Friday, April 02, 2010

10: The 73 Sects

Abu Hurraira relates: I heard Allah's Apostle, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, say, “Jews got divided into 71 or 72 sects and so did the Christians, and so it will happen to my people as well when they will be divided into 73 sects.”

This tradition can be found in the collections of Tirmidhī and Ibn Mājah. Imam al-Hakim calls it authentic and also adjudges it to be so on the criteria established by Imam Muslim. It is accepted as such by Sunnis as well as Shias.

Here the Holy Prophet compares the internal division of the latter day Muslims to the divisions among the Jews. In another narration he describes the similarity between the two people as two shoes from the same pair. Also, where he likens a part of his ummah to the Jews, he calls some others among them to have the messianic qualities of Jesus. Among the seventy three sects he calls one to be rightly-guided and makes it the duty of every Muslim to search for and identify that seventy third. Its distinguishing feature: , “they would be on the path and pattern of me and my companions.”

In another hadith he provides a distinction between the seventy two ‘hell-bound’ sects to the seventy third ‘safe’ sect calling it a jama'at, which means a united community. Clearly such a community cannot be conceived without the notion of an imam—a leader. When Huzaifa asked the Holy Prophet as to what are they to do in such times, he said, “join the community of Muslims which is led by an imam, and if you find no such community then detach yourself from the sects and stay detached even if you need to survive by eating roots of trees until death overtakes you.”

Another tradition states that in the time of schisms and divisions if you find a khalifa of God then attach yourself firmly to him even if you are tortured or are made to lose your belongings.

Today Muslims are divided into multitudinous sect, by various estimates the count of 72 sects was reached a long time ago and now has perhaps been exceeded. Nearly every sect lays claims to being the 73rd heaven-bound sect and, by implication, considers all others destined for the Fire. Who could blame them, this trophy remains the most coveted one. As it happens, each of these sects calls the others kafir, which is expected, yet in one matter they are curiously united. They have taken a united position against one particular community of Muslims. Seventy-two have grouped together declaring themselves heavenly while declaring the Ahmadiyya Jama'at as non-Muslim, in other words hell-bound. They forget that the Holy Prophet's verdict was exactly the opposite, he said 72 hell-bound and one heavenly, while they say one hell-bound and seventy-two heavenly! The fact is that they are in a trap now because if they are together among the 72, none of them can possibly be the 73rd. In this act of theirs, ironically, they put a seal on the identity of the seventy-third.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

9: Decline of Islam

Abdullah bin Amr relates: I heard Allah's Apostle, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, say, “Allah does not take away knowledge by expunging it from (the hearts of) the people, but He takes it away through the death of the learned and righteous men till when none of them remains, people take as their leaders the ignorant, who, when consulted, give their verdict without knowledge. So they will go astray and will also lead the people astray.”[1]

This hadith is qouted by compilers of all Sihah (authentics), including Bukhari and Muslim. [2]

Here the Holy Prophetsaw describes the process by which religions suffer their decline. It is a process of gradual degradation which manifests when word and actions of its followers become incongruent. At another time, he described the first three centuries of Islam as the ‘Best of times’ (Khair-ul-Quroon), which would be followed by a general decline.[3] Thereafter, a thousand years of darkness would take Muslims to a dangerously precarious state of existence. Their worldly leadership was described as incompetent and dishonest. Their moral afflictions were to be adultery, alcohol and ills to do with abundance of wealth.[4] In a hadith narrated by Hazrat Alira, their religious leadership has been condemned in the following words:

A time comes on (our) people when Islam will be left merely in its name. Nothing of the Quran will remain except its letters. Their mosques will be full of people, yet will be empty of all righteousness. Their ulema (scholars) will be the worst creatures under the firmament of the heavens. From them will emerge discordance and to them shall it return.[5]

This hadith is accepted as authentic by Sunnis as well as Shias.[6]

It has been quite a while since these indicators of the decline of Islam have been fulfilled in their entirety. Nawab Nur-ul-Hasan Khan who was the son of Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan and a prominent Ahl-Hadith scholar, wrote a hundred years ago: “Ever since these dissensions, this ummah has been unable to recover its balance. Its weakness has grown such that now we find Islam only in its name, and Quran only in its letters, mosques apparently are crowded, yet are devoid of guidance. The scholars of this ummah are the worst under the sky—from them do conflicts emerge and in them do they culminate.”[7]

