Has our Holy Prophet (saw) passed away while Jesus (as) is alive?

By Yusuf Arbaz Rabbi

“If anyone can cite a single instance from the Holy Qur’an or Hadith, or from ancient or modern Arabic poetry and prose, that the word Tawaffi, when applied to a human being, God being the subject, has been used in any connotation other than death and taking possession of the soul, for instance, in the connotation of the taking the body, I bind myself on oath that I shall pay that person one thousand rupees in cash by selling some of my property and shall always hold him in high esteem as a great scholar of the Holy Qur’an and Hadith.”  

[The Promised Messiah (as) -  Izala-e-Auham, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 3, p. 603]

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REPLY TO ALLEGATION (please note all references given count  بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ as the first verse)

Analysis of the verse 3:56 from Surah Al Imran given above.

In the verse 3:55-56 Allah says:

وَمَكَرُوا وَمَكَرَ اللَّـهُ ۖ وَاللَّـهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ

إِذْ قَالَ اللَّـهُ يَا عِيسَىٰ إِنِّي مُتَوَفِّيكَ وَرَافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ وَمُطَهِّرُكَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَجَاعِلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوكَ فَوْقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ ۖ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأَحْكُمُ بَيْنَكُمْ فِيمَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ

Translation:

“And they planned, and Allah also planned; and Allah is the Best of planners. 

When Allah said, ‘O Jesus, I will cause thee to die a natural death and will exalt thee to Myself, and will clear thee from the charges of those who disbelieve, and will place those who follow thee above those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, and I will judge between you concerning that wherein you differ.” 

They key words here are: يَا عِيسَىٰ إِنِّي مُتَوَفِّيكَ وَرَافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ 

Meaning: “O Jesus, I will cause thee to die [a natural death] and will exalt thee to Myself…..”

The key word here is “tawaffa”. The most correct meaning of “tawaffa” is death, or taking away soul. 

If Allah is the subject [ فاعله الله] and a human being is the object directly or indirectly [ والمفعول به أحد من بني آدم صريحا أو إشارة] then the meaning is nothing but death. The following sentences for instance;

 توفى الله زيدا = Allah caused Zaid to die

أو توفى الله بكرا = Allah caused Bakr to die

 أو تُوُفي خالد = Khalid died

The problem arises with regards to the verses 3:56 and also 5:118 , when Muslim translators refuse to interpret the meaning of “tawaffa” as death. The irony is that all scholars who translated the Holy Quran do agree “tawaffa” means death. Each and every scholar translated the word “tawaffa” as death in at least 20 different instances in their translations. However, in this particular verse, they interpreted the meaning as ‘take away’ and insinuate physical ascension. 

In the verse 3:56, two conditions are firstly stipulated about Jesus (pbuh):

(1) FirstAllah will cause him to die [إِنِّي مُتَوَفِّيكَ]

(2) Second, He will be raised to Allah [وَرَافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ] 

The second condition cannot take place till the first condition is met. In other words, before Jesus (pbuh) can be raised, first, he must die and as for those who insist on Taqdim and Ta’khir I will reply to this also later on in this article. Some claim that tawaffa in this verse does not mean death but this is against the view of a very well known companion of the Holy Prophet (sa), Hadhrat Ibn Abbas (ra). The Prophet (sa) prayed for him that he would be taught the intepretation of the Qur’an. It has been  narrated:

حَدَّثَنَا مُوسَى بْنُ إِسْمَاعِيلَ، حَدَّثَنَا وُهَيْبٌ، عَنْ خَالِدٍ، عَنْ عِكْرِمَةَ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، قَالَ ضَمَّنِي إِلَيْهِ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَقَالَ ‏ “‏ اللَّهُمَّ عَلِّمْهُ الْكِتَابَ ‏‏

Narrated Ibn Abbas ra: The Prophet (ﷺ) embraced me and said, “O Allah! Teach him (the knowledge of) the Book(Qur’an).”(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 92, Hadith #375)

Ibn Abbas (ra) stated:

 وَقَالَ ابْنُ عَبَّاسٍ { مُتَوَفِّيكَ } مُمِيتُكَ

Ibn Abbas (RA) said: “Mutawaffeeka is ‘I’ll cause you to die.‘ (Sahih Bukhari 14/149)

Hazrat Ibn Abbas (ra) made it clear that  مُتَوَفِّيكَ here means death and he is a companion of The Holy Prophet (sa) whose statement should be given precedence over the scholars of today.  The Promised Messiah (as) stated about him:

“Thus Ibn-e-‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, believed that Jesus had died. Our readers must be aware that Ibn-e-‘Abbas was among the foremost of those who comprehended the Holy Qur’an perfectly. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had prayed for him that he might be bestowed true knowledge of the Holy Qur’an.” 

