riyada in arabic means "training" or "discipline". It was used by the arabs in relation to horse taming. Sufis refer to their discipline as "riyadat an-nafs": disciplining the soul / training the ego. Today, the word riyada has come to mean "sports". There is an Arabic proverb that says: "The purpose of sports (riyada) is not to win cups, but to discipline the soul". This blog is here to help me discipline my soul and train my body.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Jesus Papers

"Don't believe everything you read. But definitely don't just read what you believe." [1]

I found the newly published The Jesus Papers in my father's library, and decided to read it, see what it has to say. Written by Michael Baigent, author of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, upon which The Da Vinci Code is based, the book is presenting a new theory: that Jesus did not die on the cross.


... wa qawlihim innaa qatalnal masiha Isa-bna Maryama rasula Llahi wa ma qataluhu wa ma salabuhu wa-lakin shubbiha lahum. (Qur'an 4:157)

The above verse says that the Jews did not kill God's messenger, the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary. It also says, wa ma salabuhu: and they did not crucify him, wa-lakin shubbiha lahum: but it was made to appear to them as such.


According to the traditional Sunni Islam point of view, what happened was that God took Jesus up to him, and by a miracle made the traitor Judas look like Jesus, so that he would be crucified instead as punishment for what he did. This is in NEITHER Qur'an nor Hadith, just conjecture or legend. It could also be a different interpretation of shubbiha lahum, instead of "it was made to appear so to them" it could also be interpreted as someone looking like Jesus in their eyes. (See the Gospel of Barnabas for a detailed account of what happened according to the traditional Islamic version of the story).

One thing I like about this theory is that it explains the "God why have you forsaken me?" which makes absolutely no sense if Jesus had come with the intention of dying on the cross for the sake of men. According to this version, it is Judas who is asking God- the God whose true religion he believed he was protecting- why he has forsaken him and let the false messiah Jesus live.

So they led him to Mount Calvary, where they used to hang malefactors, and there they crucified him naked; for the greater ignominy. *Judas truly did nothing else but cry out: 'God, why have you forsaken me, seeing the malefactor has escaped and I die unjustly?' *Truly I say that the voice, the face, and the person of Judas were so like to Jesus, that his disciples and believers entirely believed that he was Jesus; wherefore some departed from the doctrine of Jesus, believing that Jesus had been a false prophet, and that by art magic he had done the miracles which he did: for Jesus had said that he should not die till near the end of the world; for that at that time he should be taken away from the world.

But they that stood firm in the doctrine of Jesus were so encompassed with sorrow, seeing him die who was entirely like to Jesus, that they remembered not what Jesus had said. [5]


"And (the Jews) planned and God also planned and God is the best of planners. When Allah said, "O Jesus, I will take you and raise you in My presence and save you from those who disbelieve..." (Qur'an 3:54-55)

Personally, I'm not sure about this "taking him up" interpretation by the majority of the Muslims, because the heavens and the spiritual realm are not a physical place to which Jesus could go to in his body (and God knows best), nor is God up in the sky somewhere. Maybe it was his spirit that was taken "up", and maybe it took place later, after he died a normal death.

The Qur'an mentions the death of Jesus when it quotes him saying,

"Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive! (Qur'an 19:33).

But according to the majority Muslim view, this death is after the return of Jesus before the end times, when he will return to earth, fight against the Antichrist, establish peace on earth, live and then die.

The Ahmadiyya sect of Islam believe that Jesus remained alive after the supposed crucifiction and died a natural death. I would also like to quote from a very intersting little chapter from the Inspirations of Shaykh Badruddin of Simawna (d. 1420), translated and interpreted by Shaykh Tosun Bayrak (I think this includes the Shaikh Bayrak's commentary as well). I do not necessarily believe it, but I think it is plausible.

The prophet Jesus, may Allah bless his soul, is always alive in spirit, but his blessed body is dead and gone. His spirituality exceeds his physical existence, for his spirit is from Allah. Since spirit is contained within the body and the body disappears at death, the ones who think that physical being is in the image of the soul and that the two are inseparable, claim that he did not die.

Everything that is created dies. The soul of Jesus (upon him be peace), which is from Allah, is alive, for it is eternal. When the soul rises from the body at death, the coarse matter of the body is left behind. The body indeed is a materialized reflection of the soul, but its form and shape are related to and in harmony with the realm of appearances of this world and will stay in it when the soul leaves it.

The ones who believe that Allah raised Jesus to heaven body and soul say that Jesus (upon him be peace) will return to this world and will live the life of a man, will have a family and children. But Allah raised his soul to Him.

As his enemies planned to destroy him, Allah planned to save him.

