Originally Posted by Desire of Ages
In another thread - which I cannot find at the moment, and so I will piggyback on this one - you seek to know what the Qur’an has to say about the (alleged) death and resurrection of Yeshua (ʿalayhi as-salām), with particular reference to Al‘Imran: 55; Maryam 33; and Al-Ma’ida: 117.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘death’ as: ‘A permanent cessation of all vital functions - the end of life.’; and this is what most people understand whenever they hear the word, or see it written. However, the Qur’an uses two different terms when referring to death: ‘mawt’ and ‘tawaffâ’. Only the former accords with the Merriam-Webster definition.
The triliteral root ‘mīm wāw tā’ (from which ‘mawt’ is derived) occurs one hundred and sixty-five times in the Qu’ran, in eight derived forms; one of which - the verb ‘amata’ (to cause death) - occurs twenty-one times. Here are some examples of its use:
‘How can you ignore Allāh when you were lifeless and He gave you life, when He will cause you to die (yumītukum), then resurrects you to be returned to Him?’ (Al-Baqara: 28); and again: ‘Allāh would not condemn for going astray those He has already guided (to the faith) before making entirely clear to them what they should avoid. Allāh has knowledge of everything; control of the heavens and earth belongs to Allāh; He alone gives life and death (wayumītu); you have no ally or helper other than Him.’ (Al-Tawba:115); and again: ‘It is We who give life and death (wanumītu).’ (Qaf: 43); and finally:
‘Woe to man! How ungrateful he is! From what thing does Allāh create him? He creates him from a droplet, He proportions him, He makes the way easy for him, then He causes him to die (amātahu) and be buried. When He wills, He will resurrect him (ansharahu)’ (Abasa: 17).
In the state of ‘mawt’ - but never
in ‘tawaffâ’ - there is a ‘permanent cessation of all vital functions - the end life.’ (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). There is the rotting of flesh. There is finality, with no possibility of escape, save by the mercy of Allāh (Subḥānahu ūta'āla) in the form of resurrection.
Death is inevitable. In the Qur’an it is referred to as ‘Yaqīn’ (certainty) (al-Hijr 99; al-Muddaththir 47). Allāh (Subḥānahu ūta'āla) promises: ‘Every soul shall taste death’ (AlʿImran 185).’
Yeshua (ʿalayhi as-salām) has yet to suffer this fate.
One may enter the state of ‘mawt’ through one of several gates: murder, manslaughter, suicide, for example; through some fatal accident, illness or malfunction of a vital organ; or by Divine Decree.
A major point of distinction between ‘mawt’ and ‘tawaffâ’ is that only the former is associated with murder or manslaughter (‘qatala’). We see examples of the use of ‘qatala’ (and its derivatives) in the following: ‘And Pharaoh said: “Leave me to kill (aqtulu) Moses - let him call upon his Lord! - for I fear he may cause you to change your religion, or spread disorder in the land.”’ (Ghafi: 26); and again: ‘They were struck with humiliation and wretchedness, and they incurred the wrath of Allāh because they persistently rejected His messages and killed (yaqtuloona) prophets contrary to all that is right. All this was because they disobeyed and were lawbreakers.’ (Al-Baqara: 61); and again: ‘Allāh has certainly heard the words of those who sneer, “So Allāh is poor, while we are rich”. We shall record everything they say – as well as their killing (wa qatlahum) of prophets in defiance of all that is right – and We shall say to them: “Taste the torment of the scorching fire.”’ (Al‘Imran: 181). There are several others verses where derivatives of ‘qatala’ are used when describing the death of prophets.
Concerning Maryam 33 (set in its context):
‘She (Mary) went back to her people carrying the child, and they said: “Mary! You have done something terrible! Sister of Aaron! Your father was not an evil man; your mother was not unchaste!” She pointed at him. They said: “How can we converse with an infant?” (But) he said: “I am a servant of God. He has granted me the Scripture; made me a prophet; made me blessed wherever I may be. He commanded me to pray, to give alms as long as I live, to cherish my mother. He did not make me domineering or graceless. Peace was on me the day I was born, and will be on me the day I die (amūtu) and the day I am raised to life (ub'ʿathu) again.’ (Maryam: 27-34).
