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These Quranic verses (5:116-118), say about the enquiry that would be made to Prophet Isa (pbuh) in the Hereafter and the counter that he would furnish.

 In this verse, the Arabic word ‘Thawaffaithanee’ has been used in the place wherein the interpretation ‘when you took me up’ occurs. There is difference of opinion in deciding between the two interpretations for this word ‘Thawaffaithanee’ such as ‘When You laid death upon me’ or ‘When You took me up’.

 Certain people who would attribute the interpretation ‘when You laid death upon me’ make use of this verse in order to substantiate that Isa (pbuh) has died. They contend that as Prophet Isa (pbuh) has said ‘When You laid death upon me, You were the observer over them’ (here the interpretation ‘When You laid death upon me’ which they have chosen – for the word ‘Thawaffaithanee’ - is used). We can know that Isa (pbuh) has died.

 After knowing what they have uttered, let us see the correct interpretation.

 They argue that the Arabic word 'Thawaffa' has appeared in 25 places in Quran, and it has been used to interpret ‘make one cease to live’ in 23 places. Hence, in this verse also we should make use of the same interpretation.

 Their argument has to be disregarded by sensible people. Reply for their argument is found within their argument itself.

 That is even though such interpretation (make one cease to live) has been made in 23 places, in the remaining two places the interpretation (When You took me) has been used. Even if we accepted their argument as proper the interpretation which was made in 23 places should have been made in other two places also.

 Hence, we should regard which interpretation would be befitting in such and such places; and it would not be agreeable to hold the same interpretation in all places, on the basis of majority.

 Let us now analyse it in detail. The directmeaning of the Arabic word ‘Thawaffa’ is not “cause to death” but its direct meaning is “taking up wholly”.

 This word (Thawaffa) has been used to specify ‘make one cease to live since men are taken wholly through death’.

 In Quranic verses 2:234, 2:240,3:55,3:193, 4:97,6:61,7:37,7:126, 8:50,10:46,10:104,12:101, 13:40,16:28,16:32,16:70,22:05,32:11,40:67,40:77,47:27 this word (Thawaffa) has been used in the sense ‘cause to death’.

“It is He who gathers you at night…. .” (Quran 6:60)

 Even though the same word (Thawaffath) has appeared in the above verse also, here it would not specify death.

Here the interpretation would be only ‘taking up souls while they are asleep’.

 In the Quranic verse 4:15 it has been said “…. then confine them to the houses until death take them….”

 We cannot attribute the meanings ‘death’ or ‘till caused to death’ for the above verse.

 In the Quranic verse 39:42 it has been said, “Allah receives (men's) souls at the time of their death and that (soul) which does not (yet) in its sleep….”

 We only attribute the meaning ‘(Allah) receives’ we don't attribute the meaning ‘cause to death’.

 Apart from these verses, the same word (Thawaffath) has been used in the verses 2:281, 3:161, 3:185, 16:111 which say that every soul will be paid in full in the Hereafter.

So we should attribute the meaning ‘will be paid in full’ (that which the souls earned) and we cannot attribute the meaning ‘they will be caused to death in the Hereafter’.

 The word ‘Thawaffa’ has got three meanings: 1. Cause to death, 2. Receiving 3. Paying in full. In whichever place, whatever meaning is found to be befitting we must attribute that meaning only.

 The Arabic word 'Salath' which signifies prayer and many other words derived from the same have been used in 109 places. Out of these 109 places, this word has been used to specify prayer in 102 places and in 7 places it has been used to imply the meanings found in the dictionary. We can find so many words like that.

 Now what meaning will we attribute for the word ‘Thawaffa’ which has appeared in the debated-verse?

If we attribute the meaning ‘when I was caused to death’ (For the word thawaffa) then it contradicts with the verse 43:61 which says “and he (Isa (pbuh), son of Mary) will be a known sign for (the coming of) the hour (Day of Resurrection)…” and with another verse 4:159 which says “there is not one among the people of the Book but will believe in him before his death….”

But if we attributed the meaning (For the word ‘Thawaffa’) “receiving or taking up” that would be harmonious with the above two verses 43:61 and 4:159.

The word ‘Thawaffa’ signifies ‘cause to death’ and at the same time it also signifies ‘receiving or taking up’.

So out of the two interpretations it would be proper if we chose any one of the interpretations which was not contradicting with other verses.

Moreover the words of Prophet Isa (pbuh) also reinforce this view. That is Prophet Isa (pbuh) would not say “I was governing them when I was alive when you took me up you were their guardian”.

Instead he would only say “when I lived with them I was guarding them. When you took me up you were their guardian”, Instead of saying ‘when I was alive’ he would say ‘when I lived with them’, we should reflect the difference between the two.

 If he said ‘falamma thawaffain’ after he has uttered “when I was alive” then in that place, we can only interpret as ‘when I was caused to death’; but Allah has used a totally different phrase “when I lived with them” after avoiding the phrase ‘when I was caused to death’.

That is Prophet Isa (pbuh) would dwell among the people and guard them, or he would not be dwelling with them even when he was alive. This is the idea of the above interpretation ‘when you took me up’.

The context of the verse itself implies that the meaning ‘when you took me up’ should be attributed for the word ‘Thawaffa’.

The inference that Prophet Isa (pbuh) guarded the people when he lived with them (i.e., when he was alive) but he would not guard them when he was taken up fairly harmonizes with the verse, which we have pointed above (4:159, 43:61).

(For more details refer the explanatory notes 101,133,134,278, and 342)

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