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