Allah will cause Jesus to die
And when Allah said: O Isa, I am going to terminate the period of your stay (on earth) (in Arabic, mutawafeeka) and cause you to ascend unto Me and purify you of those who disbelieve and make those who follow you above those who disbelieve to the day of resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, so l will decide between you concerning that in which you differed. Qur’an 3:55
(Jesus saying) I did not say to them aught save what Thou didst enjoin me with: That serve Allah, my Lord and your Lord, and I was a witness of them so long as I was among them, but when Thou didst cause me to die (Arabic- tawaffaytani), Thou wert the watcher over them, and Thou art witness of all things. Qur’an 5:117. *
The word “tawaffa” refers to physical death.
Some Muslims believe that the term “cause thee to die” or terminate (in Arabic, mutawafeeka) need not refer to physical death as it can have other meanings. It can refer to God snatching the body of Jesus away physically to Himself.
Baidawi has given us five alternative meanings : it could mean “achieve the whole of thy term and tarry till thy appointed end” or “take thee from the earth” or “take thee to myself sleeping” or “destroy in thee the lusts which hinder ascent to the whole of spirits” or “temporary death” (some say that God let him die for seven hours and then raised him to heaven).
The words “tawaffaytani” and “mutawafeeka” are forms of the Arabic word “tawaffa”.
The word mutawafeeka cannot possibly refer to God snatching Jesus’ body physically without his experiencing physical death.
The verb in Arabic (mutawafeeka) is used in the Quran with only two meanings.
The word is used 23 times in the Quran and 21 out of the 23 times, it refers to physical death. Only two times, it refers to the separation of the soul from the body at the time of sleep and during both these times, the qualifying words like sleep or night would be in the verse.
God calls to himself the souls of people while they sleep, keeps those whose death he has decreed, and sends back the others until the day when he finally calls them to himself. (6:60)
60] Dan Dialah yang menidurkan kamu di malam hari dan Dia mengetahui apa yang kamu kerjakan pada siang hari, kemudian Dia membangunkan kamu pada siang hari untuk disempurnakan umur (mu) yang telah ditentukan, kemudian kepada Allah-lah kamu kembali, lalu Dia memberitahukan kepadamu apa yang dahulu kamu kerjakan.
The word is never used in the Quran for God calling a person back to Himself in bodily form alive. It either means that person physically died or that he “went” to God in his sleep and “went” back to his body in the morning. But no Muslim would interpret this verse to mean that God took Jesus when he slept but returned his soul to the body when Jesus woke from his sleep. This would mean that Jesus never physically left this world. They would not want to interpret it as God taking Jesus’ body physically while he was still alive. But this interpretation is outside the Quran.
God then raised Jesus up (19.34-the root here is bth, a physical resurrection; the word is also used for a national renaissance) and exalted him to Himself (quran 3.55, 4.158-the root there is raf to exalt).
The Quran does not leave Jesus dead (assuming that it does speak of his death) but speaks of his glorification by God immediately after his death. Moreover, no Muslim (apart from the ahmadiyya) would agree that Jesus’ body is lying in some grave while his spirit is with God.
The most natural interpretation of the word “mutawafeeka” is still “natural death”.
If you ask an Arab what he understands by the word mutawafeeka, he would certainly say that he knows no other meanings other than physical death. When an Arab used this word on his uncle, his friend knows that his uncle died. Would his friend think that maybe God “took him from the earth in bodily form without physical death” or “destroyed in him the lusts which hinder ascent to the whole of spirits” or “his uncle died only a temporary death”?
