According to traditions dating 1st century AD and several ancient works in Persian, Arabic & Sanskrit, this Yuza Asaf was a Prophet to the Children of Israel who was crucified by his own people. However, he survived the crucifixion and migrated to live in Kashmir.
There are tantalizing architectural, inscriptional, anthropological, archeological & document evidences which strongly indicate that Yuza Asaf was, indeed, Jesus Christ. He had arrived in Kashmir in the 1st century. ‘Jesus Christ’ itself was not the original name of the Great Prophet. He must not have ever imagined that he will be known as ‘Jesus Christ’. It is only a modern English name. His original Hebrew name was perhaps Yashuah. In the East he was known as Isa. (sources: http://www.tombofjesus.com)
Jesus in the Quran
The Quran says:
“That they said (in boast), ‘We killed Jesus Christ 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.”
(Quran, Chapter 4, vs.157-158)
The Quran speaks of a future meeting between Jesus and God in the following words:
“And when Allah will say, ‘O Jesus, son of Mary, didst thou say to men, ‘Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?’ he will answer, ‘Holy art THOU, I could never say that which I had no right. If I had said it, Thou wouldst have surely known it. Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Thy mind. It is Thou alone Who art the Knower of all hidden things; ”
(Quran, Chapter 5, vs.117)
Below are some Islamic written traditions regarding the life span of Jesus.
“During his last illness, the Holy Prophet (saw) said to his daughter Hazrat Fatima (ra), “Once in every year, Gabriel recited the Quran to me. This year he recited twice. He also told me that every succeeding prophet has lived to half the age of his predecessor. He told me that Jesus, son of Mary, lived to 120 years. Therefore, I think, I may live to about 60 years.” (Mawahib-ud-Duniya by Qastalani, Vol. I, p. 42); (Kanzul Ummal, Vol. VI, p. 120, 160 from Hazrat Fatima (ra)); (Hujjaj al-Kiramah, p. 428); (Hakam)
“Tabarani says regarding this Hadith, “Its narrations are reliable, and it is reported in a number of different versions.” Moreover, Hazrat Ayesha (ra), Hazrat Fatima (ra), and Hazrat Ibn Umar (ra) all related it.”
“Hazrat Aishah [a wife of Muhammad’s], God be pleased with her, relates from the Holy Prophet Muhammad: ‘Jesus, son of Mary, lived to the age of 120 yars.’” (Hujaj al-Kirama, p 428)
“Hazrat Fatimah [a wife of Muhammad’s], God be pleased with her, relates from the Holy Prophet: ‘Jesus, son of Mary, lived to the age of 120 years.’” (Kanz-ul-Ummal, vol. vi, p. 120)
“In the Mustadrak (a Hadith collection) it is reported from Ibn Umar that Jesus lived to the age of 120 years. It is likewise also in the Asabah.” (Tafsir Kamalain).
Jesus Tomb – in Kashmir, India
Roza Bal is the name of a shrine located in the Khanyar district of Srinagar, in Kashmir, India, venerated by some Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. Some people identify the sage buried there with one Yuz Asaf, that is Jesus of Nazareth, whom they allege to have arrived in Kashmir after surviving his crucifixion. The tomb has gained increasing popularity as the potential tomb of Jesus. Historically, however, the Holy Sepulchre is considered by Christians as the tomb of Christ.
The tomb itself consists of a low rectangular building on a raised platform, surrounded by railings at the front. It has three arches at the front, where entry can be had, and four arches at the side. Inside is a rock carving that is said to show feet bearing crucifixion wounds. The body is buried according to the Jewish tradition of directions and not according to the Islamic tradition. However, the building also houses the burial tomb of a local Muslim saint, Mir Sayyid Naseeruddin, who has been buried in line with Islamic directions.
The tomb had previously been maintained by local descendants of the buried sage. It is currently maintained by a Board of Directors consisting of Sunni Muslims. Sahibzada Basharat Saleem, a former caretaker (now deceased), claimed to hold genealogical tables that link him as a direct descendant of the buried sage.
In 2010, the Govt. of India’s Film Division has produced a comprehensive documentary film on the subject, titiled ‘The Rozabal Shrine of Srinagar’. It has been written & directed by Yashendra.
Similar to mainstream Islamic views, the Ahmadiyya Movement consider that Jesus was a mortal man, but go a step further to describe Jesus as a mortal man who died a natural death in India – as opposed to having been raised up alive to Heaven.
Although the view of Jesus having migrated to India had also been researched in the literature of independent historians predating the foundation of the movement, the Ahmadiyya Movement is the only religious organization to adopt these views as a tenet of their faith, although independently of the early historians. The general notion of Jesus in India has also been discussed at length by modern western historians Grönbold and Klatt and publicized in several documentaries.
It is a commonly-held belief among Christians and Muslims that Jesus(as) rose to heaven, and that his body was never buried. However, recent media coverage has brought the attention of the world to the Rozabal Tomb in Kashmir, said to contain the body of one Yuz Asaf, a name supposedly adopted by Jesus(as) when he was in India. This has reignited widespread debate on this topic. Local tradition states that the entombed was a prophet of Ahl-al-Kitab, or People of the Book (traditionally Christians and Jews), and his name was ‘Isa – the Qur’anic name for Jesus(as).
The proposed burial-place of Jesus(as) in Srinagar, Kashmir, is known to the locals as Rozabal, meaning the ‘Honoured Tomb’. It is known as the tomb of this very Yuz Asaf. The word ‘Yuz’ stands for Yuzu (meaning Jesus), and ‘Asaf’ in Hebrew means gatherer, namely, one who was to collect the lost sheep of Israel. It is said that the Prophet Yuz Asaf arrived from Syria about two thousand years ago.
The question of the identity of Yuz Asaf, however, is a controversial issue. Is Yuz Asaf a name adopted by Jesus Christ(as) when in India? Could this be the tomb of Jesus Christ(as), or is Yuz Asaf as the current caretakers of the tomb have begun to insist, a Muslim saint with no connection to Jesus(as)?
Easter News Coverage
In Easter 2010, several international news organisations and mainstream newspapers around the world ran stories on the Rozabal Tomb in Srinagar, Kashmir. The articles all stated a large increase in the number of visitors to the tomb in Kashmir in recent times. The news organisations, which included the BBC1, The Times in Britain2 and The Times of India3, suggested that there were two main reasons for the increased interest. One is that the latest version of the Lonely Planet travel guide for Kashmir mentions the rumour of the Rozabal Tomb as ‘the Jesus tomb’, inspiring many curious travellers to visit. Secondly, a popular thriller, The Rozabal Line, the plot of which centres on the idea that Rozabal is the tomb of Jesus(as), has enjoyed success in recent months, especially within India4.
So, the question naturally arises: why has the Lonely Planet guide called this tomb the ‘Jesus tomb’?
Report on the Rozabal in 1899 by Maulawi Abdullah
While it may be new to many in the world, this tomb is well-known to Ahmadi Muslims. In his treatise written in 1899, Masih Hindustein Mein (Jesus in India), Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), the Promised Messiah and Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, detailed this very tomb:
‘….I shall try to prove in this book that Jesus(as) did not die on the Cross: he did not go up to heaven, nor should it be supposed that he will ever again come down from heaven to earth; that, rather, he died at the age of 120 years at Srinagar, in Kashmir, and that his tomb is to be found in the Khan Yar Street of that town. I have divided this enquiry into ten chapters, and an epilogue, comprising the testimony of the Bible, the testimonies of the Holy Quran and the Ahadith, the testimony of medical books, the testimony of historical records, the testimony of oral traditions handed down from generation to generation, miscellaneous circumstantial evidence, the testimony of rational argument and the testimony of fresh revelation from God to me.’
