The Qur'an explicitly declares the return of Jesus (pbuh) to earth. Many verses contain explicit statements regarding this matter. The proofs revealed in the Qur'an take this form:
When Allah said, "'Isa, I will take you back and raise you up to Me and purify you of those who are disbelievers. And I will place the people who follow you above those who are disbelievers until the Day of Rising. Then you will all return to Me, and I will judge between you regarding the things about which you differed. (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 3, Verse 55)
The statement in the verse, "And I will place the people who follow you above those who are disbelievers until the Day of Rising" is important. Here, there is reference to a group strictly adhering to Jesus (pbuh) and who will be kept above the disbelievers until the Day of Judgement. Well, who are these adherents, then? Are they the disciples who lived in the time of Jesus or are they the Christians of today?
Before he was raised up to Allah, the followers of Jesus (pbuh) were few. After his ascension, the essence of the religion degenerated rapidly. Furthermore, the people known as the disciples faced serious pressure throughout their lives. During the succeeding two centuries, having no political power, those Christians having faith in Jesus (pbuh) were also oppressed. In this case, it is not possible to say that early Christians or their successors during these periods were physically superior to the disbelievers in the world. We might logically think that this verse does not refer to them.
When we look at the Christians of today, on the other hand, we notice that the essence of Christianity has changed a lot and it is quite different from what Jesus (pbuh) originally brought to mankind. Christians embraced the perverted belief that suggests that Jesus (pbuh) is the son of God and similarly held the doctrine of the trinity (The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit). In this case, it is flawed to accept the Christians of today as the adherents of Jesus (pbuh). In many verses of the Qur'an Allah states that those having faith in the trinity certainly are disbelievers:
Those who say that the Messiah, son of Maryam, is the third of three are disbelievers. There is no god but One God. (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 5, Verse 73)
In this case, the commentary of the statement, "And I will place the people who follow you above those who are disbelievers until the Day of Rising" is as follows: first, it is said that these people are the Muslims who are the only true followers of the authentic teachings of Jesus (pbuh); second, it is said that these people are the Christians, whether or not they hold idolatrous beliefs, and that could be seen to be confirmed by the dominant position that nominal Christians hold on the earth today. However, both positions will be unified by the arrival of Jesus (pbuh), since he will abolish the jizyah, meaning that he will not accept that Christians and Jews live with any other religion than Islam, and so will unite all the believers as Muslims.
The Prophet and last Messenger of Allah (pbuh), has also given the glad tidings of the return of Jesus (pbuh). The scholars of hadith (reports and traditions on the sayings and doings of the Prophet Muhammad) say that the hadiths on this subject, in which Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said that the Prophet Jesus (pbuh) will descend amongst people as a leader before the Day of Judgement have reached the status of mutawatir. That means that they have been narrated by so many people from each generation from such a large group of the Companions that there can be no possible doubt of their authenticity. For example:
Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated that Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, said, "By the One in Whose hand is my self, definitely the son of Maryam will soon descend among you as a just judge, and he will break the cross, kill the pig and abolish the jizyah, and wealth will be so abundant that no one will accept it, until a single prostration will be better than the world and everything in it. (Sahih al-Bukhari)
Jabir ibn 'Abdullah said, "I heard the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, saying, 'A party of my ummah will never stop fighting for the truth victoriously until the Day of Rising.' He said, 'Then 'Isa ibn Maryam, peace be upon him, will descend and their amir will say, "Come and lead us in prayer," but he will say, "No! some of you are amirs over others," as Allah's showing honour to this ummah.'" (Sahih Muslim)
Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated, "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: 'There is no prophet between me and him, that is, 'Isa, peace be upon him. He will descend (to the earth). When you see him, recognise him: a man of medium height, reddish fair, wearing two light yellow garments, looking as if drops were falling down from his head though it will not be wet. He will fight the people for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill the pig, and abolish the jizyah. Allah will cause to perish all religions except Islam. He will destroy the Dajjal and will live on the earth for forty years and then he will die. The Muslims will pray over him.'" (Abu Dawud)
Earlier in this section, we analysed verses 157-158 of The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 4. Just after these verses Allah states the following in The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 4, Verse 159: There is not one of the People of the Book who will not believe in him before he dies; and on the Day of Rising he will be a witness against them. (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 4, Verse: 159)
The statement above "who will not believe in him before he dies" is important. The Arabic text of this sentence reads: Wa-in min ahli'l-kitabi illa la yuminanna bihi qabla mawtihi.
Some scholars stated that the "him/it" in this verse is used for the Qur'an and thus made the following interpretation: There will be no one from the people of the Book who will not have faith in the Qur'an before he (a person from the people of the Book) dies.
