rophet 'Isa (as), one of Allah's chosen people in this life and in the Hereafter, was given the responsibility of calling his people to the right path. Allah portrays him as a person who was very different from the people he met during his life. For example, he was born without a father, his mother Maryam had been told by His angels that he would be his people's Messiah, and had many other unique qualities. One of these is mentioned in the Qur'an:

The Messiah, 'Isa son of Maryam, was only the Messenger of Allah and His Word, which He cast into Maryam, and a Spirit from Him. (Surat an-Nisa': 171)

When the angels said: "Maryam, your Lord gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, 'Isa son of Maryam, of high esteem in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near." (Surah Al 'Imran: 45)

The expression Word of Allah is used only for Prophet 'Isa (as). Allah revealed his name, 'Isa Messiah, before he was born and said that he was a Word from Him. This is just one indication that he was different from all of his contemporaries.

Only the Qur'an, which Allah has promised to keep intact and unaltered until the Day of Judgment, gives us accurate information about Prophet 'Isa (as). And, in contrast to the New Testament, the Qur'an states that Prophet 'Isa (as) was not crucified. Rather, he was raised to the heavens by Allah and will return in the End Times, the era preceding the Day of Judgment. Many hadiths testify to these facts.

We will now examine these facts in some detail.

'Isa (as) Was Not Crucified

The Roman soldiers and Jewish priests who were responsible for arresting Prophet 'Isa (as) claimed that he was crucified and died on the cross. All Christians accept these core beliefs, as well as the belief that he was resurrected and then ascended to the heavens. However, the Qur'an provides a quite different account:

� and their saying: "We killed the Messiah, 'Isa son of Maryam, Messenger of Allah." They did not kill him and they did not crucify him, but it was made to seem so to them. Those who argue about him are in doubt about it. They have no real knowledge of it, just conjecture. But they certainly did not kill him. (Surat an-Nisa': 157)

Allah raised him [`Isa] up to Himself. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. (Surat an-Nisa': 158)

The expression was made to seem so reveals that Prophet 'Isa (as) was not killed, but rather raised to the heavens. Allah states that those who say otherwise have no knowledge of the truth. The people saw someone who looked like Prophet `Isa (as) die, while, in reality, Prophet 'Isa (as) ascended to the heavens.

The Prophets' Deaths

An analysis of the words used to narrate the Prophets' deaths and those used to narrate the attempt on Prophet 'Isa's (as) life reveal an important fact. In the first case, the Qur'an uses qatala (to kill), maata (to die), halaka (to perish), salaba (to crucify), and a few other specific words. The Qur'an is very clear and specific about the fact that "They did not kill him [wa ma qataloohu] and did not crucify him [ma salaboohu]." People were shown a likeness of Prophet 'Isa (as), who in fact, was taken back by Allah and raised to the heavens:

When Allah said: "'Isa, I will take you back [mutawaffeeka], raise you up [wa raafi`uka] to Me, and purify you of those who disbelieve. And I will place the people who follow you above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection." (Surah Al 'Imran: 55)

Paolo Veronese's "Feast in the House of Levi," an oil painting from 1573. It is on display in Venice's Accademia Museum. This picture from the Italian Renaissance depicts Prophet 'Isa (as) and the Apostles.

In other words, Prophet 'Isa (as) did not experience a normal death. The word tawaffa in the above verse is used in the following ways:

Waffaa: To Cause To Die, To Take in One's Sleep, or To Take Back

['Isa said], I said to them nothing but what You ordered me to say: "Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord." I was a witness against them as long as I remained among them. But when You took me back to You [tawaffa], You were the One watching over them. You are Witness of all things. (Surat al-Ma'ida: 117)

In Arabic the word that is translated in some translations of this verse as "You have caused me to die" comes from the root waffaa � to fulfil. It does not actually mean "death" but the act of "taking the self back." In fact, in Arabic commentaries it is not used in the sense of death. The commentary of Imam al-Qurtubi is one example of this; he used the expression "the taking away of the selves" for the word in question. �From the Qur'an again, we understand that "taking the self back" does not necessarily mean death. For instance, it can mean "taking back the self while one is asleep," as indicated in the following verse:

It is He Who takes you back to Himself [yatawaffaakum] at night, while knowing the things you perpetrate by day, and then wakes you up again, so that a specified term may be fulfilled. (Surat al-An'am: 60)

Allah states that Prophet 'Isa (as) was not killed or hanged, that people were shown a likeness of him, that He took him back (as happens during sleep), and raised him to the heavens. For all other Prophets, such words as qatala or mawt (death), are used. Thus, we can conclude that Prophet `Isa (as) was put into a sleep-like state and raised to Allah's presence, that he did not experience death as we know it, and that he has left our dimension. (Allah knows best.)

