How can We Recognise the Prophet Jesus (as)?
Who Will Be Able to Recognise the Prophet Jesus (as)?
It has been established in the light of the Qur'an, hadith and the interpretations of Islamic scholars that the Prophet Jesus (as) did not die and was raised up to the Presence of Allah and that he will indeed come back to earth. However, one question remains: How will we recognise the Prophet Jesus (as) when he comes back to the world and which of his attributes will make him recognisable?
The Qur'an, either in the verses or in particular stories, provides us detailed information regarding the prophets' lives and superior morality. Many common attributes of the prophets and of the true believers are mentioned in the Qur'an. Accordingly, referring to the Qur'an and the Sunnah, sincere believers can identify these superior attributes and accordingly recognise the Prophet Jesus (as). However, very few people will recognise the Prophet Jesus (as) when he returns, as stated by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi:
When the Prophet Jesus (as) comes, it is not necessary that everyone should know him to be the true the Prophet Jesus (as). His elect and those close to him will recognise him through the light of belief. It will not be self-evident so that everyone will recognise him.
As Said Nursi says, during the early years of his second coming, the people that know of the Prophet Jesus (as) will be limited to a small group of people who are close to him. Furthermore, this will only be possible by the 'light of belief'. 'The light of belief' is the comprehension granted by Allah to those who believe in the existence and unity of Allah, observe the commands of the Qur'an and live by the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad (saas). With such comprehension, believers can evaluate situations precisely and grasp the details of events with no difficulty. As the Qur'an informs us, believers are those people who ponder upon everything surrounding them and thus never miss the details or subtle aspects of things. Indeed, Allah informs man that He will grant discrimination to judge between right and wrong (Al-Furqan) to those who reflect upon matters in the hope of comprehending the greatness and might of Allah and to those who have fear (taqwa) of Him:
You who believe! If you have taqwa of Allah, He will give you discrimination and erase your bad actions from you and forgive you. Allah's favour is indeed immense. (Surat al-Anfal, 29)
Thus, those who will recognise the Prophet Jesus (as) during his second coming and adhere to his message will actually be the righteous believers who believe in Allah and the Qur'an and in the Messenger of Allah (saas) and think deeply over things. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, too, draws attention to this issue as follows:
In fact, even the descent of the Prophet Jesus (as) and that he himself is the Prophet Jesus (as), can only be known by the light of faith; not everyone will know.
Which Attributes of The Prophet Jesus (as) Make Him Recognisable?
In answering this question, we first refer to the Qur'an in search of those attributes that are common to all the prophets related in the Qur'an and this would be equally applicable to the Prophet Jesus (as). In fact, there are numerous attributes of prophets but in this section we will emphasise the most apparent ones that are immediately evident.
1. He is different from other people because of his exceptional moral values
Like all other prophets Allah has chosen to proclaim His message to mankind, the Prophet Jesus (as) is known for his excellent moral values. The most distinctive attribute of the Prophet Jesus (as) is his exemplary person, immediately discernible in the society he lives in. He, indeed, has an exemplary character, unprecedented in nature and striking to anyone at first sight. He is an extremely committed, courageous and strong person; a manifestation of the trust he puts in Allah and his pure faith in Him. With such traits, he has a profound influence on everyone. This superiority, a shared attribute of all prophets, is related in the verse:
This is the argument We gave to Abraham against his people. We raise in rank anyone We will. Your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing. We gave him Isaac and Jacob, each of whom We guided. And before him We had guided Noah. And among his descendants were David and Solomon, and Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron. That is how We recompense the good-doers. And Zachariah, John, Jesus and Elijah. All of them were among the right-acting. And Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah and Lot. All of them We favoured over all beings. And some of their forebears, descendants and brothers; We chose them and guided them to a straight path. That is Allah's guidance. He guides by it those of His slaves He wills... (Surat al-An'am, 83-88)
That Allah granted superior attributes to the prophets is expressed precisely in the verse above. There are many other examples narrated in the Qur'an and the verses below inform us of the superior traits granted to the various prophets: "... Abraham was a community in himself." (Surat an-Nahl, 120), "And remember Our slaves Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, men of true strength and inner sight. " (Surah Sad, 45), "In Our eyes they are among the best of chosen men. " (Surah Sad, 47), "... We gave knowledge to David and Solomon who said, 'Praise be to Allah who has favoured us over many of His slaves Who are believers…' (Surat an-Naml, 15) The Prophet Jesus (as) is also one of the chosen prophets of Allah. Allah states the following about him:
These Messengers: We favoured some of them over others. Allah spoke directly to some of them and raised up some of them in rank. We gave clear Signs to Jesus, son of Maryam, and reinforced him with the Purest Spirit. (Surat al-Baqara, 253)
2. He will be recognised by the expression on his face which is only seen in Prophets
Allah informs us in the Qur'an that the superiority of those whom He has chosen can be in terms of their knowledge and as well as in terms of physical strength:
... He said, "Allah has chosen him over you and favoured him greatly in knowledge and physical strength. Allah gives kingship to anyone He wills. Allah is All Encompassing, All-Knowing. (Surat al-Baqara, 247)
Granted with wisdom, physical strength, knowledge and perfection of character, the Prophet Jesus (as) will have a unique appearance that is only seen in prophets. His strong fear of Allah and the light of his steadfast faith will all be apparent in his face. This expression on his face will at once distinguish him from others and people who see him will immediately notice that they are meeting someone quite superior. However, not everyone will be able to see this evident truth. Out of anger and pride, it is likely that some people will disregard this superiority and despite feeling it deep inside, they may feign ignorance. Only those having sincere faith will comprehend this superiority and have an appreciation of it.
