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A Muslim perspective on the resurrection appearances of Jesus

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One of the main differences between Islam and Christianity is that Islam denies the death of Jesus, thereby also denying the resurrection of Jesus.

Now Christians obviously believe that Jesus died, and that after 3 days, he rose from the dead. They point to the Gospels that mention how Jesus met with the disciples after his death, and that this proves Jesus rose from the dead.

Now as Muslims, how can we deal with the supposed resurrection accounts? If Jesus rose from the dead, doesn’t this disprove the Islamic claim of Jesus being saved from the cross? After all, if Jesus rose from the dead, then he died, and Islam’s claim is wrong.

It’s actually fairly simple, when we read the Gospel accounts of the disciples meeting a ‘resurrected’ Jesus; they were never actually meeting a resurrected Jesus, but a Jesus who never died. Put it this way, if you thought somebody died, but you then see them alive soon after, does this necessarily mean that they rose from the dead? Or could it mean that they were never dead in the first place?

As Muslims, we believe God saved Jesus from the cross, that he never died, as the Quran says:

And [for] their saying, "Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah ." And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. (4:157)

So if Jesus never died, and was rather saved by God, then the disciples simply saw an alive Jesus after the event. Obviously the disciples would’ve been shocked by seeing Jesus, they thought he was dead; Jesus’ enemies were going around saying they killed him. Naturally, when they saw Jesus alive again, they thought he must have resurrected from the dead, not in fact knowing that Jesus was never dead, and what they were seeing was a very alive Jesus who never died.

This is how a Muslim would understand the post ‘resurrection’ appearances of Jesus in the Gospels, they are not in fact post ‘resurrection’ appearances of Jesus, but rather they are appearances of an alive Jesus that was never killed on the cross.

A Christian would counter and say “but why did the disciples continue to preach about Jesus raising from the dead, if they merely saw an alive Jesus that never died, why weren’t they preaching that Jesus never died, instead they always preached that Jesus did die and did raise from the dead”.

Once again, this is fairly simple, the disciples merely misunderstood an alive Jesus, for a ‘resurrected’ Jesus, they couldn’t simply understand or grasp the fact that Jesus never died, and so they had a mistaken and misunderstood belief that Jesus had in fact risen from the dead.

Another thing to also keep in mind is to ask whether the disciples of Jesus even ever preached that Jesus rose from the dead. We don’t have any writings from the disciples themselves, the Gospels weren’t written by the disciples, and books written in the name of the disciples, we know in fact were not written by the disciples themselves. So in actuality, we have don’t have any first hand accounts of the disciples preaching about the resurrection of Jesus. What we do have, are accounts written decades after Jesus and the disciples, which talk about a supposed resurrection.

Now even if we assume for the sake of argument that the disciples did in fact preach about the resurrection of Jesus, then this was their simple misunderstanding, they thought Jesus was dead, they saw an alive Jesus, and couldn’t comprehend the fact that he had never died in the first place, and so in their mistaken assumption, said that he had been raised from the dead.

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