In many verses of the Glorious Qur’an Allah the Exalted denied the claim of the Christians that He has a son. A delegation from Nagran came to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). They began to talk about their claim about the Trinity, which is that Allah is three in one, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, with some disagreement among their sects. That is why Allah affirmed in many verses of the Qur’an that Isa is a slave of Allah, whom He molded in the womb of his mother like any other of His creatures, and that He created him without a father, as He created Adam without a father or a mother.
Allah the Almighty said: Allah chose Adam, Noah, the family of Ibrahim and the family of Imran above the Alamin (mankind and jinns)(of their times). Offspring, one of theo other, and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.
Remember when the wife of Imran said: “O my Lord! I have vowed to You what (the child that) is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services (free from all worldly work; to serve Your Place of worship), so accept this, from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All Knowing.”
Then when she delivered her (child Maryam), she said: “O my Lord! I have delivered a female child,” and Allah knew better what she delivered, – “and the male is not like the female, and I have named her Maryam, and I seek refuge with You (Allah) for her and for her offspring from Satan, the outcast.”
So her Lord (Allah) accepted her with goodly acceptance. He made her grow in a good manner and put her under the care of Zechariah. Every time he entered Al-Mihrab (a praying place or a private room), he found her supplied with sustenance.
He said: “O Maryam! From where have you got this?”
She said: “From Allah. Verily, Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills, without limit.” ( 3:33-37 Quran)
Allah declared that He had elected Adam (pbuh) and the elite of his offspring who obey Allah. Then He specified the family of Ibrahaim (pbuh), which includes the sons of Ismail (pbuh), and the family of Imran, the father of Maryam.
Muhammad Ibn Is’haaq stated that he was Imran Ibn Bashim, Ibn Amun, Ibn Misha, Ibn Hosqia, Ibn Ahriq, Ibn Mutham, Ibn Azazia, Ibn Amisa, Ibn Yamish, Ibn Ahrihu, Ibn Yazem, Ibn Yahfashat, Ibn Eisha, Ibn Iyam, Ibn Rahba am, Ibn David (Dawud).
Prophet Zakariyah’s (pbuh) wife’s sister had a daughter named Hannah. She was married to Imran, a leader of the Israelites. For many years, the couple remained childless. Whenever Hannah saw another woman with a child, her longing for a baby increased. Although years had passed, she never lost hope. She believed that one day Allah would bless her with a child, on whom she would shower all her motherly love.
She turned to the Lord of the heavens and the earth and pleaded with Him for a child. She would offer the child in the service of Allah’s house, in the temple of Jerusalem. Allah granted her request. When she learned that she was pregnant, she was the happiest woman alive, and thanked Allah for His gift. Her overjoyed husband Imran also thanked Allah for His mercy.
However, while she was pregnant her husband passed away. Hannah wept bitterly. Alas, Imran did not live to see their child for whom they had so longed. She gave birth to a girl, and again turned to Allah in prayer: “O my Lord, I have delivered a female child,” and the male is not like the female, and I have named her Maryam, and I seek refuge with You (Allah) for her and her offspring from Satan, the outcast.” (3:36 Quran)
Hannah had a big problem in reference to her promise to Allah, for females were not accepted into the temple, and she was very worried. Her sister’s husband Zakariyah, comforted her, saying that Allah knew best what she had delivered and appreciated fully what she had offered in His service. She wrapped the baby in a shawl and handed it over to the temple elders. As the baby was a girl, the question of her guardianship posed a problem for the elders. This was a child of their late and beloved leader, and everyone was eager to take care of her. Zakariyah said to the elders: “I am the husband of her maternal aunt and her nearest relation in the temple; therefore, I will be more mindful of her than all of you.”
As it was their custom to draw lots to solve disagreements, they followed this course. Each one was given a reed to throw into the river. They had agreed that whoever’s reed remained afloat would be granted guardianship of the girl. All the reeds sank to the bottom except Zakariyah’s. With this sign, they all surrendered to the will of Allah and made him the guardian.
To ensure that no one had access to Maryam, Zakariyah built a separate room for her in the temple. As she grew up, she spent her time in devotion to Allah. Zakariyah visited her daily to see to her needs, and so it continued for many years. One day, he was surprised to find fresh fruit, which was out of season in her room. As he was the only person who could enter her room, he asked her how the fruit got there. She replied that these provisions were from Allah, as He gives to whom He wills. Zakariyah understood by this that Allah had raised Maryam’s status above that of other women.