The word ‘amūtu’ is derived from the triliteral root ‘mīm wāw tā’. This confirms that Yeshua (ʿalayhi as-salām) will (eventually) suffer biological death (‘mawt’). The word ‘ub'ʿathu’ confirms that he will (eventually) be resurrected from his grave.
His words: ‘And will be on me the day I die (amūtu) and the day I am raised to life (ub'ʿathu) again’ are a prophecy; a promise of events to come. The fact that they were spoken by a babe makes that obvious. They cannot be a reference to the (alleged) crucifixion, since Allāh (Subḥānahu ūta'āla) expressly denies that such an event took place: ‘They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him.’ (Al-Nisa 157).
Yeshua (ʿalayhi as-salām) did not die on the cross. He was raised to Heaven by the power of Allāh (Subḥānahu ūta'āla), and will return as Messiah in order to establish Islam as the one religion on Earth. After several years of normal life he will die; and he will be buried. In due course he will be raised to life (ub'ʿathu).
The Qur’anic image of death through ‘tawaffâ’ is quite different from that of ‘mawt’. For a start, ‘tawaffâ’ is never associated with ‘qatala’; instead, it is juxtaposed with ‘nawm’ (sleep). On two occasions, sleep is described as a repeated nightly death (‘tawaffâ bil layl’): ‘It is He who calls your souls back by night, knowing what you have done by day, then raises you up again in the daytime until your fixed term is fulfilled. It is to Him that you will return in the end, and He will tell you what you have done.’ (Al-An‘am: 60); and again: ‘Allāh takes the souls of the dead and the souls of the living while they sleep – He keeps hold of those whose death He has ordained and sends the others back until their appointed time – there truly are signs in this for those who reflect.’ (Al-Zumar: 42).
It is worth noting that whenever a verse includes a reference to a person’s predestined death the term used is always ‘mawt’. There are no exceptions. When we reach our ‘appointed time’ we experience, not ‘tawaffâ’, but ‘mawt’: ‘No soul may die except with Allāh (Subḥānahu ūta'āla)’s permission at a predestined time. If anyone strives for the rewards of this world, We will give him some of them. If anyone strives for the rewards of the Hereafter, We will give him some of them: We will reward the grateful.’ (Al‘Imran: 145).
Concerning Al‘Imran 55:
‘Allāh said: “Jesus, I will take you back (mutawaffika) and raise you (warāfiʿuka) to Myself.’
Some people interpret the words: ‘I will take you back (mutawaffika)’ to mean: ‘I will cause you to die (kill you)’.
This cannot be correct. The word ‘mutawaffika’, with its triliteral root of ‘wāw fā yā’, tells us that it is related to ‘tawaffâ’; and not ‘mawt’.
Imagine a world where only Qur’anic Arabic is spoken; a world in which no other language has ever existed. In this world a person is about to undergo a surgical operation; and is being briefed by her anaesthetist. He tells her that she can expect a jab from a needle; a few seconds delay; and then unconsciousness. He begins his briefing with the word ‘Mutawaffika’.
The patient will understand from this that she is not about to be killed. She will understand that she is about to be taken – by means of the anaesthetic – out of a state of consciousness and into the state of ‘tawaffâ’. If she is a Muslim, she might well offer the following prayer: ‘Lord, pour steadfastness upon me and let me enter this state of tawaffâ in devotion to You.’ (Paraphrase of Al-A‘raf: 126).
It makes no sense to assume that when the anaesthetist says ‘Mutawaffika’ is he saying: ‘I will cause you to die.’ If he truly intended to kill her (let’s imagine now that she is not a patient after all, but a condemned criminal facing death by lethal injection; and that he is her executioner) then he would use a variant of the verb ‘qatala’ (to kill); for example:
‘(Prophet) tell them the truth about the story of Adam’s two sons: each of them oﬀered a sacrifice, and it was accepted from one and not the other. One said: “Surely I will kill you” (la-aqtulannaka), but the other said: “Allāh only accepts the sacrifice of those who are mindful of Him.”’ (Al-Ma’ida: 27).