Maulana Hali (1837-1914), describes the pitiful state of Muslims in the following couplet:

Neither the religion nor Islam remains
Only that which remains is its name

When Islam was to reach this juncture, a Messiah and Mahdi was to appear for restoring Islam to its true image. Both Ahl-Sunnat and Shias agree that Imam Mahdi will make his appearance at the time of dissensions and conflicts.[8]

Therefore, at exactly the right time, when these indicators were firmly in place, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani declared that he was commissioned to bring about the reformation of Islam. With the Grace of God, he fulfilled his mission by the establishment of a righteous community about which the renowned poet and philosopher Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), had this to say:
If there is one community that exhibits the true model of Islamic practice, it is the Jamaat Ahmadiyya.[9]

[1] Bukhari Kitab-ul-Ilm, Bab Kaif Yaqbud-ul-Ilm.

[2] 'Amdah Al Qari—Sharah Bukhari by Allama Badruddin Aini, vol. 1, p.528, pub. Dar-u-Taba, Cairo.

[3] Bukhari Kitab-u-Shahadaat, Bab La Yashad Ala Shahdah Joor

[4] Bukhari Kitab-u-Shahadaat, Bab Rafa Ilm wa Zuhurul Jahl

[5] Shaib-ul-Iman by Imam Bahiqi (d. 484 A.H.), part 2, p. 311, pub. Darul Kutub Al-Ilmia, Beirut. Mishkat Kitab-ul-Ilm Al Furu min Al-Jame Al-Kafi, vol. 3, p. 144 by Allama Abu Jaffar Muhammad bin Kalbi, pub. Nau Lakthur.

[6] Bihar-ul-Anwaar, vol 52, p. 10, pub. Dar-ul-Ahya Al-Tarath Al-Arabi, Beirut, 1982.

[7] Iqtarab Al-Sa'a., p. 12 by Nur-ul-Hasan Khan, pub. Sayed Al Matabe, Benaras, 1322 A.H.

[8] Kashf Al-Ghumma Fil Marifa Al-Ayemma, vol 3, p. 270-271, pub. Abul Hasan Al Arbali, Darul Azwa, Beirut.

[9] Millat Beza Par Aik Imrani Nazar, p.18. Transalation of English lecture by Iqbal, 1910 at Aligarh. Translated by Molvi Zafar Ali Khan, pub. Daftar Akkhbar Raftar Zamana, Meo Road, Lahore

Monday, December 10, 2007

8: Time of Mahdi's Appearence

Abu Qatada narrates that the Holy Prophet said: Special signs will appear after two hundred years.[1]

Imam Hakim finds this hadith authentic on the standards set by both Bukhari and Muslim. [2]

It speaks of the appearance of special heavenly signs after two hundred years. When we look at the third century hijra, we see no notable events as would warrant a definitive statement of this type from the Holy Prophetsaw. Mullah Ali Qari opines that the article al (the) in al-miatain may be indicative of thousand years. Hence al-miatain would mean thousand plus two hundred, which is also the general time period of the appearance of Messiah-Mahdi and the Dajjal. [3]

Ali Qari's inference gets support in a tradition related by Abdullah ibn Amr, in which the Holy Prophetsaw describes the latter days in these words: Signs will appear with such rapid frequency as if a broken necklace was spilling its beads.[4]

These signs were evident in abundance in the thirteenth century hijra, among them:
  • The ascendancy of the Cross.
  • Rising of the Sun (of knowledge) from the West.
  • Invention of entirely new modes of travel.
  • Decline of Muslims.
  • Earthquakes, famines and plague.
  • Appearance of unusually large number of comets and meteors.
  • Lunar and solar eclipses in the month of Ramadan.
Another hadith clearly puts the time of the coming of the Mahdi in the thirteenth century: Allah will send the Mahdi after the passage of twelve hundred and forty years.[5]

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani was born in 1250 A.H. In 1290 A.H. he received his first revelation. He proclaimed being the reformer of the time (mujaddid), the Messiah and the Mahdi. About this particular hadith, he was shown in a vision that his name, Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, in the Abjad numerals comes to exactly 1300 and that no other individual alive at that time had the same name. He was the same Messiah who was to appear at the completion of the thirteenth century and, amazingly, whose time of appearance was already coded in his own name.[6]

[1] Sunan Ibn-Majah Kitab-ul-Fitn Babl-al-Ayat

[2] Mustadrak Hakim, vol. 4, p. 428, pub. Al-Nasr Al-Hadithia, Riyadh.

