Jesus’ birth is one of the great events in the history of mankind. Understanding the significance of this event and how Islam views his birth, and Christianity as a whole is a very important issue that ought to be clarified in an effort to enhance the dialogue between Muslims and Christians.
“The miraculous infant”
The moment God carried out His will, Mary started her new experience. She entered a new and unknown world. A world which she neither knows its nature nor can she measure its dangerous countenance. In this context, Mary immediately got concerned and vanished from her community during her pregnancy. “So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place,” away from people in order not to draw their attention. As to the days of pregnancy, the Holy Quran didn’t exactly mention whether Mary(a.s.) has completed her pregnancy period or the time was too short.
“And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree.” Being in need of something solid and hard to learn on, Mary’s (a.s.) labor of childbirth carried her to the trunk of a palm tree… At this moment, Jesus came to life. This event of birth hasn’t only shocked Mary (a.s.) but it has also stirred her female weaknesses and aroused a sense of fear that she might not be able to confront the people of her community.
She feared that her courage might betray her and consequently she might not be able to defend herself and prove that she was not a dissolute or a depraved one, Meanwhile Mary felt that things are becoming unbearable especially that she was experiencing a state of loneliness, no one either to complain to or to entrust for an advice. Accordingly, she horrifically shrieked, a shriek of a weak person who prefers death to life; a shriek of a helpless person who finds himself left all alone. Yet the worst was to come;
Mary had to confront a very suspicious street and a merciless neighborhood that would be threatening her reputation, dignity, and position as well: “She cried in her anguish: “Ah! Would that I had died before this! Forgotten,” in order not to face the rude and merciless accusations. At this instant, the event, which didn’t only shock Mary but which also constituted a starting point to this Miraculous infant, occurred. Mary heard a sound; she heard some words but could see nobody; she searched for the speaker, but in vain. Suddenly, the sound came from down below where the child was lying: Jesus was addressing his mother Mary. “But a voice cried to her from beneath (the palm tree): “grieve not”.
Jesus’ voice emerged to console Mary and to comfort her loneliness and her fear as well. Jesus told his mother that she won’t be alone anymore. He was there not only to assist and support her but also to hold the responsibility of defending her against the people around. Besides, Jesus was there to remind her of God’s pledge to Mary. God, Who elected Mary to this holy position, would be inspiring her with the power and the courage to confront, the status-quo, Mary should be confident in God’s word.
It is God who always protects and saves the believers, so all Mary had to do was to look around and see the evidence of God’s pledge. “For thy Lord has provided a rivulet beneath thee.” Due to her case, Mary didn’t need to exert any effort; the river is ready to serve her. This is considered as a clear honoring and glorification to Mary. “And shake towards thy self the trunk of the palm tree: It will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.”
As we have observed, the river is not the only reward to Mary, but the fresh dates, which grew at that time of the year especially for her, are too.
Both the river and the fresh dates were ready to serve Mary “So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye”. By this divine care and love, Mary is asked to change her mood and welcome her new life with a high spirit. Jesus reminded his mother that she was and is still under Divine guardianship. He advised her to confront people’s rude looks, rude words, and merciless accusations with recklessness. She has just to keep still because it was God’s responsibility to protect her “And if thou dost see any man, say , I have vowed a fast to (Allah) Most Gracious” Indeed, Mary has been instructed before she came to her people. She was advised to fast from words, a religious duty which was performed during that time. What was required from her was just sitting silently .
The confrontation between Mary (a.s.) and her people
Immediately after the instructions have been clearly understood, the Divine power has been inspired, and the breaking of the psychological barrier which hindered her from approaching her people, Mary went confidently to her people, carrying her infant with the determination to encounter the bitter experience she was going through and to prove Jesus was a prophet of God. “At length she brought the babe to her people carrying him in her arms”.
Being shocked, the people become curious to know the identity of this child who was carried by this virgin, Was it possible that Mary, the chaste who had spent all her entire life in the praying place (Mihrab), had got a baby? How did this happen? So, is an attempt to clear up this suspicious situation, the people started their attack by “they said: O’ Mary! Truly a strange thing has thou brought!” It is really unbelievable. They sensed a sin, and from whom? From the chaste virgin Mary!” O’ sister of Haroun!”
It means either a kinship to Haroun or similar to him in his good intentions for reformation “thy father was not a bad man , nor was your mother a woman unchaste!” You have fallen and disgraced your parents who were known for their exceptional morals and chaste behavior in our community. But concerning your case, everything seems different. For where did you acquire this immoral behavior from? To face this challenging situation, and as she had been already instructed, Mary said nothing except pointing quietly to the child “But she pointed to the babe.”
She was telling them that she can’t speak because she was in fasting. Within this gloomy atmosphere, the people thought that Mary was either hallucinating or making fun of them “They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?” Is he capable of speaking and clarifying the situation? However they didn’t wait for long when suddenly the baby addressed them with the clear words and the clear language they understand.
He began by clearing up their confusion and by explaining who he was
Jesus defends His Mother(a.s.): He said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He has given me revelation and made me a prophet.”
Having announced who he was, Jesus began, immediately to tell them about his future intentions as a prophet. He confirmed that both his religious role and his power were inspired by God to whom he surrenders himself. Jesus asserted that he was just a servant to God invalid of performing anything if he hadn’t inspired the courage from God who had made him. In fact, Jesus assured that had it not been for God, He would not have even existed.
