HOW CAN WE RECOGNIZE PROPHET JESUS?
Another subject that has received a great deal of attention is how Jesus will be recognized or by what features we will know him. As a person who was created superior in terms of knowledge, intelligence, physical appearance, and character, he will have the facial expression of a Prophet. His God-fearing nature and deepest faith will shine on his face so much so that people will instantly realize that they are looking upon someone quite superior.
God revealed that Jesus is "of high esteem in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near" (Qur'an, 3:45). Like all Prophets, he will be known to those people surrounding him as an embodiment of God's Word, as well as his respectability, distinction, and dignity. Those who meet him will recognize him instantaneously, and no doubts will cloud their hearts. And those who rejected his arrival will realize their error.
It will be possible to identify him by a Prophet's attributes, which are described in the Qur'an. Other circumstances also will cause people to recognize him. One of the most important ones will be that he will be solitary: He will have no family or relatives, and no one will have known him from before. This is because all of the people who knew him lived and died 2,000 years ago. His mother Mary, Zachariah, the disciples who spent years with him, the Jewish leadership, and everyone who heard him preach are all dead. Therefore, when he comes again no one will have witnessed his birth, childhood, youth, and adulthood, and no one will know anything about him. There will be no childhood photos of him, and no one will have any memories of him.
No doubt, this situation does away with the nuisance of "false messiahs." When Jesus returns, there will be nothing to cast any doubt on his identity. Nobody will find any cause to deny who he is, because Jesus will return just as he was before God raised him to His presence, including his garments, and will have superior qualities that no human being could imitate.
The Qur'an, either in the verses or in particular stories, provides us various explanations regarding the past prophets. Many common attributes of the prophets and of the true believers are mentioned in the Qur'an. Furthermore, it is also possible to find all the attributes of the believers in the verses. In this context, the superior attributes of Jesus (as) related to faith are also discernible in the Qur'an. Accordingly, referring to the Qur'an, sincere believers can assess these superior attributes observable on him and accordingly recognise him.
At this point, one has to keep in mind that recognising Jesus (as) may not be possible for everyone. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi states the following about this subject:
When Jesus (Upon whom be peace) comes, it is not necessary that everyone should know him to be the true Jesus. His elect and those close to him will recognize him through the light of belief. It will not be self-evident so that everyone will recognize him.1
As Beduuzzaman also agrees, during the early years of his second coming, the people knowing Jesus (as) will be limited to the small group of people who are close to him. Furthermore, this will only be possible by "the light of belief". Of course this phrase needs further explanation: "The light of belief" is the comprehension granted by Allah to those who believe in the existence and unity of Allah and who observe the commands of the Qur'an. With such comprehension, believers can evaluate situations precisely and grasp the details of the 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) to those who reflect upon each thing in an endeavour to comprehend the greatness and might of Allah and to those who have fear for Him:
You who believe! If you have taqwa of (heed) 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 Jesus (as) during his second coming and adhere to him will actually be the ones who believe in Allah and the Qur'an, and think deeply over things. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, too, draws attention to this issue:
In fact, although when Jesus (Peace be upon him) comes he himself will know he is Jesus, not everyone will know.2
Which Attributes of Jesus (as) Make Him Recognisable?
As mentioned above, referring to the Qur'an in search of finding answers to these questions, we should first look for the attributes common to all the prophets related in the Qur'an. Thus, the way to recognise Jesus (as) would be to examine the attributes of the prophets. Surely, there are hundreds of them. However, in this section we will emphasise the most apparent attributes that are immediately evident.
Like all other prophets chosen by Allah to proclaim His message to mankind, Jesus (as) is known for his excellent moral values. The most distinctive attribute of 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. 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 Ibrahim (Abraham) against his people. We raise in rank anyone We will. Your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing. We gave him Ishaq (Isaac) and Ya'qub (Jacob), each of whom We guided. And before him We had guided Nuh (Noah). And among his descendants were Dawud (David) and Sulayman (Solomon), and Ayyub (Job), Yusuf (Joseph), Musa (Moses) and Harun (Aaron). That is how We recompense the good-doers. And Zakarriyya (Zachariah), Yahya (John), "Isa (Jesus) and Ilyas (Elijah). All of them were among the righteous. And Isma"il (Ishmael), al-Yasa" (Elisha), Yunus (Jonah) and Lut (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. (Surat al-An"am: 83-87 )
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. The statements below inform us of the superior traits granted to the prophets:
Ibrahim was a community
in himself. (Surat an-Nahl: 120)
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 "Isa, son of Maryam, and reinforced him with the Purest Spirit. (Surat al-Baqarah: 253)
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 that 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,
Granted with wisdom, physical strength, knowledge and perfection of character, Jesus (as) will have a facial expression 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. Surely, not everyone will agree with this. Out of rage and pride, it is likely that some people will disregard this superiority. Despite feeling it deep inside, they may feign ignorance, perceiving his presence as a threat to their existence. Only those having sincere faith will comprehend this superiority and have an appreciation of it.
Allah informs us that Jesus (as) is "of high esteem in the world and the hereafter, and one of those brought near"" (Surah Al "Imran: 45) Thus, Jesus (as) will be known to those people surrounding him for the honour and excellence only seen in those chosen by Allah.
