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The miraculous birth of Jesus Christ (a.s):
One of the great prophets of God is Jesus (a.s). His blessed name has been mentioned twenty-five times in the Quran, as Jesus (Isa) and thirteen times as Messiah. The term “Jesus” is a derivate of the Arabic word “Yashu” which means” the Savior”. He was born 1998 years ago (580 years before the birth of the Prophet Muhammad) in the city of Kufa and along the Euphrates River. It’s been stated that he was born in the village of Nazareth or Jerusalem and during the reign of the Fifth Farhad who was one of the Parthian kings. He was born miraculously by the decree of God and without having any father. His mother, the saint Mary was Imran’s daughter. She was a wise woman and a prominent character of the children of Israel. Mary’s Father, Imran (pbuh) was a descendant of Prophet Solomon (pbuh) and he was considered as the Prominent, pious and devout scholars of the children of Israel.
Birth of Jesus (pbuh) in the Gospel:
Gospel of Matthew (1: 18) to (1: 25) has narrated the birth of Jesus (a.s) in the time of Herod as the following: “Mary (s.a), the mother of Jesus, who had already been engaged to Joseph was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joseph who adhered to strict ethical principles decided to break up his engagement. But he intended to do it in private, lest Mary should be dishonored. Having been immersed in these thoughts, he fell asleep. In his dream he saw an angel who told him: Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to marry Mary. The child in her womb is with the Holy Spirit. She will deliver a male child and you will name him Jesus meaning, the Savior and he will save his people from their sins. It was the same message of God which was said by His prophet, Isaiah centuries ago: See! A Virgin girl will be conceived and a boy will be born and they will name him Immanuel (in Hebrew Immanuel means God is with us). When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel had ordered and brought Mary to his home until she gave birth to his son and then Joseph named him Jesus.”
Miraculous birth of Jesus in the Quran:
Name of Mary (pbuh) has been mentioned thirty-four times in the Quran, and also the name of a Surah of the Quran (the 19th Surah) is Mary. In this Surah the story of the virgin birth of Jesus is stated from the verses 16 to 36. It is about the speaking of Jesus in the cradle, some parts of his life and how he was chosen by God. However, Jesus was born miraculously and in the Quranic verses he is regarded as one of the signs of the right verses. The way he was born has caused some arguments and discussions among the Christians and the Muslims. Since Jesus was born to Mary without being touched by anyone, Christians believe that he is the son of God and the term, God the son is well known in their books. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons: 1-God the Father 2-God the Son 3-God the Holy Spirit. The logic for their claim is that Jesus apparently did not have any father. According to the Quran in criticizing this doctrine which was raised by the Christians of Najran , the Prophet Muhammad said: the birth of Jesus was like the birth of Adam whom He created him from dust. Therefore if not having a father is the sign of being the son of God, Adam is the son of God too, because he did not have any father and mother. According to the Quran: “the likeness of Jesus before God is the likeness of Adam”. He created him from dust, and then He said to him: "Be!" And he was.” (Surah al Imran-verse 59). Since there were some contradictory statements about the birth of Jesus among the People of the Book and also some of them had been drowned in idolatry and doubt, Quran which is trustworthy in highness and is a witness over old Scriptures explains the story of the birth of Jesus Christ in three verses of Surah Al-Imran and twenty verses of Surah Maryam. Also in some cases Quran refers to some points to fulfill its mission. God says: “Verily, this Quran narrates to the Children of Israel most of that about which they differ” (Surah al Naml-verse 76)
The glad tidings of Jesus Christ's birth to Mary and Mary's conversation with the angels in Surah Al-Imran:
Undoubtedly an important part of Mary’s life, is the birth of his son, Jesus Christ (pbuh). Before Jesus (pbuh) was born, the angels of God gave Mary (pbuh) the glad tidings of his birth and also she became aware of the character of Jesus. In Surah Al Imran Mary’s conversation with angels is stated as follows: God will give you such a son and again He refers to Mary’s response that, “I do not have a husband, how shall I have a child?” Then the angels explain to her that if God intends to create something, it will be realized even in unnatural situation. According to the Quran, God says: when the angels said: "O Maryam (Mary)! Verily, God gives you the glad tidings of a Word ["Be!" - And he was! i.e. (Jesus) the son of Maryam (Mary)] from Him, his name will be the Messiah (Jesus), the son of Maryam (Mary), held in honor in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah. He will speak (miraculously) to the people in the cradle and in manhood (through divine revelation), and he will be one of the righteous. Mary said: "O my God! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?" He said: "So (it will be) for God creates what He wills. When He has decreed something, He says to it only: "Be!" and it is.” (Surah al Imran-verses 45-47). Apparently this glad tiding refers to the same story which has been stated elsewhere in the Quran. God says: “then We sent to her Our soul [angel (Gabriel)], and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects” then Mary said: "Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (God) from you, if you do fear Allah. Our angel said to her: "I am only a Messenger from your God, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son." (Surah Mary-verse 19). Therefore the glad tiding in the earlier verse which has been attributed to all angels is the same glad tiding which in the Surah Mary has been attributed to the soul of God [angel (Gabriel)].