(Jesus in India, Introduction)
‘In any case it was necessary for Jesus(as) to find out the whereabouts of these lost sheep, who had, on coming to this country, India, become merged into the other people. I shall presently adduce evidence that Jesus(as) did in fact come to India and then, by stages, travelled to Kashmir, and discovered the lost sheep of Israel among the people who professed the Buddhist faith and that these people ultimately accepted him, just as the people of the prophet Jonah accepted Jonah. And this was inevitable, for Jesus(as) had said in so many words that he had been sent to the lost sheep of Israel.’
(Jesus in India, Chapter One)
‘I shall prove in due course that Jesus(as)’s tomb which has been recently discovered in Srinagar in Kashmir is of the same type as the one in which Jesus(as) was placed in a state of swoon.’ (Jesus in India, Chapter One)
‘…hundreds of thousands of people have, with their physical eyes, seen that the tomb of Jesus(as) exists in Srinagar, in Kashmir. Just as he was crucified at Golgotha, i.e., at the place of sri, so has his tomb been found at the place of sri i.e., Srinagar. The word sri occurring in the names of both places is very striking indeed. The place where Jesus(as) was crucified was called Gilgit or sri, and the place where in the latter part of the nineteenth century the tomb of Jesus(as) has been discovered is also called Gilgit, or sri. It appears that the place called Gilgit, in Kashmir, suggests the word sri. This town was probably founded in the time of Jesus(as), and as a local memorial to the event of the Cross it was named Gilgit, i.e., sri; like Lhasa, which means the ‘City of one worthy of worship’; this word is of Hebrew origin, and suggests the city was founded in the time of Jesus.’
(Jesus in India, Chapter Two)
The first recorded report we have about the details of this tomb and it being linked to the historical Jesus(as), is a letter from Maulawi Abdullah. After conducting his own investigation, Maulawi Abdullah sent a detailed report to the Promised Messiah(as) from Srinagar regarding the tomb5.
He included several details about the tomb and the inhabitant of it. In the letter he stated:
‘From the evidence of reliable persons it has been proved that this tomb has been in existence for about 1900 years, and the Muslims hold it in great reverence and respect and frequent it.’
‘The general view is that a venerable messenger is buried in this tomb, who came to Kashmir from another country to preach to the people. They say that he lived some 600 years before our Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw).’
Current Kashmiri Views on Rozabal
Modern day opinions of the locals in Srinagar, however, present a very different view of the tomb. Any suggestion that the tomb contains the mortal remains of Jesus Christ(as) is met with fierce hostility and mockery. There has been a hardening of attitudes towards any attempts of research at the tomb. Over the past four decades researchers such as Dr Fida Hassnain, a prominent Sufi archaeologist and Professor of History, have provoked an increasing level of opposition from the caretakers. Dr Hassnain suffered personal threats against him and his family in connection with his research at the tomb. American researcher and former journalist, Suzanne Olsson, also had her attempts at detailed examination of the tomb thwarted by one of the caretakers of the tomb. The local Muslims are also opposed to research along these lines, and strongly believe that Jesus Christ(as) could not have a physical tomb on earth, having been lifted to the Heavens.
In the 2008 documentary, Jesus in India6 directed by Paul Davids, we see what happens when someone arrives at the Rozabal Tomb and attempts to film it. In the documentary we are shown a crowd that forms quickly and the aggressive nature of the locals demanding that filming be stopped.
This dismissive and condescending approach is also reported in the BBC News article from April of this year. A local is reported to have said:
“It’s a story spread by local shopkeepers, just because some crazy professor said it was Jesus(as)’s tomb. They thought it would be good for business. Tourists would come, after all these years of violence.
“And then it got into the Lonely Planet, and too many people started coming.
And one foreigner…”
(he then gave me an apologetic look), “broke off a bit from the tomb to take home with him. So that’s why it’s closed now.”
Yet the ‘crazy’ professor referred to here is Dr Fida Hassnain, a well-qualified archaeologist and scholar of religion who held the position of Director of State Archives for Jammu and Kashmir, from 1954 until his retirement in 1983. Dr Hassnain’s degrees include a Master of Divinity, Doctorate of Indology and Doctorate of Sufism. He has also the distinction of a lifetime achievement award from the Jammu and Kashmir Government. He is not only of the opinion that Jesus(as) is buried in this tomb, but has written several detailed books on the subject, from as early as 1988 to the present day. Given his qualifications, rather than being an arbitrary ‘crazy professor,’ Dr Hassnain is in a very good position to form a reasoned and informed opinion on the tomb.
The Caretakers of the Tomb
A person that has appeared in several documentaries about the Kashmir tomb is Mohammad Amin Ringshawl. In each of his appearances he confirms that the tomb contains ‘Yuz Asaf’, but speculates that there is no connection between Yuz Asaf and Jesus Christ(as).
In the Asian Times article8, he plainly states:
‘Yuz Asaf and Syed Naseerudin are buried here and both are Muslims.’
In a 2007 Christmas special documentary shown in the UK on Channel 4, entitled The Hidden Story of Jesus, he is interviewed immediately after an interview with Dr Fida Hassnian, and states the following:
‘This is the grave of a Muslim messenger, but Jesus is not buried here because it is written in our holy book the Qur’an, that Jesus has been taken up to heaven, to Allah. Yet Qadianis, Mirzais [derogatory references to members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community], who are answering by saying this is the grave of Jesus, are giving incorrect information by saying he is here. No Muslim in the entire world would say that Jesus is buried here.’
This statement shows a clear opposition to members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, referred to here using the derogatory terms Qadianis and Mirzais. Ringshawl is implying that it is only Ahmadi Muslims who are supporters of this theory and that they are misinforming the masses.
The opposition of Ahmadiyyat that has existed ever since the community was founded in 1889, has led to a change in attitude of the locals towards the Rozabal. In 1899, we read of hundreds of locals testifying to the tomb belonging to Jesus Christ(as), and yet today we read that the current caretaker of the tomb himself completely dismisses the idea lest the Ahmadiyya and historic versions are upheld.
What evidence is there that Yuz Asaf is Jesus(as)?
Given these accounts from the locals and the caretakers of the tomb, what argument can be made for the tomb being that of Jesus Christ(as)? Are Jesus and Yuz Asaf one and the same person?
The carved footprints are one of the distinctive features of the tomb and one of the main clues in helping us identify the person buried there. They are mentioned in the latest edition of the Lonely Planet guide and interestingly, they were also mentioned in the letter of Maulawi Abdullah(ra).
‘Near the grave of this prophet of Allah in the right-hand corner there is a stone, which has upon it the footprints of a man. It is said that it is the footsteps of the messenger. Probably this footprint of this prince-prophet remains as a sign.’
Many researchers have pointed to the feet carvings and highlighted how they appear to show crucifixion scars on both feet. The location of the scars towards the front of the feet and at different places on each foot, is also significant. The BBC 4 documentary, “Did Jesus Die?”, highlights these carved footprints and states:
“The position of the scars, just behind the toes, do not match each other, but they would align if a single nail was driven through both feet, with the left foot placed on top of the right.”9
This is a key piece of evidence about the tomb and has featured prominently in books and documentaries covering the subject.
