Imran Khan recently made a comment about Jesus in his speech on Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday celebrations. He claimed that although Moses can be found in history the same can’t be said about Jesus.
He got attacked by a lot of Pakistani intelligentsia, both Muslims and liberal Muslims (probably closeted ex-Muslims). Some even made comparisons between Imran Khan and Donald Trump over their ignorance of history, culture, science and pretty much everything they could name. I may sound like Imran Khan’s apologist again, however, I can’t help but comment on how unfairly he is being criticised by the so-called intellectuals of Pakistan like Haroon Rasheed, who once prided in being labelled as Imran Khan’s friend and a man behind his success.
The only mistake Imran Khan made was to claim that Moses can be found in history. Moses is, in fact, more absent from history than Jesus. Imran Khan didn’t claim that these prophets didn’t exist, he was simply making a point that these guys are absent from independent history. Since he is a Muslim, he wouldn’t acknowledge the same about his own beloved prophet Muhammad. There are some references of Muhammad in the Persian and Egyptian history but most of the detailed record of Muhammad we get comes from Islamic historians. Since there is some mention of Muhammad in the independent history of the time hence it is not easy to dismiss Muhammad as an invented historical figure. Unfortunately, same can’t be said about Jesus as his mention comes some 30-60 years after Jesus’s supposed death and all from people who had never directly witnessed or met Jesus.
Biblical scholars agree that Jesus most probably did exist however the consensus on Moses is far from being conclusive. I am a great admirer of Francesca Stavrakopoulou, a professor at the University of Exeter who holds a view that Moses, Abraham, Noah and other ancient prophets have absolutely no evidence of ever existing. She does agree that Jesus probably did exist along with many other scholars.
Coming back to Imran Khan, he probably is aware that the first person to write about Jesus in independent history was a Roman Jewish historian Flavius Josephus who briefly mentioned Jesus in 93AD, some 50-60 years after Jesus’s supposed death. Josephus also borrowed his brief mention of Jesus from St Paul whom himself had never met Jesus and had only heard stories from Jesus’ brother James some 30-40 years after Jesus’ supposed death. There is a lot of heresy in one of the most important figures of human history yet nearly 2 billion people don’t see anything wrong with that. This is why scholars agree that Jesus probably existed but all the stories written in the Pauline’s Epistles aka The New Testament are probably just stories.
So, Imran Khan is not wrong when he says “There is no record of Jesus in history” because he actually meant there is no record of Jesus in the independent history of the time. I would like Imran Khan to correct himself and say there is absolutely no record of Moses in history as well.