The Descent of Jesus, the Son of Mary, peace be upon them both

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwī and translated by Abu-Huraira Rahman and edited by Tariq Pandor

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They said: Will Jesus the son of Mary, peace be upon them both, descend as a just ruler before the Day of Judgement?

I said: why do you ask this question? Do you not know that I dislike these theological dogmatic questions that neither benefit religion nor worldly life, have no bearing in matters of faith, Islam and worship of the Lord of the worlds and nor is anything sought from them except pointless discussion and futile debates devoid of blessing?

They said: Certainly we know that about you, and we are convinced of your noble, dignified and excellent stance. We highly value it for its soundness, importance and loftiness. We are not turning away from it in the slightest, nor do we want it to be any other way. However, there has emerged, amongst us, one who delves excessively into secondary matters of knowledge, and has raised discussion on this question and denied the descent of Jesus, the son of Mary, peace be upon them both. In doing so, he diverts the idle, unoccupied, simple-souls who are gullible, unsophisticated and heedless, away from the worship of Allah and all else that should concern them, busying them with the useless debate you have mentioned, which is devoid of any blessing.

I said: leave the one who has made heterodox issues his norm, turning yourselves away from him and ignoring him, not giving him attention nor paying him any importance, for he is one of three:

  1. Either an independent expert (mujtahid) and has made a mistake in his judgement. If he is sincere unto Allah, this religion and the Muslims, then he will have a single reward, so do not preoccupy yourselves with refuting and rejecting him.
  2. Or one who is ignorant, so teach him, showing him the truth of the matter and removing for him his confusion. Perhaps Allah will guide him to what is correct, and he will learn, benefit and be prevented from his ignorance.
  3. Or he is obstinate, so turn away from him completely. That is the most effective way of extinguishing his fire, ending his allure and protecting Muslims from the harm of his stubbornness.

They said: since this question has been stirred up, guide us to understand your opinion on the matter.

I said: my opinion that I am content with, without doubt or skepticism is that Jesus the son of Mary, peace be upon them both, will descend before the Day of Judgement, kill the Dajjal, lead the Muslims, and live amongst them for a period as a just ruler. Religion will be for Allah entirely during that period. He will then die as all people die.

They said: what is your proof for that?

I said: the noble Quran, authentic hadith and consensus of the companions of the Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him.

As for the Quran, then His statement, exalted is He, quoting Jesus, peace be upon him: “Peace was on me the day I was born, and will be on me the day I die and the day I am raised to life again.” (Maryam: 33), along with His statement, exalted is He: “and their saying, ‘we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of God.’ They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, though it was made to appear like that to them. Those that disagreed about him are full of doubt, with no knowledge to follow, only supposition. They certainly did not kill him; rather Allah raised him up to Himself. Allah is almighty and wise. There is not one of the People of the Book who will not believe in him (Jesus) before his death, and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them.” (al-Nisa: 157-159).

The verse of Surat al-Nisa indicates his ascension to Allah, exalted is He. The verse of Surat Maryam demonstrates that he will die and so it necessitates that he will descend and then die. This is also what verse 159 from Surat al-Nisa confirms: “There is not one of the People of the Book who will not believe in him (Jesus) before his death.” Many from the pious predecessors have inferred [the same] from other verses of the Quran.

As for authentic hadith, there is what has been reported by the two Shaikhs, al-Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Huraira, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said: “By Him in Whose Hands is my soul, Jesus the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the Cross and kill the pigs and abolish the Jizya (it will not be accepted from a disbeliever). Money will be in abundance such that no one will accept it, and a single prostration to Allah will be better than the whole world and whatever is in it.”

There is also what Muslim reported from Hudhaifa b. Usaid, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: “Allah’s messenger, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, came to us as we were discussing the Last Hour. He said: ‘What are you discussing?’ We said, ‘We are discussing the Last Hour.’ Thereupon he said: “It will not come until you see ten signs before it: the smoke, Dajjal, the Beast, the rising of the sun from the west, the descent of Jesus son of Mary, may Allah be pleased with them both, Gog and Magog, and three sinkings of the earth – one in the east, one in the west and one in the Arabian peninsula – and the last one being a fire which burns forth from Yemen and would drive people to the place of their assembly.”

The authentic hadiths with this meaning are many.