There is no notion of physical damage or decomposition in ‘tawaffâ’. Likewise, there is no notion of a ‘non-return’ (as there is in ‘mawt’). It is better, therefore, to avoid understanding and translating ‘tawaffâ’ as ‘death’; or ‘to die’; or ‘to cause to die’. People return from ‘tawaffâ’ every night of their lives. What makes the last experience of ‘tawaffâ’ non-returnable - as when someone dies in their sleep - lies not in tawaffâ itself, but in its transformation to ‘mawt’.
One enters state of ‘tawaffā’ through one of several ‘gates’: through natural sleep; or through some medical intervention; through sickness; or by Divine Degree. For sure, one does not, and cannot, enter that state by murder or manslaughter (‘qatala’); or by suicide (a form of murder); we know this because ‘tawaffā’ is never associated with these things in the Qur’an.
One leaves the state of 'tawaffā' either by returning to consciousness; or else by moving into a quite different state altogether….that of ‘mawt’.
Referring to mankind in general (the ‘their’ and ‘they’ in the following verse) Allāh (Subḥānahu ūta'āla) tells us that He: ‘Takes (yatawaffā) the souls at the time of their death (mawtihā), and the souls of the living while they sleep. He keeps hold of those whose death (mawt) He has ordained and sends the others back until their appointed time - there truly are signs in this for those who reflect.’ (Al-Zumar: 42).
This verse makes perfect sense when the word ‘yatawaffā’ is translated: ‘he takes’. It makes no sense at all when translated: ‘he causes to die’, for then it would mean that Allāh (Subḥānahu ūta'āla) ends the life of both body at soul at the moment of physical death. It would also mean that the souls of those who simply fall asleep also die. If this were the case, there would be no person left alive!
Concerning the words: ‘….and raise you (warāfiʿuka) to Myself’:
The active participle ‘warāfiʿuka’ is derived from the triliteral root ‘rā fā ʿayn’. This root occurs twenty-nine times in the Quran, in six derived forms. It is never linked to bodily resurrection. Its link is to rank and exaltation; for example:
‘Did We not relieve your heart for you (Prophet), and remove the burden that weighed so heavily on your back, and raise your reputation high (warafaʿnā)?’ (Al-Sharh: 4); and again: ‘So call upon Allāh and dedicate your religion to Him alone, however hateful this may be to the disbelievers: He is exalted in rank (rafīʿu), the Lord of the Throne.’ (Ghafir: 15); and again: ‘No indeed! This (Qur’an) is a lesson from which those who wish to be taught should learn, (written) on honoured, exalted (marfūʿatin), pure pages.’ (Abasa: 14).
The word ‘raise’, as in ‘and raise you up to me’, translates ‘rafa‘a’ (‘to raise’) rather than ‘ba‘atha’, which is used elsewhere to mean ‘to resurrect’ after death. Commenting on this, Abu Musa al-Ash'ari writes: ‘There is a consensus among the community of the faithful that the Prophet Jesus (as) was raised alive to the heavens.’ (‘al-Ibana 'an Usul al-Diyana). Hasan Basri Cantay writes: ‘Allah raised and lifted up the Prophet Jesus (as) in both body and soul.’ (Tafsir of the Qur'an); and Imam ibn Taymiyya writes: ‘The verse "He raised him to His Presence" … explains that the Prophet Jesus (as) was raised in both body and soul.’ (Majmu' Fatawa).
Citing both Al‘Imran 55 and Al-Nisa' 157-158, Zahid al-Kawthari claims that the ascension of Yeshua is beyond doubt: ‘That is because the basic meaning of the word rafa'a in the verses is transportation from below to above. There is no element here that could be used to interpret the verses metaphorically.’ (Nazra 'Abira fi Maza'im; page 93).
