Saturday, 20 July 2013
The Secret of the Creation of Jesus (a.s.) & Mary (a.s.)
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following was extracted from “Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary & His Blessed Mother” by Habib ‘Ali al-Jifri and originally translated by Shaykh Gibril Haddad. This was a talk given in Arabic at Dar al-Fatwa in Beirut, Lebanon on the 10th January, 2003.
The entire matter is connected to the days in which Allah (s.w.t.) Caused our liege-lord Jesus (a.s.) to exist. The time in which our lady, Mary (a.s.) was born was a time in which the tyranny of materiality held full sway over the Israelites. The interests of the world dominated them completely. They even altered the Word of God for the purpose of their buying and selling - the rulings of the Sacred Law. Allah (s.w.t.) Forbade usury in all the dispensations, so they altered the rulings and made usury permitted to themselves. They made permissible to themselves much of what Allah (s.w.t.) had Forbidden them. They made up laws to obscure the order of the Divine Call which had been Directed to them, only for the purpose of running after material concerns. They became slaves of materialism.
Among the Israelites, there remained some righteous souls such as the prophets and their entourage and those that affiliated themselves to them. Among these righteous souls was our lady, Hannah (a.s.) the mother of our lady, Mary (a.s.). Hannah (a.s.) was one of the righteous women, one of the God-conscious, worshipful, devoted to prayer and good works. She had great love for the prophets, saints, and the devotees that were in Jerusalem. When she became pregnant from her husband, she felt that she might give birth to a boy and so she vowed that what she carried in her womb would be dedicated to the service of Allah (s.w.t.).
Behold! A woman of ‘Imran said, “O my Lord! I do dedicate into Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service so Accept this of me! For Thou Hearest and Knowest all things.” (Surah Ali ‘Imran:35)
She vowed that the newborn would serve the temple of Jerusalem so as to become prepared for the service of the religion.
We look at the effect of intention. What is our goal when we want to have children? What is our intention? The very deliverance which the ummah awaits, at the hands of our liege-lord Jesus (a.s.). There will be for Hannah (a.s.), an ample portion of its reward and benefit for she possessed an intention with Allah (s.w.t.). We look at this fortunate woman who, when she intended that in her offspring there would be someone who serves Allah (s.w.t.), someone who would serve this religion, when she was truthful in such an intention; Allah (s.w.t.) Honoured her because of her intention, but not in the way she thought. For she gave birth to a female child.
When she was delivered, she said, “O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!” And Allah Knew best what she brought forth. “And is not the male like the female. I have named her Mary and I commend her and her offspring to Thy Protection from the Evil One, the Rejected." (Surah Ali ‘Imran:36)
What was the reply? The sum total of what the hearts of the truthful seek is that their Lord Receive them with Gracious Favour:
Right graciously did her Lord Accept her: He Made her grow in purity and beauty; to the care of Zakariya, was she assigned … (Surah Ali ‘Imran:37)
The intention of Hannah (a.s.) made the one she bore Accepted, even though it was other than what she had envisaged and wished for, since she had wished for a boy and she got a girl. Righteous and truthful intentions are not in vain in the Presence of Allah (s.w.t.) regardless of the judicial calculations of humankind, even if our hope and plans did not materialise. A girl came, but intentions are never lost in the Presence of Allah (s.w.t.); thousands upon thousands of men are not worth Mary’s foot (a.s.).
She gave birth to our lady, Mary (a.s.). Mary (a.s.) grew up, fed with purity, light, God-consciousness, and righteousness. Those of the prophets, saints, and hermits that were in Jerusalem drew lots to see who would take charge of her. The lot fell to Zachariah (a.s.). He was a relative of Mary (a.s.). Zachariah (a.s.) placed her in a mihrab. The mihrab back then was not the prayer-niche we know today but consisted in an isolated cell or tower that had no door nor opening except from the top. It could be entered only with a ladder from the outside and another ladder down into it. Zachariah (a.s.) placed her in it. He would bring her food and go. She practiced her devotions and worship in absolute dedication and chastity, orienting herself wholly to her Lord in her cell.