Dr Fida Hassnain talks about his personal discovery of these carved footprints and the effect it had on him in a documentary shown on the Discovery Channel:
“I asked one of my assistants just clear [sic].., it was quite dark, but anyhow he cleared it and he said ‘Oh, I feel some sort of sculpted stone is here’. We just cleaned the surface and there I felt feet impressions, and looking at them it appeared they had wound marks.”10
Feet carvings themselves are quite common, but Dr Hassnain states that he has never seen feet carvings with these distinctive marks upon them.
“I felt astonished to see these wound marks, and at once it took me to the Crucifixion scene where Jesus was put on the cross.”
Were these scars on the feet illustrating something distinctive about the inhabitant of the tomb? This fascinating clue has been alluded to by every researcher studying the tomb. What was the person who made this sculpture trying to highlight, and why did he or she consider it so important?
Direction of the Grave
The next piece of evidence is the direction of the tomb itself. Researchers including Dr Fida Hassnain, have stated that the direction of the actual grave of Yuz Asaf is in an East-West facing direction. This is significant as this is the direction in which the Jews buried their dead, not in the direction traditional for Muslims with the right shoulder facing towards the Qiblah (in Makkah).
There is another source that corroborates the east-west direction for Yuz Asaf’s tomb. Shaikh Al-Said-us-Sadiq was an oriental writer and historian who lived in the 3rd and 4th century of Hijra, and died in 381 AH (962 CE). He wrote over 300 books, the most famous of which was Ikmal-ud-Din. The text was first printed in Iran in 1782 C.E. In this text the account of the passing away of Yuz Asaf includes the following passage:
‘He then directed Ba’bad to prepare a tomb over him (at the very place where he died). He then stretched his legs towards the West and his head towards to the East and died. May God bless him.’11
If Yuz Asaf is a Muslim saint as some argue, then why is his tomb in a Jewish-style east-west grave?
Traveller Prophet from A Foreign Land
The local traditions and Kashmiri histories do talk about Yuz Asaf as being a holy man who travelled from another country. This again supports the thesis that this person is Jesus(as), especially as Jesus is recorded as a great traveller in Islamic traditions12.
Interestingly, this tradition of Yuz Asaf coming from a foreign land has endured the changing views of the locals. During one of the interviews from Paul Davids’ film, one of the locals states proudly:
Muslim Bystander 1: This (tomb) is very, very ancient – we cannot say for sure how old. Our ancestors said that throughout the entire world, this grave is unique! This is a Messenger of God! He came here from Egypt and liked the climate. He meditated here and settled here. He liked the love and hospitality of the local Muslims here. He didn’t return to where He came from, because He was respected here. He died here and is buried here. Those are the facts, and that’s it.
The comment that Yuz Asaf stayed in Kashmir due to the hospitality of the local Muslims makes little sense, given that local traditions suggest the tomb is around 2000 years old, and pre-dates Islam by many hundreds of years.
However, the rest of the opinions in this quote provide a fascinating insight into some of the facts about the tomb, that appears to have been preserved from earlier times. The above account not only reiterates that Yuz Asaf came from a foreign land, but specifically mentions Egypt. The local is clear that the inhabitant of the tomb is in no way linked with Jesus Christ, and yet he states clearly that Yuz Asaf spent time in Egypt. The land of Egypt is a country where Jesus(as) is explicitly recorded in the New Testament, as having spent time13. The prophethood of Yuz Asaf is attested to here also; again matching what is known and accepted about Jesus(as).
Inscription at Temple of Solomon
The most definitive reference to Yuz Asaf and Jesus Christ(as) being the same person comes in the form of two written inscriptions from a local temple called the Temple of Solomon. The first two lines of the inscription remain today but the last two have been tampered with, rendering them illegible. The four inscriptions were recorded in Tarikh-i-Kashmir by Khwaja Hassan Malik, written in 1420AD. The inscriptions state:
The mason of this pillar is the suppliant Bahishti Zargar, year fifty and four.
Khawaja Rukan, son of Murjan, erected this pillar.
At this time, Yuz Asaf proclaimed his prophethood, year fifty and four.
He is Jesus, Prophet of the Children of Israel.
These inscriptions seem very clear and comprehensive, but there are some questions that remain. How old are the inscriptions? Why were they removed and by whom? Is the year ‘54’ mentioned here representative of 54 AD or 54 A.H, which would be 673 C.E.?
Concerning the year 54, mentioned in the inscriptions cited below, Prof. Fida Hassnain is of the opinion that the dating system used here is the Laukika Era, a system used specifically in Kashmir, which is recorded to have started in 3076BC.
‘During that period, the Laukika Era was exclusively used in Kashmir. As this era started in 3076 BC, the 54th year mentioned in the inscription would come to either 22 BC or 78 AD (since Laukika Year 1 is 3076 BC, 3054 would be 22 BC, and 3154 would be 78 AD.) As it was not possible for Jesus Christ to have travelled to Kashmir in 22 BC, I take the year 78 AD to be the correct date of his arrival.’14
Proponents of the theory argue in favour of these inscriptions, while critics demand more evidence.
Scholars and Researchers
This level of evidence in support of the theory has attracted writers and scholars from a variety of backgrounds. While critics of the theory such as the locals in Kashmir, will argue this is a topic only Ahmadis write about, there is a growing number of scholars writing on this subject, who have no connection to the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. The actual number of scholars who support this theory is still small in number, yet remarkably varied in background. It appears researchers from different parts of the world, coming from different religious backgrounds, have been led ultimately to this tomb as a final resting place for Jesus Christ(as).
American researcher and committed Christian Suzanne Olsson, is one person who has studied and written about the tomb for many years. She led efforts to obtain DNA samples from the tomb and carried out further research there. She has no doubt Jesus Christ(as) is buried in that tomb15.
German scholar Holger Kersten now a Buddhist, is another person who has written in detail about Jesus travelling to India, and the tomb at Rozabal16. Kersten’s book, Jesus Lived in India, was published in 1994 and featured research supporting the view that Jesus Christ survived the Crucifixion, and journeyed to Kashmir. He also concludes that Rozabal is the tomb of Jesus and that Yuz Asaf and Jesus(as) is the same person.
Recently, as featured in The Review of Religions, Indian born researcher Mantoshe Devji a Sikh lady, has given a detailed analysis of the tomb and her findings during a visit there17.
These are just three examples of researchers coming from very different countries and faith traditions, yet arriving at the same opinion about the Rozabal Tomb in Kashmir. It should also be noted that none of these three are Ahmadi Muslims, which provides a strong counter argument to those claiming that this theory about the tomb is merely an Ahmadi concoction.
One disturbing fact visible at the tomb is a series of changes and alterations. The tomb is undergoing change and signs are being added to the front of the building. There are reports of relics and items related to the tomb being sold off or held in people’s homes and the tomb suffering from serious decline at the hands of the current caretakers.
Paul Davids’ documentary Jesus in India, suggests that the carved footprints placed next to the tomb that help link it to Jesus(as) and the Crucifixion, have been covered over and are no longer visible.
There are concerns that the tomb and the identity of its inhabitant will be obscured as much as possible by the current caretakers. Thankfully, there are a large number of photographs and other documentary evidence about the Tomb to prevent this from happening. However, this state of affairs is still worrying.
What lies ahead for the tomb is hard to predict. There is the clear assertion of the locals and the caretakers that the tomb is not related to Jesus(as), and that it must be locked up. Any publicity around the tomb is unwelcome. However, publications and documentaries are being produced about the tomb, linking it to Jesus Christ(as). This is garnering interest around the world and more people are becoming aware if its existence every day. It appears that the tomb is being pulled in very different directions by two equally determined groups of people.
