Jesus and Mary in the Qur’an: Christian Reflection
Many people advance different reasons and claims on why their faith tradition Is true. The only thing that the Muslims have to advance is the Holy Qur’an. If you read the Qur’an and you are not convinced that this is a message from God then that is where it stops. It stops with the Qur’an because with Allah is the final argument.
As is known from history the prophet Muhammed (saw) was illiterate. He could neither read nor write; though later in his life he most likely could recognize a few characters for sure as anyone would over time.
Now what I would like you to do is to take your Bible and go to the Gospel of Luke or Matthew and read about the birth of Jesus. I would then like you to read the following passage from the Qur’an. Juxtapose the two together and ask yourself this question. Which has more details?
One of the things many Christians are frustrated with is the fact that the four Gospel accounts in the New Testament tell us very little about the early life of Christ Jesus.
So I would ask you to read those accounts in the New Testament and than read this account in the Qur’an. Which is an inspiration (ilham) and which is a wahy (revelation)?
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 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.
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 not talk with any human being'”
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)”!
Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute.
It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! when He determines a matter, He only says to it, “Be“, and it is. (Holy Qur’an 19:16-35)
Now when you are done reading this I would like to draw your attention to a few things from this passage from the Holy Qur’an.
1. Note* that Mary is called the sister of Aaron this is interesting because the fact that Mary comes from the Levite priestly lineage is highlighted. It’s doubly interesting when one considers the huge problem the genealogies of Jesus have presented the Christian apologist in the New Testament. Christians have tried very hard to make Jesus appear as the descendant of David through Solomon to no avail. Is the Qur’an not trying to highlight something to the Christians? Something that Allah alone knows would stir their heart and curiosity?
2. The virginity of Mary is defended in the Qur’an. How can a man touch her when she knows not a man and she is not unchaste.
3. The very first miracle of Jesus in the Qur’an is that he speaks as a baby contrast this with the miracle of turning water into wine in the Bible. This is very amazing if Christians can ponder it for a moment. They quote proof text after proof text trying to argue for the deity of Jesus but what better way for him to prove that he has the divine indwelling than to speak as a baby!
4. The Qur’an settles the issue of rather or not Jesus is eternally begotten son or not simply by stating that when Allah decrees any matter he simply says to it ‘Be’ and it is.
I can not argue for more than what is presented. As I stated above with Allah alone is the final argument. I would encourage every Christian who has not picked up the Qur’an to read it online or to go to a book store and get yourself a copy. If it is the will of Allah your heart and mind will be opened to it. May Allah guide you all to what he loves.
Jesus and Mary in the Qur’an: Christian Reflection Part 2
This is a continuation of yesterday’s blog entry and going into more depth in one particular issue of this passage of the Qur’an. Namely that Mary is called the sister of Aaron.
It is my contention that this highlights one of the miracles of the Qur’an. The Qur’an was primarily transmitted through oral transmission. What is interesting is that this statement that Mary is called the sister of Aaron would catch the attention of the studious Christian.
What happens is that the Christian is now made to reflect upon this. This is very intriguing in light of the huge problems the alleged lineage of Jesus presents in the New Testament text.
Now we can close our eyes and tap our feet much like Dorthy in the Wizard of Oz but if we say ‘Mary, Mary, Mary’ and open our eyes she just doesn’t appear at the end of either lineage.
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.
Whom ever wrote the gospel we call ‘Luke’ most likely had already heard of the gospel we call ‘Matthew’ or had some access to that oral tradition or strata of information that we call ‘Matthew’ had decided to word his ending of the linage like this. Although his ending is the beginning in his structure of the linage.
When Jesus began his ministry he was about thirty years of age. He was the son, as was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli,
Again neither lineage is Mary. If someone can please tell me where Mary is in either lineage I would greatly appreciate it. Another small note of curiosity to me was the statement in Luke 3:23 that Jesus began his ministry being ‘about’ 30 years of age. So you mean the Holy Spirit didn’t know when Jesus began his ministry but just guesstimated?
Any how I won’t linger on such points let’s move on shall we? So please feast your eyes on the table provided below.
My apologies for the inability to read the table below. Until I get this fixed I suggest running your mouse cursor over it so it can highlight.
Matthew Chapter 1 Lineage…
Perez (of Tamar)
Boaz (of Rahab)
Obed (of Ruth)
|Solomon (of Uriah’s wife)
Joseph, the husband of Mary
Jesus, who is called Christ.
Luke Chapter 3 Lineage…
Christian apologist and their crafty imaginations. Christians in recognizing that there is a difficulty here have implored several devices to try and make ‘Matthew’ and/or ‘Luke’ say things they did not.
Here is what two Christians have said in this regards.
