Views of Islamic Scholars on ascension of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام

Views of Islamic scholars about fake Resurrection of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام and his ascension to heaven

Tarim, Yemen

The Biblical account of the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام recorded in the Christian New Testament is rejected by Muslims, but like Christians they believe that Hz. Isa عليه اسلام ascended to heaven and he will, according to Quran, will return before the end of time.

Muslims believe that Hz. Isa عليه اسلام was not crucified but was bodily raised up to heaven by Allah.

Depending on the interpretation of the Quranic verses (Quran 4:157-4:158), Islamic scholars and commentators of the Quran have abstracted different opinions and conflicting conclusions regarding the “death” of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام.

Some believe that in the Biblical account, Hz. Isa عليه اسلام crucifixion did not last long enough for him to die, while others opine that Allah gave Hz. Isa’s عليه اسلام appearance to the one who revealed his location to those persecuting him. He was replaced as Hz. Isa عليه اسلام and the executioners thought the victim was him, causing everyone to believe that Hz. Isa عليه اسلام was crucified.

Yet others maintain that Allah does not use deceit and therefore they contend that the crucifixion just did not happen.

Islamic scholars strongly believes that Hz. Isa عليه اسلام ascended to heaven without any bodily death because Allah never allows his messengers to be dishonored in their life. It is said that even their dead bodies are honoured in the grave and the soil don’t eat up the body of a prophet.

Those Worshipping Hz. Isa عليه اسلام and Allah’s Questions to them

The Day of the Table became one of the holy days for the disciples and followers of Jesus. Later on, the disciples and followers forgot the real essence of the miracles, and so they worshipped Jesus as a god.

Almighty Allah Said in the Quran:

“And remember when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): “O Jesus, son of Mary! Did you say unto men: ‘Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah?'” He will say: “Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right to say. Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in my inner self though I do not know what is in Yours, truly, You, only You, are the All Knower of all that is hidden and unseen.

Never did I say to them aught except what You (Allah) did command me to say: ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord’, And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them, but when You took me up, You were the Watcher over them, and You are a Witness to all things. (This is a great admonition and warning to the Christians of the whole world). If you punish them, they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them, Verily You, only You are the All Mighty, the All Wise.”

Allah will say: “This is a Day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: theirs are Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise) – they shall abide therein forever. Allah is pleased with them and they with Him. That is the great success (Paradise). To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is therein, and He is Able to do all things.”

(Ch 5:116-120 Quran)

The Jews Plot to Kill Jesus

Hz. Isa عليه اسلام went on his mission until vice knew that its throne was threatening to fall. So the forces of evil accused him of magic, infringement of the Mosaic Law, allegiance with the devil; and when they saw that the poor people followed him, they began to scheme against him.

The Sanhedrin, the highest judicial and ecclesiastical council of the Jews, began to meet to plot against Hz. Isa عليه اسلام. The plan took a new turn. When the Jews failed to stop Hz. Isa’s عليه اسلام call, they decided to kill him. The chief priests held secret meetings to agree on the best way of getting rid of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام.

While they were in such a meeting, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, Judas Iscariot, went to them and asked: “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” Judas bargained with them until they agreed to give him thirty pieces of silver known as shekels. The plot was laid for the capture and murder of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام.

It was said that the high priest of the Jews tore his garment at the meeting, claiming that Hz. Isa عليه اسلام had denied Judaism. The tearing of clothes at that time was a sign of disgust.

Hz. Isa عليه اسلام Lives

Unlike the Christian view of the death of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام, most Muslims believe he was raised to Heaven without being put on the cross and Allah created a resemblance to appear exactly like him who was crucified instead of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام, and he ascended bodily to Heaven, there to remain until his Second Coming in the End days.

Identity of the substitute (Duplicate)

The identity of the substitute has been a source of great interest. One proposal is that Allah used one of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام enemies. Judas Iscariot, Hz. Isa’s عليه اسلام betrayer, is often cited, and is mentioned in the Gospel of Barnabas.