To compound the problem, the geographical location of the tomb is an area plagued by terrorism, hampering efforts for further research. Will the truth ever be known and accepted about this tomb? Any future efforts to prove who lies in the tomb will have to be made with sensitivity and will require much diplomacy.
References and endnotes:
1 Tourists flock to ‘Jesus’s tomb’ in Kashmir – BBC News – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/8587838.stm
2. The Times – He’s not the Messiah, locals tell Lonely Planet ‘Jesus tomb’ tourists – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article7085207.ece
3. The Times of India – Tomb Raider: Jesus buried in Srinagar? http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/5906304.cms
4. The book appeared in India Today’s Bestseller List three months in a row (March 2009).
5. Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), Masih Hindustein Mein (Jesus in India), 1908.
6. Jesus In India – Paul Davids – Universal Studios – Sundance Channel, December 2008.
8. Asia Times – Holy Row in Kashmir over ‘Jesus Tomb’ – May 22nd 2010 – http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LE22Df03.html
9. BBC 4 – Did Jesus Die? (2003) – Wild Planet Films.
10. Jesus in the Himalayas – documentary featuring anthropologist Jeff Salz shown on the Discovery Channel, first in 2001, and repeated periodically.
11. The author of Ikmal-ud-Din died in Khorasan in 962 AD. He was a scholar who had travelled to many countries in order to research material for his book. He mentions the travels of Yuz Asaf to Kashmir
12. Muslim savant, i.e., Ibn-al-Walid Al-Fahri Al-Tartooshi Al-Maliki, who was renowned for his learning, states about Jesus, on page 6 of his book Siraj-ul-Muluk, published by the Matba Khairiya of Egypt in 1306 A.H.: ‘Where is Isa, the Ruhullah, and, the Kalimatullah, who was the leader of the righteous, and the chief of travellers?’. Rauzat-us-Safa, a well-known book of history, on pages 130 – 135 – states Jesus was named the Messiah ‘because he was a great traveller’.
13. Matthew 2:13 states that Jospeh was instructed by an angel to take Jesus and Mary, and to flee to Egypt to avoid King Herod the Great.
14. The Fifth Gospel – Dr Fida Hassnain.
15. Rozabal – The Tomb of Jesus – latest book published by Suzanne Olsson and Dr Fida Hassnain. Olsson also appears in Paul Davids’ documentary stating she has no doubt it is Jesus buried in Rozabal.
16. Jesus Lived in India – written by Holger Kersten in 1994.
17. Humanity’s Messiah – Mantoshe Singh Devji – reviewed in June 2010 The Review of Religions Edition.
The Changing Views of the Crucifixion
The author is a Biblical researcher and Editor of the ‘Tomb of Jesus’ website, recently interviewed for Paul Davids’ film – ‘Jesus in India’, first aired on the Sundance Channel.
For centuries the three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have responded differently to the person of Jesus Christ(as). Their views and responses to Jesus(as) vary in many areas and they interpret many events in his life differently.
The Crucifixion is the most controversial event in the life of Jesus(as). The accounts of the events of the Crucifixion in the Abrahamic faiths are completely at odds with each other. What took place at the Crucifixion, and the events that immediately followed, has divided people, often bitterly, since the 1st Century.
The viewpoint of the Israelites at the time of Jesus(as) was straightforward; had he been put to death on the cross and successfully executed by the Romans, his messianic claims had come to nought. He was a failed Messiah and could not have been the one they awaited. In an age when Jewish rebellions were frequently crushed by the Romans [e.g. the Aquaduct Riots early in the reign of Pontius Pilate], Jesus(as) had become another statistic.
To this day the Israelites still await their true Messiah. A very visual and graphic symbol of their plight is the public prayers offered at the ‘Wailing Wall’, thought to be part of the Second Temple Mount rebuilt by Herod the Great in Jerusalem. The wall has been given this name based on the reports of 19th century European travellers who often referred to the wall as the “wailing place of the Jews”1. It is also referred to as a place where the Jews come to mourn the destruction of the Second Temple, which took place around 70CE. Over 3000 years since Moses(as), the Jews have still not accepted a Messiah, although a few minority Jewish groups do accept Jesus(as) as their Messiah.
The following Biblical verse shows the importance of the Crucifixion and Resurrection in Christian theology; it is taken from one of the letters of St Paul found in the New Testament:
‘…and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain…’2
The Christian stance on the Crucifixion is that through Jesus’ death and his subsequent Resurrection mankind has been saved from the Original Sin of Adam and Eve. This event is the central aspect of the Christian doctrine of Atonement, a key Christian belief. In the BBC Documentary “Did Jesus Die?” Friar Jerome Murphy O’Connor emphasises the importance of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. He comments on the Resurrection by stating it:
“.. is absolutely fundamental to the Christian faith and I have no doubt that it will always be so…”3
In the 7th Century CE, when Islam emerged from the Arabian Peninsula, the position of Jesus(as) emerged as a heavily stressed and repeated subject in the Holy Qur’an. We find mention of Jesus(as) in the Qur’an 25 times and an entire chapter of the Qur’an is dedicated to his mother, Mary(as) (Chapter 19 – Sura Maryam).
The verses in the Qur’an pertaining to the Crucifixion are clear in their strong denial of Jesus’ death on the Cross. Yet, the exact manner in which this happened has been interpreted differently. Indeed the prevalent orthodox Islamic view, that Jesus(as) was not placed upon the Cross but rather lifted to the heavens while a substitute took his place, is but one in a range of views of what took place.
The Qur’an addresses the Crucifixion by stating that the Jews did not kill Jesus(as):
And their saying, ‘We did kill the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah;’ whereas they slew him not, nor crucified him, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified; and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it; they have no definite knowledge thereof, but only follow a conjecture; and they did not convert this conjecture into a certainty… (Ch.4:V.158)
Yet the verse that follows has been interpreted in two very different ways:
On the contrary, Allah exalted him to Himself. And Allah is Mighty, Wise. (Ch.4:V.159)
The orthodox view is that Jesus(as) was lifted bodily to the heavens. Other scholars have interpreted this as meaning that Allah exalted Jesus(as) in stature, by saving him from an accursed death on the cross.
Jesus(as) Surviving the Crucifixion
The view of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, is that Jesus(as) did not die during the Crucifixion, but survived the ordeal. When read in this light the Qur’anic verses put forward a more rational and far less supernatural meaning. Also when using this interpretation, we can, finally, reconcile the narrations in the Qur’an with the Biblical accounts and see that they are telling the same story.
The idea of Jesus(as) surviving the Crucifixion is not a new one. The idea, known in scholarship as the ‘Swoon Theory’, has been known in scholarly circles since 1780. In modern times these ideas have gained more acceptance and coverage in academic circles and in documentaries and films.
Professor Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion at Princeton University, comments on this theory stating:
“There are many versions of that story, one came up in a book years ago called The Passover Plot which suggested that he had been sedated on the cross, that he was removed quite early and therefore could well have survived, that is certainly a possibility.”4
This is the only viewpoint based on which both the Qur’an and the Bible can both be correct in their narration of the events. There are many clues within the New Testament that Jesus(as) survived the Crucifixion [see The Muslim Herald, Special Issue, Vol.18, No.6, June 1978.]