Allah informs us that the Prophet Jesus (as) is "... of high esteem in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near..." (Surah Al 'Imran, 45) Thus, the Prophet Jesus (as) will be known to those people surrounding him for the honour and excellence only seen in those chosen by Allah.
3. He has outstanding wisdom and decisive speech
They are the ones to whom we gave the Book, Judgement, and Prophethood... (Surat al-An'am, 89)
AThroughout history, Allah communicated His messages and revelations through His messengers. He also granted wisdom to these messengers: a decisive and highly pertinent style of speaking, exemplary manners in enjoining right actions and in forbidding evil, are all attributes common to the prophets. In the Qur'an, Allah also draws attention to the wisdom granted to each prophet. For instance, for the Prophet David (as), Allah states: "... We gave him wisdom and decisive speech." (Surah Sad, 20).; Similarly, for the Prophet Yahya (John) (as): "... Yahya, … We gave him judgement while still a child." (Surah Maryam, 12) About the Prophet Moses (as), Allah informs us: "And when he reached his full strength and maturity, We gave him judgement and knowledge." (Surat al-Qasas,14).; About Luqman: "We gave Luqman wisdom: 'Give thanks to Allah.' " (Surah Luqman, 12). Similarly, Allah relates: "... We gave the family of Abraham the Book and Wisdom..." (Surat an-Nisa, 54).
Thus another attribute of the prophets is that they have been granted an outstanding wisdom and this would also hold true for the Prophet Jesus (as) as we learn from the Qur'an:
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. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 110)
And when Jesus came with the Clear Signs, he said, "I have come to you with Wisdom and to clarify for you some of the things about which you have differed. Therefore have taqwa [fear] of Allah and obey me." (Surat az-Zukhruf, 63)
These verses show that the Prophet Jesus (as) will be recognisable by his decisive, highly pertinent and striking speech. As in all other issues, a decisive manner of speaking is an attribute common to the prophets. Believers who adhere to the Qur'an as a guide to the truth grasp that the speech of the Prophet Jesus (as) has wisdom exclusive to messengers chosen by Allah. The wisdom he displays, the flawless diagnoses he makes, the intelligent solutions he brings will be the clear signs of a special gift that Allah granted to him. Thus, his superiority will be even more evident.
4. He will be very faithful
Each messenger introduced himself to the community to whom they were sent by saying:"I am a faithful Messenger to you." (Surat ash-Shua'ra, 107). This faithfulness of the messengers is an outcome of their strict adherence to the Book and religion of Allah and to the obligations set by Him. They meticulously observe the boundaries of Allah and never deviate from His righteous path. Only intending to attain the good pleasure of Allah, they never submit to anyone's desires. The Qur'an informs us that just about all the prophets identified themselves to their peoples by way of this characteristic of theirs. For instance, in the Qur'an, the Prophet Moses (as) introduced himself to the community among whom he lived, as follows:
ABefore them We put Pharaoh's people to the test when a noble Messenger came to them, saying, "Hand over to me the slaves of Allah. I am a trustworthy Messenger to you." (Surat ad-Dukhan, 17-18)
No doubt, the communities generally failed to appreciate this important attribute of the messengers. Furthermore, declining to abandon the ignorant way of living in which they indulged and refusing to live by the true religion to which the messengers summoned them, they usually showed intolerance towards them. Only after some time did they perceive the messengers to be trustworthy. The Prophet Joseph (as) is a good example. He was tested with difficulties for an extended period; first he was sold as a slave and then imprisoned for a number of years. By the will of Allah, when the due time arrived, however, he was recognised as a trustworthy person by people, and the king put him in charge of the state treasury:
The King said, "Bring him to me straight away! So I may draw him very close to me." When he had spoken with him, he declared, "Today you are trusted, established in our sight!" (Surah Yusuf, 54)
These attributes of the prophets mentioned in the Qur'an will also be observable in the Prophet Jesus (as). On his second coming to the earth, as a never-changing law of Allah, he will be known for his trustworthiness. Allah will provide His help to him, as He did to all the other prophets and his trustworthiness will be made manifest in due course.
5. He will be under the protection of Allah
Our Word was given before to Our slaves, the Messengers, that they would certainly be helped. It is Our army which will be victorious. (Surat as-Saffat, 171-173)
Allah granted protection to His messengers over other people. He gave them the might to defeat their enemies and protected them against all their plots. Be it at the stage of taking a decision or putting a plan into practice, Allah always supported them.
