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Saturday, 8 September 2012

Concept of "mutawaffi" in Quran and Jesus (as)



      
Some people opine that hazrat Jesus (as) has died. This view is based on word ‘mutawaffika’ (al-imran-55) which is interpreted as ‘give you death’ and word ‘tawaffaytani’ (al-maidah-117) which is interpreted as  ‘you gave me death’. Let us scrutinize this view on the basis of Quran.
 These two verses state as follows:
[Mention] when Allah said, "O Jesus, indeed I will take you (mutawaffika) and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Qiyamah. After that to Me is your return, and I will judge between you concerning that in which you used to differ (al-imran-55).
 I said not to them except what You commanded me - to worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up (tawaffaytani), You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness (al-maidah-117).

The root of words ‘mutawaffika’ and ‘tawaffaytani’ is ‘waw, fa, and ‘ya’. From this root, dozens of verbs and participles formed have been used in Quran. The meanings of such verbs and participles used in Quran are ‘to pay/repay/fulfill in full, or ‘to take away in full’. The word  ‘waffayta’ is used to state ‘taking away’ of humans; the word ‘mutawaffi’ is used for person taken away. This process of taking away does not essentially involve ‘death’. Actually, literal meaning of ‘mutawaffi’ is ‘taken away’; the metaphorical/istilahi meaning of ‘mutawaffi’ is ‘deceased’. The metaphorical/istilahi meaning of ‘waffayta’ is ‘death’.
The principle of interpretation of Quran is that if any words has both literal/istilahi and metaphorical/idiomatic meanings, firstly, literal meaning has to be adopted. If literal meaning does not make any sense or literal meaning is contradictory to any other Quranic verses/words,  in that cases such 'istilahi' meaning may be adopted which is not contradictory to any other Quranic verses/words. Both literal and istilahi  meanings may also be adopted, if they are not contradictory to each other, or not contradictory to any other Quranic verses/words. As the third option metaphorical/idiomatic meaning should be adopted. Both literal/istilahi and metaphorical/idiomatic meaning may also be adopted, if they both are not contradictory to each other or not contradictory to any other words/verses of Quran. The author has applied this principle of interpretation throughout study of Quran, and finds it an effective check on many whimsical interpretations of Quran.
In the light of above mentioned principle of interpretation, the word  ‘mutawaffika’ (al-imran-55) is to be translated with literal meanings of this word, because literal meanings (i.e. will take you) do make a sense and do not contradict any other Quranic verses. Therefore according to principle of interpretation described above, literal meaning of the word (mutawaffika)  is to be adopted. But istilahi/ metaphorical meaning (i.e. will give you death) of this word is not to be adopted due to following two reasons.


Firstly, metaphorical/istilahi  meanings of this word contradict the Quranic verse (i.e. al-imran-55) which states:
[Mention] when Allah said, "O Jesus, indeed I will take you (mutawaffika) and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. After that to Me is your return, and I will judge between you concerning that in which you used to differ (al-imran-55).
 A plain reading of sequence of this verse tells clearly that first Allah will give Christians (people following Jesus) superiority over the people not believing hazrat Isa (as) and this superiority will continue till Qiyamah;  after that (word ‘summa’  in Arabic language means ‘after that’) hazrat Isa (and people) will return to Allah (means they will die on or near Qiyamah) and Allah will judge between the people in which they used to differ. It may be noted that addressee of this verse is hazrat Isa (as); therefore the word ‘ merjiokum’/ your return’ includes hazrat Isa (as) as well. [it may also be noted that Muslims do have faith in Hazrat Isa (as); Muslims will not be dominated by Christians forever like non-Muslim non-Christians will be dominated forever by Christians]. In short, al-imran 55 states that first Allah will give Christians superiority over the people not having faith in hazrat Isa (as) and this superiority will continue till Qiyamah, and after that hazrat Isa will die (for details plz see my article " Descending of Hazrat Isa (Jesus)").

We can draw two conclusions from this verse. First is that  the word ‘mutawaffeeka’ used in (al-imran-55) does not mean “ will give you death”; because it is obvious that when hazrat Isa (as) was made ‘mutawaffi’, Christians were not superior to people not having faith in Isa (as); whereas al-imran-55 clearly states that first Christians will attain superiority over  non-Muslim and non-Christian people and after establishment of that superiority Jesus will be given death; it means word ‘mutawaffeeka’ does not mean “ give you death”; rather it means “will take you”. 
  We can also conclude that death yet has not occured to hazrat Isa (as). Death will occur to hazrat Isa (as) after Christians will have got superiority over the people not having faith in hazrat Isa (as) and this superiority will continue till Qiyamah, and after continuation of this superiority till Qiyamah,  death will occur to hazrat Isa (and people) on or near Qiyamah. It means word ‘mutawaffika’ does not mean ‘ will give you death’. Now that Christians have got superiority over non-Muslim and non-Christian people not having faith in hazrat Isa (as), he may descend to this earth whenever Allah wills it so and he and people will die on qiyamah.


