God’s Promise: Prophet Jesus (pbuh) Will Return
The lives of God's chosen Messengers contain many messages and lessons for all people, especially when we study their encounters, their troubles, and their great struggles. The Qur'an cites Jesus as an example for people to follow, because of how he conducted his life and his struggle, and because of his great virtue.
Jesus' birth, life, and ascension to God's presence are all miracles that the Qur'an reveals in some detail. Although God reveals the narratives of many Prophets, Jesus, whom God supported with superior wisdom, is set apart from the others in several aspects, among them that he spoke even in the cradle, and that he was the vehicle for countless miracles while he was in this world. That his status is different also can be deduced from the fact that he was raised to God's presence and that the Qur'an indicates strongly his second coming.
The Qur'an reveals that the unbelievers devised a plot to take Jesus' life. According to some sources, a group of bigoted Jewish scribes and priests bribed Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples, to betray him, after which they would arrest Jesus and hand him over to the Romans. According to the same sources, the priests did not have the power to sentence someone to death and so had to make another plan to agitate the Roman regime. Thus, they portrayed Jesus as being hostile to the Roman leadership, for the Romans were highly sensitive and ruthless when confronted with dissidents. But these priests failed, for the Qur'an relates:
They [unbelievers] planned and God planned. But God is the best of planners. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 3:54)
As the verses reveal, they plotted and moved to kill Jesus. However, their plot failed and they ended up killing a look-alike. During this event, God raised Jesus up to His presence:
And [on account of] their saying: "We killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Messenger of God." They did not kill him and they did not crucify him, but it was made to seem so to them. Those who argue about him are in doubt about it. They have no real knowledge of it, just conjecture. But they certainly did not kill him. God raised him to Himself. God is Almighty, All-Wise. (Surat An-Nisa’, 4:157-158)
Many people believe in the widespread assumption that the Romans crucified Jesus. The Roman soldiers and Jewish priests who arrested Jesus are said to have killed him on the cross. Although some historical Christian sects such as Docetism have denied this, today, the world of Christianity completely believes it, as well as that he was resurrected three days later and, after several brief meetings with his disciples and others, ascended into the heavens.
The Qur'an, however, says otherwise. The reality revealed in the verses is clear. The Romans, abetted by some Jews' agitation, attempted to kill Jesus but did not succeed. The expression "but it was made to seem so to them" reveals this fact. God showed them a look-alike and raised Jesus up to His presence. Our Lord also reveals that those who made that claim had no knowledge of the truth.
In the early years of Christianity, several views on Jesus' fate emerged. In the subsequent centuries and until the articles of faith were fully formulated at the Council of Nicea (325), these ideological differences continued to persist, and movements that claimed that Jesus had not been crucified were accused of heresy and its members were persecuted.
The Qur'anic Account of Jesus' Ascent to God's Presence
Examining the words used in the narratives relating how the Prophets died and the verses dealing with Jesus' ascent to God's presence reveals an important fact: Jesus did not die like the other prophets did, nor was he murdered by the unbelievers. Rather, our Lord took him up to His presence. In this chapter, we will examine the Arabic words used to express how the Prophets died and how Jesus was raised up to God's presence, and investigate how the Qur'an uses them.
As we will see in greater detail later on, the Qur'an uses qataloohu (to kill), maata (to die), halaka (to perish), salaboohu (they crucified him), or some other special expressions to describe the death or murder of the Prophets. In the case of Jesus, the Qur'an clearly states that he was not killed in any of those ways, for: "They did not kill him [wa ma qataloohu] and did not crucify him [wa ma salaboohu]." God reveals that people were shown a look-alike and that Jesus was raised up to His presence, as follows:
When God said: "Jesus, I will take you back [mutawaffeeka] and raise you up [wa raafi`uka] to Me and purify you of those who are unbelievers. And I will place the people who follow you above those who are unbelievers until the Day of Rising..." (Surah Al ‘Imran, 3: 55)
