In the Name of Allah; the Most Gracious, Most Merciful,
It seems to be that every year, a week or so before the Christian Holiday of Good Friday, that I see a wave of these articles and writings by Muslims popping up about the events surrounding the apparent Crucifixion of Jesus. They’re well crafted; they contain notes and reference to Jewish, Christian and Muslim Scripture and induce some very thought provoking points and ideas.
But… it is not the job, mission or duty of the Muslim to reinterpret The Bible; there are already plenty out there who do that… let them waste their time.
It is neither the job of the Muslim to tell the Christian what he ought to believe or how he has misunderstood his own Scripture; there are already plenty within Christendom busy with that… let them waste their time.
What the Muslim should be most concerned with when he finds himself engaging in dialogue with the Christian is to invoke the Biblical and Quranic injunctions of first getting on the same page; it says in the first Chapter of Isaiah to “come, let us reason together” and that sentiment is further expressed in the Quran at 3:64 where it implores the Muslim to “come to common terms” with others before proceeding in discussion.
The Quran also informs the reader in a number of different ways that you’re only wasting your breath if you bring forth an idea without any proof. It’s pointless to merely suggest possibilities, but we’ll get to that later.
Why is this so important to both Faiths; to establish common ground and get on the same page?
We, as Muslims, believe The Quran to be the Word of God and the Christian takes their Bible to be the Word of God – so, perhaps a better suited question would be – why does God Almighty apparently want this?
Because, often times, the Christian and Muslim are in complete agreement, but settle on arguing over semantics, the usage of words, their applications or even non-issues. What’s the point in that?
As it happens, there are very few key differences between the Muslim and the Christian. Both sides often forget that and arguments ensue and no progress is made.
It even seems that the Muslim and Christian battle each other over points that, as The Quran tells us, won’t even be settled until the Last Day… not today, Saturday, or even next week, but the Last Day.
In fact, The Quran tells us repeatedly that we will be arguing with others and even amongst ourselves on some matters and issues until the Last Day and then we will be informed about that in which we used to differ.
It’s a waste of time for both parties to not first establish these rules of conduct and conversation. Nobody is reasonable when their emotions are flaring, especially over matters that otherwise can’t be settled.
I used to really enjoy debating and arguing with the Christian over the event of the Crucifixion.
But, then it dawned on me one day: “Why are you wasting your time?”!
The truth of the matter is, The Quran only has one or two explicit verses on the event of the Crucifixion and they are not even addressing the Christians, but are addressing the Jews!
Instead of the oversaturated “the Christian has it all wrong” approach to Good Friday, I think we should take a better look at ourselves and what appears to be a misdirected exegesis.
In other words, instead of citing 4:157 to the Christian, maybe read it back to yourself first.
To paraphrase, and to also put it in context by going back a few verses, all The Quran says about the events surrounding the apparent Crucifixion of Jesus is the mention of the crimes/transgressions committed by some certain Jews who sarcastically mocked others about their killing “the Messiah”(sarcastic, because they didn’t take him as Messiah), and that they said many terrible lies about the Mother of Jesus.
The narrative then continues with the claim that while it may have appeared that the enemies of Jesus were victorious in their killing of him, there’s more to the story than what meets the eyes.
Ironically, that’s what a thinking Christian would say to a Jew on this matter as well… but, we’re too excited to disclaim the murder of Jesus that we can’t even see that this Verse is actually on the side of the Christian, along with us, against the aggressors of Jesus the Son of Mary.
Simply put, the verse(s) in question is not a charge against the Christian.
Now, a Christian may read this point I just made and say : “I don’t believe that!”, but, if pressed and positioned, they do; “let us reason” and “come to common terms”.
Any thinking Christian would say the same to the Jews on this matter as what we find us Muslims believing and professing; the Crucifixion is not exactly as it appears, there is more to the story here!
It may not be precisely put or thought that way by the Christian at first, so ask them to share what they would say to someone who said Jesus was killed and remained dead and that’s why he is a false Prophet.
The response of a learned Christian would be to cite from the Book of Acts and he would retell the claim that the Jews were saying Jesus was killed/dead but Paul was saying Jesus was alive.
Isn’t this the Islamic position, at least to a point?
If you said to someone : “Last Friday we crucified this man and just today he appeared to us as alive”, was there really a crucifixion?
To be “crucified” means “to be killed” and while the Christian says Jesus was murdered (astagfiurallah), in the same breathe they will tell you that he is currently “alive”.
Around the edges, there isn’t much room to disagree… especially when we revisit and reconsider the Quranic verses in question.
The differences lie in our filling in the details as to what exactly happened.
Why waste your breath on all these grand theories about someone else being put in Jesus’s place? The Quran doesn’t say that! Why do some Muslims?!
The Quran says clearly to not try and fill in details about this event, yet many Muslims love to talk about Judas Iscariot here for some reason beyond most of us, Muslim and Christian alike!
Likewise, the only “proof” a Christian can produce are a series of anonymous writings claiming he died. I mean, at this point in the New Testament, all of his (Jesus) Disciples had forsook him & fled.
The Quran continues that those who dispute over this matter of the Crucifixion hold some level of doubt about it, have “no certain knowledge” and are only following “conjecture”, because there is no certainty that he died.
The charge usually comes back quite quickly that “Jesus did die! He rose from the dead after three days!” and this is where an appeal to the New Testament works in the favor of the Muslim. Only at this point should the Muslim redirect the position of standing with their Christian friends and pivot to a position to discredit their claims.
Both Jesus and Paul said that resurrected bodies will be spiritualized. When Jesus appeared to his Disciples following his alleged murder, they were all terrified! They supposed they were seeing a ghost, if you would! However, Jesus reassured them that he was “not a spirit” but was “flesh and bones” and then ate some food right in front of them to prove he was alive!
Every single reported word and action of Jesus in the New Testament following his alleged crucifixion tells the story of a man who narrowly escaped death by the skin of his teeth, not of a man who was killed & then rose from the dead.
On the points the Muslim and Christian agree on, there is no argument to be had. It is only when the Christian exceeds his authority that disagreement begins.
So, rather than jumping to “Jesus didn’t die on Good Friday”, perhaps we should be saying to our Christian friends that “We agree with you on 1, 2, 3 but when you get 4, 5 and 6 we have a problem” and let them battle with holding a belief in something in which there is “no certain knowledge” and “only conjecture to follow”, because again, as it happens, where the Muslim and Christian agree, there is no argument to be had.
May God always guide us closer to the Truth.
– Andrew Morgan 4/18/2019