The Arabic word Rafi means to raise or to exalt. It is also used for raising/exaltation in the physical things. In accordance to our faith it is God’s Being alone that is truly Al Rafi (the Exalter) and from Him comes all exaltation. God is Al Rafi; His station is at the lofty heights that human consciousness cannot encompass. Conversely, He is also very near and is present everywhere, yet He is far away and has cited the words ‘Rafi ud darajaat’ (The Exalter of ranks) (40:16) for Himself. There exists not a higher station than His, therefore He is also Lord of the Throne.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that the Divine Throne is a most remote creation and is equal to the heavens, the earth and all surfaces. God forbid, it is not that the Throne of God is closer to the heavens and further from the earth. In Surah Al Hadid it is stated: ‘…And He is with you wheresoever you may be...’ (57:5). In Surah Al Mujadalah it is stated: ‘… There is no secret counsel of three, but He is their fourth…’ (58:8). It is stated in Surah Qaf: ‘… and We are nearer to him than even his jugular vein…’ (50:17). Huzur said just as the Word of God elucidates that despite occupying His Throne He is extremely close. His attributes are more manifest in those who are near Him, He assures them of His nearness and saves and protects them from their opponents and exalts them.
In another place the Promised Messiah wrote with reference to verse 3 of Surah Al Rad; ‘Allah is He Who raised up the heavens without any pillars that you can see. Then He settled Himself on the Throne...’ (13:3). He explained that this verse may raise the doubt that God was not ‘settled’ on His Throne earlier. The answer to this is that God’s Throne is not a physical entity, it is a state of His Being most remote. He created everything and gave light to the sun, the moon and the stars. He created man in His own image and infused His noble qualities in him. Thus He created an allegory for Himself but by stating that He settled on His Throne, He declared that He is most Exalted.
Huzur said thus is our God, Who is the Master of the heavens and despite this supremely elevated, high station He is closer than the jugular vein. Though He is closer than the jugular vein, man’s sight cannot reach Him. He manifests Himself to those who are close to Him. He states: ‘Eyes cannot reach Him but He reaches the eyes…’ (6:104). God is Unseen and there can never be any concept of His physical being in any sense at all. The erroneous Christian creed gives Jesus (on whom be peace) the divine status. God has no needs, Jesus (on whom be peace) and his mother ate food, their passing away is noted and it is thus evident that one who has the need to eat food cannot be God.
Due to their lack of knowledge or in following the misguided religious leaders a large section of the Muslim world infer from the Quranic reference of the word rafi used for Jesus (on whom be peace) as his physical ascendance to heaven. They maintain that he will return to the earth to reform the world. Earlier, he was to come in the fourteenth century [of the Muslim calendar] but now it is said that he will come nearer to the Day of Judgement. Their erroneous inference supports the Christian creed. Some from the educated section of the Muslim world now try to refute this idea. Recently the Iranian president gave a statement to the Christian world also gave the impression that he believed him to have passed away. He had advised the Christian world in light of the teaching of Jesus (on whom be peace). Huzur said this is quite separate from the argument of how much is the Iranian president himself on the guided path. Huzur said he is also told by our Jama’at in Turkey that many new translations of the Holy Qur’an interpret the relevant verses as Jesus (on whom be peace) having died.
Huzur said a non-Ahmadi person from Pakistan came to visit him recently. He said that the death of Jesus is not proven from the Holy Qur’an. Huzur gave him the references. He said the time was limited so he would make a return visit to discuss this. Huzur said it has been many months but he has not returned. Huzur the erroneous commentators have so instilled the wrong idea especially after the advent of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). However, Huzur said those who are pious natured, regardless of their religious belief, are guided by God. Recently an English Christian who is either finished PhD or is undertaking it is very interested in Ahmadiyyat. He told Huzur that he did not accept the divinity of Jesus (on whom be peace) or the concept of penance and this is reason why he has come close to Islam. Huzur said the pious among the Christians are getting closer to the truth whereas those who ought to be defending it are corroborating the opponents. The many Christians who are coming in the fold of Islam through Ahmadiyyat consider Jesus to be a man and a messenger of God who lived and passed away from this world.
