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Revisiting the Crucifixion of Jesus within Islam

Australian Journal of Islamic Studies - Volume 9, Issue 1 Special Issue


This article demonstrates that Muslim teachings on the historical crucifixion event of Jesus are by no means monolithic. While the Qur’ān’s reference to the crucifixion has typically been interpreted as fostering explicit rejection of the belief that Christ was crucified, its meaning on this issue constitutes neither denial nor affirmation of its historicity. Over time, discussion of the crucifixion within the Islamic tradition was formed to accommodate a rejection that obscured the neutrality of the original Qur’ānic position. One school of Islamic thought which affirmed the historicity of the crucifixion on a Qur’ānic basis is the tradition of Shi’a Isma’ili Islam. This article focuses on the conceptualisation of the crucifixion within Isma’ilism and its connection with Sunnism. From the Isma’ili perspective, the Qur’ān does not deny the crucifixion of Jesus; rather, it only denies that the People of the Book crucified him, in apparent response to their boasting. The ambiguity of Surah 4:157 remains a vigorous debate among classical and later Muslim scholars with references to the crucifixion as preserved in early and medieval literature furnishing distinctively divergent accounts of its unfolding. Even classical scholars such as al-Ghazali were persuaded by the views about the crucifixion expressed by leading Isma’ili thinkers such as Abu Ḥatim al-Razi (d. 934 CE) and Naṣir Khusraw (d. 1078 CE). Ultimately, the objective of this article is twofold: to demonstrate that the Qur’ān offers a neutral account of the crucifixion and to examine Shi’ite exegetical analysis on the crucifixion event in contrast to mainstream Islam.


Islamic crucifixion, Jesus in Islam, Qur'an on crucifixion



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