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Tabari (Ibn jarir) on Isa (AS) crucifix

Last updated: 23rd July 2006
Question ID: #2139
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A little while ago, i was reading At-Tabari's tarikh called 'The History of Prophets and Kings Tarikh al-Rusul wal-Muluk' and I came across this page which is kind of contrary to Quran and early Quranic commentators such as Qurtubi Ibn Kathir etc..

Lets start off with the isnad:
According to al-Muthanna- Ishaq b. al-Hajjaj- Isma'il b. 'Abd al-Karim - 'Abd al-Samad b. Ma'qil- Wahb

and also
Ibn Humayd- Ibn Ishaq- Wahb b. Munabbih al-Yamani which says God allowed Jesus the son of mary to die at three o clock, then he took him unto himself.

How reliable is this? Are these narrations sahih? Jazakallah khair


Al-jawab billahi at-taufeeq (the answer with Allah's guidance)

It is stated in the Quran that I'sa (Alaihis Salam) was raised to the Heaven alive.

Allah Ta'ala says,

"And when 'Isa sensed disbelief in them, he said: "who are my helpers in the way of Allah?" The disciples said: "We are helpers of Allah." We believe in Allah; so be witness of our submission." (52) "Our Lord, we have believed in what you have revealed, and we have followed the Messenger. So, record us with those who bear witness (to the truth)." (53) And they (the opponents of 'Isa) devised a plan, and Allah devised a plan, and Allah is the best of all planners. (54)

When Allah said: "O 'Isa, I am to take you in fall 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 resurrection. Then to Me is your return, whereupon I will judge between you in that over which you have differed. (55) As for those who disbelive, I shall punish them a severe punishment in this world and in the Hereafter; they shall have no helpers." (3:52-6)


It is mentioned in verse 55, when Allah said, "O 'Isa, I am to take you in fall and raise you towards My self."

The word مُتَوَفِّيكَ (Mutawaffika) is used by the Quran. The word Tawaffi, the root word of Mutawaffika, is also used for 'bringing death,' but the word used by the Quran cannot mean that 'Isa (Alaihis Salam) has died because, firstly the next word 'and raise you towards Myself' clearly negates this sense and, secondly, the Quran has clarified the position in 4:157-158 where it is said,"while infact 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 absolutety certain that they did not kill him, but Allah lifted him towards himself. Allah is Almighty, All-wise."

And in 4:159 it is said, "There is none from the People of the book, but shall certainly believe in him before he dies." This verse indicates that 'Isa (Alaihis Salam) will come again to this world before the Day of Judgement, and then all the people of the Book will truly believe in him before he dies a normal death. Some commentators, however, suggest that the pronoun مَوْتِهِ 'he dies' refers to 'one among the people of the Book' and the sense is that every Jew and Christian will believe in 'Isa as a Prophet (and not as a god) immediately before his death, when he will witness the scenes of Barzakh (the state between death and resurrection).

Also, in 43:61 it is declared that he ('Isa (Alaihis Salam)) is one of the signs of Qiyamah which means that he will descend again in the last days of this world.

(See: Ibn Katheer, Qurtubi, Ma'ariful Quran)

The narration you quoted above is from the Isra'iliyyat ("Israelite traditions").

The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has already cautioned us against this source of knowledge (Israilliyyat):

Narrated Abu Huraira (RadhiyAllahu Anhu): The people of the scripture used to recite the Torah in Hebrew and they used to explain it in Arabic to the Muslims. On that Allah's apostle said: 'Do not believe the people of the scripture or disbelieve them, but say: "We believe in Allah and what is revealed to us"' . (Bukhari)

Similarly Ibn Mas'ud (RadhiyAllahu Anhu), the well-known Companion, is reported to have said: 'Do not ask the Ahl al-Kitab about anything (in Tafsir), for they cannot guide you and are themselves in error....'

The rules relating to Israelite reports:

According to Usul Al Tafseer, Isra'iliyyat are narratives which have reached us through Jews and Christians. It may be noted that early commentators used to write down all sorts of narration's which reached them from an identified source. Many of these narration's were straight Judaica. Therefore, it is equally necessary to know what they really are.

The reality is that some noble Companions and their Successors first belonged to the religion of the people of the Book, later on when they became Muslims and learnt the Qur'an, they came across several events relating to past communities in the Qur'an and which they had also read in the books of their previous religion. Therefore, while referring to the events mentioned in the Qur'an they would describe other details before Muslims which they had seen in the books of their old religion.

These very details have entered into the books of Tafseer under the name of 'Isra'iliyyat'. Hafiz ibn Kathir, who is one of the authentic research scholars, has categorized them into three different kinds:

1) Narrations, the truth of which is proved from other evidences of 'the Qur'an and Sunnah, for instance, the drowning of Pharoah and the ascent of Sayyidna Musa (Alaihis Salam) onto Mount Tur (Sinai).

2) Narrations the falsity of which is proved from other evidences of the Qur'an and Sunnah, for instance, it appears in Judaic narration's that Sayyidna Sulayman (Alaihis Salam) had become (God forbid) an apostate in his later years. Its refutation is proved from the Qur'an. It is said there:

'It was not Sulayman who became an infidel, but the devils did become infidels' (2:102).

To cite yet another example, it finds mention in Judaic narration's that (God forbid) Sayyidna Dawud (Alaihis Salam) (David) committed adultery with the wife of his general (Uriah), or, having him killed through all sorts of contrivances, ended up marrying his wife. This too is a blatant lie, and taking such narration's to be false is imperative.

3) Narration's regarding which the Qur'an, the Sunnah and the Shariah are silent, such as the injunctions of Torah etc., are subjects about which silence is to be observed as taught by the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) neither confirm, nor falsify. There is, however, a difference of opinion among scholars whether or not reporting such narrations is permissible. Hafiz ibn Kathir has given the decisive word by saying that reporting these is permissible all right but doing so is useless because they cannot be taken as authentic.(Muqaddamah Tafseer ibn Kathir)

(See: Ma'ariful Quran)

These set of rules are applied by Hadith scholars when dealing with Isra'iliyyat material. These rules are based on the Hadith of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) which I have mentioned above.

About the transmitter Wahb Ibn Munabbih (Rahmatullahi Alaih):

Wahb Ibn Munabbih transmitted both Isra'iliyyat and Islamic traditions. It does not make him or any other transmitter untrustworthy or a fabricator.

Hafiz Ibn Hajar (Rahamtullahi Alaih) says, " Wahb Ibn Munabbih Ibn Kamil al-Yamani, the father of `Abdullah Al Abnawi. He is trustworthy." (Taqrib al-Tahdhib)

Imam al-Suyuti (Rahamtullahi Alaih) includes him in his book of Hadith memorisers. (Tabaqat al-Huffadh)

Many of the Hadith scholars have recorded his Hadith, including al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi (Rahamtullahi Alaih).

So the conclusion here is that Wahb Ibn Munabbih and others like Ka'ab Ahbar, Hammam Ibn Munabbih (Rahmatullahi Alaihim) are considered to be trustworthy even though they transmitted Isra'iliyyat traditions along with the Islamic ones because they did not attribute these Isra'iliyyat traditions to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).

So, the narration above will be rejected totally as this contradicts the texts of the Quran and Sunnah.

And Only Allah Ta'ala Knows Best.

Answer last updated on:
3rd January 2010
Answered by:
Ulamaa ID 04
Location: London