Second reason of not using istilahi/ metaphorical meanings (i.e.will give you death) of this word (i.e. mutawaffika) is that word ‘waffa/t’ has been used in Quran side by side with word 'death'; this fact shows they are two different words.  For instance al-nisaa-15 states “Those who commit unlawful sexual intercourse of your women - bring against them four [witnesses] from among you. And if they testify, confine the guilty women to houses until death takes them (yatawaffahunna) or Allah ordains for them [another] way” (al-nisaa-15).
“And He is the subjugator over His servants, and He sends over you guardian-angels until, when death comes to one of you, Our messengers take him/ ‘tawaffathu’, and they do not fail [in their duties] (al-anaam-61).
“Allah takes the souls (yatawaffa) at the time of their death,… (al-zumar-42).
In all above quoted verses, using ‘waffa/t’ and ‘death’ side by side reveals that these are two different processes/words; If 'waffa/t' and 'death' have been synonymous, these two words would not have been used side by side. It is against principle of comprehensiveness that two words should be used, if meaning may be conveyed with one word. If 'waffa/t' and 'death' have been synonymous words, only one word- either 'waffa/t' or 'death'- would have been enough to describe the same meanings.  In other words, 'waffa/t’ does not essentially involve ‘death’.  For instance al-anaam-60 states “And it is He who takes your souls (yatawaffakum) by night and knows what you have committed by day. Then He revives you therein that a specified term may be fulfilled. Then to Him will be your return; then He will inform you about what you used to do. This verse states about taking away human soul in night (during sleep); it is obvious during sleep human does not die; he only becomes unconscious. It means in this verse ‘waffa/t’ does not mean ‘death’.
We may conclude that words ‘mutawaffi’ and ‘waffa/t’ have literal as well as istilahi/ metaphorical meanings. The literal meanings of these words are ‘taken away’ and ‘taking away’ respectively. The metaphorical/istilahi meanings of these words are ‘deceased’ and ‘death’ respectively. According to principle of interpretation of Quran, firstly literal meanings are to be adopted, if such meanings make a sense and do not contradict with any other Quranic verses; if it is not so, istilahi/ metaphorical meanings may be adopted. In case of words ‘mutawaffi’ and ‘waffa/t’, literal meanings i.e. ‘taken away’ and ‘taking away’ are to be used where literal meanings make a sense and do not contradict other Quranic verses. Whereas istilahi/ metaphorical meanings(i.e. deceased and death) are not to be used where these meanings are contradictory to Quranic verses.  The word ‘mutawaffika’ (ale imran-55) -made out of ‘mutawaffi’ and ‘waffa/t’-  [the word used to justify death of hazrat Jesus (as)] is to be used with literal meanings i.e. ‘will take you’   because these meanings make a sense and do not contradictory to any other Quranic verses; whereas istilahi/ metaphorical meanings (i.e. ‘will give you death) of this word is not to be adopted because they  are contradictory to Quranic verses. 
However istilahi/ metaphorical meanings of these words ‘mutawaffi’ and ‘waffa/t’ may also be adopted where such meanings are not contradictory to other Quranic verses, and where metaphorical/istilahi meanings of these words are not contradictory to literal meanings of these words. Thus the word 'tawaffaytani' (al-maidah-117) [made out of 'waffa/t'] may also be interpreted/translated with istilahi/ metaphorical meanings i.e. you gave me death. But it may be noted that it does not mean hazrat Isa (as) has been given death in present time (or two thousand years ago). The dialogue between Hazrat Isa (as) and Allah mentioned in al-maidah-117 is to take place during qiyamah, and obviously, before taking place of this dialogue during qiyamah, hazrat Isa (as) would have been given death after his second coming. Thus even if we interpret  word 'tawaffaytani' (al-maidah-117) as ' you gave me death' , it does not mean that death has occured to hazrat Isa (as) or that  his second coming would not happen; he will descend and after that he will die on (or/near) qiyamah.
In short, death has not yet occurred to Hazrat Jesus (as).

(It may be noted that Qiyamah is a thousands of years long day having many phases. In the first phase, all humans on earth would be given death; in the second phase, all humans would be resurrected; in the third phase, all humans would be gathered; in the fourth, all humans would be made answerable for their deeds; then human deeds would be weighed; then all humans would be consigned to the paradise or the hell. Allah knows how long each phase is and which phases are overlapping. However ale-imran-55 suggests that death of hazrat Isa (a.s) will mark the beginning of first phase of Qiyamah. Allah knows how long would be this first phase. But many 'ahadith' suggest this first phase will NOT be ended in a moment; it will continue for many years).

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