Do all Muslims hold the belief that Jesus will return?

The status of the return of Jesus Christ (Peace be upon him) has been an issue of dispute among Muslims for centuries.  It is the consensus of the generality (Ahl As-Sunnah Wal Jama’ah) as well as the largest sect within Shi’ism, madhhab Ja’fari, that Jesus Christ (Peace be upon him) has not died yet, but will return under the leadership of Imam Muhammad Al-Mahdi, who implement the shari’ah of Prophet Muhammad (Prayers and peace be upon them and his family), in which both will fill the earth with justice.  There is, however, another opinion, from other schools of thought, which state that Jesus Christ (Peace be upon him) has already died and will not return.

Madhhab Zaydi, which has historically been the predominant school of thought in Yemen, holds that there is no strong proof from the Qur’an or authentic hadeeth that prophecy the return of Jesus Christ (Peace be upon him). Mufti Abdullah Alshathely of Yemen gave a recent fatwa regarding this issue:

 بالنسبة لعودة المسيح عليه السلام فلم اقف على كلام لأئمتنا عليهم السلام في الموضوع وأعني بذلك المتقدمين و لأن المسئلة لا يلزم منها ضلال ولا يتعلق بها علم ولا عمل لم يكن من هم ائمتنا عليهم السلام ردها او اثباتها والذي يظهر لي ان تلك الروايات سربت من الإسرائيليات ولا سيما من كتب اليهود ودسهم لأنهم لا يعترفون بالمسيح الذي بعث قبل النبي صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم فلا زالوا بانتظار مبعثه ولما كان قد بعث عند النصارى والمسلمين جعلوا تلك الروايات عودة والمسئلة قليلة الجدوى لأن من قال بعودته جعل تلك العودة تحت امارة المسلمين وتحت قيادة المهديبالنسبة للإمام يحي بن حمزة عليه السلامفالسبب في تعلق السلفية ببعض كتبه هو افراطه في الحمل على السلامة فاستغل ذلك في دس بعض الاقوال عليه عليه السلام وبالنسبة لرأي اهل البيت عليهم السلام فيه فهو امام من ائمتهم ولكنهم لا يعتقدون عصمة الأئمة عليهم السلام فهم يخطئونه في بعض المسائل ولا يعتقدون فيه سوءا لكون المسئلة مما يحتمل ان يخطء الناظر فيها لأنها ليست قطعية

 

As for the return of Christ, upon him be peace, I am not aware of the statements of our imams, upon them be peace, concerning this issue—by that, I mean the early authorities (al-mutaqadimîn). This is because the issue is not one of affirming deviance or related to the belief or practice. There has not been any from our imams who has refuted or established it. What is clear to me is that those narrations that have infiltrated are amongst the narrated Jewish legends (Isrâ`iilîyât), especially from the books of the Jews and their interpolations. This is because they do not recognize the Christ that was sent before the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, and they are still waiting for his coming. Yet, according to the Christians and Muslims, he has already been sent. Therefore, they constructed these narrations of his return. The issue is one of small advantage because the one who says that he is to return makes the return under the rule of the Muslims and under the leadership of the Mahdi.

The Sunni scholar ibn Khaldun goes a step further by questioning the authenticity of hadeeth that prophecy the coming of Al-Mahdi though the Zaydis except the belief in Al-Mahdi; however, they view this concept differently from Ja’faris, who hold that as Jesus (Peace be upon him) was born and will return that Al-Mahdi has already been born and is in occultation to reappear in the future.

Madhhab Ibadi, the predominant school of thought in the Sultanate of Oman, and Madhhab Isma’ili (Fatimi) also take a similar stance to the Zaydis that Jesus (Peace be upon him), though he was not crucified by the People of the Book, has already died as all other prophets before him have died in flesh.

And Allah knows best. 

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