Saturday, November 21, 2009

Does the Qur’an deny the crucifixion and physical death of Jesus?



A new thread at Catholic Answers, Why Islam denies the crucifixion of Christ, has brought to mind an outstanding book that I have recently read: Todd Lawson’s, The Crucifixion and the Qur’an. I purchased this book because of a keen interest I have had on this topic since the mid-90s.

There is no question the vast majority of present-day Muslims take the position that the Qur’an denies the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (based solely on an interpretation of verse 4.157 that is highly suspect). However, my own personal studies into this issue revealed some very interesting, and important, details few Muslims (let alone Christians) seem to be aware of, namely that the Qur’an itself does not actually deny the crucifixion of Jesus, and that the supposed Qur’anic denial was a post Qur’an/Muhammad development. The following selections I complied during my research contain some of the important data that led me to view the ‘traditional’ interpretation with suspicion:

Islamic scholar, Dr. Mahmoud M. Ayoub wrote:

The Quran...does not deny the death of Christ. Rather it challenges human beings who in their folly have deluded themselves into believing that they would vanquish the divine Word, Jesus the messenger of God. The death of Christ is asserted several times and in various contexts, see for example S. 3:55; 5:117; 19:33. (“Towards an Islamic Christology II”, The Muslim World, Vol. LXX, April 1980, #2, p. 106.)

Another Islamic scholar, Neal Robinson, gleaned the following data from the Rasā’l (‘Epistles’) of the Ikhwan al-Safa (Brethren of Purity):

Jesus’ humanity (nāsut) was crucified and his hands were nailed to the cross. He was left there all day, given vinegar to drink, and pierced with a lance. He was taken down from the cross, wrapped in a shroud and laid in the tomb. Three days later he appeared to the disciples and was recognized by them. When the news spread that he had not been killed, the Jews opened up the tomb but did not find his mortal remains (nāsut). (Christ In Islam and Christianity, pp. 56, 57.)

Abu Ya’qub Ishaq al-Sijistani wrote:

Without doubt murder and crucifixion were inflicted upon his body. The pronoun (hu) since it appeared at the end of the words ‘murdered him’ ‘qataluhu’, or crucified him is a pointing letter to the spirit (huwiyya) of Jesus. So in this exists the evidence he who suffered death and crucifixion was not the spirit (huwiyya) of Jesus. (Kitab Ithbat al-Nubuwat, Al-Matb’aa al-Kathulikiah, Bierut, Lebanon, 1966, p. 185.)

And:

Cross is the name for the piece of wood on which a man is crucified so that the whole population may see him, and what is crucified on it is a dead body...The wood Jesus was crucified on was provided for this purpose by a group other than his own and these people were the ones who crucified him on it openly and manifestly. (The Wellsprings of Wisdom, edited by Paul E. Walker, 1994, pp. 93-94.)


My studies, along with the fact certain verses in the Qur’an affirm Jesus’ death (e.g. 3.55; 5.117; 19.33), convinced me that something was seriously defective with the ‘traditional’ understanding of Jesus’ crucifixion held to by most Muslims. I occasionally shared my research on some message boards in the past, but for the most part, did not make much of an issue out of it. However, after reading Dr. Lawson’s exhaustive book, I am now FULLY convinced that my earlier research was spot-on; as such, I will, in all likelihood, be a bit more forward with my conclusions concerning this important issue in the future.


Grace and peace,

David

11 comments:

Chris said...

Very interesting, David. Thanks for the great work on this.

Martin said...

Sorry, but I don't understand why it matters. Muslems may accept or deny the crucifixion but they certainly deny the incarnation.

Anonymous said...

It would be important to modern Islam if it could be demonstrated that 90% of the Islamic world has misunderstood the teachings of Mohammed for a long, long time.

If something so fundamental to Islamic opinion toward Christianity could be re-evaluated by Muslims, it could be a beginning to an openness to other areas where they thought the Prophet condemned the Catholic faith, when he was really unacquainted with Catholic thought. He was not, it seems to me, very well acquainted with Christianity except for fringe groups. If Muslims could see that they could conceivably follow Mohammed and Christianity, that would be a great thing.

Ideas have consequences. Good ideas, truth, cannot but bring forth good consequences. I know my dreams are not current reality. But who knows what kind of positive revolution might result in an Islamic world that came to the realization that their Holy Book teahces the crucifixion of Christ? It sure can't hurt relations between us!

Rory

Anonymous said...

I think it wouldn't hurt for Catholics who just assume that Muslims are following the Koran, to see that perhaps the biggest problems with Islam are not necessarily the Koran, but Islamic tradition gone awry. Maybe a softened view toward the Koran among Catholics could help them not to start other stupid threads over at Catholic Answers like the one that is questioning whether Mohammed ever existed. At this time, it seems to me, fear and paranoia has replaced sober judgment on both sides.

