natural death. This is the clear meaning of the Qur’an. On this concept, the Qur’an has used the past tense concerning Jesus.[56] Therefore, it did not say that he will die in the future, but it meant that Allah permitted him to die in Aali Imran Chapter.[57] Nevertheless, followers have misinterpreted this verse. According to this verse, the People of the Book will have faith (believe) in Jesus before Jesus’ death by adherents of the return of Jesus (Nuzul-u Isa.) This verse has been misunderstood to say that the People of the Book will have faith before their own deaths and to say that Jews are also included. Besides, the verse in az-Zuhruf Chapter[58] has been misinterpreted to say that Jesus’ return is a sign of the apocalypse because this verse can be read in two different ways in the science of Qur’an’s reading (Ilm-i Qira’ah.)[59] In this verse, letters ayn, lam, and mim can be read as “‘alaamah” (sign) and as “ilim” (enlightenment/science), so this verse explains absolutely and clearly that the apocalypse will happen. There is certain knowledge, and no one needs to doubt. As the Prophet Muhammad is the Last Prophet, the return of Jesus to the earth is impossible. Otherwise, this belief would contradict the principle of last prophecy (Hatm-i Nubuvvah).

3. Jesus’ shahs-ı manevi (His immaterial personality) will return. Halimi, Taftazani, and other scholars who are in the early term approved this interpretation concerning Jesus. Contemporary scholars Muhammad Abduh and M. Rashid Riza, and also Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, share this insight. The death of Jesus and his return in the last term concern verses that are not clear in the Qur’an. Nevertheless, there are many Hadiths concerning the return of Jesus. Accordingly, to reject this belief is not completely correct. Jesus had been raised by Allah with his body and soul, and Allah permitted him to die a natural death. These Hadiths should be examined carefully. In these Hadiths, the immaterial personality of Jesus will appear in the future bringing peace, love, tolerance, compassion, and justice to or through his followers.

The second and third insights concerning Jesus’ death and rising unite in one point: Jesus died a natural death, was not raised by Allah with both his body and soul, and his descent to earth as a human before the apocalypse is impossible. These two insights’ differences originate from reports ascribed to Prophet Muhammad. Consequently, it is impossible to believe Jesus will return because when the Qur’an expresses a thing clearly it cannot be contradicted. Also, according to Kalam (Islamic belief system), belief cannot build on doubt or suspicion. There is not yakin (certain information/knowledge) in Islam concerning the raising of Jesus and his descent from heaven to earth. Even Tabari, Ibn Katsir, Kashmiri, and M. Zahid Kawsari like scholar of Islam say, these Hadiths are Mutawatir. Actually these Hadiths consist from Haber-i Vahid (Ahad news, not certain knowledge until Mutawatir.) Islamic beliefs could not build on these kinds of Hadiths.[60] Beliefs that Jesus was sacrificed for sin of people and will return as expected king to found the kingdom of God belongs only to Christian belief systems.[61]

As a result, the most correct insight is the third one: that Jesus will return as an immaterial personality (shahs-i manavi.) He will bring humanity love, tolerance, justice, compassion, mercy, peace, etc. in the apocalyptic age. However, it is very clear that all concerned Hadiths describe a real man, not an immaterial personality. Besides, it must be remembered that there is no clear verse in the Qur’an concerning Jesus’ return.[62] If Jesus’ return is possible, that does not mean he did not die. All the things written above show very clear that is impossible to claim that he did not die and that he will return because, according to the data of the Qur’an, “Islam is the permanent religion until forever”[63] and Muhammad is the Last Prophet of Allah.[64] So there is no way within Islamic understanding to believe that Jesus was crucified for our sins and will save all of humanity.



