Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"

Jesus in Islam V : End of Jesus' Mission


In this segment, Dr. Badawi repeats several old, and incorrect arguments, such as the Isma doctrine. He proceeds to attempt to downplay the significance of Jesus [since he considers Muhammad the final and greatest "Prophet"], while at the same time, citing passages from the Qur'an in which Jesus performed miracles - keep in mind that Muhammad did not give any signs at all.

Host: Could I ask you to recite that passage again because it is crucial to our topic.

Jamal Badawi: Sura 4:157-158:

That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:- Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;-

Why would the Jews "boast" that they killed the Messenger of God? Think about it for a minute. The Jewish followers of Jesus did not kill him. In fact, they were horrified when he was put to death. The Jewish enemies of Jesus were certainly happy to have Him out of their way, but they would never have called him the Messiah or a "Messenger" of God since they viewed such statements as blasphemy! To make matters worse, God's "illusion" convinced Christ's followers, as well as His enemies, that He had been crucified. So, if the Qur'an is true [which I do not believe to be the case], then God's "illusion" actually deprived the followers of Jesus, both then and now, of any chance of salvation. How could God be so dishonest, by tricking the followers of Jesus, and so cruel, since [according to the Qur'an] those who believe in the divinity of Jesus will be punished?

Host: This passage raises a number of, does it not, first of all, did the Qur'an negate categorically all of the events related to the crucifixion as in the Gospels?

Jamal Badawi: Not really, not 100% as some people might think. Even in such a controversial topic where there is such a fundamental difference, between what the Qur'an and other sacred writings teach, particularly Christian. There are certain elements in the New Testament which are not inconsistent with what the Qur'an says. At least in respect to two areas. One, the position of the Israelites in respect to Jesus and the conspiracy to have him crucified or killed.

True, there were members of the Jewish elite who wanted Jesus out of their way. However, please remember that Jesus was killed by the Romans under the authority of Pontius Pilate - He was not crucified by the Jews.

The second area of similarity and again I am talking about an area of similarity is that there is someone who agreed to imposter, there is someone who was crucified and believed to be Jesus by the Jews who thought that they killed him as the verse explains. Or by his followers even in many traditions has come down to us.

How is this remotely similar to what Christians believe? The Bible says, very clearly and in no uncertain terms, the Jesus died on the cross just as the Prophets of the Old Testament predicted.

But the main difference in the story of the crucifixion goes to the identity of who exactly was crucified. As far as the evidence of this area of similarity might say, one is that in Sura 3:54 we find that the Qur'an speaks specifically about the Israelites, that they plotted and planned but Allah is the best to plot and plan.

God is the "best to plot and plan"? How can we sinners trust a God who "plots and plans"? The Qur'an's assessment of God's personality makes Him appear far too human.

Of course, plotting here mean to get Jesus crucified, so the question of conspiracy is there - it is mentioned that they planned to kill him or get him killed. Secondly, in the ayah that we just cited, we find that it simply says again that the Israelites that they killed Jesus, and they would not be in a position to boast or say that, unless there seemed to be something that happened in front of them that led them to believe that they had already gotten rid of Jesus and that he was already crucified. The word even that is used here as so it was made to appear to them, it means in Arabic a sort of illusion or something that seemed to happen that led them to believe that they had already crucified him. So even in this area, there are some areas of similarity but basically the difference is in the identity of who died or was killed or put on the cross.

Once again, we see the problems Muhammad had when he attempted to explain an event which occurred long before he was born. The Jews did not execute Jesus the Romans killed Him. Once again, Muhammad is making the story up on an ad hoc basis.

Host: Some Christian writers have suggest that the reasons why Muslims do not accept the crucifixion story is that is in the Gospels is that they feel that it is not, how should I say, appropriate for a Prophet to be crucified, now how do you answer that?

