The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had prophesied the coming of a person he named “Jesus”, “Jesus son of Mary” and “the Messiah, son of Mary” who would save the world from the devastation of the Dajjal (Antichrist). The vast majority of Muslims today identify the Promised Messiah as Jesus (pbuh), the Messiah of the Children of Israel who was born over 2000 years ago.
But was he really to be the Promised Messiah?
Indeed, a closer inspection of the words of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) will reveal that he actually described two different characters, to whom he gave the same name.
Here, for example, is a hadith where the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) speaks of the Israelite Prophet Jesus (pbuh) of two millennia ago. In the Sahih al-Bukhari – the book considered most authentic after the Holy Qur’an – we read in the chapter entitled “The Book of the Prophets” in the hadith number 3255 regarding the spiritual journey of the Prophet (pbuh), during which he was shown the deceased prophets in heaven:
Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “I saw Jesus, Moses and Abraham. Jesus was of a rosy complexion, with curly hair, and a broad chest. As for Moses, he was of a brown complexion and stout, with straight hair, and in this he resembled the men of Al-Zutt. “
This is obviously Jesus son of Mary, sent to the Children of Israel. In a considerable number of hadiths, the Prophet (pbuh) gave this description of the Messiah Jesus born two thousand years ago.
But there is a second description of a man named “Jesus son of Mary”; a description which appears in a large number of ahadith prophesying the coming of a Messiah at a future time when the Antichrist would appear. We find for instance hadith number 6508, in the chapter entitled “The Book of Interpretations” – once again in the Sahih al-Bukhari:
Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Messenger of Allah said:
“I saw myself by the Ka’bah last night and saw a brown-skinned man – the best (that can be seen) of this complexion – with straight hair down to the his earlobes – the best (that can be seen) of this type of hair – and he had combed his hair, from which water was dripping, and he was performing the Tawaf (circumambulation) around the Ka’bah while leaning on the shoulders of two men. I asked, “Who is this man?” Someone said,”The Messiah, son of Mary.” Then I saw another man with bushy hair and who was blind in the right eye; that eye was like a prominent grape. I asked, “Who is this?” It was said,”The Antichrist Messiah (al-Masih al-Dajjal).”
This is the description of the second Messiah, a man of brown complexion and who had straight hair, while the first Messiah, as we have seen above, had a rosy complexion and curly hair.
Conclusion: It cannot be the same person.
So why had the Prophet (pbuh) called both these separate characters “the Messiah, son of Mary”? Apart from their physical differences, were there enough similarities between them to justify this homonymy?
There is a man of brown complexion and straight hair who swore in the Name of Allah that he had been sent as the Messiah of Islam whose mission was, among other things, to counter the evil of the Antichrist: Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Imam al-Mahdi (pbuh). Let us now explore the similarities between him and Jesus (pbuh):
(1) The first point of similarity between the Messiah of the dispensations of Moses and Muhammad (peace be upon them) is that the advent of both of them had been prophesied. In Islam, there were thousands of saints, but none of them had come as a “promised one” in fulfilment of any specific prophecy made by their respective prophets.
(2) The second similarity is the loss of autonomy and political power of their people. Muslims in India were under the dominion of the British, like the Jews at the time of Jesus (pbuh), under the Romans.
(3) The third similarity is that at the time of the first advent of a Messiah, the Jews were divided into several sects and, therefore, needed a referee to judge their differences. Similarly the Muslims, at the time of the appearance of a Messiah in Islam, were already divided into several sects among the Sunnis, Shiites and Sufis.
(4) The fourth point is that the first Messiah (pbuh) had not been ordered to fight wars for religion. Similarly, the Messiah of Islam (pbuh) has not been ordered to take up the sword. Jesus predicted that he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword; and indeed we have witnessed how the Christian nations, once they began to resort to violence in the Name of God, began to lose their faith, so much so that today, holiness, chastity and indifference to the material world have all but disappeared from their society. Muslims who make the same mistake today suffer defeat after defeat, because they disobey the commandments of their Imam who forbids them to wage war in the name of religion.
(5) The fifth point to consider is that during the ministry of the first Messiah (pbuh), the Jewish religious leaders had become, in their overwhelming majority, morally corrupt. Similarly, the Imams and Mullahs of the people of the Promised Messiah (pbuh) have shown themselves to be overwhelmingly corrupt and greedy for money and power.
(6) The sixth point of resemblance is that Jesus (pbuh) appeared during the reign of a great European emperor, the Caesar of Rome. The Promised Messiah (pbuh) lived under the reign of the greatest European empress of all time: Queen Victoria.
