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Theological Musings of a Former Muslim: 8

Islam, Muslim Contextualization Add comments

Recently, we ran the testimony of a former Muslim who turned to Christ. Now in a new series, we have decided to share the theological details of his conversion, quoting both the Qur’an and the Bible. We ourselves do not claim to be experts in either, but we do feel it could be of great value for others to see the scriptural issues and conclusions that “Sam” went through during this process.

Here is his discovery of…

THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS

bursting

No doubt, on the basis of Sura al-Nisa, Muslims have rejected the Biblical account of Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension:

“And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger – They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain…” (Sura al-Nisa’ 4:157-159)

Elsewhere, of course, the Qur’an refers to the death of Jesus. But Muslim expositors offer conflicting opinions on some of these relevant verses. The following are significant passages, as translated by Pickthall:

 “Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!” (Sura Maryam 19:33)

 “(And remember) when Allah said: O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering thee and causing thee to ascend unto Me, and am cleansing thee of those who disbelieve and am setting those who follow thee above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then unto Me ye will (all) return, and I am judge between you as to that wherein ye used to differ.” (Sura Al Imran 3:55)

 “I spake unto them only that which Thou commandest me, (saying) Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. I was a witness of them while I dwelt among them, and when Thou tookest me Thou wast the Watcher over them. Thou art Witness over all things.” (Sura al Ma’ida 5:117)

But is Pickthall’s interpretation of mutawaffika (“I am gathering thee” Sura Al Imran 3:55) and tawaffaitani (“Thou tookest me” Sura al-Ma’ida) correct? Some respectable Muslim commentaries translate this verb “to cause to die”, indicating that the death of Jesus preceded His ascension into heaven.

In any event the Biblical accounts leave no room for various interpretations about the time, place and circumstances of Jesus’ death. He was crucified, He died, and He was buried. His crucifixion took place outside the walls of Jerusalem. It happened when Pilate was governor of Judea. These are facts of history. The Bible repeatedly refers to the death of Jesus in unambiguous language. Just as clear in the Bible is the connection of the death of Jesus with His resurrection from the dead and His ascension, as well as the purpose of these three great events.

Thus these and other passages of the Qur’an became clear to me in the light of my reflection on the New Testament portrayal of Christ. Not only did all these passages reveal the special relationship which Jesus had with God; surely they indicated also God’s special purpose in sending Jesus, His Word and Servant, into this sinful world. Once more I recalled the booklet, the heart of forgiveness to all sinners through Jesus alone, through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. As I read the Bible more and more, it spoke to me and cleared my doubts, one by one.

 Next:  THE COMING OF MUHAMMAD

To see the full series click here.

Photo by jurvetson

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