Prophet 'Isa's (as) Return

Many verses refer to Prophet 'Isa's (as) second coming. Following are some of them:

1) When Allah said: "'Isa, I will take you back, raise you up to Me, and purify you of those who do not believe. And I will place the people who follow you above those who do not believe until the Day of Resurrection. Then you will all return to Me, and I will judge between you regarding the things about which you differed." (Surah Al 'Imran: 55)

This verse mentions a people who are followers of Prophet 'Isa (as) and who will be above the unbelievers until the Day of Resurrection. Accordingly, there will be people who follow him until the Day of Judgment. Looking at present-day Christians, we see that the core of their religion has been tampered with and is not the same faith preached by Prophet 'Isa (as). For example, they claim that he is Allah's son (Allah forbid) and part of a Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). Therefore, by transgressing the limits that Allah established for humanity, today's Christians are far from Allah's true religion and cannot be considered as Prophet 'Isa's (as) followers. The Qur'an states emphatically that those who believe in the Trinity are unbelievers:

Those who say that Allah is the third of three are unbelievers. There is no deity but Allah, [Who is] One. (Surat al-Ma'ida: 73)

Therefore, those people who follow Prophet 'Isa (as) must appear on his second coming to Earth, and they will be raised above the unbelievers until the Day of Judgment.

2) There is not one of the People of the Book who will not believe in him before he dies; and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them. (Surat an-Nisa': 159)

The him here stands for Prophet 'Isa (as), as the next verses make clear:

� and their saying: "We killed the Messiah, 'Isa son of Maryam, Messenger of Allah." They did not kill him and they did not crucify him, but it was made to seem so to them. Those who argue about him are in doubt about it. They have no real knowledge of it, just conjecture. But they certainly did not kill him. Allah raised him up to Himself. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. (Surat an-Nisa': 157-158)

Some scholars interpret before he dies as meaning before the death of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians). In this case, every Jew and Christian would believe in Prophet 'Isa (as) before he or she dies. But during Prophet `Isa's (as) lifetime, the vast majority of the region's Jews refused to believe in him, and some of them even attempted to kill him. As for those Jews and Christians who lived after Prophet 'Isa (as) was raised to His presence, they cannot be called his followers for they do not meet the Qur'anic definition of faith and belief.

The expression on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them, indicates again that Prophet 'Isa (as) will come again. These verses conclusively indicate that all People of the Book will believe before Prophet 'Isa (as) dies. The verse refers to the future, because it speaks of Prophet 'Isa's (as) death. Then it mentions that all People of the Book will believe in him, something that has not happened yet.

As we will see in detail in the coming chapters, the People of the Book will see and recognize him, as well as become his Muslim followers while he lives, and Prophet 'Isa (as) will testify about their conduct in the Hereafter. (Allah knows best.)

3) Other verses mention his return to Earth, such as those given below:

When an example is made of the son of Maryam, your people laugh uproariously. They retort: "Who is better, then, our deities or him?" They only say this to you for argument's sake. They are indeed a disputatious people. He is only a servant on whom We bestowed Our blessing and whom We made an example for the tribe of Israel. If We wished, We could appoint angels in exchange for you to succeed you on Earth. (Surat az-Zukhruf: 57-60)

Allah then refers to him by a specific title, a Sign of the Hour:

He is a Sign of the Hour. Have no doubt about it. But follow me. This is a straight path. (Surat az-Zukhruf: 61)

This verse clearly indicates that Prophet 'Isa (as) will come again, for he lived approximately six centuries before the Qur'anic revelation. Thus, since his first life cannot be understood as a Sign of the Hour for the Day of Judgment, he will return during the End Times, the period immediately preceding that Day. (Allah knows best.)

4) Many other verses indicate this miraculous event. Among them are the following:

When the angels said: "Maryam, your Lord gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, 'Isa son of Maryam, of high esteem in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near. He will speak to people in the cradle and also when fully grown, and will be one of the believers," she asked: "My Lord! How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?" He said: "It will be so." Allah creates whatever He wills. When He decides on something, He just says to it, "Be!" and it is. He will teach him the Book and Wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel. (Surah Al 'Imran: 45-48)

But what "Book" will He teach Prophet `Isa (as)? The Qur'an answers this question in the following verse, where the same expression is used:

Remember when Allah said: "'Isa son of Maryam, remember My blessing to you and to your mother when I reinforced you with the Purest Spirit so that you could speak to people in the cradle and when you were fully grown; and when I taught you the Book and Wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel." (Surat al-Ma'ida: 110)