CONCLUSION

We know that, according to Christianity, God’s greatest plan concerned Jesus. The most important emphasis of Christian theology is that Jesus was the crucified savior and specifically sacrificed himself for us. The entire Passion of Christ was completely for us. God sent Jesus, God’s own Son, to the cross for our sins. “Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Heb 9:27-8)

However, Islam radically refuses this understanding of Christianity’s cross theology. This thought (or belief) concerning the end of Jesus is a problem that has caused arguments between Christians and Muslims throughout history. According to the Qur’an, Jesus was never crucified but was only shown to have been crucified. The soul of Jesus was taken by Allah who raised Jesus to Himself. The concept of raising means in soul or degree, not in material body. While it is not an obstacle for us to understand that Jesus died naturally, the Islamic perspective on Jesus’ crucifixion refuses to accept Jesus’ death as a price or ransom for our sins. Fundamentally, the redemption or atonement of human sin found in Christianity is rejected, as is the belief that Jesus intentionally chose to be crucified for our salvation as part of God’s plan for humanity. Parties have different convictions and beliefs (faiths) in the one called Jesus, the Messiah of Nazareth.

I conclude this essay with two verses of the Qur’an: “namely, that no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another”[65]; and “Behold! Allah said: "O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.” [66]


BIBLIOGRAPHY


______, Sahih-i Muslim, “Fitan”, 34-39,110, Istanbul 1992, I-III.

______, Sahih-i Muslim, “Hajj”, 216, Istanbul 1992, I-III.

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[1] See John, 12:23, 27. [2]See John, 1:1-18. [3]Jack Bemporad, Encyclopedia of Religion (ER), “Suffering”, Newyork 1987, XIV., p. 102. [4]Bemporad, XIV., p.103. [5] Salih Akdemir,Hıristiyan Kaynaklara ve Kur’an-ı Kerim’e Gore Hz. Isa, Basılmamıs Doktora Tezi (non-printed PhD theses), Ankara 1992 , p. 102. [6] Richard P. McBrien, ER, “Roman Catholicism”, Newyork 1987, XII., p. 440-441. [7]O.A. Piper, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (IDB), “Suffering and Evil”, IV., New York 1962, p. 453. [8] John, 6: 38. [9] John, 14:31. [10] Hebrew, 10:10. [11] S. E. Johnson, IDB, “Christ”, Nashville 1988, I, p. 569. [12] Phil., 3:20; Tit., 2:13. [13] James Strong, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, “Son”,Nashville 1990, p. 986-92. [14] R. J. Zwi Werblowsky, Encyclopedia Judaica, “Christianity”, Jerusalem 1972-1978, V, 509. [15] Joseph Henninger, ER, “Sacrifice”, New York 1987, XII., p. 555-556. [16] Mark, 10:45; Act., 3:18; 7:52; 13:29; 26:23; 1. Cor., 15:3-4; Gal., 1:4; 2:20-1; Eph.; 1:7-8; 5:2; Tit., 2:14. [17] Rom., 5:6-11; 2. Cor., 5:14-21. [18] Rom., 8:32. [19] 1.Cor., 11:25-6; Heb., 9:13-15; Col., 1:20-23; See other Eph., 1:22-3; 2:14-6. [20] Rom., 3:25-6. [21] 1. Tim., 2:4-7. [22] Phil., 2:5-11. [23] Jaroslav Pelikan, , ER, “Christianity”, Newyork 1987, III., p. 356-357. [24]Gerald O’ Collins, S.J., ER, “Jesus”, VIII., p. 18. [25]O’ Collins, p. 24. [26] Ileana Marcoulesco, ER, “Redemption”, Newyork 1987, XII., p. 229. [27]T.B. Kilpatrick, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (ERE),“Salvation”, XI., New York 1921, p. 127. [28]Kilpatrick, p. 124. [29] Pamir, (trs) p. 156. [30] See for all “Messiah” words in the Qur’an, Muhammad Fuad Abdulbaki, al-Mu’camu’l mufahras, Istanbul 1982, p. 666. [31] See for all “Isa” / Jesus words in the Qur’an, Abdulbaki, p. 