Was Christ really Crucified?
It is not the purpose of this study to kindle any flame of rancour or anger
between Christians and Muslims in a world already polluted with fury, hatred,
segregation, prejudice, racial conflict, violence and fanaticism. Our main
intention is to examine a complicated issue: the crucifixion of Christ. We
believe that this event is the central issue of dispute between the two faiths.
In the light of the historical, religious and other logical data available to
us, we will endeavour to focus objectively on the Biblical record to expose the
divine truth as revealed to us in the Gospels. We would also like to help remove
the cloud of doubt and rejection that has shrouded the minds of our friends, the
Muslims. We will appeal primarily to reason, but we hope also to provide an
effective tool that will nurture and deepen the faith and hope of Christian
No doubt, the cross is the core of the Christian faith. The Bible clearly
indicates that the eternal destiny of man depends totally on the atoning death
of Christ on the cross.
This is what Christianity teaches.
This is what Christians believe.
Islam rejects the whole concept of the cross. Muslims allege that it is
against reason to claim that God, the Omnipotent, would not forgive man's sins
without the cross. To say so is to limit God's power. When repentance, they say,
is combined with God's mercy and forgiveness, it becomes sufficient to award the
penitent all the pleasures of the paradise promised in the Quran.
The contrast between the two perspectives is similar to the contrast between
East and West. A Christian who believes in Christ as the Son of God, and in His
atoning death, finds the sure guarantee of eternal life in the cross. God has
embodied His love, grace, mercy and justice on the cross. The source of this
certainty is Christ's promises. Jesus said, ``Whosoever believeth in me...has
everlasting life.'' (John 3:16, NKJ) A Christian can rest well-assured that he
has indeed been granted eternal life on the basis of Jesus' promises. Such
phrases as ``if God wills'' or ``that depends on God's mercy'' cannot be part of
that assurance. These phrases fail to provide any sense of security in the life
of any believer, because he would lack the certainty he needs for a fruitful,
solid faith. This does not mean that a person can indulge in sin believing that
the death of Christ has secured for him the pardon of his transgressions in
advance. Anyone who seeks everlasting life has to live a Christ-like life to
meet the moral demands of the Christian faith. A person whose life does not
attest to the new creation in him may still be under the condemnation of God's
Salvation in Islam is based on a continuous effort to obtain God's favour,
which would be bestowed in the form of blessings, joys, and the pleasures of
paradise, if He wills. This requires constant exertion in the hope of pleasing
God. A Muslim can never be sure that he really has pleased God and secured His
Good deeds in Islam are an exigency for obtaining God's reward, while good
works in Christianity are the fruit of love and faith. To Christians, good works
are not a means of earning some present or future reward. Everlasting life has
already been guaranteed by the merit of the redemptive act of Christ on the
cross. It embraces whoever believes in Him as Lord, Redeemer and Saviour. This
is an inescapable condition. When this condition of faith is met, Christian life
bears fruit --- that is, good works --- naturally. There is no need to strive to
be good because you are already a new creature, a new person. But there is a
great need to grow in faith and to broaden your Christian spiritual influence as
a good witness to Christ.
A rose fills the air with its scent naturally. It does not strive to do so.
It is its nature to produce sweet aroma; but the entire bush has to grow in
order to continue to yield more beautiful roses. Likewise it is the Christian
nature to bear good fruit as the natural expression of the new life of the true Christian, and not to
obtain some reward or to secure everlasting life (which already has been secured
through the blood of Jesus Christ).
In this study we will employ all the available historical documents and
recognised references to establish the reality of the crucifixion as an
historical event that took place almost 2,000 years ago, and the fact that the
crucified one was none other than Jesus Christ Himself. We believe that all
other claims are invalid and contradict the historical evidence.
It is our fervent desire that our Muslim friends would read this book with
an open mind, heart and spirit, since the motive behind the writing is to make
known the truth of the cross as an historical and spiritual event. We do not ask
them to agree with us, but rather, we hope to stimulate in them the interest to
investigate the veracity or fallacy of Christian belief. Had the founder of
Islam been resigned to accept the religion of his ancestors without questioning
its authenticity he would have been content to worship the idols of Mecca
instead of the god of the Quran. Therefore, we invite our Muslim friends to
scrutinise this brief study thoroughly before they resolve to deny or to accept
the authenticity of the cross.
