Mary and the Birth of Jesus
The Wife of ’Imran Gives Birth To A Female
The story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is sometimes a confusing one.
The Apocrypha mentions a Joachim as the father of Mary. In the Koran, Mary is born into the family of Imran. Imran is the Arabic word for “the father of Moses” therefore, it may be safe to assume that Mary was a descendent of the father of Moses.
The timeline, of course, does not make any sense but, as mentioned previously, this does not appear to be a preoccupation of Allah or His Messenger.
3:33 Allah chose Adam, Noah, the family of Abraham and the family of ‘Imran above all mankind;
3:34 Descending one from another; and Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing!
3:35 [Remember] when the wife of ’Imran said: “Lord, I have vowed to You what is in my womb to be devoted [to Your service]. Accept it from me, for You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.”
The mother of Mary, in the next verse, gives the impression of being disappointed for having given birth to a female, but Allah knew she was no ordinary female and there was nothing to be disappointed about.
3:36 And when she delivered her, she said: “Lord, I have given birth to a female”, – and Allah knew best what she gave birth to; the male is not the same as the female – “I have named her Mary and I commend her and her descendents to You to protect her from the accursed Devil.”
Allah, at one point in Mary’s development, entrusted the care and feeding of the future mother of Jesus to Zachariah who would later discover that Allah himself looked after Mary’s welfare.
3:37 Then her Lord accepted her graciously and made her to grow into a fine child, entrusting her to Zachariah. Whenever Zachariah went in to see her in the sanctuary, he found that she had some provision. “Mary,” he asked, “where did you get this?” She replied: “It is from Allah, and Allah provides for whom he wishes without measure.”
This last statement by Mary prompted Zachariah to ask Allah for a favour.
3:38 Thereupon, Zachariah prayed to his Lord saying: “Lord grant me from Your Bounty fine descendents. Indeed You hear every prayer!”
The plea by Zachariah and God’s response in the following verses tell a story that may sound familiar, for it is reminiscent of the conundrum that Abraham faced. In both stories, an old patriarch and his barren wife are childless.
3:39 Then the angels called him while he was at prayer in the sanctuary, saying: “Allah bids you rejoice in John, confirming a word (Jesus) from Allah, a master, chaste and a Prophet and one of the righteous.”
3:40 He said: “Lord, how will I have a son, seeing I have been overtaken by old age and my wife is barren?” “This is how Allah does whatever He pleases,“ He replied.
In the following verse, Zachariah asks Allah to give him a sign. A sign can be interpreted here as Zachariah asking God how he can demonstrate to those around him that Allah has granted him his wish.
3:41 He said; “Lord give me a sign.” Allah said: “Your sign is that you will not speak to anybody for three days, except by signs; and remember your Lord often and give praise evening and morning.”
The angels then visited Mary with more good news.
3:42 And when the angels said: “O Mary, Allah has chosen you and purified you, preferring you to all womankind.”
3:43 “O Mary, be obedient to your Lord, prostrate yourself and bow down with those who bow down.”
For reasons that are not clear, in the next verse Allah reveals that lots were thrown to see who would take care of Mary.
3:44 This is part of the tidings of the Unseen which We reveal to you. You were not in their midst when they cast their pens (casting lots) to see who will take charge of Mary, and you were not in their midst when they were disputing.
Returning to the angels with the good news:
3:45 When the angels said: “O Mary, Allah bids you rejoice in a word from Him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary. He shall be prominent in this world (through prophethood) and the next (through intercession) and shall be near to God.”
3:46 “He shall speak to people from the cradle and while an old man and will be one of the righteous.”
Mary is somewhat sceptical until Allah assures her that, like in the Bible, having a virgin give birth is an easy matter for God and that He will teach her off-spring all he needs to know, then send him as His Messenger to the Jews.
3:47 She said: “Lord, how can I have a child when I have not been touched by any man?” Allah said: “Thus Allah creates whatever He pleases. Whenever He decrees a matter, He simply says to it: ‘Be’, and it comes to be.”
3:48 And He will teach him the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel.
3:49 And [send him forth as a] Messenger to the Children of Israel [saying]: “I bring you a sign from your Lord. I will create for you out of clay the likeliness of a bird; then I will breathe into it and it will become a bird, by Allah’s leave. And I will heal the blind and the leper and will raise the dead, by Allah’s leave. And I will inform you concerning what you eat and what you hoard in your homes. In all this there is surely a sign for you, if you are believers!”
66:12 And Mary, daughter of Imran, who guarded her womb, and so We breathed into it of Our Spirit; and she believe in the truth of her Lord’s Words and His Books and was one of the pious.
19:16 And remember [the account] of Mary in the Book when she withdrew from her people to an eastern place.
19:17 She screened herself away from them, and We sent to her Our Spirit and it appeared to her in the form of a well-shaped human being.
19:18 She said: “I seek refuge with Allah from you, if you do fear Allah.”
19:19 He said: “I am only the messenger of your Lord to grant you a boy most pure.”
19:20 She said: “Shall I have a boy, when no man has touched me and I have not been an unchaste woman?”
19:21 He (the angel) said: “Thus [it will be], your Lord has said: “This is an easy matter for Me; that We may make him (the boy, Jesus) a sign unto mankind and a Mercy from Us.’” And thus it was decreed.