[Izala-e-Auham, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 3, p. 225] 

Now let us see various translations of the same verse;

Correct translation: “O Jesus, I will cause thee to die a natural death and will exalt thee to Myself…”

Yusuf Ali: “O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to myself…”

Pickthall: “O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering thee and causing thee to ascend unto me…”

Rashad Khalifa:”O Jesus! I am terminating your life, raising you to me…..”

Mohammad Sarwar: He told Jesus, “I will save you from your enemies, raise you to myself…”

  1. H. Shakir: “O Isa! I am going to terminate the period of your stay (on earth) and cause you to ascend unto me”

Al-Hilali & M. Khan: “O ‘Iesa (Jesus)! I will take you and raise you to myself….”

Farooq-i-Azam Malik: “O Isa (Jesus)! I am going to recall you (from your mission) and raise you up to myself….”

Ahmed Ali: “O Jesus! I will take you to myself and exalt you…..”

From these translations we can see how these scholars have interpreted the word tawaffa in this verse to mean something other than death based on the belief that Jesus (as) will come back from the heavens in his physical body.

However, let us examine some of the verses and see how these translators translated the meaning of “tawaffa” in these instances:

Verse 3:194

 وَتَوَفَّنَا مَعَ الْأَبْرَارِ

Yusuf Ali: “…and take to thyself our souls in the company of the righteous”

Pickthall: “…and make us die the death of the righteous.”

Khalifa: “…..let us die as righteous believers”

Sarwar: “…let us die with the righteous ones.”

Shakir: “….and makes us die with the righteous.”

Hilali & Khan: “……and make us die in the state of righteousness….”

Farooq Malik: “…And make us die with the righteous.”

Ahmed Ali: “…And grant us (the glory of) death with the just.”

Verse 4:16

 حَتَّىٰ يَتَوَفَّاهُنَّ الْمَوْتُ

Yusuf Ali: “…until death to claim them….”

Pickthall: “…until death takes them….”

Khalifa: “…until they die,”

Sarwar: “…until they die…”

Shakir: “….until death takes them away…”

Hilali & Khan: “…until death comes to them…”

Farooq Malik: “…until they die…”

Ahmed Ali: “…until death …”

Verse 7:127

 وَتَوَفَّنَا مُسْلِمِينَ

Yusuf Ali: “…and take our soul unto thee as Muslims!”

Pickthall: “…and make us die as men who have surrendered.”

Khalifa: “…And let us die as submitters.”

Sarwar: “…let us die Muslims (submitted to God).”

Shakir: “…and cause us to die in submission.”

Hilali & Khan: “…And cause us to die as Muslims.”

Farooq Malik: “…And cause us to die as Muslims.”

Ahmed Ali: “….that we may die submitting (to you).”

Verse 10:47

أَوْ نَتَوَفَّيَنَّكَ

Yusuf Ali: “…or we take thy soul…”

Pickthall: “…cause thee to die,”

Khalifa: “…or terminate your life….”

Sarwar: “…or you die…”

Shakir: “….or causes you to die….”

Hilali & Khan: “…. – or we cause you to die, – ….

Farooq Malik: “…Or cause you to die….”

Ahmed Ali: “…or take you to yourself,”

Verse 12:102

 تَوَفَّنِي مُسْلِمًا

Yusuf Ali: “…take Thou my soul (at death) as one submitting…”

Pickthall: “… Make me to die Muslim (unto Thee),”

Khalifa: “…Let me die as submitter…”

Sarwar: “…cause me to die as a Muslim…”

Shakir: “…make me die a Muslim….”

Hilali & Khan: “…cause me to die as a Muslim…”

Farooq Malik: “… make me die as a Muslim …”

Ahmed Ali: “…let me die submitting to you.”

