Answered by Moulana Yusuf Laher (http://www.anwaarul-islam.co.za)
The Christian asks: “We have in the story of the crucifixion of Jesus two mutually contradicting viewpoints: On the one side, the statement from the Bible, attested by a large multitude of people that Jesus was actually hung up and crucified on the cross. Yet, we have the Quran saying that this is not true, and that it was all a mass illusion of some sort. But why should anyone discard the evidence of the Bible and the affirmation of this fact by a large multitude of eyewitnesses for the sayings of a book coming 6 centuries after the fact?”
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم
When it comes to issues like these, there are some basic principles to adhere to:
1. We maintain that the Bible is not on its original form, but has been changed and altered. Thus, we do not accept what is written in it. We will only accept that which conforms to the Islamic texts and Islamic teachings, otherwise it will be rejected. When there is a contradiction between the Bible and Islamic teachings, we will accept the Islamic teaching.
2. We believe that Nabi Mohammed (Sallallaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) is the final Messenger of Allah and whatever he says is Divine revelation. Irrespective of how many people ‘witnessed’ and testified, the word of our Nabi outweighs everything else. There is no one more truthful than him.
3. We are not denying that a crucifixion took place. We too say it took place but the person crucified was not Nabi Eesaa (Alayhis Salaam). There are many narrations mentioned in the books of Tafseer such as Roohul Ma’aani, at-Tabari, Khaazin, Ibni Katheer and many others that another person was given the facial appearance of Nabi Eesaa (Alayhis Salaam) and he was crucified. So the eye witnesses saw the crucifixion but it took place on another person. The Qur’aan attests to this and uses the word ‘SHUBBIHA LAHUM’ (i.e. that it was made to appear to them as such). Our belief is on the Qur’aan and not the altered Bible.
4. Irrespective of how long after that era the Qur’aan came, it is a Divine Book and delivered to us by a Chosen Messenger. The criteria in here is the miraculous nature of the Qur’an which incapacitates the opponents of Islam, and the information contained therein is not contradicted by the relatively weak claims of the Bible we have in our hands.