The following are the ways in which the words referring to death in the Qur'an and the word tawaffa in Surah Al `Imran are used:
1) Tawaffa: To Cause To Die, To Take in One's Sleep, or To Take Back
The word tawaffa used in Surah Al `Imran 3 and translated as "taking back" here and "causing to die" in some Qur'an translations, has various connotations. Examining the Arabic verses clearly reveals that these connotations of the word should be considered while applying it to Jesus' situation. The Qur'an describes his being taken back to God in the words that Jesus will say on the Day of Judgment:
[Jesus said], "I said to them nothing but what You ordered me to say: 'Worship God, my Lord and your Lord.' I was a witness against them as long as I remained among them, but when You took me back to You [tawaffa], You were the One watching over them. You are the Witness of all things." (Surat al-Ma’ida, 5:117)
In Arabic the word that is translated in some translations of this verse as "You have caused me to die" is tawaffa and comes from the root wafa – to fulfil. Tawaffa does not actually mean "death" but the act of "taking the self back" either in sleep, in death or as in the case of Jesus being taken back into the presence of God. From the Qur'an again, we understand that "taking the self back" does not necessarily mean death. For instance, it can mean "taking back the self while one is asleep," as indicated in the following verse:
It is He Who takes you back to Himself [yatawaffaakum] at night, while knowing the things you perpetrate by day, and then wakes you up again, so that a specified term may be fulfilled. (Surat al-An‘am, 6:60)
The word used for "take back" in this verse is the same as the one used in Surah Al ‘Imran 55. In other words, in the verse above, the word tawaffa is used and it is obvious that one does not die in one's sleep. Therefore, what is meant here is, again, "taking the self back." In the following verse, the same word is used like this:
God takes back people's selves [yatawaffaa] when their death [mawtihaa] arrives and those who have not yet died, while they are asleep [lam tamut]. He keeps hold of those whose death [mawt] has been decreed and sends the others back for a specified term. (Surat Az-Zumar, 39:42)
As this verse clarifies, God takes back the self of the one who is asleep, yet He sends back the selves of those whose deaths have yet not been decreed. In this context, in one's sleep one does not die, in the sense in which we perceive death. Only for a temporary period, the self leaves the body and remains in another dimension. When we wake up, the self returns to the body.4
Imam al-Qurtubi makes clear that there are three meanings to the term wafat which is from the same root as tawaffa:the wafat of death, the wafat of sleep, and last, the wafat of being raised up to God, as in the case of Jesus.
2) Qatala: To Kill
The Qur'an uses qatala to mean "to kill," as in the following verse:
Pharaoh said: "Let me kill [aqtulu] Moses and let him call upon his Lord! I am afraid that he may change your religion and bring about corruption in the land." (Surah Ghafir, 40:26)
In Arabic, "let me kill Moses" is aqtulu Musa, a phrase that is derived from the verb qatala. In another verse, the same word is used in the following way:
... [That was because they] killed [yaqtuloona] the Prophets without any right to do so. (Surat al-Baqara, 2:61)
The expression yaqtuloona (they killed) is also derived from qatala. The translation is clearly "to kill."
The verses below speak of the deaths of the Prophets, and the usage of the verb qatala is marked. All words in brackets are derivatives of this verb. We will write down what they said and their killing [wa qatlahum] of the Prophets without any right to do so. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 3:181)
Say: "Why, then, if you are believers, did you previously kill [taqtuloona] the Prophets of God?" (Surat al-Baqara, 2:91)
As for those who reject God's Signs, and kill [yaqtuloona] the Prophets without any right to do so, and kill [yaqtuloona] those who command justice... (Surah Al ‘Imran, 3:21)
"Kill [uqtuloo] Joseph or expel him to some land." (Surah Yusuf, 12:9)
..."Moses, the Council is conspiring to kill you [li yaqtulooka]." (Surat al-Qasas, 28:20)
The only answer of his [Abraham's] people was to say: "Kill [uqtuloohu] him or burn him!" (Surat al-‘Ankabut, 29:24)
3) Halaka: To Perish
Another word used to denote the act of killing is halaka. It also is used to mean "to perish, to be destroyed, or to die," as in the verse given below:
... when he [Joseph] died [halaka], you said: "God will never send another Messenger after him."(Surah Ghafir, 40:34)
The phrase idha halaka is translated as "when he died." meaning "to die."
