Evidence from the Qur'an
"... I will place the people who follow you above those who are unbelievers
until the Day of Resurrection..."
The first verse indicating Jesus' return is given below:
When God said: "Jesus, I will take you back and raise you up to Me, and purify you of those who are unbelievers. And I will place the people who follow you above those who are unbelievers 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, 3:55)
God mentions that a group of Jesus' true followers will dominate the unbelievers until the Day of Resurrection. Jesus did not have many followers during his tenure on Earth and, with his ascension, the religion that he had brought degenerated rapidly. Over the next two centuries, those who believed in Jesus were oppressed because they had no political power. Therefore, we cannot say that the early Christians dominated the unbelievers in the sense indicated by the verse given above.
At present, Christianity is so far removed from its original state that it no longer resembles the religion taught by Jesus. Christians have adopted the mistaken belief that Jesus is God's son (surely God is beyond all that which they falsely ascribe to Him) and incorporated the Trinity (viz., the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) into their religion centuries ago. Given this, we cannot acknowledge today's Christians as being true followers of Jesus. In the Qur'an, God states more than once that those who believe in the Trinity are, in fact, unbelievers:
Those who say that the Messiah, son of Mary, is the third of three are unbelievers. There is no god but the One God. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 5:73)
In this case, "And I will place the people who follow you above those who are unbelievers until the Day of Resurrection" carries a clear message: There has to be a group of Jesus' followers who will exist until the Last Day. Such a group will emerge after his second coming, and those who follow him at that time will dominate the unbelievers until the Last Day.
This aside, the expression, "Then you will all return to Me" at the verse's end is striking. After relating that those who follow Prophet Jesus (pbuh) will be superior to the unbelievers, God states that everyone, including Prophet Jesus (pbuh), will return to Him. Here, the expression is understood to mean their death. This may also be a sign that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) will die at a time close to Doomsday, after his second coming.
"There is not one of the People of the Book who will not believe in
him before he dies..."
In the Qur'an, we read that:
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 [Jesus] will be a witness against them. (Surat An-Nisa', 4:159)
The phrase "there is not one of the People of the Book who will not believe in him before he dies" is very interesting. In Arabic, the sentence reads as follows: Wa-in min ahli al-kitaabi illaa la yu'minanna bihi qabla mawtihi.
Some scholars believe that the "him/it" in this verse refers to the Qur'an instead of Jesus, and so understand it to mean that the People of the Book will believe in the Qur'an before they die. However, it is beyond dispute that the same word in the preceding two verses refers to Jesus:
And [on account of] their saying: "We killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Messenger of God." 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', 4:157)
God raised him [Jesus] up to Himself. God is Almighty, All-Wise. (Surat An-Nisa', 4:158)
The word "him," which is used in the verse straight after the above two, refers to Jesus, and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise.
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 [Jesus] will be a witness against them. (Surat An-Nisa', 4:159)
The expression "and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them" is important. The Qur'an reveals that on that Day, people's tongues, hands, and feet (Surat An-Nur, 24:24, Surah Ya Sin, 36:65), as well as their eyes, ears, and skin (Surah Fussilat, 41:20-23), will testify against them. No verse indicates that the Qur'an will be the witness during this event. If the first part of the verse is taken to mean "the Qur'an" - even though there is no evidence in the syntax or the succession of verses for this - "him" or "it" in the second part also would refer to the Qur'an. To accept this, however, there should be an explicit verse confirming this view. However, the commentator Ibn Juzayy does not mention the possibility of the Qur'an being the "him" referred to, and Ibn Juzayy transmitted the views of all the major commentators in his work.
When we examine the Qur'an's verses, we see that when the same personal pronoun refers to the Qur'an, there is generally mention of the Qur'an before or after that specific verse as in the cases of 27:77 and 26:192-96. If the Qur'an is not mentioned before, after, or in the verse, saying that the pronoun refers to the Qur'an could be mistaken. The verse clearly speaks of the belief in Jesus and that he will be a witness for those who believe.
Another point we need to make here has to do with the interpretation of "before he dies." Some believe that this stands for the People of the Book "having faith in Jesus before their own death." According to this view, everyone from the People of the Book will definitely believe in Jesus before he or she dies. But at the time of Jesus, most of the Jews (who are members of the People of the Book) not only refused to believe in him, but also plotted his death. Then, believing him to be dead, they continued to deny him. In general, the same circumstances are true for the Jews of our own time, as they do not recognize Jesus as a Prophet. As a result, millions of the People of the Book have lived and died without ever believing in Jesus. Therefore, the verse does not speak of the death of this group, but rather of the death of Jesus. In the end, the reality revealed by the Qur'an is this: "Before Jesus dies, all People of the Book will believe in him."
When the verse is regarded in the light of its true meaning, several clear facts emerge. First, it becomes apparent that the verse refers to the future, because it speaks of Jesus' death. As explained earlier, he never died but was raised to God's presence. Jesus will return to Earth, where he will live and die like all other people. Second, it says that all People of the Book will believe in him. Obviously, this has not yet happened. And so, given the context, "before he dies" refers to Jesus. The People of the Book will see and recognize him, and then become Muslim followers of Jesus, as will be explained shortly. In turn, he will be their witness on the Last Day. (God knows best.)
