Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Virgin birth of Jesus (peace be upon him)

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

In the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful

By Maulana Dr. Waffie Mohammed

Transcript of discourse prepared for the Seminar for St. Andrew’s College; Wednesday 4th December 2013.

The appearance of Prophet Jesus on the earth occurred in an unusual way, according to the teachings of Islam.  Jesus (pboh) 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 concerning the dedication of her pregnancy to God.

Mary’s mother vow:

Mary’s mother whose name was Hannah (Anne) was the wife of Imran (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.  So she prayed as follows:

O my Lord, I do dedicate unto Thee what is in my womb, for Your special service; so accept this from me, for You hear and know all things. (3:35)

At the time of making her prayer Hannah 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, I am delivered of a female child; and Allah knew best what she brought forth.  But she continued her prayer as follows: and in no way is the female like the male. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Your protection, from the Evil One, the Rejected. (3:36)

Mary, the mother of Jesus:

Mary was put in the temple under the care of Zakaria and his wife Elizabeth, who was a cousin of Mary.  Only Zakaria was permitted into her room, to take care of her and provide her requirements.

Zakaria 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, Who is the Sustainer of all.  The Qur’an mentions about this in the following verses:

Every time Zakaria entered her chamber to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He used to say: O Mary, from where did you get this? She would reply; from Allah, for Allah provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure. (3:37)

Mary 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 tells us about her as follows:

Her Lord made her grow in purity and beauty in the care of Zakaria in whose care she was assigned. (3:37)

Mother Mary grew up to be a special woman, above all other women in history. Allah tells us about this in the Holy Qur’an in the following verse:

Behold, the angels said: O Mary, Allah has chosen thee and purified thee. He has chosen thee above the women of all nations. (3:42)

Prophet Muhammad (pboh) confirmed that Mary was special.  He is reported to have said that there are four great women in history. They are:

  1. The wife of Pharaoh
  2. Mary the mother of Jesus
  3. Lady Khadija (his wife)
  4. Fatima (his daughter)

The birth of Jesus (peace be on him):

When the time came for Prophet Jesus to come into the world, Allah sent Gabriel to Mary.  He appeared to her in the form of a man.  This got Mary 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 in the Merciful Lord from thee.  He said: nay, I am only a Messenger from your Lord to announce to you the gift of a holy son.  She said: how can I have a son seeing that no man hath touched me, and I am not unchaste?  He said: so it will be. Your Lord says; that is easy for Me, and We wish to appoint him as a Sign unto men, and as a mercy from Us. It is a matter decreed. (19:16-23)

After the discussion with her the angel blew into her and she conceived.  Allah says:

And Mary the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity, and We breathed into it of Our Spirit. (66:12)

Islamic Scholars interpret “breathing into it” to mean that he blew into 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, Allah says:

He Allah fashioned him in due proportion and breathed into him something of His Spirit. (32:9)

Even Jesus was able to perform this miraculous gift, when he blew into the bird which was made out of clay, and it got life and flew away.   Allah records about this as follows:

Jesus said: O Children of Israel, I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord, in that I made 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. (3:49)

The conception and birth of Jesus, the son of Mary was unique, and different from the coming into the world of any other human being.  

Except for Father Adam, every single human comes into this world through conception of the sperm with the ovum.  Adam’s body was formed and fashioned and then Allah breathed (through the angel) his spirit or soul into his body.  He tells us so in the Qur’an in the following verse:

He (Allah) fashioned him (Adam), in due proportion, and breathed into him something of His Spirit. (32:9)

In the case of Prophet Jesus, the process was slightly different.  His soul was blown into Mary, and around the soul the body grew. This we know from the Qur’anic verse in which Allah says:

O People of the Book, commit no excess in your religion; nor say of Allah aught but the 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. (4:171)

When the soul of Jesus was put into Mary, and she realized 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 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 I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight.  But a voice cried to her from beneath; Grieve not, for thy Lord has provided a rivulet beneath you, and shake the trunk of the date palm towards you, it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon you. So eat and drink and cool your eyes. And if you should see any man: say; I have vowed a fast to Allah Most Gracious, and today I will not be talking to any human being. (19:22-26)

Mary gave birth to Jesus 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. They said:

O Mary, (it is truly) an amazing thing you have brought. O sister of Aaron, your father was not an evil man, nor was your mother an unchaste woman. So she pointed to the babe. They said, how can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle? He (Jesus) said: I am indeed a servant of Allah. He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet.  And He hath made me blessed where so ever 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 and miserable.  So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day I shall raise up to life again. (19:27-33)

Prophet Jesus lived a private secluded life with his mother. They were both sustained by Allah.  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 Church, 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 Church violated every form of justice against an innocent person, and although God allowed them to crucify a person, it was not Jesus the son of Mary who was crucified.  The Holy Qur’an says:

They (the people of the Book) say (in boast) We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah; but they did not kill him, nor did they crucify 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 a surety they did not kill him. (4:157)