(7) The seventh point in this regard is that the Biblical faith had finally managed to prevail over the Romans and other Europeans within a few centuries. Similarly, during the time of the Promised Messiah (pbuh) Islam has made inroads among the populations of the most powerful European and other Western nations despite their profound hatred of the Muslim faith, and this similarity is being strengthened more and more over time.
(8) Another characteristic of Jesus (pbuh) is that a star had appeared to mark his coming. This feature is also present for the Promised Messiah (pbuh), in the shape of the falling of a large number of meteorites, a sign foretold by Jesus (pbuh) himself (Matt.24: 29).
(9) The ninth characteristic of Jesus (pbuh) is the solar eclipse which took place when he was rejected by his people and put on the cross. When people dismissed the call of the Promised Messiah and Imam al-Mahdi (pbuh), God manifested His Sign of support, not only causing the eclipse of the sun, but also that of the moon. These two signs occurred during the same month of Ramadan. Both eclipses are also predicted in the Gospels (Matt.24: 29), and in the Holy Qur’an (first verses of Ch 75). Moreover, this prediction is also mentioned in the Dar Qutni, a book of sayings of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
(10) The tenth shared characteristic is the appearance of the plague. Because of the persecution by the Jews, the plague had spread at the time of Jesus (pbuh) and for the same reason it spread at the time of the Promised Messiah (pbuh) as well.
(11) The eleventh feature common to both is that theologians had done everything in their power to denounce Jesus (pbuh); and they had even gone so far as to accuse him of false crimes, hoping he would be sentenced to death. The Promised Messiah (pbuh) was also denounced and falsely accused of murder. Efforts were made by the Mullahs to make the government believe that the Promised Messiah (pbuh) had rebelled against their authority, as did the rabbis with Jesus (pbuh).
(12) The twelfth point is that a thief had been crucified along with Jesus. Similarly, on the day that the Promised Messiah was acquitted of the false accusation of murder, a Christian was brought before the same judge. He was a member of the Salvation Army and had embezzled money. He received three months’ imprisonment, and was not killed as the former thief had been crucified. British justice was less severe than that of the Romans at the time of Jesus (pbuh).
(13) The thirteenth resemblance between Jesus (pbuh) and the Promised Messiah (pbuh), is that when Jesus was brought before the Governor Pilate, he declared that he saw no guilt in Jesus (pbuh). Similarly, Captain Douglas, the Judge before whom the Promised Messiah (pbuh) had to appear, said he saw nothing but innocence in him.
(14) The fourteenth similarity is that since Jesus (pbuh) had no father, he was Israelite through his mother. He was the last prophet and Messiah for the Children of Israel and was born in the fourteenth century after Moses (pbuh). Similarly the Promised Messiah (pbuh) belongs to the Ishmaelites through his mother and was raised during the fourteenth century of Islam as the Messiah of the Muslims.
(15) The fifteenth feature is that when Jesus (pbuh) appeared, great strides were being made in the progress of human civilization. Proper roads were first built by the Romans; an effective defence system had emerged and many improvements were being made in the organization and training of armies. Means of travel had been greatly improved; and to ensure travellers’ comfort, hostels and inns had become common. Furthermore, the judiciary had been reformed. Similarly, rapid progress and remarkable developments marked the time of the Promised Messiah (pbuh) in these areas, including the invention of the locomotive, paved roads, the organization of the military and the navy, etc.
(16) The sixteenth feature of Jesus (pbuh) was that he had had a rare type of birth; and, being born without a father, he was like Adam. Similarly, the Promised Messiah (pbuh) was not born in the more normal way, but as a twin, a daughter having been born before him. Interestingly, he was called “Adam” by God in some of his revelations.
(17) The seventeenth resemblance between the two Messiahs (peace be upon them), is that they both preached in India.
(18) The eighteenth similarity is that Jesus (pbuh) did not use the language of the Torah – Hebrew – as his spoken language, but rather spoke a dialect of Aramaic that included loan words from Persian, Greek and Latin, and that was strongly influenced by Hebrew. Similarly, the Promised Messiah did not use Arabic, the language of the Qur’an, as his spoken tongue, but spoke Urdu, which includes Persian, Greek and English words, and is strongly influenced by Arabic.
There cannot, of course, be a perfect correspondence between the two Messiahs (peace be upon them) in all things, as they had been entrusted with quite different missions to accomplish. Nevertheless, the similarities between them are striking – and sufficient indeed for the second to have received from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) the same epithet as the first.