The Muslim Interpretation of Christ's Resurrection
29 SEP 2017
Muslims do not believe, as Christians do, that Jesus of Nazareth was resurrected from the dead. Some details vary, but the consensus in Islam is that Jesus was "raised" or "elevated" to God in the same manner as Muhammad and the other prophets. There is nothing similar to the doctrine of atonement in Islam, so the resurrection is a non-issue to Muslims unless Christianity is part of the discussion.
1 Jesus: Islamic Prophet
Isa, as the Quran calls Jesus, is a critical figure in Islam. Muslims believe he was born of the Virgin Mary, performed miracles and was given the Gospel. Like Muhammad, he was a Messenger of God called a "rasul." Jesus was a special man put on earth to preach a specific message, and when it was done he was raised to God. There was no need for a resurrection.
2 Gospel vs. Quran
The Gospels paint a gory picture of torture and humiliation on the cross, and only later is God's triumph manifest in Jesus' glorious resurrection and victory over sin and death. In the Quranic version of Jesus' death, God's triumph was never in question -- the crucifixion, as the Gospels tell it, never happened. In Islam, one of the functions of the Quran is to correct misunderstandings of earlier scripture.
3 Crucifixion and Resurection
According to the Quran, Jesus never suffered, and died on the cross. Sura 4, verses 157 through 158 state: "And [for] their saying, 'Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.' And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise."
4 Interpretations of the Quran's Account
Traditionally, the majority opinion of scholars practicing "tafsir," or Quranic interpretation, has been that either someone was substituted on the cross for Jesus or that the entire thing was an illusion. According to Joseph Cumming of the Yale University Divinity School, the Ahmadiyya and Qadiani sects believe that Jesus lost consciousness on the cross, was revived in the tomb and lived out his life in Kashmir. Some Muslim scholars, such as Mahmoud Ayoub, read the passage allegorically as a defense of Jesus to the Jewish population in Medina, a city about 280 miles north of Mecca, noting that the important thing to remember is that God was victorious over evil.
5 Understanding the Islamic Jesus
When considering Islam's attitude toward the resurrection, you must remember the context -- the resurrection is not needed because original sin does not exist in Islam. There is no inherent sin in mankind that needs redemption through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. In this context, the crucifixion as it is told in the Gospels would be a horrible miscarriage of justice, and it would make little sense for God to allow it.