Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Quran Testifies:

Jesus is Much Better And Greater than Muhammad (Pt. 2)

Sam Shamoun

In our previous discussion we saw how the Quran indicated that Jesus was greater than Muhammad and equal with Allah because of his ability to create in the exact same way that Allah creates life.

Continuing along the same line, the Islamic scripture testifies that the dead are not equal to the living:

Nor are the living equal with the dead. Lo! Allah maketh whom He will to hear. Thou canst not reach those who are in the graves. S. 35:22 Pickthall

This puts Muslims in another dilemma since their own religious text emphatically proclaims that Muhammad was a fallible mortal who would and did inevitably die like any other sinful human being:

Muhammad is naught but a Messenger; Messengers have passed away before him. Why, if he should die or is slain, will you turn about on your heels? If any man should turn about on his heels, he will not harm God in any way; and God will recompense the thankful. S. 3:144 Arberry

"Or you have a house of adornable materials (like silver and pure gold, etc.), or you ascend up into the sky, and even then we will put no faith in your ascension until you bring down for us a Book that we would read." Say (O Muhammad): "Glorified (and Exalted) be my Lord (Allah) above all that evil they (polytheists) associate with Him! Am I anything but a man, sent as a Messenger?" S. 17:93 Hilali-Khan

Say, "I am no more than a human like you, being inspired that your god is one god. Those who hope to meet their Lord shall work righteousness, and never worship any other god beside his Lord." S. 18:110 Khalifa

Verily, you (O Muhammad) will die and verily, they (too) will die. Then, on the Day of Resurrection, you will be disputing before your Lord. S. 39:30-31 Hilali-Khan

Say, "I am no more than a human being like you, who has been inspired that your god is one god. You shall be devoted to Him, and ask His forgiveness. Woe to the idol worshipers. S. 41:6 Khalifa

And yet the Quran teaches that Jesus is still alive in his very own physical body, since Allah took Christ to be with him in order to prevent the Jews from killing or crucifying him:

Behold! God said: "O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute. S. 3:55 A. Yusuf Ali

And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger - they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise. S. 4:157-158 Pickthall

This is why the historic, orthodox Islamic position has always taught that Christ shall descend from heaven with that very same physical body which he has possessed for nearly two thousand years and counting:

`Isa physically raised alive to heaven

A new translation of the meaning of the Qur'an named "The Holy Qur'an" by Allamah Nooruddin is being sold in Islamic book stores in America. On page 62-B of the glossary, while explaining the arabic word rafa'a, the translator says that "Of course, no one supposes that in these places raf'a means raising the body to the heavens. In fact when the raf'a of a person is spoken of as being to or toward God the meaning is invariably his spiritual elevation. (Lisan al Arab by Ibn Manzur, Taj al Arus by murtadza Husaini, Murfadat fi Gharaib al Qur'an, Sahih Al-Bukhari). Jesus himself has denied the possibility of his rising physically to heaven. Says he, "And no man has ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven."

What is the view of the 'ulama of ahl-as-sunnah wal-jama'ah on the raising up of Isa (as)? Was it physical or was it spiritual? Is there any difference of opinion on this?

1. There is NO DIFFERENCE OF OPINION among the Ulema of reports and of Tafsir that `Isa, upon him peace, was raised to heaven WITH HIS MATERIAL BODY as narrated from Ibn `Abbas by al-Tabari and from Qatada by Ibn Sa`d AND IS NOW ALIVE WITH HIS BODY in the first heaven just as Idris is now alive with his body in the fourth although there is divergence concerning the latter, upon our Prophet and them blessings and peace.

Since it matters to "Christian Muslims,"(*) we may add that the physical ascension of `Isa is also the belief of Christians in the near-totality or totality of their sects, and they know no grave nor claim any grave for him anywhere, upon him peace, other than the so-called Holy Sepulcher which they say he vacated after three days.

(*) "Christian Muslims": Purported Muslims who attempt to re-formulate Islam according to Christian beliefs and methodology.


Ibn Sa`d, Tabaqat (1:53).

Al-Tabari, Tarikh (1:495).