“But Luke’s genealogy does not have that word, just “of so and so” – it is open, in order to communicate that “of Heli” shows that Joseph was the “son in law of Heli”, who was Mary’s father.” (Ken contributor to Beggarsallreformation blog)
and one more try by another Christian
“Although Luke 3 appears to give a genealogy of Joseph, the Greek word used for Son is Huios which can be used to denote a son from the legal aspect (e.g. son through adoption or son in law), hence Joseph was a son in law of Heli. The word Greek word teknon carries a more biological usage. (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)” (Royal Son contributor to AnsweringMuslims blog)
Again this is what David L. Blank, Professor of Classical Languages at the University of California had to say about Armonld Fruchtenbaum and his views that these two men above seem to hang on.
“According to the Greek original, Eli is indeed the father of Joseph. There is a definite article before each name, except that of Joseph, and that definite article is in each case the masculine genitive singular article — you. Not only does this not clearly indicate that Joseph is skipped in the genealogy, but it can also not by any stretch of the imagination be taken as so indicated. The author’s comments on the Greek grammar of the passage are absurd and manifest an appalling ignorance of the facts of Greek syntax.”
Not only that but look at what the internal evidence tells us.
“And Jesus Himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli..”
However, maybe the Christians have a way to play around with this too and they do!
Another way of presenting Joseph as Eli’s son-in-law is to interpret ‘as was supposed’ (Lk. 3:23), which means that Luke is saying that people really thought that Yeshua was Joseph’s natural son, to mean ‘as was supposed of Joseph but really of Eli.’ This would make Eli the father of Mary and make it her genealogy. Alexander Bruce says, “this is ‘ingenious but not satisfactory’ noting that if that had been Luke’s intention, he would have clearly stated it.”
The following response is taken from: http://www.sullivan-county.com/identity/gen_jesus.htm
Christian apologists answer that, even though Joseph wasn’t the biological father of Jesus, he was the legal father, and, therefore, passed on his genealogical line through adoption.
There are several problems with this answer.
First of all, there is no indication from any of the records in the Christian Bible that Joseph actually adopted Jesus. However, even if a case for his adoption could be made, it is absolutely impossible to pass on one’s genealogy through adoption.
For example, a priest (Kohain) is someone who is born to another priest. If your father is a priest, then you are a priest. If a priest (Kohain) adopts a boy who is the son of someone who was not a priest, that child does not become a priest through adoption.
An additional problem still remains, even if one would want to conclude that, through adoption the genealogy is adopted as well. We find that when Matthew traces the genealogical line of Joseph back to King David, this line goes through a King named Jeconiah (also known as Coniah or Yehoaikin). The problem arises in Jeremiah, chapter 22, verse 30, when the ancestor of Joseph named King Jeconiah was cursed by G-d:
“Write this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days. For no man of his seed shall prosper sitting upon the throne of David and ruling anymore in Judah.”
We see from this passage in Jeremiah that any descendant of Jeconiah would be disqualified from ever being a Messianic candidate; and therefore, if Christians insist upon making Jesus the legally adopted child of Joseph, then it is obvious that Jesus would be disqualified from even potentially being the messiah.
Other Greek scholars agree with Professor Blank.
And, even if Mary could trace herself back to King David, it still wouldn’t help Jesus. According to the Torah, the mother (the matrilineal) determines if someone is Jewish (Deuteronomy 7:3-4), but tribal affiliation and family genealogy can only be traced through the person’s father (the patrilineal in accordance with Exodus 28:4, 29:9-30, 30:30, and 40:15 [Priesthood Lineage]; Numbers 36 [Tribal Lineage]; Genesis 49:10, I Kings 11:4, and I Chronicles 17:11-19 [Kingship Lineage].).
For instance, in Numbers, chapter 1, verse 18, we’re told that the Jewish people declare their pedigrees according to their fathers’ houses. When Queen Athaliah wanted to eliminate the Royal Line of David, she only killed the males knowing full well that a female descendant of David couldn’t pass on the right to the throne (II Kings 11; II Chronicles 22).
The fact that the daughters of Zelophchad inherited their father’s property (Numbers 27) doesn’t prove that genealogy can be passed through the daughters. This is born out by Numbers 36, where they are told that they must marry someone from their father’s tribe, otherwise the inheritance would pass out of their family.
Finally, a Third problem presents itself. Even if it could be maintained that a family line could be passed on through the mother, Mary herself was not from a legitimate messianic family. According to the Bible, the messiah must be a descendant of King David through his son Solomon (II Samuel 7:12-13; I Chronicles 17:11-14, 22:10, 28:4-7).