The argument that Yeshua (ʿalayhi as-salām) was raised alive - both body and soul - is strengthen by the use of the word ‘bal’ that appears in Al-Nisa 157-158:
‘And so for breaking their pledge, for rejecting Allāh’s revelations, for unjustly killing their prophets, for saying: “Our minds are closed” - No! Allāh has sealed them in their disbelief, so they believe only a little - and because they disbelieved and uttered a terrible slander against Mary, and said: “We have killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allāh.’ They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, though it was made to appear like that to them; those that disagreed about him are full of doubt, with no knowledge to follow, only supposition: they certainly did not kill him. No! (bal) - Allāh raised him up to Himself. Allāh is almighty and wise’ (Al-Nisa 155-158)
By way of explanation, Sheikh al-Islam Mustafa Sabri writes:
‘If the term ‘bal’, which appears in Surat Al-Nisa' 158 and which I have translated as "on the contrary," comes after a sentence expressing a negativity, then, according to the rules of Arabic linguistics, the sentence following it must mean the exact opposite of the one preceding it. The opposite of death is life. This is a requirement of the rules of linguistics. If we say that "the ascension here is a spiritual one" and "the Prophet Jesus (as) died in the normal sense," then we are violating that rule. In that case, the ascension following the expression "on the contrary" would not represent the opposite to the verbs of "killing" and "crucifying" in the negative sentence preceding it. That is because it may be possible for a person to be killed and for his or her soul to rise to the skies. Otherwise, this term would be meaningless, and there are no meaningless terms in the Qur'an … According to those who support the thesis that the ascension is only one of the soul, the meaning of the verse is this: "They did not kill him and did not crucify him … on the contrary (‘bal’), Allah raised his station." There is no particular oratory here, let alone succinctness … No rational person could take the words "The elevator in my building raises me to the fourth floor every day," to mean that I am only raised to the fourth floor in spirit. Therefore, neither was the Prophet Jesus (as) raised only in spirit. (‘Position of Reason’; page 233).
Said Ramadan al-Buti interpreted the subject in the same way: ‘The mutual compatibility between the verses’ previous and later sections necessarily reveals a fact. For example, if an Arab says: "I am not hungry; on the contrary, I am lying on my side," this is not a correct sentence. In the same way, there is a discrepancy between the components in the sentence: "Khalid did not die; on the contrary, he is a good man." What would be correct is to say: "Khalid did not die; on the contrary, he is alive." To say: "The chairman was not killed; he is a man with a superior station in Allah's Presence" also leads to a break in meaning in the sentence, for his having a high station in Allah's Sight is no obstacle to his being killed. The term bal expresses a contradiction between the preceding and the following words. In other words, bal cancels out a previous statement. (Islamic Catechism: page 338).
Concerning Al-Ma’ida 117 (in its context):
‘When Allāh says: “Jesus, son of Mary, did you say to people, ‘Take me and my mother as two gods alongside Allāh’?” he will say: “May You be exalted! I would never say what I had no right to say – if I had said such a thing You would have known it: You know all that is within me, though I do not know what is within You, You alone have full knowledge of things unseen – I told them only what You commanded me to: “Worship Allāh, my Lord and your Lord.” I was a witness (shahīdan) over them during my time among them. Ever since You raised me (tawaffaytani)*, You alone have been the watcher over them: You are the Watcher (l-raqība) over all things and if You punish them, they are Your servants; if You forgive them, You are the Almighty, the Wise.’ Allāh will say: “This is a Day when the truthful will benefit from their truthfulness. They will have Gardens graced with flowing streams, there to remain for ever. Allāh is pleased with them and they with Him: that is the supreme triumph.”’ (116-119).
* Or ‘took my soul’.
These verses are prophetic. They refer to the conversation that will take place – between Allāh (Subḥānahu ūta'āla) and Yeshua (ʿalayhi as-salām) - on the Day of Judgement.
The words: ‘Ever since You raised me (tawaffaytani) refer to Allāh (Subḥānahu ūta'āla)’s action (as described in Al‘Imran 55).