Jamal Badawi: That explanation common as it may be is very erroneous and I have heard it several times from clergy, theologians African and North American, it is common and very erroneous. To start with, Muslim belief is not really founded or based on some sorts of theorizing or giving some reasons, like it is not good for a Prophet to die so we should reject this. Muslim belief is based on the Qur'an which is the word of Allah definitely the truest and ultimate truth, especially in matters that are unseen, something that is neither fully proven or disproven, something that goes back or something that will happen in the future, on the word of Allah. Now, there is absolutely no reference that I know of in the Qur'an which refers to this notion or idea that if a Prophet is killed or, and crucifixion is just one mode of killing, that this is really. In fact, the evidence is contrary to that claim. The Qur'an clearly indicates that the person who died, or gave his life or is martyred for the sake of Allah, or in the path of Allah is the highest honor that anyone can hope to attain. Indeed, in the Qur'an you find documentation in numerous ayats, or verses, about other Prophets who were killed before and it doesn't mean that it is something that belittles their position, several Prophets have been mentioned in the Qur'an have been killed especially when the Qur'an addresses the Israelites and what they did to their Prophets. I think that it is common knowledge that Prophet John the Baptist, who was a contemporary of Jesus and the Qur'an honors him tremendously, so there is no basis for that particular assumption. I would suspect that some of the Christian writers in particular who make that claim are simply projecting their own background and it is my understanding that in the book of Deuteronomy, in the Torah it says there whose Prophets shall die. How there is a connection there between killing and dishonor. But as far as the Qur'an is concerned, there is no basis for that. That's not the reason, the reason is that Allah in the Qur'an, the words of the creator is definitely the ultimate truth.

Perhaps, however many Muslim apologists use this line of reasoning.

Host: Maybe I will ask you related questions this time, people state that the Qur'an teaches that another man was crucified as a substitute for Jesus, is that true?

Jamal Badawi: When I, again we have to be quit careful because this again is a common statement made by missionaries which is based in fact on interpretation by scholars rather than the text of the Qur'an itself. I mean if someone says that some Muslims or some interpreters give this as an explanation - find. But sometimes it is written in such a way that it is the Muslim belief and based on the Qur'an, there is no other possible explanation. No where in the Qur'an does it say that does it say explicitly and clearly no Jesus was not killed but another person was given or substituted or replace Jesus on the cross. There is no such thing. In fact, if you refer back to the passage or verse that we recited earlier, the original Arabic says "it was so made to appear to them" . It so appeared to them. It is interpreted of course, and one person who did says that someone else, other than Jesus was crucified and people or people around thought that it was Jesus and not that other person. That is a possibility, but it is not the only one and that is the point, in other words, the text of the Qur'an the specific word of Allah, as revealed the last prophet is one thing. And the interpretations of others be they non Muslims or Muslims is something else that we cannot equate the theology of the verse with the wording of the verse. Means that substitution by human could also be by an angel or it could refer to a miracle that we do not fully know - which gave the impression that it was Christ who was on the cross and that the ultimate point made Allah saved him from the cross at the last moment. We cannot say indeed that is what the Qur'an said.

Once again, I must ask: why is the Qur'an so ambiguous concerning such an important topic as the crucifixion? If you want to convince me that the Bible, whose account was based on eyewitness testimony, is incorrect, you need to give me overwhelming evidence to prove your point. I do not accept the Qur'an [or any other book] as true simply because it claims to be true. I need irrefutable proof, something that the Qur'an does not have.

Host: A common reaction to the special mission is that there is unanimity, that Jesus was crucified and only the Qur'an is different. Maybe I could ask you to comment on that?

Jamal Badawi: That fact is that we have to be quit honest and frank. The Qur'an to the Muslim is the word of Allah, the revelation. Being the word of Allah, it is the final word, the information is coming from someone who does not make errors, it was not from someone who was mislead by an illusion, it is from the creator himself. And, as such, must be true.

It am not convinced that the Qur'an is the word of God. In fact, there are too many mistakes in the Qur'an for this claim to be true.

Secondly, It should be very clear also, the Qur'an and the truth of the Qur'an, being the word of Allah, does not need any confirmation by any human being, theologian, historian, or otherwise. Just like someone saying that a human being is confirming the word of his creator - that is the reverse analogy. Another point is that what Allah says as the truth to us is not contingent on what people say nor is it contingent on the presence or absence of unanimity. And Allah says that the unanimous opinion, even it existed, would be wrong because the words of Allah cannot be erroneous.

Nonsense! Every religion on this planet claims to be true. Our eternal destiny is at stake, we need to think for ourselves and ask for proof.