It’s glaring that in the book of Matthew, the genealogy of Joseph is traced back to King David through his son Solomon, but ultimately down to the cursed King Jeconiah. However, in the book of Luke, the genealogy goes from David, not through his son Solomon, but through his son Nathan. The problem is that even if one wants to maintain that the book of Luke is tracing the genealogy of Mary and that it’s possible to pass on genealogical lineage through the mother, Mary would still not be of help to Jesus, because her line does not go back to David through the King’s son, Solomon.
A Christian woman with a very kind heart whom goes by the name ‘Daughter of Wisdom’ had this to say on the matter in our exchange on the subject here:
“Firstly, no one traces genealogy through the female. One’s genealogy is always traced through the father. If you remember, when Joseph (of the Old Testament) was in Egypt and he married a Egyptian woman, that his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh were accepted fully as two of the twelve tribes of Israel, even though their mother was Egyptian (Genesis 48:8-14).”
“Secondly, nothing in scripture indicates that Mary was of the tribe of Judah. Her cousin, Elizabeth was of the tribe of Levi, of the line of Aaron, which was the priestly line, so it was more likely that Mary was of the line of Levi (Luke 1:5)”
When I informed her that the Qur’an identifies Mary as the sister of Aaron she didn’t get angry or puffed up with pride. No! Look what she said,
“It is remarkable that the Qur’an identifies Mary as a sister of Aaron. I did not know that! That is in total harmony with the evidence from the Bible.”
May Allah bless her! By the way just to clear her good name I am not saying that she is endorsing everything that I put in this blog post either. I am simply putting three quotes of hers during our exchange.
Here is some more supporting evidence of Mary not being of the tribe of Judah.
There is evidence to prove that she was not descended from him (Judah).
1. “The angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1: 27). Joseph, and not Mary, is declared to be of the house of David.
2. It is stated that Joseph went to Bethlehem “to be taxed with Mary,” not because they, but “because he was of the house and lineage of David” (Luke 2:4- 5).
3. Mary was the cousin of Elizabeth (Luke 1:3), and Elizabeth “was of the daughters of Aaron” (i, 5), i.e., descended from Levi, while the house of David was descended from Judah.
These genealogies do not give the lineage of Mary who is said to have been his only earthly parent, but the lineage of Joseph who, it is claimed, was not his father. But if Joseph was not the father of Jesus, what is the use of giving his pedigree? If Joseph was not the father of Jesus how does proving that he was descended from David prove that Jesus was descended from David? If these genealogies run through Joseph to Jesus, as stated by Matthew and Luke, then Joseph must have been the father of Jesus; and if he was the father of Jesus the story of the miraculous conception is false.
This desperate, yet ineffectual, effort to establish the Davidic descent of Mary is virtually an abandonment of the genealogical tables of Matthew and Luke, and a falling back upon this pitiable argumentum in circulo: Mary was descended from David because the Messiah was to be descended from David, and Jesus was the Messiah because Mary was descended from David.” John E. Remsberg
What about Zerubbabel’s Genealogy in 1Chronicles 3:17-24?
The New Testament indicates that Joseph descended from Zerubbabel through his son Abiud, and Mary through another of Zerubbabel’s sons, Rhesa, but neither of these sons were mentioned as Zerubbabel’s descendants in 1 Chronicles.What’s up with that?
More interesting problems….
Who was Arphaxad’s son: Cainan or Shelah?
Luke 3:36 has Cainan the son of Arphaxad….
Further, you’ll notice that this name does not appear in the corresponding genealogies given in Genesis (Genesis 10:24, Genesis 11:12) and 1 Chronicles (1 Chronicles 1:1:18, 1 Chronicles 1:24) Why?
The reformed Baptist theologian John Gill stated the following about the addition of Cainan in Luke 3:36:
This Cainan is not mentioned by Moses in Genesis 11:12 nor has he ever appeared in any Hebrew copy of the Old Testament, nor in the Samaritan version, nor in the Targum; nor is he mentioned by Josephus, nor in 1 Chronicles 1:24 where the genealogy is repeated; nor is it in Beza’s most ancient Greek copy of Luke: it indeed stands in the present copies of the Septuagint, but was not originally there; and therefore could not be taken by Luke from thence, but seems to be owing to some early negligent transcriber of Luke’s Gospel, and since put into the Septuagint to give it authority: I say “early”, because it is in many Greek copies, and in the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, even in the Syriac, the oldest of them; but ought not to stand neither in the text, nor in any version: for certain it is, there never was such a Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, for Salah was his and with him the next words should be connected (taken from http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/luke-3-36.html )
One wonders why the Holy Spirit would ‘inspire’ such confusion. There is a lack of clarification on an abundance of matters in relation to the ‘alleged’ genealogical records of Christ Jesus. It is only when people point out the problems that an attempt at clarification starts to manifest and even after this, the defense is tenuous at best.
