Hadith & Alleged Death of Jesus -1 (Meaning of Tawaffa)

Qadianis use a Hadith from Sahih Bukhari in an attempt to support to their false belief regarding Jesus’ (PBUH) death. Following is an excerpt from a Qadiani site:

It is reported from Ibn Abbas that the Holy Prophet said in a sermon:… Then I shall say, as did that righteous servant of God (i.e. Jesus): I was a witness of them so long as I was among them, but when Thou didst cause me to die (tawaffaitani) Thou wast Watcher over them’… ‘
The last words of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) (`I was a witness of them …’) are taken from a verse of the Holy Quran where Jesus is quoted as replying in these very words on the Day of Judgement. It is agreed by all Muslims that, when these words are used by the Holy Prophet in the above hadith, the meaning of tawaffaitani occurring there is “Thou didst cause me to die”. So, obviously they have the same meaning when used by Jesus, i.e., Jesus was taken from his people by death, not by rising alive to heaven.

The Truth:

Below is the complete text of the Hadith and its true explanation.

عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا قَالَ خَطَبَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ … وَإِنَّهُ يُجَاءُ بِرِجَالٍ مِنْ أُمَّتِي فَيُؤْخَذُ بِهِمْ ذَاتَ الشِّمَالِ فَأَقُولُ يَا رَبِّ أُصَيْحَابِي فَيُقَالُ إِنَّكَ لَا تَدْرِي مَا أَحْدَثُوا بَعْدَكَ فَأَقُولُ كَمَا قَالَ الْعَبْدُ الصَّالِحُ {وَكُنْتُ عَلَيْهِمْ شَهِيدًا مَا دُمْتُ فِيهِمْ فَلَمَّا تَوَفَّيْتَنِي كُنْتَ أَنْتَ الرَّقِيبَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَنْتَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ} فَيُقَالُ إِنَّ هَؤُلَاءِ لَمْ يَزَالُوا مُرْتَدِّينَ عَلَى أَعْقَابِهِمْ مُنْذُ فَارَقْتَهُمْ

Ibn Abbas: The Prophet (PBUH) delivered a sermon and said, “…Lo! Some men from my followers will be brought and taken towards the left side, whereupon I will say, ‘O Lord, (these are) my companions!’ It will be said, ‘You do not know what new things they introduced (into the religion) after you.’ I will then say as the righteous pious slave, Jesus, said, ‘I was a witness over them while I dwelt among them when Thou didst take me up Thou wast the Watcher over them, and You are the Witness to all things.’ (5: 117) Then it will be said, ‘(O Muhammad) these people never stopped to apostate since you left them.”
(Bukhari, Kitabul Tafsir, Hadith 4259)

Qadianis argue that as the word تَوَفَّيْتَنِي ‘tawaffaitani‘ with reference to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) means physical death, it must have the same meaning with regards to Prophet Jesus (PBUH). But this is simply absurd and here I explain why;

1) When Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, , I will say just as the pious slave Jesus said..’, clearly he sought a parallel only in the sayings and the not their whole context and implications. This is just as if someone who has been extremely successful in debating various religions and cults on a certain forum, when asked to comment about his achievements, pronounces;  ‘I would rather say just as Julius Caesar said, ‘I came, I saw, I conquered.’ Most certainly he does not mean that he actually won a battle against the Army of Pharnaces II of Pontus, or does he?

2) The word كَمَا ‘kama‘ between two phrases does not make them exactly same. For instance, in another Hadith we read;

عن أبي واقد الليثي أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لما خرج إلى حنين مر بشجرة للمشركين يقال لها ذات أنواط يعلقون عليها أسلحتهم فقالوا يا رسول الله اجعل لنا ذات أنواط كما لهم ذات أنواط فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم سبحان الله هذا كما قال قوم موسى اجعل لنا إلها كما لهم آلهة والذي نفسي بيده لتركبن سنة من كان قبلكم

Abu Waqid Laythi (RA) reported that when the Prophet (PBUH) went out for the Battle of Hunayn, he passed by a tree belonging to the polytheists. It was known as Dhat Anwat. They used to hang down their weapons over it. The companions said, “O Messenger of Allah, make for us a Dhat Anwat as there is for them a Dhat Anwat.” He said, “Glory be to Allah! This is just as what the people of Moses (PBUH) said, ‘Make for us a god as there is for them a god.’ By Him who has my soul in His hand, you will perpetrate the practices of the people gone before you.” (Jami’ Tirmidhi, Kitabul Fitan, Hadith 2180. Albani classified it as Sahih)

In this Hadith Holy Prophet (PBUH) termed the wish of the pious companions to have a tree nominated to hang weapons on, akin to the wish of the people of Moses (PBUH) to have pagan deity like a certain people. Obviously the Prophet (PBUH) did not mean that both wishes were exactly same rather, it only pointed to the same spirit of following the ways of disbelievers.

In the same way the Hadith in question does not mean that both Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them both, experienced same kind of ‘tawaffa’. It rather points out to the fact that both were not present among their people when they deviated.

3) Further, it is NOT necessary that ‘tawaffaitani’ means the same everywhere. According to linguists and scholars e.g. Abu Al-Baqa and Ibn Taymiya ‘tawaffa‘ has various meanings i.e. 1) To take in full, 2) Sleep and 3) Death. And the fact that one word may have different meanings for different subjects is proved from Quran. Infact in Surah Ma’ida’s same passage we read that Jesus (PBUH) will say;

فَقَدْ عَلِمْتَهُ تَعْلَمُ مَا فِي نَفْسِي وَلَا أَعْلَمُ مَا فِي نَفْسِكَ

“Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine [heart].” (Quran 5:116)

Here same word i.e. نَفْسِ ,translated as heart or mind, is used for Allah (SWT) and Jesus (PBUH). Does that mean that نَفْسِ (i.e. heart/mind) of Allah (SWT) and Jesus (PBUH) is exactly of same nature?

[Exactly is our Lord above all what they suggest]

Or as we read in Quran 33:43;

هُوَ الَّذِي يُصَلِّي عَلَيْكُمْ وَمَلَائِكَتُهُ

“He it is who sends salat (His blessings) on you, and his angels too (ask Allah to bless and forgive you)”

Most certainly here صلاة has different meanings with regards to Allah (SWT) and the angels. Ibn Kathir writes:

والصلاة من الله ثناؤه على العبد عند الملائكة، … وقال غيره: الصلاة من الله: الرحمة … وأما الصلاة من الملائكة، فبمعنى الدعاء للناس والاستغفار

“Allah’s Salah means that He praises His servant before the angels …others said: “Allah’s Salah means mercy.” … Salah from the angels means their supplication and seeking forgiveness for people.” (Ibn Kathir 6/436 under Surah 33 Ayah 43)

Similarly the word ‘tawaffa‘ does not mean exactly same for Jesus (PBUH) and Holy Prophet (PBUH). This goes perfectly in line with the fact that same word can have different meanings in different contexts and concerning different persons.

4) On the Qadiani lines of the argument a Christian may say that perhaps Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also died through crucifixion like Jesus as the same word is used for both of them. He can only be answered that it is known from other evidences as to how the Holy Prophet (PBUH) died. Similarly from evidences other then this verse we know that ‘tawaffa‘ of Jesus (PBUH) was different from that of Holy Prophet (PBUH).

5) As to the fact that Holy Prophet (PBUH) has used the past tense, it is because Holy Prophet (PBUH) will say this on the Day of Judgment and as the saying of Jesus (PBUH) has already been told in the Quran so it was in his and the listeners prior knowledge when he uttered these words.

6) The Holy Prophet (PBUH) will recite this verse as the implication is exactly same i.e. neither Jesus (PBUH) was present among his people when they got involved in heresies (Trinity etc) not was Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) present while some from his Ummah deviated and some even if went out of the pale of Islam by believing in false prophets. Both went away from their people before they were lead astray.

* Insha’Allah more refutations of Qadiani arguments from Ahadith about death of Jesus (PBUH) to follow soon.

INDEED ALLAH KNOWS THE BEST!