Sunday, 1 July 2018

Death of Prophets Muhammad Jesus and all Apostles (3:144)


بســم اللــه الرحمــن الرحيــم

والصلاــة والسلاــم علــى نبيــه الكريــم

وعلــى اهــل بيتــه الطيبيــن الطاهريــن المظلوميــن

والعاقبة للمتقين

It is quite odd that the mainstream, orthodox Ulama insist that the Messiah son of Maryam (alayhis-salam) is at present alive with a worldly and corporal life, having been raised up to heaven in his physical body, when there are numerous compelling statements in the Qur’an al-Karim which proclaim that he is deceased. Even if the Qur’an was silent on the matter of whether the Messiah is dead or alive, those who believe he is alive would still have to bring explicit proof to substantiate their view. This is because the rational principle is that it is to be assumed that a person of ancient times died, as all mortal human beings are meant to die and cannot live beyond the natural human lifespan, even if the death of an ancient person is not explicitly mentioned. Most of the Ulama have no trouble accepting this principle when it comes to all the other Prophets besides the Messiah son of Maryam (alayhum as-salam). In the index of these Prophets, it seems the only one whose death has been explicitly mentioned by name is sayyidina Ya’qub (alayhis-salam):
أَمْ كُنتُمْ شُهَدَاءَ إِذْ حَضَرَ يَعْقُوبَ الْمَوْتُ
Or were you witnesses when death came to Jacob
(Sura 2:133)
But the Ulama, for the most part, acknowledge the death of the other prophets along with Ya’qub, even though, according to them, it is only Ya’qub that has been mentioned by name in the Qur’an as having died. Take for example sayyidina Alyasa that is Elisha - (alayhis-salam), a prophet mentioned in the Qur’an. None of the Ulama claim that he is alive, despite the fact that there is no explicit mention of him by name of him having died. Why then do the “orthodox” Ulama argue that the Messiah is alive? And whether or not the other prophets have been mentioned by name as having died, the fact of the matter is that there are several Verses in the Qur’an which explicitly mention the Messiah by name as having died. I have discussed two of them in the immediate past two entries. However, in this entry I shall bring forth the Ayah of the Qur’an which categorically states that all the Apostles of Allah passed away (died), which will necessarily have to include the Messiah too:
وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ ۚ أَفَإِن مَّاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَىٰ أَعْقَابِكُمْ
And Muhammad is not except an Apostle. Certainly, the Apostles from before him died. So if he died or is killed will you turn back upon your heels
(Sura 3:144)
The form of the verb khala has been used here as qad khalat, which I have translated to mean “died” but which most translations translate to mean “passed away”. Those who believe the Messiah is physically alive in heaven without having died, when presented with this Verse, claim that the Messiah “passed away” without having died. But the linguist, Ibn al-A’rabi (d. 231 H), said that when applied to a person, the verb khala signifies death:
خَلَا فلانٌ: إِذَا مَاتَ
(Taj al-Urus, v.38 p.11):
 