[3] Marqah Al-Mafatih Sharah Mishkat Al-Masabih, vol. 5, p. 185, pub. Mamniyah, Egypt.

[4] Timidhi abwab-al-Fitn, Bab Maja fil Halul Al-Maskh wal Khasf.

[5] Al-Najm al-Thaqib, vol. 2, p. 209, pub. Ahmadi, Patna Mughlapura, ref. Ibn Abi Shibah.

[6] Summarized from Azalah-e-Auham p. 186, Roohani Khazain vol. 3, p. 190.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

7: Jesus and Messiah: Different descriptions, Different men

Physical Description of Jesus:

Narrated by Ibn Umarra: The Prophetsaw said, "I saw Moses, Jesus and Abraham (on the night of my Ascension to the heavens). Jesus was of ruddy complexion, had curly hair and a broad chest.[1]

Physical Description of the Messiah of the Latter Days:

Narrated Abdullah bin Umarra: Allah's Apostlesaw said, "Today I saw myself in a dream near the Ka'ba. I saw a wheatish brown man, the handsomest of all brown men you might ever see. He had the most beautiful Limma (hair hanging down to the earlobes) you might ever see. He had combed it and it was dripping water; and he was performing the Tawaf around the Kaaba leaning on two men or on the shoulders of two men. l asked, "Who is this?" It was said. "Messiah, the son of Mary." Suddenly I saw a curly-haired man, blind in the right eye which looked like a protruding out grape. I asked, "Who is this?" It was said, "He is Masiah Ad-Dajjal."[2]

Both of these traditions are taken from Sahih Bukhari. The latter is also qouted in Sahih Muslim.

The first describes Jesus, the prophet who came to the Children of Israel in the ummah of Moses. In a vision the Holy Prophet sees him together with Abraham and Moses. The second tradition also describes a vision in which the Messiah who is to appear in the Latter Days in the ummah of the Holy Prophetsaw is seen circuiting the Kaaba. The first tradition describes Jesus, and the second describes the Messiah who would confront someone called the Dajjal. Even on cursory examination, the descriptions of the two messiahs are divergent to the point of being irreconcilable. Jesus is described as having a ruddy complexion, whereas the Messiah is wheatish brown; Jesus has curly hair, Messiah has straight hair. Evidently two separate individuals are being described.

This pair of narrations precludes the possibility that Jesus will ever return. If the same Jesus were to return, his appearance after his return would match his appearance as seen by the Holy Prophet in mairaj, yet these descriptions are altogether different. It is to be noted that the Holy Prophetsaw sees Jesus together with Moses and Abraham. Jesus' fate therefore could be no different to theirs, implying that he has also met his death. So who is the Messiah who would confront the Dajjal? Evidently it would be a different person born within the ummah of the Holy Prophet who has been metaphorically given the name of Jesus to indicate his similarity to the earlier messiah.

In the second tradition, Holy Prophetsaw describes seeing the Messiah and the Dajjal circumambulating the Kaaba. There are other traditions, however, which make it quite clear that Dajjal would not be able to enter Makkah or Medina.[3] Earlier scholars have resolved this seeming inconsistency by interpreting this particular vision of the Holy Prophet to mean that Dajjal would attempt to sneak into the Kaaba like a thief, meaning that it would be his mission to destroy Islam which he would do through deception, whereas the Messiah would rise in the defense of Islam.[4] His leaning over two men means he would be assisted on his left and his right by helpers and companions. There are other traditions which describe not the Messiah but the Mahdi confronting Dajjal. With little reflection it becomes clear that Messiah and Mahdi are in fact two titles given to one and the same person. The name Dajjal aptly describes the Christian missionaries and the powers backing them who unfairly malign Islam and its holy founder through falsehood, slander and innuendo. The Messiah/Mahdi will respond and defend Islam through reason and argument. In fact he will turn the tables on Christianity by exposing the weakness of its doctrines; its folly when it elevated a humble man to the status of god. It will be a spiritual battle, a battle of ideas and intellects, in which a superior ideology will defeat an inferior one without the need nor the occasion to resort to violence. Contrary to the expectations of many, swords, bombs or any other implements of war will play no role in this contest whatsoever.