The redemptive act of Jesus Christ on the cross for the salvation of the
human race is an essential tenet of the Christian faith. It was neither planned
nor implemented by people, but has been carried out by God Himself. Therefore
man cannot claim any credit for it.
Since the inception of Islam in the seventh century A.D., the death of
Christ on the cross and His resurrection have been disputed issues between
Muslims and Christians. Muslims deny that Jesus was crucified, or even that He
died a natural death (although
some of their scholars are inclined to say that Jesus suffered a natural
death and then God raised Him up to heaven). On the other hand, Christians
maintain that Jesus was crucified for the salvation of mankind. Both sides quote
their own holy scripture to prove their point of view, implying their disbelief
of the other's scripture.
Muslim denial of the crucifixion of Christ aims at negating the whole
concept of atonement, or even the need for a saviour. To them salvation could be
achieved without shedding blood, that is, without the atoning act that took its
final and eternal form on the cross in the person of Christ. In one reference to
the crucifixion, the Bible says:
...without shedding of blood there is no remission
(Hebrews 9:22, NKJ)
This is the very thing all Muslims strongly denounce. Muslims believe that
both repentance and good deeds are sufficient to save people from their
iniquities because forgiveness always depends on God's mercy and his will.
Muslims also do not believe that there is a need for an intercessor between man
and God. They claim that man is born innocent. He deviates from the straight
path, not because of his inherited fallen nature, but because of his weakness
and deficiency. I would like to point out a brief study of The Fallen Nature of
Man in Islam and Christianity, in which the author convincingly refutes these
claims, citing both Islamic and Christian sources.
The reasons Christians firmly believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross
and was resurrected on the third day are presented briefly within the context of
In their absolute denial of the death of Christ, Muslims rely on one verse
in the Quran, Sura al-Nisa 4:156--157:
...and for their saying (in boast), ``We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of
Mary, the Messenger of God" --- yet they did not slay him, neither
crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them. Those who are at
variance concerning him surely are in doubt regarding him; they have no
knowledge of him, except the following of surmise; and they slew him not of a
certainty --- no indeed; God raised him up to Him; God is All-mighty, All-wise.
On the basis of this solitary verse which denies the death of Christ (though
this verse is subject to various contradictory interpretations), Muslims assert
that the crucifixion of Jesus did not take place and that the story of Christ's
death and resurrection is the innovation of the early Christians. Such a charge
prompts us to call attention to the following:
First, assume that you are a judge and a case similar to the case of
Christ's crucifixion is presented to you. How would you react to such a case
when it is corroborated by various authentic historical documents and actual
texts of the trial? What would you say if these documents included dialogue that
took place between Christ and Pilate, the Roman governor; details of the debate
between Jesus and the Jewish leaders in the Sanhedrin; the testimonies of the
eye witnesses; the list of names of those who were present during the trial; and
an account of the events that occurred before, during and after the crucifixion?
How would you respond to someone who comes along after six centuries and by one
uncorroborated statement claims that the death of Jesus has
never happened and all that is recorded in the Gospel accounts about this
story is the product of the imaginations of the early church fathers? Would you
as a just judge accept his testimony against all the other proven facts? Some
may claim that the above verse was revealed to Muhammad by God and that God does
not lie. If this is so, then it is the claimant's duty to prove conclusively
that it is inspired by God.
We are here confronted by two facts. First, we have two books, the Quran and
the Bible, and each one of them is regarded by its followers as a revelation
from God. Apparently this cannot be true because they contradict each other in
some of their most basic doctrines. This being the case, one of them must have
come from a source other than God. It is of no avail to charge that the People
of the Book, as Islam calls the Jews and the Christians, have perverted the
Bible because all objective studies --not studies based on speculation or
imagination --- have proven the authenticity of the Bible as we currently have
The second fact is that historical documents corroborate the Gospel text,
while no historical evidence is available to attest to the veracity of the
Quranic text concerning the crucifixion of Jesus. When history confirms the
Biblical text but not the Quranic text, then the advantage is with the Bible and
not with the Quran.
