Death of Jesus – The meaning of ‘Mutawaffi’
When Allah said, ‘O Jesus, I will cause thee to die (Mutawaffi) a natural death and will raise (Rafa) thee to Myself, and will clear thee from the charges of those who disbelieve, and will place those who follow thee above those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, and I will judge between you concerning that wherein you differ
Holy Qur’an, Chapter 3, verse 56
In this verse other Muslim scholars have translated the word Mutawaffi-ka to mean ‘to take thee’ and not ‘to die’. For instance in Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation he has written “O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself”
But this is not the correct translation of the word. Mutawaffi is derived from Tawaffa. When God is the subject and a human being the object, Tawaffa has no other meaning than that of taking away the soul, whether in sleep or death. Ibn Abbas has translated Mutawaffi-ka as Mumitu-ka ie. I will cause thee to die (Bukhari)
All Arabic lexicographers are agreed on the point that the word Tawaffa as used in the aforesaid manner, can bear no other interpretation and not a single instance from the whole Arabic literature can be cited of this word having been used in any other sense. Outstanding scholars and commentators like Ibn Abbas, Imam Malik, Imam Bukhari, Imam Ibn Hazm, Imam Ibn Qayyim, Wahhab and others are of the same view.
The word has been used in no less than 25 different places in the Quran and in no less than 23 of them the meaning is to take away the soul at the time of death : 2:235; 2:241; 3:56; 3: 194; 4:16; 4:98; 5:118; 6:62; 7:38; 7:127; 8:51; 10:47; 10:105; 12:102; 13:41; 16:29; 16:33; 16:71; 22:6; 32:12; 40:68; 40:78; 47:28
Only in two places the meaning is to take away the soul at the time of sleep; but here the qualifying word “sleep” or “night” has been added, in Chapter 6, verse 61 and Chapter 39, verse 43.
The fact cannot be denied that Jesus is dead. This has been supported in as many as 30 verses in the Qur’an and the Holy Prophet is reported to have said:
Had Moses and Jesus now been alive, they would have found themselves forced to follow me
Zurqani, Vol VI, p54 & Katheer, Vol II, p246