بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Prophet and messenger Essa ibne Mariam (Jesus son of Mary) holds an elevated status in Al-Quran. He is a messenger and prophet of God, ayat/sign, word of Allah, spirit/essence and mercy for mankind as mentioned in Al-Quran. Prophet Essa’s birth was a sign for mankind as it was an unusual birth. Prophet Essa is also unique among prophets in that he was a prophet since birth and was able to convey the message of God in his infancy. There are many intriguing facts mentioned about prophet Essa (a.s) in Al-Quran, however in the current post we will mainly discuss common beliefs around prophet’s death and the knowledge about the hour that is conveyed to us in the words of prophet Essa (a.s).
The unbelievers of the Book, always come up with plots of assassination of Prophet Essa’s personality. The true personality of prophet Essa (a.s) is distorted by them and different types of statuses ranging from an impostor to a deity have been associated with him. The rejecters were not able to kill prophet Essa (a.s) physically. Near the time of his natural death, Allah informed the prophet about His intention of giving him death and raising towards Him and purifying him of the falsehoods which unbeliever’s would associate with him. Allah specifically mentioned giving death to prophet Essa (a.s) in Quran, as the prophet had specials signs associated with him including the one of giving life to the dead.
3:54-55 وَمَكَرُوا وَمَكَرَ اللَّهُ ۖ وَاللَّهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ إِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَا عِيسَىٰ إِنِّي مُتَوَفِّيكَ وَرَافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ وَمُطَهِّرُكَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَجَاعِلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوكَ فَوْقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ ۖ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأَحْكُمُ بَيْنَكُمْ فِيمَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ
And they plotted/planned and Allah too planned; and the best of planners is Allah. And when Allah said O Essa! Verily, I will cause you to die and raise you to Myself and clear you from those who reject; I will make those who follow you, superior to those who reject; towards the day of judgement. Then you shall all return to Me, and I will judge between you in matters in which you dispute.
A common belief among most people is that, prophet Essa (a.s), was raised towards Allah alive. He is not dead and will be sent again in the world near the end times. To support this belief they assert that the word (مُتَوَفِّيك) in the above ayat means ‘completing’ instead of ‘causing to die’. Therefore they say that the above ayat means that prophet Essa (his nafs) was completed and does not mean that he actually died. However, please note the ayat 39:42, which states that Allah completes the nafs at the time of death. Therefore, it is the time of the death when a person (his nafs) is completed:
39:42 اللَّهُ يَتَوَفَّى الْأَنفُسَ حِينَ مَوْتِهَا وَالَّتِي لَمْ تَمُتْ فِي مَنَامِهَا ۖ فَيُمْسِكُ الَّتِي قَضَىٰ عَلَيْهَا الْمَوْتَ وَيُرْسِلُ الْأُخْرَىٰ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
It is Allah who causes to die/complete the Nafs at the time of death; and those whose time of death has not come (He causes their ‘nafs’ to die) during their sleep. Then those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He prevents (from returning to life), but the rest He sends until a term appointed; Verily in this are signs for those who ponder.
We come to know from above ayat, that nafs/psyche of a person is completed at the time of death and the same was the case of prophet Essa (a.s).
Also, please ponder over below two ayahs which mention life cycles of prophet Essa (a.s) and prophet Yahya (a.s), which are exactly the same and the norm for all human beings as well.
19:33 وَالسَّلَامُ عَلَيَّ يَوْمَ وُلِدتُّ وَيَوْمَ أَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ أُبْعَثُ حَيًّا
(Essa said) And salam/peace is on me the day I was born , and the day when I die and the day when I shall be raised to life.
The below ayat is for prophet Yahya (a.s) son of Zakarya (a.s). The same cycle of life and death which was mentioned for Essa Ibne Mariam (a.s) is mentioned for him also which is the same for all people as well.
19:15 وَسَلَامٌ عَلَيْهِ يَوْمَ وُلِدَ وَيَوْمَ يَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ يُبْعَثُ حَيًّا
So peace on him the day he was born, and the day that he dies, and the day that he will be raised up to life (again)!
The below ayat provides knowledge about the Hour of an impending dialogue which is going to happen on the day of judgement between Allah and the prophet Essa (a.s):
5:116 وَإِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ أَأَنتَ قُلْتَ لِلنَّاسِ اتَّخِذُونِي وَأُمِّيَ إِلَٰهَيْنِ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ ۖ قَالَ سُبْحَانَكَ مَا يَكُونُ لِي أَنْ أَقُولَ مَا لَيْسَ لِي بِحَقٍّ ۚ إِن كُنتُ قُلْتُهُ فَقَدْ عَلِمْتَهُ ۚ تَعْلَمُ مَا فِي نَفْسِي وَلَا أَعْلَمُ مَا فِي نَفْسِكَ ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ عَلَّامُ الْغُيُوبِ
And when Allah said: O Essa the son of Maryam, did you say to mankind ‘take me and my mother as gods instead of Allah?’ , he said, ‘Glory to You! Never could I say what I had no right. Had I said such a thing, You would have known it. You know what is in my nafs, though I don’t know what is in Your nafs. Verily, You know all that is hidden.’