Rory

Ken said...

Hi David,

Qur'an 3:55 and 19:33 do seem to say that Jesus died in Arabic. They seem to hide the meaning by a bad English translation.

But, 4:157 does seem to really also say that Jesus was not crucified and did not die.

How do they explain the plain meaning of 4:157?

I don't see how they can say that it doesn't actually say He didn't die, but that only "the Jew did not kill him", etc.

"And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger - they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain."


It is a real contradiction; it seems.

I have not studied 5:117 enough to comment on that one.

Traditional Islam interprets 3:55 and 19:33 in the light of 4:157.

4:157 may be the biggest lie told in all of history, that Jesus of Nazareth did not die on the cross. (except maybe the lie that atheists tell, that "there is no God")

_______________________
Regarding seeing the missing Sigma in kosmos at beggars All, you are welcome.

Anonymous said...

Some Catholics, including yours truly, don't think Russia has been converted per the promises of Our Lady of Fatima. Awaiting that event, there is no saying what good things might come after Catholics have prayed their rosaries and the Holy Father consecrates Russia to the immaculate Heart, as Sr. Lucia said he would, late. Ther are a lot of Muslims in the former Soviet Union. Also, there is the promise for a period of peace in the world. Considering that Our Lady was speaking in the context of two world wars which were ended and begun as prophesied, it seems like world peace could necessarily involve, if not the conversion of Muslims to Christianity, at the least a reform of their militant vuiews, softened perhaps by the knowledge that in one important respect, the crucifixion of Christ, Mohammed belonged more to the Christians than to the misled traditionalist Sunni Muslims.

Rory

PS: Fatima was the name of Mohammed's daughter wasn't it? Coincidence?

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Sorry about the delay in my response, but the storm knocked out power, and created a nice little mess that I needed to take care of…

>>Qur'an 3:55 and 19:33 do seem to say that Jesus died in Arabic. They seem to hide the meaning by a bad English translation.>>

Me: Indeed, some of the English translations/interpretations are not so good; but then, some are quite clear on this matter.

>>But, 4:157 does seem to really also say that Jesus was not crucified and did not die.

How do they explain the plain meaning of 4:157?>>

Me: Once again, some English translations/interpretations are much better than others, and though the Arabic is not as clear cut as in 3:55 and 19:33, there is solid support for Lawson’s (and the other authors I cited) view.

>>I don't see how they can say that it doesn't actually say He didn't die, but that only "the Jew did not kill him", etc.

"And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger - they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain.">>

Me: I think that 2:154 sheds some important light on the issue at hand:

Do not say that those who are killed in the way of God are dead, for indeed they are alive, even though you are not aware.” (Al-Qur’an, Ahmed Ali trans., p. 30 - see also 3:169.)

>>It is a real contradiction; it seems.

I have not studied 5:117 enough to comment on that one.

Traditional Islam interprets 3:55 and 19:33 in the light of 4:157.

4:157 may be the biggest lie told in all of history, that Jesus of Nazareth did not die on the cross. (except maybe the lie that atheists tell, that "there is no God")>>

Me: IMO, Dr. Lawson has resolved the apparent contradiction. I hope you can obtain a copy of his book, I would really like to hear what you think about his research. (For some discount prices on the book, GO HERE.)

>>Regarding seeing the missing Sigma in kosmos at beggars All, you are welcome.>>

Me: Thanks again Ken, my eyes just are not as young as they used to be.


God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

At the end of your last post your wrote:

>>PS: Fatima was the name of Mohammed's daughter wasn't it? Coincidence?>>

Me: Hmmmm…

FYI, Fatimah is referred to by many Muslims as: Fātimah az-zahrā (‘Fatimah the resplendent’).


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

The place of Fatima in Portugal was named that (from the daughter of Muhammad) during the times when the Arabs ruled Spain and Portugal. (Sometime between 732 AD - 1400s ?)

on a different issue:
I have often wondered who influenced who on the prayer beads in Islam and the rosary beads in RC. ( I will have to research that.)

Ken said...

I found this at another site:

"The town of Fatima was named after a Muslim princess who lived in Portugal in the Middle Ages. This princess was named after Mohammed's daughter Fatima."

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Though I knew about the connection between the town of Fatima and Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah; however, the information about the Muslim princess is new to me—thanks!

As for prayer beads, I don’t know much about the practice by Muslims; but as you probably already know, there is a ‘ton’ of information on the web concerning the rosary. A “Google” search using “rosary Saint Dominic” brought up some interesting sites, including the following:

http://www.themystica.org/mystica/articles/r/rosary_catholic.html

http://www.thecatholictreasurechest.com/dominic.htm

http://www.catholic-pages.com/prayers/rosary_dominic.asp

http://www.theholyrosary.org/secret.html

Timeline


Grace and peace,

David