4) Mawt: Death
Another word used to relate a Prophet's death is mawt, a noun derived from the verb maata (to die), as follows:
Then when We decreed that he [Prophet Solomon] should die [mawt], nothing divulged his death [mawtihi] to them except the worm that ate his staff. (Surah Saba’, 34:14)
In the following verse, another form of the verb is used:
Peace be upon him [Prophet John] the day he was born, the day he dies [yamootu], and the day he is raised up again alive. (Surah Maryam, 19:15)
The word yamootu is translated here as "they day he dies," and the same word is used (in the form of a noun) to relate Jacob's death:
Or were you present when death [mawt] came to Jacob? (Surat al-Baqara, 2:133)
In another verse, the verbs qatala (in the passive form qutila) and maata are used together:
Mohammed is only a Messenger, and he has been preceded by other Messengers. If he were to die [maata] or be killed [qutila], would you turn on your heels? (Surah Al ‘Imran, 3:144)
Other forms of the verb are used in other verses to denote the death of Prophets:
She exclaimed: "Oh if only I had died [mittu] before this time and was something discarded and forgotten!" (Surah Maryam, 19:23)
We did not give any human being before you immortality [khuld]. And if you die [mitta], will they then be immortal? (Surat al-Anbiya’, 21: 34)
"He Who will cause my death [yumeetunee], then give me life." (Surat ash-Shu‘ara’, 26: 81)
5) Khalid: Immortal
The word khalid means immortality, permanence, and continued existence, as in the following verse:
We did not give them bodies that did not eat food, nor were they immortal [khalideena]. (Surat al-Anbiya’, 21:8)
6) Salaba: To Crucify
Another word used in the Qur'an to relate death is salaba (to crucify). This verb has various meanings (e.g., to hang, to crucify, to execute) and is used in the following ways:
They did not kill him and they did not crucify him [wa maa salaboohu]. (Surat An-Nisa’, 4:157)
[Joseph said:] "One of you will serve his lord with wine, the other of you will be crucified [yuslabu]." (Surah Yusuf, 12:41)
They should be killed or crucified [yusallaboo]. (Surat al-Ma’ida, 5:33)
[Pharaoh said:] "I will cut off your alternate hands and feet, and then I will crucify [la usallibannakum] every one of you." (Surat al-A‘raf, 7:124)
As the verses show, the words used to express Jesus' situation are altogether different to those used to describe the deaths of the other Prophets. God states that Jesus was neither killed nor crucified, that a look-alike was killed in his place, and that he was taken back (in other words that his soul was taken) and raised up to His presence. When talking of Jesus', the Qur'an uses tawaffa (to take the soul) whereas when talking of the other Prophets, it uses qataloohu or maata (and its derivatives) to mean "death" in the conventional sense. This information shows us yet again that Jesus' situation was extraordinary.
Jesus' Second Coming to Earth
The subject of Prophet Jesus’ (pbuh) second coming is clearly proclaimed in the Qur’an and our Prophet’s (may God bless him and grant him peace) sayings. There are certain statements pertaining to this issue in many verses and hadiths.
Evidence from the Qur'an
"... I will place the people who follow you above those who are unbelievers until the Day of Resurrection..."
The first verse indicating Jesus' return is given below:
When God said: "Jesus, I will take you back and raise you up to Me, and purify you of those who are unbelievers. And I will place the people who follow you above those who are unbelievers until the Day of Resurrection. Then you will all return to Me, and I will judge between you regarding the things about which you differed. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 3:55)
God mentions that a group of Jesus' true followers will dominate the unbelievers until the Day of Resurrection. Jesus did not have many followers during his tenure on Earth and, with his ascension, the religion that he had brought degenerated rapidly. Over the next two centuries, those who believed in Jesus were oppressed because they had no political power. Therefore, we cannot say that the early Christians dominated the unbelievers in the sense indicated by the verse given above.
At present, Christianity is so far removed from its original state that it no longer resembles the religion taught by Jesus. Christians have adopted the mistaken belief that Jesus is God's son (surely God is beyond all that which they falsely ascribe to Him) and incorporated the Trinity (viz., the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) into their religion centuries ago. Given this, we cannot acknowledge today's Christians as being true followers of Jesus. In the Qur'an, God states more than once that those who believe in the Trinity are, in fact, unbelievers:
Those who say that the Messiah, son of Mary, is the third of three are unbelievers. There is no god but the One God. (Surat al-Ma’ida, 5:73)
In this case, "And I will place the people who follow you above those who are unbelievers until the Day of Resurrection" carries a clear message: There has to be a group of Jesus' followers who will exist until the Last Day. Such a group will emerge after his second coming, and those who follow him at that time will dominate the unbelievers until the Last Day.
This aside, the expression, "Then you will all return to Me" at the verse's end is striking. After relating that those who follow Prophet Jesus (pbuh) will be superior to the unbelievers, God states that everyone, including Prophet Jesus (pbuh), will return to Him. Here, the expression is understood to mean their death. This may also be a sign that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) will die at a time close to Doomsday, after his second coming.
"There is not one of the People of the Book who will not believe in him before he dies..."
In the Qur'an, we read that:
There is not one of the People of the Book who will not believe in him before he dies; and on the Day of Resurrection he [Jesus] will be a witness against them. (Surat An-Nisa’, 4:159)
The phrase "there is not one of the People of the Book who will not believe in him before he dies" is very interesting. In Arabic, the sentence reads as follows: Wa-in min ahli al-kitaabi illaa la yu'minanna bihi qabla mawtihi.
Some scholars believe that the "him/it" in this verse refers to the Qur'an instead of Jesus, and so understand it to mean that the People of the Book will believe in the Qur'an before they die. However, it is beyond dispute that the same word in the preceding two verses refers to Jesus:
And [on account of] their saying: "We killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Messenger of God." They did not kill him and they did not crucify him, but it was made to seem so to them. Those who argue about him are in doubt about it. They have no real knowledge of it, just conjecture. But they certainly did not kill him. (Surat An-Nisa’, 4:157)
God raised him [Jesus] up to Himself. God is Almighty, All-Wise. (Surat An-Nisa’, 4:158)
The word "him," which is used in the verse straight after the above two, refers to Jesus, and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise.