In addition, Christians believe that their Book is inspired by God. Thus,
every text is divinely revealed. When the text is supported by dozens of
prophecies which have been fulfilled literally in the person of Christ, and
Christ Himself quoted them and applied them to his person, then the Christian
claim has the greater weight. It becomes incumbent on the Muslim to refute and
disprove the authenticity of these historical, archaeological and Biblical
facts. To do so he has to present stronger and more conclusive proof to outweigh
the Christian evidence.
Second, if the death of Christ was just an ancient myth, would all Jesus'
disciples, with the exception of John, have sacrificed their lives for it? The
Quran itself testifies to the faithfulness, goodness and devoutness of the
disciples, and calls them examples to be followed. Such people would not
fabricate a tale about their Master. A man may sacrifice his life for a noble
end or for a cause in which he believes, but no one would offer his life
knowingly for a lie or a myth. It is especially difficult
to believe that God-fearing men like the disciples would die to promote a
Third, from Christ's resurrection and up to the last moment of their lives,
the disciples continued to preach the Gospel of salvation. Most often, their
preaching during the first period of their ministry was among the Jewish circles
who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus and knew the story of his resurrection.
Despite that, not a single Jew or any of their religious leaders who conspired
against Christ accused them of lying. Ten days after the Ascension of Christ the
apostle Peter confronted a large crowd of Jews in Jerusalem and told them
Him, being delivered by the predetermined counsel and foreknowledge of God,
you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified and put to death; (Acts 2:23,
On a similar occasion Peter declared to the Jews:
But you denied the Holy One and the Just...killed the Prince of Life, whom
God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. (Acts 3:14--15,
The New Testament is crowded with similar testimonies that bear witness to
the death of Christ and His crucifixion at the hand of the Jews contemporary
with the disciples. Had these charges been invalid, the Jews would have denied
them and the disciples would not have sacrificed their lives for a lie or a
Fourth, there is also a quantity of other logical evidence that is difficult
to ignore. One of the most compelling historical accounts is the human drama
whose stages were the courts of the Sanhedrin, the praetorium of Pilate and the
palace of Herod along
with the horrifying hill that is known in history as Golgotha. In his book
Who Moved The Stone? the British author Frank Morrison examined the story of the
crucifixion of Christ and his resurrection with the critical mind of a skilled,
who was determined to refute the Christian allegations. The outcome of his
intensive study was unexpected and took Morrison by surprise. Instead of writing
a refutation against the myth of the cross as he intended to do, he produced a
document that slapped the face of the sceptic.
The documents available to us indicate that Jesus' trial lasted all night
and part of the next day. It was not a secret trial, but a trial attended by the
general public, the Jewish leaders and the members of the Sanhedrin, the highest
Jewish authority in
Jesus' time. This fact creates an unresolved dilemma for the Muslims who
allege that the crucified one was not really Jesus but another person, perhaps
Judas Iscariot. This claim is erroneous, and lacks historical proof. It does not
fit into the nature of the events. Could not the crucified substitute complain
loudly and vigorously during his public trial that he was not Jesus? Actually
the response of the defendant when He declared that He was the Son of God was
sufficient to sentence Him to death. Is it reasonable that a substitute who was
mistakenly arrested would ascribe to himself so grave a claim under such
circumstances? All the historical documents at our disposal do not record any
remonstrance, or semi-remonstrance expressed by the Shabih (the one who
allegedly resembled Christ). I do not believe that Judas Iscariot --- if he was
the crucified one as Muslims claim --- would not have seized such a golden
opportunity to save himself from an atrocious death.
On the other hand, the Gospel records for us a sublime attitude that could
not emanate from any person other than Christ. In His last hours while He was
still nailed to the cross He forgave His killers and enemies with a heart full
of love. This act cannot originate from the heart of a person like Judas
Iscariot who betrayed his Lord and delivered Him to His enemies.
Furthermore, we should not ignore the role of Mary, Jesus' mother, and the
rest of the women who accompanied her to the cross along with the beloved
disciple, John. They were eye-witnesses to the crucifixion. Those devout,
faithful followers of Christ attest to His actual death and crucifixion. Even
more, John tells us that Jesus Christ, in spite of His excruciating pain, turned
His face towards His mother and told her, ``Woman, behold your son.'' Then He
turned His face to His faithful disciple and said, ``Behold, your mother!''