The second proposal is that Hz. Isa عليه اسلام asked for someone to volunteer to be crucified instead of him. Simon of Cyrene is the person most commonly accepted to have done it, perhaps because according to the Synoptic Gospels he was compelled by the Romans to carry Hz. Isa عليه اسلام cross for him.

Al-Baidawi writes that Hz. Isa عليه اسلام told his disciples in advance that whoever volunteered would go to heaven.

Ibn Kathir’s version of events

The people conspiring against Hz. Isa عليه اسلام envied him because of his prophethood and obvious miracles; curing the blind and leprous and bringing the dead back to life, by Allah’s leave. He also used to make the shape of a bird from clay and blow in it, and it became a bird by Allah’s leave and flew.

Hz. Isa عليه اسلام performed other miracles that Allah honored him with, yet some defied and belied him and tried their best to harm him. Allah’s Prophet Hz. Isa عليه اسلام could not live in any one city for long and he had to travel often with his mother, peace be upon them.

Even so, some of the Jews were not satisfied, and they went to the king of Damascus at that time, a Greek polytheist who worshipped the stars. They told him that there was a man in Bayt Al-Maqdis misguiding and dividing the people in Jerusalem and stirring unrest among the king’s subjects. The king became angry and wrote to his deputy in Jerusalem to arrest the rebel leader, stop him from causing unrest, crucify him and make him wear a crown of thorns.

When the king’s deputy in Jerusalem received these orders, he went with some Jews to the house that Hz. Isa عليه اسلام was residing in, and he was then with twelve, thirteen or seventeen of his companions. That day was a Friday, in the evening.

They surrounded Hz. Isa عليه اسلام in the house, and when he felt that they would soon enter the house or that he would sooner or later have to leave it, he said to his companions, “Who volunteers to be made to look like me, for which he will be my companion in Paradise.”‘ A young man volunteered, but Hz. Isa عليه اسلام thought that he was too young. He asked the question a second and third time, each time the young man volunteering, prompting ‘Jesus to say, “Well then, you will be that man.” Allah made the young man look exactly like ‘Jesus, while a hole opened in the roof of the house, and ‘Jesus was made to sleep and ascended to heaven while asleep.

Allah said, “Ya Isa! I will take you and raise you to myself.” When Hz. Isa عليه اسلام ascended, those who were in the house came out. When those surrounding the house saw the man who looked like Hz. Isa عليه اسلام, they thought that he was Hz. Isa عليه اسلام.

So they took him at night, crucified him and placed a crown of thorns on his head.

They then boasted that they killed Hz. Isa عليه اسلام. Some Christians accepted their false claim, due to their ignorance and lack of reason.

As for those who were in the house with Hz. Isa عليه اسلام, witnessed his ascension to heaven, while the rest thought that the Jews killed Hz. Isa عليه اسلام by crucifixion.

They even said that Bibi Maryam رضي الله عنها sat under the corpse of the crucified man and cried, and they say that the dead man spoke to her.

After this incident followers of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام followers were then divided into three groups.

One group, the Jacobites, said, God remained with us as long as He willed and then ascended to Heaven. Another group, the Nestorians, said, ‘The son of God was with us as long as he willed and God took him to Heaven. Another group of Christians who said, ‘The servant and Messenger of God remained with us as long as God willed, and God then took him to Him.

The two disbelieving groups cooperated against that third Christian group and they killed them. Ever since that happened, Islam was then veiled until Allah sent Hz. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.”

All this was a test from Allah for His servants out of His wisdom. Allah explained this matter in the Glorious Quran which He sent to His honorable Messenger, whom He supported with miracles and clear, unequivocal evidence.