So now that we have seen the myriad problems that the Christian apologist have to deal with let’s now turn towards the very lazy polemic that is applied to the Qur’an in this instance.
It is argued by Christians who are versed in polemic about Islam that the Qur’an has made a huge error in calling Mary the sister of Aaron. Oh No! The Qur’an is claiming that Mary is the sister of Aaron (as in the real flesh and blood biological sister of Moses)
George Sale in his translation of the Qur’an says:
“From the identity of names it has been generally imagined by Christian writers that the Koran here confounds Mary the mother of Jesus with Mary of Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron; which intolerable anachronism, if it were certain, is sufficient of itself to destroy the pretended authority of this book. But though Mohammed may be supposed to have been ignorant enough in ancient history and chronology, to have committed so gross a blunder; yet I do not see how it can be made out from the words of the Koran. For it does not follow, because two persons have the same name, and have each a father and brother who bear the same names, that they must therefore necessarily be the same…It must be observed that though the Virgin Mary is called in the Koran, the sister of Aaron, yet she is nowhere called the sister of Moses.” George Sale, The Koran, IX Edition of 1923, London, p. 38.
However do note that this was already addressed by the prophet Muhammed (saw) himself,
We read in Sahih Muslim 5326,
“When I came to Najran, they (the Christians of Najran) asked me: You read “Sister of Aaron”, (i.e. Mary), in the Qur’an, whereas Moses was born well before Jesus. When I came back to Allah’s Messenger I asked him about that, and he said: ‘The (people of the old age) used to give names (to their persons) after the names of Apostles and pious persons who had gone before them.”
“They (the people of the old age or Israelites) used to name their children after their Prophets and pious persons who had gone before them.” (Muslim – Hadith No.5326).
However, the Christians say in response to this that in spite of the Prophet (saw) claim that this is a title denoting piety, the very title ‘sister of Aaron’ is used by those who accused her of harlotry in Surah 19:27-28
This is extremely lazy apologetic and even very lazy polemic. Does the use of the people say ‘sister of Aaron’ take away from the fact that it is a title of piety? Did you ever stop and think that this was the reason they used it. In a way to taunt her or even without accusing her of harlotry. The nastiest things come to the mind of these people. Maybe they were even honoring her by questioning how strange it was that she was pregnant before marriage. Basically saying look we know that you come from an honorable lineage a noble lineage oh sister of Aaron. Believe it or not people who are religious often times are more humble and sincere and less crude and uncouth as we are today. I truly failed to see the point.
Then the Christians will dig for Muslim commentary that reflects badly upon the Muslim position for example:
Surah 3:35 – Behold! a woman of ‘Imran said: “O my Lord! I do dedicate unto Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service: So accept this of me: For Thou hearest and knowest all things.”
Tafsir Ibn Kathir (surah 3:35)
The wife of `Imran mentioned here is the mother of Maryam, and her name is Hannah bint Faqudh. Muhammad bin Ishaq mentioned that Hannah could not have children and that one day, she saw a bird feeding its chick. She wished she could have children and supplicated to Allah to grant her offspring. Allah accepted her supplication, and when her husband slept with her, she became pregnant. She vowed to make her child concentrate on worship and serving Bayt Al-Maqdis (the Masjid in Jerusalem), when she became aware that she was pregnant. She said,…”
Ibn Kathir is a classic commentator on the Qur’an. But this is where the Christian apologist gets lazy. Why do they take what Ibn Kathir says at face value? Like why don’t they ever ask the question where did he get his information from? I wonder why?
The Christians also say something along with the following:
- The term SON or DAUGHTER can be used to denote lineage. BROTHER and SISTER is not.
Maybe the following two passages from the Bible can also help to show that this is not necessarily the case.
Genesis 29:15 (King James Version)
And Laban said unto Jacob, Because you are my brother, should you therefore serve me for nothing? tell me, what shall your wages be?
Genesis 14:14 (King James Version) Lot is obviously not the brother of Abraham.
And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.
Conclusion: I think that when the Christians search the matter deep in their hearts that they will come to the same conclusions that ‘Daughter of Wisdom’ did above in the sense of acknowledging Mary being of the Levite lineage. I think this also stands to the testimony of the Qur’an as being the divine words of Allah. Allah has provided clarity on an issue that has plagued the hearts and minds of the most sincere Christian. Many Christians stay up late at night pouring over text and cross-references hoping, praying, and pleading with their Lord that he would show them the truth on this matter.
Your prayers do not go unheard. Allah hears and sees all. May Allah open the hearts of the Christians and all truth seekers and may Allah guide us to what he loves.