Easter: A Muslim Standpoint

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Easter is one of the most celebrated festivals among Christians around the globe. It’s an important day on the Christians’ calendar as a day in which Jesus was believed to have risen to Heaven. Most Christians believe that believing in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is the only way to salvation.

The name Easter was gotten from the name of an ancient – Eostre. Eostre was a pagan female deity that was worshipped by early pagans before they accept Christians’ beliefs. The name and the celebration have been a controversial discussion among Christian missionaries because Eastre’s festival was introduced into Christianity to win the hearts of the pagans, and the conclusion of the date of Esther is still argued to date. The actual date that they believe Jesus was resurrected is not known.

The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is the whole concept of Christianity’s belief in salvation and Jesus as their God.

Every man that believes in Jesus’ resurrection is assured that his sins will be forgiven and will be admitted into heaven while those that do not accept Jesus as their Savior are doomed to Hell. Christians believe that no amount of worship, good, and righteousness can make a man see the kingdom of God until he accepts Jesus as his personal Savior.

However, Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet, messenger, and servant of God. They believe he was extraordinary like every other prophet of God. Muslims believe Jesus is not a son of God, as God is not human that will beget a child. They believe Jesus was born without a father, he is a blessing from God to his people, he performed miracles with the commandment of his Creator.

Contrary to the Christian belief, believing that God has a son or equating any human to God is synonymous with associating partner with God in Islam – One of the greatest sins in Islam.

All Muslims unanimously believe Jesus was not killed by his enemies, and he was rescued by Allah as the other prophets were saved when they were in danger. Muslims believe that God does not need the blood of a man before He will forgive His weak creatures, as God is described as the most forgiving and merciful God in the Muslim Holy Book, Quran. This is contrary to the Christian belief that every human is a sinner by nature and that it is until they believe in Jesus before this genetic sin that they inherited from Adam and Eve can be forgotten.

The Holy Qur’an chapter 2 verse 137 says;

Say ye: ‘We believe in Allah and what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob and his children, and what was given to Moses and Jesus, and what was given to all other Prophets from their Lord. We make no difference between any of them; remains Him, we submit ourselves.’

Islam accommodates all religions from God. Islam remains the only religion that commands its followers to accept all other prophets as their prophets and to believe in other scriptures before Qur’an as a message from God.

In fact, for the love Muslims have for Jesus, millions of Muslims name their sons Isa (Jesus). They built a mosque and named it after Jesus mother Maryam (Mary). How much love and respect can beat this attitude of Muslims towards Jesus Christ and his righteous mother?

However, mainstream Muslims and Christians agree to some level pertaining to the concepts of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection to heaven. These Muslims believe that Jesus was not killed but was raised to heaven. They believe that God gave someone Jesus’s appearance, or someone else replaced Jesus and the executioners thought the victim was Jesus, causing everyone to believe that Jesus was crucified.

Conversely, the Ahmadiyya Muslim of Islam believes that God is not deceitful and not tricky in His actions. Using the Quran, Bible, Hadith, they logically, scientifically disprove the belief that Jesus ascends to Heaven and has been sitting on the right hand of God for thousands of years. The belief that God made the executioners to crucify someone in place of Jesus literally means someone can be punished in place of another person. The Ahmadiyya followers believe that God making someone appear in the form of Jesus Christ is an insult to God as this act is not just and not miraculous but deceitful which is an insult to God Almighty and human intelligence.

These beliefs of Ahmadiyya Muslims are derived from the Bible and the Qur’an. We can find the perfect proof that Jesus survived the crucifixion and was not raised to Heaven in Matthew 12: 39, 40

“But he answered and said unto them; an evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign: and there shall be no sign given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”

The similarities between Jesus Christ and Jonah was that both of them cried to God in the time of distress. Jonah was swallowed by a big fish and he spent three days and three nights alive in the belly of the fish. Jonah prayed to God and he came out of the belly of the whale alive. These commonalities also happened to Jesus. Jesus was nailed on the cross and he cried to God. God answered his prayers as Jonah’s prayers were answered, he entered the tomb alive and came out of the tomb alive just like Jonah. There is no resemblance between Jesus and Jonah aside from this.

The Ahmadiyya Muslims believe that Jesus only spent a little time on the cross, and it takes days for someone to die on the cross. Pilate knowingly set Jesus’s crucifixion before Sabbath day and it is in their tradition that nobody should remain on the cross on Sabbath day. John 19:31

It’s read in the Gospel, “his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree; you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not defile the land that the Lord your God is giving you for possession.” Deuteronomy 21:23

The Gospel calls anyone that died on the Cross as an accused of God. So, making it more unbelievable that a true servant of God can be cursed and die by hanging.

Ahmadi Muslims believe that God answered Jesus’s cries on the Cross,

‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani’ — ‘My God, my God why hast Thou forsaken me?’,

The Promised Messiah — Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be on him) while explaining this cry of Jesus on the cross, stated

‘I did not expect things would come to this pass and that I would have to die on the cross. I was certain that God would listen to my prayers.’

God responded to Jesus’s distress call, and he only fainted and did not die.

According to John 19 vs 31–34,

“Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies were taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.”