Nevertheless, in verses 157 and 158, which are the two verses preceding this verse, the same "him" is undoubtedly used for Jesus (pbuh). The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 4, Verse 157:
And (on account of) their saying, "We killed the Messiah, 'Isa son of Maryam, Messenger of Allah." They did not kill him and they did not crucify him but it was made to seem so to them. Those who argue about him are in doubt about it. They have no real knowledge of it, just conjecture. But they certainly did not kill him. The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 4, Verse 158: Allah raised him up to Himself. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise.
Just after these verses in The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 4, Verse 159, there is no evidence indicating that "him" is used to imply someone other than Jesus (pbuh). The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 4, Verse 159: There is not one of the People of the Book who will not believe in him before he dies; and on the Day of Rising he will be a witness against them.
In the Qur'an, Allah informs us that on the Day of Judgement, the "tongues and hands and feet will testify against them about what they were doing" (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 24, Verse 24 and The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 36, Verse 65). From The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 41, Verses 20-23, we learn that "hearing, sight and skin will testify against us." In none of the verses however, is there reference to "the Qur'an as a witness". If we accept that the "him" or "it" in the first sentence refers to the Qur'an – though grammatically or logically we have no evidence whatsoever – then we should also accept that the "he" in the second statement also refers to the Qur'an. To accept this however, there should be an explicit verse confirming this view. However, the commentator Ibn Juzayy does not mention the possibility of the Qur'an being the "him" referred to, and Ibn Juzayy transmitted the views of all the major commentators in his work.
When we refer to the Qur'an, we see that when the same personal pronoun is used for the Qur'an, there is generally mention of the Qur'an before and after that specific verse as in the cases of The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 27, Verse 77 and The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 42, Verse 192-196. The verse straightforwardly defines that People of the Book will have faith in Jesus (pbuh) and that he (Jesus (pbuh)) will be a witness against them. The second point is about the interpretation of the expression "before he dies." Some think this is "having faith in Jesus (pbuh) before their own death." According to this interpretation everyone from the people of the Book will definitely believe in Jesus (pbuh) before he/she faces their own death. In Jesus' time however, Jews who are defined as the people of the Book not only did not have faith in Jesus but also attempted to kill him. On the other hand, it would be unreasonable to say that Jews and Christians who lived and died after the time of Jesus had faith – the type of faith described in the Qur'an – in him.
To conclude, when we make a careful evaluation of the verse, we arrive at the following conclusion: Before Jesus' (pbuh) death, all the People of the Book will have faith in him. (Tafsir of Omer Nasuhi Bilmen) In its real sense, the verse reveals plain facts, which are:
Firstly, it is evident that the verse refers to the future because there is mention of the death of Jesus (pbuh). Yet, Jesus (pbuh) did not die but was raised up to the presence of Allah. Jesus (pbuh) will come to earth again, he will live for a specified time and then die. Secondly, all the people of the Book will have faith in him. This is an event which has yet not occurred, but which will definitely happen in the future.
Consequently, by the expression "before he dies", there is a reference to Jesus (pbuh). The People of the Book will see him, know him and obey him while he is alive. Meanwhile, Jesus (pbuh) will bear witness against them on the Last Day. Allah surely knows best.
That Jesus (pbuh) will come back to earth towards the end of time is related in another verse in The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 43, Verse 61. Starting from The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 43, Verse 57, there is reference to Jesus (pbuh):
When an example is made of the son of Maryam ('Isa) your people laugh uproariously. They retort, "Who is better then, our gods or him?" They only say this to you for argument's sake. They are indeed a disputatious people. He is only a slave on whom We bestowed Our blessing and whom We made an example for the tribe of Israel. If We wished, We could appoint angels in exchange for you to succeed you on the earth. (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 43, Verses 57-60)
Just after these verses, Allah declares that Jesus (pbuh) is a sign of the Day of Judgement.
