Suzanne Olsson’s book, Jesus in Kashmir: The Lost Tomb, was published in 2005 and chronicles the rich religious history of Kashmir, focusing on the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim roots of this conflicted area in South Asia. Although entitled Jesus in Kashmir, the book researches much more than Prophet Jesus (as) in Kashmir, and instead addresses a variety of topics in small sections and delves deeply into evolution and the religious teachings, scripture, and personages of the major world faiths.
Olsson begins by chronicling her own family genealogy to Prophet Jesus (as), and the similarities between the DNA of various living objects (human and otherwise) and blood types. She then examines some of the Prophets of the various world faiths, including Prophets Buddha (as), Solomon (as), and Moses (as). Of all of the prophets examined, however, Prophet Jesus (as), and relatedly his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene, are of primary interest to Olsson.
Olsson focuses her writing on Prophet Jesus (as) and begins with research surrounding Prophet Jesus’ (as) mother, Mary. In addition to discussing the immaculate conception by Mary (as) of Prophet Jesus (as), Olsson, similar to the process by which scientists and historians have studied Egyptian mummies, desired to seek DNA from the tombs of various Biblical figures to provide scientific evidence regarding the validity or falsity of the tombs, as exampled by the various tombs of Prophet Jesus (as). One such tomb was the tomb in Murree, Pakistan that is believed to be the tomb of Mary, Mother of Jesus (as). However, although she obtained permission to retrieve DNA and engage in carbon- dating from the tomb, Olsson states that Pakistan did not cooper- rate and she was unable to complete her research in Murree.
Olsson then focuses on Prophet Jesus (as) himself. Olsson presents that there are various theories of where Jesus (as) went after he was taken down from the cross. Apart from the beliefs of contemporary Christianity, Olsson explores the theory that Jesus (as) went to Egypt, Britain or India. Olsson does not delve too deeply into the theories regarding Egypt or Britain, but does focus on Jesus’s (as) potential travels to India. She references the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, whom she refers to as:
“The Ahmadis, a branch of Islam centered totally on the idea that Jesus survived crucifixion and died in Kashmir at the age of one hundred and twenty years.”
Olsson explains that, of all of the accounts of where and how Jesus (as) died, The Ahmadi view of Jesus (as) in India is the most accurate and ancient account, with both Muslim and Persian sources that trace the travel path of Jesus (as).
Olsson also traces the origins of Mary Magdalene and points to the various scripture that she has collected from Egypt to India that point to the impact that Mary Magdalene has had on religion and society. For example, in India, Olsson points to an area known as Maghda that is named after Mary Magdalene. She also references at great length scripture from the 1st century that chronicles the impact of Prophet Jesus (as) and Mary Magdalene on the sexual impropriety in India at that time and founding many orphanages for young girls, as well as their impact on helping develop Jainism.
About halfway through her book, Olsson discussed the crucifixion of Prophet Jesus (as). In her account of the crucifixion, Olsson explains that Pilate, the Roman governor, knew that Prophet Jesus’ (as) claims were very different from those of the Jewish high priests and believed that Prophet Jesus (as) was not a threat to the Roman Empire. She then quotes the following verses from the Holy Qur’an:
“Because of their [the Jews]saying: ‘We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, God’s Messenger’ they slew him not, nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them, and lo! Those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not…But God took him up unto Him- self, God is every Mighty, Wise.” (1)
Olsson explains that Pilate’s actions, possibly in cahoots with Joseph of Arimathea, support the account in the Holy Qur’an, as exampled by Pilate’s words to the Roman soldiers in the Gospel of Nicodemus to, “Let Jesus be brought with gentleness.” Olsson explains that Pilate repeatedly declared Prophet Jesus (as) to be innocent. She then recounts the various interpretations of the actual crucifixion and aftermath of the crucifixion, including the possibility that Prophet Jesus (as) did travel to India. (p. 220)
Olsson also describes the Roza Bal (place of the tomb of Jesus) in Kashmir, which is known to be the tomb of a man named Yuz Asaph. Yuz Asaph means “son of Joseph.” Olsson believes, similar to the Ahmadi belief, that Yuz Asaph was none other than Prophet Jesus (as). Olsson explains that the various actual historical evidence, as well as the family genealogy of Prophet Jesus (as), is all found in the Roza Bal.
In describing the Roza Bal tomb, Olsson focuses more on the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (including a picture of His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba)). Olsson states:
“Although I am not Muslim, nor do I accept all Ahmadi conclusions and beliefs, I do endorse their support [of]the tomb of Roza Bal, and their firm stand of non- violence, tolerance, and equality for all. In my opinion, they have been a breadth of fresh air for all Islam in these troubled times.” (p. 302)
Olsson further details why there is so much resistance to researching Roza Bal in any scientific manner:
“The Ahmadis Movement is the only religious organization in the world to recognize Roza Bal tomb as the tomb of Jesus. They have spread the word about Jesus in Roza Bal tomb worldwide. Millions of followers also believe this is true. And this is precisely why research at the tomb has bogged down. Fundamentalists see an Ahmadi “plot” behind every effort and refuse science and researchers further investigation for this reason alone.” (p. 303)
Olsson discusses how the teachings of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community teach true Islam and also emphasize the peaceful, loving nature espoused by the teachings of Prophet Jesus (as). She contrasts this version of Islam to that of the Wahabi and Salafi viewpoint that speaks of a bloody Messiah and bloody Mahdi, which in turn have informed how the Wahabis and Salafis view their practice of religion and how they interact with the outside world—in a very aggressive and violent manner.
Overall, Olsson’s book is a chest of research and knowledge on a wide range of topics. Reading this book takes a lot of time, as each section is a research topic in itself. The various black and white images that Olsson has included with the text of her book illuminate the very issues that shed great doubt on the mainstream Christian beliefs surrounding the fate of Prophet Jesus (as) and his mother, Mary (as), as well as the evolution of Buddhism, Hinduism, the final resting place of Prophet Moses’ (as) staff, and so much more. Although entitled Jesus in Kashmir, this book is about so much more and much can be ascertained by a careful study. For this book, or any forthcoming book to truly focus on any scientific analysis of the presence of Prophet Jesus (as) in India, as explained by Olsson, it is time to pressure the various governmental and religious institutions that stand in the way of any further research into Roza Bal.
References: The Holy Quran, Chapter 4: Verses: 158–159.
This review appears in the Spring 2016 issue of the Muslim Sunrise.
Last modified: April 2019