Q. Most translators of the Qur'an view the birth of Jesus (a.s) as miraculous (a virgin birth), which is also the Biblical version. According to Muhammad Ali's interpretation, Jesus had a human father. Is there any validity to this position?

Muhammad Ali also takes the Biblical position that there was an attempt to put an end to Jesus's life on the cross, and that he survived it. According to Yusuf Ali's translation, there will be a second coming of Jesus (Q43:61). This is probably based on numerous ahadith that support this claim. Incidentally, in Yusuf Ali's first translation of the Qur'an, he explained that Jesus died, but changed his view in subsequent editions. Based on this interpretation and the ahadith, some Muslims think that Allah (s.w.t) took Jesus bodily to heaven. They believe that Jesus will return to kill the anti-Christ, which is also the Christian position. Shaykh Al Albani tells us in his book on prayer to ask for protection from the anti-Christ and from the punishment of the grave. Will Jesus return before the Day of Judgment, and what is the purpose of the Mahdi?

A. Regarding the birth of Jesus, there is no support in the Qur'an for the view that Jesus had an earthly father. Remember when Mary brought the boy out, the people said to her: "How can this be, etc...?" And remember too when she said: "Would that I had died before this...?" All of this supports the Biblical position of a virgin birth.

As far as the crucifixion goes, the Qur'an differs with all of the ahadith. The fact of the matter is this: "Crucifixion in Roman Law meant that the person was put on the cross until he died." The Qur'an does not dispute the placement on the cross, that has been established by history. What the Qur'an denies is that he died on the cross: "They crucified him not, it appeared thus to them." They thought they took a dead man down, but he was actually still alive. Here the Qur'an deems it unimportant to tell us what happened afterwards, for it is not a history book. He may have wandered off to live elsewhere, for he was a wanted man, and as the Bible shows, he frequently asked people not to disclose his whereabouts. I think Ahmad Deedat explains it pretty well, despite his acerbic, polemic approach.

Muhammad Ali actually differed with Mirza on this issue. This is the problem with the Lahoris, despite their good intentions (like Sayyid Ahmad Khan), they attempt to subject everything to rational explanation, ignoring in the process, certain clear Qur'anic verses that indicate miracles, like the virgin birth.

As far as the return of Jesus, again this is opposed to the Qur'an. Why would Jesus return to break crosses, kill the pigs, wipe out the Jews, and spread Islam? The ahadith about this are nonsensical and defy logic. Are we saying that the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w) did not complete his mission? Did God lie to us when He says in the Qur'an that He has perfected the religion of Islam?

The stuff about the Mahdi falls into a weaker category, as evidenced by the fact that neither Muslim nor Bukhari dealt with it. It did not meet their standard of authenticity, and Ibn Khaldun wraps it up for what it is in his Muqadimmah. Muhammad Ali had to believe in it, because as far as he was concerned, and as far as all Ahmadis are concerned, there had to be ahadith about a reformer, a Madhi. Only in the face of such ahadith could the door be opened for Mirza to come forth and face the world.

Al Albani is a good shaykh, but is so hung up on ahadith that he puts them above the Qur'an, which says: "And we have not left out anything from it." That places all ahadith - repeat all - that deal with matters on theology not spoken of by the Qur'an as being highly questionable, and must be treated as such, even when they seem to make sense. The problem with some Muslims is that they focus on the ahadith based on the concept that the Prophet's companions did not lie, or could not lie. Neither is true, and God would not let a truth rest on human failings.

Based on my research, I have found that many of the ahadith that deal with matters of eschatology are influenced by traditions outside of Islam. There is evidence to suggest that Jewish, Christian, and Zoroastrian sources are the bases of much of the hadith imagery. Scholars have suggested for example, that the "Sirat" (bridge) that allegedly exists between heaven and hell is from Zoroastrian sources. In my own area of research, however, I have examined only the Jewish and Christian material for provenance.

As such, the ahadith that tell us to seek protection from the anti-Christ must be discarded. We cannot ask God to protect us from the anti-Christ, because there is none. We can ask God to protect us from evil, and we ask God to make us good Muslims, and to make our children good Muslims, as Abraham (a.s) and Ishmael (a.s) asked. Other than that, the business about the punishment in the grave, the intercession of the Prophet, the anti-Christ, etc. are all a waste of time and a rejection of the Qur'anic truth.

Posted December 2, 1998