David Wood refutes Zakir Naik on the Crucifixion of Jesus

When Christians show up to a lecture by  everyone’s favorite fake debater  Zakir Naik, they often ask him about  Jesus’ crucifixion  and Zakir gives a pretty silly response. He says  for Muslims the qur’an is clear that  Jesus wasn’t killed and wasn’t crucified  and for Christians the bible is clear  that Jesus was crucified but  he survived crucifixion. And then he  tries to show from the bible  that Jesus survived crucifixion. Why do I  say that  Zakir Naik’s response is silly? Let me  give you  10 reasons.

First, every respected new  testament scholar and historical Jesus  scholar  on the planet, regardless of theological  background,  agrees that the Islamic view is wrong. Even non-christian scholars agree  completely with Christians on this point. For instance, the atheist New Testament  scholar Gerd Ludemann declares  that “Jesus’ death as a consequence of  crucifixion  is indisputable.” Marcus Borg of the  notoriously liberal Jesus seminar states  that  “The most certain fact about the  historical Jesus  is his execution as a political rebel.” Pinchas Lapide, a Jewish scholar, concludes  that “Jesus’ death by crucifixion is  historically certain.” According to Paula  Fredricksen, a convert to Judaism, who  specializes in historical Jesus studies, “The single most solid fact about Jesus’ life  is his death. He was executed by the  Roman prefect  Pilate on or around Passover, in the  manner Rome reserved  particularly for political  insurrectionists, namely crucifixion.” And since so many Muslims are becoming  fans of Bart  Ehrman because they think Ehrman agrees  with them on anything,  I should note that Ehrman writes “One of  the most  certain facts of history is that Jesus  was crucified on  orders of the Roman Prefect of Judea  Pontius Pilate.” As a general rule, when every expert in a  field rejects your theory,  probably time for a new theory. This  means you,  Zakir.

Second, all of our early sources  declare that Jesus died by crucifixion,  even the sources Zakir Naik quotes  when he’s trying to deceive his  listeners plainly declare  that Jesus died. For instance, Mark 15:37  says that “Jesus breathed his last on the  cross.” He obviously didn’t breathe his last if  he went on living. Matthew 27:50 tells us that “Jesus  yielded up his spirit.” Luke 23:46 reads “and Jesus crying out  with a loud voice  said ‘Father into your hands I commit my  spirit’. Having said this, he breathed his last.” John 19:30 says that “Jesus bowed his  head and gave up  his spirit”. All of the books that Zakir Naik quotes to show that Jesus didn’t  die  explicitly state that Jesus died. Fake  experts like Zakir expose themselves as  frauds when they tell their gullible  followers that the bible says  the exact opposite of what it actually  says. Welcome to the amazing world of Islamic  apologetics  otherwise known as opposite world.

Third, while we’re on the topic of  sources, it’s not just the New Testament  that reports Jesus’ death by crucifixion,  there are old testament prophecies about  his death. In Isaiah 53, for instance, the prophet  Isaiah tells us  about someone who would die for our sins  and rise from the dead. 


But he was pierced for our transgressions,

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

    and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

    each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,

    yet he did not open his mouth;

he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,

    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,

    so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.

    Yet who of his generation protested?

For he was cut off from the land of the living;

    for the transgression of my people he was punished.

Isaiah spoke these words  about seven centuries before Jesus  walked the earth. Since Jesus is the only person in  history who fits Isaiah’s description,  people like Zakir Naik are guilty of  rejecting the testimony  of Old Testament prophets.

Fourth,  Jesus predicted his own death in the  same books that Zakir Naik quotes. In the gospels, Jesus repeatedly says  that he’s going to die. Mark 9:31 says that Jesus was teaching  his disciples and telling them “the son of man is to be delivered into  the hands of men and they will kill  him and when he has been killed, he will  rise  three days later.” Zakir Naik’s favorite  book to quote when he defends his  delusional view of Jesus’ crucifixion  is the book of Matthew but in Matthew 17:22-23, Jesus declares “the son of man is  going to be delivered into the hands of  men,  and they will kill him and he will be  raised on the third day.” Somehow when fake debater Zakir Naik  reads about Jesus saying that he’s going  to be killed,  he thinks Jesus is saying that he’s not  going to be killed.  I hope Zakir doesn’t live the rest of  his life like this. I mean  when he’s walking down the street and he  gets to an intersection  and the sign says don’t walk,  does he think to himself “don’t walk”, it  must mean “walk”  and start walking across the  intersection. That’s how he reads the gospels.

Fifth, also in Zakir Naik’s favorite book  to quote when he’s claiming that Jesus  never died,  an angel at the empty tomb of Jesus says  that Jesus  has risen from the dead. In Matthew 28:5-7,  an angel says to a group of women who  had come to visit Jesus’ tomb “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are  looking for Jesus,  who has been crucified. He is not here  for he has risen  just as he said. Come see the place where  he was lying. Go quickly and tell his disciples that  he has risen  from the dead.” Let me guess. When the angel says that Jesus has risen  from the dead,  he really means that Jesus never died  because angels always  say the opposite of what they mean, according to Zakir Naik’s method  of scriptural interpretation?

