Last Updated on 8th January 2021
Talat Syam, Student Jamia Ahmadiyya UK
It would be no surprise to say that Jesusas has become the most contentious religious figure in history. During religious dialogue or discourse with Christians, Jews or Muslims, Jesusas is often discussed.
For Ahmadi Muslims, the death of Jesusas is a well established fact, proven from the Quran and hadith, something Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas proved with great depth. But as this is not the mainstream belief amongst Muslims, it often becomes a primary point of discussion.
Some people ask why believing in Jesus’ death is so important? What significance does the simple question of “his death” have for Muslims? The Holy Prophetsa prophesised that a messiah would come in the Latter Days who would reform the Muslims and rescue faith. This messiah would be the lifeline for Muslims and the world.
The advent of a messiah is well established within Islamic theology and tradition. Hazrat Imam Bukharirh, in his collection, dedicated a whole chapter of ahadith regarding the prophecies of the advent of the messiah. Therefore the advent of the Messiah is no small matter than can be overlooked.
The Promised Messiahas was to guide Muslims and bring faith back on earth and looking at the current state of Muslims, there is a dire need for this Messiah, or for this Messiah to be accepted if he has come already.
The bone of contention between Ahmadi Muslims and other Muslims is Jesus’ death. If Jesusas has died, then the prophecies regarding his advent have to be looked at again.
For Ahmadi Muslims, there are over 30 verses in the Holy Quran proving Jesusas died a natural death; these have been constantly presented and explained by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for over a century.
One such verse proving the death of Jesusas is from chapter 3 of the Quran, verse 145:
وَ مَا مُحَمَّدٌ اِلَّا رَسُوۡلٌ ۚ قَدۡ خَلَتۡ مِنۡ قَبۡلِہِ الرُّسُلُ ؕ اَفَا۠ئِنۡ مَّاتَ اَوۡ قُتِلَ انۡقَلَبۡتُمۡ عَلٰۤی اَعۡقَابِکُمۡ ؕ وَ مَنۡ یَّنۡقَلِبۡ عَلٰی عَقِبَیۡہِ فَلَنۡ یَّضُرَّ اللّٰہَ شَیۡئًا ؕ وَ سَیَجۡزِی اللّٰہُ الشّٰکِرِیۡنَ
“And Muhammad is only a Messenger. Verily, [all] Messengers have passed away before him. If then he die or be slain, will you turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels shall not harm Allah at all. And Allah will certainly reward the grateful.” (Surah Al-e-Imran, Ch.3: V.145)
This verse categorically puts to death all prophets who came before prophet Muhammadsa – the words “all Messengers have passed before him” are as clear as it gets. Allah then leaves no room for “interpretation” when he describes what “passing away” means.
According to the verse, there are two ways of passing away: dying a natural death or being killed.
اَفَا۠ئِنۡ مَّاتَ اَوۡ قُتِلَ
“If then he die or be slain…”
If there was any other way or possibility of “passing away”, then it would have been mentioned. Allah the Almighty has made it very clear here that a person dies either by dying naturally or being killed.
Jesusas was not killed according to the Quran as it says وما قتلوہ “and they killed him not” (Surah Al-Maidah, Ch.5: V.158). The only other way of passing away is to die a natural death.
Non-Ahmadi Muslim scholars – through mental gymnastics – somehow take Jesusas out of this passing away that is described in the Quran and put him on a pedestal that supports Christian ideologies. How they interpret Jesusas to be alive within the parameters of this verse is truly a mystery – the Quran only gives two possibilities for prophets to “pass away”, but these scholars invent more.
We can get into the discussion of the meanings of the verse through lexicon; however, the best argument that proves our claim is that the first ijma (consensus) of the Companionsra of the Holy Prophetsa, occurring at the time of his death. This is most paramount and supports our claim to the meaning of this verse.
Hazrat Aishara narrated:
“Allah’s Messengersa died while Abu Bakr was at a place called As-Sunah [Al-Aliya]. Umar stood up and said, ‘By Allah! Allah’s Messengersa is not dead!’ Umar [later] said, ‘By Allah! Nothing occurred to my mind except that.’ He said, ‘Verily! Allah will resurrect him, and he will cut the hands and legs of some men.’
“Then Abu Bakr came and uncovered the face of Allah’s Messengersa, kissed him and said, ‘Let my mother and father be sacrificed for you [O Allah’s Messengersa], you are good in life and in death. By Allah in Whose Hands my life is, Allah will never make you taste death twice.’
“Then he went out and said, ‘O oath-taker! Do not be hasty.’ When Abu Bakr spoke, Umar sat down. Abu Bakr praised and glorified Allah and said, ‘No doubt! Whoever worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead; but whoever worshipped Allah, then Allah is Alive and shall never die.’ Then he recited Allah’s Statement: ‘[O Muhammad] Verily you will die, and they also will die.’ [Ch.39, V. 30] He also recited, ‘And Muhammad is only a Messenger. Verily, all Messengers have passed away before him. If then he die or be slain, will you turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels shall not harm Allah at all. And Allah will certainly reward the grateful.’ [Ch.3: V.144] The people wept loudly …” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
If Jesusas was alive in the Heavens, then surely the Companionsra would have raised this point as to why Jesusas was alive while their beloved Prophetsa had just passed away, who was far greater that Jesusas. Not one person raised this point – not even Hazrat Umarra who refused to believe the Prophetsa had died.
This proves this verse gave the Companionsra comfort and reassured them that it was normal for a prophet to pass away and all prophets before the Holy Prophetsa – including Jesusas – had died.
After reading the Holy Quran, we cannot help but logically accept Jesusas has indeed died. If Jesusas has died, then who is this person the Holy Prophetsa is talking about, referred to as Isa ibn Maryam, the saviour for Muslims? There are countless prophecies about the advent of this Messiah and they cannot be rejected.
This is where most Muslims have erred and have misunderstood these prophecies about the advent of the messiah. The messiah of Mosesas has indeed died, so the messiah of Muhammadsa must be from within the ummah of the Holy Prophetsa with the qualities and disposition of Jesusas.
Just as the messiah of the mosaic dispensation was rejected by the Jews, so too was the messiah of Islam rejected by Muslims – the Messiah who was to breathe the true spirit of Islam into Muslims and the world.
Therefore, the death of Jesusas is crucial as once it is proven that Jesusas has passed away and will not descend bodily from the Heavens, the identity and prophecy of the Messiah needs to be revaluated. Who was the Holy Prophetsa talking about with such emphasis?
Ahmadi Muslims believe the promised reformer of the time has come in the person of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian. He is indeed the Messiah who was foretold by the Holy Prophetsa and he came to unite Muslims under one banner.
Once Muslims understand this concept, further steps into the truthfulness of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas become much easier and a new world of hope and belief in Islam begins.