Mary’s conception to Jesus (pbuh) in the Surah Mary:
Having told Mary to worship Him and bow down to Him, God addressed to the Prophet and said: remember Mary’s conversation with angels. Then she was addressed by the angels and they told her that God would give you a child which his name is Jesus Christ, the son of Mary. He would be an honorable person in this world and the hereafter. One of his characteristics is that he speaks like an adult during childhood and he is among the righteous. In addition, he is the Word of God. This conversation has been explained with more detail in Surah Mary. It says that Mary withdrew in seclusion from her family and she moved to the East Jerusalem. In fact she intended to find a place to be able to worship her God without having any concern and without becoming heedless of the remembrance of God. Therefore she chose to move to the East Jerusalem (the great temple) which was supposed to be a calmer and a more appropriate place regarding the sunlight. God says: “and mention in the Book the story of Maryam (Mary), when she withdrew in seclusion from her family to a place facing east (Jerusalem).” (Surah Mary-verse 16). When Mary reached there she placed a screen for not being seen and also being able to worship God in solitude. After a while she observed a healthy man in her place of worship. Having observed him, she was filled with fear. She said to herself: How was this man entered her place of worship? Does he have a bad intention? Therefore she said to him: I seek refuge from you to God, if you do fear Him. According to the Quran: “She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them (in her palace of worship); then We sent to her Our angel (Gabriel), and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects. She said: Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (God) from you, if you do fear God." (Surah Mary-verses 17-18). In this sentence, it is not clear what the purpose of placing this screen was. It might have been because she could worship God easier and without having any concern or because she could wash herself or perform the full ablution. In this regard, there is no clarification in this verse. It is so clear how Mary was feeling at that time, the woman who had always lived chaste, and had been grown up by the virtuous people. She was a role model for Chastity and piety among the people. She might have experienced a feeling of great fear when she had observed a handsome man in her place of worship. So she immediately shouted: I seek refuge with God from you, if you do fear God. It means that you must do fear God too and this interpretation is prevalent in the Quran. So she says that I seek refuge with God; and your piety prevents you from offending me. She also uses the Most Beneficent attribute of God from among His divine attributes to seek God’s mercy and also to avoid any sin in this critical moment. Mary used the Most Beneficent attribute of God instead of using His mercy attribute, because the latter attribute is an indication of the wide mercy of God in this world and the hereafter while the former attribute refers to God’s mercy in the hereafter. She said these words and waited for the response of the man. Suddenly he said to Mary: "do not fear, I am only a Messenger from your God, to announce you the gift of a righteous son."(Surah Mary-verse 19). Mary was surprised by this news because she was just thinking about the worldly matters. She thought there were only two ways for a woman to be conceived. One of them could be through the marriage and the other through perversion and corruption. “I know myself better than anyone else, neither have I been married nor unchaste. So far, no one has ever heard of having been conceived without these two ways” she said to herself. According to the Quran: “She said: How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?” (Surah Mary-verse 20). While she was surprised the angel said to Mary that it is easy for God. (If you do consider the story of your life and how you were supplied with sustenance in your Mihrab and how you found winter fruits in summer and summer fruit in winter, you do not get surprised anymore). Additionally, God intends to give the children of Israel a child who is a miracle and the manifestation of His mercy. According to the Quran, the birth of such a child is considered as the divine providence of God.” He said: "So (it will be), your God said: 'That is easy for Me (God): And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (God), and it is a matter (already) decreed, (by God).” (Surah Mary-verse 21). Having heard the words of the God’s messenger (the angel), Mary became calm and after a while she got pregnant.