Dr. James Tabor
In this same BBC documentary, Dr. James Tabor, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, throws more light on the events that took place 2000 years ago:
“When you look at the story of Jesus and how he was executed by the Romans, he’s on the cross for six hours, the assumption is that he’s dead. The Roman soldiers check the body. There were two others crucified, according to the Gospel accounts and they broke the legs of those to hasten their death, because the Sabbath day was coming. When they came to Jesus they said he’s already dead. Presumably his body is motionless and he’s quit breathing. They then prepare the body and put him in a tomb and presumably its all sealed up, and he’s dead for all practical purposes – the question though is, is he clinically dead?”
Dr. Tabor goes on to explain that a better translation for the term ‘Resurrection’ would in fact be ‘resuscitation’. He further explains this point by stating:
“We do have stories both from the modern world and the ancient world, where people appear to be dead and for all practical purposes they are dead – that is they are not responding to the outside world – but then they do in fact revive or come back. We call it resuscitation, but if you want to press the language, that would be Resurrection.”
It should be stated here that Dr. James Tabor himself does not hold the opinion that Jesus(as) did in fact survive the Crucifixion. Dr. Tabor is clear on this in his book, The Jesus Dynasty, and in personal correspondence, that his belief is that Jesus(as) died upon the Cross rather than survived the event:
“Some have suggested that Jesus might not have been clinically dead but that he fell into some type of comatose state from which he subsequently recovered… I think we need have no doubt that given Jesus’ execution by Roman crucifixion he was truly dead.”5
This may in part be to do with Dr. Tabor’s internationally publicised research on a 1st Century tomb in Jerusalem known as the Talpiot Tomb and known more popularly as ‘The Jesus Family Tomb’. Comment on this tomb is outside the scope of this article.
Another theologian who has written about this idea is German scholar Holger Kersten. Kersten is best known for his book The Jesus Conspiracy that boldly states that the Shroud of Turin is living proof that Jesus(as) did not die on the Cross and its dating was deliberately sabo-taged by the Catholic Church to cover up this fact. This material will be picked up in a future article, but some of Kersten’s research on the Crucifixion is worth looking at here.
Kersten highlights several inter-esting factors in the Crucifixion supporting the idea that Jesus(as) survived. One piece of analysis done by Holger Kersten, along with his co–author Elmar R. Gruber, focuses on the description of Jesus’ burial and tomb chamber. Kersten and Gruber quote the Gospels to support their thesis; that the burial of Jesus(as) was never completed:
‘Jesus was not deposited in a chamber cut perpendicularly into the rock wall of a tomb, but set down on a stone surface or open ledge. On the morning of the ‘resurrection’, Mary Magdalene sees the ‘angels in white’, as they are called, ‘the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain’ (John 20:12). Jesus was not deposited lengthways in to a kôk, for if he had been, no one could have sat at the head end…
…John tells us that Jesus’ favourite disciple ran to the grave (20:5) and ‘stooping down, and looking in’ saw the linen clothes. Mary Magdalene ‘stooped down and looked in to the sepulchre’ (20:11), and saw the two ‘angels’ at the place where Jesus had lain… these statements support our assumption that the burial of Jesus was not completed. If he had already been lying in a kôk, the place would again not be visible from the tomb entrance.’6
Following this, Kersten and Gruber analyse the description of hundreds of pounds of aloes and myrrh used upon the body of Jesus(as), brought by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. They talk of the medical properties of these herbs, which Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) talks about in detail in his book Masih Hindustan Men (Jesus in India). Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) explains how these herbs were used to produce a special ointment that was subsequently given the name Marham-i-Isa (Ointment of Jesus(as)).
Islamic Scholars on the Crucifixion
Two modern Muslim scholars who have come out in support of the ‘swoon theory’ are Ahmed Deedat and Shabir Ally. Both these scholars do not accept the claims of the Ahmadiyyat Muslim community and Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), yet they both openly support the viewpoint that Jesus(as) survived the Crucifixion, going against the prevalent orthodox Islamic belief.
The late Ahmed Deedat wrote a book entitled, Crucifixion or Cruci–fiction, in which he argued in favour of the view that Jesus(as) did not die upon the cross, but survived the Crucifixion. Deedat presented the usual arguments that are presented in favour of the swoon theory (such as the short duration of the Crucifixion, the Sign of Jonah(as), and Jesus(as) eating and drinking afterwards). In addition to this Deedat also includes a unique collection of stories from the media of people having had resurrection-like experiences:
‘1. Little girl who “died” tells how she came back to life (After 4 Days) – (“Daily News” 15/11/55).
2. Man died for two hours still lives – “Miracle” amazes doctors – (Sunday Tribune, 27/3/60).
3. He died for 4 minutes – Man’s heart stops but he lives on – (Sunday Express, 23/7/61).
4. He does not know that he died for 90 seconds – (Cape Argus, 16/3/61).
5. Dr. Hitge returned from the dead – (Cape Argus, 4/5/61).
6. The coffin moved – Young man narrowly escaped being buried alive – (Sunday Tribune, 13/5/62).
7. Back from the dead – After being thought dead for 2 days – (Post, 25/7/65).
8. “Corpse” winks at undertaker – Doctor wrote out a death certificate – (Daily News, 25/3/75).
9. “Clinically dead” – Toddler alive after hour–long revival battle – (Natal Mercury, 5/12/82).
10. Was he dead or alive? – The dilemma facing transplant Doctors – (Sunday Tribune, 17/7/83).
11. Shaken and stirred – Declared clinically dead “from too much Christmas liquor” – (Daily News, 3/1/84).’7
Ahmed Deedat was highly regarded for his Christian-Muslim dialogue and public debates. His uncompromising style brought him many supporters from a variety of Islamic schools of thought as well as detractors.
Taking a viewpoint that seems to support the Ahmadis will of course draw attention and criticism from both Muslims and other Christians. One such criticism was from Mohammed Bana of South Africa:
‘Mr Deedat is fond of making lectures about other deno-minations, but very seldom on Islam. He seems to have a fixed notion about Jesus’ crucifixion. In his lectures, he hardly gave the Islamic viewpoint, or seldom the Christian viewpoint, thus confusing his audience. I believe he likes to make the Qadianis of this country very happy by mostly giving their viewpoint that Jesus, after being put on the Cross, swooned. Now why should Mr Deedat tell his audience that Jesus was put on the Cross and he swooned, because nowhere does the Qur’an speak of Jesus being put on the Cross and swooning? Mr Deedat is the only person who can tell us whether he is preaching either the Christian doctrine, the Muslim doctrine, or the Qadiani doctrine.’8
Other direct criticism comes from John Gilchrist, a Christian apologist and one of the authors of the website ‘Answering Islam’. Gilchrist writes:
“We have never ceased to wonder why Ahmed Deedat continues to promote the theory that Jesus was indeed crucified but came down alive from the cross. Our amazement arises from two considerations. On the one hand, this idea is held to only by the heretical Ahmadiyya sect in Islam and is denounced by all true Christians and Muslims.”9
Shabir Ally is the President of the Islamic Information and Dawah International Centre based in Toronto, Canada. Shabir Ally has a BA and an MA in Religious studies and is currently studying for a PhD as well as being an Imam and presenter of a weekly TV show entitled ‘Let the Qur’an Speak’.
In previous debates with many famous Christian scholars, Shabir Ally had taken the position that Jesus(as) was never placed upon the Cross, but someone else was crucified in his place. More recently, however, in public debates, Shabir has changed his usual approach and position in support of the Ahmadi view that Jesus(as) survived the Crucifixion.