Thereafter, Zakariyah spent more time with her, teaching and guiding her. Maryam grew to be a devotee of Allah, glorifying Him day and night.
Ali Ibn Abi Talib narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “The best of the world’s women is Maryam (in her lifetime), and the best of the world’s women is Khadija (in her lifetime).” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
Abu Musa Al-Ashari also narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “May among men attained perfection but among women none attained perfection except Maryam the daughter of Imran, and Asiya the wife of Pharaoh, and the superiority of Aisha to other women is like the superiority of Tharid (an Arabic dish) to other meals.”
While Maryam was praying in her temple, an angel in the form of a man appeared before her. Filled with terror, she tried to flee, praying: “Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (Allah) from you, if you do fear Allah.”
The angel said: “I am only a Messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son.”
She said: “How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?”
He said: “So (it will be), your Lord said: “That is easy for me (Allah): And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (Allah), and it is a matter (already) decreed, (by Allah).'” (19:18-21 Quran)
The angel’s visit caused Maryam great anxiety, which increased as the months went by. How could she face giving birth to a child without having a husband? Later, she felt life kicking inside her. With a heavy heart, she left the temple and went to Nazareth, the city in which she had been born where she settled in a simple farm house to avoid the public.
But fear and anxiety did not leave her. She was from a noble and pious family. Her father had not been an evil man nor was her mother an impure woman. How could she prevent tongues from wagging about her honor?
After some months, she could not bear the mental strain any longer. Burdened with a heavy womb, she left Nazareth, not knowing where to go to be away from this depressing atmosphere.
She had not gone far, when she was overtaken by the pains of childbirth. She saw down against a dry palm tree, and here she gave birth to a son. Looking at her beautiful baby, she was hurt that she had brought him into the world without a father. She exclaimed: “I wish I had died before this happened and had vanished into nothingness!”
Suddenly, she heard a voice nearby: “Grieve not, your Lord has placed a rivulet below, and shake the trunk of this tree, from which ripe dates will fall. So eat and drink and regain the strength you have lost; and be of good cheer, for what you see is the power of Allah, Who made the dry palm tree regain life, in order to provide food for you.” For a while she was comforted by Allah’s miracle, for it was a sure sign of her innocence and purity.
She decided to return to the city. However, her fears also returned. What was she going to tell the people? As if sharinhis mother’s worry, the baby began to speak: “If you meet any person say: ‘I have vowed to fast for The Beneficent and may not speak to any human today.'” With this miracle, Maryam felt at ease.
As she had expected, her arrival in the city with a newborn baby in her arms aroused the curiosity of the people. They scolded her: “This is a terrible sin that you have committed.” She put her finger to her lips and pointed to the child. They asked: “How can we speak to a newborn baby?” To their total amazement, the child began to speak clearly: “I am Allah’s servant. Allah has given me the Book, and has made me a prophet, and has blessed me wherever I may be, and has enjoined on me prayers and alms-giving as long as I live. Allah has made me dutiful towards she who had borne me. He has not made me arrogant nor unblessed. Peace unto me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive.”
Most of the people realized that the baby was unique, for it Allah wills something, He merely says “Be” and it happens. Of course, there were some who regarded the baby’s speech as a strange trick, but at least Maryam could now stay in Nazareth without being harassed.
Allah the Exalted revealed: And mention in the Book (the Qur’an, O Muhammad, the story of) Maryam, when she withdrew in seclusion from her family to a place facing east. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her Our Ruh (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 (Allah) from you, if you do fear Allah.”
The angel said: “I am only a Messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son.”
She said: “How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?” He said: “So (it will be), your Lord said: “That is easy for Me (Allah): and (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (Allah), and it is a matter (already) decreed, (by Allah).'”
So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place (Bethlehem valley, about four to six miles from Jerusalem). And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said: “Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!”
Then (the babe “Isa” or Gabriel) cried unto her from below her, saying: “Grieve not! Your Lord has provided you a water stream under you; and shake the trunk of palm tree towards you, it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon you. 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 (Allah) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.'”
Then she brought him (the baby) to her people, carrying him. They said: “O Maryam! Indeed you have brought a thing Fariyya (an unheard mighty thing). O sister (the like) of Aaron (not the brother of Moses, but he was another pious man at the time of Maryam)! Your father was not a man who used to commit adultery, nor was your mother an unchaste woman.”
Then she pointed to him. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?”
He (Isa) said: “Verily! I am a slave of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet; and He has made me blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined me prayer, and Zakat, as long as I live, and dutiful to my mother, and made me not arrogant, unblest. And Salam (peace) be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!”
