The Return of the Prophet Jesus (as) to Earth
The Qur'an explicitly declares the return of the Prophet Jesus (as) to earth and there are several proofs to confirm this:
Proof # 1
Surah Al 'Imran 55 is one of the verses indicating that the Prophet Jesus (as) will come back:
When Allah said, "Jesus, I will take you back and raise you up to Me and purify you of those who are disbelievers. And I will place the people who follow you above those who are disbelievers until the Day of Resurrection. Then you will all return to Me, and I will judge between you regarding the things about which you differed. (Surah Al 'Imran, 55)
The statement in the verse, "And I will place the people who follow you above those who are disbelievers until the Day of Resurrection" is important. Here, there is reference to a group strictly adhering to the Prophet Jesus (as) and who will be kept above the disbelievers until the Day of Judgement. Who are these adherents, then? Are they the disciples who lived in the time of the Prophet Jesus (as) or are they the Christians of today?
Before he was raised up to Allah, the followers of the Prophet Jesus (as) were few. After his ascension, the essence of Christianity degenerated rapidly. Furthermore, the disciples faced serious pressure throughout their lives. During the succeeding two centuries, having no political power, those Christians having faith in the Prophet Jesus (as) were also oppressed. In this case, it is not possible to say that early Christians or their successors during these periods were physically superior to the disbelievers in the world. We might logically think that this verse does not refer to them.
When we look at the Christians of today, on the other hand, we notice that the essence of Christianity has changed significantly and it is markedly different from what the Prophet Jesus (as) originally brought to mankind. Christians embraced the perverted belief that suggests that the Prophet Jesus (as) is the son of God and similarly held the doctrine of the Trinity (the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit). (Surely Allah is beyond that.) In this case, it is flawed to accept the Christians of today as the adherents of the true religion revealed to the Prophet Jesus (as). In many verses of the Qur'an Allah states that the belief of the Trinity is a perverted one:
Those who say that the Messiah, son of Maryam, is the third of three are disbelievers. There is no god but One God. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 73)
In this case, the commentary of the statement, "And I will place the people who follow you above those who are disbelievers until the Day of Resurrection" is as follows: first, it is said that these people are the Muslims who are the only true followers of the authentic teachings of the Prophet Jesus (as); second, it is said that these people are the Christians, whether or not they hold idolatrous beliefs, and that could be seen to be confirmed by the dominant position that nominal Christians hold on the earth today. However, both positions will be unified by the arrival of the Prophet Jesus (as), since he will abolish the jizyah (the defence tax payable by non-Muslims living under Muslim rule), meaning that he will not accept that Christians and Jews live with any other religion than Islam, and so will unite all the believers as Muslims.
Proof # 2
Earlier in this section, we analysed verses 157-158 of Surat an-Nisa'. Just after these verses Allah states the following in Surat an-Nisa' 159:
There is not one of the People of the Book who will not believe in him before he dies; and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them. (Surat an-Nisa, 159)
The statement above "who will not believe in him before he dies" is important. The Arabic text of this sentence reads: Wa-in min ahli'l-kitabi illa la yuminanna bihi qabla mawtihi.
Some scholars stated that the "him/it" in this verse is used for the Qur'an and thus made the following interpretation: There will be no one from the People of the Book who will not have faith in the Qur'an before he (a person from the People of the Book) dies.
Nevertheless, in verses 157 and 158, which are the two verses preceding this verse, the same "him" is undoubtedly used for the Prophet Jesus (as). The verses state:
And (on account of) their saying, "We killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Maryam, Messenger of Allah." They did not kill him and they did not crucify him but it was made to seem so to them. Those who argue about him are in doubt about it. They have no real knowledge of it, just conjecture. But they certainly did not kill him. (Surat an-Nisa': 157)
Allah raised him up to Himself. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. (Surat an-Nisa, 158)
Just after these verses in Surat an-Nisa' 159, there is no evidence indicating that "him" is used to imply someone or something other than the Prophet Jesus (as).
There is not one of the People of the Book who will not believe in him before he dies; and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them. (Surat an-Nisa': 159)
In the Qur'an, Allah informs us that on the Day of Judgement, the "tongues and hands and feet will testify against them about what they were doing" (Surat an-Nur: 24 and Surah Yasin: 65). From Surah Fussilat 20-23, we learn that "hearing, sight and skin will testify against us." In none of the verses however, is there reference to the Qur'an as a witness. If we accept that the "him" or "it" in the first sentence refers to the Qur'an – though grammatically or logically we have no evidence whatsoever – then we should also accept that the "he" in the second statement also refers to the Qur'an. To accept this however, there should be an explicit verse confirming this view. In addition, the words "… Allah raised him up to Himself" in the preceding verse once again shows that it is not the Qur'an that is being indicated in this verse. The Qur'an has been a guidance for the faithful for the last 1400 years, and has not been raised up to Allah. It is the Prophet Jesus (as) who has been raised up to Him. This is yet another proof that the witnessing referred to in the verse is that of the Prophet Jesus (as) for the People of the Book, and that the pronoun "he" in the verse does not refer to the Qur'an. (Allah knows the truth.)