Allah (s.w.t.) Showed our liege-lord Zachariah certain wonders:
… Every time that he entered (her) chamber to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said, “O Mary! Whence (comes) this to you?” She said, “From Allah: for Allah Provides sustenance to whom He Pleases, without measure.” There did Zakariya pray to his Lord saying, “O my Lord! Grant unto me from Thee a progeny that is pure; for Thou art He that Heareth prayer!” (Surah Ali 'Imran:38)
Zachariah (a.s.) is a prophet and therefore better than Mary (a.s.) who is a truthful saint, swiddiqa. However, because of the high rank which Mary (a.s.) gained, she was in a position to teach one of the prophets. At that point, one of the prophets actually became her pupil in the religion. Zachariah (a.s.) wondered from where the fruits he found there came. They said he would find with her the fruits of winter in the summer season and the fruits of summer in the winter season. He knew full well that no one other than he entered that place which was shut tight and inaccessible - but, more importantly, such fruits were not to be found in the land since they were out of season. She said that it is from Allah (s.w.t.). The fact of the matter is the certitude that sustenance is from our Lord and not from any created cause. We do know that we are Commanded to deal with created causes and effects. However, if created causes and effects have been suppressed, then the sustenance of Allah (s.w.t.) can never be suppressed.
Then came the tremendous event in which Allah (s.w.t.) Manifested Himself and for which He had Prepared Mary (a.s.):
Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East. (Surah Maryam:16)
The ‘ulama have said that the East was an allusion to the Orient from where the sun rose, that is, to the East from her perspective. The people are accustomed to praise the East because it is the place from the direction of which the light comes.
She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them: then We Sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. (Surah Maryam:17)
They said that the, screen, the hijab, meant she hid herself from mankind to dedicated herself to the Divine worship. After she tasted the sweetness of worship in her cell, she wished to taste the sweetness of worship in her travelling on the earth. When she saw Gabriel (a.s.), he assumed for her an excellent likeness, the likeness of a human being:
She said, “I seek refuge from thee to (Allah) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear Allah.” He said, “Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord (to announce) to thee the Gift of a holy son.”(Surah Maryam:18-19)
She realised the secret behind his presence, the receiving of the manifestation, tajalli, that dawned upon her from Allah (s.w.t.). What is behind such a Gift?
She said, “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?” He said, “So (it will be): thy Lord Saith, ‘That is Easy for Me: and (We Wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us’: it is a matter (so) Decreed.” (Surah Maryam:20-21)
Consider now the presence of food for our lady Mary as she was in her cell, dedicated to her worship, without means nor sensory cause. This was a preamble so that Mary (a.s.) would understand that for the existence of the new born, there was no pre-condition of mans. The matter was not, for Mary (a.s.), merely a mental apprehension. Rather, it was a discernment of certitude and of the heart, dzawq yaqini qalbi. For she witnessed and saw with her very eyes the Divine Gift with which human custom and cause-and-effect were breached right in front of her. After that, she did not consider it strange that a customary cause be breached in the occurrence of a newborn child for her.
Then came the time for giving birth. It was said that the spirit of the child was breathed into her, the pregnancy took place, and the time of birth came all at one and the same time. We must not think this strange. The matter, from beginning to end, violates custom. The matter is one of the Manifestations of the Power of Allah (s.w.t.).
And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: she cried (in her anguish), “Ah! Would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!” (Surah Maryam:23)
When she felt the time of birth had come, when she reached this stage, the ‘ulama pondered why she had asked for death while she was in the very midst of Divine Generosity. One of them said, “Because she knows that the non-believers had reached such a lowly state of vile attachment to the world and its overwhelming lusts and materialism that they would never accept the sight of Allah’s Favour and the breach of customary laws that took place with Mary.”
