39 Mary, What a Strange Thing You Have Done!
Uzza: The Dome of the Rock was built over the rock outcrop where Abraham is said to have offered a son to god. It was built to honour their common ancestor which is why when it was built Jews were invited to worship there as they would in a synagogue. It even honoured the Christians, proclaiming in one of the more than fifty inscriptions that circle the perimeter, and which are said to be Koranic in origin, that the virgin Mary was a Messenger of Allah.
Gerry: I wasn't aware of that.
Uzza: That may be because there is no verse in the Koran that says such a thing.
Gerry: But, you just said that the inscriptions on the Dome were from the Koran.
Uzza: The original Koran, maybe?
Gerry: But, Mary’s story is in the modern Koran. In fact, she is the only woman in the Book whom Allah mentions by name.
Uzza: In the original Koran, she may have been more than just the mother of the lesser prophet Jesus, perhaps a messenger in her own right.
Bob: The Virgin Mary, the only woman mentioned by name in the Koran? That is weird. Why her?
Uzza: Allah could not avoid it for he needed her help to discredit the Christian claim that her son is His son.
Bob: Why again?
Uzza: The entire concept of the Koran is based on a simple premise: God had gotten fed up with sending His instructions on how we should live and how He should be worshipped via prophets who did not communicate His message accurately or were misunderstood by a less than receptive audience.
God’s patience had run out. He would send one last messenger, his greatest messenger, with his final instructions for mankind: the Koran. Anyone who did not heed what this ultimate messenger told them was doomed to an eternity in Hell.
Bob: Sounds like a plan.
Uzza: There was only one problem with this latest divine plan for getting humanity to behave: Jesus. If God had already come down to earth to deliver his message personally in the person of Jesus, then sending another messenger with a final message from on High made no sense. If Muhammad’s claim to be the last and greatest messenger of God was to have any credibility, the Christian claim that Jesus was the Son of God had to be discredited and Mary was central to a strategy to do just that.
In a somewhat convoluted plot, Allah has Mary take the newborn Jesus to see whom He calls “her people” after giving birth under a palm tree with the angel Gabriel, who else, assisting. Her people, when she shows up with a baby and no husband, think it strange and tell her so. It is obvious that Mary has had a child out of wedlock, for her people, who are obviously not close relatives as you might expect, ask her how a sister of Aaron - don’t ask how that makes any sense - a daughter of a father who was a good man and a mother who was chaste could do such a thing.
Mary keeps her cools and points to the baby Jesus who has been placed in a crib. Without being asked, only hours after exiting the birth canal, the infant Jesus loudly proclaims that he is not God’s son but a messenger of Allah. A rebuttal of Christian dogma which Allah himself immediately vouches for as being the truth.
Bob: How does having a baby say that he is not Allah’s son have anything to do with the accusation that Mary is a slut?
Uzza: It is the idea that Jesus denounced from the moment he was born and throughout his life, if the Koran is to be believed, that he is not Allah’s son, and that those who say he is, again according to Allah, are perverts. This denial is central to a story that could not be told without mentioning Jesus’ mother by name.
Archie: That is one precocious baby, I must say. A baby speaking complete sentences almost right after popping out, that is special, even godlike.
Uzza: Jesus was special, not as special as Muhammad, not special like a god is special, but special nonetheless.
Archie: Special like your archenemy is special.
Bob: By not having Mary show up with a husband, the Koran does away with the pretense in the Bible that she had a husband with whom she never had sex - at least, not until Jesus was born. But still, if I was a god who wanted to prove that a woman’s baby was not mine I would not make her out to be a single mother with husband unknown, a sign that she slept around. But that is not what bothers me. What’s with her giving birth under a palm tree, out in the open? That is not realistic.
Archie: And the rest isn’t?
Uzza: It is not only a changed message Muhammad delivered but a change of venue, with the more significant events of the Bible occurring at or near Mecca, the most flagrant being Abraham’s aborted infanticide. As to Gabriel, he may have been the father if a revelation about his appearing before a confined Mary in the form a “well-shaped human being” to tell her of her impending pregnancy is any clue.
Gerry: The fact that Mary had her son deliver one of the more momentous messages of the Koran should have been reason enough for the inscription on the Dome of the Rock.
Uzza: All messengers of Allah delivered messages about His greatness and His short-temper personally, Mary did not do that. There had to be something in another Koran where she did, for her to be considered a messenger.
Gerry: And were would we find this other Koran?
Uzza: What may be a copy of the original Koran was discovered in the walls of the Great Mosque of Sana'a in Yemen with whose construction Muhammad was involved. During renovations in the 1970s, what is known as the Sana'a Manuscripts, was found in the walls. When Yemeni authorities were informed that this possibly earliest Koran contained minor but significant differences from the version that orthodox Islam maintains is the perfect unchanging Word of God, they restricted access to the more than 40,000 pieces of parchment from the earliest days of Islam.
Gerry: You’re saying that the inscription on the Dome of the Rock may be from this earlier version?