It’s the tradition of the Jews to break the legs of those hanging on the cross to certify that they are dead, but the leg of Jesus Christ was not broken instead they pierced Jesus’ side with a spear bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

Medically speaking, when a body is dead, the heart stops pumping blood, and Livor Mortis sets in which leads to thrombosis (blood clots) and block the blood vessel. But in the case of Jesus when his side was pierced, blood and water suddenly flowed out signifying that he was alive. If it’s argued that gravity placed a role here, dead body blood only flows to a side it is resting. The blood of Jesus is supposed to have drained toward the lower part of the body since he’s hung. But blood gushed out by his side proving that he was alive.

When Jesus was taken down from the cross, he was taken away by his followers and was treated with healing plants, particularly aloe plants. When his wounds healed, he left the tomb at night and traveled from Jerusalem to Galilee. He showed himself to some of his trusted disciples as it was recorded in John 14:22:

Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?”

He did not want all his followers to know that he survived crucifixion because he was betrayed in the first place and revealing himself to the public can endanger his life again.

Jesus was only sent to the ten lost tribes of the house of Israel according to Matthew 15:24 and had not completed his duties when he was nailed on the cross.  He continued his mission in finding these lost tribes who had scattered beyond the Palestine region.

Ahmadis believe that after Jesus was miraculously saved from the hands of his enemies, he left the town eastward, going to Iran, Afghanistan, and India to spread his message to the lost tribes of Israel to who he was sent.

Jesus is believed to have died a natural death as other prophets, married, and had children. He lived for 120 years, died in Srinagar, Kashmir and his tomb can be found at Rosa Bal shrine.

We can find in the Holy Quran a verse confirming the death of Jesus;

“I said nothing to them except that which Thou didst command me — ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.’ And I was a witness over them as long as I remained among them, but since Thou didst cause me to die, Thou hast been the Watcher over them; and Thou art Witness over all things.” Quran Chapter 5 verse 118.

Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-din Mahmud Community (ra), the second caliph, leader of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, while explaining the verse wrote in his book, Invitation to Ahmadiyyat:

God in the name of Jesus declares that Christians became corrupt after the death of Jesus. While he lived, they and their beliefs remained uncorrupted. Reading this in the Quran, how can we think Jesus is not dead but alive in Heaven?

Another prophecy of the death of Jesus in the Holy Qur’an was mentioned in the same book.

“O, Jesus! indeed I will cause thee to die and exalt thee to Myself, and will clear thee of [the charges of those who disbelieve, and will place those who follow thee above those who deny thee, until the Day of Resurrection.” Qur’an Chapter 3 verse 56.

Jesus was exalted (or raised) to God after his death. The words ‘exalt thee’ or ‘raise thee’ come after the words ’cause thee to die’. We must observe the ordinary rules of language. What is mentioned first, must take place first. But maybe the Ulema know these rules better than God. Maybe they think that although ‘raising to God’ occurs later in the verse, it should have been earlier. But God is Wise beyond conception. He knows best how ideas should be expressed. In His speech, there can be no error, no deviation from the correct word order. He is our Creator and we are His creatures. We dare not find errors in His speech. We are ignorant and He is All-Knowing. How can we point to faults in His speech? But the Ulema seem to think there could be errors in the speech of God but not in their understanding of it. We cannot say this; for we see only perdition in such a thought. While we have eyes, we cannot fall into a pit. While we know, we must turn away the cup of poison held to our lips.

These verses are enough for the seeker after truth to know that Jesus has died and is not in Heaven.

While there are no records of Muslims celebrating Easter, the mainstream Muslims lack the intellectual and moral quality to challenge this Christians’ celebration because they both hold a similar belief that Jesus ascended to Heaven. These beliefs have strengthened the Christian argument that Jesus is God (God forbid). Muslim deny this fallacy of Jesus being God, but how can they argue with the Christian that Jesus is not God when no man ever lived on earth is now living with God in Heaven except Jesus. Who won’t celebrate such an extraordinary phenomenon? The Muslims will be defeated anywhere if they argue that Muhammad is the greatest prophet that ever lived when Jesus, a similar prophet, is living with God? What moral ground do they have to say that Jesus is not better than prophet Muhammad (saw) when he (Muhammad) lived, died, and was buried on earth and Jesus is alive sitting by the right hand of God?

Their belief that Jesus is in heaven is enough argument to get themselves defeated.

However, the Ahmadiyya explanation has done justice to the whole concept of crucifixion and resurrection by advancing proofs from the Gospel and the Holy Qur’an.

The love of Ahmadis for Jesus and respect for him is succinctly stated by Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-din Mahmud Community (ra),

“We hold Jesus in honor. But why? Because he is a prophet of God because God loved him, and he loved God. Our regard for him is due to our regard for God.”

Whereas mainstream Muslims disagree with Christians that Jesus was crucified, they agree that he was raised to heaven, Ahmadi Muslims, on the other hand, believe that Jesus was neither crucified nor raised to heaven. Rather he dies a natural death like every other prophet before him. The Ahmadis respect the views of both mainstream Muslims and Christians and do not abuse the people that celebrate Easter.

They uphold the belief in Jesus as directed by God in the Holy Qur’an, respect people of all faiths, and support humanity through their various establishments around the globe in fulfilling their motto, “Love for all, Hatred for none.”

Reference:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/livor-mortis

Invitation to Ahmadiyyat by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih II(ra)

The Holy Qur’an

The Gospel

About the writer: Ismail Rotimi Lawal is a graduate of pharmaceutics. He’s a keen writer and Secretary Media & Publications of Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Organization, Nigeria. He is also a the member of Muslim Writers’ Guild of Nigeria and the Assistant Programs Manager of Health Volunteers Naija, a Non-Governmental Organization – committed to enhanced community health in Nigeria.

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