Ahmadi Muslims hold the unique belief that Jesus (peace be upon him) survived the crucifixion and travelled towards India to continue his ministry among the Lost Tribes of Israel. Furthermore, they claim that his tomb, containing his body, has been recently re-discovered in India where it can be seen to this day. Ahmadi Muslims also assert that this belief is not only upheld by the Holy Quran and the Sayings of Muhammad sa, but even by the Holy Bible itself.
Life before Crucifixion
Ahmadi Muslims believe that Jesus as was a Prophet of God born to the Virgin Mary and was the Messiah of the Israelites as foretold by Moses as.
- Virgin Birth: The miracle of his birth is affirmed by The Holy Quran.
Mary — A Righteous Servant of God
The Holy Quran affirms the virgin birth of Jesus, and repudiates the notion that Mary was not pious and that her birth was illegitimate. The Quran narrates Mary's statement to an angel: "How can I have a child when no man has touched me and neither have I been unchaste?" (19:21)
A Very Rare Phenomenon
The virgin birth of Jesus was a miracle, no doubt. But according to the Ahmadiyya Muslim view, miracles always work in accordance with God's laws, no matter how limited our understanding of those laws are. Modern science has only just begun to study this rare phenomenon.
For example, In lower animals rare instances of virgin births have been well documented, representing a complete surprise to zoologists. There are even reports — albeit scattered — of fatherless human conceptions.
Of course, research continues and the mention of these phenomena is only given here to demonstrate that what was once considered impossible can indeed be plausible.
- Son of God: Jesus used this metaphor for all believers, not just himself.
- His Miracles: A sign of his truth, like the many other prophets of God.
- His Mission: Confined to the twelve tribes of Israel, not the whole world.
Survival from Crucifixion
Ahmadi Muslims claim that Jesus as survived the crucifixion because he was taken down from the cross in a state of unconsciousness — not death.
- Sign of Jonah: Jesus foretold he would survive just like Jonah did.
The Greatest Miracle of Jesus
Jesus prophecied that his fate would be like that of prophet Jonah.
"A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:39,40)
Survival — Not Revival
The sign of Jonah is related in the Bible:
The Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. (Jonah 1:17, 2:1,2)
The sign given to the Ninevites by Jonah was he was saved from certain death. He stayed for a period of time in danger, but ultimately recovered. He went alive into the belly of the fish, stayed alive for days, and came out alive.
The same fate was prophecied for Jesus. He would enter the tomb alive, stay alive for days, and come out alive. If Jesus had died, there would be little resemblance to Jonah.
The story of Jonah is one of survival — not revival.
- Blood and Water: Gushed from the spear wound, a sign of a beating heart.
- Prayer at Gethsemane: He prayed to be rescued from death on the cross.
Prayer in the Garden
When it appeared that there was no way to avoid the devious plans of the Jews to have him crucified, Jesus prayed fervently 'to remove the cup' of death upon the cross (Mark 14:36).
Jesus had full confidence that his prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane would be accepted as he himself told his disciples:
"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer" (Matthew 21:22).
"Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks. You parents- if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Of if they ask for fish, do you give them a snake?" (Matthew 7:7-9)
God Accepted His Prayer
The prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was the most important and grand prayer offered by Jesus and portrayed quite vividly in the Gospels. It is inconceivable that the prayer did not reach the Divine Throne, especially as Jesus taught his disciples the power of prayer.
Indeed we need not guess. The Gospels furnish evidence that his prayer was accepted.
The Gospel of Luke states an angel came from Heaven "strengthening him" (Luke 22:43). This indicates God had heard his heart-felt prayer.
After his supplication in the garden, when Jesus was apprehended, one of his followers drew a sword, struck a servant of a high priest and cut off his ear. Jesus sternly rebuked him and said:
"Those who use the sword will be killed by the sword. Don't you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly?"(Matthew 26:52-53).
This shows Jesus was now in perfect contentment that his prayer was accepted and all could be left now in the hands of God, with no need for active self-defence.
Finally, when death looked imminent and he was in agony on the cross he cried "Eli Eli lama sabachthani"* (Matthew 27:45-46) because he did not expect that it would come to this. He fully believed the prayer would be accepted.
* Translation: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!
- Short Duration: Death on the cross is meant to take days, not hours.
Death by Crucifixion Takes Days
When the news of the supposed death of Jesus reached Pilate, he was surprised to learn that Jesus had passed away so soon (Mark 15:44). His testimony is extremely important and revealing. Here was the man who probably had the most knowledge in his time of the nature of the punishment of crucifixion and likely officiated over many such crucifixions.
Though many details of the crucifixion have been lost with the end of the Roman Empire, there are ample records to show this particular punishment took at least two to three days to kill a person. For example, good testimony comes from historian Flavius Josephus in the first century A.D who described survivors of crucifixions. The writer Plutarch (c 75 A.D) mentions some individuals surviving some ten days on the cross.
The New Bible Dictionary also concluded based on the historical facts of crucifixion that "death by this method was usually quite protracted, rarely supervening before thirty-six hours, and on occasion taking as long as nine days" (1962 ed, Intervarsity Press, Page 282).