Here are some more verses in the Holy Quran where Allah used the word “tawaffa”. The verses are 2:235, 2:241, 4:98, 6:62, 7:38, 8:51,10:105, 13:41, 16:29, 16:33, 16:71, 39:43, 40:68, 40:78, 47:28 etc. In each of the instances, all these scholars translated the word “tawaffa” as death, or a word very close to death but none of them used a word to mean take away in alive condition. Only in two places the meaning is to take the soul away at the time of sleep; but the qualifying word “sleep” or “night” has been added (6:61 ; 39:43). Yet in these very two verses it still means death but a metaphorical death used in the sense of ‘causing to sleep’ on account of the close resemblance between sleep and death. 

Such a qualifying word is not to be found in the two verses where the word ‘tawaffa’ has been applied to Jesus (as)

[see Qur'an 3:56 and 5:118] therefore the usage of ‘tawaffa’ in these verses has no meaning other than death.

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Answering the issue of Taqdim and Takhir in the verse [3:56]:

Some Muslims say that ‘tawaffa’ here means death of Jesus (pbuh) after his descent from the Heavens in the latter days but the concept of taqdeem and ta’khir (i.e. the first mentioned promise to be read after the others) is and idle claim. Let me quote an extract from one of the Arabic books of the Promised Messiah (as) [Hammatul Bushra, Ruhani Khaza'in, vol.7 page 257-260] which he wrote in Arabic with a rough English translation of my own  where he spoke of the concept of taqdeem and takhir which some claim is present in the verse 3:56 and showed the fallacy of such a claim, he stated;

لأن المواعيد التي ذُكرتْ في هذه الآية بالترتيب قد وقعت وتمت كلها على ترتيبها الذي يوجد في تلك الآية، ووعدُ التوفّي مقدَّم عليها في الترتيب.وأنت تعلم أن وعد ]رَافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ[ قد وقع، وهكذا وعدُ ]مُطَهِّرُكَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا[وقَع وتم ببعث نبينا ، وقد شهد القرآن على أن المسيح وأمّه مبرَّءان مما قالت اليهود، فقال: ]مَا الْمَسِيحُ ابْن مَرْيَمَ إلا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ وَأُمُّهُ صِدِّيقَةٌ[، وقال: ]وَجِيهًا في الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ وَمِنَ الْمُقَرَّبِينَ[، وكذا تم وعد]وَجَاعِلُ الَّذِين اتَّبَعُوكَ فَوْقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا[، وقد وقع كما وعد، وما نرى اليهود إلا مغلوبين ومقهورين.

وأنت تعلم أن في ترتيب هذه الآية كانت هذه المواعيد كلها بعد وعد التوفي، وكان وعد التوفي مقدَّما على كلها، وقد اتفق القوم على أنها وقعت بترتيب يوجد في الآية، فلو فرضنا أن لفظ التوفي مؤخر من لفظ الرفع، للزمنا أن نقر بأن عيسى u قد توفى بعد الرفع وقبل وقوع المواعيد الباقية، وهذا مما لا يعتقد به أحد من المخالفين. ولو قلنا إن لفظ التوفي مؤخر من جملة: ]وَمُطَهِّرُكَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا[ ومقدَّم من وعد وقع في ترتيب الآية بعدها، للزمنا أن نقر بأن وفاة عيسى u كان بعد نبينا r من غير مكث قبل غلبة أتباعه على أعدائهم، وهذا باطل أيضا بزعم القوم، فإنهم قد اعتقدوا أن المسيح لا يموت إلا بعد هلاك الملل كلها. فلو رجعنا من هذه الأقوال كلها وقلنا إن المسيح لا يموت إلا بعد تكميل وعد الغلبة الممتدة إلى يوم القيامة كما صرحت آية: ]وَجَاعِلُ الَّذِين اتَّبَعُوكَ فَوْقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ[، للزمنا أن نقر بأن المسيح لا يموت إلا بعد يوم القيامة. ثم ما كان لنا أن نؤخر من عند أنفسنا ما قدّم الله تعالى في كتابه المحكم من غير سند من الله ورسوله، وما هذا إلا التحريف الذي لعن الله لأجله اليهود؛ فاتقوه ولا تقلِبوا آيات الله بعد ترتيبها إن كنتم خائفين.

