Published: 00:00 GMT Standard Time - Wednesday 23 December 2009
The Muslim Jesus - ‘Isa in the Hadith
‘Isa in the Hadith
‘Isa in the Hadith3
According to orthodox Islamic doctrine, God gave Muhammad the responsibility of interpreting the Qur’an, so his words and acts (his sunna) as found in the collected traditions (hadith) became the second revelatory source, which expounds the Qur’an.
Hadith that describe Christ’s features
Several hadith claim that Muhammad saw ‘Isa both in his Night Journey and in a dream and then described him to his companions:
Narrated Ibn Umar: The Prophet said, “I saw Moses, ‘Isa and Abraham (on the night of my Ascension to the heavens). ‘Isa was of red complexion, curly hair and a broad chest.” (Al- Bukhari, 4.648)
Narrated Abdullah bin Umar: Allah’s Apostle said, “Today I saw myself in a dream near the Ka‘ba. I saw a whitish brown man, the handsomest of all brown men you might ever see. He had the most beautiful Limma (hair hanging down to the earlobes) you might ever see. He had combed it and it was dripping water; and he was performing the Tawaf around the Ka‘ba leaning on two men or on the shoulders of two men. I asked, ‘Who is this?’ It was said, ‘Messiah, the son of Mary.’ (Al-Bukhari, 7.789)
The return of ‘Isa
A Qur’anic verse links ‘Isa to the last days:
And [‘Isa] shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment): therefore have no doubt about the (Hour) but follow ye Me: this is a Straight Way. (Q 43:61)
Picking up on this theme, the hadith collections present ‘Isa mainly as an eschatological figure who has an important role to play in the end times. The descent of ‘Isa is one of the main signs of the Last Days, others being the appearance of the Antichrist (Dajjal), the rising of the sun in the West, the arrival of Gog and Magog (Yajuj and Majuj) and powerful earthquakes.
Narrated Hudhayfah ibn Usayd Ghifari: Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) came to us all of a sudden as we were (busy in a discussion) He said: What do you discuss about? (the Companions) said: We are discussing about the Last Hour. Thereupon he said: It will not come until you see ten signs before and (in this connection) he made a mention of the smoke, Dajjal, the beast, the rising of the sun from the west, the descent of ‘Isa son of Mary (Allah be pleased with him), The Gog and Magog, and landslides in three places, one in the east, one in the west and one in Arabia at the end of which fire would burn forth from the Yemen, and would drive people to the place of their assembly. (Sahih Muslim, 13520)
‘Isa will come down from heaven as a Muslim warrior to destroy Christianity, establish Islam and fight all its enemies (including the Antichrist, al-Dajjal). He will destroy the Christian and Jewish religions and make Islam the only religion in the entire world:
Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: There is no prophet between me and him, that is, ‘Isa (peace be upon him). He will descend (to the earth). When you see him, recognise him: a man of medium height, reddish fair, wearing two light yellow garments, looking as if drops were falling down from his head though it will not be wet. He will fight the people for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill swine, and abolish jizyah. Allah will perish all religions except Islam. He will destroy the Antichrist and will live on the earth for forty years and then he will die. The Muslims will pray over him. (Sunan Abu Dawoud, 2025)
Muslims hate the cross as the core symbol of Christianity; therefore to “break the cross” means “to destroy Christianity”. Pigs are associated with Christians, as both Muslims and Jews consider them unclean, so “killing pigs” is another way of describing the destruction of Christianity. Under Islamic law the humiliating poll-tax (jizya) is paid by the subjected Christians and Jews to protect them from jihad. The abolition of the poll-tax signifies the revival of jihad against Christians and Jews, who will face the choice of converting to Islam or being killed. Following this annihilation of the other religions, only Islam will survives victorious. The “abundant money” results from the rich booty taken from the killed Christians and Jews.
To stress the superiority of Muhammad over ‘Isa, several hadith claim that on the Day of Judgement ‘Isa will point all those seeking his intercession for them with God to Muhammad, who alone will be able to intercede for his followers. Muhammad is thus established as far greater than ‘Isa:
Narrated Abu Huraira: “... So they will go to ‘Isa and say, ‘O ‘Isa! You are Allah’s Apostle and His Word which He sent to Mary, and a superior soul created by Him, and you talked to the people while still young in the cradle. Please intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’ ‘Isa will say, ‘My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before nor will ever become thereafter.’ ‘Isa will not mention any sin, but will say, ‘Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Muhammad.’ So they will come to me and say, ‘O Muhammad ! You are Allah’s Apostle and the last of the prophets, and Allah forgave your early and late sins. (Please) intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’” The Prophet added, “Then I will go beneath Allah’s Throne and fall in prostration before my Lord. And then Allah will guide me to such praises and glorification to Him as He has never guided anybody else before me. Then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad! Raise your head. Ask, and it will be granted. Intercede! It (your intercession) will be accepted.’ So I will raise my head and say, ‘My followers, O my Lord! My followers, O my Lord.’ It will be said, ‘O Muhammad! Let those of your followers who have no accounts, enter through such a gate of the gates of Paradise as lies on the right; and they will share the other gates with the people.’” (Al- Bukhari, 6:236)
A main task of ‘Isa on his return is to destroy the false Messiah, the Dajjal, and his forces:
Narrated Abu Hurayrah: ... As they [the victorious Muslim army] are busy in distributing the spoils of war (amongst themselves) after hanging their swords by the olive trees, Satan will cry: The Dajjal has taken your place among your families. They will then come out, but it will be of no avail. When they reach Syria, he will come out while they are still preparing themselves for battle, drawing up the ranks. Certainly, the time of prayer will come and then ‘Isa (peace be upon him), son of Mary, descend and will lead them in prayer. When the enemy of Allah see him, it will (disappear) just as salt dissolves in water and if he (‘Isa) were not to confront them at all, even then it would dissolve completely. Allah would kill them by his hand and he would show them their blood on his lance (the lance of ‘Isa Christ). (Sahih Muslim, 1348)