- Pilate’s Plot: Having sympathy for Jesus, he planned to save him.
Convinced of His Innocence
It is notable in the New Testament testimony that Pontius Pilate believed Jesus to be innocent and did not want him executed. One of the influences was a dream Pilate's wife convincing her of Jesus' innocence, and the message she passed on to Pilate was "leave that innocent man alone" (Matthew 27:19).
Pilate eventually acquiesced to the demand of the Jews that Jesus be crucified, as a riot was developing. However he then asked for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd and exclaimed "I am innocent of the blood of this man. The responsibility is yours!" (Matthew 27:24) .
The Plan to Save Jesus
An analysis of the Gospels clearly reveals Pilate had an interest in saving Jesus' life to the best of this ability while trying to maintain official execution procedure as mandated by Roman law. Three key points may be noted:
- He set the crucifixion day just before the Sabbath, as Jewish law specifically prohibits bodies to hang on the cross by the start of Sabbath. Death would be unlikely to ensue within 6 hours (see "Short Duration")
- When the time came to remove Jesus and the two others on the cross, the Jews asked Pilate to break the legs of Jesus (John 19:31). However the centurions acting on Pilate's command did not break the legs of Jesus (John 19:33). It was because he had taken these precautionary measures that Pilate was surprised when he was told that Jesus was "already dead" (Mark 15:44).
- Roman protocol was that body would lie on the crucifixion grounds and be subjected to the elements and animals. However Pilate allowed something quite interesting to take place by deviating from standard practice. He allowed Jesus to be given to Jesus' friends not his enemies.
- Healing Herbs: Used for healing the living — not embalming the dead.
Aloe and Myrrh
After the crucifixion, the body of Jesus came into the hands of his disciples Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus
The Gospel of John records that Nicodemus brought myrrh and aloes 'about a seventy-five pounds in weight' (John 19:39). These plants, particularly aloe plants, are considered medicinal and applied to wounds. It was used extensively in many ancient cultures is used even today to soothe open wounds. The Roman physician Pedanius Dioscrorides (c 75 B.C) recommended aloe for wounds and skin conditions. Alexander the Great's mentor, Aristotle, persuaded him to capture the island of Socotra to harvest the aloe plants for treating wounded soldiers.
Interestingly, the medieval near eastern classic textbook of medicine entitled Canon of Medicine by Avicenna mentioned an ointment termed Marhami Isa (Ointment of Jesus).
- Unbroken Legs: This would have prevented death by respiratory distress.
Saved from a Fatal Blow
After Jesus supposedly 'died' on the cross a Roman soldier made a decision not to break the legs of Jesus while on the cross. The episode fulfilled a prophecy and was not without meaning.
The Gospel of John (19:36) tells us that the Scripture was fulfilled (based on Psalms 34:20) - a bone of his shall not be broken. The Roman soldier did not bother to break the legs of Jesus to hasten death since he thought he was already dead. Breaking the legs would have been devastating due to the severe trauma of blood loss and consequential hypovolemic shock by breaking one of the larger bones in the body, the tibia, in each leg.
The Scriptural attention to not breaking the legs can only be meaningful if the body was alive - it is a meaningless issue for a corpse. A fuller reading of Psalm 34, verses 19 and 20 underscores it:
"The righteous face many troubles but the Lord rescues them from each and every one. For the Lord protects them from harm - not one of their bones will be broken."
- His Denial: Of being an apparition, baring his wounds he called for food.
Wounded, but Alive
After the crucifixion, Jesus came under the care of his devoted followers who brought him into a spacious tomb.
If a man survived the death punishment, we would expect such a person to show clear evidence of the wounds. We would expect him to keep a low profile and move away from the place of crucifixion, as there may be the chance of re-arrest. Fear would be exhibited by his followers out of concern for their master.
The Gospel testimony leads precisely to that conclusion.
Jesus shows his wounds to Thomas (John 20:25-7), showing he did not have a supernatural, resurrected body, but a patient's body.
He hurriedly travelled away from the locality of the crucifixion and chose to meet only his closest followers:
"Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there" (Matthew 28:10).
The followers of Jesus were frightened to the extent that they decided not to tell anyone about his emergence from the tomb (Mark 16:8).
Not once did Jesus appear before his persecutors or wandered through the center of Jerusalem asking people now to accept him as the resurrected Messiah who had atoned for their sins.
All we have is a man in his earthly body of flesh and bones (Luke 24:39) who suffered pangs of hunger (Luke 24:41) and staying out of the lime-light. In convincing his disciples that he had the same wounded body, he in effect was showing he never died as God saved him from the ordeal just as Jonah emerged alive from the fish (see "Sign of Jonah").
Life after Crucifixion
After his survival, Jesus as travelled as far as Kashmir, India and preached to the Lost Tribes of Israel. His tomb can be found there to this day.
- Lost Tribes Found: He went towards India in search of the lost tribes.