"He is a Sign of the Hour..."
In Surat az-Zukhruf, we are informed of Jesus' return and some other facts, as follows:
When an example is made of the son of Mary [Jesus], your people laugh uproariously. They retort: "Who is better then, our gods or him?" They only say this to you for argument's sake. They are indeed a disputatious people. He is only a servant on whom We bestowed Our blessing and whom We made an example for the tribe of Israel. If We willed, We could appoint angels in exchange for you to succeed you on Earth. (Surat Az-Zukhruf, 43:57-60)
The next verse states that Jesus is a sign of the Day of Judgment:
He [Jesus] is a Sign of the Hour. Have no doubt about it. But follow me. This is a straight path. (Surat Az-Zukhruf, 43:61)
Ibn Juzayy says that the first meaning of this verse is that Jesus is a sign or precondition of the Last Hour. We can confidently say that this verse indicates his return at the End Times, because he lived six centuries before the Qur'an's revelation. Therefore we cannot consider his first life as a sign of the Day of Judgment. The verse says that Jesus will return toward the end of time or, in other words, during the last period of time before the Day of Judgment. In that context, his return is a sign of the Hour's imminent arrival. (God knows best.)
In Arabic, the expression "He is a Sign of the Hour" is Innahu la 'ilmun li as-saa'ati.
Some say that the pronoun hu (he/it) in this expression refers to the Qur'an. However if this pronoun is used to denote the Qur'an, we would expect other words to be present, whether before, after, or in the verse, that speak of the Qur'an. The word hu cannot denote the Qur'an when the subject is altogether different. Furthermore, the preceding verse clearly refers to Jesus with the word hu:
He [Jesus] is only a servant on whom We bestowed Our blessing and whom We made an example for the tribe of Israel. (Surat Az-Zukhruf, 43:59)
Those who say that hu refers to the Qur'an rely on the expression "Have no doubt about it. But follow me," which continues the verse. However, since the preceding verses speak only of Jesus, it is far more realistic to accept that hu refers to him, as in the preceding verses. The great scholars of Islam interpret this pronoun as referring to Jesus, an opinion that they base on other Qur'anic verses and hadiths. In his commentary, Elmalili Muhammad Hamdi Yazir writes that:
No doubt he [Jesus] is a sign of the Hour, one that declares that the Hour will come, that the dead will be resurrected and stand up, because the miracle of Jesus' second coming and his miracle of resurrecting the dead, together with his revelation that the dead will rise, prove that the Day of Judgment is real. According to the hadiths, his arrival is a sign of the Last Day."1
"He will teach him the Book and Wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel."
Other verses indicating Jesus' second coming is the following:
When the angels said: "Mary, your Lord gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, of high esteem in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near [to God]. He will speak to people in the cradle, and also when fully grown, and will be one of the righteous." She asked: "My Lord! How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?" He said: "It will be so. God 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 Torah and the Gospel." (Surah Al 'Imran, 3:45-48)
The last verse reveals that God will teach Jesus the "Book," the Torah, and the Gospel. Obviously, this book in question is very important. The same expression is also used in the verse given below:
Remember when God said: "Jesus, son of Mary, 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 Torah and the Gospel." (Surat al-Ma'ida, 5:110)
When we examine how "Book" is used here, we see that it refers to the Qur'an in both cases. The verses reveal that after the Torah, the Psalms and the Gospel, the Qur'an is the final divine book. Some other verses use "Book" to denote the Qur'an, after mentioning the Torah and the Gospel, such as the following:
God, there is no god but Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He has sent down the Book to you with truth, confirming what was there before it. And He sent down the Torah and the Gospel previously. (Surah Al 'Imran, 3:2-4)
Other verses also call the Qur'an the "Book":
When a Book comes to them from God, confirming what is with them - even though before that they were praying for victory over the unbelievers - yet when what they recognize comes to them, they reject it. God's curse is on the unbelievers. (Surat al-Baqara, 2:89)
For this We sent a Messenger to you from among you to recite Our Signs to you, to purify you, to teach you the Book and Wisdom, and to teach you things you did not know before. (Surat al-Baqara, 2:151)
In this case, the Qur'an is the third book that Jesus will be taught. But this will be possible only when he returns to Earth, for he lived 600 years before the Qur'an's revelation. As we will see in great detail in the following chapters, the hadiths reveal that Jesus will rule with the Qur'an, not the Gospel, on his second coming. This corresponds with the verse's meaning.
"The likeness of Jesus in God's sight is the same as Adam."
The verse above (Surah Al 'Imran, 3:59) could also indicate Jesus' 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 God created both of them with the command "Be!" However, the verse could also have another meaning: Just as Adam was sent down to Earth from God's presence, Jesus will be sent down to Earth from God's presence during the End Times.
As we have seen, the verses regarding Jesus' return are very clear. As the Qur'an does not use such expressions for any other Prophet, its meaning is fairly obvious.
