Where does a Muslim find their hope? I ask because Easter is coming in a few days. There was a time while in Christianity, when I celebrated the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. But once I became a Muslim, the resurrection became pagan to me. There is no cross in Islam, so there is no resurrection, i.e., hence, no Easter—no hope! Please, don’t get me wrong, the Quran speaks of a cross, but according to the Quran (and majority of Islamic tradition), Jesus wasn’t on the cross, but someone else died in His place (Quran 4: 157). Some Muslim scholars even go as far as saying that Jesus was on the cross but didn’t physically die, that He possibly went into a coma. This write-up isn’t to go into detail about why Easter is or isn’t pagan, but whether a Muslim can truly find hope apart from the resurrection.
According to the Apostle Paul, it is the message of the cross and the power of the resurrection that ultimately proves the faith of the believer. Paul wrote, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV). The resurrection is, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15: 17-19 NIV). For the Christian, it is the resurrection that gives us hope, for Christ died for our transgressions on the cross and the sin of the world, He was buried, and rose from the dead. He conquered the death of the grave so we can become adopted sons of God while on earth as we await the resurrection of our glorified bodies to fellowship with Him in heaven for eternity. In Islam, Jesus did not die on the cross, but was raised alive to the heavens, so there is no room for the resurrection of Christ in Islam.
It's ironic, many in the modern Church, i.e., evangelical Christianity have catered to political ideology and see Islam like Christianity, if not equal (research what the Roman Catholic Church believes about Islam in Vatican II as well as Pope Francis’ current comments). With Chrislam, which is a heretical blending, or portmanteau of Christianity and Islam, many pastors and Christian writers have fallen victim to this heresy of an unholy union while bowing down to PC culture. To see similarities between two religious faiths that are diametrically opposed, many in the Church have sacrificed their religious integrity, making the sanctity of the resurrection null and void.
Apart from the resurrection there is no hope for the Muslim. A Muslim is left to a religious faith no different than the zealous religiousness of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes, Jewish religious leaders of old who sought to earn God’s mercy through obedience to the Torah, or God’s holy teachings. One’s good deeds is highlighted in order to earn favor from God, but how good is good enough to earn favor from our Holy God? This is the question that drives an eternal wedge between Jesus Christ and all other religious faiths. Even Muhammad didn’t know if he’d inherit paradise in the afterlife (Quran 46:8-9). “Or do they say, 'He has forged it'? Say: 'If I have forged it, you have no power to help me against Allah. He knows very well what you are pressing upon; He suffices as a witness between me and you; He is the All-forgiving, the All-compassionate.' Say: 'I am not an innovation among the Messengers, and I know not what shall be done with me or with you. I only follow what is revealed to me; I am only a clear warner.” In one of the most authentic ahadith (narrations/sayings of Muhammad), Muhammad didn’t even know what would be done with him in the afterlife. Narrated 'Um al-'Ala:
An Ansari woman who gave the pledge of allegiance to the Prophet that the Ansar drew lots concerning the dwelling of the Emigrants. 'Uthman bin Maz'un was decided to dwell with them (i.e. Um al-'Ala's family), 'Uthman fell ill and I nursed him till he died, and we covered him with his clothes. Then the Prophet came to us and I (addressing the dead body) said, "O Abu As-Sa'ib, may Allah's Mercy be on you! I bear witness that Allah has honored you." On that the Prophet said, "How do you know that Allah has honored him?" I replied, "I do not know. May my father and my mother be sacrificed for you, O Allah's Apostle! But who else is worthy of it (if not 'Uthman)?" He said, "As to him, by Allah, death has overtaken him, and I hope the best for him. By Allah, though I am the Apostle of Allah, yet I do not know what Allah will do to me," By Allah, I will never assert the piety of anyone after him. That made me sad, and when I slept, I saw in a dream a flowing stream for 'Uthman bin Maz'un. I went to Allah's Apostle and told him of it. He remarked, "That symbolizes his (good) deeds." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 266).
However, for the believer who has accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God, their sins are forgiven through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection as the Apostle Paul reminds us “. . . and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:4 NIV). Both Christianity and Islam believe in the resurrection of the dead, but both don’t believe in the resurrection of Christ. One of the greatest proofs of Jesus being raised from the dead is the believers resurrected heart. It’s the same Spirit that empowered the Apostles and raised Jesus from the dead that fills the believer, resurrecting our broken hearts. It gives us hope and a new life through our risen Savior. This resurrected heart is transformational, experiential, and personal. “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you” (Romans 8:11 NLT). This is because the same power that raised Jesus from the dead transforms our wicked hearts. Through the resurrection—we know Christ lives in us.
For the Muslim, this isn’t a reality, although, the Quran pens these words from Jesus as a baby in the cradle, “Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!” (Quran 19:33 Pickthall Translation). As mentioned earlier, the Quran also writes Jesus didn’t die on the cross and was ascended alive to heaven, so this has left Muslims to controversial eschatological explanations, using ahadith because the Quran doesn’t clearly dictate or explain the variations in these verses.
There is an enormous amount of evidence to prove the validity of the Bible that is available for the Muslim seeker of truth. There is also a peace of God and love that surpasses all understanding and knowledge (Philippians 4:7) when one opens their heart to Jesus. Muslims argue that the ‘comforter’ and/or ‘advocate’, i.e., the Holy Spirit Jesus said would come to enter His followers (John 14 & 16) is Muhammad twisting the Koine Greek, using linguistic theological acrobatics to deceive. It’s interesting, Jesus used terminology to show that He wouldn’t leave the disciples, but would be with them ‘forever,’ “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, (some translations have Comforter) who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth…” (John 14: 15-17 NLT). Muhammad didn’t live forever; he is dead and was buried. One can visit his grave to this day al-Masjid an-Nabawi (the Mosque of the Prophet) in Medina.
We encourage Muslims to open their minds, and search the scriptures that came before it, i.e., the Bible, because the Quran commands this. “And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee. Verily the Truth from thy Lord hath come unto thee. So be not thou of the waverers. And be not thou of those who deny the revelations of Allah, for then wert thou of the losers” (Quran 10:94-95 Pickthall Translation). The scriptures (the Bible) that Muhammad was asked to search before he came is the same now as it was when this verse was allegedly revealed. Archeology and over 5,000 Koine Greek manuscript fragments and whole documents are evident enough to prove this, and all of these were written way before Muhammad was born.
If the Muslim refuses to search the Bible, maybe they’ll consider the Quran itself? Jesus has two honorary titles that no other prophet is afforded. He is called the Word of God “Kalimah Allah” (Quran 3:39, 45) and the Spirit of God, “Ruh Allah” (Quran 4:171) for these verses seem to point toward a status of Jesus that Christians know to be true, an eternal status. Although, the Quran may not have originally meant for these terms to point to the divinity of Jesus, it does show God, His Word and Holy Spirit. The Christian can see the Holy Trinity in these verses, just as this former Muslim eventually did.