In other verses, we see that when the same personal pronoun is used for the Qur'an, there is generally mention of the Qur'an before or after that specific verse as in the cases of Surat an-Naml: 77 and Surat ash-Shu'ara: 192-196. The verse straightforwardly defines that People of the Book will have faith in the Prophet Jesus (as) and that he (the Prophet Jesus [as]) will be a witness against them.
The second point is about the interpretation of the expression "before he dies". Some think this is having faith in the Prophet Jesus (as) before their own death. According to this interpretation everyone from the People of the Book will definitely believe in the Prophet Jesus (as) before they face their own death. Arabic linguistics, however, shows that this claim is not correct. The plural suffix hum is used in all those verses of the Qur'an that refer to the People of the Book (as in Surat al-Bayyina 1 and 6, Surat al-Hadid 29, and Surat al-Hashr 2). Yet the singular suffix hu is employed in this verse. This means that the verse reports that the People of the Book will believe in the Prophet Jesus (as) before his death – in other words, before his biological death at his second coming. (Allah knows the truth.) Besides, in the Prophet Jesus' (as) time Jews who are defined as the People of the Book not only did not have faith in the Prophet Jesus (as) but also attempted to kill him. On the other hand, it is not possible to say that Jews and Christians who lived and died after the time of the Prophet Jesus (as) had faith – the type of faith described in the Qur'an – in him. To conclude, when we make a careful evaluation of the verse, we arrive at the following conclusion: Before the Prophet Jesus' (as) death, all the People of the Book will have faith in him.(Ömer Nasuhi Bilmen, Kuran-i Kerim'in Türkce Meali Alisi ve Tefsiri (The Turkish Translation of the Noble Qur'an and Its Commentary), Timas Publishing, Istanbul, 8th edition, Volume 7, p. 3292) In other words, in the second coming of the Prophet Jesus (as), all the People of the Book will become Muslims as his followers and Islamic morals will prevail on the Earth.
Besides, the verse refers to the future because there is mention of the death of the Prophet Jesus (as). Yet, the Prophet Jesus (as) did not die but was raised up to the Presence of Allah. The Prophet Jesus (as) will come to earth again, he will live for a specified time and then die. Moreover, all the People of the Book will have faith in him. This is an event which has yet not occurred, but which will happen in the future.
Consequently, by the expression "before he dies", there is a reference to the Prophet Jesus (as). The People of the Book will see him, know him and obey him while he is alive. Meanwhile, the Prophet Jesus (as) will bear witness against them on the Last Day and Allah knows the truth.
Proof # 3
That the Prophet Jesus (as) will come back to earth towards the end of time is related in another verse of the Qur'an.
When an example is made of the son of Maryam (Jesus) your people laugh uproariously. They retort, "Who is better then, our deities or him?" They only say this to you for argument's sake. They are indeed a disputatious people. He is only a slave on whom We bestowed Our blessing and whom We made an example for the tribe of Israel. If We wished, We could appoint angels in exchange for you to succeed you on the earth. (Surat az-Zukhruf, 57-60)
Just after these verses, Allah declares that the Prophet Jesus (as) is a sign of the Day of Judgement.
He is a Sign of the Hour. Have no doubt about it. But follow me. This is a straight path. (Surat az-Zukhruf, 61)
This verse informs us that the Prophet Jesus (as) will come back to earth at the end times. That is because the Prophet Jesus (as) lived approximately six centuries before the revelation of the Qur'an. Consequently, we cannot interpret his first coming as a sign of the Day of Judgement. What this verse actually indicates is that the Prophet Jesus (as) will come back to earth towards the end of time and this will be a sign for the Day of Judgement. The Arabic of the verse "He is a Sign of the Hour" is Innahu la 'ilmun li's-sa'ati… Some people interpret the pronoun hu in this verse as the Qur'an. However, the preceding verses explicitly indicate that the Prophet Jesus (as) is mentioned in the verse:
"He is only a slave on whom We bestowed Our blessing and whom We made an example for the tribe of Israel." (Prof. Suleyman Ates, Yuce Kur'an'in Cagdas Tefsiri (The Contemporary Tafsir of the Holy Qur'an), Istanbul, 1988-1992, vol. 6, p. 4281)
Those who cite this pronoun as referring to the Qur'an go on to quote the next part of the verse "Have no doubt about it. But follow me" as so-called evidence. However, the verses preceding this one refer completely to the Prophet Jesus (as). For this reason, it appears that the pronoun hu is linked to those preceding verses and also refers to the Prophet Jesus (as). In fact, great Islamic scholars declare that to be the case, based on the use of the pronoun both in the Qur'an and in the hadith.