Someone else said, “No, she wished that she had not lived to see that day only because Allah had shown her that her son might one day be worshipped together with God Almighty.”
She gave birth to Jesus (a.s.). The lights of Jesus (a.s.) dawned upon this earth. When he saw the distraught state of his mother, he addressed her even as he was in her womb or from below her after birth. He caused her to apprehend another meaning that reminded her of the Magnificence of Allah (s.w.t.) Who is with her.
“And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.” (Surah Maryam:25)
Here, we tend to recite this verse without pausing. The palm tree is solid. It is difficult for a human being to shake it. A strong and mighty man would hardly budge a palm tree, even a number of men. The palm tree trunk at the bottom is very large while its top is thin so that the wind can move it. If we try to move a fully grown palm tree at the bottom of its trunk, we will not be able. How, then, can a woman in the weakness of giving birth be able to shake it? Yet this act is Demanded of her and it is not sufficient for her to merely see the Divine Bounty.
In the first two phases, she saw the Divine Gift before her. The first time was for her schooling. Fruits and sustenance descended from the heaven and were laid before her without her asking. The second time she was told that she would give birth without outward nor sensory cause and without connection to any man, again, without her asking. Now, it is asked of her that she herself move the palm tree. Some of the ‘ulama said that this was an allusion to the world of cause and effect and to the fact that mankind is not to leave aside material means even though they rely on their Causer. This is a fine explanation. However, there is another meaning. The certitude that had built up in Mary (a.s.) has taken root in her conscience with such strength that it was now asked of her what no mind would normally accept to do whatsoever.
The mind says that in such a state there is no way for her to move the trunk of the palm tree. However, the order or directive came to her from her own child - a breach of custom in its own right, a newborn infant speaking - and with this same breach of custom she was ordered to stretch her hand to do what she knew she was unable to do of her own power howsoever. And this is a meaning from certitude to which Mary (a.s.) ascended. We own a share of this certitude which we ought to grasp and follow. When Allah (s.w.t.) Asks us to do something from which we find our strength falling short, we ought not to procrastinate obeying the Divine Order with the excuse that we are too weak or that others are stronger. The day the ummah reaches the certitude that when they are true in helping Allah (s.w.t.), Allah (s.w.t.) will Help them; at that time, the palm trees of existence shall shake for this ummah.
O ye who believe! If ye will aid (the cause of) Allah, He will Aid you, and Plant your feet firmly. (Surah Muhammad:7)
The Virgin Mary (a.s.) rose with her newborn child and returned to the Israelites. They saw her whom they knew to be chosen. Some of them might well have harboured jealousy in their souls against her because of her special station. Those whose hearts have muddied or become diseased find it difficult to watch those that are hale respected and honoured in the society. This is what is called jealousy, hasad. The mark of jealousy is recognised in the heart of the jealous person by the fact that when he sees markers of distinction before him, whether in religion or anything else, something takes hold in his heart; after this he bides his time patiently, patiently, until, when he hears the smallest suspicion or accusation, he shouts, "Yes!" loud and clear in its confirmation and is overjoyed at its news. Why? Because in his heart there is filth and turbidity.
When such filth and turbidity had taken root in the hearts of those people, they felt that in the special distinction of Mary (a.s.) lay an implicit address to themselves. They seemed to hear the message, “You ought to return to purity, O those who have polluted yourselves with the world and its lucre and its show to which you should never have attached yourselves. Here, before your eyes, is a weak woman that has been honoured with this high station of purity while you, who lead your society, how far behind you have left purity.”
