Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Swoon Theory and the Alleged Crucifixion of Jesus (2/2)

In Part 1, we have shown that for all the commotion between the Muslims and the Christians regarding Jesus Christ (upon him be peace), they have more in common between them as opposed to differences.

The manner Jesus was conceived is the same.  Their view about his mother is similar.  His life and works are more or less similar in both accounts.  Without extrapolations, Jesus teachings in the Bible are not much different than in the Quran.  What are attributed to Jesus in the Bible and in the Quran are largely comparable.

But they differ with regard to Jesus’ death or his disappearance.   Yet, both believe that Jesus was ascended to Heaven.

Their major difference is that, to the Muslims, Jesus was ascended without being crucified, while to the Christians, Jesus ascended only after he was nailed to the Cross. 

That Jesus was crucified, but was taken down alive in a swooning state, is neither a Christian’s, nor a Muslim’s view.  This so-called Swoon Theory was first promoted by one Karl Friedrich Bahrdt, who is not regarded as a Christian even by the Christians.  The Christians reject this theory wholesale, as the Muslims also should.

In 1899, however, after more than one hundred years the first Swoon Theory was proposed, a Muslim heretic by the name of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who claimed himself ImamMahdi, has written and published a book Jesus In India.* 

He proposed that Jesus was crucified, but did not die.  He only fainted, brought back to life and went to find the ten lost tribes of Israel in India.  These Israelite lost tribes accepted his teaching, and made him their leaders.  He died there.  Since these lost tribes of Israel received the truth from Jesus himself, they eventually became Muslims, and nowadays known as the Afghans and Kashmiris.

Now, the book is really not worth reading, unless if you want to know what the fuss is all about.  Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who has some followers, especially in India and Pakistan—known either as Ahmadiyah Movement or Qadiani Movement, first by his last name, Ahmad, and the second by the place he hailed from, Qadian—seems to have problems with Jesus’ second coming. 

In the Introduction, he writes:

The difference in their views, i.e. the view of the followers of Islam and that of the Christians, is only this, that the Christians believe that Jesus died on the Cross, was resurrected, and went to the heavens in his earthly body, seated himself on the right hand of his Father, and will come to the earth in the latter days for judgment; they also say that the Creator and the Master of the world is this Jesus the Messiah and no one else; he it is who, in the latter days of the world, will descend to the earth with a glorious descent to award punishment and reward; then, all who will not believe in him or his mother as God, will be hauled up and thrown into hell, where weeping and wailing will be their lot.

Having talked about the view of the Christians, he continues with the view of the Muslims:

Muslims say that Jesus was not crucified, nor did he die on the Cross; on the other hand, when the Jews arrested him in order to crucify him an angel of God took him away to the heavens in his earthly body, and he is still alive in the heavens... Muslims, moreover, also say that Jesus is an eminent prophet of God, but not God, nor the son of God, and, they believe that he will in the latter days descend to the earth, near the Minaret of Damascus or near some other place, supported on the shoulders of two angels, and that he and Imam Muhammad, the Mahdi…will kill all the non-Muslims, not leaving anyone alive except those who will forthwith and without any delay become Muslims.

Having given both views, he puts forward his point:

In short, the real object of the descent of Jesus to the earth…is that, like the Mahadev of the Hindus, he should destroy the whole world…[and] that when Jesus comes down from the heavens he will break all the Crosses in the world, do many a cruel deed with the sword, and inundate the world with blood.

This, he believes, contravenes to Jesus’ core teachings, namely:

'Not to resist evil,' and, being struck on one cheek, 'to turn the other cheek also.'

His impression about Jesus’ second coming appears to be that Jesus is bent on destroying the world, while the Hadith simply says that:

The Hour will not be established until the son of Mary descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jizya tax. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it (as charitable gifts). (Sahih al Bukhari) 

The impression one gets from the above authentic Hadith, however, appears to be just the opposite.   Jesus second coming is to usher in an era of justice, abundance and prosperity. 