There is not one of the People of the Book who will not believe in him before he dies; and on the Day of Resurrection he [Jesus] will be a witness against them. (Surat An-Nisa’, 4:159)
The expression "and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them" is important. The Qur'an reveals that on that Day, people's tongues, hands, and feet (Surat An-Nur, 24:24, Surah Ya Sin, 36:65), as well as their eyes, ears, and skin (Surah Fussilat, 41:20-23), will testify against them. No verse indicates that the Qur'an will be the witness during this event. If the first part of the verse is taken to mean "the Qur'an" – even though there is no evidence in the syntax or the succession of verses for this – "him" or "it" in the second part also would refer to the Qur'an. To accept this, however, there should be an explicit verse confirming this view. However, the commentator Ibn Juzayy does not mention the possibility of the Qur'an being the "him" referred to, and Ibn Juzayy transmitted the views of all the major commentators in his work.
When we examine the Qur'an's verses, we see that when the same personal pronoun refers to the Qur'an, there is generally mention of the Qur'an before or after that specific verse as in the cases of 27:77 and 26:192-96. If the Qur'an is not mentioned before, after, or in the verse, saying that the pronoun refers to the Qur'an could be mistaken. The verse clearly speaks of the belief in Jesus and that he will be a witness for those who believe.
Another point we need to make here has to do with the interpretation of "before he dies." Some believe that this stands for the People of the Book "having faith in Jesus before their own death." According to this view, everyone from the People of the Book will definitely believe in Jesus before he or she dies. But at the time of Jesus, most of the Jews (who are members of the People of the Book) not only refused to believe in him, but also plotted his death. Then, believing him to be dead, they continued to deny him. In general, the same circumstances are true for the Jews of our own time, as they do not recognize Jesus as a Prophet. As a result, millions of the People of the Book have lived and died without ever believing in Jesus. Therefore, the verse does not speak of the death of this group, but rather of the death of Jesus. In the end, the reality revealed by the Qur'an is this: "Before Jesus dies, all People of the Book will believe in him."
When the verse is regarded in the light of its true meaning, several clear facts emerge. First, it becomes apparent that the verse refers to the future, because it speaks of Jesus' death. As explained earlier, he never died but was raised to God's presence. Jesus will return to Earth, where he will live and die like all other people. Second, it says that all People of the Book will believe in him. Obviously, this has not yet happened. And so, given the context, "before he dies" refers to Jesus. The People of the Book will see and recognize him, and then become Muslim followers of Jesus, as will be explained shortly. In turn, he will be their witness on the Last Day. (God knows best.)
"He is a Sign of the Hour..."
In Surat az-Zukhruf, we are informed of Jesus' return and some other facts, as follows:
When an example is made of the son of Mary [Jesus], your people laugh uproariously. They retort: "Who is better then, our gods or him?" They only say this to you for argument's sake. They are indeed a disputatious people. He is only a servant on whom We bestowed Our blessing and whom We made an example for the tribe of Israel. If We willed, We could appoint angels in exchange for you to succeed you on Earth. (Surat Az-Zukhruf, 43:57-60)
The next verse states that Jesus is a sign of the Day of Judgment:
He [Jesus] is a Sign of the Hour. Have no doubt about it. But follow me. This is a straight path. (Surat Az-Zukhruf, 43:61)
Ibn Juzayy says that the first meaning of this verse is that Jesus is a sign or precondition of the Last Hour. We can confidently say that this verse indicates his return at the End Times, because he lived six centuries before the Qur'an's revelation. Therefore we cannot consider his first life as a sign of the Day of Judgment. The verse says that Jesus will return toward the end of time or, in other words, during the last period of time before the Day of Judgment. In that context, his return is a sign of the Hour's imminent arrival. (God knows best.)
In Arabic, the expression "He is a Sign of the Hour" is Innahu la `ilmun li as-saa`ati.