Having indicated this frame of reference from the Muslim standpoint, it may sound surprising, even to our Christian brethren it is not true historically that there has been unanimity that it was Jesus who died on the cross. Some people might be hearing that for the first time. In reference to that, George Sales a Christian writer himself a Christian missionary who made a translation of the Qur'an, he made the translation sometime back, and he mentioned there that some of the early Christians believed that it was actually not Jesus who was crucified and gave several names of sects like the Corinthians and the Basaladians and Corinthians and others. I understand that many of those sects were later called heretical. We all realize that historically that there was a certain time in the development of Christian thought where any belief or even any report that seemed to differ from the dogmas of the official Church was regarded as heretical and was punished very severely as you sometimes from history even death was the penalty for deviating from the acceptable interpretation by the official Church. So what I am saying is that why this unanimity existed, it does not negate Allah, but even then that unanimity historically is not.

And what do these heretical sects' beliefs prove? Are you promoting their beliefs based on historical evidence or are you promoting their ideas because they fit your preconceived model? The Nation of Islam believes that Jesus was killed in Jerusalem by a policeman. Does the fact some people [who call themselves Muslims] believe this scenario make it true?

Host: Is there any trace beyond early Christianity of any groups who held that Jesus was not crucified?

Jamal Badawi: Yes and this continued into the 16th and 17th for example in Austria, a Gospel was discovered of St Barnabas who was one of the close associates of Jesus who was spoken of very highly especially of the acts attributed to him I am not saying that it is right or wrong. Even thoung, I realize that this is not one of the Canonized, even though I know that it has been condemned by the Church as an apocrypha at best, but it was interesting again that it was discovered by Christians in a Christian country and language, that is someone else writing that document and putting it among Christians is very unlikely. Without getting into the merits and demerits of the Gospel of Barnabas I am saying that in that Gospel also, it indicates that the same basic story of Jesus, there are fundamental differences from the Canonized Gospels about Jesus who was crucified.

Once again, Dr. Badawi is reaching for anything [even if it goes against the teachings of the Qur'an] to make his point. The "Gospel of Barnabas" is a medieval forgery which contradicts the teachings of both the Bible and the Qur'an. To learn more about this topic, please read The Gospel of Barnabas: Its True Value, Origins and Sources of the Gospel of Barnabas

In addition to this if we take something that is even more recent, the Nag Hammadi which were discovered in Egypt during the early 40's made available for the first time in English in 1977, again indicates that it was not Jesus who was crucified. Very very old scrolls and some scholars say that some are as old or even older than the Canonized Gospel that we have today.

Not true. According to the The Treatise on the Resurrection, Jesus did die and resurrect. Also, according to The Apocryphon of James, The Interpretation of Knowledge and , The Gospel of Philip , Jesus was killed on the cross. Once again, Dr. Badawi should be careful when appealing to apocryphal texts such as the Nag Hammadi because they, more often than not, contradict the teachings of the Qur'an as well as the Bible.

I mentioned that those ... were made in a very interesting book which also presents an alternative explanation that it was not Jesus who was crucified, it was perhaps it has come up very recently and may not be known to many of the viewers. It was written by Michael Baigent : Holy Blood, Holy Grail, was published in 1982.

I read this book two years ago and found it quit entertaining and thought provoking. The problem with the thesis of this book [that Jesus produced children with Mary Magdalene] is that it is based on conjecture - not historical evidence.

So what I am saying is not only early Christianity, but in later time comparatively very recently with recent discoveries it is far from unanimous to say that the crucifixion, the typical story of crucifixion and after three days is the ultimate agreement among all Christians. But since our focus has been, up to this point, on other areas, but so far we have been focusing more on what the Qur'an the word of Allah says, we come back to this issue of the crucifixion in the light of the New Testament and in the light of the Old Testament prophecies that some Christians use as an idea to support what happened. The common notion that Muslims only reject or deny that Jesus was put on a cross is not true at all actually it is not true.

Dr. Badawi has given us only conjecture up to this point. Where is the historical evidence to support the Qur'an's rather confusing and convoluted story of Jesus? The fact that there is no "ultimate agreement" among Christians is hardly relevant. Is there universal agreement found among all of the members of any religion?

Host: Did Jesus predict both his crucifixion and resurrection and this according to the Qur'an. And is there any evidence for that claim?