When we examine the Book referred to in both verses, we realize that it indicates the Qur'an, the final revealed book sent to humanity. Earlier Books were the Torah and the Bible (the Psalms, revealed to Prophet Dawud (as), is contained within the Old Testament). Another verse uses Book instead of Qur'an when listing it alongside the Torah and the Gospel:

Allah, there is no deity but Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He has sent down the Book to you with truth, confirming what was there before it. And He sent down the Torah and the Gospel ... (Surah Al 'Imran: 2-3)

Thus, the third book being taught to Prophet 'Isa (as) is the Qur'an. Obviously, since he was raised to Allah's presence some 600 years before its revelation, he must come again. Our Prophet's (saas) hadiths reveal that Prophet 'Isa (as) will rule according to the Qur'an, not the Bible, when he returns. (For more information, see Harun Yahya, Signs of the Last Day [Istanbul: Global Publishing, 2003].) This interpretation fits the meaning of the verse. (Allah knows best.)

5) In addition, "The likeness of 'Isa in Allah's sight is the same as Adam" (Surah Al 'Imran: 59) could also be foretelling Prophet 'Isa's (as) return. Scholars point out that both Prophets were created without a father: Prophet Adam (as) was created from soil by Allah's command Be!; Prophet 'Isa (as) was created without a father by the same Divine command. Prophet Adam (as) was brought down from the heavens to Earth; perhaps Prophet 'Isa (as) will be brought down from His Presence in the End Times. (Allah knows best.) As we have seen, the verses indicating his return are very clear. Moreover, the Qur'an does not use any similar expressions for the other Prophets; they are only used for Prophet 'Isa (as).

6) Another verse referring to Prophet 'Isa's (as) ascension is the following:

['Isa said:] Peace be upon me the day I was born and the day I die, and the day I am raised up again alive." (Surah Maryam: 33)

This verse, when considered in conjunction with Surah Al 'Imran: 55, signals an important reality: Surah Al 'Imran: 55 speaks of Prophet 'Isa (as) as being taken back to Allah's presence and does not say that he has died or been killed. However, Surah Maryam: 33 refers to the day when he will die. This second death is only possible if he lives on Earth once again. (Allah knows best.)

7) Another piece of evidence is the word kahlaan, mentioned in the verses below:

Remember when Allah said: "'Isa son of Maryam, remember My blessing to you and to your mother when I reinforced you with the Purest Spirit so that you could speak to people in the cradle and when you were fully grown [kahlaan]." (Surat al-Ma'ida: 110)

He will speak to people in the cradle, and also when fully grown [kahlaan], and will be one of the righteous. (Surah Al 'Imran: 46)

This word, which appears only in these two verses and only with regard to Prophet 'Isa (as), describes his (as) adult life between the age 30 and 50. In other words, this represents a period when he is no longer a young man but a wise person on the verge of entering old age. Scholars agree that this word indicates an age greater than 35.

They also suggest, basing their claim on a hadith narrated by Ibn `Abbas, that Prophet 'Isa (as) was raised to Allah's presence in his early 30s, that he will experience his old age by living for another 40 years after his second coming, and that the above verse is proof for this miraculous event. 14

The Qur'an uses this expression only in regard to Prophet 'Isa (as) because all of the other Prophets that we know about fulfilled their responsibility of calling their people to belief after they had already reached a mature age. In the case of Prophet 'Isa (as), however, it points out a miraculous situation, because the expressions in the cradle and when fully grown highlight the two miraculous times.

At-Tabari, in his work The Commentary of at-Tabari, explains these expressions in the following terms:

These statements [Surat al-Ma'ida 110] indicate that in order to complete his lifespan and speak to people when fully grown, 'Isa will come down from Heaven. That is because he was raised to Heaven when still young. This verse [Surah Al 'Imran 46] provides evidence that 'Isa is living. The Ahl al-Sunnah share this view, because this verse states that he will speak to people when fully grown. He will be able to grow fully only when he returns to Earth from Heaven.15

The interpretations of kahlaan, like all the other information about Prophet 'Isa (as), indicate his miraculous return to Earth in the End Times as well as his efforts to direct people toward true religion. No doubt, this is great news for all believers, a gift and grace from Allah. Thus, believers are responsible for supporting and defending Prophet 'Isa (as) after his second coming in the most appropriate manner and to live by the Qur'an's morality.

14- Muhammad Khalil Herras, Fasl al-Maqal fi raf`i `Isa hayyan wa nuzulihi wa qatlihi ad-Dajjal, (Cairo: Maktab at al-Sunnah, 1990), 20.
15- Imam at-Tabari, Tafsir al-Tabari, 2:528; 1:247
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