Incidentally, the physical description of the Imam Mahdi as found in various traditions of the Holy Prophetsaw matches that of the Promised Messiah. His complexion is also described as wheatish brown.[5]

In Shia tradition, Imam Mahdi is described of moderate height, handsome, with long black hair reaching the shoulders, a black beard and a resplendent countenance.[6]

Other traditions describe a broad forehead and straight nose.[7]

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani matched these features to the highest degree. Mir Mohammad Ismail, who knew Hazrat Mirza Sahib closely and was a member of the household describes him as follows:

He had a wheatish brown complexion of the most beautiful hue, meaning that his face was resplendent with a touch of red... his hair were straight, oily, shiny and silky... they reached his neck ... nose ... was beautiful, high, straight, narrow and becoming. He had a broad, high and a wide forehead.[8]

In metaphorical terms, Hazrat Mirza Sahib understood bright, high and wide forehead to mean that Allah would put the light of truth in his forehead, which would attract people to him and would also intimidate the hearts of his opponents. Both these characteristics would be strongly evident in the Mahdi.[9]

Ghulam Rasool Rafiq, who was a companion of the Promised Messiah, relates that the Promised Messiah used to say that Allah bless Mohammad bin Ismail Bukhari, had he not recorded the separate physical descriptions of Jesus and the Messiah the followers of hadith would forever have a problem accepting him.[10]

[1] Sahih Bukhari Kitab ul Anbiya (Prophets).
[2] Sahih Bukhari Kitab ul Libas (Dress).
[3] Sahih Bukhari Kitab Fazailul Madinah.
[4] Mazahirul Haq sharah Mishkat al-Masabih vol. 4, pg. 359, pub. Alamgir Press, Lahore.
[5] Al Fatawa Al Hadith vol. 2, pg. 147 by Allama Ibn Hajr Hethmi pub. Mustafa Al Babi Al Halbi
[6] Aqad Ad Dar Rafi Akhbar Al Muntazar pg. 41 by Allama Yusuf Bin Yahya Al-Maqdasi Al Shafi (7th centure) Edition 1, 1979
[7] Abu Daood Kitab Al Mahdi, hadith 7
[8] Seerat Al Mahdi by Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad, vol. 2, pg. 122
[9] Summary: Kitab al Bariyya, footnote pg 268, Roohani Khazain vol.13, pg. 307
[10] Ashabe Ahmad by Malik Salahudding M.A., vol. 10, pg. 172

Sunday, February 25, 2007

6: Meaning of Raf'a

Background: Quranic verse 4:159 is presented as a proof in support of the belief that Jesus was bodily raised to the heavens. It says that Jesus was given Raf'a. Since Raf'a literaly means to raise something, so it is argued that Jesus was bodily raised to the heavens while he was still alive and there he awaits his return before the Day of Judgement. This hadith helps explain Raf'a and tells us that it only means elevation of rank and not elevation or suspension of body at a higher altitude.

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messengersaw as saying: Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives, Allah adds to his dignity, and the one who shows humility Allah elevates (Raf'a) him.

Imam Muslim accepts the authenticity of this hadith and includes it in his collection. Tirmazi and Nisa'ee have also reported it.

Clearly, raf'a means elevation of spiritual rank. When a person assumes humility, Allah raises his spiritual station.