"... The day I was born, the day I die, and the day I am raised up again alive..."
Surah Maryam also mentions Jesus' death in the following verse:
[Jesus said,] "Peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I am raised up again alive." (Surah Maryam, 19:33)
When this verse is considered in conjunction with Surah Al 'Imran 55, an important reality emerges: While Surah Al 'Imran states that Jesus was raised up to God's presence and does not mention that he died or was killed, Surah Maryam speaks of the day on which he will die. This second death can only be possible after he returns and lives on Earth for a period of time. (Only God knows for certain.)
"... You could speak to people in the cradle and when you were fully grown"
Another piece of evidence for Jesus' return is the word kahlaan, used Surat al-Ma'ida 110 and Surah Al 'Imran 46. These verses say:
Remember when God said: "Jesus, son of Mary, 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 [kahlaan]" (Surat al-Ma'ida, 5:110)
He will speak to people in the cradle, and also when fully grown [kahlaan], and will be one of the righteous. (Surah Al 'Imran, 3:46)
Kahlaan, which is used only in these two verses, only in reference to Jesus, and to express Jesus' adulthood means "someone between the age of 30 and 50, someone who is no longer young, someone who has reached the perfect age." Islamic scholars agree that it denotes the age of 35 or above. They base their views on a hadith reported by Ibn 'Abbas that Jesus was raised up to God's presence in his early 30s, and that he will live for 40 years when he comes again. Therefore, they suggest that this verse is evidence for Jesus' return, since his old age will occur following his second coming.2 (Only God knows for certain.)
Close study of the relevant verses easily shows how right Islamic scholars are on this question. For example, this expression is used only with regard to Jesus. Although all of the Prophets spoke with their people, invited them to religion, and communicated their message at a mature age, the Qur'an does not use such expressions when talking about them. Rather, they are used only to voice a miraculous situation, because the expressions "in the cradle" and "when fully grown," when used one after the other, refer to two miraculous events.
In The Commentary of at-Tabari, Imam at-Tabari gives the following explanation of these verses:
These statements [Surat al-Ma'ida 110] indicate that in order to complete his lifespan and speak to people when fully grown, Jesus will come down from heaven. That is because he was raised to heaven when still young. In this verse [Surah Al 'Imran 46], there is evidence that Jesus is living, and the Ahl al-Sunnah share that view. That is because in this verse it is stated that he will speak to people when fully grown. He will be able to grow fully only when he returns to Earth from heaven.3
The meanings of kahlaan, as well as the other information provided by the Qur'an, indicate Jesus' second coming in the End Times and that he will guide people to the true religion of Islam (only God knows for certain). No doubt, this is good news and a grace and gift of God for those who believe. The believers are responsible for supporting and defending him in the most appropriate way, and for living wholeheartedly the Qur'anic morality to which he calls them.
Comparable Events Mentioned in the Qur'an
The Qur'an mentions similar events, such as a person being resurrected after being dead for a long time and sleeping for hundreds of years that are comparable to Jesus' situation. Some of these are as follows:
The man resurrected after one hundred years
One of these examples is that of a man who had been dead for one hundred years:
Or [consider such example as] the one who passed by a town that had fallen into ruin. He asked: "How can God restore this to life when it has died?" So God caused him to die for a hundred years, and 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 God has power over all things." (Qur'an, 2:259)
As we mentioned earlier, the Qur'an say that Jesus' soul was "taken back." In the above verse, on the other hand, true death (mawt) is revealed. Therefore, the Qur'an reveals that God willed the resurrection of someone who had truly died.
Awakening the "Companions of the Cave" after many years
Another example is the narrative of the "Companions of the Cave." God relates the story of a group of young people who sought refuge in the cave from their anti-religious ruler's despotism. Their awakening is described in the following terms:
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. 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." (Qur'an, 18:10-11, 18-19)
The Qur'an does not reveal how long they remained in the cave. Instead, the duration of this period is implied by the words "for a number of years." People guessed that they stayed there for 309 years, for:
They stayed in their cave for three hundred years and added nine. Say: "God knows best how long they stayed. The Unseen of the heavens and 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." (Qur'an, 18:25-26)
Obviously, the duration of their stay is not the point here. What this narrative reveals is that God took some people back from this life, either by making them sleep or by taking their lives, and then restored them to life, just as people wake up from sleep. Jesus is one such person. When the appointed time comes, he will live on Earth once again, fulfill the honorable responsibility given to him by God, and then die onEarth in the normal manner, for
He said: "On it you will live and on it you will die, and from it you will be brought forth."
1. Elmalili Muhammad Hamdi Yazir, Kuran-i Kerim Tefsiri (Qur'an Tafsir); www.kuranikerim.com/telmalili/zuhruf.htm.
2. Muhammed Khalil Herras, Fasl al-Maqal fi raf'i 'Isa hayyan wa nuzulihi wa qatlihi ad-Dajjal,
(Cairo: Makatabat as-Sunnah, 1990), 20.
3. Imam at-Tabari, The Commentary of at-Tabari, (Istanbul:Umit Yayincilik), 2:528; 1:247.