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Is There Proof of Mary’s Ascension?

Questioner

John

Reply Date

Apr 11, 2019

Question

Christians celebrate the ascension of Mary. Is there is a religious proof that she did really ascend to heaven just like Jesus did? You may provide proofs or disproofs from both the Christian and Islamic perspective. Thank you so much.

Consultant

Answer


Mary's Ascension

Short Answer: First of all, Christians do not talk about Mary’s “Ascension.” They talk about her “Assumption” into heaven. The Eastern Orthodox Churches have always celebrated a feast called the “Dormition” of the “Mother of God”, wherein they believe that at the end of her life, after “falling asleep,” she was taken up to heaven. Roman Catholics celebrate a feast called the “Assumption.” If we look for references in the Bible to support this teaching directly, there are none, and the Church makes no claim that there are any. The dogma was declared as a direct result of the belief that a Pope is able to define matters of faith. To Muslims—who refer constantly to the Quran as our primary source of revelation, then to the hadith (traditions) of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him-PBUH), and then to the interpretations of scholars down through the centuries—this idea of Papal infallibility is quite strange.

………….

Salam (Peace) John,

Thank you for contacting Ask About Islam with your question.

Answering this question teaches us as much about what the Church believes about itself as it does about the end of Mary’s life.

First of all, Christians do not talk about Mary’s “Ascension.” They talk about her “Assumption” into heaven.

At the time of the Reformation, when many Christians broke away from the Catholic Church to form smaller Protestant churches, “protesting” against what they believed had become a deviation from the original teachings of the Gospel, the great cry of the reformers had been “scriptura sola” or “scripture alone”.

In other words, the Protestant Christians declared that something was only to be believed as part of the Christian faith if it could be found to have a basis in scripture.

This is very much the stance of the Protestant Churches today, who try to adhere very closely to the words of the Christian Gospel.

For the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches, however, there has always been a belief in two strands of revelation. One strand is the revealed word of God in scripture. And the other strand is the tradition of the Church as transmitted down through the centuries by its leaders.

The Roman Catholic Church, for example, declared in 1870 the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, which states that a pope is preserved from any error when he is pronouncing on behalf of the Church on matters of faith and morals. This is important for our understanding of the dogma of the Assumption.

In 431, the Council of Ephesus had declared Mary to be “Theotokos,” or “Mother of God,” and for many centuries all Christians revered the special status of Mary in the Divine plan.

What happened to Mary at the end of her life was always a subject of discussion because the Bible does not tell us. The tradition of the Early Church is that Mary lived out her days at Ephesus in modern day Turkey.

The Eastern Orthodox Churches have always celebrated a feast called the “Dormition” of the “Mother of God”, wherein they believe that at the end of her life, after “falling asleep,” she was taken up to heaven. Roman Catholics celebrate a feast called the “Assumption.”

The dogma of the Assumption was declared by Pius XII (who was Pope from 1939 to 1958) in 1950. What he did was to put into words and make an article of faith, to be believed by all Catholics, what had been the considered teaching of the Church for many centuries.

That is, the dogma of the Assumption asserts that “at the end of her earthly life” Mary was assumed “body and soul into heavenly glory.” It is not made clear whether Mary died or not.

What is made into a matter of faith is that she was given a special privilege by God, in that her body did not suffer corruption in the grave, but was taken directly to heaven.

If we look for references in the Bible to support this teaching directly, there are none, and the Church makes no claim that there are any. The dogma was declared as a direct result of the belief that a Pope is able to define matters of faith.

In this case, Pope Pius defined something that he asserted had been believed by the faithful for countless centuries, so it wasn’t a new teaching but a part of the ongoing, living tradition of the Church.

To Muslims—who refer constantly to the Quran as our primary source of revelation, then to the hadith (traditions) of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him-PBUH), and then to the interpretations of scholars down through the centuries—this idea of Papal infallibility is quite strange.

So, too, is the idea of believing something not directly revealed by God, but believed in by people simply because it has been an opinion of people for a certain period of time. Many Protestant Christians would find it equally strange.

However, not everyone is the same. People believe different things.

In summary, then, the teaching of the Assumption has been believed in by many Christians, but not all, for many centuries.

The teaching cannot be proved by scripture, but is believed in as the result of the living tradition of the Church. Roman Catholics are required to believe in it as an article of faith.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Salam and please keep in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Mary The Honored Mother of Jesus

Lesson From Mary, Mother of Jesus

Mary in the Bible and the Quran

Virgin Mary & Baby Jesus — A Unique Bond




About Idris Tawfiq

Idris Tawfiq was a British writer, public speaker and consultant.He became a Muslim around 15 years ago.For many years, he was head of religious education in different schools in the United Kingdom.Before embracing Islam, he was a Roman Catholic priest.He passed away in peace in the UK in February 2016 after a period of illness.May Allah (SWT) have mercy on him, and accept his good deeds. Ameen.

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