Jesus is Dead & He Ain’t Comin’ Back – A Quranic Analysis

Some people think that Jesus is dead. Others think that he is alive on earth or in Heaven or Paradise and that he will return. Let’s see what God says about this in the Quran. In verse 5:117, we see a statement that God caused Jesus to die and that after Jesus died, God became the witness over Jesus’ people. The dialogue is between God and Jesus and takes place on the Day of Judgment.

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
I (Jesus) did not say anything to them except what you commanded me with: To worship God, my Lord and your Lord, and I was a witness over them as long as I was among them, but when you caused me to die (Arabic: Tawafaytani), you were the watcher over them, and you are witness of all things. (5:117 part)

In verse 3:55, we see proof that God will cause Jesus to die before raising him.

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
When God said: “O Jesus! Verily, I shall cause you to die (Arabic: Mutawafeeka), and shall exalt you (Arabic: Rafiuka) to Me, and cleanse you of [the presence of] those who are bent on denying the truth; and I shall place those who follow you [far] above those who are bent on denying the truth, to the Day of Resurrection. In the end, to Me you must all return and I shall judge between you with regards to all on which you differed. (3:55 part)

The word “Mutawafeeka” comes from the word “tawaffa” which means “to cause to die”. Here is the definition from the Edward Lanes Lexicon.

This word and its correct meaning is used in many other verses including 16:70, 3:193, 7:126, 47:27, 2:234, 2:240, 2:281, 4:15, 4:97, and 6:61.

The word “Rafiuka” comes from the root word “raffa” which means “to be raised / raised to a high station”. It doesn’t literally mean cause Jesus to be lifted to ascend to Heaven but rather to raise Jesus in rank or status, e.g. exalt him. This expression is also used in verse 19:56-57 where Prophet Idris was also raised to a high station / exalted.

وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ إِدْرِيسَ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ صِدِّيقًا نَّبِيًّا وَرَفَعْنَاهُ مَكَانًا عَلِيًّا
”And make mention in the Scripture of Idris. Indeed! he was a saint, a prophet; And We raised him to high station. (Arabic: Rafa’nahu)” (19:56-57)

As a reminder to readers of how many translations of the Quran can be very misleading, following are some translations of part of verse 3:55 above. Apparently, many translators try to avoid saying that Jesus is dead.

Sahih International“O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself …
Pickthall“O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering thee and causing thee to ascend unto Me…”
Yusuf Ali“O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself…”
Shakir“O Isa! I am going to terminate the period of your stay (on earth) and cause you to ascend unto Me”
Muhammad SarwarHe told Jesus, “I will save you from your enemies, raise you to Myself…”
Mohsin Khan“O ‘Iesa (Jesus)! I will take you and raise you to Myself….”
Farooq-i-Azam Malik“O Isa (Jesus)! I am going to recall you (from your mission) and raise you up to Myself….”
Ahmed Ali“O Jesus! I will take you to Myself and exalt you…..”

In verse 5:109, we see proof that no messenger will know what happened on earth after they die. This includes prophet Jesus as he was not specifically excluded.

يَوْمَ يَجْمَعُ اللَّهُ الرُّسُلَ فَيَقُولُ مَاذَا أُجِبْتُمْ ۖ قَالُوا لَا عِلْمَ لَنَاإِنَّكَ أَنتَ عَلَّامُ الْغُيُوبِ
“One day God will gather the messengers together, and ask: “What was the response you received (from men to your teaching)?” They will say: “We have no knowledge: it is You Who knows in full all that is hidden.” (5:109)

In verses 4:157-158, God says that the Jews did not kill not crucify Jesus and that God raised Jesus to a high station / exalted him.

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 بَل رَّفَعَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَيْهِ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا
‘And they said (in boast), “Behold, we have slain the Christ Jesus, son of Mary, messenger of God” However, they did not slay him, and neither did they crucify him (Arabic: Salabuhu), but it appeared so to them; and, verily those who hold conflicting views thereon are indeed confused, having no [real] knowledge thereof, and following mere conjecture. For, of a certainty, they did not slay him’ ‘Nay, God exalted him (Arabic: rafa-ahu) to Himself – and God is indeed almighty, wise’ (4:157-158)

However, this verse doesn’t mean that Jesus was raised to a high station while he was alive. If it meant that, then that would contradict verse 3:55. Therefore, this verse just means that the Jews didn’t kill Jesus but rather they killed someone who was made to resemble Jesus.

In we compare verses 19:33 to 19:15, we see that the lifecycle of Prophet Jesus matches that of Prophet Yahya (John). That is that they both were born, died, and will be raised up to life again.

وَالسَّلَامُ عَلَيَّ يَوْمَ وُلِدتُّ وَيَوْمَ أَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ أُبْعَثُ حَيًّا
“So peace is on me (Prophet Jesus) the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)”! (19:33)
وَسَلَامٌ عَلَيْهِ يَوْمَ وُلِدَ وَيَوْمَ يَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ يُبْعَثُ حَيًّا
So Peace on him (Prophet Yahya) the day he was born, the day that he dies, and the day that he will be raised up to life (again)! (19:15)

In verses 5:109-115, God tells us about many events related to Prophet Jesus. If Jesus were to come back and return to earth, it would be hard to believe that such an important event would be omitted from the verses above or anywhere else in the Quran.

If we compare verse 3:144 to verse 5:75, we see that Prophet Jesus passed away just like all of the other messengers.

وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ
“Muhammad is no more than a messenger: many were the messengers that passed away before him …” (3:144 part)
مَّا الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ
Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him … (5:75 part)

In verses 21:7-8, God says to Muhammad that all prophets were humans like him and they all passed away.

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا قَبْلَكَ إِلَّا رِجَالًا نُّوحِي إِلَيْهِمْ ۖ فَاسْأَلُوا أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ وَمَا جَعَلْنَاهُمْ جَسَدًا لَّا يَأْكُلُونَ الطَّعَامَ وَمَا كَانُوا خَالِدِينَ
And We sent not before you, [O Muhammad], except men to whom We revealed [the message], so ask the people of the message if you do not know. And We did not make the prophets forms not eating food, nor were they immortal. (21:7-8)

This is reiterated in verse 21:34.

وَمَا جَعَلْنَا لِبَشَرٍ مِّن قَبْلِكَ الْخُلْدَ ۖ أَفَإِن مِّتَّ فَهُمُ الْخَالِدُونَ
And We did not grant to any man before you (Muhammad) eternity [on earth]; so if you die – would they be eternal? (21:34)

To conclude, it should be clear now that Jesus is dead and then he was exalted in rank. Jesus is not alive neither on earth nor in Heaven and he will not come back.

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