Sunday, April 21, 2019

Islam, Jesus, & the Cross

'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. But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise. There is not one of the People of the Scripture but will believe in him before his death, and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them -' (4:157-159)

Qur'an al Kerim denies here an important topic in Christianity: The Crucifixion of Jesus. What thoughts may this lead to?

Here's a quotation of Wikipedia, which mentions the best known Muslim replies to questions about Jesus' crucifixion:

'The issue of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus (Isa) is rejected by most Muslims, but similar to Christians they believe that Jesus ascended to heaven and will return before the end of time. Most Muslims believe Jesus was not crucified, but was raised bodily to heaven by God. The general Islamic view supporting the denial of crucifixion was possibly influenced by Manichaenism (Docetism), which holds that someone else was crucified instead of Jesus, while concluding that Jesus will return during the end-times.[1]:41

Depending on the interpretation of the following verse, Muslim scholars have abstracted different opinions. Some believe that in the Biblical account, Jesus's crucifixion did not last long enough for him to die, while others opine that God gave someone Jesus's appearance or someone else replaced Jesus and the executioners thought the victim was Jesus, causing everyone to believe that Jesus was crucified. A third explanation could be that Jesus was nailed to a cross, but as his soul is immortal he did not "die" or was not "crucified" [to death]; it only appeared so (this view is rare). In opposition to the second and third foregoing proposals, yet others maintain that God does not use deceit and therefore they contend that crucifixion just did not occur.'

Islam may have a 1 - 0 setback behind Christianity, because the Crucifixion is a well-documented event, with many witnesses. Even though not all their stories fully match. But any police officer can explain us, that this is a classic issue of eye witness accounts: Contradictions. On one topic, there's no contradiction: many people were witness of Jesus' death on the cross; the empty grave next day; his appearances later; his ascension to heaven. His followers died for this story at the hands of authorities who couldn't believe their story.

What would be my suggestion? How to deal with this difference between Bible and Qur'an?

We are nearly twenty centuries later now. We notice a difference between both stories, but in all honesty, we can't explain it. We have no forensic evidence. I'd say, there's only one possible attitude: 

Do not judge.

It's one word against the other. It's very well possible, there's been a switch of men, just before captivity. Allah swt is the almighty and is most sure capable to introduce a stand-in. This may be anyone, even an angel. We also know, Qur'an al Kerim contains verses of unspecific meaning, as is mentioned in verse 3:7. It is possible to believe, that indeed Jesus didn't die at the cross. None of us know for sure, what exactly happened. Both Bible and Qur'an give reports of miraculous events. It's not up to us to dismiss them without evidence. And evidence, we don't have -- in the scientific, forensic sense of the word. Qur'an al Kerim doesn't give enough detail to give a scientific report of events. Shouldn't that be enough to abstain from filling in gaps.

There's perhaps a second aspect. The Qur'anic text mentions 'they' and 'we' killed the Messiah. It could mean, that humans have no say in life and death. They lack the authority here to claim taking the life of this important messenger of Allah swt.

USCatholic.org: What do Muslims think of Jesus?