Who is the father of Jesus? Is it the Angel Gabriel, the Spirit in revelation 19:17 who took the form of a “well-shaped human being, or is it Allah Himself?
In revelation 21:91 Allah said that “We breathed into her Our Spirit”. Is it a metaphor or is it Allah?
21:89 And Zacharia, when he called upon his Lord [said]: “Lord, do not leave me alone; for you are the best of the inheritors.”
21:90 So, We answered him and gave him John and set his wife right for him (fit to bear a child, Moududi). Indeed, they vied with each other in good deeds, and they called upon Us out of affection and out of fear; and they were submissive to Us.
21:91 And she who guarded her chastity (Mary), and so We breathed into her Our Spirit and made her and her son (Jesus) a sign unto the world.
Jesus - Birth
23:50 And We made Mary’s son and his mother a sign, and We sheltered them on a lofty ground which had [settled] meadows and a spring.
Nazareth is not mentioned in the Koran and there is no Joseph. Jesus, with perhaps the assistance of the angel Gabriel, will help in his delivery.
In Allah's account of the birth of Jesus, the Christian Messiah comes into this world under a palm tree in a desert oasis, near Mecca perhaps, not unlike other major events which the Bible describes as occurring in Palestine, and which the Koran relocates in or around the city at the center of the universe.
19:22 So, she conceived him and she withdrew with him to a distant place.
19:23 Then labour pangs drove her towards the trunk of a palm tree. She said: “I wish I had died before this and had become completely forgotten.”
19:24 Whereupon [the babe (Jesus) or (Gabriel)] called her from beneath her: “Do not grieve. Your Lord has created below you a stream.
Dates, which Allah provided for Mary’s sustenance, ripen in the Middle East to the point of falling off the tree in late September or early October which would indicate that this was the period of Jesus’ birth according to the Koran.
19:25 “Shake the trunk of the palm tree towards you and it will drop upon you fresh ripe dates.”
Is Mary, in the next revelation, being told to lie about not eating; and what about not talking? Like Zacharia to whom Allah granted a son, Mary is expected to remain silent about Jesus' birth, if only for one day, and in addition, to fast, as signs for any onlookers of the favour Allah has just granted her.
19:26 “Eat, drink and rejoice. Then if you see any human say: ‘I have vowed to the Compassionate to fast, and so I shall not talk today to any human being.’”
In a conversation He had with Jesus, Allah has the son of Mary denying that he ever claimed his mother was a god; a claim that, to my knowledge, does not appear in the New Testament.
5:116 And when Allah said: “O Jesus, son of Mary, did you say to the people: ‘Take me and my mother as gods, apart from Allah?’ ” He said: “Glory be to You. It is not given me to say what is untrue. If I said it, You would have known it; You know what is in my soul, but I do not know what is in Thine. You are indeed the Knower of the Unseen.
5:117 “I only told them what You commanded me: ‘Worship Allah, your Lord and mine’, and I was a watcher over them while I was among them, but when You took me to yourself, You became the Watcher over them; for you are the witness of everything.
5:118 “Should you punish them, they are surely your servants; but should You forgive them, You are truly the Mighty, the Wise.”
Allah’s response to this entreaty of Jesus is welcomed if somewhat mystifying.
5:119 Allah said: “This is a Day in which their truthfulness shall profit the truthful; they will have Gardens beneath which rivers flow; dwelling therein forever; Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with him. That is the great triumph.”
5:120 To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all there is in them, and He has power over everything.
Jesus - His First Words
The infant Jesus, only a few hours after his birth, at the request of his mother who is being accused of having a child out of wedlock, will loudly proclaim that he is not the Son of God but a prophet sent by Allah, who praises Allah and does as Allah commands.
19:27 Then she brought him (the child) to her people, carrying him. They said: “O Mary, you have surely committed a strange thing.
19:28 “Sister of Aaron, your father was not an evil man and your mother was not unchaste.”
19:29 Whereupon she pointed to him. They said: “How will we talk to one who is still an infant in the cradle?”
19:30 He (Jesus) said: “Indeed, I am the servant of Allah, Who gave me the Book and made me a Prophet.
19:31 “And He made me blessed wherever I am, and has commanded me to pray and to give the alms, so long as I live;
19:32 "And be devoted to my mother; and He did not make me arrogant and mischievous.
19:33 “Peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I die and the day I rise from the dead.”
In the next verse, Allah echoes the baby Jesus’ claim.
19:34 Such was Jesus, son of Mary; it is the truth which they (the Christians) dispute.
Jesus again, boasting about Allah’s omnipotence and asking that only Allah be worshipped.
19:35 It is not fitting for Allah to have a son. Glory be to Him; when He decrees a thing, He simply says: “Be”, and it comes to be.
19:36 Allah is truly your Lord and my Lord; so worship him. That is a straight path.
Allah again, with how wrong the wrongdoers (those who maintain that Jesus is the Son of God) are and how they will be held to account on Judgment Day.
19:37 Yet, the sects among them differed. Woe to those who have disbelieved from the spectacle of a great Day!
19:38 How well they will hear and how well they will see, on the Day they will come onto Us; but the wrongdoers today are in manifest error.
19:39 And warn them of the Day of sorrow, when the issue is decided, while they are heedless and do not believe.
Jesus said the meek would inherit the earth. Not so, says Allah.
19:40 It is We Who shall inherit the earth and whomever is on it, and to Us they shall be returned.