(John 19:25--27, NKJ). Was not Mary able to distinguish between her son's voice
and the voice of an impostor, the Shabih?
There is also another important issue that Muslim commentators failed to
resolve: the case of Jesus' body. Muslims claim that the Shabih resembled Jesus
in his face only. His body was not subject to any change. They said, ``The face
is the face of Jesus, but the body is not His [body].'' They made this statement
in the context of their interpretation of Sura al-Nisa 4:157:
Those who are at variance concerning him surely are in doubt regarding him;
they have no knowledge of him, except the following of surmise;
If this statement is true, how then did Mary fail to recognise the
difference between the body of her son and the body of the Shabih?
Moreover we have other tangible evidence that is hard for any objective
researcher to overlook. In the context of the crucifixion story it is stated
that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin and a secret
believer in Jesus, were able to obtain official permission from the Roman
governor, Pontius Pilate, to lay Jesus in a tomb that Joseph had prepared for
himself. If the crucified one was the Shabih and not Jesus, how did these two
men fail to distinguish between Jesus' body and the body of an impostor? Did
Judas have, for instance, the same height, weight and skin colour of Jesus? Did
he have the same hair and other visible characteristics of his holy Master?
Actually Joseph's act was a fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah about
Jesus: ``his grave was assigned with wicked men, yet he was with a rich man
in his death'' (Isaiah 53:9).
In his commentary on Sura Al Imran 3:55 al-Fakhr al-Razi summarises in six
points the problems that resulted from the theory of the Shabih. These six
points are of great importance since they are based on sound logic, insight and
accurate observations. When he tried to refute them he presented some
unconvincing answers that created additional problems for the readers.
In order to realise the significance of these problems, it is appropriate to
quote them literally. That would help us to comprehend the complexities of the
theory of the Shabih. It seems, however, that al-Razi was, indeed, convinced of
The First Ambiguity: If we allow the likeness of one person to be
caste on another that would entail sophistry. For if I see my son (the first
time), then I see him again, it becomes possible that the one I see for the
second time is not my son but just an impersonation. That will eliminate the
trust in the perceptible concrete things. Likewise, the Companions of Muhammad
who saw him instructing and prohibiting them could not have been certain that he
was the same Muhammad, because of the possibility that his likeness may have
been caste on somebody else. This will entail the collapse of the laws. The
pivotal theme in the chain of the oral narration is that the first narrator has
related what is perceptible. If making an error in perceptible visual things is
possible, then making an error in relating orally an incident is more probable.
In summary, opening such a door is the beginning of sophistry and its end is the
nullification of prophecies entirely.
The Second Ambiguity: God, the Most High, ordered Gabriel,
peace be upon him, to accompany (Jesus) most of the time. This is what the
expositors indicated as they interpreted his saying: ``As I upheld thee with the
holy spirit.'' (Sura al-Maida 5:110) Also, the edge of one of Gabriel's wings
was sufficient for taking care of mankind. How then was that not good enough to
protect (Jesus) from the Jews? Furthermore, since (Jesus), peace be upon him,
was capable of raising the dead, and of healing the blind and the leper, how did
he fail to inflict those Jews who intended to hurt him, with death, or
afflicting them with ailments, chronic illnesses, and paralysis, to render them
incapable of confronting him?
The Third Ambiguity: God, the Most High, could have saved (Jesus)
from his enemies by lifting him up to heaven. What then is the use of casting
his likeness on somebody else? Would not this cause an unfortunate person to
suffer death for no reason?
The Fourth Ambiguity: If he caste his likeness on another person and
then was lifted up to heaven, people would think that the Shabih is Jesus when
in fact he was not. That would make them a subject of deception and obscurity.
This is incompatible with God's wisdom.
