Saturday, February 6, 2016
February 6, 2016
By Saeed Qureshi
The death and ascension to Heaven of Jesus Christ or Hazrat Isa (in Arabic) two thousand years ago is as enigmatic as are his birth, physical Resurrection or Reincarnation towards the end of time. It was at the behest of Jewish religious authorities that the Roman governor Pilate ordered Jesus Christ to die on cross for being blasphemous and heretic towards the Jewish faith.
Both Christians and the Muslims believe that instead of dying on the stake, Jesus ascended to the Heaven under divine will and would return towards the end of time in physical form. For Christians he is the son of God and living with his father in a Heavenly abode.
For Muslims also he is residing in Heaven but as an apostle of God. During his short span of life (33 years) Jesus in his sermons, mentioned about his reincarnation or second coming to earth and the establishment of the “Kingdom of God” to be ruled by him for a thousand years.
The Muslims believe that some time before being hanged on the cross; God lifted Hazrat Isa to the Heaven. Instead another person who resembled Jesus was hanged. The Christians believe he did die on the cross, was entombed on Friday the same evening. Sometime between Friday and Sunday he went up to the Heaven. The year was 33 C.E. which also denotes the age of Jesus at the time of his death or ascension.
The Christians believe that after his return to earth Jesus will defeat the Antichrist, the False Prophet and Satan in the battle of all battles: Armageddon. Thereafter he would rule the “Kingdom of God” or the earthly paradise for one thousand years.
After a thousand years Satan, upon his release from the abyss (or hell), would surround Jerusalem and other holy places with a huge force of Gog and Magog. But this time God would intervene and destroy the satanic force through a huge fire.
The Islamic tradition or belief is that Hazrat Isa would descend from Heaven in the midst of a fierce battle initiated and fought by a Muslim leader called Mahdi (the promised one) against the anti- God-forces led by Dajjal (an evil and anti-messiah figure in Islamic eschatology). Jesus would join Imam Mahdi in his fight. After the death of Mahdi, Jesus will assume the leadership and keep fighting against Dajjal till Dajjal is killed and Islam prevails.
The beliefs of Muslims and the Christians converge on the miraculous birth of Jesus, his ascension to Heaven and the second coming to earth before the end of the time. However, there are diverse opinions on this issue within the mainstream Christian sects both protestants and Catholics and besides some of the latter day Christian sects including Jehovah witnesses.
The three latter day religions of 19th century namely the Mormons ( USA), Baha’i ( Iran) and the Ahmadis (India) don’t believe in the second coming of the Jesus Christ of Nazareth, son of Mariam and Joseph and to establish and rule the “Kingdom of God on Earth”.
The Mormons believe that Joseph Smith (1805-1844) is the promised Messiah. The Bahais believe in Baha’u’llah (1817-1892) the founder of the Baha’i Faith (Iran) as the real Messenger of God or the promised Messiah.
The Ahmadis’ faith is that the promised Mahdi cum Messiah has already arrived in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908) in India. Mirza Sahib himself claimed to be a Mujjadad (revivalist), Imam Mahdi (precursor of Jesus), the promised Messiah (like Jesus Christ), a prophet (shadow) of Prophet Muhammad and the embodiment of many illustrious apostles of the pre-Christ times.
He claimed to be the recipient of the divine revelations. This is rejected by majority Muslim sects who consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as an impostor and Ahmadiyya believers to be apostates and non-Muslims.
Presently we would set aside the doctrinal conflict between the proponents and opponents within the Christianity about the promised Messiah. We would analyze the theological discord between the majority Muslims and the Jamaat- e-Ahmadyia over the reappearance of the Jesus Christ or Hazrat Isa towards the end time.
In this regard, the following conflicting points come up. The belief in the escape of Jesus from the death is common to the majority Muslim sects, the Christians and the Ahmadis alike. But it diametrically differs as to how and where he escaped.
In the holy Quran the death of Hazrat Isa on the gallows has been negated or refuted in the following Ayas:
“And because they said( in boast): “ We killed the Messiah Isa( Christ Jesus) the son of Mariam( Mary) , the messenger of Allah;” – But they did not kill him, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ in this ( matter) are full of doubts ,with no knowledge; they follow nothing but idle talk, for sure they did not kill him.” 4.157.
“But! Allah raised him up to himself, and Allah is exalted in power, All wise.” 4.158
On the question of Isa’s Ascension to Heaven, the belief of Sunni and Shia sects in Islam and even the Christians is that Jesus Christ ascended to the Heaven in 33 C.E. and would return to earth at an appointed time. In holy Quran the second coming of Jesus is heralded in Sura “Az-Zukhruf” as a sign of the Day of Judgment in these words”.
