By Sidi Aashif Sacha
Click here for original link
This khutba was given by Dr Umar in Georgetown, Guyana.
Given that it was ‘Good Friday’ he delivered a powerful sermon detailing the Islamic perspective on the Crucifixion of Christ.
[Islamic Perspective on the Crucifixion of Christ]
The Muslim belief about Jesus (may peace be upon him) is the authentic belief of the earliest Christians. It is a teaching that was first there and was displaced, then replaced, then was largely forgotten.
The Quranic revelation corrected the beliefs of people who came before, and clarified what they were disagreeing about. This is the case regarding the apparent crucifixion of the Messiah Jesus (may peace be upon him). Part of a sermon given by Dr Umar Abd-Allah in Georgetown, Guyana.
[Early Opinions on the Crucifixion]
God, Exalted is He, tells us in the Quran: “That they said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of God.’ – but they killed him not, nor crucified him. Only a likeness of that was shown to them. And those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not.” (Quran, 4:157)
Historically, the very first item of faith that Christians disagreed about was this issue. Was the man who was crucified, Jesus, or was it not Jesus?
St Jerome, a Church father who believed in the Crucifixion, wrote over 1700 years ago: “The blood of Christ had not dried on the earth of Judaea.” (ie. the earth of Jerusalem) The man who was crucified was still bleeding, and his blood was falling on the soil while he was on the cross. People said “It’s not him, but its one who looks like him”.
In earliest Christianity many Christians were docetic. The word is taken from the Greek word Docaeen, meaning Shubbiha (in Arabic): to appear. Docetics were those early Christians who believed that the man crucified was not Jesus but it was one who looked like him, who was made to appear like him.
In the Quranic Tafsir we have a number of accounts. One of them is that when the Jews condemned Jesus to be crucified and sent the Romans to get Jesus, when they came to him when he was with his disciples, God as a miracle put the face and the upper body of Jesus upon all of his disciples so that every one of them looked like him.
Then when the Romans came they didn’t know which one was Jesus, although they had all seen Jesus, but everyone looked like Jesus!
So they said, “Either Jesus turns himself over to us, or we will crucify you all.” According to this account, one of the disciples decided to be a shaheed, a martyr. He said “I am Jesus” and he had permission to say that.
Because in the belief of the People of the Book, the Messiah must be delivered; the Messiah cannot be crucified. They believed that if he is crucified he is not the Messiah.
That’s why in the Quran Allah, the Exalted, tells us of the Jews who would mock Jesus and say “We crucified the Messiah the son of Mary”
Because the Messiah cannot be crucified, the Messiah cannot be harmed. The Messiah must be delivered, the Messiah is a conqueror, the Messiah is a king, the Messiah is a ruler, the Messiah is a deliverer.
This is the belief of the People of the Book.
If you look in the Gospels, Satan comes to Jesus to tempt him, saying “Go up on the temple and throw yourself down.”
Because (the Satan effectively said, if you really are the Messiah then) no harm will come to you, because the angels will pick you up. Because it is written, the Messiah will not even stumble on a stone but the angels will take him.
[What the Apocrypha Books of the New Testament Say]
The Bible that we have today is made up of the Canonical Books.
The Canonical Books are the books that the Church accepted. It was a Church that was already Trinitarian and already believed in the Crucifixion. That church says ‘these’ books are acceptable and others are not.
The books that are not acceptable are known as Apocrypha – hidden books. In the apocrypha we have acts of the apostles that are not in the Bible. They are called “the Apocryphal Acts.” Among them was the docetic teaching – that the crucifixion of Christ was only that of appearance.
Jesus had around him disciples, and some were very close to him – Peter, James, John and Andrew. They were like the four great Sahabah who were around the Beloved Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him); Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali (may God be pleased with them).
In the Apocryphal Acts of John it says “John was on the Mt of Olives, and he was crying because there was the crucifixion. Jesus came to him on the Mt of Olives and he comforted him and said to him “Don’t worry, I am Jesus, I am the Messiah, and the one crucified is another one.”
Our Islamic teaching matches this. It is the original teaching.
[The Islamic Rationale]
In Islam we have Usool ul Fiqh which is the basic principles of jurisprudence; how we understand Quran, how we understand Hadith and how we interpret them. One of the matters in Usool ul Fiqh that is absolutely essential is the distinction between proofs of the Quran and the Hadiths that are definitive (qat’i) – with just one opinion about the matter.
