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Easter in Islam: Christ is risen and will return

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Easter is celebrated to varying degrees in the Islamic world, ranging from outright illegal in Saudi Arabia to being openly celebrated in some of the Gulf States and the Far East. A natural question is, just where does Islam diverge from Christianity on the matter of Jesus’ AS1 crucifixion and resurrection? The Qur’an says, 

[4:157] That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not

[4:158] Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise

[4:159] And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment he will be a witness against them

Here, the Qur’an states clearly that Jesus AS was not killed nor crucified, but was indeed raised to Heaven. Therefore, Easter has no direct analogue in Islam since it is the celebration of his resurrection. However, as the third verse above explains, Jesus will also play a role on Judgement Day. 
There is of course some historical evidence that supports the crucifixion as a recorded event, including from some Roman sources. And the verse in the Qur’an itself says quite expplicitly that “so it was made to appear to them”. So it seems plausible that someone was crucified, unless it was all a divine illusion. One of the mainstream views among muslim theologians is that another was crucified in Jesus’ AS place; either as punishment (likely Judas) or as a willing martyr (often cited as Simon). There are also various minority views, in which Jesus AS did die or achieved separation of spirit from his body. The Wikipedia article “Islamic views of Jesus’ death” provides a comprehensive overview of the various interpretations. 
So, as in so many other things, Islam and Christianity do indeed differ but also agree in important ways. As far as both faiths are concerned, Jesus AS did ascend to Heaven. Literally, Christ is risen. As far as Jesus’ AS return, we can differ on when, but the key is that the return itself is agreed upon. What better sign of God’s love for his Creation?
And it should be noted that any muslim claiming that Easter is un-Islamic is quite wrong. There’s enough to celebrate about Jesus’s AS ascension to Heaven for muslims as for Christians on this day. 
Happy Easter, everyone!
1 The acronym AS appended to Jesus’ AS name is short for “alayhis salaam” which translates as “blessings upon him”.


  • Abdullah Hashim

    Honestly, some people write but have no clue what they are writing about. It would be better if you left your keyboard alone.

  • Muhiyaden

    Is this article supposed to be a Joke? This is completely a misleading and mis-informing article. Where is the writer getting this unfounded information from?. Or is the writer making it up?. Abdullah Hashim, I am in a complete agreement with you. The person who wrote this article is utterly clueless

  • mike legrande

    jesus christ suffered and died on the cross, and God raised him from the dead. no one else could have been on the cross but Jesus.the Bible(Gods eternal word )states this very clearly. it was not allah or buddah or any other so called god or prophet, because there is no other god,except the god of israel, the god who created the heavens and the earth, amen.

  • Leilyah

    “Honestly, some people write but have no clue what they are writing about.”
    Exactly!! People like Abdullah and muhiyaden, should throw keyboards away, never touch them. Oh, the lack of good-will stinks!!
    Happy Easter, Aziz!

  • Leilyah

    Mike, You shouldnt have a keyboard either.

  • Your Name

    I have been married to a Muslim Immam for 12yrs NEVER NEVER has anyone at the masjiq that he resides over that is 30 families from various countries Turkey,India Iran etc. have EVER celebrated Easter, Christmas, Good Friday Honaaka or any religion if it did not concern ALLAH and then I believe it its only Ramadan and Hajj that are the big celebrations. And I have never heard of any other Muslim communities celibrating them either, it is just SO un Islamic. I am not Muslim so excuse my spelling but G-d is Great peace be upon him.

  • Your Name

    I have been married to a resident Imman of the Center of Islam in Redding Calif for 12 yrs. before that we came from San Diego. I am not Muslim but I attend alot of functions with my husband,and I have NEVER NEVER heard of one community celebrate Easter, Christmas, Hanakka, the only things I know they actually “celebrate” would be Ramadon and Hajj, there are a few more but I’m not not familier with them. Our community consists of a varity of countries such as Turkey, India, Iran etc, so we get alot of different views of the way others practice Islam, we have approx 30 families in our community and growing stronger every week. So with that said I believe the brother needs to dig deeper into the Quran or ask a real Muslim about such subjects. G-d is Great Peace be upon him….

  • Brian

    I recently viewed “Slumdog Millionaire” I noticed small clues that the 2 brothers were Muslim and by the end of the film I was convinced.
    The older brother as he dies at the end says “God is Great” and later at the very end of the film it says ” It is written?” What does that phrase mean.
    Someone told me that Muslims believe in free will but also believe that God has intentions and if we do God’s will His intentions for us will manifest. If we go against God’s will his good intentions for us will not manifest…instead we will reap that which is wrong for us.
    Is this true. Please advise….bdoon51@yahoo.com

  • Noor

    very interesting, it’s good to focus on the middle ground between faiths and what we both agree on.
    thank you for sharing.

  • Andrew

    Aziz:
    I would commend you for your open-mindedness.
    However, I would also note that your views represent a minority view within Islam.
    As you rightly state, Saudi Arabia (a country that has as its legal system Islamic law) and many other Islamic bodies of thought reject completely your position.
    In many Islamic nations, to espouse your views openly and loudly would be to take a real personal risk.