Another sign for believers who are waiting for the Prophet Jesus (as), the Messenger of Allah, is his gift of making everything he does a success. His judgements, for instance, or the methods he employs, all bring remarkable results for himself as well as to the people around him. Truly, some events appearing to be against the good of the public will soon prove to be just the contrary. Such occurrences will indicate the pertinence of his judgements. That is because Allah assures his Messengers that, under all circumstances, they will prevail. So this second coming of the Prophet Jesus (as) will be very different from the first, since the second will be under the victorious banner of Islam. This promise ensures the overall success the Prophet Jesus (as) will attain in his mission.
Indeed, this will be so clear that it will inevitably attract the attention of the believers following him. Meanwhile, his enemies will notice the extraordinary nature of this situation as well. However, they will fail to recognise that this is the clear guidance of Allah. That is simply because their main objective in life is to overcome this distinguished person whom they see as an ordinary human being like themselves. However, as stated in the verse, "Then We will rescue Our Messengers and those who have faith as well. It is incumbent upon Us to rescue the believers." (Surah Yunus: 103) Allah will render all their efforts useless and help His messenger. The plots made or the struggles waged against him will never succeed.
6. He will not ask for any reward in return for his services
All the prophets referred to in the Qur'an rendered their services in the way of Allah without asking for any reward in return. The only gain they asked was the good pleasure of Allah. No worldly gain, no benefit did they request from anyone. One of the verses extolling this virtue of the Messengers is as follows:
My people! I do not ask for a wage for it. My wage is the responsibility of Him Who brought me into being. So will you not use your intellect? (Surah Hud, 51)
This virtue common to all the messengers will also be apparent in the Prophet Jesus (as). In his second coming, he will call people all over the world to the true religion of Allah. Yet, he will desire no worldly gain in return. Like all other messengers referred in the Qur'an, he will pursue Allah's good pleasure desiring to be rewarded by Him. This trait of his will earn him a reputation in society.
Yet, one should also keep in mind that, as in all other aspects, only the believers will recognise and treasure this trait of his. Furthermore, although his enemies recognise him, it is completely possible that they may spread slanders about him, just like those experienced by other prophets in the past. Still, Allah will prove the groundless nature of these slanders and help him, just as He guides him in all his deeds.
7. He will be compassionate and full of mercy towards the believers
Another attribute peculiar to the messengers is their "compassionate and merciful" nature towards the believers. Being gentle and merciful to the believers following them, all the messengers strove to improve the characters of the believers for their well-being both in this world and the next. The most distinctive attribute of the Prophet Jesus (as) will be his mercy towards the believers. Allah relates this virtue as exemplified in the Last of the Messengers the Prophet Muhammad (saas), but which is common to all messengers, as follows:
A Messenger has come to you from among yourselves. Your suffering is distressing to him; he is deeply concerned for you; he is gentle and merciful to the believers. (Surat at-Tawbah: 128) The Prophet Jesus (as) will also have "deep concern" for the believers surrounding him. This extreme sincerity inherent in his being will provide one of the concrete evidences that he is the real Prophet Jesus (as).
He Will Have No Relatives, Family or Acquaintances on Earth
The Prophet Jesus (as) will be recognisable by these attributes mentioned in the Qur'an. However, there will be other factors disclosing his identity. One of them will be the fact that he will have no relatives, family or acquaintances on earth. There will be no one who knows his physical features, his face or the tone of his voice.
Indeed, no one will know him when he comes to earth for the second time simply because the people who knew him lived and died some two thousand years ago. His mother Maryam (as), the Prophet Zachariah (as), the disciples who spent years at his side, prominent Jews of the time and even those people who heard the Prophet Jesus' (as) revelations are all long dead. Thus, in his second coming to earth no one will have witnessed his birth, childhood, youth or adulthood. Nobody will know anything about him.
As explained in earlier sections of the book, the Prophet Jesus (as) came into existence by the command of Allah, the command "Be!" After two millennia, it is very natural that he will have no relatives on earth. Allah draws an analogy between his situation and that of Adam (as) when He states:
The likeness of Jesus in Allah's Sight is the same as Adam. He created him from earth and then He said to Him: "Be!" and he was. (Surah Al 'Imran, 59)
As mentioned in the verse, Allah gave the command "Be!" to Adam (as) and he was accordingly created. The way the Prophet Jesus (as) came into existence for the first time also occurred in the same way although he had a mother. Adam (as) had no parents and neither will the Prophet Jesus (as) at his second coming. Hundreds of years later, he will be on the earth with no known kin.
When the Prophet Jesus (as) returns to earth there will be no doubt as to his true identity. The lies of those who falsely claim to be the messiah will be seen through easily. It would be impossible for someone who has spent his entire childhood amongst people and whom countless people have known ever since he was very young, to claim to be the Prophet Jesus (as).