494-495. [32] Omer Faruk Harman, Diyanet Islam Ansiklopedisi, “Isa”, Istanbul 2000, XXII, p. 466. [33] at-Tavbah, 9/30-1, see other al-Maryam, 19/35-36. [34] See Aal-i Imran, 3/54. [35] an-Nisa, 4/157-8. [36] al-Maryam, 19/33. [37] Omer Faruk Harman, DIA, “Isa”, XXII, p. 470. [38] See Mehmet Unal, “Tefsir Kaynaklarına Gore Hz. Isa, Ref’i ve Nuzulu Meselesi”, Islamiyat 2000, III., number 4, p. 133-146. [39] Suleyman Ates, Kur’an Ansiklopedisi, Istanbul 1997, X, p. 192, see other Matt., 27:29; 27:37; Mark, 15:26-31; Luk., 23:35-39. [40] an-Nisa, 4/157-158. [41] Suleyman Ates, Kur’an Ansiklopedisi, X, 198-9; see other XXV, p. 531. [42] Omer Faruk Harman, DIA, “Isa”, XXII, p. 470. [43] Aal-i Imran, 3/55. [44] Suleyman Ates, Kur’an Ansiklopedisi, X, p. 205. [45] Ilyas Celebi, , DIA,“Isa”, XXII, p. 472. [46] Muhammad Rasid Riza, Tafsiru’l-Manar, (no place) 1954, III, p. 316-317; Suleyman Ates, Kur’an Ansiklopedisi, X, 206; Ilyas Celebi, DIA, “Isa”, XXII, p. 472. [47] “From the (earth) did We create you, and into it shall We return you, and from it shall We bring you out once again”, at-Taha, 20/55. [48] Suleyman Ates, Kur’an Ansiklopedisi, X, p. 207. [49] Ilyas Celebi, DIA, “Isa”, XXII, p. 472. [50] Suleyman Ates, Kur’an Ansiklopedisi, X, p. 207. [51] For this hadith and similaries of its see, Bukhari, el-Cami’us-sahih, “Buyu’ ”, 102; “Mazalim” 31; “Anbiya”, 49, Istanbul 1992; Muslim, Sahih-i Muslim, “Iman”, 242-3, Istanbul 1992; Tirmizi, Sunen-i Tirmizi, “Fitan”, 54, Istanbul 1992; other see, for hadiths, which talks about return of Jesus to earth, Muslim, Sahih-i Muslim, “Iman”, 244-7, “Hajj”, 216; “Fitan”, 34, 39, 110; Tirmizi, Sunen-i Tirmizi, “Fitan”, 21, 59. [52] Suleyman Ates, Kur’an Ansiklopedisi, X, 218. [53] Aal-i Imran, 3/55; an-Nisa, 4/157. [54] “And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment he will be a witness against them”, an-Nisa, 4/159. [55] “And most surely, it is knowledge of the hour, therefore have no doubt about it and follow me: this is the right path”, az-Zukhruf, 43/61. [56] “Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit, ‘worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord’; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them; when Thou didst take me up Thou wast the Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things”, al-Maida, 5/117. [57] Aal-i Imran, 3/55. [58] See, az-Zukhruf, 43/61. [59] It is from Qur’anic sciences, that it interested in with different read the Qur’an. [60] Mutawatir Hadith: The most important are Hadiths. These kind Hadiths reports from very large groups to large groups. To unite on the same lie is impossible; because there are many people heard the same sentence from Prophet Muhammad. (for example Prophet Muhammad spoke in front of army) Ahad Hadith: The second kind of Hadith, it does not have the same characters like Mutawatir Hadiths. The majority of Sunni Islamic scholars accept that Ahad Hadiths cannot be proof for faith, because this kind of knowledge is not yaqin (certain knowledge) and it is expresses than or zan (Habar-i Vahid / doubt, suspicion) in belief issues. See, Yusuf Sevki Yavuz, “Haber-i Vahid”, DIA, Istanbul 1996, XIV., p. 353-355. [61] See, Psalm., 24:7-10; Matt., 25:31; Act, 3:19-21; Rev., 20:4; 22:5; 22:20-21. [62] Ilyas Celebi, DIA, “Isa”, XXII, 472-3. [63] Aal-i Imran, 3/19. [64] “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the last (seal) of the Prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things.” al-Ahzab, 33/40. [65] an-Najm, 53/38. [66] Aal-i Imran, 3/55.

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