They are Usool ul Deen. They are the foundations of religion. – and (on the other hand) other proofs in the Quran and the Hadith that are open to interpretation (than’ni).
In these, for example, Imam Abu Hanifa has an opinion and Imam Malik has an opinion and they’re both correct. Imam Shafi’i has a third opinion which is also correct and Ahmad ibn Hanbal has a forth opinion which is also correct.
The latter is part of our religion because of the fact that we have to think. We have to exercise legal judgement. Not everything is black and white. There are many things in the law that are open to interpretation. Thus in Islam we always identify what is based on conjectural evidence (than’ni) and we accept differences of opinion. If we don’t, what kind of Muslims are we? We will become ignorant Muslims, rigid and fanatic.
When it comes to Belief (Aqeedah) – what I must believe and you must believe – then that has to be certain. That must be based on definitive evidence (qat’i). For example, the belief that God is one, Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) is the last prophet, you must pray 5 times a day, you must fast Ramadan, and so on.
On the other hand, looking at a question like: When is the time of Asr? Is it when the shadow is at one length or two lengths? There are different ahadith on that, so we have different opinions, and that’s okay. Muslims have lived like that for the last 1400 years and we will continue to live like that.
This is the Mercy from Allah, Exalted is He.
[What the Quran Says]
When Allah, Glorified is He, talks about the Christians and the crucifixion He says ‘they don’t have knowledge’. What that means is the evidence they have of the crucifixion is not adequate.
Because no one saw the crucifixion, none of the disciples saw it. They could not be there, because if they were there they would be apprehended by the romans and either killed or crucified themselves. That’s why John was sitting up on the Mt of Olives.
The gospel story tells us that the one carrying the cross fell. Jesus (may peace be upon him) would never fall or stumble because the prophets and messengers were perfect human beings.
Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) is the best of creation. Who dares differ on that? Who comes after that? Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Noah and the Prophets and Messengers. Great people, beautiful people, handsome people.
Prophet Muhammad, if you looked at him you would be astonished. He was so beautiful, he was so powerful, his enemies were in awe of him. Those who loved him, melted in the love of him. Jesus was like this too. He was a perfect human being, a created human being, a prophet, a messenger, a messiah. Jesus would not have fallen under a cross.
Imam Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), took the gates of Khaybar and he carried them on his back. He was not a prophet but he was a blessed Sahabi and one of the best of all human beings who ever lived. So do you think Jesus would stumble under a cross? Jesus could carry the gates of Khaybar. Jesus is strong, intelligent and beautiful.
That’s why the people said it was not Jesus. It looks like him on the upper body, but the lower body doesn’t look like him.
[What a Muslim Concludes]
Whenever there is doubt there is no Aqeedah. The belief you must believe in can never be based on doubtful issues. Our Deen must be based on definitive evidence.
Allah, the Exalted, says “He is God, the One who sent down the Book. Of it there are verses of unequivocal meaning (definitive)… and there are other verses that are open to interpretation…” (Quran 3:7)
The above verse was revealed about the Christians of the Nejran (Southern Arabia) who came to the Prophet and tried to use the Quran by saying the Quran believed in the Trinity because God says “We”. So Allah corrected this.
There are verses that are clear and are not open to interpretation. That’s what you follow if you want the truth. And there are other ones that are non definitive. Those verses you leave to God or people who are steeped in knowledge. This is a basic fundamental of Islam that is extremely important. Having a good opinion of your brothers and your sisters is an act of worship. We have to watch our hearts and be with each other, love each other and work with each other.
Our teaching is a teaching that is very ancient. It is the original teaching – it is the true teaching. We are the followers of Christ as the Messiah.
We believe that the Messiah Jesus was not crucified, but that it was only made to appear so. This is definitive in the Quran (4:157). How that appearance was carried out is a matter that was non definitive and we respect the varying opinions.
SeekersGuidance related course:
The Bible Through a Muslim Lens with Ustadh Ali Ataie
The Interfaith Master – Ustadh Ali Ataie – Seekers Highlight
Walk on Water: The Wisdom of Jesus from Traditional Islamic Sources – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
Habib Ali al-Jifri – Jesus Christ the Son of Mary and His Most Blessed Mother – Book in PDF
Reflections of MicroMolvi: My First Interfaith Dialogue
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Are `Isa And Yahya (Allah be well please with them) Considered Cousins In Islam?
What is the Islamic View on the Gospel of Barnabas?