In the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and his companions, the idea of Jesus being physically alive in Heaven never existed. We know this from an incident that happened when the Holy Prophet died. At that time, his companions were in great grief, none more than Hadhrat Umar (who became the second Khalifa). It is reported that at that time, he refused to believe that the Holy Prophet had died and he took out his sword and waving it through the air he said that whoever said that the Holy Prophet was dead, he would get his head chopped off! He went further to say that the Holy Prophet had gone temporarily, just as Hadhrat Moses went 40 days to the mountain and then returned, so too would the Holy Prophet return! The companions on hearing this started to believe Hadhrat Umar that perhaps the Holy Prophet was really alive!
At that time, Hadhrat Abu Bakr (who became the first Khalifa) was outside Medina, and upon his return was informed what Hadhrat Umar was saying. Hadhrat Abu Bakr went straight to the body of the Holy Prophet and kissing him on the forehead said “Allah will not let you suffer more than one death”. He then went to the companions and then recited a verse from the Holy Qur’an:
And Muhammad is but a Messenger. Verily, all Messengers have passed away before him. If then he dies or is slain, will you turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels shall not harm Allah at all. And Allah will certainly reward the grateful.
Surely thou (O Muhammad) wilt die, and surely they too will die.
O ye men, whoever amongst you worshipped Muhammad, let him know that Muhammad is dead, and whoever amongst you worshipped Allah, let him know that Allah is Living, there is no death for Him
The Life of Muhammad by A. Guillaume - A translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat RasulAllah
After having said this, Hadhrat Umar and all the companions realised that it was true that the Holy Prophet had died! Now, if the companions really believed that Jesus was still alive in heaven, then on hearing these verses, Hadhrat Umar or anyone should have said that they are not true, not all prophets have passed away, Jesus is still alive in Heaven and he has been there for 600 years! If he is alive, then why not the Holy Prophet? Why did not one companion say that Jesus was still alive? They were holding onto any excuse to believe that the Holy Prophet could still be alive, why not cite this one? The only reason why they did not come out and say that Jesus was alive, was because they all knew that Jesus was dead!
The following verse and wording is used about Jesus:
The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a Messenger; surely Messengers like unto him had Passed away before him.
No Muslims believe that any prophets were still alive during Jesus’s time, when Allah states ‘All Messengers had indeed passed away before him’ all the Muslims understand it to mean that no messengers were alive. When the same words are used about the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, suddenly, they understand the words differently, that in his case, although it states ‘All Messengers had indeed passed away before him’ in this case, Allah forgot to say ‘except Jesus!’ but Allah makes no mistakes, and it means the same: all messengers (including Jesus) had indeed passed away!
There is another statement by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, during his last illness, the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said to his daughter Fatima:
Once in every year, Gabriel recited the Quran to me. This year he recited twice. He also told me that every succeeding prophet has lived to half the age of his predecessor. He told me that Jesus, son of Mary, lived to a hundred and twenty years. Therefore, I think, I may live to about sixty years.
Zurqani, vol. VI, pg 54
It is related by Imam Hasan, the grandson of the Holy Prophet, when he was recounting the events relating to the death of his father, Hadhrat Ali, he said:
The man who has died today is without an equal in many respects. He had none like him either amongst his predecessors or among his successors. When the Holy Prophet sent him to battle, he had Gabriel on his right and Michael on his left to assist him. He never returned from a battle except as victor. He left seven hundred Derhams as a bequest. He had saved this to purchase a slave’s freedom. He died during the twenty-seventh night of the month of Ramadhan, the same night that the spirit of Jesus was raised to Heaven.
Tabaqat Ibn Sa’ad, vol III
By stating that Hadhrat Ali died the same night that Jesus’s spirit ascended to Heaven, shows that he did not believe in the physical ascension of Jesus!
The Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is reported to have said:
If Moses and Isa had been alive they would have had to follow me
Zurqani, Vol VI, P54 and Ibn Katheer, Vol II, P246
Many other Islamic scholars have all stated that in their opinion, Hadhrat Isa has passed away and his appearance will be a spiritual one not a physical one including:
- Hadhrat Imam Malik - The writer of the book ‘Majmaul Bihar’ said although many people say that Hadhrat Isa did not die, Hadhrat Imam Malik used to say that Hadhrat Isa has passed away. (Majmaul Bihar, Vol 1, P286)
- Hadhrat Ibn Hazm - He took the literal meaning of the verse Fallama Tawaffaitani (5.118) and said it means that Hadhrat Isa passed away (Commentary of Jalalain, footnote on verse 118 of chapter 5)
- Allama Shaukani He wrote that the verse Fallama Tawaffaitani indicates that Allah the Almighty raised Jesus after his natural death (Fathul Qadir, P4)
- Hadhrat Ibn-i-Arabi On explaining the verse Bal rafa ‘Allaho ilaihi (4.159) wrote that this means that the soul of Hadhrat Isa was raised to meet Allah the Almighty in the next world...and in the latter days Hadhrat Isa will appear metaphorically in the person of someone else. (Tafseer Hadhrat Ibn-I-Arabi P65)