The Ascension of Jesus into heaven according to Verses and Hadiths
The Israelites’ hearts had totally been sealed and therefore, the truth did not influenced them. That is why, only a few of them did believe in Jesus. With utmost blasphemy, they slandered the Virgin Mary, the mother of the great prophet of God who had become pregnant by God’s Divine Order and without having any husband. They were even proud of killing the Prophet. Accordingly they said, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah” (Surah An-Nisa'-Verse 157). Perhaps, using the term” messenger of Allah” for Messiah (Christ) was to ridicule him. The religious invitation of Jesus (a.s) and increase in the number of his disciples and followers caused that Jewish people and also those who pretended that they are real priests to hate this prophet and to decide to carry out the conspiracy to murder this great man. For implementing their sinister goals, they stimulated the Roman Emperor and told him “if this situation continues, it will topple your kingdom”. So, to maintain your reign, you have no choice but to kill Jesus (a.s). Jesus (a.s) became aware of the conspiracy of the enemy, so he changed his place with his especial companions and stayed in the hideout so as to be protected against the enemy. Finally, one of his close companions who was called, "Judas Iscariot" and was one of his twelve Apostles, showed Jesus’s hideout to his enemies in exchange for a payment of thirty silver coins. So, they arrested him and then crucified him. But later, because of his great resemblance to Jesus (pbuh), he was killed by the Jews and so-called fell on the very pit which he had dug. Accordingly it has to be mentioned that Jesus (a.s) entered a garden with his especial companions and there, he hid. But as Judas had reported the enemies, when the night came and it was dark, the spies and the murderers of the enemy entered the garden through the door and from above the wall and surrounded the Apostles. When the Apostles found out that they are in serious danger, they left Jesus (a.s) alone and fled. In such a dangerous moment, God did not left Jesus (a.s) alone and helped him and hid him from the eyes of the attackers. As a result, instead of Jesus, they arrested "Judas Iscariot" the man who bore great resemblance to him and due to severe fear, that man could not open his mouth, talk and introduce himself. Judas was crucified and executed by the murderers and was punished for his actions. The Roman Emperor, ministers and troops thought that they had killed Jesus (a.s) but the Quran says: “And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but another was made to resemble him to them” (Surah An-Nisa'-Verse 157). There were rumors in the society that Jesus (a.s) was crucified and even the Christians had the same belief. Accordingly, the myth of Crucifixion of Jesus represents the main aspect of Christian theology, therefore they believe that Jesus crucified, hanged and martyred. But according to the Quran: “Jesus was not killed nor, was he crucified, but God raised him alive to Himself and now he is alive and lives in heaven and he will descend to the earth at the time of the advent of Imam al-Mahdi and he will say prayer behind Mahdi (a.s).” In the world of the angels, the Ascension of Jesus into the heaven was a very important incident, because when the prophet Mohammed (a.s) was born, Satan said to other Satans: “from the time that Jesus (a.s) ascended to heaven till now (it means in 537 AH) such an incident has not occurred.” This statement of Satan indicates the greatness of the incident of Ascension of Jesus and the birth of the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). (Bihar, vol. 15, p. 258).
The Ascension of Jesus into the heaven according to the Quran
God has referred to the Ascension of Jesus in Surahs Al-Imran and An-Nisa'. In Surah An-Nisa', God says: “Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.” (Surah An-Nisa'-Verse 158). The Ascension of Jesus into the heaven has also been mentioned in the Quran in Surah Al-Imran “Mention when Allah said, "O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself” (Surah Al-Imran-Verse 55). As you observe, the Almighty God has first mentioned the word “take” and then the word “raise”. Since in this holy verse of Surah Al-Imran, the term “raise you” has been used with an adverb, it indicates that “raising to God” is a spiritual issue and not a physical one, because God is not in a high place that he physically raise Jesus (a.s) to Himself, He does not also have a physical place in which the physical objects do exist, therefore being far from or being close to the Almighty God is not a physical farness or closeness. Therefore, the above mentioned expression is like the one which has been mentioned at the end of this verse. Accordingly it has been said: “Then to Me is your return…” especially if by the term “take you” He meant “taking the soul”, it would be so clear that the term “raise you” referred to a spiritual raising, so it was a spiritual promotion and closeness to the Almighty God. Such an expression has been mentioned in the Quran about the martyrs who are killed in the cause of Allah. Accordingly, God says in the Quran: “Rather, (martyrs who are killed in the cause of Allah) they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision” (Surah Al-Imran-Verse 169). The previous verse “with their Lord” does not refer to a physical place but it refers to a spiritual closeness to God and again it is like the expression that God has mentioned in the Surah Maryam (Mary) about the dignity of Idris (a.s). Accordingly, God says in this Surah: “And We raised him to a high station” (Surah Maryam-Verse 59), therefore here the “station” refers to his dignity and not a physical place. It was also so likely that the meaning of “raising