Why the Latter-Day Messiah was named Isa Ibn-e-Maryam – Part I

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Last Updated on 29th January 2021

M Adam Ahmad, Al Hakam

The opponents of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, assert that the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat cannot be the true Messiah of the Latter Days because his name is not Isa Ibn-e-Maryam (Jesus, son of Mary) which was prophesied by the Holy Prophetsa in his traditions. 

Promised Messiah
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi

Beyond any doubt, there are a great number of ahadith of the Holy Prophetsa which contain the name Isa Ibn-e-Maryam in relation to the second advent of the Messiah. On the other hand, there are also many traditions of the Holy Prophetsa that clearly indicate that Jesusas son of Mary and the Messiah of the Latter Days were two different persons. 

These two types of ahadith apparently contradict each other if they are not understood in light of the Holy Quran, sunnah and other traditions of the Holy Prophetsa.

The example of righteous servants of God has been cited in the Holy Quran as comparing them with Maryamas, who remained chaste and was thus rewarded with the pure spirit of Prophet Jesusas. Allah the Almighty states:

وَ ضَرَبَ اللّٰہُ مَثَلًا لِّلَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوا امۡرَاَتَ فِرۡعَوۡنَ ۘ اِذۡ قَالَتۡ رَبِّ ابۡنِ لِیۡ عِنۡدَکَ بَیۡتًا فِی الۡجَنَّۃِ وَ نَجِّنِیۡ مِنۡ فِرۡعَوۡنَ وَ عَمَلِہٖ وَ نَجِّنِیۡ مِنَ الۡقَوۡمِ الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ۔ وَ مَرۡیَمَ ابۡنَتَ عِمۡرٰنَ الَّتِیۡۤ اَحۡصَنَتۡ فَرۡجَہَا فَنَفَخۡنَا فِیۡہِ مِنۡ رُّوۡحِنَا وَ صَدَّقَتۡ بِکَلِمٰتِ رَبِّہَا وَ کُتُبِہٖ وَ کَانَتۡ مِنَ الۡقٰنِتِیۡنَ

“And Allah sets forth for those who believe the example of the wife of Pharaoh when she said, ‘My Lord! build for me a house with Thee in the Garden; and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work, and deliver me from the wrongdoing people;’ and the example of Mary, the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her private parts – so We breathed into him of Our Spirit – and she fulfilled in her person the words of her Lord and His Books and was one of the obedient.” (Surah al-Tahrim, Ch.66: V.12-13)

These verses show that momineen (true believers) are of two types, i.e. like Asiyaas wife of Pharaoh and Maryamas. Hence, those faithful men who strive in the way of Allah and seek righteousness are granted the attributes of Asiyaas and Maryamas. Moreover, Allah the Almighty breathes His spirit into those true believers who achieve the qualities of Maryamas and they can become like Jesusas, son of Mary, who was the chosen one of God and recipient of divine revelations. 

The said verses can also be understood with the help of a hadith of Sahih al-Bukhari. The Holy Prophetsa said:

مَا مِنْ مَوْلُوْدٍ يُوْلَدُ إِلَّا وَالشَّيْطَانُ يَمَسُّهُ حِيْنَ يُوْلَدُ، فَيَسْتَهِلُّ صَارِخًا مِنْ مَسِّ الشَّيْطَانِ إِيَّاهُ، إِلَّا مَرْيَمَ وَابْنَهَا

“Every newborn is touched by Satan when they are born and they start crying loudly as soon as they are touched by Satan, but Mary and her son [were not touched by Satan].” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab at-Tafsir)

If we take the literal meaning of this hadith, it raises many questions and also indicates that all other prophets and (God forbid), even the Holy Prophetsa was touched by Satan when he was born. 

