Questions and Answers about the Second Coming of Christ which are held by orthodox Muslims
Where is Jesus Christ now?
Muslim scholars insist that Isa did not die but was taken directly to heaven. They are in full agreement about this; however they are not agreed as to the exact stage in which he finds himself in heaven as he continues his life there in the body. According to the following tradition when Muhammad ascended on his celestial journey (The Miraj) to the highest heaven he passed Jesus in the second heaven, other traditions say he is in the third or fourth stage in heaven.
He said, “Then Gabriel took me and ascended up till he reached the second heaven ………….. When we reached over the second heaven, I saw Yahya and Jesus who were cousins. Gabriel said, ‘These are Yahya and Jesus, so greet them.’ I greeted them and they returned the greeting saying, ‘Welcome, O pious brother and pious Prophet!’ “(Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 640)
The Bible unambiguously asserts that Jesus is exalted at the right hand of God.
> “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrew 1:3).
> “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted …………….” (Acts 2:32, 33)
> “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:19)
> “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
Do Muslims believe that Christ will come again?
Christians and Muslims both hold that Jesus Christ was raised alive to heaven and will return to earth at the end times. Although the two religions differ as to how he shall appear and what he will accomplish when he returns, they both teach that his return from heaven will herald the climax of human history.
What does the Quran teach about the second coming of Christ?
The Quran has no definite teaching about the subject of Christ’s second coming, however, support of this doctrine may be found in the verse below.
> “And (Jesus) shall be a sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgement): Therefore have no doubt about the (Hour) but follow ye Me: this is a Straight Way.” (Az Zukhruf 43.61)
Yusuf Ali makes this comment about the verse: ‘This is understood to refer to the second coming of Jesus in the Last Days just before the Resurrection when he will destroy the false doctrines that pass under his name, and prepare the way for the universal acceptance of Islam, the Gospel of Unity and Peace, the Straight way of the Quran.’ (Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Quran, p.1337).
What do the traditions say about His return?
If we need to find the Muslim view about the return of Christ and understand Muslim eschatology we need to turn to the traditions. There are said to be seventy reliable traditions on the subject here are just three examples.
1. Narrated Abu Huraira, Allah’s Apostle said, “By Him in whose hands my soul is, the son of Mary (Jesus) will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) as a just ruler and will break the cross and kill the pig and abolish the Jazzy (a tax taken from the non-Muslims, who are in the protection, of the Muslim government). Then there will be abundance of money and no-body will accept charitable gifts. (Bukhari Volume 3, Book 34, Number 425)
2. Narrated Abu Huraira, Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jazzy tax. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it (as charitable gifts). (Bukhari Volume 3, Book 43, Number 656) Sahih Muslim Volume 1 No 289 adds that “spite, mutual hatred and jealousy against one another will certainly disappear” during his reign when he returns.
3. Sahih Bukhari states that on Christ’s return Christians will be judged by the Quran and raises a question as to how they will fare when such an eventuality occurs. “Narrated Abu Huraira, Allah’s Apostle said “How will you be when the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you and he will judge people by the Law of the Quran and not by the law of Gospel.” (Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 658)
What do the Quran Commentators say about His return?
According to Al-Baidawi (renowned Quran commentator d. 685 A.H.) ’He (Christ) will descend in the Holy Land at a place called Afik with a spear in his hand; with this he will kill al-Dadjal (Anti-Christ) and come to Jerusalem at the time of the salat of the morning prayer; the Imam will give place to him but he will refuse and will worship behind him according to the shariah of Muhammad; then he will kill the swine, break the crosses, lay all synagogues and churches in ruin and kill all Christians who do not believe him. The last statement is based on the following verse from the Quran:
> “And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgement he will be a witness against them” (An Nisa 4:159).
The consensus of commentators is that the time of his coming will be according to the fixed will of Allah. It is generally agreed that Isa will descend in the Middle East where he will destroy the Dajjal (Antichrist) and all his hosts. He will break the cross as a declaration forever against all the false notions that he was crucified. He will kill the pig and will make pork universally prohibited. He will abolish the Jiziyah tax which was imposed on non-Muslims who kept their own religion rather than Islam, for in the last day everyone will be required to embrace Islam so the tax will be redundant.
He will usher in an era of peace and prosperity unknown before and will rule over the earth for forty years the world community will be one and all will believe in the Islamic Christ. He will be a just ruler and a fair judge and will act and instruct others on the Quran and Hadith. He will also lead people in the ritual prayer. During this period all other religions besides Islam will perish and Jihad will cease. Wealth will be abundant and the receiving of Zakat and Sadaqa gifts will end as there will be no poor to receive them! There will be peace, harmony and tranquillity during his time in the world. There will be no animosity for a period of seven years; all hearts will be free from miserliness, envy, hatred, malice and jealousy. For forty years no one will fall ill or die; snakes, scorpions and wild animals will not harm anyone and camels will graze among lions, cheetahs with cattle and the jackals with goats. He will marry and have children, and he will die after forty years and be buried in Medina alongside the tombs of Muhammad, Abu Bakr and Umar.