You would have us believe that the word ‘witness’ (shahīdan) should, in this context, be interpreted as ‘martyr’. But this cannot be; and for two reasons:
The first lies in the text itself. Substituting ‘martyr’ for ‘witness’ would give us: ‘I was a martyr (shahīdan) over them during my time among them.’ This would mean that Yeshua was a martyr for all of the thirty or so years he spent on earth. Facepalm tafsîr.
The second reason is found in Al-Nisa 157-158 (above).
The words: ‘I was a witness (shahīdan) over them during my time among them.’ is a reference to Yeshua’s prophetic role.
Yeshua (ʿalayhi as-salām) is but a witness - a human being, and nothing more. Allāh (Subḥānahu ūta'āla) on the other hand is ‘the Watcher (l-raqība) over all things.’
Seyyed Hossein Nasr writes: ‘Jesus claims no ability to be witness for his people after his time on earth; his witness lasted only for the duration of his earthly life, but God, he says, is Witness over all things. In fact, some maintain that the purpose of God’s question to Jesus in v. 116 was to inform Jesus of his followers’ actions after he was no longer among them rather than to obtain knowledge of things that God, being omniscient, would have already known. Jesus further manifests his humility before God by refusing to suggest either the punishment or the forgiveness of his errant followers; instead, he entrusts the matter entirely to God.
To conclude: Yeshua (ʿalayhi as-salām) did not die, but was merely removed from this dimension by the Will of Allāh (Subḥānahu ūta'āla); and He knows best.
As an aside:
According to the Adventist’s Training Centre Church Committee: ‘Revelation 12:17 predicts that the last-day church will have unique characteristics. This church will keep all of the commandments, including the Sabbath, and it will also have the prophetic gift to guide it. The Seventh-day Adventist Church affirms that the ministry of Ellen G. White is a direct fulfilment of this last-day gift of prophecy.’ (‘Discipleship Handbook: A Resource for Seventh-day Adventist Church Members.’).
Point number eighteen in the Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists (SDA) states: ‘One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction.’ (Quoted in Dale Ratzlaff’s: ‘Cultic Doctrine of Seventh-Day Adventism).
As you know, the story of the Seventh Day Adventists begins with a certain William Miller. He was an American farmer who stated that Christ would return to Earth in 1843. When Christ did not appear that year the Adventists did a wee bit of jiggling, and declared that the Coming would take place in 1844.
Miller’s claim was endorsed by White. Needless to say, they were wrong again.
Ratzlaff - a fourth generation Seventh-day Adventist, and pastor of the church for thirteen years, seven of which as a Bible teacher at Monterey Bay Academy, La Selva Beach, California- writes: ‘Therefore, at the very outset, the SDA church is faced with the dilemma. If Miller was right, so was Ellen G. White. If Miller was wrong, so was EGW. There are no other conclusions. It should be noted here that EGW’s endorsement of Miller’s conclusions came after 1844 when it should have been obvious that Miller was wrong. If all of the quotations from EGW cited in this chapter were written after her first “vision” in December of 1844 why did she support known error? In the citations to follow, it should be observed that EGW not only endorsed Miller’s interpretation of October 22, 1844, as the fulfilment of Daniel 8:14,4 she also endorsed many of the methods and other teachings of Miller.
‘Ellen White said God chose William Miller, guided his mind, his methods of Bible study, his conclusions, his charts, his mission, and more: “I saw that God sent his angel to move upon the heart of a farmer who had not believed the Bible, and led him to search the prophecies. Angels of God repeatedly visited that chosen one, and guided his mind, and opened his understanding to prophecies which had ever been dark to God’s people. The commencement of the chain of truth was given him, and he was led on to search for link after link, until he looked with wonder and admiration upon the word of God. He saw there a perfect chain of truth. That Word which he had regarded as uninspired, now opened before his vision with beauty and glory. He saw that one portion of scripture explained another, and when one portion was closed to his understanding, he found in another portion of the Word that which explained it. God called him to leave his farm, as Elisha was called to leave his oxen and the field of his labour to follow Elijah. With trembling, William Miller began to unfold the mysteries of the kingdom of God to the people. He gained strength with every effort. He carried the people down through the prophecies to the second advent of Christ. As John the Baptist heralded the first advent of Jesus, and prepared the way for his coming, so also, Wm. Miller and those who joined him, proclaimed the second advent of the Son of God.’ (‘Cultic Doctrine of Seventh-Day Adventism’)
Ratzlaff is referring to White’s ‘Early Writings’, pages 229 –231; and ‘Spiritual Gifts, Volume 1, pages 128 –132. He goes on to say that although she never claimed to be a prophet (she spoke of herself as a ‘messenger of God.’): ‘For all practical purposes, however, the Adventist church accepts her writings as God inspired, prophetic writings (and that) her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth.’