Rough Translation:

“The promises that are contained in this verse are with order and have occurred and done on the basis of the arrangement mentioned in this verse. The promise of Tawaffa precedes [all the other promises] in arrangement. And you know that the promise ‘And I will raise thee to myself’ has occurred and likewise the promise ‘I will purify you of those who disbelieve’ has occurred and happened by the advent of our Prophet (sa) and the Qur’an has testified that Jesus and his mother were innocent of what the Jews had said where it has stated: “The Messiah, son of Mary was only a messenger; surely, messengers had indeed passed away before him And his mother was a truthful woman” and also said “Honored in this world and in the next and of those who are granted nearness to God” and thus the promise “And will place those who follow thee above those who disbelieve until the day of resurrection” has occurred as promised and we do not see the Jews except that they are overwhelmed and defeated. And you know that in the arrangement of this verse all these promises were to be followed after the promise of Tawaffa and the promise of Tawaffa precedes all of them. And the people have agreed on the fact that they have occurred on the basis of arrangement mentioned in the verse. If we assume that the term ‘Tawaffa’ is to be delayed until after the term ‘Rafa’ then we must acknowledge that Jesus died after being raised but died before the occurrence of the remaining [two] promises which is something not believed by any of those who stand contrary. And if we say that the term ‘Tawaffa’ was to come after the sentence “And will clear thee from the charges of those who disbelieve” then we must acknowledge that the death of Jesus (as) is to be after our Prophet (sa) but he will not stay to see the predominance of those who believe in him above those who disbelieve. And this is also a fallacy as they are agreed that the messiah shall not die until after the destruction of his enemies. If we take a step back from all of these statements and say that the Messiah will not die until the completion of the [last] promise which is extended to the day of Resurrection as it stated “And will place those who follow thee above those who disbelieve until the day of resurrection” we must then acknowledge that the Messiah will not die until after the day of judgement as the promise is extended to the day of Resurrection…… It is not for us from our own selves to delay [the promises] one after another from what Allah himself has put forward in his book without any support from Allah or his messenger as this is nothing but interpolation by which the Jews have been cursed by Allah, so fear him [Allah] and do not change the order of Allah’s verse if you fear” 

Basically, Allah the Almighty has in the verse of Chapter 3 verse 56 four promises to Jesus (as) and it cannot be said there is any instance of taqdim and takhir in this verse

1) First Promise:

 

إِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَا عِيسَىٰ إِنِّي مُتَوَفِّيكَ

 

“When Allah said O Jesus I Will cause thee to die a natural death”

 

The previous verse ( Chapter 3:55) shows Jews wanted to kill Jesus (as) by killing him on a cross. Allah replied by saying they will not be able to kill him rather he himself will cause him to die (a natural death) not an accursed death on the cross.This was the first promise of Allah to Jesus (as) in reply to the plan of the Jews.

 

2) Second Promise:

 

وَرَافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ

 

“And will exalt thee to myself”

 

Meaning that Jesus (as) will be exalted in the presence of Allah and will be raised spiritually, to think this means physical ascension is completely wrong.

 

3) Third Promise:

 

وَمُطَهِّرُكَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا

 

“And will clear thee from the charges of those who disbelieve.”

 

This means that Allah will clear him of the false charges from his enemies (i.e, illegitimate birth, accursed death) and would show that he was indeed a true prophet of his.

 

4) Fourth Promise:

 

جَاعِلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوكَ فَوْقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ

 

“And will place those who follow thee above those who disbelieve until the day of resurrection”

 

This basically means that precedence would be given to the followers of Jesus (as)  over the disbelievers till the Day of Judgment. [ Muslims are of course included in the believers, as we are true followers of Jesus (as) ]

 

Outcome= The last three promises as the Muslims are agreed upon have been fulfilled so if tawaffa does mean death then when would it come in this order? The Promised Messiah (as) basically argued that no matter where you place the promise of tawaffa after any of the other promises it would not make any sense whatsoever ,therefore the order in which the promises are given in the verse (3:56) is in the order in which it took place with Jesus (as) having to pass away first then the other 3 promises came to pass. It cannot be any other way.  :

Some try to find other places in the Qur’an of Taqdeem and Takhir  and in the statements of Ibn Abbas(ra) to show that tawaffa means death after the physical ascension from the heavens but they have been answered in another website made by another Ahmadi on the following site : http://ahmadianswers.com/jesus/quran/3-56/ where those examples have been answered. 

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Answering the allegation that Tawaffa does not mean death:

The non Ahmadis sometime quote verses such as: ثُمَّ تُوَفَّى كُلُّ نَفْسٍ which uses a word of the same root to confuse people which is tuwaffa rather then tawaffa.