Thus, the state of purity of the Virgin Mary (a.s.) was a state of admonition that had been overturning the beds of those possessed of insight among the worshippers of money and materiality. Now, as soon as they saw the nursing infant in her arms, they became overjoyed:
At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said, “O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought!” (Surah Maryam:27)
Why did they not ask when they had a chance to learn something? But their muddied hearts could not bear to see the purity of the Virgin Mary (a.s.) before their eyes. This is the wont of those who have polluted themselves with the worship of materialism. It is too much for them to see purity revered and followed among the people:
But she pointed to the babe. They said, “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?” (Surah Maryam:29)
Allah (s.w.t.) did not give them pause for her to answer them:
He said, “I am indeed a servant of Allah. He hath Given me Revelation and Made me a prophet.” (Surah Maryam:30)
He listed the meanings which Allah (s.w.t.) had especially Bestowed upon him and the ranks with which He had Honoured him. He made the key to that list the affirmation that he was the slave of Allah (s.w.t.), his servanthood to Allah (s.w.t.). Then, proceeding from the secret of his servanthood to Allah (s.w.t.), came the ranks. Then he described himself as Blessed, then he described himself as Dutiful so we would know that the secret of dutiful piety is not binding merely upon those who possess it but also applies to others. The societies that recognise the degrees of piety amongst its people of merit are the societies that rise in the ranks of merit.
“And He hath made me Blessed wheresoever I be, and hath Enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live.” (Surah Maryam:31)
Allah (s.w.t.) had said to her before she went back out to her people:
“So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye. And if thou dost see any man say, ‘I have vowed a fast to (Allah) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being.’” (Surah Maryam:26)
Ponder this meaning. The rule would have been that He Tell her, “Get ready to answer them. Say to them, Allah is Able over all things. Give them the proof and the evidences: I carried and gave birth in a very brief time, you saw me just before and I was not pregnant, if this had been a falsehood or a sin, this should have taken the normal span of time, nine months...” But He did not give her permission to speak nor to prove her innocence. Meaning, in facing this trial, she had turned entirely to her Lord Almighty and Glorious.
At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said, “O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought!” “O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!” (Surah Maryam:27-28)
There was implied parentage. It was also said that Aaron (a.s.) was proverbially known for integrity and purity. This is a preamble for the charge that is coming up. After falsehood settles firmly in the heart of the dishonest person, he becomes refined in the art of bringing out that falsehood: “We know so well that you are righteous and goodly, but this - this terrible thing you have done!” They seem happy to see evil.
But she pointed to the babe. They said, “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?” He said, “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath Given me Revelation and Made me a prophet; and He hath Made me Blessed wheresoever I be, and hath Enjoined on me, prayer and charity as long as I live.” (Surah Maryam:29-31)
So then Blessing is with Jesus (a.s.) wherever he is. When he walked upon the earth Blessing was with him wherever he walked, and after he ascended to the Heavens, Blessings ascended wherever he ascended.
“(He) hath Made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable.” (Surah Maryam:32)
And now the fruit of what preceded:
“So Peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die and the day that I shall be Raised Up to life (again)!” (Surah Maryam:33)
When this meaning came into broad daylight, they were crestfallen and remained unable to say anything.
Jesus (a.s.) grew up, fed with purity. When Allah (s.w.t.) Willed to Send him forth, his mission among his people was the mission of the spirit: to link the hearts back with their Lord and revive values and morals. This is the reason we do not find, in the Evangel, much talk about rulings and laws but instead find that the Evangel focuses on morals, parables, and spirituality. Jesus (a.s.) said, as is mentioned in the Evangel:
24 And he answered, “My errand is only to the lost sheep that are of the house of Israel.”
That is, Allah (s.w.t.) Sent him to those whom the world has so overwhelmed that they have become, unconcerned by other than food, drink, and lusts, without the least heed to rising to any Divine connection. When they did not accept that magnificent mission, denying its truth, plotting against it, denigrating it and defaming Jesus (a.s.) while some of them believed in him, Allah (s.w.t.) Desired to Cleanse him and Raise him up to the Second Heaven. He Raised him up and the days passed while they remained in their disbelief, defacing the creed, far from spirituality and connection, and so until the time came when our liege-lord Muhammad (s.a.w.) appeared. Jesus (a.s.) had given the glad tidings about him in the Evangel.