Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Virgin Birth of Jesus (a.s.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is the text of a paper prepared for the Seminar for St. Andrew’s college for Wednesday 4th December 2013 by Mawlana Waffie Mohammed.


The appearance of Prophet Jesus (a.s.) on the earth occurred in an unusual way, according to the teachings of Islam.  Jesus (a.s.) was the only person who was sent to mankind without the agency of a father.  In order to fully comprehend how he came we need to understand the events as they occurred.  It all began with a vow made by the mother of Mary (a.s.) concerning the dedication of her pregnancy to God.  Mary’s (a.s.) mother, whose name was Hannah or Anne (r.a.), was the wife of ‘Imran (a.s.), also known as Aaron, who belonged to one of the tribes of Israel.  He was from the priestly class.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons why her mother decided to dedicate her child who was not yet born to the service of Allah (s.w.t.).  So she prayed as follows:


… “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)

At the time of making her prayer, Hannah (a.s.) was not aware of the sex of the fetus in her womb; so when the child was born she found out that it was a girl.  On seeing that it was a girl and not a boy as she had expected, she spoke to the Lord in the following words:


“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)

Mary (a.s.) was put in the temple under the care of Zakariya (a.s.) and his wife Elizabeth (r.a.), who was a cousin of Mary (a.s.).  Only Zakariya (a.s.) was permitted into her room, to take care of her and provide her requirements.  Zakariya (a.s.) was always puzzled when he used to go to her room, as he found that she always had a supply of fresh fruits and food, things that he never gave to her.  When he questioned her about it, her reply was always that it came from Allah (s.w.t.) Who is the Sustainer of all.  The Qur’an Mentions about this in the following verses:


… 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.” (Surah Ali ‘Imran:37)

Mary (a.s.) grew up very pure and pretty.  She was pure because she was always in seclusion, and she never experienced any monthly cycle as other women.  Allah (s.w.t.) Tells us about her as follows:


… to the care of Zakariya, was she assigned … (Surah Ali ‘Imran:37)

Mother Mary (a.s.) grew up to be a special woman, above all other women in history.  Allah (s.w.t.) Tells us about this in the Holy Qur’an in the following verse:


Behold!  The angels said, “O Mary!  Allah hath Chosen thee and Purified thee; ― Chosen thee above the women of all nations.” (Surah Ali ‘Imran:42)

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) confirmed that Mary (a.s.) was special.  He is reported to have said that there are four great women in history.  They are Asiyah (r.a.), the wife of Pharaoh; Mary (a.s.), the mother of Jesus (a.s.); Khadijah (r.a.), his wife; and Fathimah (r.a.), his daughter.

When the time came for Prophet Jesus (a.s.) to come into the world, Allah (s.w.t.) Sent Gabriel (a.s.) to Mary (a.s.).  He appeared to her in the form of a man.  This got Mary (a.s.) disturbed as she wanted to know how he could have invaded her privacy without any permission.  The Qur’an Tells us about this incident as follows:


Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East.  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.  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.”  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.”  So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place. (Surah Maryam:16-22)

After the discussion with her, the angel blew into her and she conceived.  Allah (s.w.t.) Says:


And Mary the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We Breathed into her (body) of Our Spirit ... (Surah at-Tahrim:12)

Scholars interpret ‘breathing into it’ to mean that he blew onto her shirt.  It does not say that the angel blew into her private part.  There are other occasions when the angel blew into persons and the soul went into the body.  For example, about Adam (a.s.), Allah (s.w.t.) Says:


But He Fashioned him in due proportion, and Breathed into him something of His spirit … (Surah as-Sajdah:9)

Even Jesus (a.s.) was able to perform this miraculous gift, when he blew into the bird which was made out of clay, and it came to life and flew away.  Allah (s.w.t.) Records about this as follows:


“And (appoint him) a Messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay as it were the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s Leave...” (Surah Ali ‘Imran:49)

The conception and birth of Jesus (a.s.), the son of Mary (a.s.) was unique, and different from the coming into the world of any other human being.  Except for Adam (a.s.), every single human comes into this world through conception of the sperm with the ovum.  Adam’s (a.s.) body was Formed and Fashioned and then Allah (s.w.t.) breathed, through His angel, His Spirit or Soul into his body.  He Tells us so in the Qur’an in the following verse:


But He Fashioned him in due proportion, and Breathed into him something of His spirit … (Surah as-Sajdah:9)

In the case of Jesus (a.s.), the process was slightly different.  His soul was blown into Mary (a.s.), and around the soul, the body grew.  This we know from the Qur’anic verse in which Allah (s.w.t.) Says:

  
O people of the Book!  Commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but truth.  Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word, which He Bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him ... (Surah an-Nisa’:171)

When the soul of Jesus (a.s.) was put into Mary (a.s.), and she realised that she was pregnant, she left her room quietly and un-noticed and proceeded eastwards.  She rested below a date palm tree and there, Jesus (a.s.) was born.  The Qur’an Tells us about this as follows:


So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.  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!”  But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-tree), “Grieve not!  For thy Lord hath Provided a rivulet beneath thee; and shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.  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:22-26)

Mary (a.s.) gave birth to Jesus (a.s.) under the date palm tree.  There she got food from dates and water from the stream that was flowing below her.  She stayed there until she felt strong enough to return to her people.  She then took baby Jesus and returned.  When the people saw her with a baby, they were shocked and amazed:


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!”  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; (He) hath Made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable; 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:27-33)

Jesus (a.s.) lived a private secluded life with his mother.  They were both sustained by Allah (s.w.t.).  Later in his life, he used to preach in the synagogue in the day and retreat to the mountain during the night.  As he was very critical of the doings of the hierarchy of the clergy, they wanted to get rid of him.  They thought of many ways of doing so but finally decided upon crucifying him.  The leaders of the community violated every form of justice against an innocent person, and although Allah (s.w.t.) allowed them to crucify a person, it was not Jesus (a.s.), the son of Mary (a.s.), who was crucified.  The Holy Qur’an Says:


That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”; ― but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was Made to appear to them and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. ― (Surah an-Nisa’:157)

3 comments:

  1. "The appearance of Prophet Jesus (a.s.) on the earth occurred in an unusual way, according to the teachings of Islam. Jesus (a.s.) was the only person who was sent to mankind without the agency of a father."

    ---not quite----as the Quran itself compares prophet Jesus to Prophet Adam who was also created without a father (as well as a mother)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adam (a.s.) was Created without the agency of either parent. Jesus (a.s.) was Created without the agency of a father. I hope this clarifies.

      Delete
  2. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus". Luke 1:31. "And the angel answered and said to her," The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most Highest will overshadow you..." Luke 1:35

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to share our thoughts. Once approved, your comments will be posted.