The Fifth Ambiguity: Multitudes of Christians in both Eastern and
Western hemispheres, despite their extreme love to Christ, peace be upon him,
and their excess exaltation of him, reported that they saw him slain and
crucified. If we deny this, that would be a discrediting of what was verified by
oral transmission. The discrediting of the oral transmission demands the
discrediting of the prophethood of both Muhammad and Jesus and even the (denial)
of their historicity and the historicity of the rest of the prophets. This is
The Sixth Ambiguity: By virtue of the oral transmission, (we are
told) that the crucified one survived a long time. If he were not Jesus but
another person, he would have become frightened and said: ``I am not Jesus. I am
another person.'' He would have made every effort to announce this fact. Had he
mentioned that, it would have become well known among the people. Since none of
this happened, we knew that the matter is not as you claimed.
After al-Razi stated the above ambiguities, he attempted to respond to them.
However, his refutations proved to be brief and illogical. In order to maintain
the same level of objectivity, an attempt will be made to quote these responses
literally. This will help the reader to examine them and to form his own
opinion. Al-Razi said:
The First Response: Anyone who believes in the only Omnipotent
admits that God is able to create, for instance, another person in the image of
Zayd. Such similarity does not necessitate the above uncertainty. This is the
answer to what you mentioned.
The Second Response: If Gabriel, peace be upon him, defended (Jesus
Christ) or if God enabled Jesus, peace be upon him, to repel his enemies, his
miracle would have been achieved by force of constraint (had al-ilja). This is
The Third Response: If God had lifted Jesus up and did not cast his
likeness on another, that miracle would have been achieved by force of
constraint (had al-ilja).
The Fourth Response: Jesus' disciples were present, and they were
aware of the circumstances which surrounded the event. Thus, they would remove
The Fifth Response: Those who were present at that time were few. It
is possible for the few to be deluded. After all, when oral transmission is
handed down to the few it would become useless for knowledge.
The Sixth Response: One probability is that the one who bore the
likeness of Jesus, peace be upon him, was a Muslim (that is, a believer in him)
and accepted to be his substitute. In this case it is possible that he would not
disclose the truth of the matter. In short, the questions they mentioned are
subject, from some aspects, to many probabilities. Since the irrefutable text
attests to Muhammad's reliability in all that he reported, it would be
impossible for these contingent questions to contradict the infallible text, and
God is the possessor of guidance.
These have been the responses of the scholar sheikh, the orator of Rayy,
al-Razi, to the most profound dogmatic issue disputed in the dialogue between
Christianity and Islam. They are characterised by naivete and superficiality. It
seems also that al-Razi realised, in advance, the unfeasibility of refuting
them. Thus, his last conclusive and emphatic statement: ``Since the irrefutable
text attests to Muhammad's reliability in all that he reported, it would be
impossible for these contingent questions to contradict the infallible text.''
That was his only way to evade the truth.
In this case we cannot but reflect on al-Fakhr al-Razi's responses to dispel
the dark shades of doubts by which he attempted to shroud the truth.
For his first response we agree that it is true that God is able to create
as many people as he wishes to resemble each other. But in the case of Christ,
there was no need to do so. Christ did not endeavour to avoid crucifixion. He
came, in the first place, for the redemption of mankind. It is a task He elected
to accomplish by His own will. If Christ really tried to evade crucifixion
either through cowardice or apathy He would be evading a responsibility He took
on Himself to fulfil. This is not a characteristic of the Christ who is the Word
of God. In this case there was no need at all for God to perform the miracle of
Second, Christ never needed the Angel Gabriel to rescue Him from the hands
of his enemies. Jesus was not defenceless. The miracles that He performed before
His death were even more wonderful and far surpassed the alleged rescue
operation. The facts recorded in the Gospel are examples of His unlimited power.
When His enemies came to arrest Him, He threw them down to the ground by the
powerful word of His mouth. He could have gone on His way safely. That was not
the first time in which the Jews conspired against Him, but each time He slipped
away from among them. None of them dared at that time to hurt Him. But when His
appointed time came Jesus willingly delivered Himself to His foes to accomplish
what He came for. Al-Razi and all those like him should have studied Christ's
purpose for His incarnation. That would have helped them to perceive that
forgiveness of sin through death on the cross was the main reason for Christ's
incarnation and virgin birth.
Third, did God really need to cast Jesus' resemblance on anybody? Some
claimed that the purpose of the resemblance story was to penalise Judas
Iscariot, who had betrayed his Master. But the Gospel account presents us with
all the facts about the suicide of the ignominious Judas. Besides, why should
refraining from casting the likeness of Jesus on the Shabih be regarded as a
forced constraint? Lifting Jesus up to heaven before the eyes of the Jews would
dispel any doubt that surrounded the person of Jesus
Christ. Both the religious and political Jewish leadership would realise
then what a grave error they had perpetrated against the Word of God.