When the Jews planned to kill Jesus by crucifying him, they intended to subject him to an ignoble and accursed death. A type of death that would prove him to be a false prophet. This is the key point and helps explain the Quranic usage of the word Raf'a to describe Jesus' fate. Raf'a is the exact opposite of accursed. According to the Torah, anyone dying on the cross dies an accursed death.[1] Such a person cannot possibly be a prophet of God. Allah absolves Jesus from that allegation and adjudges his fate to have been exactly the opposite: a noble death and elevation of spiritual rank. Furthermore 3:56 clearly establishes an order of events. Raf'a happens after Tawaffa (death). So whatever be the meaning of raf'a, Jesus would need to die before he is subjected to Raf'a. This is conceded to by Allama Shokani in his book Fatah-ul-Qadeer; by the Egyptian scholars Sheikh Muhammad Abdah and Mustafa Muraghi in their commentaries of the Holy Quran and by Shia scholar Allama Qammi in his book Akmaaluddin.

Lisan-ul-Arab, the authoritative Arabic dictionary, describes raf'a as being antonymous to lowering of rank, dignity or significance. It describes God's attribute of Al-Rafay to mean the One who raises the status of ordinary believers and to the aulia (highly spiritual people) He grants His nearness through their raf'a.[2]

This word is extensively used in hadith. Holy Prophet Muhammadsaw once said, “When someone assumes humility Allah causes his raf'a to the seventh heaven.”[3] Other traditions elaborate further by stating that this is bisilsilati i.e. in stages.[4]

In another hadith, Holy Prophet said that when a person assumes humility for the sake of Allah, Allah raises (raf'a) his status degree by degree until a he is raised to a lofty station (aliyeen). And when a person displays arrogance Allah debases him until a time comes when he is counted among the lowest of the low (asfala safileen).[5]

This tradition also finds mention in the Shia literature. In fact Shia literature employs other sublime usage of this term as well. It is said that when Jaffar Tayyarra presented himself in the court of Najashi, the king of Abyssinia was sitting on the floor. Jaffar (expecting the king to be on his throne), enquired as to why he was seated on the floor? Najashi replied that it is Jesus' teaching that when God grants favor to a man, man should assume meekness. I am being meek since God gave me a victory. When the Holy Prophetsaw learnt of this incident, he said that meekness raises the status of a man, therefore be humble such that Allah raises your station (gives you raf'a).[6]

Holy Prophetsaw used to pray between salaat prostrations that Allah may grant him raf'a (wa-Raf'ani).[7] If it is assumed that raf'a means physical elevation to the heavens, it would mean this particular prayer of the Holy Prophetsaw was not accepted (naoozo billah), whereas those who believe Jesus to be still alive, say that Jesus' prayer for deliverance from persecution was accepted by raising him to the heavens.[8] This should be an unacceptable proposition for any Muslim.

In the commentary of 55:30 -- Every day Allah reveals Himself in a different state -- Saheeh Bukhari states that each day Allah exaltes (gives raf'a to) many nations and many nations does He humiliate.[9]

Therefore, in the light of this evidence one can conclude that raf'a means exaltation of spiritual rank, and it is in this sense that Jesus Christ was given raf'a. Hazrat Ibne Arabi commenting on 4:159 writes that raf'a of Jesus means seperation of his soul from the binds of earthly existence and finding its place in the celestial world close to (Allah).[10]

Any tradition that suggests a physical ascension of Jesus would be considered unreliable as it would be against the Quran and the authentic traditions. Unitarian Christians of the past also believed Jesus to have died.[11] The present day belief of a living Jesus is a later Christian invention. Several Muslim scholars agree that the belief in Jesus being still alive was adopted by Muslims of the middle ages in error. These scholars include the following: Allama Ibne Qayyam, Allama Zurqani, Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan, Abul Kalam Azad, Allama Ubaidullah Sindhi, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and Ghulam Ahmad Perwaiz.

[1] Deutronomy 18:20, Deutronomy 21:22–23

[2] Lisan-ul-Arab under Raf'a

[3] Kanzul Amaal by Allama Allauddin Ali Mutaqqi vol. 3, pg. 110, pub. Moassatur-Risalah.

[4] Kanzul Amaal vol. 2, pg. 26, pub. Dairatul Maarif Al-Nizamia Hyderabad Dakkan.

[5] Masnad Ahmad bin Hambal vol. 3, pg. 76, pub. Darul Fikr Al-Arabi.

[6] As-Saafi Sharah Usool Al-Kafi pg. 220-221, pub. Munshi Nawal Kishvar, Lucknow.