Among contemporary Islamic scholars, Sayyid Qutb drew attention to the important evidence concerning the Prophet Jesus' (as) second coming, in his commentary:
Many hadith regard the Prophet Jesus' (as) descent to earth prior to the Day of Judgment. Indeed, the verse, "He is a Sign of the Hour" also indicates this. In other words, the Prophet Jesus (as) will descend to earth at a time close to the Day of Judgment. In a second style of reading, the verse reads "wa innahu la 'ilmun li al-saa'ati." In other words, his descent is a sign, a sign of the Day of Judgment. Both styles of reading express the same meaning. His descent from the skies is a news of the Unseen World, spoken of by the right-speaking and trustworthy Prophet (saas) and indicated in the glorious Qur'an. Apart from the information from these two sources, which will remain unchanged until the Day of Judgment, nobody can say anything else about the subject. (Sayyid Qutb, Fi Zilal al-Qur'an (In the Shade of the Qur'an), www.sevde.de/ Kuran-Tevsiri/Kuran_Tefsiri.htm )
Al-Kawthari stated that even in the oldest doctrinal texts, this verse was used as evidence of the Prophet Jesus' (as) return (Imam Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari, Nazra 'Abira fi Maza'im Man Yankur Nuzul 'Isa 'alyhi al-Salam aabla al-Akhira (A Cursory Look at the Claims of Those Who Deny Jesus' Descent before the Next Life), Egypt, 1980, p. 105). Omer Nasuhi Bilmen explained the verse in these terms:
It gives news, in an indubitable manner, that the Prophet Jesus (as) is a sign of the approach of the Day of Judgment and that the Day of Judgment will certainly come … His appearance on earth is regarded as a law of the Last Day… (Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, Kuran-i Kerim'in Türkce Meali Alisi ve Tefsiri (The Turkish Translation of the Noble Qur'an and Its Commentary), Timas Publishing, Istanbul, 8th edition, Volume 7, p. 3292)
In fact, this title is unique to the Prophet Jesus (as), for although the Qur'an describes the lives of the Prophet Muhammad (saas), Abraham (as), Noah (as), Moses (as), Solomon (as), Joseph (as), David (as), Jacob (as), and a great many other prophets, this title is applied to none of them. This fact is yet another indication that the Prophet Jesus (as) possesses a special feature that the other prophets do not: He will return to Earth after having been raised to Allah's Presence and Allah knows the truth.
Proof # 4
Other verses indicating the second coming of the Prophet Jesus (as) are as follows:
When the angels said, "Maryam, your Lord gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Maryam of high esteem in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near. He will speak to people in the cradle, and also when fully grown, and will be one of the righteous," she said, "My Lord! How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?" He said, "It will be so. Allah creates whatever He wills. When He decides on something He just says to it, 'Be!' and it is. He will teach him the Book and Wisdom, and the Tawrah and the Injil…" (Surah Al 'Imran, 45-48)
In this verse, it is heralded that Allah will instruct the Prophet Jesus (as) about the Injil, the Tawrah and the "Book." We come across the same expression in the Surat al-Ma'ida:
Remember when Allah said: "Jesus, son of Maryam, remember My blessing to you and to your mother when I reinforced you with the Purest Spirit so that you could speak to people in the cradle and when you were fully grown; and when I taught you the Book and Wisdom, and the Tawrah and the Injil; and when you created a bird-shape out of clay by My permission…" (Surat al-Ma'ida, 110)
When we analyse the "Book" in both of the verses, we see that it may indicate the Qur'an. In the verses, it is stated that the Qur'an is the last divine book sent apart from the Tawrah, the Zabur and the Injil. Besides, in another verse in the Qur'an, next to the Tawrah and the Injil, the word "Book" is used to indicate the Qur'an.
