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In Islam, the common understanding is that Christ Jesus was never killed nor was he crucified; this understanding is quite reasonable given that God says

وَقَوْلِهِمْ إِنَّا قَتَلْنَا الْمَسِيحَ عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ وَمَا صَلَبُوهُ وَلَٰكِن شُبِّهَ لَهُمْ ۚ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ لَفِي شَكٍّ مِّنْهُ ۚ مَا لَهُم بِهِ مِنْ عِلْمٍ إِلَّا اتِّبَاعَ الظَّنِّ ۚ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ يَقِينًا

Sahih International Translation

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.

[Surat An-Nisā':157]

However, when this wording is compared to this aya:

فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوهُمْ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ قَتَلَهُمْ ۚ وَمَا رَمَيْتَ إِذْ رَمَيْتَ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ رَمَىٰ ۚ وَلِيُبْلِيَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْهُ بَلَاءً حَسَنًا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

Sahih International Translation

And you did not kill them, but it was Allah who killed them. And you threw not, [O Muhammad], when you threw, but it was Allah who threw that He might test the believers with a good test. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.

[Surat Al-'Anfāl:17]

It also seems reasonable to believe that the difference between the Christian and the Islamic understanding of the event is not so much about the fact of the crucifixion of Christ (as it is commonly interpreted) as it about who crucified him (i.e., they did not kill him, but it was Allah who killed him).

How viable is this interpretation? In particular, has it been forwarded by any reputable Islamic scholars, either in modern days or historically?

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i guess it is ahmadiya\qadiyani belief that christ was crucified but escaped death irshad.org/qadianism/differ.php –  Islam Feb 10 '13 at 18:45
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3 Answers

Some scholars have mentioned that Allah have actually killed Jesus PBUH according to this verse:

[Mention] when Allah said, "O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return, and I will judge between you concerning that in which you used to differ.

إذ قال الله يا عيسى إني متوفيك ورافعك إلي ومطهرك من الذين كفروا وجاعل الذين اتبعوك فوق الذين كفروا إلى يوم القيامة ثم إلي مرجعكم فأحكم بينكم فيما كنتم فيه تختلفون

3/55

Now in Arabic the word "Muwtafeek" has been translated to "Take you" While in Arabic it may mean that "I will make you die"

وقال علي بن أبي طلحة عن ابن عباس : ( إني متوفيك ) أي : مميتك

"Ibn Abbas" said that the word "Mutawfeka" means Allah has killed him.

وقال محمد بن إسحاق ، عمن لا يتهم ، عن وهب بن منبه ، قال : توفاه الله ثلاث ساعات من النهار حين رفعه الله إليه .

As Mohamed "Ibn Ishaq" from "La yethm" from "Wahab Bin Munabah" said that he killed him for 3 hours and raised him

قال ابن إسحاق : والنصارى يزعمون أن الله توفاه سبع ساعات ثم أحياه

"Ibn Ishaq" said: Christians claim that Jesus was dead for 7 hours then Allah revived him

وقال إسحاق بن بشر عن إدريس ، عن وهب : أماته الله ثلاثة أيام ، ثم بعثه ، ثم رفعه .

"Ishaq Bin Bishir" said that Allah killed him for 3 days, revived him, and raised him to him.

Source: Tafsir Ibn Kathir

However the common view is that Allah made him sleep, replaced him with someone who looks like him, and he was raised after that.

Note: That the view of Ahlul Sunnah wal Jammah is that Jesus was not crucified or killed by the Jewish as the 1st verse that you cited clearly says that.

Now to answer your question, Was Jesus crucified by Allah ?

According to scholars, the part

Allah raised him to Himself

in the verse

Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.

بل رفعه الله إليه وكان الله عزيزا حكيما

4/158

Says that Allah raised him with his full body to refute the claim of those who say that Jesus was killed and crucified by the Jewish, On the other side, no scholar(Historically or in our modern days) claimed that Allah crucified Jesus.

Al-Dahak mentioned the story of Jesus,He said: When Allah told Jesus that the Jews will come to kill you. He entered a room and in the room there were his 12 friends, so he asked them: Who would go out to them and get killed and he will be with me in Heaven ? One of his friends said: I will do it prophet of allah. Then he gave him some clothes and turban and then he was resembled to look like prophet Jesus. and Allah raised Jesus.

Ibn abbas mentioned a similar story to Ibn Dahak.

Source: Tafsir Al-Baghawi

EDIT: and from the sunnah, Prophet mentioned that Jesus will come back at the end of the time. which means that he wasn't crucified :

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger or Allah (may peace be upon him) observed: I swear by Allah that the son of Mary will certainly descend as a just judge and he would definitely break the cross, and kill swine and abolish Jizya and would leave the young she-camel and no one would endeavor to (collect Zakat on it). Spite, mutual hatred and jealousy against one another will certainly disappear and when he summons people to accept wealth, not even one would do so.

Reference : Sahih Muslim 155 c In-book reference: Book 1, Hadith 298

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That interpretation would not be viable. I would like to firstly point out that (as well as is in Tafseer Ibn Katheer) when Allah says:

فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوهُمْ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ قَتَلَهُمْ

He is saying that you didn't kill them because of your numbers, but you were victorious because it came from Me, basically He is saying victory comes from "Me". Even if this Ayah was used to interpret that Allah killed Issa (peace be upon him), it would contradict the verse that comes right after the same Ayah being quoted (157 of Suart Annisaa)'.

بَل رَّفَعَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَيْهِ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا

Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.

So unless a tafseer scholar is found, who gives a contradicting interpretation, of that verse, which is cleared up by the verse after it, then that interpretation is not viable, and is taking verse out of context. So the interpretation would be:

they did not kill him, but Allah raised him up, and made it seem to them that he was killed

And here I would like to point out a mistake done by some, and that is say how it was made to seem that Issa (peace be upon him) was killed, such information is not provided so all that can be said is it was made to seem so, and we cannot say how so. Also lastly, I would like to point out that that Ayah in Surat Al Anfal is referring to the battle of Badr.

May Allah forgive me of my mistakes, and guide us all.

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Indeed he was not killed by people as you already know, and that Allah stresses on the fact He is trying to remedy the available wrong belief about the event, not to make further confusion! By the way, this is a Hadeeth that directly addresses the issue:

source: البرهان في تفسير القرآن، ج‏1، ص: 628

ابن بابويه، قال: حدثنا محمد بن إبراهيم بن إسحاق الطالقاني (رضي الله عنه)، قال: حدثنا أحمد بن محمد بن سعيد بن عقدة الكوفي، قال: حدثنا علي بن الحسن بن علي بن فضال، عن أبيه، عن أبي الحسن علي بن موسى (عليه السلام)، قال: «إنه ما شبه أمر أحد من أنبياء الله و حججه للناس إلا أمر عيسى (عليه السلام) وحده، لأنه رفع من الأرض حيا و قبض روحه بين السماء و الأرض، ثم رفع إلى السماء و رد عليه روحه، و ذلك قوله عز و جل: إِذْ قالَ اللَّهُ يا عِيسى‏ إِنِّي مُتَوَفِّيكَ وَ رافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ وَ مُطَهِّرُكَ و قال الله تعالى حكاية لقول عيسى يوم القيامة: وَ كُنْتُ عَلَيْهِمْ شَهِيداً ما دُمْتُ فِيهِمْ فَلَمَّا تَوَفَّيْتَنِي كُنْتَ أَنْتَ الرَّقِيبَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَ أَنْتَ عَلى‏ كُلِّ شَيْ‏ءٍ شَهِيدٌ ».

In this Hadeeth Imam Redha --peace be upon him-- says Jesus --peace be upon him-- was ascended from he Earth while being still alive, then his soul was taken off from him between the Earth and the Sky, and eventually he was given back his soul in the Sky and this is what Allah addresses by "o 'isa! verily i shall make thee die, and am lifting thee to myself" [3:55] and also quoted from Jesus saying in the Day that "And so long as I dwelt with them I was witness over their actions. And after my life had been done, You were their keeper; and You are a witness over all things." [5:117]

This resurrection is reasonable for another point as well, all the Muslims approve that Jesus --peace be upon him-- now is living in the heavens, and again we know that the holy prophet --peace be upon him and his household-- was the first man to ascend to the heavens while being alive, with his body and sould together, so that Jesus --peace be upon him-- should have experienced death before being ascended to the Sky, as Allah has also addressed the issue in His book (although the translations are not very good at that), and the quality of that is explained in the Hadeeth above, although there are other Ahadeeth that explain the last night of him being with his companions in more detail, but that's another issue.

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