Interestingly, another Verse says:
مَّا الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ وَأُمُّهُ صِدِّيقَةٌ ۖ كَانَا يَأْكُلَانِ الطَّعَامَ
The Messiah son of Mary was not except an Apostle. Certainly, the Apostles from before him died, and his mother was truthful. They both used to eat food.
(Sura 5:75)
Whether the Ulama translate khalat here to mean “died” or “passed away”, most of them would certainly admit that all of the Apostles from before the Messiah son of Mary have died without exception. Yet the exact same words are used in 3:144, and those Ulama are inconsistent when they say an exception is made for the Messiah, who merely “passed away” without death, whereas all the other Apostles plainly died. Now apart from the verb khala as being applied to people (the Apostles), another proof that the Apostles, including the Messiah, have all died is the context and objective of this Ayah. Allah Most High is essentially saying that Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) is only an Apostle like all the Apostles who were before him, so if he dies or is killed is that justification for the people to turn apostate (a rhetorical question)? If none or even some of those Apostles from before Prophet Muhammad (alayhim as-salam) are alive and didn’t die, the very purpose of the Ayah in arguing for the humanity and inevitable death or possible murder of the Prophet would be defeated and rendered meaningless. Incidentally, when the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) did die, some of his companions initially were so shocked and refused to acknowledge his death. Foremost among them was sayyidina Umar (radi Allahu anhu) who at that time stood up with a naked sword and threatened with the following words:
إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لَمْ يَمُتْ ، وَلَكِنْ عُرِجَ بِرُوحِهِ كَمَا عُرِجَ بِرُوحِ مُوسَى ، وَاللَّهِ لَا يَمُوتُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ حَتَّى يَقْطَعَ أَيْدِيَ أَقْوَامٍ وَأَلْسِنَتَهُمْ
“Verily, the Apostle of Allah - sall Allahu alayhi wasallam - has not died, but rather his spirit has ascended like the ascension of the spirit of Moses. By Allah! The Apostle of Allah - sall Allahu alayhi wasallam - will not die until he cuts the hands of peoples and their tongues!” (Sunan al-Darimi)
While the people were in this hypnotic state, transfixed on sayyidina Umar and his threats, the Prophet’s closest and most senior companion, sayyidina Abi Bakr (radi Allahu anhu) emerged and then addressed those present:
أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّهُ مَنْ كَانَ يَعْبُدُ مُحَمَّدًا ؛ فَإِنَّ مُحَمَّدًا قَدْ مَاتَ ، وَمَنْ كَانَ يَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ ؛ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ حَيٌّ لا يَمُوتُ . ثُمَّ تَلا هَذِهِ الآيَةَ وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ سورة آل عمران آية 144 إِلَى آخِرِ الآيَةِ ، قَالَ : فَوَاللَّهِ لَكَأَنَّ النَّاسَ لَمْ يَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ هَذِهِ الآيَةَ نَزَلَتْ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ حَتَّى تَلاهَا أَبُو بَكْرٍ يَوْمَئِذٍ . قَالَ : وَأَخَذَهَا النَّاسُ عَنْ أَبِي بَكْرٍ فَإِنَّمَا هِيَ فِي أَفْوَاهِهِمْ . قَالَ أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ : قَالَ عُمَرُ : وَاللَّهِ مَا هُوَ إِلا أَنْ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا بَكْرٍ يَتْلُوهَا فَعُقِرْتُ حَتَّى وَقَعْتُ إِلَى الأَرْضِ ، مَا تَحْمِلُنِي رِجْلايَ وَعَرَفْتُ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَدْ مَاتَ
“O you people! Verily, whoever worshiped Muhammad, then verily Muhammad has died, and whoever worshiped Allah, then Allah is Living and does not die.” Then he recited this Ayah: And Muhammad is not except an Apostle. The Apostles from before him died (3:144) until the end of the Ayah. By Allah, the people did not remember this Ayah having been revealed upon the Apostle of Allah peace be upon him until Abu Bakr recited it that day. Abu Hurayra said: Umar said: “By Allah, my legs could not bear to keep me standing and I fell to the earth when I heard Aba Bakr reciting it, and I realized that the Apostle of Allah had really died.”
Interestingly, while sayyidina Umar was threatening the people and denying that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had died, he gave the example of the ascension of the spirit of Moses for forty nights, when the Prophet Moses went up to Mount Sinai and the Children of Israel became impatient believing him to have died. Sayyidina Umar claimed that likewise the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had not died but would soon return to exact revenge upon the “hypocrites” meaning anyone who was saying that he had died. If, as the “orthodox” Ulama claim, that the Messiah is physically alive in heaven, he would have been a more obvious example for sayyidina Umar to cite when he was denying the death of Prophet Muhammad. The fact that sayyidina Umar had to resort to citing the example of Prophet Moses instead is proof that even sayyidina Umar knew that the Messiah is deceased, and it would serve no purpose to compare the Prophet Muhammad with the Messiah in denying his death.

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