Some say that the pronoun hu (he/it) in this expression refers to the Qur'an. However if this pronoun is used to denote the Qur'an, we would expect other words to be present, whether before, after, or in the verse, that speak of the Qur'an. The word hu cannot denote the Qur'an when the subject is altogether different. Furthermore, the preceding verse clearly refers to Jesus with the word hu:
He [Jesus] is only a servant on whom We bestowed Our blessing and whom We made an example for the tribe of Israel. (Surat Az-Zukhruf, 43:59)
Those who say that hu refers to the Qur'an rely on the expression "Have no doubt about it. But follow me," which continues the verse. However, since the preceding verses speak only of Jesus, it is far more realistic to accept that hu refers to him, as in the preceding verses. The great scholars of Islam interpret this pronoun as referring to Jesus, an opinion that they base on other Qur'anic verses and hadiths. In his commentary, Elmalili Muhammad Hamdi Yazir writes that:
No doubt he [Jesus] is a sign of the Hour, one that declares that the Hour will come, that the dead will be resurrected and stand up, because the miracle of Jesus' second coming and his miracle of resurrecting the dead, together with his revelation that the dead will rise, prove that the Day of Judgment is real. According to the hadiths, his arrival is a sign of the Last Day."5
"He will teach him the Book and Wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel. "
Other verses indicating Jesus' second coming is the following:
When the angels said: "Mary, your Lord gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, of high esteem in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near [to God]. He will speak to people in the cradle, and also when fully grown, and will be one of the righteous." She asked: "My Lord! How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?" He said: "It will be so. God creates whatever He wills. When He decides on something, He just says to it: 'Be!' and it is. He will teach him the Book and Wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel." (Surah Al ‘Imran, 3:45-48)
The last verse reveals that God will teach Jesus the "Book," the Torah, and the Gospel. Obviously, this book in question is very important. The same expression is also used in the verse given below:
Remember when God said: "Jesus, son of Mary, remember My blessing to you and to your mother when I reinforced you with the Purest Spirit so that you could speak to people in the cradle and when you were fully grown; and when I taught you the Book and Wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel." (Surat al-Ma’ida, 5:110)
When we examine how "Book" is used here, we see that it refers to the Qur'an in both cases. The verses reveal that after the Torah, the Psalms and the Gospel, the Qur'an is the final divine book. Some other verses use "Book" to denote the Qur'an, after mentioning the Torah and the Gospel, such as the following:
God, there is no god but Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He has sent down the Book to you with truth, confirming what was there before it. And He sent down the Torah and the Gospel previously. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 3:2-4)
Other verses also call the Qur'an the "Book":
When a Book comes to them from God, confirming what is with them – even though before that they were praying for victory over the unbelievers – yet when what they recognize comes to them, they reject it. God's curse is on the unbelievers. (Surat al-Baqara, 2:89)
For this We sent a Messenger to you from among you to recite Our Signs to you, to purify you, to teach you the Book and Wisdom, and to teach you things you did not know before. (Surat al-Baqara, 2:151)
In this case, the Qur'an is the third book that Jesus will be taught. But this will be possible only when he returns to Earth, for he lived 600 years before the Qur'an's revelation. As we will see in great detail in the following chapters, the hadiths reveal that Jesus will rule with the Qur'an, not the Gospel, on his second coming. This corresponds with the verse's meaning.
"The likeness of Jesus in God's sight is the same as Adam."
The verse above (Surah Al ‘Imran, 3:59) could also indicate Jesus' return. Muslim scholars who have written Qur'anic commentaries point out that this verse indicates the fact that both Prophets did not have a father, for God created both of them with the command "Be!" However, the verse could also have another meaning: Just as Adam was sent down to Earth from God's presence, Jesus will be sent down to Earth from God's presence during the End Times.
As we have seen, the verses regarding Jesus' return are very clear. As the Qur'an does not use such expressions for any other Prophet, its meaning is fairly obvious.
"... The day I was born, the day I die, and the day I am raised up again alive..."
Surah Maryam also mentions Jesus' death in the following verse:
[Jesus said,] "Peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I am raised up again alive." (Surah Maryam, 19:33)
When this verse is considered in conjunction with Surah Al `Imran 55, an important reality emerges: While Surah Al `Imran states that Jesus was raised up to God's presence and does not mention that he died or was killed, Surah Maryam speaks of the day on which he will die. This second death can only be possible after he returns and lives on Earth for a period of time. (Only God knows for certain.)
"... You could speak to people in the cradle and when you were fully grown…"
Another piece of evidence for Jesus' return is the word kahlaan, used Surat al-Ma'ida 110 and Surah Al `Imran 46. These verses say:
Remember when God said: "Jesus, son of Mary, remember My blessing to you and to your mother when I reinforced you with the Purest Spirit so that you could speak to people in the cradle and when you were fully grown [kahlaan]…" (Surat al-Ma’ida, 5:110)
He will speak to people in the cradle, and also when fully grown [kahlaan], and will be one of the righteous. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 3:46)
Kahlaan, which is used only in these two verses, only in reference to Jesus, and to express Jesus' adulthood means "someone between the age of 30 and 50, someone who is no longer young, someone who has reached the perfect age." Islamic scholars agree that it denotes the age of 35 or above. They base their views on a hadith reported by Ibn ‘Abbas that Jesus was raised up to God's presence in his early 30s, and that he will live for 40 years when he comes again. Therefore, they suggest that this verse is evidence for Jesus' return, since his old age will occur following his second coming.6 (Only God knows for certain.)