For Christians, it is an angle of attack against the scholar: why would the scholar in question come out in favour of a viewpoint supported by a sect considered heretical by orthodox Muslims? During a question and answer session following a talk at the University of Toronto, Christian Apologist, Tony Costa Junior, put this exact point to Mr Ally. Despite Shabir explaining that he did believe in the physical return of Jesus(as) and rejecting the claims of the Ahmadis, that Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) fulfilled the prophecies of the second coming of the Messiah, he openly admitted:
“I have looked at the reports that are generally followed by Sunni Muslims, under-standing that someone else was substituted for Jesus(as) on the cross, and I have seen that although there are a variety of reports, the commentators cannot agree precisely on what has happened here and how exactly a substitute was given. And it appears that they are following reports which originated in Iraq, according to an excellent analysis done by Neal Robinson, who’s a Muslim now, in his book Christ in Islam and Christianity… There was a plot to kill him but they neither killed him nor crucified him, crucified him in the sense of killing him by crucifixion. That is a definition that has been given in Tafsir-Ul-Qur’an by Abdul Majid Daryabadi, which is a Sunni Tafsir on the Quran. So I am well within my ranks and I haven’t changed positions on that, but perhaps interpretations.”
In my own correspondence with Shabir Ally, he explained to me his viewpoint in the following words:
“For Sunnis the end of Jesus’ career is a mystery. The traditional interpre-tation of Quran 4:157 has been almost universal in saying that someone else was on the cross. But some modern interpreters are willing to accept that what was really meant was that Jesus did not die on the cross. It seems to me that this latter approach is more likely to be correct.”
Having said this he was quick to add:
“Years ago I read the book Jesus died in Kashmir and more recently the book Jesus lived in India. I must confess that I do not find these convincing. The belief that Jesus survived the cross does not mean for me that he made his way out of Palestine. I do not profess to know what eventually became of him.”
Despite openly distancing himself from the claims of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and the Promised Messiah(as), Shabir Ally has openly declared that his position on the Crucifixion is in exact keeping with the views expressed by the Promised Messiah(as) and held by Ahmadi Muslims.
The Prophecy of the ‘Breaking of the Cross’ in the Latter Days
The symbolism of the Crucifixion and specifically the ‘Cross’ is interestingly mentioned specifically in Islamic tradition in relation to the ‘second coming’ of the Messiah. In Sahih Bukhari (collection of sayings and traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw)) a number of times it is stated that the coming Messiah will ‘break the Cross’:
‘Narrated Abu Hurairah: ‘Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until the son of Mary descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jizya tax. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it (as charitable gifts).”’10
The Islamic orthodoxy today will have us believe that this is a prophecy about a literal quest that will be undertaken to break all crosses. The fourth caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru), highlights how ridiculous a notion this is when taken fully literally:
‘He will start by launching his campaign against Christianity. His strategy will be to break every cross in the world, whatever material it is made of. He will visit every cathedral, every monastery, every church, every temple, every Christian hermitage. He will walk every street of every township and stare at every passer-by in search of any cross.
Ladies perhaps will become the prime object of his scrutiny because he will be aware of their despicable habit of having crosses engraved upon their jewellery and ornaments. He will take care of the fact that they also wear crosses hanging around their necks. Thus he will snatch away every bangle, every bracelet, every pendant and earring with the sign of the cross upon it. Woe to the ladies who dare to cross the path of that Jesus(as) , but where can they escape and hide, the poor defenceless wretches?
He will enter every house and search every cabinet and jewellery box. Every wall and every corner will be scanned. Crosses must be literally broken and wiped out from the face of earth. Until he has accomplished this task to the full he will not rest in peace. This is the vision of the Muslim orthodoxy of the mission of Jesus Christ(as) if ever he returns to earth.’11
The explanation of what this prophecy actually means and alludes to has been given to us in detail by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) and the ongoing fulfilment of this prophecy has been seen in our very lifetimes.
The Promised Messiah(as) on the ‘Breaking of the Cross’ states:
‘This Hadith does not mean that the Promised Messiah would kill the Kuffar and break crosses: rather, the breaking of the Cross means that in that age the God of Heaven and Earth would bring out the hidden reality which, all of a sudden, would smash the whole structure of the Cross….
…In accordance with the old promise he appeared as the Promised Messiah. Then there came the time for the breaking of the Cross, i.e. the time when the error of the creed of the Cross was to be made plain like the breaking in two of a piece of wood. So now is the time when the Heavens have opened the way for the breaking of the Cross, so that a seeker after truth may look around and search for the same’12
In our modern time, an age of digital satellite communication, the Internet and wider spread religious freedoms, the doctrine of the Crucifixion and the ‘creed of the Cross’ is being questioned in ways it has never been before. Many television stations are showing documentaries and films presenting evidence that the Christian belief on the Crucifixion and Resurrection is incorrect.
The most recent of these documentaries is the 97-minute feature film ‘Jesus in India’ produced and directed by Paul Davids13. Focusing on the question of where Jesus(as) spent his life between the ages of 12 and 30, the investigative trail leads the film’s explorer, Edward T Martin, to India and eventually the Rozabal tomb in Kashmir. The film also explores ideas around Jesus(as) having survived the Crucifixion.
After almost 2000 years of confusion and mystery over the events of the Crucifixion, and the life of Jesus(as) that followed, a detailed explanation and analysis was presented by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as). Combining fresh divine revelation with scholar-ship, crossing many religions and cultures, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) shone an illuminating light on these events. His book Masih Hinudstan Men (Jesus in India) laid the ground work for research that is carrying on to this day, examining evidence around Jesus(as) travelling to India. This text is accepted by scholars as the first text on this subject to link the life of Jesus(as) in Palestine, and his surviving the Crucifixion, with his travels to the East and eventual burial in Srinagar, Kashmir.
There is much debate in the scholarly world still regarding all this material, yet we are seeing that the scholarly work of one man from the small village of Qadian in India has now reached a worldwide audience in our lifetime and those who are openly opposed to Islam Ahmadiyyat are also starting to admit the truth of some of the community’s most hitherto controversial beliefs and bold assertions.
This lifting of darkness and confusion around the position of Jesus(as) is summarised by the Promised Messiah(as) stating in his book Jesus in India:
‘But now, darkness is no more. Night is gone and now it is day. Blessed is he who remains deprived no longer!’ (Jesus in India, Ch.4)
1. Modern Jerusalem, City of the Great King, James Turner Barclay, (1858), Challen, pp 493.
2. Bible, 1 Corinthians 15:14
3. ‘Did Jesus Die?’, BBC4/ Wild Planet Productions.
5. The Jesus Dynasty Dr. James Tabor, Harper Element, London 2006, pp.203.
6. Jesus lived in India, Holger Kersten, Element Books, London 1991, pp.166–167
7. Crucifixion of Crucifiction, Ahmed Deedat, Islamic Book Services, 2001, Chapter 9 – ‘Ressurections Daily!”
8. Mohammed Bana, Allegations Confirmed, p.3.
9. The Crucifixion of Christ: A Fact, not Fiction, John Gilchrist, p.9
10. Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 43, Number 656, 3:23:425 and 4:55:657 and Sunan Abu Dawud (book 37, number 4310)
11. Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru), Islam International Publications Ltd, Tilford 1998, Part 7, Section 3.
12. Jesus in India, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), Islam International Publications Ltd, Tilford 1989.
