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).
This allegation is absolutely void of evidence. Note the following.
- The Old Testament prophets foretold the death of Christ. The Lord was to be pierced (Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10), led as a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7), slain as the Passover victim (1 Corinthians 5:7), and enter into Sheol (Psalm 16:10) — the realm of the dead.
- Jesus himself declared that he would be killed (Matthew 16:21), and that his body would be in the grave three days (Matthew 12:40).
- The New Testament spokesmen uniformly affirmed that Jesus died. Peter proclaimed this message (Acts 2:23; 3:15), as did Stephen (Acts 7:52), Paul (Acts 13:28; 1 Corinthians 15:1ff), and others (cf. Revelation 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, cites several sources for the notion that Jesus never died, e.g., the Basilidans and the Docetae (Qur’an — Translation & Commentary, A. Yusuf Ali, 1946, p. 230).
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.
Another 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 never endorse this idea.
It is, therefore, quite 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 (Ali, p. 230). The Islamic system strikes at the very heart of the Gospel. It is hostile to the Christian faith.