“And (Jesus) shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment): therefore has no doubt about the (Hour)”. 43.61
These Quranic injunctions have been voluminously elaborated in Islamic Hadith (traditions) and by Muslim religious scholars and jurists during the last 15 centuries. The gist of those elucidations is that Hazrat Isa would come back from Heaven on earth to join his forerunner Imam Mahdi in order to eliminate the forces of evil and revive Islam through fierce warfare.
In contrast Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya contends that Jesus Christ somehow escaped from being hanged. He went to a distant place Kashmir (a valley in the Indian subcontinent) where he died like other human beings. As such there was no question of his ascension to the Heaven and subsequent physical return to earth. For Ahmadis the promised Messiah is to be a person “similar to Jesus” and he has already arrived in the form of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad from Qadian (in India).
The details of the journey of Jesus to Kashmir have not been given in any Ahmadiat religious literature. It has not been elaborated how he escaped and whether immediately he set off for his new destination and whether his disciples also accompanied him or not.
After the year 33 C. E., Hazrat Isa is completely absent from the land( Galilee and Judea) where he used to roam about, give sermons and produce miracles between 30 C. E. and 33 C.E. It clearly manifests that he disappeared from Palestine for all time to come. This begs a question that either he ascended to Heaven or had secretly migrated to some unknown and far off place.
Notwithstanding the Muslims and Christian belief of leaving the earth by way of ascension, this irreversible absence equipped Mirza Ghulam Ahmad with a strong claim and assertion that Jesus left the place of his residence for good and went to a destination which was remote and out of the realm of the Jewish religious priests and Roman authorities.
Logically there is no foolproof mechanism to prove or disprove this claim that Hazrat Isa lived in hiding at an unknown place and died like other human beings. On these premises (which were not verifiable), Mirza Ghulam Ahmad negated the ascension as well as his promised descent from the Heaven. But since Quran foretold about his second coming to the earth to revive Islam, the claim of Mirza Sahib is repudiated as heretic by Sunnis and other Islamic denominations.
In regard to Islamic obligation for crusade against the opponents of Islam, Mirza Sahib advocated a peaceful propagation of Islam through pen and preaching and not by fighting with weapons or militarily.
It is claimed by his critics that he made this claim at the behest of the British government which didn’t want Muslims to wage jihad (Islamic crusade) in favor of Mahdi of Sudan (Who claimed to be the promised Mahdi in 1881) a spiritual leader of the Muslims at that time.
Notwithstanding his claim of being the promised Messiah, the fact is that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the author of over 90 books. He was resolutely committed to his conviction of being a reformer and the goal of reorienting Islam in his own manner.
Through his books, sermons and speeches, debates and discourses, he defended Islam against the papacy and the Christian church. His claim of being the promised Messiah cuts across the Christen belief that Jesus of Nazareth was the son of God.
Perhaps in this endeavor to denounce the Christianity and to prove him the promised Messiah, he went to the extent of belittling Jesus Christ by negating his ascension and return to earth as the promised Messiah.
But while in an effort to demean Christianity and denounce Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, he forgot the aspect that Jesus Christ was also one of the most prominent prophets (a prophet among four with a divine book) for the Muslims and they also believe in his second coming and his role to wage a crusade against the forces of evil for the revival of the pristine Islam.
As a result he came to be known as a profane revisionist, opposed to the finality of the prophet-hood of Hazrat Muhammad, rejecting the Jesus’ coming back to earth and projecting himself as the Imam Mahdi and the promised Messiah. To take the place of the scriptural Messiah, he had to claim that Jesus Christ died in this world and therefore the belief in his second coming was mistaken.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, despite a colossal opposition from both Christian and the Muslim religious scholars, clerics and various Islamic sects, succeeded in building up a network to continue his mission. Apart from the Islamic clerics and common Muslims, the Sunni movement or Tehreek-e-Khatam-e- Nabuwwat (Movement for the finality of Hazrat Muhammad is as the last prophet of God) is the most virulent opponent of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and his religious movement called Jamaat-e- Ahmadiyya.
Mirza Sahib introduced for his followers the system of pledge of allegiance to him as the promised Messiah besides abiding by ten conditions to follow for the rest of their life. The oath of allegiance and ten conditions are also obligatory for the Ahmadyia believers with regard to the succeeding caliphs of Mirza Sahib.
These conditions are akin to the Ten Commandments given by God to Prophet Moses on Mount Sinai. These cover worship of God as well as to adopt correct conduct and proper relationship with God and the fellow beings.
The ten conditions underlined by Mirza Sahib are: Abstaining from shirk, Praying five times daily, Keeping away from carnal vices, Causing no harm to anyone including the animals, Being faithful to God in all circumstances, submitting to the authority of the Holy Quran and Sayings of the Holy prophet, leading a life of humbleness, Serving Mankind, Obedience to him (Mirza Ghulam Ahmad) and keeping cause of Islam dearer to everything else.