  • Aziz Poonawalla

    Thats a very strange thing to say, Andrew. What exactly do you think my views are? All I have done is point out our muslim perspective on Jesus and his ascension to heaven. We too can say “he is risen” though by it we mean “to heaven” and not “from the dead”. In the spirit of commonality I adopt the terminology but do not surrender our interpretation.
    I frankly dont see where I have been “open minded” – if anything I am being quite conservative in stating explicitly the difference between Islam and Christianity on this matter.
    Frankly, Easter is as good a time as any for muslims to honor the Prophet Jesus AS. But we should do so in knowledge of our own distinct beliefs.

  • Abdullah

    Islam has a few things in common with Christianity, but mostly the two diverge very sharply — both in belief as well as in morality. For Moslems, Christians are the most monstrous of blasphemers and the most wicked of people because the Koran says so. The greatest sin in Islam is attributing “partners” to Allah, such as to say that God has a son. This sin is this only sin that Allah will never forgive.
    Next, compare these:
    Christianity — Jesus is the Son of God
    Islam — To say that God has a son is the most monstrous of blasphemy
    Christianity — Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
    Islam — Believers, be harsh unto the unbelievers, but merciful unto one another.
    Christianity — Go forth and preach the Gospel to every living creature.
    Islam — Make war on the unbelievers until Islam reigns supreme in the world.
    Christianity — Turn the other cheek.
    Islam — Retaliation is decreed for you in blood: a free man for a free man; a slave for a slave; and a female for a female.
    Christianity — Thou shalt not kill.
    Islam — It is unlawful for a believer to kill another believer, accidents excepted.
    Christianity — Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto the Lord what is the Lord.
    Islam — Everything is for Allah.

  • Naahid

    Abdullah, that is such an incredibly skewed view of Islamic views of Christianity I’m not sure where to start. Your list of allegedly Islamic opinions are not at all correct to the point of apparent trolling. Christians are Monotheists and People of the Book and are to be treated as brothers and sisters.

  • khadija

    I think Islamic people should celebrate the ascend into heaven which the quaran DOES say happened…..how cares about the mindless stories humans have created surrounding this special time in history…..
    Abdullah- that is exactly why Christians believe muslims to be bad and corrupt people….revenge and killing for allah are not suppose to be good and acceptable……do unto to others as you would have them do unto you…IS how you should live your life…..maybe YOU should read the bible and do some self reflection!
    I was born and baptised CATHOLIC, and PROUD of it……i converted to Islam when i married a Pakistani man and i’m proud of that too because i am a GOOD muslim….one who does NOT believe in any points Abdullah made……do not listen to him anyone…he is what most people would call an extremist…….GOD WILl punish those….

  • http://www.youtube.com/dawahaddict Dawah Addict

    Bismillah Alhamdulillah wa Salatu wa Salaam ‘ala Rasoolullah.
    While it is definitely important to show the commonalities between Christianity and Islam, it definitely goes too far to say that Muslims should celebrate Easter, or that Easter is not un-Islamic. I mean, it’s a celebration of an event that God says did not happen, and in a more general way it is a celebration of shirk (idolatry). That’s definitely not Islamic. I think a better way to present Easter is as an opportunity for conversation. Should we actually celebrate Easter? Of course not, but it can be a great time to have a conversation with our Christian friends, family, or co-workers about Islam and our beliefs about Jesus son of Mary (as).
    Also, side note, I think it’s very obvious that this “Abdullah” character is not actually Muslim and is only here to create fitna.

  • http://belief.com Goalsham

    100% support to Aziz and 0% to Abdullah.Jesus AS was the one of the prophets of Moslem and Moslem should join in celebration.Moslems do not celebrates any of the prophets including Muhammed AS.Both Moslems and Christians believe Jesus AS was on Cross then differ the view after that.
    Agree again on we see Jesus on judgement day.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Tracy

    People should read the Quran and think about the actual quotes cited in the essay. What the author of the essay is saying is exactly what Mohammed said. All 3 faiths who believe in the same God should look at the values taught by all. Love and forgiveness and faith.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment AA

    Another Muslim perspective.

    “They Killed Him Not”: The Crucifixion in Shi‘a Isma‘ili Islam

    http://ismailimail.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/they-killed-him-not-the-crucifixion-in-shia-ismaili-islam/

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mandy

    Seriously pple we need 2 get a grip-at the end of the day we live by faith,these are things of which were written by ppl like us,whether they were telling tales or not we know not for sure. So who r we to judge each other according to Religion-mere beliefs. Noone is to say whose right or wrong, its any man’s game. So why cant we let each other’s beliefs be..without criticising. Do u think God would be proud of such arguments & criticsm, and u calk yourselves good followers?? Stop with the childishness,let God be the judge & in the meantime why dont we do good for the sake of humanity !!!!!!

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