Close study of the relevant verses easily shows how right Islamic scholars are on this question. For example, this expression is used only with regard to Jesus. Although all of the Prophets spoke with their people, invited them to religion, and communicated their message at a mature age, the Qur'an does not use such expressions when talking about them. Rather, they are used only to voice a miraculous situation, because the expressions "in the cradle" and "when fully grown," when used one after the other, refer to two miraculous events.
In The Commentary of at-Tabari, Imam at-Tabari gives the following explanation of these verses:
These statements [Surat al-Ma'ida 110] indicate that in order to complete his lifespan and speak to people when fully grown, Jesus will come down from heaven. That is because he was raised to heaven when still young. In this verse [Surah Al ‘Imran 46], there is evidence that Jesus is living, and the Ahl al-Sunnah share that view. That is because in this verse it is stated that he will speak to people when fully grown. He will be able to grow fully only when he returns to Earth from heaven.7
The meanings of kahlaan, as well as the other information provided by the Qur'an, indicate Jesus' second coming in the End Times and that he will guide people to the true religion of Islam (only God knows for certain). No doubt, this is good news and a grace and gift of God for those who believe. The believers are responsible for supporting and defending him in the most appropriate way, and for living wholeheartedly the Qur'anic morality to which he calls them.
Evidence from the Hadith
The Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) has revealed many important matters about Jesus' return, as well as some of the things that will happen before and after this event, in his hadiths. All of this information is from the "Unseen," and was given to him by God, as related in the following verse:
He [God] is the Knower of the Unseen, and does not divulge His Unseen to anyone – except a Messenger with whom He is well pleased, and then He posts sentinels before him and behind him. (Surat al-Jinn , 72:26-27)
Our Lord also reveals that He sent knowledge to Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) in his dreams:
God has confirmed His Messenger's vision with truth: "You will enter the Sacred Mosque [Masjid al-Haram] in safety, God willing, shaving your heads and cutting your hair without any fear." He knew what you did not know and ordained, in place of this, an imminent victory. (Surat al-Fath , 48:27)
God gives such knowledge to our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) in order to help and support both him as well as all of the faithful believers who were with him.
Some of this revealed information deals with the signs of the End Times. The most significant of these revelations concerns Jesus' second coming. The hadiths about the End Times can be found in sahih (accredited) hadith collections such as Imam Nawawi's Riyadh as-Salihin, Imam Malik's Al-Muwatta', Ibn Khuzayma's Sahih, Ibn Hibban's Sahih, Ibn Ahmad Hanbal's Musnad, and Abu Dawud al-Tayalisi's Musnad. From these sources, we learn that the Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) made many important revelations about Jesus, all of which are considered tawatur (reliable).
The Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) reveals in his hadiths that religious morality will dominate the world; that peace, justice, and prosperity will prevail; and that this will be achieved by Jesus, who will unite the Christian and Islamic worlds. At present, many societies are under the influence of anti-religious philosophies, and the resulting models are obvious. Such problems as immorality, drugs, terrorism, and famine demand that Christians and Muslims join together to fight these problems on an intellectual level. The world's current social structure makes an alliance between Islam and Christianity inevitable. Considering Christianity's influence over the West and its leaders, the influence that an alliance between Islam and Christianity would have is clear enough for all to see.
The Hadiths on Jesus Are "Tawatur"
The hadiths relating Jesus' second coming are reliable [tawatur]. Research shows that scholars share this view. Tawatur is defined as "a tradition which has been handed down by a number of different channels of transmitters or authorities, hence supposedly ruling out the possibility of its having been forged."8
Sayyid Sharif al-Jurjani, an Islamic scholar, explains the concept of tawatur hadith as follows:
News of mutawatir, are the news upon which so many transmitters agree; to such an extent that, according to the tradition, it is unlikely for so many transmitters to reach to a consensus on a lie. This being the situation, if statements and meanings agree with one another, then this is called mutawatir lafzi [verbal mutawatir]. If there is common meaning yet contradiction between statements [words], then it is called mutewatir-i manawi [mutawatir by meaning].9
In his Al-Tasrih fi ma Tawatara fi Nuzul al-Masih, the great hadith scholar Muhammad Anwar Shah Kashmiri writes that the hadiths about Jesus' second coming are all reliable, and quotes 75 hadiths and 25 works by companions of the Prophet and their disciples (tabi'un).
In the Sunni school of Islam, Imam Abu Hanifa is the greatest collector of hadiths on Jesus' second coming. In the final part of his Al-Fiqh al-Akbar, he states that:
The emergence of the Dajjal and of Gog and Magog is a reality; the rising of the sun in the West is a reality; the descent of Jesus, upon whom be peace, from the heavens is a reality; and all the other signs of the Day of Resurrection, as contained in authentic traditions, are also established realities.10
Jesus' second coming is one of the ten great signs of the Last Day, and many Islamic scholars have dealt with the subject in great detail. When all of these views are considered together, it becomes apparent that there is a consensus on this event.