After his long diatribes in the Introduction, which is not worth quoting here, Mirza Ghulan Ahmad proceeds with his arguments about his Swoon Theory, and about Jesus going to India and died there.  He extrapolates his conjecture in the first chapter through Biblical narrations, the second chapter through Quran and Islamic Traditions, the third chapter through books of medicine, and the final chapter through books of history.  None of his conjectural arguments or his sophistry is worth quoting here.

If one reads his book, or speed read as I did, it makes one wonder why he has to go through all the trouble of making needless and senseless arguments.  He could have made his point simpler.  After all, like all prophets, he receives Revelation from Allah, you see.  He is even greater than all those prophets, because unlike the prophets, he can converse with the dead with relative ease.

As he writes:

I have seen Jesus many a time in Kashf (vision in the waking state), and I have met some of the prophets, while fully awake; I have also seen our Chief, Master and Leader, the Prophet Muhammad many a time in the waking state, and I have talked to him -- in such a clear state of waking that sleep or drowsiness had nothing to do with it. I have also met some of the dead at their graves or other places, while awake; and have talked to them.

What a marvellous man he is.  Even Prophet Muhammad does not have such privilege.  The Prophet never claims that he spoke with the dead or the earlier prophets in the waking state, and with relative ease to boot.  The Prophet has that privilege only during the Night Journey and Ascension (Isra’ and Mi’raj).  But Mirza Ghulam Ahmad seems to supersede the rest of the prophets, because, as he writes:

I very well know that such meeting with the dead in the waking state is possible; not only can we meet, we can also talk, and even have a handshake... This experience is a gift from heaven; it is for those who are endowed with new senses. This is a fact -- actual and true.

One may ask: Since he has seen Jesus in the waking state, and even talked to him, wouldn’t it be easier to just ask Jesus what had really happened, so that he can save all the trouble of making lengthy chapters of arguments? 

I know I would, if only I have such a gift. 

In the end, he appears to have an axe to grind:

And I have been declared a Kafir [infidel], not only because of my denial of the appearance of this supposed Mahdi and this supposed Messiah in whom they believe, but also because I have publicly announced, having been informed of it by God through revelation, that the real and true Promised Messiah who is also the real Mahdi…is myself; who is, however, not provided with any sword or gun.

Now we know what the fuss is all about.  He is both Imam Mahdi and Jesus in one.  It makes one wonders how he managed to get followers at all.  But then again, life is strange.  If people can believe that the stones and woods that they carve are gods, then it is not at all strange that some people can buy his nonsense.

Admittedly, to be a Muslim, some measure of faith is required.  One has to believe that God exists in the first place, that He is the Creator of everything, and that He selects a few people to be His prophets and messengers to convey the knowledge about Him, and to live and worship in accordance with what He has decided.  In the same manner, one also needs to have faith in order to believe in other religions, including Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.  The key is to discern among these faiths which one is more palatable to the mind, more correct to the history, more congenial to human nature.

If one chooses not to believe in any religion at all, such as the free thinkers, some measure of “faith” is also required of him.  He has to believe that he is nothing more than an upgraded version of cow, pig, dog, cat, monkey, etc., who live only to eat, copulate, have fun, make something and then die for nothing and without consequence.  After all, mankind evolved from monkey you see.  We are just an upgraded version of the ape.  If that is what he wants to believe, then it is his business.

But once we become Muslims, having believed in the Prophethood of Muhammad, we have to go with the way he taught us, without having to conjecture too much, or to extrapolate everything.   Our Christian friends, who have more similarities than differences with us, fall into error because they have conjectured too much.  Likewise with the Qadianis.

Now, if Wikipedia is correct, it seems that the Swoon Theory of Jesus in India has become rather popular among the Muslims.  Yet in my life, I have met only one Muslim friend who has told me about this Indian Swoon Theory.  Fortunately he was not a Qadiani, and realized the mistake when I pointed out where it comes from.