That is Allah's guidance. He guides by it those of His slaves He wills" (Surat al-An"am: 89)
Throughout history, Allah communicated His messages and revelations by His messengers. He also granted wisdom to these messengers: a decisive and highly pertinent style in 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 Dawud (as), Allah states: ""We gave him wisdom and decisive speech." (Surah Sad: 20) It is similar for the prophet Yahya (as): "Yahya, "We gave him judgement while still a child." (Surah Maryam: 12) About Musa, Allah informs us: "And when he reached his full strength and maturity, We gave him judgement and knowledge." (Surat al-Qasas: 14) Another relevant verse follows: "We gave Luqman wisdom: 'Give thanks to Allah.' (Surah Luqman: 12). Similarly, Allah relates: "We gave the family of Ibrahim the Book and Wisdom..." (Surat an-Nisa: 54)
In accordance with the verse, "He gives wisdom to whomever He wills and whoever has been given wisdom has been given great good," (Surat al-Baqarah: 269), Allah rewarded all the prophets. This reward also holds true for Jesus (as) as we learn from the Qur'an:
Remember when Allah
said, Isa, 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 Torah and the Injil. (Surat al-Ma"idah:
In the light of these verses, we can conclude that a particular attribute of Jesus (as), which will enable us to recognise him, will be his decisive, highly pertinent and striking speech. As in all other issues, a decisive manner of speaking is a striking attribute common to the prophets. Believers who adhere to the Qur'an as a guide to the truth grasp that the speech of Jesus (as) has "the power granted" (Surat al-Kahf: 91) 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 granted by Allah. Nobody around him will be able to display such excellence, which will make his superiority even more evident.
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 reliability 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. In the Qur'an, Allah draws our attention to this attribute of the prophets. For instance, Musa (as) introduced himself to the community among whom he lived as follows:
Before 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 conceive the messengers to be trustworthy. The prophet Yusuf (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 long time. 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 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.
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 superiority 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 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 assured his Messengers that, under all circumstances, they will prevail. So this second coming of 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 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 his progress always brings good will remain a mystery for them. 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.
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 Jesus (as). In his second coming, he will call people all over the world to the true religion of Allah. Yet, he will aim at 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, which is a repetition of what other prophets experienced in the past. Most probably, these slanders may include "that he is trying to pursue his own personal benefit." Still, Allah will prove the groundless nature of these slanders and help him, just as He guides him in all his deeds.
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 Jesus (as) will be his mercy towards the believers. Allah relates this attribute as exemplified in the Last of the Messengers 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)
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 Jesus (as).
He Will Have No Relatives, Family or Acquaintances on Earth
Jesus (as) will be recognisable by the attributes mentioned in the Qur'an. However, there will be other factors disclosing his identity. No doubt, one of them will be the fact that he will have no relatives, family or acquaintances on earth. Indeed, no one will know him when he comes to earth for the second time. Not a single person will come out and say "I have known him for a long time, I saw him when"" simply because the people who knew him lived and died 2,000 years ago. Thus, no one will have witnessed his birth, childhood, youth or adulthood. Nobody will know a single word about him.
As explained in earlier sections of the book, Jesus (as) came into existence by the command of Allah, the command "Be!" After millennia, it is very natural that he will have no relatives on earth. Allah draws an analogy between his situation and that of Adam when He states:
The likeness of "Isa 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 and he was accordingly created. The way Jesus (as) came into existence for the first time also occurred in the same way although he had a mother. Adam had no parents and neither will Jesus (as) at his second coming.
In the history of mankind, that Jesus (as) will be sent back to earth for a second time by Allah is surely a divine favour to all humanity. Only a minority of people will enjoy this occasion. He will then be a blessed "saviour" sent to all mankind. Indeed, in times when violence and disorder were increasingly experienced in the world, human beings begged a "helper" from Allah. Accordingly, Allah responded to their plea:
What reason could you have for not fighting in the Way of Allah " for those men, women and children who are oppressed and say, "Our Lord, take us out of this city whose inhabitants are wrongdoers! Give us a protector from You! Give us a helper from You!"? (Surat an-Nisa: 75)
As mentioned earlier, the "saviour" in our time is the penetration of the Qur'anic values to our souls and society. Upon his second coming, Jesus (as) will wholeheartedly adhere to these revealed values favoured by Allah and strive purely to spread them to people all over the world.
The knowledge of unseen and future events is something only known to Allah. Yet, it is certain that those who expect this blessed period and this person must at that time undertake important obligations. Just as Jesus (as) will protect and guide all believers, the believers will also have to give wholehearted support to Jesus (as) and help him in the services he renders for the sake of Allah. This time, in other words, during his second coming, believers should never make him ask again, "Who will be my helpers to Allah?" (Surah Al "Imran: 52) Otherwise, one will feel deep regret and torment both in this world and hereafter. Allah clearly threatens those who are ungrateful:
Then we sent our Messengers one after another, at intervals. Each time its Messenger came to a community they called him a liar so We made them follow one another too and turned them into myths and legends. Away with the people who have no faith! (Surat al-Muminun: 44)
On the other hand, those who follow him, who provide him sincere support and adopt the revealed values brought by him may well hope to earn the good pleasure, mercy and eternal paradise of Allah. This is a definite promise and good tidings given by Allah:
Allah has sent down
a reminder to you, a Messenger reciting Allah's
Clear Signs to you to bring those who have faith
and do right actions out of the dark - ness into
the Light. Whoever has faith in Allah and acts
rightly, We will admit him into Gardens with rivers
flowing under them remaining in them time - lessly,
for ever and ever. Allah has provided for him
We are grateful to Allah, the Almighty, Who will honour such of His slaves as He wills on such a great occasion as the second coming of Jesus (as) and grant them this important opportunity to gain merit for their lives in the hereafter.
And peace be upon the Messengers. And praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds! (Surat as-Saffat: 181-182)