‘Jesus in the Qur’an’ is someone in whose birth, life, and departure from this world, ‘appearance’ and ‘reality’ constantly and amazingly differed from each other. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him, and upon all other prophets) described his eventual return as one in which ‘appearance’ and ‘reality’ would again amazingly differ.
And since his return would mark the end of history, the implication is that only those with religious insight can penetrate the ‘reality’ of the world today, its looming political and economic slavery, globalization, etc., – as we now approach that dramatic end. The event of his birth ‘appeared’ to involve Mary’s wrongdoing, and those who based judgment solely on external observation (i.e., modern western epistemology) were so convinced, and hence slandered her. The internally blind always misjudge people.
The ‘reality’ was that an innocent virgin had miraculously given birth to a baby-boy. Internal intuitive spiritual insight (i.e., seeing with the inner eye) should have forced the people to probe deeper into the matter before rushing to judgment.
They should have paused to ask themselves: why would the most famous, pious, unmarried Jewish girl in the land return to her people with her baby-boy in her arms after she had successfully concealed from her people both her pregnancy and childbirth?
And why would she not speak to explain, or to defend herself, when questioned on the matter? That was abnormal behavior!
Jesus, the newborn babe, spoke in the cradle. And these miracles continued in later life: “I have come to you”, said Jesus, “with a sign from your Lord in that I make for you out of clay as it were the figure of a bird, and breathe into it and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave; and I heal those born blind and the lepers and I quicken the dead by Allah’s leave . . . Surely therein is a Sign for you who believe.”
All of these ‘appeared’ to his enemies to be magic. The ‘reality’, as depicted by the Qur’an, was that Allah Most High had strengthened Jesus with the Holy-Spirit/Angel-Gabriel, and it was through his intervention that the miracles occurred.
Finally, the Qur’an depicted the scene of the crucifixion where people were convinced since they saw him crucified before their very eyes.
His enemies then boasted, “We have surely killed the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah.” There was sarcasm in that boastful claim since they had rejected his claim to be the Messiah and a Prophet.
But the Qur’an went on to describe a ‘reality’ that was quite different from that which ‘appeared’ to them.
The Qur’an declared “they did not kill him”, “they did not crucify him”, “Allah ‘took’ him”, Allah “made it appear” that he had died, and finally, “Allah raised him unto Himself”.
Most Muslim scholars today interpret the above event as one in which Allah substituted someone else for Jesus and that person was crucified. I differ, and, instead, interpret the verses as follows: Allah took his soul, and when the body was taken down, prepared for burial, and then sealed in the cave, Allah returned the soul to the body and then raised him unto Himself.
Hence he never experienced that death which the Qur’an calls maut (i.e., when the soul is taken and not returned).
And since the Qur’an declares that every soul must taste maut (death) the implication is that Jesus must one day return and die like all others.
Next week, Insha Allah, we shall examine ‘appearance’ and ‘reality’ in the dramatic return of Jesus.