As for consensus, Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal, may Allah have mercy on him stated: “The principles of the Sunnah, according to us, are to hold fast to what the companions of the Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, were upon and to emulate them…and belief that the Dajjal will emerge, with ‘kafir’ written between his eyes, and the hadiths that have come in this regard, and belief that that will happen. (And belief) that Jesus, son of Mary, peace be upon him, will descend and kill him (Dajjal) at Bab Lud. (Usul al-Sunnah: 11)

Ibn Battah al-‘Akbari, may Allah have mercy on him, stated: “We are now going to expound upon an explanation of the sunnah, its description and reality, and that which if the servant clings to it and draws near to Allah through it, he can be termed by it (i.e. termed one who follows the sunnah) and deserves to be included in its people. And [we will also mention] that which if he opposes it or part of it, he is included in those whom we denounce and warn others about, from the people of innovation and deviance, upon our description of whom there has been consensus amongst the people of Islam and the rest of the ummah from the time Allah sent His prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, until this era of ours…..The Descent of Jesus, peace be upon him: Then faith in Jesus, the son of Mary, peace be upon him, will descend from heaven to earth, and will break the cross and kill the pigs and the call to faith will be one.” (Sharh Kitab al-Sharh wal-Ibanah: 2/57).

Ibn ‘Atiyyah stated: “the ummah have agreed upon what the mass-transmitted hadiths contain, that Jesus is alive in the heavens and that he will descend at the end of time…” (Al-Muharrar al-Wajiz: 3/143). Al-Safarini stated: “the ummah have agreed upon his descent, and no one from those learned in shari’ah have differed on this. Rather the ones who rejected it are the philosophers and heretics whose opposition is not worthy of consideration.  Consensus of the ummah has been reached that he will descend and rule with this Muhammadan shari’ah, and he will not come with an independent shari’ah when he descends from heaven, even though prophethood will be established by him and he is described by it (i.e. as a prophet).” (Lawami’ al-Anwar al-Bahiyyah: 1/ 94-95).

They said: why does the Quran not state the matter clearly?

I said: so that people are not preoccupied with what distracts them from the purpose of their lives i.e. worship to debating secondary issues. Examples of this are plenty in the Qur’an where it suffices with indications. Those who possess knowledge will understand it and others will prevent themselves from attaining it, arguing and debating [instead].

They said: why did you not state, like others have, that the hadiths on this matter are mass-transmitted, well-known and well-circulated?

I said: Because the correct methodology as transmitted from the companions of the Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, the Successors and those after them, is that if a matter of the Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, reaches them by an established chain, they obeyed it and accepted it whole-heartedly. They were not concerned with the number of transmitters. You should know that mass-transmission (tawatur) and other concepts that were repeatedly argued by the theologians in the religion of Allah are from the newly invented matters in the religion. If a hadith is proven authentic, from the transmission of reliable and upright narrators, then it is a proof from Allah, exalted is He, upon those it reaches.

Hafidh Ibn Abd al-Barr al-Maliki, may Allah have mercy on him, stated: “the Ahl al-Sunnah affirm the descent of Jesus in the established reports concerning that from the Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, transmitted via solitary, upright narrators. (Al-Istidhkar: the chapter on what has been narrated describing Jesus, the son of Mary, peace be upon him.)

They said: if the matter is as clear as you have described then why do you not debate those who invent and prefer to hold odd opinions, so that you can deter them from their innovation and avert people from their harm?

I said: I strongly abhor debating because it leads to enmity and hatred between the opponents in the debate and brings about foolishness and disorder amongst the general people. It also turns people away from Allah’s remembrance and worship and subjects what is established from Allah and His messengers to sarcasm, mockery, refutation and rejection.

They said: what do you advise us?

I said: I advise you to worship your Lord and to submit to Him humbly and repentant, establishing the roots of faith in your hearts and increasing it (i.e. faith) with knowledge and recitation of the book of Allah, exalted is He. Beware of arguing and disputing in matters of religion for it harms your religion and removes blessings from your selves and your actions. Be aware that one utterance of ‘subhanAllah’ or ‘alhamdulillah’ or ‘la ilaha illa-Llah’ is far more virtuous to Allah than debating for months and years. Be conscious of Allah and fear Him if you are faithful, calling on Him for assistance, seeking refuge in Him, resorting to Him and holding fast to the rope of His book and adhering to the way of His prophet.

Disclaimer: Translations have not been checked by the author and represent the work of the translator