For instance, in his work Lawaqi Al-Anwar Al-Bahiyah, Imam al-Safariniexpresses that Islamic scholars agree upon this issue:
The entire ummah (Muslim community) has agreed on the issue that Prophet Jesus (pbuh), the son of Maryam, will return. There is no one from the people who follow Muslim laws who oppose this issue.11
In his commentary Ruh al-Ma`ani, the great Islamic scholar Sayyid Mahmud Alusi gives examples from the views of other Islamic scholars and explains that the Islamic community has reached to a consensus regarding Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) second coming12, that information regarding this issue is well-known to the extent of being mutawatirby meaning, and that it is essential to believe in Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) return to Earth.
Imam Kawthari also stated his views regarding Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) coming as follows:
The tawatur in the hadiths regarding Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) second coming is mutawatir-i manawi. Aside from the fact that each one of the sahih and hasan hadiths may indicate different meanings, they all agree upon Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) second coming. This is actually a fact which is impossible to deny for a person who is well acquainted with the knowledge of hadith... The hadiths related to the appearance of Mahdi and Dajjal and Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) second coming are tawatur; it is certainly not an issue that is considered doubtful by experts on the hadith literature. The reason why some who deal with Ilm al-Kalam (science of theology) agree that it is essential to have faith in the hadiths related to the signs of Doomsday yet have doubts about whether some of these hadiths are mutawatir or not, is their inadequate knowledge about hadiths.13
The great Islamic scholar Ibn Kathir states his views after commenting on the related verses and explaining the related hadiths:
These are narrated from the Messenger of God (saas) as mutawatir and in these hadiths, there are explanations regarding how and where Prophet Jesus (pbuh) will appear...The authentic and mutawatir hadiths about Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) return to Earth in his noble body is immune to any opposing interpretations. Consequently, everyone with the smallest speck of faith and fairness has to believe in Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) second coming; only those who oppose to God's Book, His Messenger and Ahl al-Sunnah may deny Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) second coming to Earth.14
Another explanation about the hadiths' reaching the level of tawatur is as folows:
Muhammad al-Shawkani said that he had collected 29 hadiths and, when he had recorded them all, he said: "Our hadiths have reached the level of tawatur (reliable), as you can see. With this, we reach the conclusion that the hadiths on the anticipated Mahdi, the Dajjal, and Jesus' second coming are mutawatir (genuine)."15
At-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, al-Bazzaz, Ibn Majah, al-Hakim, al-Tabarani, and al-Musuli recorded many hadiths narrated by the Companions, such as `Ali, Ibn `Abbas, Ibn `Umar, Talha, Abu Hurayra, Anas, Abu Sa`id al-Khudri, Umm Habiba, Umm Salama, `Ali al-Hilali, and `Abd Allah ibn al-Harith ibn Jaz, upon whose narrations they based their collection on.16 For instance, Ibn Hajr Al-Haythami in the book Al-Sawa'iq Al-Muhriqa, al-Shablanji in his book Nur al-Absar, Ibn Sabbagh in his book Al-Fusul Al-Muhimma, Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Sabban in his book Is`af ar-Raghibin fi Sirat al-Mustafa wa Fada'il Ahl Baytihi at-Tahirin, and Muhammad Amin Suwaidi in his book Saba'ik az-Zahab, wrote that the hadiths about Jesus' second coming are reliable.17
These hadiths are recorded by the Ahl as-Sunnah scholars and hadith experts in their own works. For instance, Abu Dawud, Ibn Ahmad Hanbal, at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, al-Hakim, an-Nasa'i, al-Tabarani, al-Rawajini, Abu Nu`aym al-Isfahani, ad-Daylami, al-Baihaqi, as-Salabi, Hamawaini, Manawi, Ibn al-Jawzi, Muhammad ibn `Ali al-Sabban, al-Mawardi, al-Khanji al-Shafi, as-Samani, al-Khwarizmi, ash-Sharani, ad-Daraqutni, Ibn Sabbagh al-Maliki, Muhibbuddin at-Tabari, Ibn Hajr al-Haythami, Shaikh Mansur `Ali Nasif, Muhammad ibn Talha, Jalaluddin as-Suyuti, al-Qurtubi, al-Baghawi and many more deal with the subject in their books.
`Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda reveals that the hadiths about Jesus returning to Earth and killing the Dajjal have reached the degree of being mutawatir.18 In his Nazm al-Mutanathir min al-Hadith al-Mutawatir19, al-Kattani stated that "the descent of Jesus is established by the Sunnah, and Ijma al-Ummah (concensus of the Islamic community), and the hadiths on this issue and Dajjal and the Mahdi are mutawatir. In his commentary Al Bahru Al-Muhit, Ibn Atiyya al Garnati states that the Islamic community has the common belief that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) is alive, that he will come back at the End Times and that the hadiths about this issue are mutawatir.
Such books show the great number of hadiths that exist on this subject. Furthermore, the hadiths that reveal Jesus' second coming in the End Times as a sign of the Last Day are found in the main hadith source books, such as those by al-Bukhari and Muslim. Some of these are as follows:
By Him Whose Hand is my life, the son of Mary (Jesus) will certainly invoke the name of God for Hajj or for Umrah, or for both, in the valley of Rawha. (Sahih Muslim)
"It [the Day of Judgment] will not come until you see ten signs," and [in this connection] he mentioned the smoke, the Dajjal, the Beast, the rising of the Sun from the west, the descent of Jesus son of Mary… (Sahih Muslim)
By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, son of Mary [Jesus] will shortly descend amongst you people as a just ruler. (Sahih al-Bukhari)
Jesus son of Mary would then descend and their [Muslims'] commander will invite him to come and lead them in prayer, but he would say: No, some amongst you are commanders over some [amongst you]. This is the honor from God for this Ummah [nation]. (Sahih Muslim)
How will you be when the some of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you and he will judge people by the Law of the Qur'an? (Sahih al-Bukhari)
Islamic Scholars Consider Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) Coming as a Matter of Aqidah (Faith)
In almost all works that dwell on the essence of faith of the followers of Sunnah, there is reference to Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) coming to Earth before the Last Day, his struggle against Dajjal and his killing him, and the pervasion of the morality of true religion over the Earth. Assessing the evidence from the Qur'an and the news provided by hadiths altogether, Islamic scholars have adopted faith in Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) return as an important tenet of faith. The related explanations are as follows:
1. In verse 157 of the Surat an-Nisa', God commands, "...They did not kill him and they did not crucify him but it was made to seem so to them...." This verse, together with many others, reveal that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) is alive in God's sight and indicates that he will come to Earth for a second time. Reaching to consensus on this issue, Islamic scholars state that advocating a contrary suggestion is by no means possible. For instance in his commentary of this verse, Ibn Hazm stresses that someone who says Prophet Jesus (pbuh) is murdered would revert back from Islam or become a disbeliever.
2. The fact that the hadiths pertaining to Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) second coming are mutawatir, that is, so clear as to be immune to any doubts, is a great evidence for Muslims. Furthermore, there exists not a single different hadith that maintains otherwise – that is, any hadith that suggests that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) will not return.
3. Another evidence used by Islamic scholars is the hadith narrated by Jabir Ibn Abdullah which says, "Anyone who denies Mahdi's coming has denied what was revealed to Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace). Anyone who rejects Prophet Jesus' (pbuh), son of Maryam, coming has become a disbeliever. Anyone who does not accept Dajjal's appearance has also become a disbeliever."
There is reference to this hadith in very important Islamic resources such as, Fasl al-Khitab by Khwaja Parsa Bukhari, Maani al-Akhbar by Muhammed ibn Ibrahim Kalabadhi, Al-Rawd Al-Unuf by Suhayl, Arf-ul-wardi-fi Akhbar Mahdi by Jalaluddin Suyuti. This aside, Sheikh Abu Bakr has explained the chain of people who narrated this hadith. It is as follows (from the last person to the first): Muhammad Ibn Hasan, Abu Abdullah al-Hussein Ibn Muhammad, Isma'il Ibn Abi Uways, Malik Ibn Abas, Muhammad Ibn Munkadir, Jabir Ibn Abdullah.20
4. The abundance of narrators who reported the hadiths related to Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) coming and their trustworthiness is another issue to which Islamic scholars draw attention. Some of the narrators who reported these hadiths are: Abu'l Asas as-Sanani, Abu Rafi, Abul Aliyya, Abu Umama al-Bahili, Abu'd Darda', Abu Hurayra, Abu Malik al-Hudri, Jabir Ibn Abdullah, Hudhayfa Ibn Adis, Safina, Abu Qatada, Uthman Ibnul ‘Aas, Nafi' Ibn Kaysani, Al Walid Ibn Muslim, Ammar Ibn Yathir, Abdullah Ibni Abbas...
As a result of all this information, Islamic scholars have considered faith in Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) return to Earth and the pervasion of the morality of the true religion as an important essence of faith.
4. Yuce Kuran'in Cagdas Tefsiri (The Contemporary Tafsir of the Holy Qur'an) by Professor Suleyman Ates, Head of Department of Basic Islamic Sciences at Istanbul University's Faculty of Divinity, Vol. 2, 49-50.