[7] Ibn-e-Majah vol. Aqamat-as-Salaat, chap. Ma Yaqoolu Baina Sajdatain.

[8] (i) Tafseer Jame' Al Bayaan by Allama Mohammad Bin Jarir Tabri vol. 3, pg. 290, pub. Mustafa Al Babi Al Jilli, Egypt. (ii) Bihar ul Anwaar vol. 16, pg. 144, pub. Maoosasta Al Wafa, Beirut.

[9] Saheeh Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Tafseer, Surah Rahman.

[10] Tafseer Quran-al-Kareem by Allama Ibne Arabi vol 1, pg. 296, pub. Darul Undalas, Beirut

[11] (i) Dalail An-Nabuwah by Allama Abu Bakr Bahiqi (d. 458 h) vol. 1, pg. 438, pub. Lajna Ahya-ul-Umahat Kutub 1970, (ii) Asbab Al-Nazool by Allama Wahidi (d. 468 h), pg. 61, Darul Fikr, Beirut

Monday, February 19, 2007

5: The Grave of Jesus

Narrated by Aishara that the Holy Prophetsaw in his last illness prior to his death said, ‘Curse of Allah be upon the Jews and the Christians who took the gravesites of their prophets as places for prostration.’

Both Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj agree on the authenticity of this tradition and have included it in their respective collections. It is also supported by Nisa'ee.

This hadith speaks of the Jews and the Christians worshiping the graves of their prophets. As far as the Christians are concerned the only grave they worship, which is also that of a prophet, is that of Jesus. It is in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a place of annual pilgrimage for many thousands of Christians. It is to be noted that the Christians do not worship the grave of any other prophet because in their view these prophets, like other people, are sullied with congenital sin having transferred from generation to generation since the time of Adam. Only Jesus is worthy of special reverance on account of his innocence.

This statement of the Holy Prophetsaw should be a sufficient proof for Muslims that Jesus' grave in Jerusalem is authentic. After he was saved from the cross, Jesus was removed to a secret place of burial, a sepulchre. He was kept there in his seriously injured state for three days and three nights until he recovered sufficiently. If this is not so, and the site of the sepulchre having anything to do with Jesus is only in the imagination of the Christians, then the Holy Prophet's statement would turn out to be erroneous as it would be corroborating a fiction. That, to a believer, is quite inconceivable. It is below the dignity of a prophet to relate stories and tales as facts. As for those who would insist that this is not the same grave which the Holy Prophet meant in the above tradition, onus is on them to produce another grave of a prophet which the Christians worship. If they are unable to do so, they should concede the authenticity of the Jerusalem sepulcher. This would imply that the orthodox Muslim belief of Jesus being bodily raised to the heavens prior to the crucifixion is no more than a baseless story.

Jesus compared himself to Jonah and said that like Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of the fish, he would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.[1] And like Jonah he also emerged from his predicament very much alive. This is the plan of God mentioned in 3:55. God saved Jesus by leading the Jews to believe that they had succeeded in killing him.[2]

After escaping from the cross he migrated east and settled in Kashmir where he lived to an advanced age of 120. He is buried in Khanyar district of Srinagar.[3]

[1] Matthew 12:38–41

[2] Summary from Sat-Bachan, footnote to footnote pg 164 Ruhani Khazain vol. 10, pg. 309-310

[3] Tomb of Jesus website

Sunday, February 18, 2007

4: After 100 years ...

Narrated by Jabir Bin Abdullahra: about a month before he passed away the Holy Prophetsaw said: ‘there is not a single soul who lives today and breaths but that he will surely be dead before the passage of a 100 years.’

