Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Crucifixion and the Quran

By Cornelius

The Quran clearly teaches that Jesus did not die by crucifixion.

"And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger - they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain". S. 4:157 Pickthall

Common Ground

The Quran says it appeared that Jesus died by crucifixion but Jesus did not, while the Bible says it appeared that Jesus died by crucifixion because he did. Muslims and the Christians have common ground in that both agree that it appeared that Jesus died by crucifixion. What are the logical implications of this undisputed fact?

  1. If it appeared that Jesus died by crucifixion, then all should agree that all empirical evidence available to someone on the scene, when processed logically, should lead a person to the conclusion that Jesus died by crucifixion. If this is not the case then the Quran is false in saying that it appeared that way.
  2. Historical accounts, based on empirical observations, should therefore lead any to the inescapable conclusion that Jesus died by crucifixion. If there were other reasonable explanations then one could not legitimately claim that Allah really made it appear that Jesus died by crucifixion.
    1. If a Muslim claims the empirically based historical accounts could be interpreted another way, he is denying the Quran’s claim that Allah made it appear that Jesus died by crucifixion.
  3. It is a waste of time for Christians to go over the details of the historical accounts to show that the only logical conclusion one could reach based solely upon the empirically derived historical evidence is that Jesus died by crucifixion. A true Muslim should concede that point but would claim that there is an additional source of historical information not having it’s origins in empirical observation, namely the Quran. The Muslim will typically claim the Quran is more reliable than the empirically based accounts.

The Final Question

The question then becomes: Is the Quran a more reliable source of history than valid empirically based historical accounts? Should we believe the Quran over the accounts of eye witnesses? Many Muslims state that the Quran is more reliable than anything, the reason being, it is the word of Allah. Do they have a good reason for believing this or not? In what follows I list some of the objections Christians have raised, and invite our Muslim friends to respond.

  1. According to Ibn Kathir, Surah 3:52-54 also speaks of the crucifixion of Jesus and it states
  2. "But when Jesus became conscious of their disbelief, he cried: Who will be my helpers in the cause of Allah? The disciples said: We will be Allah's helpers. We believe in Allah, and bear thou witness that we have surrendered (unto Him). Our Lord! We believe in that which Thou hast revealed and we follow him whom Thou hast sent. Enroll us among those who witness (to the truth). And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of schemers." S. 3:52-54 Pickthall

    In Arabic Surah 3:54 reads

    Allah refers to himself as "Khayrul-Makereen" which correctly translated means "Allah is the greatest of all deceivers." This is easily verified by looking up the root letters (Meem, Kaaf, and Rah) in an Arabic Dictionary such as Al-Mawrid:

    If one is still in doubt as to the meaning of the term "Makereen" consider Abu Bakr’s testimony to the deceptive character of Allah taken from the "Successors of the Messenger" by Khalid Muhammad Khalid, p. 70:

    For those of you who don’t read Arabic, Abu Bakr, though promised paradise by Allah and his apostle, with tears in his eyes says, “By Allah! I would not feel safe from the deception (same Arabic root Meem, Kaaf, and Rah) of Allah, even if I had one foot in paradise.”

    The testimony of Abu Bakr is consistent with surah 7:99 of the Quran, which tells Muslims that they should not feel secure against the makr or deception of Allah.

    "Are they then secure from Allah's scheme (makr)? None deemeth himself secure from Allah's scheme (makr) save folk that perish." Surah 7:99 Pickthall

    The word translated "scheme" by Pickthall is the same Arabic root word (Meem, Kaaf, Rah or Makr) which the dictionary tells us means deception. The Arabic of Surah 7:99 is given below.

    Abu Bakr could not feel safe from Allah’s deception (Makr) even though he was promised paradise by Allah and his apostle Muhammad! Since according to the Quran and Abu Bakr, Allah is the greatest of all deceivers, why should we believe his words at all? Let alone above all historical and empirical evidence?

  3. Jesus’ loyal followers believed he died by crucifixion and most of them sacrificed their lives for the propagation of that message. If Allah deceived the loyal followers of prophet Jesus regarding what they thought they saw and heard, then what assurance do we have that Allah didn’t likewise deceive the loyal followers of Muhammad concerning what they thought they recalled Muhammad saying and doing? And why should we then place such stock in the collection of a book which relied upon empirical observations of the loyal followers of one of Allah’s prophets if Allah is the greatest of all deceivers and is fond of deceiving the loyal followers of his prophets?

    1. Perhaps the deception of Allah may be blamed for the violent disagreements that early Muslims had over whose codex of the Quran was superior. (This problem was only settled when Uthman resorted to burning all the Qurans that disagreed with his preferred version.) Some may point to the fact that al-Bukhari had to reject over 90% of the hadiths he collected because he considered them spurious. Obviously there were some problems with people being deceived regarding what they thought they recalled Muhammad saying and doing!

  4. In Surah 18:83-91 Allah himself gives a historical account of Dhu'l-Qarneyn whom Allah says reached both the rising and the setting of the sun, and found it setting in a muddy pool. Are we likewise to take this historical narrative of the Quran over all empirical evidence and believe that the sun sets in a muddy pool? Are we also to believe that Dhu'l-Qarneyn actually reached the place where the sun rises and the place where it sets? If this historical narrative is not to be taken seriously, why should the crucifixion narrative be taken seriously?

  5. There is a long list of historical errors in the Quran such as a Samaritan existing at the time of Moses (Surah 20:83-97) and Jews believing Ezra is the son of Allah (Surah 9:30) etc… This being the case, why should we consider the Quran to be an accurate source of history?

  6. Given that Surah 3:55 states that the true followers of Jesus will have superiority over the disbelievers, how can a good Muslim believe that the true followers of Jesus were overpowered by the unbelievers to the extent that the unbelievers corrupted the believers’ scriptures rendering them false and misleading?
  7. (And remember) when Allah said: O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering thee and causing thee to ascend unto Me, and am cleansing thee of those who disbelieve and am setting those who follow thee above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then unto Me ye will (all) return, and I shall judge between you as to that wherein ye used to differ. S. 3:55 Pickthall


Dear Friends, we are asked to choose between two witnesses: the Quran, a book which claims to be the words of the greatest of all deceivers, and which says that the sun sets in a muddy pool; or the only logical conclusion one is able to make based upon the empirical evidence. Will you side with the historical evidence, or follow the greatest of all deceivers? The choice is yours.