 

The verses they quote to mean pay in full are all from : باب التفعيل [Bab Tafeel] but the challenge Promised Messiah(as) gave out was not for tuwaffa, which is used 18 times in the Holy Quran and is always translated as to pay in full. The argument the Promised Messiah (as) gave was for tawaffa which comes from  باب التفعل [Bab Tafa-ul]. 

Tawaffa is the challenge which The Promised Messiah (as) referred to from Bab Tafa-ul where Allah is the subject and the human being is the object where it means nothing but death and and no one has replied to his challenge till today.

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The Promised Messiah (as) in explaining the term ‘tawaffa’ said:

In the idiom of the Holy Qur’an, the word Tawaffi has always been used in the connotation of death and taking possession of the soul. A minute study of Arabic prose and poetry—both ancient and modern—shows that wherever the expression Tawaffi is used for a human being, and the action is attributed to Allah the Glorious, Tawaffi invariably means death and taking possession of the soul. In this context, there is not a single instance, where this expression means anything other than taking possession of the soul. Those who are wont to refer to lexicons like Qamus, Sihah, Sarah, etc., have not found a single instance where, in the context that we have mentioned, any other connotation has been attributed to the expression Tawaffi. There is not the slightest indication of the possibility of any other connotation. Then I studied the books of Hadith to discover whether the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or his companions had on any occasion applied the expression Tawaffi to a human being in any other connotation than that of death and taking possession of the soul. I had to labour hard in this search. What I discovered on checking every page of the compilations of Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Tirmadhi, Ibn-e-Majah, Abu Dawud, Nasa’i, Darimi, Mu’atta’ and Sharh-us-Sunnah etc., was that the expression Tawaffi has been used three hundred and forty six times, and in no single instance has it been used, either by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or by his companions, to mean anything other than ‘death’, or ‘taking possession of the soul’. I have gone through these books with great care line by line, and I can say that on each and every occasion the expression Tawaffi has been used only in the connotation of death or taking possession of the soul. A careful perusal of these books also establishes that, from the moment of the Call and all through his life, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) never used the expression Tawaffi in any connotation other than death and taking possession of the soul…. Imam Muhammad Isma‘il Bukhari has made a fine point in his compilation which indicates that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used the expression Tawaffi at least seven thousand times between his Call and his death, and every time he used it in the connotation of death and taking possession of the soul. Seekers after truth should be grateful to Imam Bukhari for this information. [Izala-e-Auham, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 3, pp. 583-585] 

He also stated;

I put only one question to the clerics who differ with me on the question of the death of Jesus. Had they pondered over it sincerely, it would have been enough to guide them aright, but they did not ponder over it, as none was desirous of being rightly guided. My question is: Twice has Allah the Glorious, applied the expression Tawaffi in the Holy Qur’an with reference to Jesus (as); and the same has been applied to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him); and it has also been used in the prayer of Joseph (peace be on him.) There are several other places where it has been used in the Holy Qur’an. Pondering over all these references, a just minded person would be satisfied that in each case Tawaffi connotes death and nothing but death. The expression Tawaffi has been used in hundreds of places in the Ahadith but nobody can show you a single occasion where it has been used to connote anything other than death. If an illiterate Arab were told Tuwuffiya Zaidun he would understand by it that Zaid has died. Whenever a companion or a relative of the Holy Prophet (sa) died, he always used the expression Tawaffi for the purpose of conveying that the person mentioned had died. When he himself died, the companions used the expression Tawaffi to convey that he had died. In the same way, this expression was used to indicate the death of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and all other companions of the Holy Prophet (May Allah be pleased with them.) The use of this word to indicate the death of a Muslim is an honourable way of conveying the news of his death. In view of all this, why is it that this expression, when used with reference to Jesus, should be interpreted in any other way? [Itmam-ul-Hujjah, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 8, pp. 292-293] 

The True Call:

Now it is incumbent upon Non Ahmadi’s to accept these Quranic statements quoted and try to understand the true connotations and the meanings of the Quran.

Made By Yusuf Arbaz Rabbi

وَمَا عَلَيْنَا إِلَّا الْبَلَاغُ الْمُبِينُ

‘And our duty is only to convey plainly.’

Qur’an Chapter 36 Verse 18

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