In below ayat prophet Essa (a.s) confirmed that when Allah granted him death, he did not know after that, what people said about him.
5:117 مَا قُلْتُ لَهُمْ إِلَّا مَا أَمَرْتَنِي بِهِ أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ رَبِّي وَرَبَّكُمْ ۚ وَكُنتُ عَلَيْهِمْ شَهِيدًا مَّا دُمْتُ فِيهِمْ ۖ فَلَمَّا تَوَفَّيْتَنِي كُنتَ أَنتَ الرَّقِيبَ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ وَأَنتَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ
Never I said to them except what You commanded me to say, i.e serve Allah, my Lord and your Lord; and I was a witness over them while I lived among them; and when You caused me to die, You were the watcher over them, and You are a witness to all things.
Allah has named Essa ibne Mariam as mercy for the mankind (19:21), and he is asking for forgiveness for the people on the day of judgement in below ayat.
5:118 إِن تُعَذِّبْهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ عِبَادُكَ ۖ وَإِن تَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ فَإِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
If You punish them, they are Your servants. If You forgive them, You are the exalted in power, the wise.
However intercession is not going to help if one does not deserve on merit basis. Only those will be able to profit who are truthful to the Words of Allah and also truthful to themselves i.e when they see the truth in Allah’s ayahs they cannot stay on a divergent belief system. Anyone who does not change his beliefs on the basis of Allah’s ayahs when they become clear to him, will not be able to profit on the day of Judgment.
5:119 قَالَ اللَّهُ هَٰذَا يَوْمُ يَنفَعُ الصَّادِقِينَ صِدْقُهُمْ ۚ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۚ رَّضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ
Allah said, This is a day in which the truthful will profit from their truth; for them are gardens, with streams flowing beneath, – their eternal home. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Allah, that is the great success.
The account of prophet Essa (a.s) being a witness on people is given in ayahs 5:116-119. So, every one of those who have Al-Kitab and can witness the account of the prophet Essa (a.s) in Al-Kitab, should never base his/her belief about prophet Essa (a.s) in any deviant way (other than what is stated in Al-Kitab), otherwise he can clearly see from these ayahs that prophet Essa’s testimony will go against him.
Some Muslim scholars present 4:159 as a confirmation of 2nd coming of Essa (a.s) as such that prophet Essa shall return before end times and at that time all Jews and Christians shall believe in him before their death. However, what about those people who would have died before his 2nd coming. They would have been at a disadvantage of not given the opportunity of obtaining faith before their death. So, this interpretation does not make much sense. The ayat is addressing those who have the actual Allah’s Book. They can witness the ayahs related to prophet Essa in this Book. So after witnessing all these ayahs themselves, and seeing that there is no ayat in Al-Quran which mentions second coming of prophet Essa (a.s), even then if they strongly adhere to this faith instilled in them by story tellers, then they should not expect much rewards in there hereafter, as this would be a confirmation that the basis of their belief is not Allah’s book.
4:159 وَإِن مِّنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ إِلَّا لَيُؤْمِنَنَّ بِهِ قَبْلَ مَوْتِهِ ۖ وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يَكُونُ عَلَيْهِمْ شَهِيدًا
And if there is any one from the People of the book, he must believe in it before his own death and on the Day of Judgement he (Essa) will be a witness over them.
Prophet Essa is also called the ‘knowledge of the Hour’ in Quran, because above ayahs inform us about the dialogue which will happen in the Hereafter between Allah and prophet Essa (a.s).
43:61 وَإِنَّهُ لَعِلْمٌ لِّلسَّاعَةِ فَلَا تَمْتَرُنَّ بِهَا وَاتَّبِعُونِ ۚ هَٰذَا صِرَاطٌ مُّسْتَقِيمٌ
Surely (Essa/Jesus) is definitely the knowledge for the Hour. So do not doubt in it and follow Me, this is the straight path.
For a surety Prophet Essa (a.s) was not killed by rejecters, but Allah made him die peacefully a normal death. For the people who say that they killed him, his natural death was made to resemble killing for them.
4:157 وَقَوْلِهِمْ إِنَّا قَتَلْنَا الْمَسِيحَ عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ وَمَا صَلَبُوهُ وَلَٰكِن شُبِّهَ لَهُمْ ۚ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ لَفِي شَكٍّ مِّنْهُ ۚ مَا لَهُم بِهِ مِنْ عِلْمٍ إِلَّا اتِّبَاعَ الظَّنِّ ۚ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ يَقِينًا
And their saying that; “Indeed we killed Maseeh Essa, the son of Maryam, the messenger of Allah”, but they did not kill him , nor crucified him. But it was made (something) similar for them, and verily those who differ in this matter are full of doubt, with no real knowledge, but they only follow conjecture, and for of a surety they did not kill him.
