Todd Lawson recently released a thoroughly researched book entitled “Christ and the Crucifixion”. In this research book, Lawson analyzed Surah al-Nisa’, Verse 157 (4:158 in the ahmadi Quran) and the historicity therein. Lawson takes us on a journey through the thought process of over twenty-five mufassireen (interpreters of the Qu’ran). Lawson gives the reader an opportunity to view what Muslim scholars had to say on the subject. This is a very troubling development for Ahmadiyyat. This research project shows that, historically for generations, 99.9% of Muslims believed in four things:
a—That ‘Esa bin Maryam عليه اسلام was never on a cross
b—Another person was put on the cross
c—-Jesus physically ascended to heaven
d—-Jesus will physically descend
There was even an account of Al-Zamakhshari (d. 538/1144). Zamakhshari was of Mu’tazalite persuasion and was known to hold “rationalistic” and non-traditional tendencies (Lawson, 100). The author comments on Zamakhshari , writing:
“Al-Zamakhsari relates the famous story of how Jesus asked his disciples for a volunteer to be killed in his stead. God cast the likeness of Jesus upon a disciple who was subsequently crucified and killed. The exegete mentions that some believe this to have been Judas, who was substituted for Jesus and crucified as punishment for his betrayal. That this account is unsatisfactory of Al-Zamakhsari is evident when he details the confusion of the witness of these events: ‘some said that Jesus was killed and crucified, and some said, “If that is Jesus, where is our companion, or if that is our companion, where is Jesus?” Some said he was raised to heaven and some said that the face, is the face of Jesus, but the body, is the body of our companion” (pg. 101, Lawson).
Amazingly enough, when defining Aal Imran, verse 54 Zamakhasari wrote that mutawafikka meant death. Lawson writes the impression of Zamakhasari: “The Jews then agreed to kill Jesus, and God informed Jesus that he would raise him to heaven and purify him of association with the offenders”.
3:55 by Al- Zamakhsari:
“Lo, God said: “Oh Jesus! Verily, I shall cause thee to die, and shall exalt thee unto me, and cleanse thee of (the presence of) those who are bent on denying the truth…………….”
In summary, Zamakhsari believed:
a—Jesus was never on the cross
b—Allah caused Jesus to die before He wafaa’d him to heaven, physically
c—Jesus will physically return
d—Someone else was hung on the cross, not ‘Esa عليه السلام
This proves that in the past there were some Muslims who believed that ‘Esa bin Maryam عليه السلام had died according to Surah Aal Imran verse 54, but that did not change the other underlying factors of the substitution theory. In other words, just because Jesus died, does not change the fact that he will physically return, nor does it change the fact that someone else was hung. Nor does it mean that he travelled to India!
In my opinion, it appears that some Muslims believed that ‘Esa bin Maryam عليه السلام died the day after his disciple was hung. Jesus was able to meet some of his companions before he was physically raised. The Muslim scholars who wrote that ‘Esa bin Maryam عليه السلام died, they all believed in the “substitution theory”. They never thought that he lived more than a week after the attempted hanging.
Mirza Ghulam and other Ahmadi leaders have also quoted Imam Malik in terms of the death of ‘Esa bin Maryam عليه السلام. They have written that Imam Malik also believed in the death of ‘Esa bin Maryam عليه السلام. It seems that Imam Malik believed that ‘Esa bin Maryam عليه السلام died just a few days after his likeness was cast upon another, it also appears that Imam Malik believed that ‘Esa bin Maryam عليه السلام had physically ascended to heaven and will physically re-appear. Further, Imam Malik believed that ‘Esa bin Maryam عليه السلام would return as a “non-prophet”.
Who is Todd Lawson
Todd Lawson is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto.
His accolades are as follows:
• PHD (1987) McGill University
• M.A. (1980) McGill University
• B.A. (1976) University of British Columbia
Shabbir Ally on Zamakhshari and 4;157, specifically, “”but it appeared as that to them,””
Shabbir Ally explains a small situation, he says that this sentence could be translated a few different ways, at both were acceptable in islamic grammar.
1st way—–“he was made to appear to them”
2nd way—“It was made to appear to them”
In the second way, it could refer to the person who’s face was disfigured to look like that of Esa (as). Zamakhshari preferred the 2nd version, and he endorsed the substitution theory. Nevertheless, Zamakhshari concluded that whatever may have happened, the romans thought that they had crucified Jesus.
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