The fourth luminary of Islam we are going to highlight in this series is Prophet Jesus Christ peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. As a matter of fact, no other personality in human history has been so much maligned and his image is so much distorted as is the case with Jesus Christ. While the Jews drop his name from their scriptures and claim that he was a fake prophet, the product of adultery and a rebel against their faith so he deserved the punishment he received and will go to Hell, the Christians or the supposed followers of Jesus exaggerated and went to the other extreme. They claimed that Jesus was God incarnate, or that he was the son of God ... So both extremes were far from the truth.
It was only the Holy Qur’an, the last pure word of Allah that established the true image of Jesus. So what does the Qur’an say about Jesus Christ? There are in fact two main places where the story of Jesus is given in some detail. One is that of chapter three which starts as follows: “Allah did choose Adam, and Noah, the family of Ibrahim and the family of Imran above all the worlds,- offspring one of the other, and Allah hears and knows all things.” (Surah Al-‘Imran, 3: 33-34)
After this introduction we have a little talk about the family of Jesus from his mother’s side. “Behold! The wife of Imran said: O my Lord, I do dedicate to you what is in my womb for Your special service; so accept this of me, for You are the All-Hearer All-Knower. When she delivered the baby she said: O my Lord! I am delivered of a female child - and Allah knows best what she brought forth - and in no wise is the male like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to your protection from the Evil One, the Rejected.” (Surah Al-‘Imran, 3:35-36)
This is how Virgin Mary was born. A testimony is then given in favour of the purest virgin the world has ever known: “Right graciously did her Lord accept her; He made her grow in purity and beauty; to the care of Zakariya was she assigned. Every time he entered the altar to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: “O Mary! “Whence comes this to you? “She said: From Allah; for Allah indeed provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure.” (Surah Al-‘Imran, 3:37)
That was an important lesson to Prophet Zakariya who was a weak old man and his wife was sterile. Seeing this miracle the Qur’an says: There did Zakariya pray to his Lord: Saying: O my Lord! Grant me from You a progeny that is pure, for You are He that hears prayer. While he was standing in prayer in the altar, the angels called unto him: “Allah does give you glad tidings of Yahya, witnessing the truth of a word from Allah and be, besides, noble, chaste and a prophet of the goodly company of the righteous.
It may be said here, why is this digression from the story of Mary and Jesus? The clear answer is that this is not a digression at all, but rather a preparation and an introduction to the actual biography of Jesus. It is even part of that biography. We shall see that as Yahya was born through a miracle by the will of Allah Almighty so also Jesus was born without a father. The presence of weak old and sterile parents in the case of Yahya is - as miraculous as the presence of a virgin mother only in the case of Jesus. It was not the parents that created the offspring in those cases but Allah Almighty is the only creator, neither can any parent claim to be the creator of his or her children simply because some couples are sterile.
Now back to Zakariya. What was his response towards this glad tiding of having a child in his weak old age? “He said: O my Lord! How shall I have a son, seeing I am very old, and my wife is barren? “Thus”, was the answer, does Allah accomplish what He wills.” He said: O my Lord! Give me a sign! Thy sign, was the answer, shall be that you shall speak to no man for three days but with signals. Then celebrate the praises of your Lord again and again, and glorify Him in the evening and in the morrow.” (Surah Al-‘Imran, 3:40-41)
“So Zakariya came out to his people from the altar, he told them by signs to celebrate Allah’s praises in the morning and the evening. To his son came the command: “O Yahya! Take hold of the Book with might “and We gave him wisdom even as a youth, and pity for all creatures, as from Us, and purity. He was devout and kind to his parents, and he was not over bearing or rebellious. So peace on him, the day he was born, the day that he dies and the day that he will be raised up to life again!” (Surah Maryam, 19:11-15)
If we remember that Yahya was later on unjustly massacred at the hands of an oppressing ruler to satisfy a prostitute as we read the story in the Bible, we shall see how great was the crime of denying him as well as Jesus Christ after him.
Now to come closer. “Behold! The angels said: O Mary! Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of all nations. O Mary! Worship your Lord devoutly, prostrate yourself and bow down with those who bow down.” (Surah Al-‘Imran, 3:42-43)
After this preparation of Virgin Mary we have the actual story of the birth of Jesus: “Relate in the Book the story of Mary, when she withdrew from her family, to a place in the East. She screened herself from them; then We sent to her Our spirit (angel Gabriel) and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. She said: I seek refuge from you in Allah Most Gracious (come not near) if you do fear Allah. He said: Nay, I am only a messenger from your Lord, to announce to you the gift of a pure son. She said: How shall I have a son, when no man has ever touched me, and I am not unchaste? He said: So it will be, your Lord says: “That is easy for Me; and We wish to appoint him as a sign unto men and a Mercy from Us’: It was a matter so decreed.” (Surah Maryam, 19:16-21)
In another chapter “the angels said: “O Mary! Allah gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him, his name will be Christ Jesus, son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of those nearest to Allah. He shall speak to people in childhood and in maturity, and he shall be of the righteous.”” (Surah Al-‘Imran, 3:45-46)
Mary, however, did not submit to this extra-ordinary event. “She said: O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me? He said: Even so. Allah creates what He wills; when He has decreed a plan, He but says to it, “Be” and it is.” (Surah Al-‘Imran, 3:47)
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