Allah is the Most Truthful, and He is the Lord of the worlds Who knows the secrets, what the hearts conceal, the hidden matters in heaven and earth, what has occurred, what will occur, and what would occur if it was decreed. [Tafsir ibn Kathir]

Tabari’s versions of events

Tabari divided the early reports regarding Hz. Isa عليه اسلام crucifixion into two groups. According to the first, one of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام disciples volunteers to take the form of his master and is crucified. According to the other, the Jew mistakenly carried only an empty resemblance to the cross.

Tabari narrated the first strand as follows:

Hz. Isa عليه اسلام went into a house together with seventeen of his companions. The Jew surrounded them but when they burst in Allah made all the disciples look like Hz. Isa عليه اسلام. The pursuers, supposing that they had bewitched them, threatened to kill them all if they did not expose him. Then Hz. Isa عليه اسلام asked his companions which of them would purchase paradise for himself that day. One man volunteered and went out saying that he was Hz. Isa عليه اسلام and as Allah had made him look like Hz. Isa عليه اسلام they took him, killed him and crucified him. Thereupon “a semblance was made to them” and they thought that they had killed Hz. Isa عليه اسلام. The Christians likewise thought that it was Jesus who had been killed. And God raised Hz. Isa عليه اسلام right away.

The second strand is narrated as follows:

The Jews were looking for Hz. Isa عليه اسلام. They took hold of Simon, one of the disciples, and they said, “This is one of his companions.” And he denied it and said, “I am not one of his disciples.” So they left him. Others took hold of him and he likewise denied it. Then he heard the sound of the cock and he wept and it grieved him. ‘On the morning of the next day one of his disciples went to the Jew and said, “What will you give me if I lead you to the Messiah?” He accepted their offer of thirty dirhams and led them to him. And a semblance had been made for them before that, and they took him and made certain of him and bound him with a cord and began to lead him and to say to him “You used to bring the dead to life and to drive away Satan and heal the jinn-possessed so why not deliver yourself from this cord?” And they spat on him and cast thorns on him until they brought him to the wood upon which they wanted to crucify him. And Allah raised Hz. Isa عليه اسلام to Himself. And they crucified the semblance which was made to them. Then his mother, and the woman whom Allah had freed from jinn-possession when Hz. Isa عليه اسلام treated her, came weeping to where the crucified [semblance] was. And Hz. Isa عليه اسلام came to them both and said, “Why are you weeping?” They said, “Because of You.” He said, “Allah raised me to Himself and I came to no harm. This [corpse] is something which was “made a semblance to them”. Order the disciples to meet me at such and such place.” Eleven met him at the place. Hz. Isa عليه اسلام missed the one who had sold him. They said, “Because he regretted what he had done he committed suicide by strangling himself.” Hz. Isa عليه اسلام replied, “If he had turned towards Allah, Allah would have turned toward him”.

Barnabas version of events

The Gospel of Barnabas, also promotes a non-death narrative.

The work claims itself to be by the biblical Barnabas, who in this work is one of the twelve disciple.

According to the Gospel of Barnabas it was Judas, not Hz. Isa عليه اسلام, who was crucified on the cross. This work states that when Judas led the Roman soldiers to arrest Hz. Isa عليه اسلام in an effort to betray him, angels appeared to take Hz. Isa عليه اسلام out a window and up to the heavens. As Judas entered the room, his appearance was transformed to that of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام, and the Romans arrested him and brought him to be crucified. The narrative states this transformation of appearance not only fooled the Romans, but the Pharisees, the High Priest, the followers of Christ, and his mother Bibi Maryam رضي الله عنها.

The Gospel of Barnabas then mentions that after three days since burial, Judas body was stolen from his grave with rumors spreading of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام being risen from the dead.

In following with Islamic lore, when Hz. Isa عليه اسلام was informed in the third heaven about what happened he prayed to Allah to be sent back to the earth, and later descended and gathered his mother, disciples, and followers and told them the truth of what happened. He then ascended back to the heavens, with the narrative continuing Islamic legend mirroring Christian doctrine of returning at the end of times as a just king.

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