Allah, there is no god but Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He has sent down the Book to you with truth, confirming what has there before it. And He sent down the Tawrah and the Injil, previously... (Surah Al 'Imran, 2-3)
Some other verses in which "Book" refers to the Qur'an state:
When a Book does come to them from Allah, confirming what is with them – even though before that they were praying for victory over the unbelievers – yet when what they recognise does come to them, they reject it. Allah's curse is on the unbelievers. (Surat al-Baqara, 89)
For this We sent a Messenger to you from among you to recite Our Signs to you and purify you and teach you the Book and Wisdom and teach you things you did not know before. (Surat al-Baqara, 151)
In this case, it is clear that the third book that will be taught to the Prophet Jesus (as) will be the Qur'an and that this will be possible only if he comes to earth at the end of time. The Prophet Jesus (as) lived approximately six hundred years before the revelation of the Qur'an. Besides, it is another piece of evidence that the hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad (saas) inform that when the Prophet Jesus (as) comes for the second time, he will command with the Qur'an, not the Injil:
He will lead you according to the Book of your Lord and the Sunnah of your Apostle. (Sahih Muslim)
As this expression clearly shows, when the Prophet Jesus (as) returns to earth, he will rule with the commandments of the Qur'an and will maintain the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammed (saas), a hadith which is in agreement with the Qur'anic verses. (Surely Allah knows the truth.)
Another important piece of information is that the term revealed for the Prophet Jesus (as) was not revealed for any other prophet. For example, the Qur'an reveals that the Tawrah was given to the Prophet Moses (as), that Suhuf (Pages) were given to the Prophet Abraham (as), and that the Book of Psalms was given to the Prophet David (as). If there were books revealed before the prophets' own time, the Qur'an states that they knew them. However, only in the case of the Prophet Jesus (as) does the Qur'an state that a prophet will be taught a book that was revealed after his own time. This is one of the indications that he will return to earth and that when he does so, he will rule with the book revealed after his lifetime: the Qur'an. (Allah knows the truth.)
Proof # 5
In addition to all the above, the verse "The likeness of Jesus in Allah's Sight is the same as Adam...." (Surah Al 'Imran, 59) could also indicate the Prophet Jesus' (as) return. Muslim scholars who have written Qur'anic commentaries point out that this verse indicates the fact that both prophets did not have a father, for Allah created both of them with the command "Be!" However, the verse could also have another meaning: Just as the Prophet Adam (as) was sent down to Earth from Allah's Presence, the Prophet Jesus (as) could be sent down to Earth from Allah's Presence during the End Times. (Allah knows the truth.) As we have seen, the verses of the Qur'an concerning the return to Earth of the Prophet Jesus (as) are quite explicit.
Proof # 6
Allah tells about the ascension of the Prophet Jesus (as) in Surah Maryam as follows:
(Jesus said,) Peace be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die and the day I am raised up again alive. (Surah Maryam, 33)
When we consider this verse together with Surah Al 'Imran 55, it indicates a very important truth. In the verse in Surah Al 'Imran it is stated that the Prophet Jesus (as) was raised up to the Presence of Allah. No information is given in this verse about death or killing. Yet in Surah Maryam: 33 information is given about the day when the Prophet Jesus (as) will die. That second death can only be possible if the Prophet Jesus (as) dies after returning to and living on earth for a while. (Allah knows the truth.)
Proof # 7
Another piece of evidence about the Prophet Jesus (as) returning to earth appears in Surat al-Ma'ida and in Surah Al 'Imran in the form of the word kahlan. The verses say:
Remember when Allah said, "Jesus, son of Maryam, remember My blessing to you and to your mother when I reinforced you with the Purest Ruh (Spirit) so that you could speak to people in the cradle and when you were fully grown (kahlan)... (Surat al-Ma'ida, 110)
He will speak to people in the cradle, and also when fully grown (kahlan), and will be one of the righteous. (Surah Al 'Imran, 46)
This word appears only in the above two verses in the Qur'an, and only in reference to the Prophet Jesus (as). The meaning of the word kahlan, used to refer to the Prophet Jesus' (as) adult state, is along the lines of between thirty and fifty years old, someone who is no longer young, someone who has reached the perfect age. Islamic scholars agree on translating this word as indicating the period after thirty-five years of age.