Al-Baghawi, Tafsir (3:200).

Ibn Taymiyya, Fatawa (4:322-323).

Ibn Kathir, Bidaya (6:291).

Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari (7:209), Talkhis al-Habir (3:214).

`Azim Abadi, `Awn al-Ma`bud (11:307, 11:311-313).

2. Further, it is MASS-TRANSMITTED (mutawatir) that `Isa will descend again from the heaven BOTH BODY AND SOUL, and this can only be after HE HAD BEEN RAISED THERE BODY AND SOUL, upon him peace. In fact, the hadith of his descent in the two Sahihs mentions that his head will be dripping with water. This is a reference to (a) the presence of a physical body and (b) the suspension of time for him since his head was dripping with water just before he was raised up, as narrated from Ibn `Abbas by al-Tabari, Ibn Abi Hatim, al-Nasa'i, and Ibn Abi Shayba with a chain meeting the criterion of Imam Muslim according to Ibn Kathir.


Ibn Abi Shayba (6:339).

Al-Nasa'i, al-Sunan al-Kubra (6:489).

Al-Tabari, Tafsir (28:92).

Abu Ghudda in Anwar Shah Kashmiri, al-Tasrih (p. 116-117).

Ibn Kathir, Bidaya (2:92), Tafsir (1:366, 1:574-575, 4:363).

Ibn Taymiyya, Fatawa (4:322-323).

Al-Ghumari, `Aqidat Ahl al-Islam (p. 25-37).

As for those that say "Of course, no one supposes that in these places [of the Qur'an] rafa`a means raising the body to the heavens" - if they mean `Isa, upon him be peace, then they are people of ignorance upon innovation upon corruption. This is confirmed by the fact that they not only dare reject mutawatir Islamic doctrine but do so on an Israelite basis. Islam is not so poor that it need rely on abrogated and corrupted scriptures when it has the Furqan. (Various Questions Answered, by Shaykh Gibril Haddad; capital and underline emphasis ours)

We do need correct Haddad’s error of claiming that Jesus is alive in the first heaven, something which is contradicted by the Quranic verses we cited earlier that plainly and expressly affirm that Jesus was actually taken to dwell with Allah himself.

Now since Islamic tradition teaches that Allah is reigning from above his throne, which is supposed to be higher than the seven heavens, and therefore above all creation,

Narrated Anas: Zaid bin Haritha came to the Prophet complaining about his wife. The Prophet kept on saying (to him), "Be afraid of Allah and keep your wife." Aisha said, "If Allah's Apostle were to conceal anything (of the Quran he would have concealed this Verse." Zainab used to boast before the wives of the Prophet and used to say, "You were given in marriage by your families, while I was married (to the Prophet) by Allah from over seven heavens." And Thabit recited, "The Verse:-- 'But (O Muhammad) you did hide in your heart that which Allah was about to make manifest, you did fear the people,' (33.37) was revealed in connection with Zainab and Zaid bin Haritha."  (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 516)

Jami` at-Tirmidhi

Chapters on Tafsir

Narrated Anas: "When this Ayah was revealed about Zainab bint Jahsh: 'So when Zaid had completed his aim with her, We gave her to you in marriage (33:37)' - he said: "She used to boast to the wives of the Prophet: 'Your families married you (to him) while Allah married me (to him) from above the Seven Heavens.'"

Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)

English reference: Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3213

Arabic reference: Book 47, Hadith 3519 (; italic and underline emphasis ours)

Sunan Ibn Majah

The Book of the Sunnah

It was narrated that 'Abbas bin 'Abdul-Mutallib said: "I was in Batha with a group of people, among them whom was the Messenger of Allah. A cloud passed over him, and he looked at it and said: 'What do you call this?' They said: 'Sahab (a cloud).' He said: 'And Muzn (rain cloud).' They said: 'And Muzn.' He said: 'And 'Anan (clouds).' Abu Bakr said: "They said: 'And 'Anan.'" He said: 'How much (distance) do you think there is between you and the heavens?' They said: 'We do not know.' He said: 'Between you and it is seventy-one, or seventy-two, or seventy-three years, and there is a similar distance between it and the heaven above it (and so on)' until he counted seven heavens. 'Then above the seventh heaven there is a sea, between whose top and bottom is a distance like that between one heaven and another. Then above that there are eight (angels in the form of) mountain goats. The distance between their hooves and their knees is like the distance between one heaven and the next. Then on their backs is the Throne, and the distance between the top and the bottom of the Throne is like the distance between one heaven and another. Then Allah is above that, the Blessed and Exalted."

