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Mary and Jesus iin the Qur’’an (1)

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Ron68, Jun 4, 2005.

  1. Ron68

    Ron68 New Member

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    Inttrroduccttiion
    The deference and esteem with which Muslims hold Jesus and
    his mother, peace be upon them, is readily manifest on reading
    the Qur’an.1 Suμrah (Chapter) nineteenth of the Qur’an is named
    after Maryam, the Arabic name for Mary. The third suμrah of the Qur’an
    is titled A˜l ‘Imraμn meaning The Family of ‘Imraμn (father of Moses). In
    these two chapters of the Qur’an the lives of the Virgin and her child, and
    before them of John the Baptist (Yah\yaμ) are presented magnanimously in
    terms of compassion, grace, love, mercy and miracle.
    Witness the verses that bring the good tidings of the coming birth of
    John the Baptist (Yah\yaμ) and the Messiah (MesÈμh\ in Arabic):
    “. . 0 Zakkariyya, We give thee
    Good news of a son:
    His name shall be Yah\yaμ (John):
    On none by that name
    Have we conferred distinction before.”
    He said, “0 my Lord!
    How shall I have a son,
    When my wife is barren
    And I have grown quite decrepit
    From old age?”
    He said: “So (it will be):
    Thy Lord saith, That is
    Easy for Me: I did
    Indeed create thee before,
    When thou hadst been nothing!” (19: 7-9)
    and
    She (Mary) 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.” (19: 20-21)
    Surah Maryam was revealed at a time when Prophet Muhammad and
    the new Makkan converts to Islam were being subject to increasing
    persecution for their belief in the Unity (Oneness) of God. Unable to
    ward off their plight, the Prophet asked them to migrate to other lands
    where they could find freedom of worship and live in peace. When asked
    as to where should they go, the Prophet advised them to escape to
    Abyssinia in Africa, a Christian kingdom –where "a king (the Negus)
    rules with justice, a land of truthfulness, until God leads us to a way out
    of our difficulty." Following the Prophet’s advice, the first group of
    eleven Muslim men and women made their escape across the Red Sea to
    Abyssinia, soon to be followed by others. This migration to Abyssinia has
    come to be known in the annals of Islam as the First Hijrah (migration).
    At the time only forty seven Muslims remained in Makkah while those
    who sought freedom of worship in Abyssinia numbered over eighty.
    Enraged by the flight of Muslims to Abyssinia, the Makkans
    immediately dispatched two of their distinguished emissaries, ‘Amr ibn
    al ‘As and Abdullah ibn Abu Rabi’ah to the Negus carrying precious
    gifts, to plead the extradition of the Muslims back to Makkah. The
    delegation presented their precious gifts to the Negus and his patriarch
    and made its case to have the Muslims extradited back to their homeland.
    The Negus assembled his court and bishops and sent for the Muslim
    exiles. When all were assembled, the Negus addressed the Muslims:
    "What is this religion wherein you have become separate from your
    people, though you have not entered my religion nor that of any other
    folk that surround us?"
    Ja’far ibn Abu Talib, the spokesman of the Muslims, answered him:
    "O King! We were a people steeped in ignorance, worshipping idols,
    eating unsacrificed carrion, committing abomination, and the strong
    among us would devour the weak. Thus, we were until God sent us a
    Messenger from our midst, one whose lineage, integrity, truthfulness,
    purity and veracity we knew well. He called us unto God, that we should
    testify to his Oneness and worship Him alone and renounce what we and
    our fathers had worshiped in the way of stones and idols; and he
    commanded us to speak truly, to fulfill our promises, to respect the ties
    of kinship and the rights of our neighbors, and to refrain from crimes and
    bloodshed. Therefore, we worship God alone, setting none beside Him,
    counting as forbidden what he has forbidden and as licit, what He has
    allowed. For these reasons our people have turned against us, and
    have persecuted us to make us forsake our religion and revert from the
    worship of God to the worship of idols. That is why we have come,
    2
    seeking justice and protection, to your country, having chosen you above
    all others; and we hope, O King, that we shall not suffer wrong in your
    land."2
    The Negus further asked the Muslims if they had with them any
    Revelation that their Prophet had brought them from God. When
    Ja’far answered that they had, he asked him to recite it. Ja’far recited
    the following passage from the suμrah of Mary, which had been revealed
    shortly before their flight to Abyssinia:
    Relate in the Book
    (The story of) Mary,
    When she withdrew
    From her family
    To a pale in the East
    She placed a screen
    (To screen herself) from them;
    Then We sent to 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
    3
    As a Sign unto men
    And a Mercy from Us':
    It is a matter
    (So) decreed." (19: 16-21)
    On hearing the recitation, the Negus and his bishops openly wept.
    He said: "This has truly come from the same source as that which Jesus
    brought." Addressing the two envoys of Quraysh he said: "You may
    leave, for by God I will not hand them over to you; they shall not be
    betrayed."
    But the Quraysh delegation was not the one to give up that easily. They
    decided to use yet another ploy. They approached the Negus a second
    time claiming that Muslims aver that Jesus, the son of Mary is a slave.
    They told the Negus, "O King, they utter an enormous lie about Jesus
    the son of Mary. Do but send for them, and ask them what they say about
    Jesus." The Negus resummoned the Muslims to his court and inquired
    of them: "What do you say of Jesus, the son of Mary?" Ja’far answered
    with due reverence: "We say of him what our Prophet brought to us from
    Allah that he is the servant of God and His Messenger and His Spirit and
    His Word which He cast unto Mary the blessed virgin." The Negus
    picked up a piece of wood and said to those gathered: "Jesus the son of
    Mary exceeds not what you have said by the length of this stick." He then
    turned to the Muslims and said: "Go your ways, for you are safe in my
    land. Not for mountains of gold would I harm any one of you." Pointing
    to the envoys of Quraysh, he demanded his attendant to "return unto these
    two men their gifts, for I have no use for them." Thus, the envoys of
    Quraysh returned to Makkah empty-handed, their mission having failed
    while the Muslims stayed in peace in Abyssinia.
    1. The sacred text of the Muslims, the Qur’an, has 114 suμrahs (chapters) of
    varying length, providing guidance to humankind on all aspects of life in
    this world and in the next. The Arabic text of the Qur’an comprises only the
    inscribed form of the revelation brought by the angel Gabriel (Jibril in Arabic)
    to Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, during the twenty three years
    of his mission. The chapters in this volume are extracted from Abdullah Yusuf
    ‘Ali’s English translation of the Qur’an entitled The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an
    published by Amana Publications, Beltsville, Maryland, 1989. The reader may
    like to refer to that translation in order to follow up on information given in the
    footnotes by the translator.
    2. Martin Lings, Muhammad: his life based on the earliest sources, Inner
    Traditions International, Rochester, Vermont, 1983, pp. 83-84.
     
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