Beyond the Euphrates
Traditional Jewish history and Biblical texts divided this Semitic people into twelve tribes. In the time of Jesus, only two of the tribes were in the region Jesus preached, whereas the whereabouts of the remaining ten has always been a bit of a mystery.
The second century historian Josephus wrote in his book Antiquities of the Jews that the ten tribes were 'beyond Euphrates' in his time, east of present day Iraq and in the Persian empire of the time which extended into India.
It is also notable that early Church history documents the existence of a Gospel in the Hebrew language found in India, which also confirms Israelites in India. St Jerome (c 400 A.D) wrote that the scholar Pantaenus in the second century came across the document in his travels. St Jerome further wrote that the Israelites in his time continue to live in the Persian empire.
The mission of Jesus was to reach out to the Lost Tribes (or 'Sheep') of Israel, as stated in Matthew 15:24. It was thus imperative for him to migrate to the east.
The mass of evidence showing that the peoples of Afghanistan, north-west India (particularly Kashmir) and neighboring areas are of Israelite ancestry continues to grow. Their physical features, language, folklore, customs and festivals attest to their Israelite heritage. Evidence also come from the names they give to their villages, their monuments and ancient historical works.
Some pilot genetic studies on peoples in India who to this day call themselves 'Bene Israel' or 'Children of Israel' confirm their middle eastern origin.
- Tomb of Jesus: Recently discovered and preserved in Kashmir, India.
The Kashmir Tomb
The burial place of Jesus in Kashmir is known to the locals as Rauzabal, meaning the Honored Tomb.
It is known as the tomb of Yuz Asaf, which may be of Buddhist derivation (see link) or possibly from Yusu or Yehoshua (Jesus) the Gatherer.
Local tradition states that the entombed was a prophet of Ahle-Kitab, or People of the Book, and his name was Isa - the Quranic name for Jesus.
The prophet Yuz Asaf came to Kashmir from the West (Holy Land) in the reign of Raja Gopdatta (c 1st century A.D) according to the ancient official documents held by the current custodian of the tomb.
Some of the most extensive research on the tomb has been conducted by the now retired famous historian and former Head of Archaelogy for State of Kashmir, Professor Fida Hassnain.
The tomb is Jewish, as attested by the direction the grave is lying. Next to the grave is a footprint engraved in stone, an artistic rendition of the wounds of crucifixion.
- Ancient Texts: Buddhist and Hindu texts confirm his travels to the region.
The Testimony Hindu and Buddhist Texts
First century A.D Northern India was a vast center of not only Hinduism, but also Buddhism. The Israelite peoples whom Jesus ministered to in these areas were in a minority practicing Judaism, but it is likely many adopted the indigenous faiths of Hinduism and Buddhism also.
It is possible to trace Jesus's footprints in these lands from some of these texts.
The ancient books of Hindus are called Puranas. One book, Bhavishya Maha Purana (written in Sanskrit) contains an account of a king of India, Salivahana meeting "Isa-Masiha" (Jesus the Messiah)- a religious personage of fair complexion who was a foreigner.
Buddhist texts contain a prophecy of future Buddha, a bodhisattva, named 'Bagwa Metteyya' a Pali phrase which literally means "fair-complexioned", or "white traveller". The etymological resemblance of the word "Metteyya" to "Messiah" is established and one meaning of the word "Messiah" is traveler.
As the sun of Christianity did rise in India with Jesus' personal advent in the area, many teachings of Jesus became interwoven with Gautama Buddha's teachings. Even certain parables as recorded in the New Testament became attributed to Buddha, such as parable of the sower which is found in Buddhist texts.
It has been proposed that the word Yuz Asaf, the name of the person entombed in Kashmir, is derived from Buddha Asaf, as Jesus would have been included in the Buddhist pantheon of saints. The term would thus mean a Buddha who rallied people, or gathered the flock of the true faith.
- His Ultimate Victory: Saved from the cross, he completed his mission.
Jesus found acceptance in the lands of the Lost Tribes, and completed his mission by travelling eastward to these ancient Israelite communities.
One objection is, if Jesus spent most of his life in India, why is that part of his life so unknown and forgotten?
One has to keep in mind the phenomenon of what happens to a religion's presence when another religion takes over. For instance modern day Afghanistan was a vast center of Buddhism and had some of the largest statues of Buddha in the world carved in stone. That faith has now vanished there. Another example are the pagan religions of Europe prior to Christianity arriving there.
The Israelite peoples of Afghanistan and Kashmir accepted Islam. Jesus had foretold the coming of messenger after him, the Paraclete of the gospels, fulfilled in the person of Holy Prophet Muhammad.
With time, the old faith of Christianity was forgotten over generations so that now there are mainly 'orthodox Muslims' in these same areas holding beliefs as other 'orthodox Muslims'.
However, remnants of the followers of Jesus Christ still exists in the vicinity of Herat, Afghanistan. The British scholar O.M Burke in his book 'Among the Dervishes' has described these peoples. Though they are now Muslims, they did not forget their Christian legacy. They have a special attachment to Jesus and refer to him as 'Yuz Asaf the Kashmiri' who came to preach to them.