The traditions have developed a system which seeks to perpetuate the superiority of Islam; Islam will be victorious while the other religions that once received a revelation, but either disobeyed or corrupted that revelation, will perish. The traditions have developed the Islamic Christ of the Quran who is ‘illustrious in this world and the next’, but is mortal, and like Muhammad and all mankind will die. Alternatively, the Bible clearly explains that he was a unique person who suffered death once, never to die again, one who is now gloriously alive in heaven and on his return as king all will kneel before him as he ushers in a righteous kingdom.
In Christian doctrine the return of Christ is called the Parousia are there any significant similar terms in Islam?
The Bible of course was written in Greek and there are a number of Greek words used to express the different stages in the second coming of Christ in the New Testament
1. ‘revelation’ –apocalypses
2. ’appearance’ – epiphaneia’
3. ’coming’ – parousia
When Islam speaks about this event it uses the Arabic term nuzul-i-Isa, which means the “descension of Jesus”.
Some Muslims say he will land on the Ka’ba in Mecca, others that he will land on the eastern minaret of the great Umayya mosque in Damascus which is called Isaya Minarah. Others say that Jesus will return by landing on top of the Dome of the Rock and that others will help him to the ground on a ladder. John Gilchrist has pointed out that ‘it seems absurd to consider that, after crossing the vast expanse of the universe on his way from heaven to earth, he will need a ladder to help him down the last thirty feet of his descent!’
The New Testament tells us that Christ ascended physically and visibly ‘from the mount of Olives’ (Acts 1:12); ‘a cloud received him out of their sight’ (Acts 1:9); he was carried up to heaven (Luke 24:51); that ‘he passed through the heavens’ (Hebrews 4:14) and ‘sat down at God’s right hand, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named’ (Ephesians 1:21).
The scripture also said, ‘Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven’ (Acts 1:11).
‘When he returns he will come from the place he last occupied in heaven. He will descend and will be seen coming upon the clouds, and then he will go forth to meet his people, while they too, will ascend from the earth to meet him in the air.’ (The Bible on the Life Hereafter, William Hendriksen)
How will Jesus be recognised when he comes?
Being unsure of the place where he will descend Muslims are therefore most anxious that they will not mistake him for anybody else. They are assured that there will be no problem because he will declare himself as a prophet of Islam who has come to correct his message which has been distorted and he will following this unite all believers under Islam.
He will have easily recognisable features as the following hadith makes clear: “There is no prophet between me and him that is Jesus (peace be upon him). He will descend (to earth). When you see him, recognise him: a man medium height, reddish hair, wearing two light low garments, looking as if drops were falling from his head though it will not be wet”. (Abu Dawud, Vol.3, p.1203).
In contrast to the uncertainties evinced by Muslim traditions on the subject, the Christian Scriptures are clear that his coming from heaven will be with such power and glory and will be accompanied by such dramatic signs on earth as will leave no one in any doubt as to who he is and what he has come to do.
> “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1.7)
> “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).
What will the second coming of ‘Isa establish in Islam?
Muslims contend that the ‘descension’ of ‘Isa to the earth will bring to conclusion the long confrontation between the monotheism of all the prophets on the one hand, and the polytheist deviations that infiltrated the teachings of Jesus after his departure on the other. These deviations were said to be encrypted in the Christian creeds which led them to deifying Jesus and making him both the son of God and one part of a triune god.
This confrontation will be a major aspect of human history because the Quran repeatedly exposed these Christian distortions and its unheeded warnings to those who follow the Christian faith will be upheld on the last day. The matter will be settled by Isa himself, who will come and rectify all the false representations concerning himself and remove these unwholesome beliefs kept by generations of Christians. He will preach pure monotheism in accordance with the teachings of Muhammad.
Does not the Quran say that Jesus himself said he will rise from the dead?
Some Christians interpret the following verse as the Quran’s confirmation of the Biblical account of the life of Christ, namely, that he was born without a human father; died upon the cross and was raised to life again on the third day.
> “Peace be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die and the day I am raised up again alive.” (Maryam 19:33)
The Muslim interpretation however, is radically different. Jesus was born, created by the will of Allah; he was taken directly into heaven without being crucified and so therefore in order to be in the likeness of the rest of mankind will need to return to earth, live here for some time then die; he will then along with all mankind be raised for the Day of Judgement. It is noteworthy that similar phraseology is used when the Quran refers to John the Baptist (Yahya)
> “O Yahya! Take hold of the Book with might”: and We gave him wisdom even as a youth, and piety (for all creatures) as from Us, and purity: He was devout, and kind to his parents, and he was not overbearing or rebellious. So Peace on him the day he was born, the day that he dies, and the day that he will be raised up to life (again)! (Miriam 19:12-15)