Allama Zamakhshari has interpreted this hadith in his commentary of the Holy Quran. He states:

فمعناه‭ ‬إن‭ ‬كل‭ ‬مولود‭ ‬يطمع‭ ‬الشيطان‭ ‬فى ‬إغوائه‭ ‬إلا‭ ‬مريم‭ ‬وابنها‭ ‬فإنهما‭ ‬معصومين‭ ‬وكذلك‭ ‬كل‭ ‬من‭ ‬كان‭ ‬فى ‬صفتهما

“Satan seeks to lead every child astray, except for Mary and her son because both of them were chaste and likewise, every child, who possess their attributes [will be free from the touch of Satan].” (Tafsir al-Kashaaf, verse “Wadhkur fil Kitabi Maryam”)

The above explanation substantiates that in the Holy Quran and the ahadith of the Holy Prophetsa, Maryam and Isa Ibn-e-Maryam are not just the names of two persons, but in fact, these names are at times used to signify two kinds of people, i.e. righteous men and prophets of God, who carry the qualities of Maryam and Isa Ibn-e-Maryam. 

Explaining this subject, the Promised Messiahas states:

“Some men think that the prophecy relating to the appearance of the Promised Messiah is contained only in the traditions [ahadith] and not in the Holy Quran and accordingly, they demand proof of it from the word of God. A reflection upon the words of the Holy Book is sufficient to convince any reasonable man that this prophecy is contained in the plainest words in the Holy Quran. 

“In the chapter entitled the Tahrim, it is indicated that some individuals from among the Muslims would be called Ibn-e-Maryam, for in this chapter, at first, the faithful are compared to Mary and afterwards, the breathing of a soul into her [i.e. the faithful like her] is mentioned. This indicates that the faithful who observe complete obedience to divine commandments and make themselves like Mary, will be rewarded by God by being made Christ-like. 

“It is in reference to the attainment of this stage that Almighty God says of me in a revelation published in Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya:

يَا‭ ‬مَرْيَمُ‭ ‬اسْكُنْ‭ ‬اَنْتَ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬زَوْجُكَ‭ ‬الْجَنَّةَ

“‘O Mary! Enter thou and thy friends into paradise’; and again:

يَا‭ ‬مَرْيَمُ‭ ‬نَفَخْتُ‭ ‬فِيْكَ‭ ‬مِنْ‭ ‬رُّوْحِ‭ ‬الصِّدْقِ

“‘O Mary! I have breathed into thee the soul of truth’ [thus symbolically, Mary was impregnated with truth]; and last of all:

يَا‭ ‬عِيْسيٰ‭ ‬انِّىْ ‬مُتَوَفِّيْكَ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬رَافِعُكَ‭ ‬اِلَيَّ

“‘O Jesus! I will cause thee to die a natural death and would then raise thee to Myself’, where I am addressed as Jesus Christ as if raised from the dignity of Mary to the dignity of Christ. Thus, the promise contained in the Tahrim has been fulfilled in me and I am named by God as the son of Mary.” (The Review of Religions, September 1904, pp. 340-341)

The Promised Messiahas also elucidated this matter in the following Persian couplets: 

مدّتے‭ ‬بودم‭ ‬برنگِ‭ ‬مريمى

دست‭ ‬ناداده‭ ‬به‭ ‬پيرانِ‭ ‬زِمى

“For long, I remained in a Maryam-like state, without following the contemporary divines.”

همچو‭ ‬بكرے‭ ‬يافتم‭ ‬نشو‭ ‬و‭ ‬نما

از‭ ‬رفيق‭ ‬راه‭ ‬حق‭ ‬نا‭ ‬آشنا

“Like a virgin was I raised – Unaware and unaccompanied – on the path of truth.”

بعد‭ ‬ازاں‭ ‬آں‭ ‬قادر‭ ‬و‭ ‬ربّ‭ ‬مجيد

رُوح‭ ‬عيسيٰ‭ ‬اندراں‭ ‬مريم‭ ‬دميد

“Later, God Almighty, the Lord of grandeur, breathed into Maryam the spirit of Isa.”

