Islam’s Denial of the Death of Jesus Christ
Islam’s Qur’an asserts that Jesus was not crucified; rather, the Savior’s death was only “made to appear” as such. Actually, it is alleged, he was “raised up” unto God without dying on the cross (Sura IV.157-158). Here is the text in full:
“That they said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus The son of Mary, The Apostle of God’; — But they killed him not, Nor crucified him, But so it was made To appear to them, And those who differ Therein are full of doubts, With no (certain) knowledge, But only conjecture to follow, For of a surety They killed him not: — Nay, God raised him up Unto Himself; and God Is Exalted in Power, Wise”
This allegation is absolutely void of evidence. For example, note the following.
- The Old Testaments prophets foretold the death of Christ. The Lord was to be pierced (Ps. 22:16; Zech. 12:10), led as a lamb to the slaughter (Isa. 53:7), slain as the Passover victim (Ex. 12:1ff; cf. 1 Cor. 5:7), and enter into Sheol (Ps. 16:10; cf. Acts 2:22-32) — the realm of the dead.
- Jesus himself declared that he would be killed (Mt. 16:21), and that his body would be in the grave three days (Mt. 12:40).
- The New Testament spokesmen uniformly affirmed that Jesus died. Peter proclaimed this message (Acts 2:23; 3:15; 1 Pet. 1:18-21), as did Stephen (Acts 7:52), Paul (Acts 13:28; 1 Cor. 15:1ff), and others (cf. Rev. 5:9; 11:8; 12:11), etc.
- Secular history confirms that Christ died. Josephus, the Jewish historian, refers to Jesus’ death (Antiquities 18.3.3). The Roman writer, Tacitus, said that Christ was “executed” by Pilate (Annals 15.44). The early enemies of Christianity, e.g., Celsus and Lucian, also conceded that Jesus was put to death, as did the Patristic writers of the ante-Nicean period.
The evidence for the death of the Lord is absolutely overwhelming. Only someone wholly oblivious to history, or with a diabolic agenda, would dare deny this irrefutable reality.
A Moslem scholar, who has written a brief commentary on the Qur’an, expresses the Islamic viewpoint regarding this matter.
“The end of the life of Jesus on earth is as much involved in mystery as his birth, and indeed the greater part of his private life, except the three main years of his ministry. It is not profitable to discuss the many doubts and conjectures among the early Christian sects and among Muslim theologians. The Orthodox Christian Churches make it a cardinal point of their doctrine that his life was taken on the Cross, that he died and was buried, that on the third day he rose in the body with his wounds intact, and walked about and conversed, and ate with his disciples, and was afterwards taken up bodily to heaven. This is necessary for the theological doctrine of blood sacrifice and vicarious atonement for sins, which is rejected by Islam” (Qur’an — Translation & Commentary, Islamic Propagation Centre International, A. Yusuf Ali, 1946, p. 230).
Mr. Ali cites several sources for the notion that Jesus never died, e.g., the Basilidans and the Docetae. The gentleman’s attempt to discredit the death of Jesus Christ is absolutely futile. Concerning these two sources we may observe succinctly:
- Basilides was an Egyptian Gnostic of the 2nd century A.D. He was a false philosopher who had only the remotest connection with Christianity. Basilides taught many things that would be disputed by Islam. He was hardly an authoritative source.
- The Gnostic movement, known as the Docetists, denied that Jesus ever existed in a human form; he only “appeared” that way. The Moslems, of course, would not endorse this idea.
It is, therefore, wholly disingenuous to quote these sources as though they had some bearing upon the true, historical picture relative to Jesus of Nazareth.
The Islamic repudiation of the death of Christ is grounded in an aversion to the biblical doctrine of the Lord’s vicarious death to atone for sin, and thus strikes at the very heart of the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth. The religion of Mohammed is hostile to the Christian faith, and it must never be viewed as an optional religious system that has divine approval.
Unfortunately some politicians, who ostensibly identify themselves with the Christian movement, are willing to mute their personal convictions concerning Jesus — in the interest of soothing Islamic feelings within the international community.
The genuine Christian would not dare accommodate such compromise (cf. Mt. 10:32-33).