Grade: Da'if (Darussalam)

English reference: Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 193

Arabic reference: Book 1, Hadith 198 (; italic and underline emphasis ours)

This means that Jesus in his physical body is now dwelling high above every created thing in existence!

So not only is Jesus better and superior to Muhammad, since the former has been alive in his body for nearly two thousand years, whereas the latter has been dead for approximately fourteen hundred years, Christ is also equal to Allah. Jesus, according to the Quran, is now physically dwelling with Allah above the throne, and therefore above the entire creation, which means that Christ is actually sharing in Allah’s sovereignty. After all, to dwell on/above the throne is to rule over all creation according to the Quran:

God! There is no god but He, - the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory). S. 2:255 Y. Ali

Lo! your Lord is Allah Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days, then He established Himself upon the Throne, directing all things. There is no intercessor (with Him) save after His permission. That is Allah, your Lord, so worship Him. Oh, will ye not remind? S. 10:3 Pickthall

Thus, Jesus is a co-ruler who reigns as Lord alongside Allah!

That’s not at all. The hadith records state that Muhammad’s closest friend and the father of Muhammad’s nine-year-old child bride, Abu Bakr quoted Q. 3:144 upon the death of Muhammad in order to remind them that they are to worship and serve Allah alone:

Narrated 'Aisha: Abu Bakr came riding his horse from his dwelling place in As-Sunh. He got down from it, entered the Mosque and did not speak with anybody till he came to me and went direct to the Prophet, who was covered with a marked blanket. Abu Bakr uncovered his face. He knelt down and kissed him and then started weeping and said, "My father and my mother be sacrificed for you, O Allah's Prophet! Allah will not combine two deaths on you. You have died the death which was written for you."

Narrated Abu Salama from Ibn Abbas: Abu Bakr came out and 'Umar , was addressing the people, and Abu Bakr told him to sit down but 'Umar refused. Abu Bakr again told him to sit down but 'Umar again refused. Then Abu Bakr recited the Tashah-hud (i.e. none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle) and the people attended to Abu Bakr and left 'Umar. Abu Bakr said, "Amma ba'du, whoever amongst you worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped Allah, Allah is alive and will never die. Allah said: 'Muhammad is no more than an Apostle and indeed (many) Apostles have passed away before him… (up to the) grateful.' " (3.144) (The narrator added, "By Allah, it was as if the people never knew that Allah had revealed this verse before till Abu Bakr recited it and then whoever heard it, started reciting it”). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 23, Book 23, Number 333)

Note the implicit logic behind Abu Bakr’s assertion. Muhammad is dead and therefore should not be worshiped. Rather, Allah is the one who should be worshiped since he is alive and never dies. 

I submit that, since Christ is also alive with Allah, sharing in his exalted status over creation, then this means that Muslims should also be worshiping and serving Jesus! At the very least it shows that Christians are thoroughly justified in worshiping the risen Christ as their sovereign Lord and Savior.

Thus, Jesus is unlike Muhammad and very much like Allah, since not only has he been alive in his physical body for close to two thousand years and counting, he is also been dwelling with Allah himself above creation for the same period of time!

Therefore, just like Abu Bakr said, those who follow and serve Muhammad need to be reminded he has been dead and buried for approximately fourteen hundred years. Whereas, to all those worshiping and serving the Lord Jesus Christ, rest assured and know for certain that he is alive and can never die!

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’” John 11:23-27 MEV

“‘Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also. You know where I am going, and you know the way.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, AND THE LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.’” John 14:1-7 MEV

“When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though I were dead. Then He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, though I was dead. Look! I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.’” Revelation 1:17-18 MEV