Thus, there should not be any exaggeration to his reality as a human. Jesus was a human who had a mission to deliver. All his deeds and his actions should be inspired from God and to God as well. In fact, this was Jesus’ prophetic mission and real qualities which people should comply with, believe in and work according to. In this sense, Jesus negated the false notion that he is Allah or the son of Allah. “And He has made me blessed where so ever I be”. As is known, blessing is the growth of goodness in Man’s life.
A goodness which benefits both the communities and the people, and thus , Jesus was blessed for what he has given his people. For instance, he has given them the knowledge which elevated them. He has given them the good deeds which not only enriched their existence but which also promoted their movement and secured their powerful position which in return could protect them from deviation “and has enjoined on me prayer and Zakat as long as I live”... the prayer elevates and purifies the spirit so as to ascend peacefully to its creator, and the Zakat encompasses poverty by taking into consideration the needs of the poor people.
Thus, by these two human acts humanity is elevated. Accordingly, both the heavenly side and the spiritual side meet, a meeting that is recommended in all heavenly messages. “He hath made me kind to my mother”, Generally speaking, Kindness represents mercy, compassion, and guardianship. These powerful sentiments are expressions of Jesus gratefulness to his honored mother who in return possesses all meanings of giving and goodness. Such human feelings are not dedicated only to Jesus’ mother, but they should also cover all people.
Thus, from his care to his mother, Jesus shifted to a universal care, a care or all humans on this earth .That is the psychological totalitarianism of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, Indeed, it is selfish to consider that others have rights toward you without taking into account their rights, Besides, Jesus reminds us that misery generates trouble and torture to people as God saved him from this virus, so should he do to people. His role is just to warn them so that they could be saved from this misery.
“So peace is on me the day I was born” It is the moment of birth that carries with it all the meanings of peace, innocence, and inner happiness to both mind and soul. “The day that I die”. Similar to the way I was born, I will die and meet my God with high spirit, peaceful mind and soul, pleased and satisfied as well “and the day that I shall be raised up to life again. “I would be resurrected in the doomsday to witness how God would reward me to live peacefully under His care and Mercy.” Having introduced himself to the people who at first, denied him, Jesus clarified all the vague and mysterious questions about his reality.
Furthermore, what is noticeable is that the Holy Quran didn’t mention the people’s immediate reaction, may be either because they accepted everything or because God intended on focusing on the major events in Mary’s story.
The Parties dispute about Jesus “Such was Jesus the son of Mary.” This is, doubtlessly, Jesus’ ultimate truth: his birth, his reality as a human, and his mission. It is a statement that doesn’t only clarify and explain but it also facilitates the way to the real faith. “It is statement of truth about which they (vainly) dispute.” I have, to tell the truth that God is independent of having a son of His own. Thus, both their false dispute and their false evidences, if there were any, should be immediately stopped.
Indeed, begetting a son is a physical act depending on the needs of men’s animal nature, Allah is independent of all needs, and it is derogatory to Him to attribute such an act to Him. It is merely a relic of pagan materialist superstitions” It is not befitting to the majesty of Allah that he should begat a son.” Furthermore, an ultimate evidence to Jesus as a prophet is emphasized in this verse: “Glory be to Him! When he determines a matter, he only says to it “Be” and then it is.”
As a prophet, Jesus calls people to worship his and their God as well. He attempts at driving them to confirm their belief in him as God’s holy messenger, saying that just as God is their lord, so is His majesty to Jesus. Such acclaims prove that Jesus is a human and a servant of God. By this, Jesus negated all the suppositions around either his birth or his being a lord. “Verily Allah is my lord and your Lord: therefore serve Him. Surrender to His will, depend on Him, obey Him, and avoid His wrath by avoiding His inhibitions in all fields of life, then you would attain peace, justice, and right. This is a way that is straight.” It is a safety path because it connects the beginning with the end. It is also a safety path since it determines and organizes man’s freedom in his way of living. It legislates what benefits him and warns him against what causes him misery. As a matter of fact, Jesus’ issue demands that people ought to be aware of the essence of the Divine which is, in turn, connected with monotheism.
Jesus confirms that man’s realization of this fact would lead him to know his weaknesses and his strengths. It would also represent this absolute richness of faith against this absolute poverty of disbelief. Consequently, learning the knowledge of existence has become a must. Every man should know all the mysterious entities which surround him and which at the same time strengthen his belief against any imaginative suppositions..
“But the sects differ among themselves”. The people were confused and perplexed whether to take him as a lord, as the son of God, a prophet or a false prophet.
The outcome is a variety of beliefs and concepts; “that they will surely regret in the Hereafter.”
Worst of all they will regret their rejection to any argument related to Jesus and His birth.
“How plainly will they see and hear, the Day that they will appear before us.” In the worldly life, they were blind and deaf. Now everything is tangible; the truth imposes itself on them; neither could they escape it nor could they face it. It is too late to return from the state of deviation. It is time to witness the outcome of their good deeds, if there are any, and to be rewarded for them, and at the same time to witness their evil deeds, if there are any, and to be punished for.
What is worst is that one could not go back and change. It is time for evaluation “But the unjust today are in error manifest”. This is the result of their own misdoings, and God knows best