Based on a hadith reported by Ibn 'Abbas to the effect that the Prophet Jesus (as) ascended to heaven in his early thirties, at a young age, and will stay another forty years when he returns, Islamic scholars say that the Prophet Jesus' (as) old age will be after he returns to earth. (Muhammed Khalil Herras, Fasl al-maqal fi raf'i 'Isa hayyan wa nuzulihi wa qatlihi'd-Dajjal (The Ascend of Jesus, His Revival, Resurrection, and His Killing the Dajjal), Makatabat as-Sunnah, Cairo, 1990, p. 20)
In looking at the verses of the Qur'an, we see that this statement is only used for the Prophet Jesus (as). All the prophets spoke to people and called them to the true path. They all communicated their message in maturity. Yet there is no such statement in the Qur'an about any other prophet. The statement is only used to refer to the Prophet Jesus (as) and indicates his miraculous situation. That is because the words "in the cradle" and "when fully grown" that follow each other in the verses are stressing two miraculous periods. In fact, in his work The Commentary of at-Tabari, Imam at-Tabari gives the following explanation of these verses:
Some people however, interpret the word "when fully grown" in a manner far removed from its true meaning and do not analyse it in the context of the general logic of the Qur'an. These people maintain that prophets have always been mature adults, for which reason the expression refers to all the lives of the prophets. Of course the prophets were mature adults whom Allah raised. Yet in Surat al-Ahqaf Allah reveals that the age of full maturity is forty. It is revealed in this verse that:
We have instructed man to be good to his parents. His mother bore him with difficulty and with difficulty gave birth to him; and his bearing and weaning take thirty months. Then when he achieves his full strength and reaches forty, he says, "My Lord, keep me thankful for the blessing You bestowed on me and on my parents, and keep me acting rightly, pleasing You. And make my descendants righteous. I have repented to You and I am truly one of the Muslims." (Surat al-Ahqaf, 15)
The word kahlan, therefore, also points to the Prophet Jesus' (as) return to earth just like all the other information given in the Qur'an. (Allah knows the truth.)
There Are Other Examples of People in the Qur'an Who Left the World and Then Returned After Hundreds of Years
A man who was resurrected after a century
The Qur'an gives the example of a man who remained dead for a century. This is related in Surat al-Baqara:
Or the one who passed by a town which had fallen into ruin? He asked, "How can Allah restore this to life when it has died?" Allah caused him to die a hundred years then brought him back to life. Then He asked, "How long have you been here?" He replied, "I have been here a day or part of a day." He said, "Not so! You have been here a hundred years. Look at your food and drink – it has not gone bad – and look at your donkey so We can make you a Sign for all mankind. Look at the bones – how We raise them up and clothe them in flesh." When it had become clear to him, he said, "Now I know that Allah has power over all things." (Surat al-Baqara, 259)
In the verses given in the previous pages, there is mention of the fact that the Prophet Jesus (as) did not die but was "taken back." In the verse above, the man, however, definitely died. Consequently, even a dead person can rise again by the will of Allah and the above verse states this explicitly.
The Companions of the Cave awoke after years
The story of the "Companions of the Cave" is related in Surat al-Kahf.
These were young men who were compelled to take refuge from the cruel tyranny of the ruler of the time in a cave. It is related that they fell asleep and were woken up after years of sleep:
When the young men took refuge in the cave and said, "Our Lord, give us mercy directly from You and open the way for us to right guidance in our situation." So We sealed their ears with sleep in the cave for a number of years. (Surat al-Kahf, 10-11)
You would have supposed them to be awake whereas in fact they were asleep. We moved them to the right and to the left, and at the entrance, their dog stretched out its paws. If you had looked down and seen them, you would have turned from them and run and have been filled with terror at the sight of them. That was the situation when we woke them up so they could question one another. One of them asked, "How long have you been here?" They replied "We have been here for a day or part of a day." They said, "Your Lord knows best how long have you been here. Send one of your number into the city with this silver you have, so he can see which food is purest and bring you some of it to eat. But he should go about with caution so that no one is aware of you." (Surat al-Kahf, 18-19)
The Qur'an does not explain exactly how much time the young men spent in the cave. Instead, the duration of this period is implied by the words "for a number of years". People's guess at this period however was rather high: three hundred and nine years. Allah says:
They stayed in their Cave for three hundred years and added nine. Say: "Allah knows best how long they stayed. The Unseen of the heavens and the earth belongs to Him. How perfectly He sees, how well He hears! They have no protector apart from Him. Nor does He share His rule with anyone." (Surat al-Kahf, 25-26)
Under normal conditions, people obviously cannot sleep for such a long period. This sleep, therefore, may not be the type of sleep with which we are familiar. Perhaps they were taken into another dimension, one in which time and space do not apply, and were later sent back to earth.
Just like people waking up from sleep, these people also returned to life. In a similar way, the Prophet Jesus (as) will return to life when he comes back to earth and, after fulfilling the honourable responsibility imposed on him by Allah, and, as a requirement of the verse; He said: "On it [earth] you will live and on it die, and from it you will be brought forth," (Surat al-A'raf, 25) he will die on earth, like every other human being and Allah knows the truth.