When Allah told Essa (a.s) of is approaching death (3:54), he gave his last sermon:
61:6 وَإِذْ قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُم مُّصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَمُبَشِّرًا بِرَسُولٍ يَأْتِي مِن بَعْدِي اسْمُهُ أَحْمَدُ ۖ فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ قَالُوا هَٰذَا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ
And when Essa, son of Mary, said, “O Children of Israeel, I am Allah’s messenger to you, confirming the Taurat/law which is between my hands and bringing good news of a messenger to come after me whose name is ‘Ahmad’. ” Then, when he (Ahmed) came to them (children of Israeel) with clarity (of ayahs), they said, “This is profound magic.”
In the above ayat prophet Essa addressed Bani Israeel and gave them the glad tidings of coming of the messenger ‘Ahmed’. The glad tiding was given to Bani-Israeel and the messenger ‘Ahmed’ also came to Bani Israeel with clarifications. (see post related to Bani Israeel).
Discussion about Prophet Essa (a.s) with families:
3:61-62 فَمَنْ حَاجَّكَ فِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْا نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءَنَا وَأَبْنَاءَكُمْ وَنِسَاءَنَا وَنِسَاءَكُمْ وَأَنفُسَنَا وَأَنفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَل لَّعْنَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَى الْكَاذِبِينَ إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَهُوَ الْقَصَصُ الْحَقُّ ۚ وَمَا مِنْ إِلَٰهٍ إِلَّا اللَّهُ ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
If any one disputes in this matter (of Essa) with you, after knowledge has come to you, say; come! Let us invite,– our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then let us earnestly pray, and call the curse of Allah on those who lie! This is the true account/story. There is no god except Allah; and Allah-He is indeed the Exalted in Power, the Wise
In case of some groups engage you in discussion regarding Prophet Essa (a.s), then in that discussion bring the families along to ensure, that discussion goes on in a decent atmosphere. Otherwise we have seen many of discussions regarding prophet Essa (a.s) gets very heated and indecent.
4:171 يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَا تَغْلُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ وَلَا تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْحَقَّ ۚ إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ أَلْقَاهَا إِلَىٰ مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌ مِّنْهُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ ۖ وَلَا تَقُولُوا ثَلَاثَةٌ ۚ انتَهُوا خَيْرًا لَّكُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا اللَّهُ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ سُبْحَانَهُ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ ۘ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا
O People of the Book! commit no excesses in your judgement. Nor say about Allah but the truth. Essa the son of Maryam is a messenger of Allah, and His word, which He bestowed on Maryam, and (Essa is) a spirit proceeding from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not “Three/Trinity”. Desist; It will be better for you for Allah is one God. Glory be to Him. (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth and enough is Allah as a disposer of affairs.
The Ahlal-Kitab are the people who have Allah’s book with them. As long as the people of Prophet Essa (a.s) adhered to Allah’s Book they were Ahle Kitab. So, Allah warned them against saying ‘Trinity’. When they put Allah’s Book on their backs and instead adopted another book which they wrote with their own hands, they no longer are Ahlal-Kitab.
The root word ‘و ف ي’ is used in Quran in the meaning of ‘to fulfil’ or ‘to complete’. When used with people or ‘nafs’ it is in the sense of ful-fulling or completing them at the time of death. Examples given below from Quran;
2: 234 …وَالَّذِينَ يُتَوَفَّوْنَ مِنكُمْ وَيَذَرُونَ أَزْوَاجًا يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنفُسِهِنَّ أَرْبَعَةَ أَشْهُرٍ وَعَشْرًا
Those who die and leave widows behind, they (women) shall wait concerning themselves four months and ten days…
3:193 رَبَّنَا فَاغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَكَفِّرْ عَنَّا سَيِّئَاتِنَا وَتَوَفَّنَا مَعَ الْأَبْرَارِ
Our Lord! Forgive our sins, blot out from us our evils, and make us die/recompense our souls with the righteous ones.
10:46 وَإِمَّا نُرِيَنَّكَ بَعْضَ الَّذِي نَعِدُهُمْ أَوْ نَتَوَفَّيَنَّكَ فَإِلَيْنَا مَرْجِعُهُمْ ثُمَّ اللَّهُ شَهِيدٌ عَلَىٰ مَا يَفْعَلُونَ
Whether We show you (the messenger) some part of what We promise them,- or We fulfil/cause you to die,- in any case, to Us is their return, then Allah is witness, to all that they do.
16:28 الَّذِينَ تَتَوَفَّاهُمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ ظَالِمِي أَنفُسِهِمْ ۖ فَأَلْقَوُا السَّلَمَ مَا كُنَّا نَعْمَلُ مِن سُوءٍ ۚ بَلَىٰ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
Whose whose lives the angels take in a state of wrong-doing to their own souls/nafs.” Then would they offer submission (with the pretence), “We did no evil .” (The angels will reply), “Nay, but verily Allah knows all that you did.