The Muslims base their creed on the following verses of the Holy Qur’an:
‘When Allah said, ‘O Jesus, I will cause thee to die a natural death and will exalt thee to Myself, and will clear thee from the charges of those who disbelieve, and will place those who follow thee above those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, and I will judge between you concerning that wherein you differ.’ (Surah Al e Imran, verse 56).
‘And their saying, ‘We did kill the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah;’ whereas they slew him not, nor crucified him, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified; and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it; they have no definite knowledge thereof, but only follow a conjecture; and they did not convert this conjecture into a certainty;’ (Surah Al Nisa, verse 158).
In explaining the first verse the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that God has stated four of His actions in the right sequence here. That is, He caused Jesus’ death, exalted him to Himself, cleared him of the charges of the disbelievers and placed those who followed him over the disbelievers. Huzur said obviously the sequence of events has been cited in the right order. One who is called to God first has to experience death; it is after this that he is exalted. As verse 29 of Surah Al Fajr states: ‘Return to thy Lord well pleased with Him and He well pleased with thee’. God caused Jesus (on whom be peace) to die and then exalted him. It is said about the pious that God exalts them to Himself. God is everywhere, why is then assumed that these people physically ascend to the sky? God said to Jesus (on whom be peace) that He would clear him from the charges brought against him. This refers to the Jews who wanted him to die an accursed death [on the Cross, according to their scriptures]. This Quranic verse gives Jesus (on whom be peace) the glad-tiding that he would die a physical death and will be raised to God and be freed of all charges. The Arabic word in the verse ‘tawaffi’ overwhelmingly means a natural death as opposed to due to any injury etc.
Huzur said unless the Quranic commentary by the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) is read with a pure heart one would not understand it.
Huzur explained that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has also expounded that the prejudiced religious leaders of the current age, just like the [ancient] Jews, interpolate the Word of God in the aforementioned verse to prove that Jesus is alive. They say that the sequence in which ‘natural death’ and ‘being exalted’ [in 3:56] are cited is not correct and that death should have been mentioned after being exalted. It is most regrettable that they have marred the most eloquent Word of God. Despite of their Jewish-like effort they have not succeeded.
Huzur further related the Promised Messiah’s (on whom be peace) writings with reference to Hadhrat Ibn e Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) who was a first rate commentator of the Holy Qur’an to establish that Jesus (on whom be peace) died a natural death. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) declared that each citation of the word tawaffi in the Holy Qur’an signifies natural death. He said if Jesus (on whom be peace) was to ascend to heaven the phraseology would have been different. It would have first cited death, then bringing back to life, then being raised to the heavens. However, this is not how the sequence of the Quranic verse is. It therefore proves that Jesus (on whom be peace) died a natural death and the word ‘rafi’ signifies raising of his soul.
Huzur said the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has written exhaustively on the subject of the death of Jesus (on whom be peace). May God give the Muslims sense to abandon the ‘ascending to heaven’ concept and follow the Messiah of Muhammad and fulfil the word of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and take their greetings – Salaam – to the Messiah. Ahmadis too should be mindful that it is through the books of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) that they will find arguments, proofs and reasoning to prove death of Jesus (on whom be peace).
Huzur said some people who have assimilated in the environment here are of the thought that the books of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) may be difficult to comprehend, so a separate literature should be prepared. Huzur said that may very well be done but it should be based on the writings of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). It is wrong to think that because the books are difficult to understand the youth cannot study them and they are only meant for the people of the sub-continent. Huzur said it is for the Community and for the auxiliary organisations to draw attention towards these writings other wise gradually we could drift away from them. The greatness of the original words of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) cannot be generated in summaries etc. His writings are being translated and five volumes of ‘Essence of Islam’ are ready. The English-reading section of the Community should read these. No matter much is lost in translation the books that are translated should be read. Huzur hoped that the translation of ‘Baraheen e Ahmadiyya’ [the Promised Messiah’s magnum opus] will be soon ready. Those who read Urdu should have the complete set of the Promised Messiah’s (on whom be peace) books. New editions are been published and it is hope some will be available at the Jalsa Salana, InshaAllah. Huzur said it is essential to read the writings of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) in order to truly understand the Holy Qur’an. May God enable us all to do this.