The different translations of the Quran
Note the way other Quranic translators have translated these passages (Surah 3:55 and 5:117, in that order):
“… I am terminating your life, raising you to Me…”
“… When You terminated my life on earth…”
“… I am going to terminate the period of your stay (on earth) and cause you to ascend to Me…”
“… but when Thou didst cause me to die…”
“… I will cause thee to die a natural death and raise thee to Myself…”
“… but since Thou didst cause me to die…”
“… Verily, I shall cause thee to die, and shalt exult thee unto Me…”
“… but since Thou hast caused me to die…”
M. Muhammad Ali
“… I will cause thee to die and exalt thee in My presence…”
“… but when Thou didst cause me to die…”
To support the view that tawaffa almost always means death look at the following Quranic verses:
“If any of you die And leave widows behind, They shall wait concerning themselves Four months and ten days…” S. 2:234 Y. Ali
“Whether We let thee (O Muhammad) behold something of that which We promise or (whether We) cause thee to die, still unto Us is their return, and Allah moreover, is Witness over what they do.” S. 10:46 M. Pickthall
“Whom the angels cause to die while they are wronging themselves. Then will they make full submission (saying): We used not to do any wrong. Nay! Surely Allah is Knower of what ye used to do.” S. 16:28 Pickthall
“Say: The angel of death, who hath charge concerning you, will gather you, and afterward unto your Lord ye will be returned.” S. 32:11 Pickthall
The Quran teaches that Jesus, like other Apostles, had already died.
“Muhammad is no more Than an Apostle: many Were the Apostles that passed away Before him…” A. Yusuf Ali
The term which Ali translates as “many were the Apostles,” is the Arabic al-russul and is more precisely translated as “THE Apostles.” The phrase is inclusive and affirms that ALL the Apostles before Muhammad have passed away.
The following Muslim translations reflect this point:
“… the apostles have already passed away before him…” Shakir
“… Verily all Messengers have passed away before him…” Sher Ali
“… messengers have already passed away before him…” M. Muhammad Ali
“… Messengers have passed away before him…” T. Irving
The late Maulana Muhammad Ali of the Ahmadiyya sect states in relation to this passage:
“While this verse lays stress on the essential truth of Islam, it served another important purpose at the death of the Prophet. Some of the companions thought that the Prophet was not dead. Abu Bakr went in, and seeing that life had departed, ascended the pulpit and read this verse, which had a magical effect upon his hearers, all of them being convinced that the Prophet had passed away, as all prophets had passed away before him. The prophets were but mortals, and their span of mortal life must no doubt terminate like that of other mortals. This verse affords a conclusive proof that Jesus Christ was also dead; otherwise Abu Bakr’s argument could not have silenced the doubters of the Prophet’s death.” (Ali, Holy Quran [USA; Ahmadiyyah Anjuman Isha’at Islam Lahore Inc., 1995], pp. 168-169, f. 496 emphasis ours)
Many suggestions as to how long Jesus died for
There are yet others who acknowledge that He actually died a natural death, and continued in that state for three hours, or according to another tradition, seven hours-after which He was resurrected and taken to heaven (see Sale, Koran, pp. 51, 52, note 1).
Al-Tabari, the well-known historian and commentator on the quran, reports about a certain Wahab b. Munabih who lived around A.D. 700. This man was a leading transmitter of Judeo-Christian lore to the Muslims. His version of the Passion narrative is reported by Tabari as follows:
They brought him to the gibbet on which they intended to crucify him, but God raised him up to Himself and a simulacrum was crucified in his place. He remained there for seven hours, and then his mother and another woman whom He had cured of madness came to weep for him. But Jesus came to them and said, “God has raised me up to Himself, and this is a mere simulacrum. ” (Bruce, ibid., p. 178)
As an example of growing legendary traditions in Islam on the subject of the Crucifixion, we cite the view of “Thalabi.” He wrote the following about three hundred years after Whab b. Munabih:
When Jesus was brought to the cross, darkness covered the earth, and God sent angels who took position between them (the executioners) and Jesus. The shape of Jesus was put on Judas who had pointed him out, and they crucified him instead, supposing that he was Jesus. After three hours God took Jesus to Himself and raised him up to heaven. (Bruce, ibid., P. 179)
If the early translators of the Quran did not understand the verses to mean that Jesus died a physical death, why would there be so many theories as to how many hours Jesus died for?
Is Jesus still giving zakat in heaven right now?
“And He hath made me Blessed wheresoever I be, And hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long As I live.” Y. Ali
According to this reference Jesus is commanded to pray and give alms (zakat) until he dies. But if Muslims are correct, Jesus has not died and must therefore continue to give charity even now while in heaven!