Shabir Ally And The Resurrection Of Christ

The Crucifixion Of Our Lord

The Crucifixion Of Our Lord

Recently there was a debate between Protestant apologist Mike Licona and Islamic apologist Shabir Ally. The proposition was Jesus: Resurrected or Rescued. While Licona was defending resurrection, Ally was defending what is known as swoon theory. Classical Islam has traditionally stated that Jesus was never crucified but that someone was meant to look crucified in his place. This comes from the Quranic verse Surah 4:157 which reads:

And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger – they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain.

What Ally is saying is that contrary to classical Islamic interpretation, Jesus was actually put on the cross and hung there for hours. He was taken down alive though he appeared to be dead. His body was placed in the tomb and he was assumed bodily from the tomb while still alive. He has defended this position for many years and continues to defend it to this day.

I must re-emphasize that this is not the orthodox Islamic position. I must also say that its extremely improbable with the evidence available to us. This is because we know of almost no instances where people survived Roman crucifixion. Since 99.99% of people ever hung on the cross have died on the cross, the odds aren’t in Ally’s favor. The fact that Jesus was nailed to the cross, hung for several hours, was taken down from the cross, received no medical attention and placed in a tomb while appearing dead but still barely alive seems highly improbable.

Despite all of these problems, the thesis has an even deeper flaw. Sadly it’s a flaw that no apologist has brought up when debating him. While I would say that Licona won the debate, he would have done even better had he brought this up. Since Ally is a muslim, he needs to believe that the disciples of Christ were muslims since Surah 5:111 says exactly that:

And when I inspired the disciples, (saying): Believe in Me and in My messenger, they said: We believe. Bear witness that we have surrendered (unto Thee) “we are muslims”.

The problem for Ally is that the disciples would have had to preach swoon theory in opposition to Paul. Shabir has stated in his debate with William Lane Craig that Paul was the first to preach resurrection. In other words, it was Paul vs the disciples. Paul preached resurrection and the disciples preached assumption from the tomb while still alive.

In the scriptures, we have evidence of friction between Paul and the disciples in regards to the role of Law and what gentile converts must do to be part of the Church. This comes out clearly in Acts and Galatians. That such a conflict existed is not in dispute. Shabir Ally has often pointed this out in the past to show that it was two religions competing against each other. If this friction is so apparent, where is the friction on the issue of the resurrection? If the earthly disciples of Christ were muslim and preached what Ally believes, surely Paul would bring this out in his epistles to argue against. There is not a single hint of conflict on the issue of resurrection vs Ally’s theory. The reason is because no one was preaching his theory. Every early follower of Jesus was preaching resurrection in contrast to what Ally proposes. I believe that his thesis fails on this argument alone, even if we ignore the other numerous problems.

I would like to hear a response from Ally or a muslim who takes this view.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “Shabir Ally And The Resurrection Of Christ

  1. Thanks, Allen. I think the point is strong that the Quran refers to Jesus’ disciples as “Muslims.” You are incorrect, however, that I did not bring up this point during the debate. At the very least, I raised it in my Opening Statement and I know that I mentioned it at least once if not more during the course of the debate.

    • Dr. Licona,

      Thanks for the response and thank you for your scholarship on the resurrection of Christ. I must apologize for not being clear. You did bring up what the Quran says about Christ’s disciples being muslim but that was only a small part of the objection. That was only one point to help set up the main objection.

      The main objection is if the disciples preached assumption and Paul preached resurrection why doesn’t this conflict have evidence in the pages of scripture. We know that there is evidence for conflict in the admission of gentiles and how much the old law has to be adhered to. That comes out clearly in the NT but the assumption vs resurrection hypothesis has no evidence at all in the Bible and thats the best argument against Dr. Ally’s position in my opinion.

      In re-reading this post I realized that I could have made it clearer so thanks for pointing that out. Also, I will be writing an e-book on Islam eventually and will have a chance to expand on this and other arguments.

      Thank you so much and God Bless.

    • I will take another approach with regards the event in question .

      A) Muslims &Christians believe in perfect beig theology where God is said to be the most knowing being

      B) The Qur’an is God’s word

      C) Therefore its view with regards Jesus’ final earthly life should be given heavy consideration.

      Is there any satisfactory justification for premise “B” to be true ? To my judgement there is and let me lay out my case.

      The Quran does not follow our usual linear flow of ideas. It largely follows ancient forms of composition . mirror & concentric composition does exist in the Quran in a blowingly complex manner ( we won’t go in detail regarding what this kind of composition is as this is a wide topic. Anyone interested can go though the works of notables like Michel Cuypers, Nouman Khan, Raymond Farrin, Mary Douglas & Neal Robinson etc or have our paper on this very subject ) besides these, parallelism,anchoring,alternations and dovetailing are interwoven in the same text.

      What explains such level of composition ? Nothing other than the very claim the Quran makes of itself. A revelation from the maximally knowing being / God since its impossible for Muhammad to achieve this complex and sophisticated level of composition in an oral piecemeal format. These features need preplanning but Muhammad (pbuh) never enjoyed such luxury as much of the Quran comes to address social,political, economic and theological issues as they arose gradually during his 23yr mission.

      Hope Michael Licona is connecting the dots. With the Quran being the knowledge of the most high, you have no way of throwing its views through a window.

      • Hello Kazibwe,

        Thanks for taking an interest this blog. If I understand correctly, your approach is simply to follow the Quran on every historical point because it’s God’s word?

        As a Muslim, you can do that but if the Quran is correct like you say it is, the problems doesn’t stop at the crucifixion event. The problem is that Jesus, the apostles, the Church up until the time of Muhammad, testify against the Quranic narrative.

        We have words from Jesus in the Quran like the prophecy of a Prophet to come named Ahmad. We are told that the crucifixion didn’t take place. We have the apostles claiming to be Muslims. We have the followers of Jesus being made superior to his Jewish opponents with the help of God. Of course when that happened the Christians believed in un-Islamic things such as the Crucifixion, Trinity, Son of God, NT and OT uncorrupted, etc.

        All of these things aren’t attested to in history but the Quran claims them. I find this to be extremely problematic. It’s not too far off to believe that one of these things is incorrect but the converging evidence suggests that God’s word cannot get hundreds of years of these events wrong.

        In contrast to your point, I think the life of Jesus, the apostles, and the history of the Church give us a chance to test if the Quran is truly God’s word.

        All of that aside. If you were to debate Licona, would you try to make a case like Dr. Ally or would you just say the Quran says so and therefore we know the answer?

        You mentioned that you have a paper on the subject of the Quran. Would you be able to provide a link or send it to

        Thanks again for reading and God bless.