"And (the Jews) planned and God also planned and God is the best of planners. When Allah said, "O Jesus, I will take you and raise you in My presence and save you from those who disbelieve..." (Qur'an 3:54-55)


His being was raised in a spiritual ascension cleansed of the natural elements of this world. Allah says,

And for their saying, "We have killed the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah," and they killed him not, nor did they cause his death on the cross, but he was made to appear to them as such." (Qur'an 4:157)

He was saved from the cross and lived his natural life amongst his people, and his physical being died a natural death. As Allah quotes him,

I was a witness of them as long as I was among them. But when You did cause me to die, You were the watcher over them." (Qur'an 5:117)


The traditional view, however, is that here tawaffaytani means "took me back" and not "caused me to die". Nowadays the word is used exclusively in the sense of death. Note also that the Prophet Muhammad said,

...Then [on the Day of Resurrection] I will say as the pious servant Jesus, son of Mary, said: 'And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them. When you caused me to die ('tawaffaytani') you were the watcher over them, and you are a witness to all things...' (Sahih Bukhari)

BUT this does not deny the possibility that the word means "when You took me back to You" in the case of the Prophet, as death means the return to Allah (swt). The difference in the meanings is only important in the case of Jesus (pbuh) because we know he didn't die on the cross, so does it mean he returned to God right there and then (without having physically died) or that he continued to live and then died?

Anyway, Shaikh Badruddin continues,

In reality his return is a moral and spiritual one.

They say that his coming will be close to the apocalypse. Some of the signs of the coming of the end are:

* that the sun will rise from the west;
* that there will be an invasion of the Yellow People;
* God and Magog will appear;
* Dabbat al-Ard, a miraculous creature, and the Mahdi, will appear'
* Dajjal, the Antichrist, will come to rule the world, and Jesus, in his second coming, will slay him.


All these signs are here now and always were. So is the spiritual and moral presence of Jesus, combating Dajjal.

Dajjals are the people of all times whose lives are consecrated to being worldbound. They are the tyrants who have reached high stations, arrogant ones claiming to be owners and rulers of others.

Dajjal is the manifestation of the false reality of the world. He is blind in the right eye- thus, he cannot see the truth. Allah says:

The ones who are blind to the truth in this world will not see their Lord in the Hereafter.

Jesus (upon him be peace) is the manifestation of the truth. His combat with the Dajjal is the fight between wordly rationalization and wisdom, the battle between truth and falsehood. [2]




Baigent says that the Vatican has documents that prove Jesus was alive in 45 CE, a decade after his supposed death, but that he has no proof of this. [3]

"Baigent says he’s breaking his silence because he’s seen and held shocking documents, including two he named his book after, calling them 'The Jesus Papers.' "  [4]

He says these papers were discovered by a rich Israeli businessman, a wealthy collector who bought a home in the Old City of Jerusalem, under which he excavated, and found the letters. They are from 34 C.E, written by a man who called himself the Messiah of the Children of Israel.

"They were answers to a charge made by the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin had been accusing someone of claiming that he was god.  This someone wrote back in his defense. And this Messiah was writing back to the Sanhedrin saying in effect, 'No no no, I’m not saying that I’m god. I’m saying that I’m filled with the spirit of god.'"

If these letters are real, Baigent contends it would mean Jesus was saying he was an ordinary man and not divine.  But Baigent admits he can’t back up his claim.

...

"The Vatican asked [the Israeli businessman] to destroy them. But he refused. But he did promise that he would keep them under wraps for 25 years. Now when I met with him, he had long passed the 25 year mark." [4]



According to Baigent, there is another document proving that Jesus was alive in 45 CE that was found in France. The document has long been destroyed, but some of the priests who have seen it left clues- clues that we can all see and evaluate ourselves- telling us that Jesus did not die on the cross. See the 4th footnote for more details.

So what happened if Jesus was not crucified?

Well, according to the clues left by these priests, and a detailed study of the Bible, Jesus made a deal with the Romans. They drugged him so that he doesnt lose too much blood from the crucifiction, crucified him for a very short time (compared to other cruficitions, as death by crucifiction takes a much longer time), and then at night he was brought down and healed and medicated. (Sadiq Alam made a blog about this recently, examining some quotations from the Bible that suggest Jesus was not crucified. See also footnote 3 for more details on Baigent's theory of how it took place).

Another theory is that someone else was cruficied in his place, someone that they made to look like him.

Baigent also argues that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, but that's highly improbable and most scholars believe this to be ridiculous. Dan Brown argues that as a Jew he must have been married, but according to scholars, as a member of the Essene sect, he would have been single. Also I doubt all those other Gospels are so far off the mark on something so large and so obvious to the thousands of people at the time. Of course anything about Jesus' progeny becoming kings in France is complete rubbish.


