Monday, 20 February 2017
The Sharing Group Discussion on Jesus (a.s.) in Islam
Brother Marquis Dawkins posted this on The Sharing Group, on the 10th April, 2014: “A question about Jesus (a.s.) in regards to Islam. Since majority of us believe he was taken up to Heaven without being crucified or tasting death at all, what do people say he is doing there or his state? Is he in a sort of cryogenic status where his body and mind are merely preserved until the end? Is he fully alive as he was here on Earth, his age and physical state preserved? Is he something else all together? And if so, what is his purpose until the end of days? Is he merely serving God? Is he answering the prayers of those who call on him? I just think it is an interesting thought. I know the Christian position on him after his ascension, but not the Islamic one. Your thoughts?”
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Wa ‘Alaykum as-Salaam,
We know that Jesus (a.s.) is with God, in whatever meaning that phrase has. We know from certain stories of the awliya’ that he has appeared, such as the time when Salman al-Farisi (r.a.) met Jesus (a.s.). So, he is not idling in Paradise, so to speak.
His purpose is to return in the time of Fitnah and fight the False Messiah, al-Masih ad-Dajjal, otherwise known as the Anti-Christ. And then, he will reign for a period of time, pass away and be buried next to the Prophet (s.a.w.) in Madina.
Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: A deeper question is not just what this says about Jesus (a.s.) but what it says about the universe. If you could have put a GPS tracker on Jesus’ (a.s.) physical body, where did he go? Where is he now? Is heaven some number of miles above the surface of the earth?
Brother Marquis Dawkins: Great replies, gentlemen. Jazakallah khayr.
And that is interesting. Brother Terence. We know, after the Ascension, according to Christianity, he appeared to Paul via the road to Damascus and it can be inferred he appeared to John (r.a.) as well. And then, of course, he, with other prophets, appeared to Muhammad (s.a.w.) during the Mi’raj, but curious that he appeared to other Muslims as well. And perhaps there is something to be said about the dreams some converted Christians have claimed to have? Though as I saw it, it is not that he was calling them to convert wholesale but perhaps confronting them of their own spiritual weaknesses and lack of faith. I have said of the Muslims who said they dreamt of him that they were lacking knowledge or respect for him in the first place.
That is a good question, Brother Abdul-Halim. Considering that Paradise is considered not in our same dimension at all, it could be inferred that he is not traceable by physical means.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: To be honest, Brother Marquis Dawkins, I doubt Paul’s version of events.
Brother Marquis Dawkins: We have had that discussion before briefly, Brother Terence, and you actually make a good point. Also, considering there are two or three versions of the event itself, I have had this question no Christian pastor can answer still: Why did Saul not know of Jesus (a.s.) before his road to Damascus? It seems the first time he heard of him was at the stoning of Stephen, according to Acts of the Apostles, but he says of himself that he was a Pharisee and a prominent one at that. Since the stoning of Stephen was a few short years after the Ascension, how did he not personally know about Jesus (a.s.) himself?
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: In Shaykh ibn Ishaq’s (r.a.) Sirah ar-Rasulullah, we find the following in Salman’s (r.a.) account, to the Prophet (s.a.w.), of his journey in search of the true religion. Shaykh ‘Aswim ibn ‘Umar ibn Qatadah said that he was told that Salman the Persian (r.a.) told the Prophet (s.a.w.) that his master in ‘Ammuriyyah told him to go to a certain place in Syria where there was a man who lived between two thickets. Every year as he used to go from one to the other, the sick used to stand in his way and everyone he prayed for was healed. He said, “Ask him about this religion which you seek, for he can tell you of it.”
Salman (r.a.) said, “So I went on until I came to the place I had been told of, and I found that people had gathered there with their sick until he came out to them that night passing from one thicket to the other. The people came to him with their sick and everyone he prayed for was healed. They prevented me from getting to him so that I could not approach him until he entered the thicket he was making for, but I took hold of his shoulder. He asked me who I was as he turned to me and I said, ‘God have Mercy on you; tell me about the Hanifiyyah, the religion of Abraham.’
He replied, ‘You are asking about something men do not inquire of today; the time has come near when a prophet will be Sent with this religion from the people of the Haram. Go to him, for he will bring you to it.’ Then he went into the thicket.”
The Prophet (s.a.w.) said to Salman (r.a.), “If you have told me the truth, you met Jesus the son of Mary.”
Sister Tina Arradondo: We also must ask if all prophets are still alive. We know Moses (a.s.) and Elijah (a.s.) appeared to Christ (a.s.) so maybe everyone or perhaps just prophets always have access to earth? I have always wondered why the Bible does not go into more detail about the reasons why those prophets revealed themselves to Christ (a.s.). Did he need comfort or reassurance to complete his mission? Does the Qur’an go into any details about this?
Brother Abdur Rahman: I do not think the Qur’an mentions this episode, though I could be wrong. One of the reasons for the appearance of Moses (a.s.) and Elijah (a.s.) was probably confirmation. That is, by appearing, they both validate Jesus (a.s.) and his identity and mission. I think this is also one of the important elements in Prophet Muhammad’s (s.a.w.) Night Journey. He met with all the prophets and led them in prayer, which was also a confirmation of his status. He also met other prophets on the way to the meeting with Allah Ta’ala. He, too, had a meeting with Moses (a.s.) on the way “down”, where the number of daily prayers were established.
There is much we can take from these encounters, I feel. For example, Habibullah’s (s.a.w.) meeting with Moses (a.s.) on the way down can be read in a symbolic sense too. In this meeting, the Original Command for 50 daily prayers is gradually bartered down to 5, on Moses’ (a.s.) advice. Moses (a.s.) is one of “those endowed with firmness”, one of the major axial prophets. He is often understood as the prophet of law, if you like. Here, we can see by his insistence that Nabi Muhammad (s.a.w.) repeatedly ask for the burden to be lightened, that the purpose of law is mercy and the lifting of burdens. If we are not being merciful in how we understand law, shari’ah, and in how we apply to others, we are going against something deeply fundamental to our faith, to God’s Way.
As to the life after death of the prophets, I suppose it depends what we mean. Certainly, God is Able to do all things, and so they can be alive. Also, there are different forms of life, different worlds in which we can exist beyond the physical. The prophets, as God’s Chosen and Beloved ones, are “alive” in some sense, to my way of thinking, even though we know that most of them have passed on beyond this realm of dust. And God Knows best.
Although the Transfiguration is not mentioned as such, we do find references to confirmation of Jesus’ (a.s.) mission:
And in their footsteps, We Sent Jesus, the son of Mary, Confirming the law that had come before him: We Sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah. (Surah al-Ma’idah:46)
And this one seems clearer. If the People of the Book will all one day accept Jesus (a.s.), then the prophets of those communities will surely do so too: