Quran & the Meaning of Raf’a -2

In PART-1 we discussed the meaning of the word Raf’a in the light reputed works on Qur’anic lexicography and correct interpretation of the verses related to Eisa’ (A.S.) raf’a. Please refer back to part-1 and keeping in mind the original meanings of the word read the following.

The Qur’anic usage of Raf’a:

To chase the evil to its utter helplessness, let us briefly look into all the instances where the derivates of the root ‘RA-FA-AYN’ are used in the Qur’an. In total the words with the root ‘RA-FA-AYN’ are used in 29 verses and in the following lines each of these instances is tackled with.

1- In Qur’an 3:55 and 4:158 it is used with reference to Eisa (A.S.) as explained above.

2- In Qur’an 2:63, 2:93 and 4:154 it used regarding physical elevation of Mt. Tur (Mt. Sinai) like;

“And we raised (rafa’na) high above you the (Mount of) Tur.” (Qur’an 2:63)

It refers to a clear physical phenomenon as it is clear from Qur’an 7:171 and its exegesis in Tafasir of Ibn Kathir, Al-Raazi, Al-Zamakhshari, Aalusi and in Tafsir Jalalain to mention only a few.

3- In Qur’an  2:42, 6:83, 6:165, 12:76, 40:15, 43:32 and 58:11 it is used for exaltation and raising of ranks but in all these verses ‘ranks’ are explicitly given as the objects of Raf’a e.g..

“He hath raised you in ranks, some above others.” (Qur’an 6:165)

Here and in all such references Allah has used the word Raf’a (i.e. to raise) but then He clearly speaks of the دَرَجَاتٍ (ranks). If Raf’a by itself means ‘rise in ranks’ and ‘exaltation’ why would Allah then mention ‘ranks’ separately? Infact Raf’a only means ‘raising’ and ‘elevation’ and its object is determined by the context.

4- In Qur’an 2:127 it is used about Ibrahim (A.S.) raising the foundations of the Holy Ka’ba.

“And when Ibrahim was raising (yarf’a) up the foundations of the House.”

As it refers to corporeal thing we find a connotation of physical change in it.

5- In Qur’an 7:176 it refers to exaltation but the context (verse 175) shows it refers to exaltation through the revealed verses from Allah as stated by Al- Zamakhshari in his Tafsir. Thus the context clarifies that it relates to a non-physical phenomenon as revealed verses cannot make one ascend physically.

6- In Qur’an 12:100 it is used about the act of Yusuf (A.S.) making his parents to sit on a high seat.

“And he raised (raf’a) his parents up on the throne.”

This is clear from numerous narrations given in Tafsir Al-Tabari and Durr Manthur.

7- In Qur’an 13:2, 52:5, 55:7, 79:28 and 88:18 it is used for the physical elevation of the heavens e.g.

“Allah is the One who raised (raf’a) the heavens without pillars” (Qur’an 13:2)

8- In Qur’an 19:57 it is used about Idris (A.S.);

“We raised him (raf’anahu) to a high place.”

Scholars have differed about this nature of elevation in this verse. Some say it refers to his being lifted up alive into the heavens just like Eisa (A.S.) and some say it refers to being raised to a higher spiritual level. Al-Raazi who holds a prominent position among the greatest exponents of the Qur’an and has been recognized as a Mujaddid by Ahmadis also says;

فيه قولان : أحدهما : أنه من رفعة المنزلة … الثاني : أن المراد به الرفعة في المكان إلى موضع عال وهذا أولى ، لأن الرفعة المقرونة بالمكان تكون رفعة في المكان لا في الدرجة

“There are two opinions about it. First of them: that it refers to exaltation in rank … second: that rising refers to lifting to a lofty place and this is the stronger opinion for elevation is linked to place so it’s rise in place [of rest] and not rank.” (Tafsir Al-Kabir 10/322)

9- In Qur’an 24:36,

“(The guided people worship Allah) in the houses that Allah has permitted to be raised (turf’a), and where His name is recounted and His purity is pronounced, in the morning and in the evening.”

Scholars explain that either ‘houses’ refer to the mosques in which case Raf’a has the meaning same as in Qur’an 2:127 or it refers to the dwellings of the believers in which case it refers to their being exalted in honour. In this later case the context i.e. ‘where His name is recounted and His purity is pronounced’ determine Raf’a to be of a spiritual connotation.

10- In Qur’an 35:10,

“Whoever desires honor, then all honor lies with Allah alone. Towards Him ascends the pure word, and the righteous deed uplifts it (yarf’ahu).”

Here it simply means that righteous deeds lift the pure words to Allah so the object of Raf’a here is ‘pure word’ which is not a corporeal thing. This is clear from the narrations of Ibn Abbas (cf. Al-Tabari), Hassan and Qatada (cf. Durr Manthur).

11- In Qur’an 49:2;

“O you who believe, do not raise (la tarf’au) your voices above the voice of the Prophet.”

Clearly the object of Raf’a here is voice and no corporeal thing.

I2- In Quran 56:3 it is used with reference to the Doomsday;

“It will bring low (some); (and others) it will exalt (raafi’a);”

In the preceding verse (no. 2) it is said; “And there can be no denying of its befalling.” Thus the verse means owing to the fact that it cannot be denied so when it befalls it will bring low those who denied it stubbornly and will exalt those who believed in it in the light of the Divine Guidance. Thus it’s the context which determines its meaning of exaltation.

Let me also mention that some commentators have even said that this can refer to the system of the Heavens and the Earth going topsy-turvy on that Awful Day with heavens splitting asunder, stars falling down and mountains flying away like clouds. See the works of Shaukani, Al-Zamakhshari, Al-Baidhawi, Aalusi etc.

13- In Qur’an 56:34 it is used as an adjective;

“And on couches or thrones, raised high (marfu’a).”

The height of these thrones/couches is mentioned in physical terms in Hadīth.

Abu Sa’id (RA) reported from the Prophet (SAAW) about Allah’s Words: “And couches raised high” He said, “Their heights would be like the distance between Heaven and the Earth. And the distance between them is a journey of five hundred years.” (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 11659. Shaykh Hamzatul Zain classified it as Hasan)

Qur’an 88:13 refers to the same.

14- In Qur’an 80:14 it is used in reference to the Preserved Scripts of the Holy Qur’an;

“It is (recorded) in those scripts (of the Preserved Tablet) that are honoured, exalted (marfu’a), purified.” (Qur’an 80:13-14)

Al-Raazi says;

مرفوعة في السماء السابعة أو مرفوعة المقدار مطهر عن أيدي الشياطين

“Placed high in the seventh heaven or raised to a such height where they remain pure from the touch of devils.” (Tafsir Al-Kabir 16/361)

Al-Zamakhshari says;

{ مَّرْفُوعَةٍ { في السماء

marfu’a : [placed high] in the heaven,” (Tafsir Al-Kashshaf  7/234)

15- In Qur’an 94:4,

“And We raised (raf’ana) high your name.”

Clearly the object of Raf’a is the name (zikr) of the Holy Prophet (SAAW) and nothing of corporeal nature hence it does not mean physical elevation.

The purpose of this post is to strike at the root of all the possible Ahmadis arguments about the usage of the word elsewhere in Qur’an. Above details support our contention that Raf’a the way it used for Eisa (A.S.) can only be taken to mean physical ascension and no other usage of the word puts to doubt the basis of the Islamic Belief.

Coming up next is a discussion on Raf’a in the light of Ahadith.

Indeed Allah knows the best!

Quran & the Meaning of Raf’a -1

Ahmadis claim that the word Raf’a used in Qur’an with respect to Sayyidina Eisa (A.S.) means ‘rise in ranks’. This is what was said by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani himself and it is so translated by their leading ‘scholars’.

Following is the translation of the two verses in this regard i.e. Qur’an 3:55 and 4:158 by an Ahmadi, Sher Ali;

“When Allah said O’ Jesus I will cause thee to die (a natural death) and will exalt thee to myself …” (3:55)

“.. on the contrary Allah exalted him to Himself.” (4:158)

But this is most certainly erroneous as we shall see shortly.

In the following lines we understand the meaning of Raf’a in the light of the monumental works on lexicology and the context of the verses in question.

Meaning according to leading scholars:

1- Raghib Isfahani writes;

الرفع يقال تارة في الاجسام الموضوعة إذا أعليتها عن مقرها

Raf’a is sometimes used for corporeal things to mean raising or elevating it from its resting place.” (Mufradat Al-Qur’an 1/200)

2- Al-Feyumi writes;

فَالرَّفْعُ فِي الْأَجْسَامِ حَقِيقَةٌ فِي الْحَرَكَةِ وَالِانْتِقَالِ وَفِي الْمَعَانِي مَحْمُولٌ عَلَى مَا يَقْتَضِيهِ الْمَقَامُ

“So Raf’a in relation to corporeal things is used properly to denote motion and removal and in relation to ideal things it is accorded in meaning to what the case requires.” (Al-Misbah Al-Munir 3/443)

3- Edward William Lane says the same; infact he quotes the above two statements in his Arabic-English Lexicon part.3 p.287

Raf’a in relation to Eisa (A.S.) refers to both his body and soul and not just soul:

1- A careful but honest look into the wording of the Qur’an shows that Raf’a is used for the body of Eisa (A.S.) as well and not just his soul;

We see that in Qur’an 3:55;

إِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَا عِيسَى إِنِّي مُتَوَفِّيكَ وَرَافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ وَمُطَهِّرُكَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَجَاعِلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوكَ فَوْقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ

“When Allah said: .O Eisa , I am to take you in full and to raise you towards Myself, and to cleanse you of those who  disbelieve, and to place those who follow you above those who disbelieve up to the Day of Doom. Then to Me is your return, whereupon I shall judge between you in that over which you have differed.”

Just as مُطَهِّرُكَ (cleanse you) and اتَّبَعُوكَ (follow you) refer to the whole person, body as well as soul, رَافِعُكَ (raise you) also refers to both body and soul. There is no basis to maintain the difference between reference of pronouns of مُطَهِّرُكَ ,اتَّبَعُوكَ  and رَافِعُكَ. And as body is a corporeal thing so in the light of actual meaning of the word it most certainly denotes its displacement. This also leads us to the True Islamic belief that even مُتَوَفِّيكَ (take you) refers to the whole person, body as well as soul and not merely the soul.

Meaning of ‘Cleanse you’:

2-‘Cleanse you’ refers to Eisa’ (A.S.) departure from the evil company of the Jews. The very fact the verse reads ‘cleanse you of those who disbelieve’ shows it was physical separation and not spiritual for disbelievers could have never been close to the Mighty Prophet (A.S.) in spiritual sense. This cannot be a reference to his being relieved from the false accusations of Jews and Christians because context has nothing to do with it. It refers to the evil plot of the Jews (verse 54) and Allah’s plan to save him from their dirty trick. Same is evident in light of the scholarly opinions see e.g. Tafsir Kabir of Al-Raazi and Tafsir Kashshaf of Zamakhshari. Al-Raazi has been recognized as Mujaddids by Ahmadis and Al-Zamakhshari accepted as an authority by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad himself.

3- Similarly in Qur’an 4:157-158;

وَقَوْلِهِمْ إِنَّا قَتَلْنَا الْمَسِيحَ عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ وَمَا صَلَبُوهُ وَلَكِنْ شُبِّهَ لَهُمْ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ لَفِي شَكٍّ مِنْهُ مَا لَهُمْ بِهِ مِنْ عِلْمٍ إِلَّا اتِّبَاعَ الظَّنِّ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ يَقِينًا () بَلْ رَفَعَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَيْهِ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمً

“And for their saying, .We have certainly killed the Masih Eisa the son of Maryam, the Messenger of Allah., while in fact they did neither kill him, nor crucify him, but they were deluded by resemblance. Those who disputed in this matter are certainly in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it, but they follow whims. It is absolutely certain that they did not kill him. But Allah lifted him towards Himself. Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.”

Here again just as وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ (and they killed him not), وَمَا صَلَبُوهُ (nor crucify him) and وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ يَقِينًا (and for a surety they killed him not) refers to the body of Eisa (A.S.); رَفَعَهُ اللَّهُ (Allah lifted him) also refers to the body of Eisa (A.S.) and not just his soul. Again there is no reason to drop body from رَفَعَهُ اللَّهُ (Allah lifted him).

A possible objection killed:

4- Ahmadis may refer to Qur’an 80:21

أَمَاتَهُ فَأَقْبَرَهُ

“He made him die, and put him into grave,”

And say that in أَمَاتَهُ (He made him to die) the personal pronoun refers to both body and soul while in فَأَقْبَرَهُ (put him into grave) it refers to either of them; hence it is not necessary that personal pronouns in a single sentence always refer to one and the same being.

Without going into long discussion if أَمَاتَهُ (He made him to die) refers to merely body or both body and soul, we can prove this assertion to be wrong in light of the simple fact that that with أَمَاتَهُ (He made him to die) there comes a separation between body and soul so naturally the personal pronoun in the word to follow can refer to either of them and not both. This is because of the separation between the two. While in Qur’an 4:157-158 such a separation between body and soul is out of question for Allah in most explicit terms declares;

وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ يَقِينًا (And for a surety the killed him not). Thus there is no separation between the body and soul and hence it baseless to drop body from the personal pronoun in رَفَعَهُ اللَّهُ (Allah lifted him).

The context of the verse refutes the Ahmadi belief:

5- In Qur’an 4:157-158 first the Jewish belief of their having killed Eisa (A.S.) is repudiated by saying وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ (and they killed him not) and then the Christian belief is denounced by saying وَمَا صَلَبُوهُ (nor crucify him) and then the belief of his ascension has been testified by saying بَلْ رَفَعَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَيْهِ (But Allah lifted him towards Himself). Had the belief of his physical ascension been baseless Allah would have denounced it as well.

Scholars on Raf’a of Eisa (A.S.):

6- All the classical scholars have taken Raf’a about Eisa (A.S.) in the meaning of physical ascent. See Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Al-Kabir of Al-Raazi,  Aalusi, Shaukani’s Fath Al-Qadir, Jalalain, Durr Manthur, Baidhawi, Khazin etc.

Al-Raazi, Shaukani and Jalaluddin Suyuti have all been recognized as Mujaddids by Ahmadis.

Even Al-Zamakhshari takes the word Raf’a to mean physical ascension of Eisa (A.S.). See his Tafsir Kashshaf 1/280 under 3:55)

And Al-Zamakhshari is the one whom Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani himself praised and said;

“Matchless scholar of the Arabic language who cannot be disputed with.” (Baraheen Ahmadiyyah Part V p.381included in RK- vol.21)

So had there been any possibility of taking Raf’a to mean other than physical ascension this ‘Matchless Scholar’ would have done for sure. Will some Ahmadi now dispute with an authority reckoned as undisputable by their own pseudo-prophet?

Was raf’a in response to the idea of ‘cursed crucifixion’?

7- Ahmadis also try to suggest that as Jews in light of Book of Deuteronomy 21:22-23 held that the one crucified is the one accursed so to refute their belief Allah exalted Eisa (A.S.) in rank.

This again is a twisted argument;

a- Firstly seeking evidence with Biblical reference is allowed only when it goes in line with Qur’an and Sunnah but there is no support for such an idea in the entire Islamic rubric.

b- Even according to Deut. 21:22-23 only one crucified for a sin punishable by death is accursed and surely this was never the case with Eisa (A.S.).

c- In Qur’an 4:157-158 Allah strongly rejects the notion of his death and then says that ‘But he was raised’ this bringing in contrast to his idea of being killed. Is ‘rise in ranks’ opposite to being killed? Were the prophets killed unjustly cursed or something? Is giving ones life in the way of Allah as good as being cursed?

d-  Just two verses prior to it Qur’an mentions the killing of the Prophets by the Jews;

“And for their slaying of the prophets unjustly …” (Qur’an 4:155)

If raf’a refers to ‘being exalted’ and ‘rise in ranks’ then why was the same not mentioned about other Prophets killed unjustly? Why the personal pronoun attached with raf’a is singular? Were they not even martyrs holding the high office of prophethood?

e- The sole reason raf’a was not mentioned along with earlier Prophets is that it refers to physical ascension which happened in the case of Eisa (A.S.) only!

Where is the mention of sky?

8- Ahmadis say these verses are about Eisa’ (A.S.) being exalted to Allah and ask as to where is the mention of the sky in these verses?

The fact is that as per the Qur’anic usage the verses mean ‘being raised to sky’. The following references help in this regard;

“Have you become fearless of Him who is in the sky if He makes you sink into the Earth.” (Qur’an 67:16)

“Or, have you become fearless of Him who is in the sky if He looses a violent wind with stones against you?” (Qur’an 67:17)

And whenever the Holy Prophet (SAAW) waited for the revelation from Allah he looked up towards the sky;

“We have been seeing you turning your face to the heavens.” (Qur’an 2:144)

9- Having proved that being raised to Allah means ascension to the Heavens, will some Ahmadi explain if Raf’a means a rise in rank what is the purpose of Allah saying ‘raise you towards Myselfand the words ‘Allah lifted him towards Himself’?


All the above details, testimonies of celebrated scholars and study into Qur’an, plainly establish the fact that the word Raf’a with reference to Eisa (A.S.) means physical ascension.

May Allah guide us all to the Truth!

Next we shall look into the other instances in Qur’an where the word Raf’a is used.


Hadith & Alleged Death of Jesus -8 (Descent in the Night of Mi’raj?)

Yet another Qadiani twisting of plain things:

A hadith about the Miraj records:

“Then the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) descended in Jerusalem, along with all the other prophets. At the time of prayers, he lead them all in prayer” (Tafisir on Kathir, Urdu ed., vol. III, p. 23).

Among “all” the prophets is included Jesus. Had he, unlike other prophets, been alive physically in heaven, his “descent” to Jerusalem would have been with his material body. In that case, he would have had to rise up to heaven physically a second time. But the Quran mentions only one raf (“exaltation” which is misunderstood as “rising up to heaven”) of Jesus!

This difficulty does not arise if we believe, as is clear from the various hadith about Mi`raj, that Jesus was in the same condition (i.e. dead) as were all the other prophets seen in the vision.

The Truth:

1) There are just two possibilities, when the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) met the Prophets in Jerusalem during his miraculous night journey either all of them were present there in their bodily forms or he just met their spirits. But one thing is established, all of them were in similar condition and form as there is no evidence to say that Jesus (عليه السلام) was an exception in any way.

2) If he simply met their spirits i.e. he met the spirit of Jesus (عليه السلام) it doesn’t mean he was dead because  we do know from Quran and Hadith that even when a person is not dead his soul can move. As in sleep;

اللَّهُ يَتَوَفَّى الْأَنْفُسَ حِينَ مَوْتِهَا وَالَّتِي لَمْ تَمُتْ فِي مَنَامِهَا فَيُمْسِكُ الَّتِي قَضَى عَلَيْهَا الْمَوْتَ وَيُرْسِلُ الْأُخْرَى إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآَيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

Allah fully takes away the souls (of the people) at the time of their death, (and (of) those who do not die, in their sleep. Then He withholds those on whom He had decreed death, and sends others back, up to an appointed term. Surely, in this, there are signs for a people who ponder.” (Quran 39:42)

3) Even if the Prophets were physically present, there is no issue still because the ayah about ‘Rafa’ i.e. Ascension talks of one particular instance and about Jesus (عليه السلام) only. It does not rule out the possibility of the same thereafter and that too at an event in which he was no exception.

4) Moreover on these lines we have a counter question for Qadianis.

On April 7th 1908 an American couple came to interview MGA. Following are their last two questions and the response by MGA;

Q: In what way have you seen Christ, have you seen him in the bodily form?

A: Yes, in the bodily form and clearly while awake.

Q: We have also seen Christ and see him [still] but it’s in the spiritual sense. Have you seen him just as we do?

A: No, I have seen him in physical form and in clear wakefulness.

(Malfoozat [New Ed.] vol.5 p.521)

The question here is, if Jesus (عليه السلام) had died how MGA could see him in bodily form and that too in wakefulness and not merely in a vision? Qadianis believe he has been buried in some grave. So did he rise back to life to meet MGA and will die again to come back to life with rest of the people on the Final Day? Does it not contradict Quran which mentions only one death after a person is born?

Truly absurd and baseless are their contentions!

May Allah guide all!