Well, while I most likely will not agree with much of what Baigent has to say, I think much of it is also in line with the traditional Islamic account and makes sense. I'm starting to think that Jesus might have stayed alive and died a normal death years after the supposed cruci-fiction, and then his spirit returned to God. And God knows best.

Even though I do not believe the gospel of Barnabas to be a "true" gospel, I would like to end this blog with the last paragraph of that gospel, because it is a fitting ending:

After Jesus had departed, the disciples scattered through the different parts of Israel and of the world, and the truth, hated of Satan, was persecuted, as it always is, by falsehood. For certain evil men, pretending to be disciples, preached that Jesus died and rose not again. Others preached that he really died, but rose again. Others preached, and yet preach, that Jesus is the Son of God, among whom is Paul deceived. But we - as much as I have written - we preach to those that fear God, that they may be saved in the last day of God's Judgment. Amen. [6]


------
1. Elite coach Mike Boyle to Alwyn Cosgrove
2. Inspirations on the Path of Blame. A commentary by Shaikh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti on the Inspirations of Shaikh Badruddin of Simawna. Pg 147-149.
3. The Black Iris of Jordan: On the Jesus Papers
4. Dateline NBC: The Mystery of 'The Jesus Papers'
5. Gospel of Barnabas. Judas Scourned and Mocked
6. Gospel of Barnabas. Jesus Carried Up to Heaven

Brief note on the Gospel of Barnabas: It seems to have been written in the Middle Ages by a European convert to Islam, but it is based on ancient Ebionite and Carmelite writings, and so reflects the beliefs of ancient Christian sects. It might even include the actual Gospel of Barnabas, but with many changes and forged chapters added to it. This also explains why the gospel is at odds with Islam on many things. Ebionites share many beliefs with Islam but differ in many others. I only quote it because I like these passages, but of course they are not evidence of anything since the gospel is a forgery. Full discussion here.

7 Comments:

Blogger Elizabeth said...

Yes, and when you look at the behavior of the kings of France, it really is hard to believe that they might have been descended from Jesus.

I find it interesting that the Davinci Code, which I recently saw, hasn't generated as much controversy as Scorsese's "Last Temptation of Christ," despite the fact the Davinci Code actually undermines one of the most basic beliefs of Christianity. Maybe the Catholic Church is trying to lie low after all their scandals.

June 5, 2006 at 12:55 AM

 
Blogger Silencer said...

I don't descent, even from a Prophet or God-made-man (from the christian view point) would make a difference. First of all, the blood of jesus doesn't literally run through them (this is assuming the impossible: that they were descendents of Jesus (pbuh) ).

second, if you count all the generations between them and Jesus, and call that number [n], then their genes are a variation of a variation of a variation of a variation (up to [n] times) of the genes of Jesus (pbuh). unless you think spiritual qualities are passed to the descendents of holy men, but i would disagree.


as to the other point, i think the vatican spoke out against me many times, and there was a lot of controversy about it in many countries. In india christians threatened to fast until death if it wasn't banned.

June 5, 2006 at 8:07 AM

 
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Did any of them fast to death?

June 7, 2006 at 7:03 PM

 
Blogger Silencer said...

dont know but i doubt it.

what ended up happening was that a 15-second warning was played before and after the movie, saying that it is purely fictional. this might have given the indians an excuse to keep themselves alive.

June 7, 2006 at 7:06 PM

 
Blogger Sadiq M. Alam said...

lovely

June 26, 2006 at 7:39 AM

 
Blogger Lau said...

Hey there,
I am looking into Islam as part of my degree and found this site really helpful. However I had to comment upon the quote where you write why else would Jesus say My God why have you forsaken me? As a Christian I would explain it like this- whilst Jesus was on the cross he was taking on the punishment (for the sins) of the world. Therefore he could not be joined with God (who is perfect at this time). So he cries out in the sheer pain of what he is going through... it is the only time he has been seperated from God. Before his death he says it is finished, this is what people said after they had paid a debt, this is because he had fulfilled the purpose of why he came to earth. If you have read a New Testament you will find the claims of who Jesus is differ significantly. Hope you find the Christian side interesting. Thanks for the Islam info, has been a good read! x

January 22, 2007 at 11:03 PM

 
Blogger Silencer said...

lau,

thank you for helping me understand the christian view of it. it does make sense.

i guess i was wrong to criticize it without knowing how the christians themselves explain it. so im glad you filled that missing part in for me.

i am trying to read the bible (to make me a better or more informed Muslim), but i kinda stopped. i should pick it up again, it's right next to my bed.

January 23, 2007 at 9:53 AM

 

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