Baptism site of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام in Jordan

Also known as al-Maghtas, this is the most prominent site (out of the two according to the reviews and surveys online) where the baptism of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام by Hz. Yahya عليه اسلام took place, & also famous for ascension of Hz. Ilyas عليه اسلام to heaven

Jordan River, Jordan

Coordinates: 31.837115, 35.546102

Al-Maghtas, meaning “baptism” or “immersion” in Arabic, is an archaeological World Heritage site in Jordan on the east bank of the Jordan River, officially known as Baptism Site “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” (Al-Maghtas).

It is considered to be the original location of the Baptism of Jesus and the ministry of John the Baptist and has been venerated as such since at least the Byzantine period.

Following a suggestion by Origen, the baptism site of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام is sometimes also called Bethabara.

Al-Maghtas includes two principal archaeological areas.[3] The remnants of a monastery on a mound known as Jabal Mar-Elias (Elijah’s Hill) and an area close to the river with remains of churches, baptism ponds and pilgrim and hermit dwellings. The two areas are connected by a stream called Wadi Kharrar.

Ascension of Hz. Ilyas عليه اسلام

Jabal Mar-Elias near al-Maghtas is traditionally identified as the site of the ascension of the prophet Elijah to heaven.

The complete area was abandoned after the 1967 Six-Day War, when both banks of the Jordan became part of the frontline. The area was heavily mined then.

The Hebrew Bible describes how Hz. Ilyas عليه اسلام (Elijah), accompanied by Prophet Hz. Al-Yasaa عليه اسلام (Elisha), stopped the waters of the Jordan, crossing to the eastern side, and then went up by a whirlwind into the heavens.

Hz. Al-Yasaa عليه اسلام, now his heir, again separated the waters and crossed back (acc to jewish sources).

An ancient Jewish tradition identified the site of crossing with the same one used by Hz. Yusha عليه اسلام (Joshua), thus with Al-Maghtas, and the site of Hz. Ilyas’s عليه اسلام ascension with Tell el-Kharrar, also known as Jabal Mar Elias, “Hill of Prophet Elijah”.

Baptism of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام

At Al-Maghtas there is a short brook, Wadi al-Kharrar, which flows to the Jordan, and is associated with the baptism activities of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام.

Most prominent site

The Washington Post states, “There is no archaeological evidence of Jesus ever having been baptized in these waters”; however, the Jordanian, eastern side of the traditional baptism area of Al-Maghtas has been accepted by various Christian denominations as the authentic site of the baptism of Jesus.

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all mention Hz. Isa’s عليه اسلام baptism, but only John specifies the location as ‘Bethany beyond the Jordan’.

Both Jordan and Israel claim that the Baptism occurred on their side of the Jordan River.

Since the course of the river and country borders have changed over the centuries, one wonder if the precise spot can ever be definitively resolved.

To complicate matters, UNESCO recognized the Jordanian side in 2015, but omitted the Israel location, Qasr al-Yahud, which is directly across from the Jordanian site.

This is one of those places that is so steeped in religious history that you cannot help but be moved by it.

Know This

This place gets crowded quickly, so its best to come early in the day.

Note: Some of the information in this article comes from Christians sources.