He is a Sign of the Hour. Have no doubt about it. But follow me. This is a straight path. (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 43, Verse 61)
Ibn Juzayy says that the first meaning of this verse is that Jesus (pbuh) is a sign or a precondition of the Last Hour. We can say that this verse is a clear indication that Jesus (pbuh) will come back to earth at the end times. That is because Jesus (pbuh) lived approximately six centuries before the revelation of the Qur'an. Consequently, we cannot interpret his first coming as a sign of the Day of Judgement. What this verse actually indicates is that Jesus (pbuh) will come back to earth towards the end of time, that is to say, during the last period of time before the Day of Judgement and this will be a sign for the Day of Judgement. Allah surely knows the best. The Arabic of the verse "He is a Sign of the Hour" is Innahu la 'ilmun li's-sa'ati… Some people interpret the pronoun hu (he) in this verse as the Qur'an. However, the preceding verses explicitly indicate that Jesus (pbuh) is mentioned in the verse: "He is only a slave on whom We bestowed Our blessing and whom We made an example for the tribe of Israel." (Prof. Suleyman Ates, Yuce Kur'an'in Cagdas Tefsiri (The Contemporary Tafsir of the Holy Qur'an), vol. 6, p. 4281) Those who cite this pronoun as referring to the Qur'an go on to quote the next part of the verse "Have no doubt about it. But follow me" as evidence. However, the verses preceding this one refer totally to Jesus (pbuh). For this reason, it appears that the pronoun hu is linked to those preceding verses and also refers to Jesus (pbuh). In fact, great Islamic scholars declare that to be the case, based on the use of the pronoun both in the Qur'an and in the hadith. Muhammad Hamdi Yazir of Elmali offers the following explanation in his commentary:
The statement in the verse, "He is a sign of the hour" is an indication that the Hour will come and the dead will be resurrected and stand up. Jesus, both with his return to earth and his miracle of resurrecting the dead and also with his prophesying the rise of the dead is a sign of the Hour. It is also reported in the hadith that he is a sign of the Last Day.
In Sahih Muslim, it is also stated that the hadiths in which it is said that the Prophet Jesus (pbuh) will descend amongst people at the end of time have reached the degree of being mutawatir, i.e. narrated by so many people in each generation that it is not possible to have any doubt of their authenticity, and that it is counted as one of the major signs of the Day of Rising. (Sahih Muslim, 2/58)
Hudhayfah ibn Usayd al-Ghifari said, "The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) came to us all of a sudden as we were (busy in a discussion). He said: 'What are you discussing?' We said: 'We are discussing the Last Hour.' Thereupon he said: 'It will not come until you see ten signs before it' – and (in this connection) he made mention of the smoke, the Dajjal, the beast, the rising of the sun from the west, the descent of 'Isa the son of Maryam (pbuh), Yajuj and Majuj, and landslides in three places, one in the east, one in the west and one in Arabia at the end of which fire will burn forth from the Yemen, and drive people to the place of their assembly." (Sahih Muslim)
Other verses indicating the second coming of the Jesus (pbuh) are the following;
When the angels said, "Maryam, your Lord gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, 'Isa, son of Maryam of high esteem in this world and the hereafter, and one of those brought near. He will speak to people in the cradle, and also when fully grown, and will be one of the righteous," she said, "My Lord! How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?" He said, "It will be so. Allah creates whatever He wills. When He decides on something He just says to it, 'Be!' and it is. He will teach him the Book and Wisdom, and the Torah and the Injil…" (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 3, Verse 45-48)
In the verse, it is heralded that Allah would instruct Jesus (pbuh) about the Injil, the Torah and the "Book." No doubt, this book in question is very important. We come across the same expression in The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 5, Verse 110:
Remember when Allah said: "'Isa, son of Maryam, remember My blessing to you and to your mother when I reinforced you with the Purest Spirit so that you could speak to people in the cradle and when you were fully grown; and when I taught you the Book and Wisdom, and the Torah and the Injil; and when you created a bird-shape out of clay by My permission…"(The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 5, Verse 110)
When we analyse the "Book" in both of the verses, we see that it may indicate the Qur'an. In the verses, it is stated that the Qur'an is the last divine book sent apart from the Torah, the Zabur and the Injil. Besides, in another verse in the Qur'an, next to the Torah and the Injil, the word "Book" is used to indicate the Qur'an.
Allah, there is no god but Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He has sent down the Book to you with truth, confirming what has there before it. And He sent down the Torah and the Injil, previously... (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 3, Verse 2-3) Other verses in which "book" refers to the Qur'an reads: When a Book does come to them from Allah, confirming what is with them – even though before that they were praying for victory over the unbelievers – yet when what they recognise does come to them, they reject it. Allah's curse is on the unbelievers. (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 2, Verse 89) For this We sent a Messenger to you from among you to recite Our Signs to you and purify you and teach you the Book and Wisdom and teach you things you did not know before. (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 2, Verse 151)
In this case, we may well consider that the third book that will be taught to Jesus (pbuh) will be the Qur'an and we could assume that this will be possible only if he comes to earth at the end of time. Jesus (pbuh) lived approximately 600 years before the revelation of the Qur'an. When we look at the hadiths of our Prophet (pbuh), we understand that when the Prophet Jesus (pbuh) comes for the second time, he will command with the Qur'an, not the Injil. This indeed conforms exactly with the meaning in the verse. Surely Allah knows the best. This is also explained in a hadith:
Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated that Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, said, "By the One in Whose hand is my self, definitely the son of Maryam will soon descend among you as a just judge, and he will break the cross, kill the pig and abolish the jizyah, and wealth will be so abundant that no one will accept it, until a single prostration will be better than the world and everything in it. (Sahih al-Bukhari) The 'ulama (Islamic scholars) say that the meaning in this hadith of his acting as a just judge/ruler is that he will judge by the shari'ah of Islam, i.e. by the judgements in the Book of Allah, the Qur'an, and in the Sunnah of the Last Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Allah surely knows best.