Jesus to a high station” was to raise the body and soul of the Jesus to heaven while he was alive” because this holy verse of the Quran indicates that Jesus (a.s) was alive when the Almighty God raised him to the physical heaven. Additionally, it shows that this physical heaven is the dignity for closeness to the Almighty God and the place for His blessings and dwelling of Holy Angels. The holy verse of Surah An-Nisa' also rejects the claim of the Jews who believe that Jesus was killed or crucified and on the contrary it implies that the same person whom the Jews believe he has been killed or crucified, has been raised to God with his physical body and has been protected from his enemies. Therefore, it becomes clear that God has raised Jesus to the heaven (a.s) with his body and soul and that his soul had not been separated from his body like other humans before having been raised to the heaven because according to the concept of this verse, it was not possible. It has to be said that according to the verse “Rather, Allah raised him to Himself” after his death, it was merely the soul of Jesus which was raised to the heaven. To put it simply, the soul will raise when a person is killed, hanged or dies, because when a person dies his soul naturally goes up to the world of spirits and therefore in this case there was no need to say “Rather, Allah raised him to Himself”. However, the word “Rather” indicates that Jesus had been raised with his soul and body. As a result this type of “raising” was a kind of saving through which the Almighty God saved Jesus from the Jews. After all, the way Jesus was saved was not that important, accordingly, it was not very important whether it was through taking his soul or not, whether he had not been killed or crucified or he had been killed in a way that we didn’t know or he had stayed alive through meeting God in a way that we would never understand. They were all possible. With regard to the human intellect, it is not unlikely that Jesus has been taken, raised and saved by the Almighty God. It is possible that God has saved his life in way that for the human beings, it has not been consistent with the ordinary events of the life. It has to be said that, this issue is not more important than other miraculous stories of Jesus’s life which have been mentioned and related in the Quran. In addition, it was not stranger than having been born from a mother who had not had any husband and that he could talk to the people a few hours after his birth. If scientific justifications were found for issues such as bringing the dead people back to life or other miracles of this prophet and miracles of Abraham, Moses and Saleh (peace be upon them) and other prophets, therefore a scientific justification could also be found for the issue of raising Jesus alive to the heaven by God. Additionally, general science could never find a justification for such supernatural issues. So, there is a single channel for all these miracles that the undeniable Holy Book of God, proves them. Unless, like some people, you should put yourself into trouble and interpret the Quran in a way that the general law of causality has no exception and requires no supernatural issue.
The purification of Jesus from living with disbelievers
In Surah Al-Imran God says: “O Jesus! Indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve” (Surah Al-Imran-Verse 55). This purification which happened to him by virtue of the domination of his religion, means saving him from the so-called clutches of evil and unbelieving people or unjust accusations and unfair conspiracies. Accordingly, in Surah Al-Fath we read about the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh): “Indeed, We have given you, a clear victory .That Allah may forgive for you what preceded of your sin and what will follow” it means to purify you from the sins which had been attributed to you in the past and also those sins for committing which the context had been provided in the future. It is also possible that this purification mean to take Jesus (a.s) out of this so-called corrupted environment. In the holy verse of Surah Al-Imran, God addresses Jesus in relation to three issues and says: “when Allah said, "O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you…”. It has to be mentioned that here the pronoun of “you” refers to Jesus. It goes without saying that the name of Jesus does not merely refer to his soul but this name refers to the combination of his body and soul. In other words, Jesus is the name of this external creature and he has been addressed in the verse. If the term “take you” means taking Jesus’s soul and saving him from the clutches of the Jews, then the external Jesus will have three features. It means that God saved him from the people and raised him and purified him from mixing with those who disbelieve. But if its purpose is (death), then definitely his body won’t go up after his death and it is only the soul which flies. In this case, the first feature of Jesus about his body and soul will not exist and regarding the second feature it has to be said that it is only his soul which files and the meaning of the verse is that: O Messiah, I end your life and raise up your soul. Although the most important part of any human is his soul, in this verse the term “raise you” does not merely refer to Jesus’s soul but it refers to a creature with physical body and soul. In this verse the purification of Jesus from those who disbelieve has been followed by raising him. Hence it indicates that this purification is a spiritual purification and not a superficial one, because raising Jesus is a spiritual raising. As a result, the purification of Jesus means, taking him away from mixing with those who disbelieve, as well as from the corrupted environment which was full of impurity and blasphemy.
Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) meeting with Jesus, on the night of the Ascension
On the night of Ascension, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who ascended from Mecca to Jerusalem and then to heaven, met and spoke with many prophets and angels for instance: when entering Jerusalem along with Gabriel, the Prophet Muhammad was welcomed by Abraham, Moses and Jesus (pbuh) who were in front of the other prophets. There, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stood in front of them and all other prophets including Abraham, Moses, and Jesus said their congregational prayer and this prayer was led by the Prophet Muhammad. On his way and after seeing the first heaven, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) ascended to the second heaven. There, two people’s face that resembled each other attracted the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Then, he asked Gabriel: “Who are they?” Gabriel replied: they are cousins, John and Jesus (peace be upon them), say hello to them. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said hello to them and they also said hello to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and asked the Divine Presence for the forgiveness for each other. John and Jesus (peace be upon them) said: “Hello to the deserving brother and deserving prophet.”
The ascension of Jesus (a.s) into the heaven according to Hadiths
In Tafsir Qomi, there is a narration from Imam Baqir that accordingly, Imam Baqir says: in the evening of the night that Almighty God raised him to heaven, Jesus gathered his twelve apostles around himself and asked them to enter a house. Then he came from the spring which was at the corner of the house while his face and hair was dripping with water. Then he said: I received a revelation from the Almighty God that accordingly He will now raise me up to Himself and will purify me from the Jews. 'Who among you will volunteer for his appearance to be transformed into mine, and be killed in my place? Whoever volunteers for that, he will be with me in Paradise. From among them a young man said: O Spirit of God, I am ready. Jesus said: Yes, you are that person and said to others: beware that after I left and before the morning, one of you will disbelieve in me (disgust me) twelve times. Form among them a man said: O Prophet of Allah, Is that me? Jesus said seemingly you have felt that from your ego, ok you will be that person. Then he said to others: Not long after me, you will be divided into three groups, two of them will slander the Almighty God and will be punished by fire and one of them will be saved. This is the group that supports Simeon honestly and does not slander God and will dwell in paradise. Having said that, he ascended from the corner of the house to the heaven and in front of all his apostles’ eyes, he disappeared. From the other hand, the Jews who had long been seeking out Jesus, on that night found the house and arrested the young man who had volunteered for his appearance to be transformed into the one of Jesus (a.s). Thus, they killed and crucified him. Then, they took the other person who had been said to disbelieve in Jesus twelve times and until the morning he repeated the blasphemy for twelve times. Almost the same concept has been narrated from Ibn Abbas, Qitade and two other people. Accordingly, they said some scholars have stated that the young person who had volunteered for his appearance to be transformed into the one of Jesus (a.s) had been the one who had reported the place of Jesus to his enemies so as to arrest and kill him. In this regard, others have stated different sayings but Quran has remained silent.
In the book Oyun, there is a narration from Imam Reza (a.s) who said: people were not doubtful about none of prophets’ life but Jesus (a.s). The reason is that Jesus (a.s) was raised to the heaven alive and his soul was taken between heaven and the earth and his soulless body was taken to the heaven and again his soul was returned to his body. This is what the Almighty God states in the Quran: “O Jesus! Indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve” (Surah Al-Imran-Verse 55). Somewhere else in the Quran, there is a narration from Jesus (a.s) who says on the Day of Resurrection: “And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness.” (Surah Al-Ma'idah-Verse 117). In Tafseer Al-Ayashi, there is a narration from Imam Sadiq (a.s) who said: When Jesus, the son of Mary was raised to the heaven, he was wearing a woolen garment which had been woven by Mary and the yarn of which had also been spun by her. When he reached to the heaven, a voice called him: throw away your worldly ornament. Imam Sadiq (a.s) also says that: God chose Jesus, the son of Mary (a.s) and taught and bestowed upon him wisdom and knowledge and all knowledge of the previous prophets. Moreover, he also revealed the Bible to him and sent him to Jerusalem towards Israelites in order to invite them to having faith in God, His Prophet, Book and wisdom. Most of Israelites rebelled against his invitation and disbelieved in him. So Jesus cursed them because they did not believe in Jesus (pbuh). God mesmerized a group of the villains so as to be a sign for edification of the others but unfortunately they rebelled and disbelieved in him. Jesus (a.s) stayed in Jerusalem and invited and encouraged them to the blessings of God for thirty three years until the Jews sought him and finally claimed that they tortured him and buried him alive. Some others have claimed that Jesus was killed and crucified but definitely God did not make them dominate Jesus (a.s) and they were misled. The Jews also did not gain power as a result of killing and crucifying Jesus (a.s) because it means to deny the statement of God who says: “God took him and raised him to Himself.”