Jamal Badawi: That's not true to start with. But still, it exist outside of the claim, I think that we should look into the basis of the claim that is sometimes used as an argument. In referring to Jesus, the Qur'an quotes him as saying : "Peace be upon me the day I was born the day I die and the day I come back to life". And some people have been tempted to say without careful study, they say look, here is even after the early days after his birth, he talks about his birth, his death, and his resurrection. That is, after his death on the cross, his resurrection after three days. That is far from an appropriate interpretation because and if the verse actually said that after I die on the cross, I will resurrect in three days than that would be a conclusive indication that this would be an accurate prediction of what is described in the Canonized Bible. Furthermore, it could mean that also is erroneous because this has to be interpreted also within the context of the Qur'an so the other areas that we decided early in the program ayah 157 and 158 says categorically and clearly and in no uncertain terms, nothing that you can interpret this way or that way. They killed him not nor did they crucify him, this is an approach to a story that was rejected already in the Qur'an. In addition to this, what was actually quoted on the tongue of Jesus are three stages that apply to every human being each of us pass through these same three stages, birth, death, and all of us will be resurrected in the day of judgement. So when this passage is put into the proper context of the Qur'an, we find that it applies to Jesus, it applies to you and me all human beings. And the Qur'an is quit clear in Sura 55 that every soul will have the taste of death, every soul will have the taste of death. And the Qur'an is replete with passages which shows that all of us will be resurrected in the day of judgement.

Then what was the purpose of Jesus saying this in the crib? My concern, in this case, is that Muhammad, like Dr. Badawi, did not understand the teachings of orthodox Christianity and relied on the misinterpretation of apocryphal texts, to fit his needs of the moment, without understanding the philosophical implications. In this case, Jesus is clearly predicting his execution and resurrection as the Bible and secular history records.

Host: Was that expression about Jesus, in other words, about the death and resurrection used in the Qur'an refers to any other person?

Jamal Badawi: Well, yes it was, the particular quotation that we had, for example, peace be upon me the day I was born, die, and come back to life, almost identically was used, exactly the same words, except instead of peace be upon me, it says peace be upon him about John the Baptist. It says about John the Baptist, peace be upon him the day he was born, dies, and comes back to life again. So there is not uniqueness in that respect, it probably refers to the experience of every human being and above all Jesus was a human being, a great person being but a human being.

Not a good comparison! John the Baptist's body is in a grave at this moment - some believe in Egypt. Jesus is in heaven both in body and soul as you suggest in later episodes of this program.

Host: Are there any passages in the Qur'an which refer to the death of Jesus?

Jamal Badawi: There are some passages that have been interpreted out of context to refer to the crucifixion but again the question came up the we could present all of these verses quit clearly, but particularly two of them represent a promise by Allah to save Jesus or recall him. That appears in Sura 3:54-55, these are quit crucial so I will try to read them:

And (the unbelievers) plotted and planned, and Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah. Behold! Allah said: "O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.

So here we find a term "mutawaffeeka" in Arabic which sometimes is translated as recall, calling you or taking you, that could also possibly refer to death, that's one.

The second related passage that refers to is in Sura 5:120:

[in the day of judgement]

Actually, it is Sura 5:117:

"Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit, 'worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord'; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them; when Thou didst take me up Thou wast the Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things.

Now, the most crucial term in both of these verses .... has two meanings, one is a lexicon meaning, Syed Maududi to fulfill, give or receive to receive you. And the Qur'an also used the derivatives from that root to fulfill something or to complete something which could mean God told Jesus that I am going to complete or finish your mission. By another meaning is to take you in a sense to take you or causing you to die. The difference in opinion or the difference in the linguistic meaning of the ways in which the meaning of the word can be taken the interpreters have differed to exactly what and how it can be explained. Perhaps if we have another opportunity, we can come back to this.

Once again, it amazes me that the Qur'an is so ambiguous about this important topic. If the Qur'an is the word of God and Jesus did not die on the cross, God should have given us irrefutable evidence to support this instead of ambiguous and contradictory verses. Did Jesus die like all other Prophets or was He taken into heaven? Also, why would an All Righteous God plot and plan to deceive the followers of Jesus? Do you realize how many men and women were tortured and put to death in the early days of Christianity, as well as today in places such as Sudan, for their faith in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus? Why would God be so dishonest? Does God's deception, concerning the crucifixion of Jesus, make Him a co-conspirator in the deification of Jesus? How can we have faith in a God who misleads His creation? The Muslim answer appears to be that we must "submit" to God, but how can you be sure that God [according to the Qur'an's perspective on God as the best plotter and planner] is not misleading you?

Andrew Vargo

Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"
Answering Islam Home Page