Who was the person who was made to resemble ‘Eesa (peace be upon him)?
The Qur’aan states that ‘Eesa (peace be upon him) was not crucified or killed, and that he was lifted up to heaven. There is no text of the Revelation that tells us the details of what happened on the day when that was made to appear to the Jews, but there is a saheeh report from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messiah (peace be upon him) said to those of his companions who were with him in the house: “Which of you will be made to look like me and be killed in my stead, and he will be with me in the same level as me (in Paradise)?” A young man who was one of the youngest of them stood up, and he said to him: “Sit down.” Then he repeated it and that young man stood up again, and he said: “Sit down.” Then he repeated it again and that young man stood up and said, “I (will do it).” He said: “You are the one.” So he was caused to look like ‘Eesa and ‘Eesa was lifted up from a window in the house to heaven. Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his Tafseer (4/337), commenting on this report: This is a saheeh isnaad going back to Ibn ‘Abbaas. Similarly it was narrated from more than one of the salaf that he said to them: “Which of you will be made to look like me and be killed in my stead, and he will be my companion in Paradise?” End quote.
Then he (may Allaah have mercy on him) said (4/341): Ibn Jareer favoured the view that all of his companions were made to look like ‘Eesa. End quote. This was mentioned in a report narrated from Wahb ibn Munabbih which was narrated by Ibn Jareer (may Allaah have mercy on him) and quoted by Ibn Katheer (4/337), in which it states that when they surrounded ‘Eesa and his companions and entered upon them, “Allaah made them all appear in the form of ‘Eesa and they said to them, ‘You have bewitched us; send forth to us ‘Eesa or we will kill you all,’ until they sent forth one of their number after ‘Eesa promised Paradise to him, and they took him and crucified him.”
But Ibn Katheer said after that: This is a very strange story. End quote.
He also (may Allaah have mercy on him) said (4/341): Some of the Christians claim that Judas Iscariot – who is the one who led the Jews to ‘Eesa – is the one who was made to look like ‘Eesa so they crucified him, and he said: I am not the one you want, I am the one who led you to him. Allaah knows best what really happened. End quote.
With that, Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) concluded his discussion of this topic: Allaah knows best what really happened.
Knowledge of this matter is of no great benefit; if we needed to know that, our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would have told us.
And Allaah knows best.