13. Official website: http://www.jesus–in–india–the–movie.com
Distinct Ahmadiyya beliefs
- That the prophecies concerning the second coming of Jesus were metaphorical in nature and not literal, and that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad fulfilled in his person these prophecies and the second advent of Jesus, that he was the promised Mahdi and Messiah.
- The continuation of divine revelation. Although the Qur’an is the final message of God for mankind, He continues to communicate with his chosen individuals in the same way he is believed to have done in the past. All of God’s attributes are eternal.
- That Jesus, contrary to mainstream Islamic belief, was crucified and survived the four hours on the cross. He was later revived from a swoon in the tomb. Ahmadis believe that Jesus died in Kashmir of old age whilst seeking the Lost Tribes of Israel. Jesus’ remains are believed to be entombed in Kashmir under the name Yuz Asaf. Ahmadis believe that Jesus foretold the coming of Muhammad after him, which Christians have misinterpreted.
- That Jesus Christ did not bring a new religion or law, i.e., that he was not a law-bearing prophet, but was last in the line of Israelite prophets who appeared within the dispensation of Moses akin to that of David, Solomon, Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc.
- That the “Messiah” and the “Imam Mahdi” are the same person, and that it is through his teachings, influence, his prayers and those of his followers that Islam will defeat the Anti-Christ or Dajjal in a period similar to the period of time it took for nascent Christianity to rise (see also: Ahmadiyya relationship with Christianity) and that the Dajjal’s power will slowly melt away like the melting of snow, heralding the final victory of Islam and the age of peace.
- That the history of religion is cyclic and is renewed every seven millennia. The present cycle from the time of the Biblical Adam is split into seven epochs or ages, parallel to the seven days of the week, with periods for light and darkness. That Mirza Ghulam Ahmad appeared as the Promised Messiah at the sixth epoch heralding the seventh and final age of mankind, as a day in the estimation of God is like a thousand years of man’s reckoning.[Qur’an 22:47] According to Ghulam Ahmad, just as the sixth day of the week is reserved for Jumu’ah (congregational prayers), likewise his age is destined for a global assembling of mankind in which the world is to unite under one universal religion: Islam.
- The two Ahmadiyya groups have varying beliefs regarding the finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes that Muhammad brought prophethood to perfection and was the last law-bearing prophet and the apex of man’s spiritual evolution. New prophets can come but they must be subordinate to Muhammad and cannot exceed him in excellence nor alter his teaching or bring any new law or religion. The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement believes that Muhammad is the last of the prophets and no prophet, new or old, can come after him.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was actively engaged in debates, prayer duels and written arguments with the Christian missionaries. The Ahmadiyya view of Jesus’ survival from the crucifixion, his subsequent travels to the east in search of the ‘Lost Sheep of Israel’ and his natural death, as propounded by Ghulam Ahmad, have been a source of ongoing friction with the Christian church. Western historians have acknowledged this fact as one of the features of Ghulam Ahmad’s legacy. Francis Robinson states:
At their most extreme religious strategies for dealing with the Christian presence might involve attacking Christian revelation at its heart, as did the Punjabi Muslim, Ghulam Ahmad (d. 1908), who founded the Ahmadiyya missionary sect.
The Ahmadiyya teachings also interpret the prophecies regarding the appearance of the Dajjal (Anti-Christ) and Gog and Magog in Islamic eschatology as foretelling the emergence of two branches or aspects of the same turmoil and trial that was to be faced by Islam in the latter days and that both emerged from Christianity or Christian nations. Its Dajjal aspect relates to deception and perversion of religious belief while its aspect to do with disturbance in the realm of politics and the shattering of world peace has been called Gog and Magog. Thus Ahmadis consider the widespread Christian missionary activity that was ‘aggressively’ active in the 18th and 19th centuries as being part of the prophesied Dajjal (Antichrist) and Gog and Magog emerging in modern times. The emergence of the Soviet Union and the USA as superpowers and the conflict between the two nations (i.e., the rivalry between communism and capitalism) are seen as having occurred in accordance with certain prophecies. This has also proven controversial with most Christians.
According to the late 19th Century writings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement, the theological basis of the Ahmadi belief is that Jesus was only “in a swoon” when he was taken down from the cross. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad interpreted the phrase in Deuteronomy 21:31: kī qilelat Elohim taluy, “… for a hanged man is the curse of God”, as suggesting that “God would never allow one of His true prophets to be brutally killed in such a degrading manner as crucifixion”. Following his ordeal, Jesus was cured of his wounds with a special ointment known as the ‘ointment of Jesus’ (marham-i ʿIsā).
After his Resurrection from the tomb, Jesus fled Palestine to avoid recapture and journeyed towards India. He later settled in (what is now) Kashmir where he died a natural death of old age, and was laid to rest in Srinagar, Kashmir. The prophet Yuz Asaf said to be entombed there (at what is today known as the Roza Bal) is believed by some to be that of Jesus of Nazareth.
According to ancient manuscripts and Kashmiri tradition, Yuz Asaf is said to have been a Prophet who possessed miraculous healing powers and had travelled from Palestine during the 1st century.
The Encyclopedia of Islam states that this aspect of Ahmadi belief is one of three primary tenets that distinguish Ahmadi teachings from general Islamic ones, and that it has provoked a fatwa against the movement.
Jesus on the Cross
Ahmadis also illustrate the notion of Jesus having survived the Cross through various Biblical scriptures.
- Jesus had prophesied that his fate would be like that of Jonah (the story of Jonah is one of survival). (Matt. 12:40)
- Jesus was placed on the cross for only a few hours. Death by crucifixion usually takes several days. While he was on the cross his legs were left intact, and not broken as was the normal procedure. This would have prevented death by respiratory distress. As blood and water were reported to have ‘gushed‘ from the spear wound, this was sign of a beating heart.
- Jesus prayed to be rescued from death on the cross (Matthew 21:22)
- Pilate, having sympathy for Jesus, secretly devised to save him by setting his Crucifixion shortly before Sabbath day
- The Gospel of John records that Nicodemus brought myrrh and aloes (John 19:39). These healing plants, particularly aloe plants, are considered medicinal and applied to wounds.
- After he had awoken from his swoon (resurrection), Jesus bared his wounds to Thomas (John 20:25-7), showing he did not have a supernatural, resurrected body, but a patient’s body. He was also seen in the flesh by a large number of his followers, baring the same wounds that he had suffered from his ordeal on the Cross.(Luke 24:38,39)
- After his wounds had sufficiently healed Jesus left the tomb and met some of his disciples and had his food with them and walked on foot from Jerusalem to Galilee (Luke 24:50)
- Jesus had prophesied that he would go to seek out the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel (John 10:16). The Jews of Jesus’s time believed that the Lost tribes of Israel had become dispersed in different lands (John 7:34-35)
- Being a Divine Prophet Jesus could not have died on the Cross because according to the Bible “He that is hanged is accursed of God” (Deut. 21:23)
- There is not to be found in all the Gospels a single recorded eye-witness statement that Jesus was dead when he was taken down from the Cross or when he was placed in the tomb.
After surviving crucifixion, Jesus fled to Galilee. Jesus (along with several disciples) later left Palestine to further preach the Gospel to the Lost tribes of Israel (John 10:16) – that had scattered as far as Afghanistan and northern India. He eventually settled in Kashmir where he was given the name Yuz Asaf (meaning “Leader of the Healed”/”Son of Joseph”).