I know for certain that the Christians reject it outright.  They have to, because Death Through Crucifixion is central to their tenet, as we have seen in the Good Friday and Crucifixion of Jesus.  No death on the Cross, Christianity would crumble.

We the Muslims should not entertain this nonsense, even for fun.  The prolific debater against the Christians, the late Ahmad Deedat, used to play with the Swoon Theory.  He didn’t actually believe in it, but he simply wanted to make the point that Jesus Christ did not die on the Cross.  His intent was to refute the central tenet of Christianity.  Personally I am not sure how wise it is to play around this conjecture.

From the Seerah, we know that the Prophet used to debate with the Christians from Najran.  These Christians regarded him an impostor, as they still do nowadays.  Else, the Christians would have to accept Muhammad as a Prophet, and would therefore become Muslims.

Having failed to convince the Christian delegates from Najran of his Prophethood—for they still considered him lying, both as regard to the message he brought, as well as his version about Jesus—the Prophet challenged them to resolve the matter by invoking Allah’s curse.  This challenge is captured in the Quran, in Surah Ali Imran Verse 61:

“Then whoever argues with you about it after [this] knowledge has come to you - say, "Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then supplicate earnestly (together) and invoke the curse of Allah upon the liars (among us)."

Of course the Christians of Najran chickened out.  The Prophet was already taking his family members to the open space, and invited these Christian delegations to do the same.   Let the liars among us be struck by the bolt of lightning, or some other forms of curses. 

The Christian deputations from Najran, however, felt that such is not a gentleman’s way of resolving the dispute.

I find this event somewhat curious.  The Prophet is noted for being very patient when dealing with his opponents.  For instance, he was severely abused physically, mentally and emotionally by the Quraysh during the thirteen years of his mission in Makkah, but he always kept his cool.  He was badly mistreated when he went to Taif, looking for new abode to establish his mission, after he was convinced that the leaders in Makkah would never embrace the new religion.  The leaders of Taif even asked their kids to throw stones at him, chasing him away, bleeding.  He simply prayed to God to forgive them.

With the Christians of Najran, however, he appeared to be impatient.  Gaining no ground with them after some debate, he chose to cut the crap.  He made the challenge he never made in his life, namely, to decide the matter with the wrath of God. 

One may ask: Why did he not make such kind of challenge with the Quraysh and the Thaqif (people of Taif)?  The Quraysh especially had been very nasty with him.  They used to ask him the impossible, including invoking the wrath of God upon them if indeed Muhammad was telling the truth.  The Christians of Najran did not go to that extent.  Could it be that his change of tactic is due to the fact that he was weak while facing the Quraysh, but when the Christian delegates of Najran came to him, he was already a powerful leader?

If we ponder about this matter, we know that such is not the case.  The Qurasyh were people of Ignorance.  They truly did not know the truth.  Their ancestors had been living in Ignorance for centuries so much so that Ignorance had become part and parcel of their life.  Ignorance was in their blood. 

The Christians of Najran, however, were people of enlightenment.  They knew about the prophecy of the forthcoming Prophet.  Muhammad matched the description of the prophecy.  Yet they called him an impostor.  It was, therefore, God Himself who inspired the Prophet to call for the challenge, so that the matter could be resolved quickly. 

If they truly believed that Muhammad was an impostor, they should have no fear in taking that challenge.  Yet they refused.  Since they were afraid to take the challenge, it was clear that whatever it was that they believed, they didn’t believe in it with certain knowledge or absolute conviction. 

To recap, the Swoon Theory is just a useless conjecture.  The theory that Jesus went to India is just a piece of crap, and should be regarded as such by the Muslims.  If some of our scholars want to use the Swoon Theory to disprove the theory of Crucifixion, I guess it is their business. 

As for me, I would rather go with the Prophet’s method.  It may not be a gentleman’s way, but it will show who has real ball.  One would not be afraid if he believes he is on the side of the Truth.

*In case one is curious, the book Jesus in India may be accessed here:

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