Praise be to Allah.
Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, tells us that Jesus (upon whom be peace) was raised up to heaven just one time, in the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):
“But Allah raised him up (with his body and soul) unto Himself…” [Al-Nisa’ 4:158] and Allah does not tell us that Jesus was sent back to this earth. So those who claim that Jesus was sent back to this earth have to bring us evidence and proof. If they cannot do that – and they will never be able to do it – then their argument has no basis.
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And (remember) when Allah said: ‘O Eesa (Jesus)! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear you [of the forged statement that `Isa (Jesus) is Allah’s son] of those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you (monotheists, who worship none but Allah) superior to those who disbelieve [in the oneness of Allah, or disbelieve in some of His Messengers, or in His Holy Books] till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute.”[Aal ‘Imraan 3:55]
Ibn Jareer, may Allah have mercy on him, explained that the word “mutawaffeeka”
[which usually refers to death and is translated here as “raise” – Translator] refers to his being taken up, but most of the scholars said that the meaning here is sleep, as Allah says elsewhere in the Quran (interpretation of the meaning):
“It is He, Who takes your souls [yatawaffaakum] by night (when you are asleep)…”[al-An’aam 6:60]
“It is Allah Who takes away [yatawaffaa] the souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep…”[Al-Zumar 39:42]
When he got up from sleeping, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would say, “Al-hamdu Lillaah illadhi ahyaanaa ba’da maa amaatanaa wa ilayh il-nushoor (Praise be to Allah Who has brought us back to life after causing us to die, and unto Him is the resurrection).”
(Reported by al-Bukhaari, 6312; Muslim, 2711)
Allah’s statement that He raised Jesus up to heaven is also a refutation of the Jews’ claim to have killed him. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Because of their breaking the covenant, and of their rejecting the aayat (signs) of Allah, and of their killing the Prophets unjustly, and of their saying, ‘Our hearts are wrapped (with coverings, i.e., we do not understand what the Messengers say)’ – nay, Allah has set a seal upon their hearts because of their disbelief, so they believe not but a little.
And because of their (Jews’) disbelief and uttering against Maryam (Mary) a grave false charge (that she had committed illegal sexual intercourse);
And because of their saying (in boast), ‘We killed Messiah `Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah’ – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of `Isa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not [i.e., `Isa (Jesus) son of Maryam (Mary)].
But Allah raised him [`Isa (Jesus)] up (with his body and soul) unto Himself (and he is in the heavens). And Allah is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise.
And there is none of the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), but must believe in him [`Isa (Jesus) son of Maryam (Mary), as only a Messenger of Allah and a human being], before his death. And on the Day of Resurrection, he [`Isa (Jesus)] will be a witness against them.”[al-Nisa’ 4:155-159]
Jesus (peace be upon him) has not died yet; Allah raised him up unto Himself because the Jews wanted to kill him, and he will descend again at the end of time and rule the earth according to Islam. He will live for as long as Allah wants him to, then he will die and the Muslims will pray [the janaazah or funeral prayer] for him. Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
The pronoun in the phrase before his death refers to Jesus (peace be upon him), i.e., there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in Jesus – that is when he comes back down to the earth before the Day of Resurrection, as we will explain below. At that time all of the People of the Book will believe in him because he will abolish the jizyah (tax paid by non-Muslims in an Islamic state) and will accept nothing but Islam…
The aayah (interpretation of the meaning)
“and [I will] clear you of those who disbelieve” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:55] means “by raising you up to heaven” and “I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection” is what did indeed happen. When Allah took the Messiah (peace be upon him) up into heaven, his followers split into different groups. Some of them believed in what Allah had sent him with, that he was a slave and messenger of Allah, the son of His female slave. Some of them exaggerated about him and made him the son of God, and others said that he was God, or that he was the third of three (trinity). Allah described what they said in the Quran, and refuted all of them. They continued like that for nearly three hundred years, then one of the Greek kings called Constantine came along and entered the Christian religion. It was said that this was a plot to corrupt the religion, that he was a philosopher, or that he was ignorant. Whatever the case, he changed and distorted the religion of the Messiah, adding things and taking things away. It was at the time of Constantine that pork was permitted and they began to pray towards the East; they made images in their churches, shrines and monasteries, and added ten days to their fasting because of a sin that he had committed, as they claim. The religion of the Messiah became the religion of Constantine. He built more than twelve thousand churches, shrines and monasteries for them, and the city that bore his name [Constantinople – now Istanbul]. A sect of Christians followed him and they prevailed over the Jews with the help of Allah, because they were closer to the truth, even though all of them were disbelievers. When Allah sent Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), some of those who believed in him believed truly in Allah, His angels, His Books and His Messengers, so they were followers of every Prophet who had ever lived on earth.
And Allah knows best.