Fourth, it is true that Jesus's disciples and some of His followers were
present in that horrible night and witnessed what happened to their Master. Thus
by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they accurately recorded the details of the
crucifixion on the pages of the Gospel accounts. The Gospel's narration,
corroborated by tangible references and documents, disagrees with the Quranic
text, the various stories of the Islamic Tradition and the many fantasies of the
Muslim expositors. The Gospel has preserved for us even the minute details of
this important event.
Fifth, al-Razi contradicts himself as he states in his fourth response:
``Jesus' disciples were present, and they were aware of the circumstances which
surrounded the event. Thus, they would remove that ambiguity.'' Now he claims
that the disciples were few and ``it is possible for the few to be deluded.
After all, when oral transmission is handed down to the few it would become
useless for knowledge.'' What a contradiction! When al-Fakhr al-Razi realised
that quoting the disciples would serve his purpose he resorted to them as
eye-witnesses who could dispel the ambiguity. Then suddenly those eye-witnesses
become subject to the influence of the illusion. The fact is, if we examine the
chain of authorities for any sound Islamic Tradition we rarely find any
tradition supported by a chain of twelve authorities at one time. Actually those
who witnessed the event of the crucifixion and those to whom Christ appeared
after His resurrection and gathered together to watch Him ascending to heaven
were more than 500 persons. Therefore the disciples' record of the crucifixion
is no doubt authentic.
Sixth, according to the contrasting Islamic episodes, with one or two
exceptions, the Shabih was never a believer in Christ. Most Muslim expositors
are inclined to believe that the Shabih was one of Jesus' enemies. Thus it is
unlikely that he would resort to silence and would not vigorously shout that he
was not Christ, or ``that he would not disclose the truth of the matter in that
case.'' A person who is erroneously accused and whose life is at stake would do
everything possible to save himself unless he is dying for a noble cause. Also
if al-Razi utilises the truthfulness of Muhammad in all that he reported in
support of the Islamic version of the crucifixion story, we also resort to the
credibility of Christ and His disciples for all the information found in our
infallible Gospel. Besides, one verse uttered six centuries later in the Quran
cannot discredit the authentic historical documents available to us.
Muslim scholars also disagreed on the identity of the Shabih. Muslim
narrators have related many imaginary stories to us, and they have been quoted
by many Muslims expositors without any inquiry into their validity. These are
not based on any historical document, archaeological proof or authentic text. No
Muslim was able to provide any concrete evidence to prove the veracity of any of
these fantasies concerning the Shabih. In his booklet The Cross in The
Gospel and The Quran, Iskander Jadeed was able to collect most of these
stories from their original sources. They contradict each other in details such
as names, the order of events and occasions. That is not surprising since they
are based on sources fabricated by the narrators' imagination as they attempt to
comment on an inexplicable verse or to prove a case incongruous with the
Gospel's account at the expense of the truth.
The historical resources inform us that the myth of the resemblance as
indicated in the Quran is not a novelty. During the first six centuries and
before the inception of Islam, this false teaching was widespread among
Christian heretics. Basilides, the Gnostic, claimed that Simon of Cyrene, who
carried the cross for Christ when He became weary, consented to be crucified in
His stead, thus God cast on him the likeness of Christ and he was crucified.
The Docetists said that Jesus was not crucified at all but that it seemed or
appeared so to the Jews. Actually the word Docetic is derived from a Greek verb
that means ``to seem'' or ``to appear''. It sums up their general doctrine on
Throughout the course of church history the heresy of the Shabih has never
disappeared. From time to time it reappeared among the Christian communities in
the East, preached by scattered groups of heretics. In the year A.D. 185 a
heretic sect of the descendant of the priests of Thebes who embraced
Christianity claimed that ``God forbids that Christ should be crucified. He was
safely lifted up to heaven.'' Also in the year A.D. 370 a hermetic Gnostic sect
that denied the crucifixion of Jesus taught that He ``was not crucified but it
seemed so to the spectators who crucified Him.'' Again, in the year A.D. 520
Severus, bishop of Syria, fled to Alexandria where he encountered a group of
philosophers teaching that Jesus Christ was not crucified but that it only
appeared so to the people who nailed Him on the cross. In A.D. 560 the monk
Theodor denied Christ's human nature and thus denied His crucifixion. About A.D.