Allah tells about the death of Jesus (pbuh) in one verse in The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 19 as follows: ('Isa said,) Peace be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die and the day I am raised up again alive. (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 19, Verse 33)
When we consider this verse together with The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 3, Verse 55, it indicates a very important truth. In the verse in The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 3, it is stated that Jesus (pbuh) was raised up to the presence of Allah. No information is given in this verse about death or killing. Yet in The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 19, Verse 33 information is given about the day when Jesus (pbuh) will die. That death can only be possible if Jesus (pbuh) dies after returning to and living on earth. Only Allah knows for certain.
Another piece of evidence about Jesus (pbuh) returning to earth appears in verse 110 in The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 5 and in The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 3, Verse 46 in the form of the word kahlan. The verses say:
Remember when Allah said, " 'Isa, son of Maryam, remember My blessing to you and to your mother when I reinforced you with the Purest Ruh (Spirit) so that you could speak to people in the cradle and when you were fully grown (kahlan)... (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 5, Verse 110) He will speak to people in the cradle, and also when fully grown (kahlan), and will be one of the righteous. (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 3, Verse 46)
This word appears only in the above two verses in the Qur'an, and only in reference to Jesus (pbuh). The meaning of the word kahlan used to refer to Jesus' adult state is along the lines of, between 30 and 50 years old, someone who is no longer young, someone who has reached the perfect age. Islamic scholars agree on translating this word as indicating the period after 35 years of age. Based on a hadith reported by Ibn 'Abbas to the effect that Jesus (pbuh) ascended to heaven in his early 30s, at a young age, and will stay another 40 years when he returns, Islamic scholars say that Jesus' old age will be after he returns to earth. (Muhammed Khalil Herras, Fasl al-maqal fi raf'i 'Isa hayyan wa nuzulihi wa qatlihi'd-Dajjal, Makatabat as-Sunnah, Cairo, 1990, page 20)
Close study of the verses in question easily shows how right Islamic scholars are on this question. In looking at the verses of the Qur'an, we see that this statement is only used for Jesus (pbuh). All the prophets spoke to people and called them to the true path. They all communicated their message in maturity. Yet there is no such statement in the Qur'an about any other prophet. The statement is only used to refer to Jesus (pbuh) and his miraculous situation. That is because the words "in the cradle" and "when fully grown" that follow each other in the verses are stressing two miraculous periods. In fact, in his work The Commentary of at-Tabari, Imam at-Tabari gives the following explanation of these verses:
These statements (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 5, Verse 110) indicate that in order to complete his lifespan and speak to people when fully grown Jesus (pbuh) will come down from heaven. That is because he was raised to heaven when still young. In this verse (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 3, Verse 46) there is evidence that Jesus is living, and Ahl al-Sunnah share that view. That is because in this verse it is stated that he will speak to people when fully grown. He will only be able to grow fully when he returns to earth from heaven. (Imam at-Tabari, The Commentary of at-Tabari, Vol. 2, page 528, Vol. 1, page 247).
Some people however, interpret the word "when fully grown" in a manner far removed from its true meaning and do not analyse it in the context of the general logic of the Qur'an. These people maintain that prophets have always been mature adults, for which reason the expression refers to all the lives of the prophets. Of course the prophets were mature adults whom Allah raised. Yet in Surat al-Ahqaf Allah reveals that the age of full maturity is forty. It is revealed in this verse that:
We have instructed man to be good to his parents. His mother bore him with difficulty and with difficulty gave birth to him; and his bearing and weaning take thirty months. Then when he achieves his full strength and reaches forty, he says, "My Lord, keep me thankful for the blessing You bestowed on me and on my parents, and keep me acting rightly, pleasing You. And make my descendants righteous. I have repented to You and I am truly one of the Muslims." (The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 46, Verse 15)
The word kahlan, therefore, also points to Jesus' return to earth just like all the other information given in the Qur'an. Only Allah knows for certain. As seen, verses on Jesus' (pbuh) return to the earth are very explicit. Similar expressions to these are not used in the Qur'an regarding other prophets. All these expressions, however, are used about the Prophet Jesus (pbuh). The significance of this is clear.