By Shaykh Omar Subedar
One of the most important figures to humanity today is Jesus, the son of Mary. His significance is acknowledged by Muslims and Christians throughout the world and he is hailed as one of the greatest spiritual leaders of all time. The Christian communities show their reverence for the great Prophet by celebrating his birthday on the 25th of December. Although there is no evidence to prove that he was born on this day, as many contemporary scholars contend that December the 25th was actually chosen as his birth date to correspond with the pre-Christian roman celebration of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, “the birthday of the unconquered sun”, there is however absolutely no doubt that Jesus (Īsa – peace and blessings upon him) was miraculously born without a father to the Virgin Mary (Maryam peace and blessings upon her) in the land of Palestine.
Mary (Maryam peace and blessings upon her) was the daughter of Imrān, a notable imam of Bayt al Maqdis and a man whose family Almighty Allāh had chosen as one of the most distinguished and honorable families in the world. He even named a sūrah (Qur’ānic chapter) after them in His final scripture, the Qur’ān.
In this Sūrah, titled ‘The Family of Imrān’, Allāh gives details of the conditions surrounding Mary’s birth and her upbringing which is as follows:
(Verse 35) [Mention, O Muḥammad], when the wife of ‘Imrān [whose name was Hannah] said [after becoming pregnant in old age], “My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service], so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing.”
(Verse 36) But when she delivered her [expecting the child to be a boy], she said, “My Lord, I have delivered a female.” And Allāh was most knowing of what she delivered, “And the male [I expected] is not like the female [I have received]. And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allāh].”
(Verse 37) So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zechariah [because her father had passed away]. Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber [which he prepared for her in the masjid], he found with her provision [i.e. fruits out of their season]. He said, “O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?” She said, “It is from Allāh. Indeed, Allāh provides for whom He wills without account.
(Verse 42) And [mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allāh has chosen you and purified you [from having any intimate relationship with the opposite gender] and chosen you above the women of the worlds [in your era].
(Verse 43) O Mary, be devoutly obedient to your Lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow [in prayer].”
After a period of time when Mary (Maryam – peace and blessings upon her) had matured Allāh sent the following message:
(Verse 45) [And mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allāh gives you good tidings of a word from Him [i.e. a child], whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary – distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to Allāh ].
(Verse 46) He will speak to the people in the cradle and in maturity and will be of the righteous.”
(Verse 47) She said, “My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?” [The angel] said, “Such is Allāh; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.
(Verse 48) And He will teach him writing and wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel
(Verse 49) And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel [because they had abandoned the straight path and had become very secular in their ways. They had assassinated many of the previous prophets that were sent to them and had altered the religious scripts thus averting the masses from the truth.]
In Sūrah Mary, Almighty Allāh provides a detailed account of how Mary (Maryam – peace and blessings upon her) miraculously conceived and delivered Jesus (Īsa – peace and blessings upon him) and what happened when she confronted her community with her new born child:
(Verse 16) And mention, [O Muḥammad], in the Book [the story of] Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place toward the east [side of Bayt al Maqdis].
(Verse 17) And she took, in seclusion from them, a screen [to conceal herself from the public]. Then We sent to her Our Angel [Jibra’īl – peace and blessings upon him], and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man.
(Verse 18) She said [in fright], “Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of Allāh.”
(Verse 19) He said, “I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of bearing] a pure boy.”
(Verse 20) She said, “How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?”
(Verse 21) He said, “Thus [it will be]; your Lord says, ‘It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter [already] decreed.’ “
Jibra’īl (peace and blessings upon him) then blew in the collar area of her garment
(Verse 22) So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place [out of the fear that she may be accused of fornication].
(Verse 23) And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree [in Bethlehem, 10 km south of Jerusalem]. She said, “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten [so I would not have to face this trial today].”
(Verse 24) But he [Jibra’īl – peace and blessings upon him] called her from below her [at the base of the tree], “Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream [whose water previously had ceased to flow].
(Verse 25) And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates.
(Verse 26) So eat and drink and be contented [with this child]. And if you see from among humanity anyone [and they ask you about this child], say, ‘Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.’
(Verse 27) Then she brought him to her people [after she had recuperated and regained her strength], carrying him. They said [in astonishment upon seeing the child assuming that it was illegitimate], “O Mary, you have certainly done a thing unprecedented.
(Verse 28) O sister of Aaron [an expression used in those days to address pious people], your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste [so how is it that you resorted to such an evil act as fornication?].”
(Verse 29) So she pointed to him [indicating that they should pose their questions to him]. They said, “How can we speak to one who is in the cradle a child?”
(Verse 30) [Jesus then] said, “Indeed, I am the servant of Allāh. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet.
(Verse 31) And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah (charity) as long as I remain alive.
(Verse 32) And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant.
(Verse 33) And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.”
Upon relating this miraculous incident Allāh moves ahead to discuss an extremely important issue:
That is [the real] Jesus, the son of Mary – the word of truth about which they [the Christians] are in dispute [with by claiming he was the begotten son of God]. It is not [befitting] for Allāh to take a son; exalted is He! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is. [Jesus said], “And indeed, Allāh is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is a straight path.”
May the Almighty guide us all!