Furthermore, Ahmadi theologians highlight passages from the Qur’an to suggest that Jesus did not ascend to Heaven but died a natural death on Earth. The verses in Chapter Al-Nisa (4:158-159) for example describe that Jesus did not die on the Cross and that God had “raised” Jesus unto himself
[4:158] And their saying, ‘We did kill the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah;’ whereas they slew him not, nor crucified him, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified; and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it; they have no definite knowledge thereof, but only follow a conjecture; and they did not convert this conjecture into a certainty;
[4:159] On the contrary, Allah raised him to Himself. And Allah is Mighty, Wise.
As the Quran speaks of God being omnipresent in the Earth and in the Hearts of mankind, God’s existence should not be misconstrued as being confined to the Heavens alone.
Thus Ahmadis interpret the Arabic word for “raised” in these verses to mean “exalted”. In other words, Jesus’ spiritual rank and status was elevated to become closer to God.
To further support the view of Jesus having died a mortal death, Ahmadis interpret the verse in Quran 5:76:
[5:76] The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a Messenger; surely Messengers the like unto him had passed away before him. And his mother was a truthful woman. They both used to eat food. See how We explain the Signs for their good, and see how they are turned away.
In this verse Jesus is compared to the previous Messengers, all of whom had died a natural death and none of whom had ascended bodily to Heaven.
Second Coming of Jesus
The Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) and the Bible indicate that Jesus will return during the latter days. Islamic Hadith commonly depicts that Jesus, upon his second coming, would be an Ummati (Muslim) and a follower of the Prophet Muhammad and that he would revive the truth of Islam rather than fostering a new religion.
The movement interprets the prophecised Second Coming of Jesus as being that of a person “similar to Jesus” (mathīl-i ʿIsā), and not Jesus himself. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad professed that the prophecy in Muslim and Christian religious texts were traditionally misunderstood to say that Jesus of Nazareth himself would return. Ahmadis consider that the founder of the movement, in both his character and teachings was representative of Jesus, and in consequence, he attained the same spiritual rank of Prophethood as Jesus.
The expected arrival of a Latter Day Messiah is historically represented across all major faiths. Although the original prophecy refers only to one single Messiah, this diverged into separate distinct theories and misinterpretations. As such, Ahmadis declare that the Messiah concerning all world faiths has been unified by the advent of the Promised Messiah (Mirza Ghulam Ahmad). Finally, Ahmadis believe that eventually all world faiths will gradually move towards Ahmadiyyat; and that such a process will follow a correlative pattern of circumstances and take a similar amount of time to what it took for Christianity to rise to dominance (roughly 300 years).
Breaking of the Cross
The Islamic Hadith describe that Jesus would, upon his second coming, “Break the Cross”. Ahmadis interpret this to mean that he will make plain the “error of the creed of the cross” and that the teachings of Jesus, being a mortal man who survived crucifixion and died a natural death upon earth, is a testimony of this prophecy being fulfilled, as it would eventually render the traditional Christian worship of the Cross and doctrine of the immortality of Jesus meaningless.
Jesus in India
See also: Jesus in India (book)
As discussed above, the notion of the Jesus having travelled India was not exclusive to the Ahmadiyya Movement. Numerous articles and books have been written and several documentaries discuss the topic in depth. Prior to the Ahmadiyya claim Nicolas Notovitch had also researched and studied the evidence of Jesus in India. However unlike Notovitch, who proposed that Jesus spent his early life in India before his crucifixion, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed that Jesus travelled to India post-crucifixion.
“Yus Asaf” is the traditional Kashmiri name for Isa (Jesus).
Tomb of Jesus (Roza Bal)
During his research into Jesus’ death, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad initially suggested that Jesus may have been buried in either Galilee or Syria, until eventually uncovering evidence to conclude that the tomb of Jesus was located in Srinagar, Kashmir. Thus, based upon this evidence, Ahmadis today believe the tomb of Jesus is located in the Srinagar region of Kashmir.
Ancient literary works in Kashmir testify to the view that Yuz Asaf and Jesus are the same person. One ancient manuscript for instance describes the shrine of Yuz Asaf as the grave of Issa Rooh-Allah (Jesus the Spirit of God). The importance of the shrine has been preserved in the memory of the descendants of the ancient Israelites to this day. They call the shrine “The tomb of Hazrat Issa Sahib”, “The Tomb of Lord Jesus”.
The building constructed is named “Roza Bal” or “Rauza Bal”. “Rauza” is generally a term used to denote the tomb of a celebrated personality, i.e. noble, wealthy, or saintly. In accordance with Jewish tradition, the tomb is arranged with the feet pointing in the direction of Jerusalem.
Ahmadis give the Yuz Asaf enshrined in the tomb the epithet Shahzada Nabi, “Prophet Prince”. However, given the strong influence of hardline clerics and militancy in the Kashmiri region, many of the Srinagar residents distance themselves from the Ahmadiyya claims of Prophet Yuz Asaf as being the Prophet Jesus.
Tomb of Mary
Numerous Muslim and Persian documents — the Tafir-Ibn-I-Jarir, the Kanz-al-Ummal, and the Rauzat-us-Safa — have references that contribute to the theory of Jesus’ escape. Some of these also mention that Jesus was accompanied by Mary, and there is another burial place in Pakistan, along his theoretical route to Kashmir, known as Mai Mari da Ashtan, or “resting place of Mother Mary.” 
- Mirza Ghulam Ahmad: Jesus in India, Ahmadiyya Muslim Foreign Mission Department, 1978, ISBN 978-1-8537-2723-8; Original Masih Hindustan Mein, Oriental & Religious Publications Ltd., Rabwah (Online)
- Quranic Proofs of Jesus’ Natural Death
- The Life of Saint Issa (Nicolas Notovitch)
- Jesus a humble prophet of God
- The Tomb of Jesus Website
- A buddhist perspective
- Holger Kersten’s book “Jesus Lived in India”
- ^ http://reluctant-messenger.com/issa.htm The Life of Saint Issa (Nicolas Notovitch
- ^ Schäfer, Peter; Cohen, Mark R. (1998). Toward the Millennium: Messianic Expectations from the Bible to Waco. Leiden/Princeton: Brill/Princeton UP. p. 306. ISBN 90-04-11037-2..
- ^ Günter Grönbold, Jesus In Indien, München: Kösel 1985, ISBN 3466202701.
- ^ Norbert Klatt, Lebte Jesus in Indien?, Göttingen: Wallstein 1988.
- ^ Jesus In India The Movie
- ^ Did Jesus Die?
- ^ a b c Faruqi 1983, p. 98.
- ^ a b Schäfer & Cohen 1998, p. 306
- ^ a b Houtsma 1913, p. 260
- ^ BBC Four Documentaries – Interview on Did Jesus Die?
- ^ a b Jesus in India
- ^ Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab Al-Malahim, Book 37, Number 4310
- ^ “A Prophet Like Unto Moses”, The Promised Mehdi and Messiha, by Dr. Aziz Ahmad Chaudhry, Islam International Publications Limited
- ^ The Four Questions Answered, by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, AAIIL 1996
- ^ http://www.alislam.org/library/books/jesus-in-india/ch4.html
- ^ http://www.tombofjesus.com/2007/core/historical_sources/index.html#hs
- ^ http://www.tombofjesus.com/2007/core/historical_sources/docs/tahrik_kashmir.html
- ^ http://www.tombofjesus.com/2007/core/historical_sources/index.html
- ^ Mystery of the Martyr’s Tomb: Part Two