610 Bishop John, son of the governor of Cyprus, began to proclaim that Christ
was not crucified but that it only seemed so to the spectators who crucified
Among those who preached the theory of the Shabih is the Persian
self-proclaimed prophet Mani (A.D. 276). He said that Jesus was the son of a
widow, and the one who was crucified was the son of the widow of Nain whom Jesus
raised from the dead. In another Manichaean tradition we read that Satan was the
one who sought to crucify Jesus but he failed and was crucified in His place.
It is obvious from this brief historical summary that Islam has adopted the
teachings of the Shabih and the denial of Jesus' crucifixion from the Christian
heresies. We believe that these heresies were widespread among the Gnostic sects
in the Arabian Peninsula during the era of Muhammad. History books and
bibliographies inform us that the Council of Constantinople (A.D. 380)
commissioned Bishop Gregory of Nyssa ``to visit churches in Arabia and Jerusalem
where disturbances had broken out and schism threatened.'' These sects did not
construct their beliefs on historical evidence or official documents but
followed their own conceptions and imaginations and focused primarily on the
nature of Christ's human body.
Fifth, if we assume, for the sake of argument only, that the story of the
Shabih is true, then we would be attributing perfidy and trickery to God.
Accordingly the disciples who preached fervently about Christ's crucifixion and
resurrection would have been, in fact, preaching about the death and the
resurrection of the Shabih. That would mean that the church, which followed the
footsteps of the disciples, would have also been deluded for over six
centuries---until the inception of Islam. In this case, who would be blamed? Who
would have been the source of this perfidy? Why would the almighty God not
reveal the truth to the disciples of His prophet and messenger but instead keep
them in complete darkness? Why would God allow the church to believe in such a
grave lie for six centuries? Who would be responsible for the millions of souls
who went astray and believed in a lie? It would seem that God was in the centre
of this confusion. He would be the one who created the heresy of the crucifixion
and made everyone believe that Jesus was the one who was crucified. In this case
God would not be better than the gods of Greek mythology who enjoyed deceiving
each other and their own worshippers as well. But we know that we cannot
attribute any of these detestable characteristics to God. He is a holy God who
will never contradict His holy divine nature and act fraudulently.
Lastly, the resurrection has become the focal point of the Christian faith.
The resurrection was not an ordinary event that left no mark on the history of
the church and its development. On the contrary, the resurrection is the secret
of the constant power of the church and its growth. If the crucifixion is the
essence of salvation, the resurrection is the secret of the church's triumph and
victory. The crucifixion without the resurrection is insignificant; the
resurrection without the crucifixion is meaningless.
But the resurrection also attests to the reality of Christ's death. After
His resurrection Jesus appeared to His disciples and hundreds of His loyal
followers assuring them that He was indeed crucified and then raised from the
dead. For the last 40 days of His earthly life, He continued to explain to them
the meaning of that spiritual and historical event and its impact on humanity.
Maybe the most remarkable incident we can cite in this respect is the reaction
of the apostle Thomas, who was famous for his realistic approach and suspicious
mind. He refused to believe what other disciples told him about the appearance
of Jesus. It seems that he thought that the disciples who were mourning the
death of their Master had lost their minds. Therefore he challenged them saying:
...Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger in
the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.
(John 20:25, NKJ)
Eight days later the disciples were together again. Though the doors were
shut for the fear of the Jews, Jesus appeared to them and stood in their midst.
After greeting them, he said to Thomas:
Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and
put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.
(John 20:27, NKJ)
This passage reveals that the incident of Jesus' crucifixion has been
subjected to a very careful scrutiny and investigation even by the most loyal
friends of Christ, His disciples. It is not acceptable, therefore, to disregard
the Biblical text and claim without any solid evidence that the story of the
crucifixion of Christ is the invention of the early Christians. Needless to say,
the historical credentials are in favour of the Gospel's account.
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