Updated: Jun 19
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, ever Merciful. Here is an interesting fatwa from Shaikh Mahmoud Shaltout - Rector of Al-Azhar University on the common (though apparently diminishing) belief in the physical ascension and physical descent of Jesus a.s. sometime in the latter days:
"The fore-mentioned verse in the chapter of Al-Nisa, which reads Nay, God exalted him (Jesus) in His presence is taken by the majority of interpreters to mean that God gave the appearance of Jesus to someone else and the body of Jesus was elevated to heaven where he is alive now, and from where he will come down to earth at the end of the world to kill all pigs and smash all crosses. They derive this opinion from narratives which indicate that Jesus will come down at a certain time near the end of the world.
They do that in spite of the fact that these narratives are inconsistent and equivocal, and are reported through questionable sources. They hold this opinion unaware, perhaps, that they contradict themselves and twist the meanings of the Qur'an and the Traditions by ascribing to them meanings which they cannot support."
It should be kept firmly in mind that (knowingly) rejecting, distorting or twisting even part of a verse of the Noble Qur'an, the Word of Allah, so as to make it comply with a ahadith, becomes an act of kufr or disbelief. To interpret a hadith to suit the Noble Qur'an is acceptable, as it may well have been distorted over the passage of time before it was written and compiled anyway. Thus ahadith about the coming of Jesus a.s. can be considered metaphorical, and accepted in this manner, as Ahmadi Muslims do. Shaikh Mahmud Shaltout however, does not, in his fatwa at least, take this possibility into consideration.
Please read the scholarly fatwa (religious verdict) in full for the details. For further reading and research, please consult the following website:
http://ahmadianswers.com/jesus/ [19:76] Allah increases in guidance those who follow the guidance. [20:47] Peace be upon those who follow the guidance.