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18. Bible and Qur'an Series
BOOKLET 2 - What Indeed Was the Sign of Jonah?
(A reply to Ahmad Deedat's Booklet: What was the Sign of Jonah?)


During 1977 Deedat also published a small booklet which plagiarized the title of a book written by Frank Morison entitled Who Moved the Stone? Much of this booklet attempts once again to prove the theory that Jesus came down alive from the cross, and as we have already seen that this theory has no substance, it does not seem necessary to deal at any length with the points Deedat raises to promote it. We need only show, yet again, that he has had to resort to obvious absurdities to try and make his theory stick.

For example, he endeavors to prove that Mary Magdalene must have been looking for a live Jesus when she came to anoint his body. Although anointing a body was part of the normal burial custom of the Jews, he cannot accept this as it refutes his argument, so he suggests that the body of Jesus would have already been rotting within, if he had died on the cross, saying “if we massage a rotting body, it will fall to pieces” (Deedat, Who Moved the Stone?, page 3), even though Mary came to the tomb only some thirty-nine hours after Jesus had died. It is absolute scientific nonsense to say that a body will fall to pieces within forty-eight hours of a man's decease! If there was any merit in his argument, Deedat would hardly have found it necessary to resort to such a ridiculous statement.

He likewise has to overlook obvious probabilities when he says that, when Mary Magdalene sought to take away the body of Jesus (John 20:15), she could only have been thinking of helping him to walk away and could not have intended to carry away a corpse. He claims that she was a “frail Jewess” who could not carry “a corpse of at least a hundred and sixty pounds, wrapped with another ‘hundred pounds weight of aloes and myrrh’ (John 19:39) making a neat bundle of 260 pounds” (Deedat, Who Moved the Stone?, page 8).

There is a far more probable explanation for Mary's statement that she would carry away the body of Jesus. There is nothing to say that she intended to carry it away all by herself. When she first found the body removed from the tomb she rushed to Jesus' disciples Peter and John and told them:

“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid him.” (John 20:2)

The other Gospels make it plain that Mary was not alone when she first went to the tomb that Sunday morning and that among the women who accompanied her were Joanna and Mary, the mother of James (Luke 24:10). This is why she said “WE do not know where they have laid him”. As it was only after Peter and John had gone to the tomb that she first saw Jesus there, is no reason to suppose that she did not intend to enlist the help of these two disciples or of the other women to help her carry the body away.

In any event there is concrete evidence in the Bible that Mary Magdalene believed that Jesus had risen from the dead and this brings us to the whole theme of Deedat's booklet, namely “who moved the stone?”. His conclusion is that it was removed by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, two of Jesus' disciples who belonged to the party of the Pharisees. He says in his booklet:

It was Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, the two stalwarts who did not leave the Master in the lurch when he was most in need. These two had given to Jesus a Jewish burial (?) bath, and wound the sheets with the ‘aloes and myrrh’, and temporarily moved the stone into place, if at all; they were the same two real friends who removed the stone, and took their shocked Master soon after dark, that same Friday night to a more congenial place in the immediate vicinity for treatment. (Deedat, Who Moved the Stone?, page 12).

He begins his booklet with an expression of hope that he would be able to give “a satisfactory answer to this problem” (page 1) and the cover of his booklet carries a comment by Dr. G.M. Karim, which describes the moving of the stone as a “problem besetting the minds of all thinking Christians”. The impression is thus given that the Bible is silent on this subject and that Christians are beset with a problem and have to speculate as to who moved the stone. This is sheer nonsense for the Bible plainly says (to use Deedat's words, in the “clearest language humanly possible”):

An angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. (Matthew 28:2)

Can there really be any “problem” about this matter? Is it too hard to believe that an angel from heaven could roll back the stone? According to the Bible it took just two angels to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:13) and it took only one angel to wipe out Sennacherib's whole army of a hundred and eighty-five thousand soldiers (2 Kings 19:35). On another occasion a single angel stretched forth his hand to destroy the whole city of Jerusalem before the Lord called on him to stay his hand (2 Samuel 24:16). So it should surprise no one to read that it was an angel who moved the stone.

The Qur'an plainly states that all faithful Muslims must not only believe in Allah but also in the mala'ikah, the angels (Surah al-Baqara 2:285), and one of the six major tenets of a Muslim's iman is belief in angels. Not only so, but the Qur'an agrees that the angels who came to Abraham and Lot, told them that they had come to destroy the city where Lot dwelt (Surah al-'Ankabut 29:31-34), named as Sodom in the Bible.

The Qur'an therefore imposes on Muslims not only belief in angels, but also in their awesome power over the affairs of men and the substance of the earth. No Muslim can therefore sincerely object to the statement in the Bible that it was an angel who moved the stone. Why then does Deedat overlook this plain statement in the Bible and falsely suggest that the identity of the person who moved the stone is a “problem”? Why is there no mention in his booklet of the verse which plainly states that it was an angel who moved the stone? The reason is that his theory that Jesus was taken down alive from the cross and that Mary was looking for a live Jesus is flatly contradicted by what this same angel immediately said to Mary:

“Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. Lo, I have told you.” (Matthew 28:5-7)

The angel plainly told Mary and the other women to tell the disciples that Jesus, who had been crucified, had also now risen from the dead. They immediately fled from the tomb with “trembling and astonishment” (Mark 16:8). If they had thought that Jesus had survived the cross, they would have been anything but surprised to find him gone from the tomb. But they had come to find a dead body and were absolutely amazed to find an angel telling them in the “clearest language humanly possible” that Jesus had risen from the dead.

So we find that Deedat not only has to promote absurdities to support his arguments, but also has to suppress plain statements in the Bible which refute them completely. We urge all Muslims to read the Bible itself and to discover its wonderful truths instead of reading Deedat's booklets, which so obviously pervert its teaching and promote alternatives that are full of absurdities as this booklet has constantly shown.

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