This is qouted in Saheeh Muslim and Saheeh Bukhari. The background of this tradition is that the Holy Prophetsaw in answer to a question about the Yaum-ul-Qiyamah (the Judgement Day) said that only Allah knows with certainty about that day, but a qiyamah (of sort) would occur a hundred years from then. Just like the death of a person is like a qiyamah for that person, similarly there is a qiyamah for a nation, a generation or an age. The Holy Prophet, calling Allah to witness, ascertains a limit of exactly one hundred years for everyone alive on that day to perish and in that way a qiyamah would have occurred for his contemporaries. If it is assumed that Jesus was alive on the day Holy Prophetsaw made this particular observation, even so, he would have at most a hundred years to live, and no more.[1] Some scholars have also deduced Khizar's death from this hadees (if at all he were assumed to be alive at that time).[2]

Those who believe Jesus to be still alive, assert his, as well as Khizar's exclusion from the verdict of this hadees, but they fail to provide a good reason for the exclusion. It is important to note that the Holy Prophet swears in the name of God and sets this limit for everyone alive on that day and mentions no exceptions. What would be the purpose of calling Allah to witness if this was only a general observation with some very important exceptions? Also, it is not possible to make this type of prediction without knowledge obtained through divine revelation. Clearly, with this hadith there is no possibility for an earlier prophet to live beyond the hundred years limit.[3]

[1] Azalah-e-Auham pg 624, Ruhani Khazain vol. 3, pg. 437

[2] Mazahir-ul-Haq Sharah Mishkat-al-Masabih vol. 4, pg. 381, pub. Adarah Nashriyat Islam Lahore.

[3] Hamamatul Bushra pg 14, Ruhani Khazain vol. 7, pg. 192

3: The First Consenus

Is there any hadith which speaks of the companions discussing and asserting Jesus' death one way or another? The problem in finding such a hadith is that arguments over death of people long gone, whether it occurred or not, is hardly engaged upon by the sane. Absence of any hadith to this effect in fact points to Jesus' death and not his life. No one, for example, in the year 2006 holds discussion forums on George Washington, the first president of the United States, being alive or dead, which tells us that his disposition is not a subject of interest or argument and all agree that he has died. It would be a poor reflection on someone's intelligence to needlessly labour the point that George Washington has died. Similarly the companions of the Holy Prophetsaw did not hold discussions on the death of Moses, Isaac, Abraham, Noah, Adam and neither did they discuss the dispostion of Jesus simply because they believed him to have died and there was no reason to question it such that it became a topic of interest. There is however one remarkable incident which leaves little doubt as to where they stood on the matter of death of all prophets including Jesus. That incident occurred after the death of the Holy Prophetsaw. He was not yet buried and the companions were in a highly emotional state, many refusing to believe his death. The following narrative is taken from Sahih Bukhari:

Abdullah bin Abbas narrates that when Abu Bakr arrived Umar was addressing the people. He said, “O‘ Umar sit down.” Umar did not sit but people left him and turned thier attention towards Abu Bakr, who then said, “Those amongst you who worshipped Muhammadsaw should know that Muhammadsaw has died. Those who worshipped Allah should be satisfied that Allah is alive and is impervious to suffering death. Allah has said that Muhammadsaw is but a messenger. Verily all Messengers have passed away before him. If then he dies or is slain, will you turn back on your heels? Those among you who turn back on their heels will not harm Allah a whit and Allah will reward those who are thankful.” (Bukhari Kitab-ul-Mughazi Chapter Prophet's illness and death)

In another narration it said that Umarra was in such an agitated state that with his sword drawn he promised to kill anyone who said that the Holy Prophetsaw had died. Abu Bakrra on learning of these disturbing developments removed the covering from Holy Prophet'ssaw face, kissed his forehead, and said that surely Allah would not subject him to two deaths. He understood that Holy Prophetsaw was not going to return. He then gathered everyone in the Masjid-al-Nabwi and recited 3:145:

And Muhammad is but a messenger. Verily all Messengers have passed away before him. If then he dies or is slain, will you turn back on your heels? (3:145)

Those who were in doubt were at once convinced. Umar collapsed to the ground. It is said that it felt like this verse was being revealed for the first time. With great wisdom Abu Bakr had brought the delicate situation under control. This verse was sufficient to prove to all present that Muhammadsaw had passed away like the earlier prophets. If it was the general belief that even one among the earlier prophets was still alive surely Abu Bakr's reasoning would have failed. If khalat did not mean death, Umar could not have been convinced and would have protested and brought up the case of Jesus. On the contrary no one uttered a word of protest and all concluded on the authority of this verse that Muhammadsaw had died like prophets before him.