Virgin Mary’s giving birth to Jesus:
Having withdrawn in seclusion from her family, Mary moved to a remote place, and then she went into labour. It has not been stated in the Quran how the child was created, also it is not clear whether Gabriel breathed into her mouth or her dress because there were no need for them to be mentioned. Anyway this issue caused that she leaves Jerusalem to a remote place. At that time she had a strange feeling. She had a feeling of fear and hope, a feeling between anxious and joy. Sometimes she thought this conception would eventually be revealed. She said to herself: I may stay away from those who know me for a few days or a few months and live here anonymously but finally what would happen?! Who would believe that a woman has got pregnant without having a husband? They might say that: it is not possible unless you are unchaste. Then what shall I do with this accusation? Indeed it was very painful for a girl who had been for years the symbol of purity, chastity, virtue and piety and also a role model for the worship of God to feel that all her spiritual capital would be in danger, a girl who was grown up under the care of a great prophet and the righteous scholars of the Children of Israel were proud of having the honor of receiving her custody and taking caring of her and in brief a girl who was famous for her sanctity and her good moral values. It was the third time that she became anxious because it was the worst accusation. But, on the other hand, she felt that this son would the prophet of God who had already been promised and a great heavenly gift. Does God who has given me the glad tidings of such a son and created him miraculously leave me alone? I have always experienced kindness and mercy of God. Is it possible that He does not defend me against such an accusation? Although it’s been generally stated in the Quran, there are some disagreements among the interpreters regarding the length of Mary’s pregnancy. Some of their interpretations regarding the length of Mary’s pregnancy were as the followings: one hour, nine hours, six months, seven months, and eight months. Some of these interpreters also believed that her length of pregnancy had been nine months like the other women. But this issue does not have much impact on the purpose of the story and there are different interpretations in this regard. There are some disagreements among the interpreters regarding this remote place. Most of them believe that this remote place refers to "Nazareth". They say that probably she stayed mostly at home and left less. Finally Mary’s pregnancy ended and then she went into labour pain and the stormy moments of her life began. It was such great pains that drove her from her home to the desert, a dry desert with no human, no water and no shelter. Although at these moments, women take refuge in their relatives and friends to help them with giving birth to the child, Mary never wanted anyone to see her childbirth because her pregnancy was not ordinary. She moved to the desert when her pains began. In this regard Quran says: “And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a date-palm. She said: "Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!" (Surah Mary-verse 23). In this verse the term “the trunk of a date-palm” indicates that only a trunk of the tree had been left and it had been a dried tree. At that time a storm of grief surrounded the saint Mary. She felt that the moment from which she feared had come. The moment in which everything would be revealed and the unbelievers would accuse her ruthlessly. In such a critical situation that Mary was thinking about the reputation of her family as well as herself, she did fear of these accusations. For her grief to be dispelled, she deserved the mercy of God once again. Then the so called bright spot of hope which was always deep in her heart shined again. So Mary heard a voice cried to her from beneath, it was either the voice of her baby (Jesus) or the angel (Gabriel) that was beneath her. Anyway she was addressed: do not grieve, God has bestowed His mercy upon you. The proof is that beneath you there is a water stream that you can wash you as well as your child. Besides, shake the trunk of the palm tree that you are resting on to let the fresh ripe dates fall upon you. Eat the dates and drink the water. Be glad with your child and regarding other people’s questions or objections, vow a fast to God that I do not enter into talk with them and this way you can save yourself from the problem that is ahead of you. Accordingly God says: “But a voice cried to her from beneath the (palm-tree): "Grieve not! For your God has provided a rivulet beneath you.” (Surah Mary-verse 24). In this verse the meaning and the appearance of the sentence show that the subject pronoun refers to Jesus and not to the angel whom his name had already been mentioned and also the adverb “from beneath” confirms that. Because comparing the position of pregnant Mary with the child and the angel indicates that the voice refers to Jesus. In addition, the pronoun in the former and the latter sentence which refers to Jesus is also another indication that this voice refers to Jesus. Some interpreters have stated that this pronoun refers to the angel. Their imagination is that Mary was on a high place while she giving birth to Jesus and the angel was beneath her when he had cried her. But considering the verse, this issue is not inferable and there is no reason to confirm that. It is not unlikely that ordering of the sentences which the sentence “She said: "Would that” has come prior to the sentence “a voice cried to her…” indicate that Mary has stated these words during childbirth or after it and also Jesus (pbuh) had immediately said that “Grieve not…”because this sentence is a consolation to his mother for her great grief and sorrow. Yes nothing is worst and harder for a pious woman to be accused of her virtue, the virgin woman who had always been known to chastity and purity, especially an accusation that could not be denied at all since Mary had no reason to prove her claim. Therefore Jesus (pbuh) noted her that: do not talk to anyone for defending yourself but Jesus (pbuh) himself will defend her mother. So it would be a proof that no one could deny it. Look above you and see how the dried stems have turned into a fresh palm tree which has been decorated by its dates and branches. Shake the trunk of the palm tree to let the fresh ripe dates fall upon you. (Surah Mary-verse 25). God says: “So eat and drink and be glad, and if you see any human being, say: 'Verily! I have vowed a fast unto the Most Beneficent (God) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.” (Surah Mary-verse 26). As a result you do not need to defend yourself. The One (God) who has bestowed this child upon you, will undertake the responsibility for defending you against these accusations. So, be relieved and do not grieve. These sequential events that like the bright sparks, shined that incredibly dark and obscure atmosphere, made her heart bright and quiet.
To be continued.
1 – Manshoor Javid vol.12 pp. 356 -362
2 – Tafsir Nemoone, vol. 13, p 50, vol. 2, pp. 548-549, Vol. 13, pp. 33-40
3 - Almyzan Translation, vol. 14, pp. 56-68, Vol. 3, pp. 298
4 - Tafsir Mozu'i, by Ayatollah Javadi Amoli, Vol .7 ,p.255
5 - Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 14, p. 214, pp. 250-326
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