The Descent of I`sa  in the Quran

There are four Verses in the Quran which elaborate upon the subject of I`sa’s  second coming which is a basic belief and creed shared by Muslims and Christians. There is no possible doubt in the descent of I`sa for a true believer, as it has been mentioned in the Quran and the Hadiths of the prophet have explained and expounded upon it, especially the Hadith of Abu Hurayrah in explanation of the verse 4/159 :

Abu-Hurariah said that the prophet Muhammad  said,

"By him in whose hands my soul rests, surely Jesus, Son, of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind judiciously, by the law of the Quran, as an honest ruler. He will break the cross, kill the pigs and abolish jizya. Money will abound in such excess that no one will wish to accept it. A single prostration to Allah, in prayer, will be better that the whole world and all it contains." Abu Hurayrah, the narrator, added, "If you wish, you can recite this verse from the holy Quran: "And there is none of the people of the book, but must believe in him (i.e. Jesus as an apostle of Allah and a human being), before his death, and on the Day of Judgment, he will be a witness against them." Quran 4/159 The reporter, Abu Hurayrah considers it important enough to be graded as a Quranic prophecy. We can thus imagine the degree of authenticity that may be attached to a prophecy which occurs in the traditions with solemn affirmation and is also mentioned in the Holy Quran.

Overall, the said verse indicates that Jesus has not descended yet and a time will come when the people of the Book will believe in him without hesitation. The distinguished Companion of the Holy Prophet , Hazart abu Hurayrah in the course of narrating a tradition relating to "descent" has averred that if a parallel to it is required, one is to be found in the Holy Quran.

As a result, we find that the descent of I`sa  is mentioned in the Quran and the Hadiths have supported it in effect with detail.

According to most of the commentators, the second coming of Jesus Christ has been referred to in this Quranic Verse. The meaning of the verse is, therefore, that before the death of Jesus Christ (certainly after his second coming) all the Jews and Christians will believe in him as a Messenger of God. The Jews will accept him as the true Messiah because he will have killed the imposter Messiah and will have cleared all the doubts in the minds of the Jews, about the validity of his position as the Messaih by his second coming. The Christians will accept him as a messenger of Allah instead of being His son or godhead because he will himself tell them that he was not the son of God, he was simply a messenger of God.

Other Quranic verses which refer to the descent of Jesus are those which have mentioned Jesus’ speech in infancy and manhood. The verses are as follows :

"Remember the time when the angels said, "O Maryam (Mary)! Allah rewards you with the glad tidings of a word from Him, whose name is Masih, I`sa (Jesus) alayhis salaam, Son of Maryam honoured in this world and in the hereafter and he will be from those who are close to Allah and he shall speak to people from the cradle and in manhood and he shall be from the righteous ones." 3/46.

"Remember when Allah said, "O I`sa (Jesus) alay his salam, Son of Maryam (Mary)! Remember my favour upon you and your mother, when I strengthened you by the Angel Gabriel, so that you may talk to the people in the cradle and in manhood." 5/11.

Jesus’ speech in manhood, mentioned in the above verse will take its form after his descent, as the word Kahl, which appears in the above verses, is used to refer to the age above forty and Jesus’ ascent was at the age of thirty three. The inference therefore is that he had not yet spoken during manhood. When he descends, Jesus will be thirty three years of age, and will live in excess of the age of forty, thus this will be the time of his speech in manhood, as predicted above.

In these two verses the most important statement is that Jesus Christ will speak to the people in his maturity and this fact has been referred to in these verses as a miracle of Jesus and a special bounty of Allah bestowed upon him. It may be pointed out that speaking in childhood while one is still in the cradle is undoubtedly a miracle and great bounty of God conferred upon Jesus.

Even some of the apocryphal Gospels described him as a preacher of the divine message while still an infant. But the second part of the statement, that he would speak in maturity is not anything even worth mentioning in normal conditions. The fact that it has been repeatedly highlighted in the Quran shows that concerning Jesus, it will be a miracle and not an ordinary event.

We know that the former prophetic career of Jesus lasted only about three years, from thirty to thirty three years of age. This shows that he had not reached the age of maturity, which is normally taken to be after mid-forties. This clearly shows that for him the speech in the age of ‘Kahl’ i.e. maturity, is yet to come and hence its extraordinary nature.

The following verse also confers upon I`sa  the eschatological role of descending prior to Doomsday.

"When the son of Mary is held up as an example, behold your people, raise a clamour at it (in ridicule); they say, "Are our gods better or he?" This they set forth to you only by way of disputation. They are, but a contentious people. He was no more than a servant. We granted Our favour upon him and We made him an example to the Children of Israel. And if it were Our will We could make angels from amongst you succeeding each other on the earth. And he (Jesus) shall undoubtedly be a sign for the coming of the Hour of Judgment. Therefore, have no doubt about the Hour but follow Me. This is a straight way (Quran, 43: 57-61) This verse is understood to refer to the second coming of Jesus Christ towards the close of this world. Where the major signs of the approaching of the day of Judgment have been mentioned in the Hadiths, they also include the second coming of Jesus. Therefore, his coming will be a sign of the fact that the Hour of Judgment has come very near. In this verse the word ‘Alam’ or ‘Elm’ can be pronounced in two different ways. If it is pronounced as ‘Alam’ it would mean sign, as we have already translated. It can also be pronounced as ‘Elm’ which means knowledge. In this latter case, it gives the same signification, that the second coming of Jesus amounts to the definite knowledge of the fact that the Hour of Judgment has come very near.

It may be noted that this interpretation is based on a Hadith of the Holy Prophet  himself. It is reported in the Sahih of Ibn Hibban on the authority of Abdullah ibn Abbas that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has said that the phrase "Knowledge of the Hour" means the descent of Jesus, son of Mary before the Day of Resurrection.

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