Drawing on White’s ‘Early Writings’ and ‘Spiritual Gifts’ Ratzlaff produces this summary of her endorsement of Miller:
‘Angels of God were actively involved with William Miller. God initiated Miller’s interest in the prophecies by sending his angel to assist him while he was still an unbeliever. Angels of God repeatedly visited William Miller and accompanied him on his mission. They protected Miller from harm, and on one occasion an angel took the form of a man and led Miller out of a hostile crowd. Angels watched with deepest interest those who accepted and rejected Miller’s message. God chose Miller for this work. Miller is called “that chosen one.” God called Miller to leave his farm and begin preaching, and committed to Miller’s trust a special message. God guided Miller’s mind and led him in his study of the prophecies and connected him to the wisdom of heaven. God guided Miller’s conclusions. God opened to Miller’s understanding prophecies which had ever been dark to God’s people. Miller was given “great light upon the book of Revelation.” The Holy Spirit showed Miller the harmony of the visions of Daniel and John. God showed Miller the correct interpretation of prophecy. A perfect chain of biblical truth was given him. He saw that one portion of Scripture explained another. If he could not understand a given text in its own context, he explained it by another portion of Scripture. God moved upon His servant, William Miller, with clearness in the power of the Holy Spirit.’ (‘Cultic Doctrine of Seventh-Day Adventism’)
Here’s another quote from the Discipleship Handbook: A Resource for Seventh-day Adventist Church Members: ‘The Seventh-day Adventist Church is sometimes referred to by its members as a “prophetic movement.” Those who have attended a prophecy seminar held by Seventh-day Adventists may assume this means that our church is active in teaching Bible prophecy. But the term “prophetic movement” means much more. It is not primarily a reference to how the church teaches prophecy, but to the fact that the church was born out of prophecy!’
Indeed it was…..from false prophecy!
Ratzlaff writes: ‘After the disappointment of 1844, the Millerite movement split into two groups. One group, which Miller later joined, recognized that nothing really happened on October 22, 1844, and continued to look for the soon coming of Christ….(‘Cultic Doctrine of Seventh-Day Adventism’)
The second group reinterpreted Miller’s claim. They said that Christ was not meant to return to Earth in 1843-44 after all (really?); but rather to begin his ‘cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary’ and the process of ‘investigative judgment’; doctrines denied by Miller, and alien to general Christian teaching. It is from this latter group that we have the Seventh-day Adventist church.
Speaking of SDA methods, especially their doctrinal flip-flopping, Dudley Marvin Canright - a pastor of the church for twenty-two years - writes: ‘Do Baptists, Methodists, Disciples, or any other evangelical church, have to practice such methods to cover up past mistakes? Not one of them. All are proud of their past. But Seventh-day Adventists are ashamed of theirs, and well they may be. In attempting to defend Mrs. White’s visions as divine revelations, and in permitting her and her writings to occupy so prominent a place in their work, they have simply invited difficulties from which it is impossible for them to extricate themselves without exposing her mistakes and the falsity of her claims. In order to cover up her mistakes, they stultify themselves and harden their own consciences. They become practical Jesuits.’ (‘The Life of Mrs. E. G. White’; pages 167, 168).
Your comments would be welcome (even if you have to open a thread in Comparative Religion).