پس‭ ‬به‭ ‬نفخش‭ ‬رنگ‭ ‬ديگر‭ ‬شد‭ ‬عياں

زاد‭ ‬زان‭ ‬مريم‭ ‬مسيح‭ ‬اين‭ ‬زمان

“With His breath, new life was created: The Messiah of the age was delivered by her.” (The Philosophy of Divine Revelation, pp. 426 [English qatul Wahi])

Since time immemorial, expressions and figures of speech, i.e. similes and metaphors are used to compare two things of similar attributes or traits. For example, if a person named Jack is called Einstein due to his extraordinary intelligence, it would be irrational to raise the objection that the said person’s name is Jack, so he cannot be called Einstein.

It is said:

اِطْلَاقُ اسْمِ الشَّىْءِ عَلٰى مَا يُشَابِهُهُ فِىْ اَكْثَرِخَوَاصِه  جَائِزٌ حَسنٌ

“It is justified and impressive to name one thing after another which resemble each other in their attributes.”

The Holy Prophetsa said:

مَنْ‭ ‬اَحَبَّ‭ ‬اَنْ‭ ‬يَّنْظُرَ‭ ‬اِلٰي‭ ‬عِيْسَي‭ ‬ابْنِ‭ ‬مَرْيَمَ‭ ‬فِيْ‭ ‬زُهْدِه‭ ‬فَلْيَنْظُر‭ ‬اِلٰي‭ ‬اَبي‭ ‬الدَّرْدَاء

“Whoever among you wants to witness Isa Ibn-e-Maryam in a state of zuhd [righteousness and purity], they should see Abu Darda[ra]” (Sheikh Shah Ismail ShaheedrhMansab-e-Imamat, Fasl 2 [Anbiya kay kamalat say auliya-ullah ki mushabihat], p. 69). In this hadith, Hazrat Abu Dardara has been called Jesusas, son of Mary, because of his piety.

When the Holy Prophetsa was bedridden and extremely weak, he instructed his wives to ask Hazrat Abu Bakrra to lead the prayer in his stead, but Hazrat Aishara thought that Hazrat Abu Barkrra would not be able to control his emotions and people would not hear him due to excessive weeping, so she asked Hazrat Hafsara to request Hazrat Umarra to lead the prayer. When the Holy Prophetsa came to know about this, he said:

إِنَّكُنَّ لَأَنْتُنَّ صَوَاحِبُ يُوسُفَ، مُرُوْا أَبَا بَكْرٍ فَلْيُصَلِّ لِلنَّاسِ

“Surely, you [the wives] are [behaving like] the companions of Prophet Josephas. Tell Abu Bakr to lead the people in the prayer” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Azan). In this hadith, the Holy Prophetsa compared his wives with the companions of Prophet Josephas.

The above examples make it clear that the Holy Prophetsa called the Latter-Day Messiah by the name of Isa Ibn-e-Maryam due to his striking resemblance with Jesusas, son of Mary, and if we do not believe that, we will certainly be denying the Holy Quran, sunnah and other ahadith of the Holy Prophetsa.

The Holy Quran evidently proves that Jesusas, son of Mary, has passed away and we have discussed this in detail in a previous article (titled, The true meaning of rafa‘a: Proof that Jesus has passed away). Thus, it is impossible for him to come back physically because the sunnah of the Holy Prophetsa vividly demonstrates that prophets of God never come back physically after they pass away.

Moreover, the physical description of Jesusas, son of Mary, mentioned by the Holy Prophetsa differs from that of the Latter-Day Messiah, which has been described in another tradition. The Holy Prophetsa said:

رَأَيْتُ‭ ‬عِيْسَى‭ ‬وَمُوْسَى‭ ‬وَإِبْرَاهِيمَ، فَأَمَّا‭ ‬عِيْسَى‭ ‬فَأَحْمَرُ‭ ‬جَعْدٌ‭ ‬عَرِيْضُ الصَّدْرِ ‭

“I saw Moses, Jesus and Abraham [during the Mi‘raj (spiritual journey to heaven)]. Jesus was of red complexion with curly hair and a broad chest.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Ahadith al-Anbiya)

Mentioning the Masih al-Dajjal and then the Messiah of the Latter Days, the Holy Prophetsa said:

إِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَيْسَ بِأَعْوَرَ، أَلَا إِنَّ الْمَسِيحَ الدَّجَّالَ أَعْوَرُ الْعَيْنِ الْيُمْنَى، كَأَنَّ عَيْنَهُ عِنَبَةٌ طَافِيَةٌ۔ وَأَرَانِي اللَّيْلَةَ عِنْدَ الْكَعْبَةِ فِي الْمَنَامِ، فَإِذَا رَجُلٌ آدَمُ كَأَحْسَنِ مَا يُرَى مِنْ أُدْمِ الرِّجَالِ، تَضْرِبُ لِمَّتهُ بَيْنَ مَنْكِبَيْهِ، رَجِلُ الشَّعرِ، يَقْطُرُ رَأْسُهُ مَاءً، وَاضِعًا يَدَيْهِ عَلَى مَنْكِبَىْ رَجُلَيْنِ وَهوَ يَطُوفُ بِالْبَيْتِ‏ فَقُلْتُ مَنْ هَذَا فَقَالُوْا هَذَا الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ‏.‏

“Allah is not one-eyed. Surely, the Masih al-Dajjal is blind in the right eye and his eye looks like a protruding grape. While I was sleeping near the Ka‘bah last night, I saw a man of brown complexion in my dream. He was the best amongst brown-coloured men somebody could see and his hair was falling between his shoulders. His hair was long and water drops were trickling from his head and he was placing his hands on the shoulders of two men while performing the tawaf [circling] of the Ka‘bah. I enquired, ‘Who is this?’ They replied, ‘This is Jesus, son of Mary, i.e. the Latter-Day Messiah.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Ahadith al-Anbiya)

Moreover, the following hadith of the Holy Prophetsa indicates that the Messiah of this age would be of Persian descent:

عَنْ أَبِی هُرَيْرَةَ، رَضِیَ اللہُ عَنْهُ قَالَ كُنَّا جُلُوْسًا عِنْدَ النَّبِیِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَأُنْزِلَتْ عَلَيْهِ سُورَةُ الْجُمُعَةِ وَآخَرِيْنَ مِنْهُمْ لَمَّا يَلْحَقُوْابِهِم

قَالَ قُلْتُ مَنْ هُمْ يَا رَسُوْلَ اللهِ فَلَمْ يُرَاجِعْهُ حَتَّى سَأَلَ ثَلَاثًا، وَفِيْنَا سَلْمَانُ الْفَارِسِیُّ، وَضَعَ رَسُوْلُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَدَهُ عَلَى سَلْمَانَ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَوْ كَانَ الْإِيمَانُ عِنْدَ الثُّرَيَّا لَنَا لَهُ رِجَالٌ۔ أَوْ رَجُلٌ۔ مِنْ ھَؤُلَاءِ

Hazrat Abu Hurairahra, narrates, “When Surah al-Jumuah of the Holy Quran was revealed to the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, we happened to be there in his company. When he recited the verse, ‘Wa akharina minhum lamma yalhaqu bihim’ [And others from among them who have not yet joined them], one of those present asked, ‘Who are they, O Messenger of Allah?’ The Holy Prophetsa did not pay attention. The man repeated the question thrice. 

“At that time, Salmanra the Persian was also sitting among us. The Holy Prophetsa turned to him, placed his hand on him and said, ‘Even if faith ascended to the Pleiades [completely disappearing from the earth], there would be some men, or a man [in another version of this hadith, “one man” is mentioned instead of “some men”] from his people who would restore faith [back] to earth.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Tafsir)

In another hadith, the Holy Prophetsa said:

كَيْفَ‭ ‬أَنْتُمْ‭ ‬إِذَا‭ ‬نَزَلَ‭ ‬ابْنُ‭ ‬مَرْيَمَ‭ ‬فِيْكُمْ‭ ‬وَإِمَامُكُمْ‭ ‬مِنْكُمْ

“How will you be when the son of Mary appears amongst you and he will be your Imam from among you?” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Iman)

Hence, the Holy Quran, sunnah and the ahadith have to be considered null and void if we do not believe that Jesusas, son of Mary, and the Promised Messiah as two different persons.

(Research by Awwab Saad Hayat, Al Hakam)

Click here for Part II

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