For a more detail discussion on 3:145 please click here

Friday, February 16, 2007

2: Jesus has died

Ibne-Abbas narrates that the Holy Prophet said: “On the Day of Judgement I will see some people from among my companions being taken to the Left. Upon seeing them I will say, ‘my companions! my companions!’. I will be told that when I parted from them they turned back on their heels. At that point I will say the same thing what (Jesus son of Mary) the righteous had said: that while I was among them I watched over them but once You caused me to die (Tawaffi) it was You alone who watched over them.” (Bukhari Kitab-ul-Anbiya and Kitab-ul-Tafseer Surah Al-Maidah)

This hadith is qouted in Sahih-Bukhari, Sahih-Muslim, Tirmazi and Nisa'ee thus making it among the most authentic of traditions.

Imam Bukhari places it in his Kitab-ul-Tafseer since it sheds light on the meaning of Tawafaitani as used in 5:118. That particular verse describes a dialogue between Allah and Jesus on the Day of Judgement. Allah enquires of Jesus about the Christian faith and asks if he gave Christians the belief of his own and his mother’s divinity? Jesus responds that he gave no such teaching. As long as he was alive and was among his people this doctrine did not exist. He watched over them while he was with them, but once Allah had caused him to die, it was Allah who watched over them and indeed He is the Witness.

5:118 speaks of two different and distinct phases of Jesus’ existence. One in which he was among his people. And the other in which he was not among his people. The boundary between these two phases is defined by the word Tawafaitani. His absence from among his people is preceded by the state of Tawaffi. The question then boils to whether Jesus is present among his people or is he absent from his people? If he is absent from among his people then the state of Tawaffi has surely preceded this state of absence.

Tawaffi is a common Arabic term for death but some people take it to mean "capture of the body" when applied to Jesus. This hadith does not permit that translation. Holy Prophetsaw has used it such that it is impossible to give it any meaning other than death. The nature of Tawaffi of Jesus is the same as the nature of Tawaffi of the Holy Prophet. If that was not the case, Holy Prophet would not have said ‘I will say what Jesus had said …’. It is noteworthy that the Holy Prophet uses the same word and in the same context. Do words change meaning when applied to different people?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

1: The soul of Jesus rests with the other prophets

Narrated by Malik bin Sasaa that the Holy Prophetsaw said: “while I was lying in the Kaaba ... and Gabriel set out with me till we reached the nearest heaven ... I saw Adam there. Gabriel said to me, ‘This is your father, Adam; pay him your greetings.’ So I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O' pious son and pious Prophetsaw.’ Then Gabriel ascended with me till we reached the second heaven... there I saw John and Jesus who were cousins to each other. Gabriel said to me, ‘These are John and Jesus; pay them your greetings.’ So I greeted them and both of them returned my greetings and said, ‘You are welcomed, O' pious brother and pious Prophetsaw...” (Saheeh Bukhari - Chapter Mairaj)

This tradition taken from Bukhari describes the Holy Prophetsaw meeting Jesus and other prophets on his spiritual journey variously known as the Mairaj and Isra. He finds Jesus among the other prophets, which shows that they all shared a common state and a common fate. The living and the dead do not intermix, therefore his abode could only be together with the earlier prophets if he had also died like them.

Imam Hasanra describes Hazrat Alira dying on the same night as when Jesus' soul was raised, which was the 27th of Ramadan.1

Ibn-e-Qayyam writes that the souls of other prophets were raised to their appointed heavenly stations only after their demise, whereas, exceptionally, the Holy Prophet's soul experienced the Mairaj.2

Datta Ganj Baksh Hajverira said the Holy Prophetsaw indeed met with the souls of Adam, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Jesus and Abraham on the night of the Mairaj.3

The mairaj tradition clearly establishes that it was the soul of Jesus and not his body which went through ascension (raf'a). Like other prophets he has also entered the Paradise from where no one is removed once admitted.

1 Tabqaat-ul-Kubra by Allama Ibn Saad vol. 3, pg. 39, pub. Dar Sadir, Beirut.
2 Zadal Ma'ad fi Huda Khair al Ibad by Allama Ibn-e-Qayyam vol. 1, pg. 302, pub. Nizam Publishers Kanpur
3 Kashaf-ul-Mahjoob pg. 317, pub. Kashmiri Bazar, Lahore