Sixth, Jesus’ followers claimed that he  had risen from the dead  because he appeared to them after his  crucifixion. But if Zakir Naik is right and Jesus  actually survived  Roman crucifixion, he would have been so  horribly  mangled and disfigured that no one would  ever have concluded  that he had risen from the dead. Jesus  wouldn’t have been able to walk for  months, his skin and his back muscles  would have been torn to shreds, his  wounds would have been  badly infected. If Jesus had appeared to  the apostles in that state,  they would have been yelling for a  doctor, not proclaiming his resurrection as the foundation  of Christianity. Zakir once  studied medicine so he should know this  unless of course he read his med school  textbooks the same way he reads the  gospels,  in which case I’m glad he’s not  practicing medicine.

Seventh, the traditional Islamic theory  here is that Allah rescued Jesus  by disguising someone else and having  this other person crucified. The only appealing feature of this  theory is that Jesus was rescued from  harm, he wasn’t crucified. The theory is flawed in every other  conceivable way  but at least Jesus wasn’t hurt. That’s  something. But Zakir Naik’s theory doesn’t even  have that going for it. According to Zakir, the Romans tortured  Jesus and nailed him to a cross,  and Allah allowed it for no reason. Christianity teaches that Jesus suffered  and died  but that there was a point to his  suffering and death. What’s the point of Jesus enduring  suffering and crucifixion? According to  Zakir Naik,  Allah rescues Jesus but only after  people lashed him and nailed him to a cross. Seems like the divine rescue came a  little too late.

Eighth, if Zakir’s view is correct, then  everyone in the first  century completely misinterpreted what  happened. Jews Christians and Romans were all  convinced  that Jesus died on the cross and yet  Allah did nothing to correct this view.  Jesus did nothing to correct this view. By miraculously taking Jesus away  after the crucifixion,  Allah was leaving everyone in a state of  error and ensuring that future  generations would believe that Jesus  died by crucifixion. Since Jesus’ death by crucifixion is  foundational to christianity,  Allah helped start Christianity by  misleading people  about Jesus’ death. No wonder Zakir feels  so  comfortable misleading people. He gets it  from his God.

Ninth, think about how inconsistent  Muslim apologists  have to be in terms of methodology. Zakir goes to the New Testament to  support his claims  but then he ignores all the verses that  refute his claims. So what’s his method when he reads the  bible,  cherry picks the verses that you can use,  ignore the verses that contradict what  you’re saying? Would he allow us to use this method  with the Quran? Suppose someone quotes Surah 9:5  of the Quran “Slay the infidels wherever you find them.” What’s Zakir Naik going to say? “You  have to look at the context of Surah 9,  you have to look at the surrounding  verses, you have to look at  other verses in the Quran, you have to  look at the historical situation.” I agree completely these are  basic rules of interpreting a text  but when Muslims go to the bible, they  throw out the most  basic rules of scriptural interpretation  because they have an incoherent  position that  can only be defended with an  inconsistent methodology. Islam’s top apologists  are thoroughly inconsistent.

Tenth, even if we throw reason and logic and  facts and scholarship  out the window and believe all the  ridiculous things Zakir Naik tells us,  Islam still turns out to be false. The point of bringing up the crucifixion  is to show that the Quran is wrong when  it claims that Jesus wasn’t crucified. But even if we believe everything Zakir says about Jesus’ crucifixion,  we still have to conclude that the  Quran is wrong if Jesus was nailed to a  cross  but somehow survived. The Quran is wrong  when it says that Jesus wasn’t crucified. Hence, Christians can listen to Zakir’s  entire presentations and reply  “Thank you Dr Naik for proving that  Muhammad  was a false prophet. Even after Zakir Naik goes against  every respected historical Jesus scholar  and New Testament scholar  in the world, even after he goes against  all of the first century sources that he  quotes to defend his position,  even after he goes against Old Testament  prophecies about Jesus’ death,  even after he goes against Jesus himself (since Jesus repeatedly told his  followers that he was going to die by  crucifixion),  even after he goes against the angel who  said that Jesus had died by crucifixion,  even after he ignores the fact that if  Jesus had somehow survived crucifixion  the disciples never would have concluded  anything about resurrection  because he would have been badly in need  of medical attention,  even after he insists that Jesus  suffered pointlessly,  even after he portrays God as a cosmic  trickster who misled people by  miraculously sustaining Jesus and then  taking him away  knowing that everyone was convinced that  he had died on the cross,  even after he displays his utter  inconsistency by using a method of  interpreting the bible that he would  never  apply to the Quran, even after all of  this,  Islam still turns out to be false. No wonder Zakir has been running from  Christian debaters his entire career. If this man ever steps on stage with an  experienced  Christian debater just once, it’s  game over for him and for his gullible  followers.