Such is Isa, son of Maryam. (It is) a statement of truth, about which they doubt (or dispute). It befits not (the Majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son (this refers to the slander of Christians against Allah, by saying that Isa is the son of Allah). Glorified (and Exalted be He above all that they associate with Him). When He decrees a thing, He only says to it, “Be!” – and it is.
Isa said: “And verily Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him (Alone). That is the Straight Path. (Allah’s Religion of Islamic Monotheism which He did ordain for all of His Prophets).”
Then the sects differed (the Christians about Isa), so woe unto the disbeliveers (those who gave false witness saying that Isa is the son of Allah) from the meeting of a great Day (the Day of Resurrection, when they will be thrown in the blazing Fire).
How clearly will they (polytheists and disbeliveers in the Oneness of Allah) see and hear, the Day when they will appear before Us! But the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers) today are in plain error. And warn them (O Muhammad) of the Day of grief and regrets, when the case has been decided, while now they are in a state of carelessness and they believe not. (19:16-39 Quran)
It was said that Joseph the Carpenter was greatly surprised when he knew the story, so he asked Maryam: “Can a tree come to grow without a seed?” She said: “Yes, the one which Allah created for the first time.” He asked her again: “Is it possible to bear a child without a male partner?” She said: “Yes, Allah, created Adam without male or female!”
It was also said that, while pregnant, Maryam went one day to her aunt, who reported that she felt as if she was pregnant. Maryam in turn, said that she, too, was feeling as if she was pregnant. Then her aunt said: “I can see what is in my womb prostrating to what is in your womb.”
The Jewish priests felt this child Isa was dangerous, for they felt that the people would turn their worship to Allah the Almighty Alone, displacing the existing Jewish tenets. Consequently, they would lose their authority over the people. Therefore, they kept the miracle of Isa’s speech in infancy as a secret and accused Maryam of a great misdeed.
As Isa (pbuh) grew, the signs of prophethood began to increase. He could tell his friends what kind of supper waited for them at home and what they had hidden and where. When he was twelve years old, he accompanied his mother to Jerusalem. There he wandered into the temple and joined a crowd listening to the lecture of the Rabbis (Jewish priests). The audience were all adults, but he was not afraid to sit with them. After listening intently, he asked questions and expressed his opinion. The learned rabbis were disturbed by the boy’s boldness and puzzled by the questions he asked, for they were unable to answer him. They tried to silence him, but he ignored their attempts and continued to express his views. Isa became so involved in this exchange that he forgot he as expected back home.
In the meantime, his mother went home, thinking that he might have gone back with relatives or friends. When she arrived, she discovered that he was not there, so she returned to the city to look for him. At last she found him in the temple, sitting among the learned, conversing with them. He appeared to be quite at east, as if he had been doing this all his life. Maryam got angry with him for causing her worry. He tried to assure her that all the arguing and debating with the learned had made him forgot the time.
Isa grew up to manhood. It was Sabbath, a day of complete rest: no fire could be lit or extinguished nor could females plait their hair. Moses (pbuh) had commanded that Saturday be dedicated to the worship of Allah. However, the wisdom behind the Sabbath and its spirit had gone, and only the letter remained in the Jews’ hearts. Also, they thought that Sabbath was kept in heaven, and that the People of Israel had been chosen by Allah only to observe the Sabbath.
They made a hundred things unlawful on Saturday even self-defense or calling a doctor to save a patient who was in bad condition. This is how their life was branded by such hypocrisy. Although the Pharisees were guardians of the law, they were ready to sell it when their interests were involved so as to obtain personal gains. There was, for example, a rule which prohibited a journey of more than one thousand yards on the Sabbath day. What do we expect of the Pharisees in this case? The day before, they transferred their food and drink from their homes two thousand yards away and erected a temporary house so that from tthey could travel a further thousand yards on the Sabbath day.
Isa was on his way to the temple. Although it was the Sabbath, he reached out his hand to pick two pieces of fruit to feed a hungry child. This was considered to be a violation of the Sabbath law. He made a fire for the old women to keep themselves warm from the freezing air. Another violation. He went to the temple and looked around. There were twenty thousand Jewish priests registered there who earned their living from the temple. The rooms of he temple were full of them.
Isa observed that the visitors were much fewer than the priests. Yet the temple was full of sheep and doves which were sold to the people to be offered as sacrifices. Every step in the temple cost the visitor money. They worshipped nothing but money. In the temple, the Pharisees and Sadducees acted as if it were a market place, and these two groups always disagreed on everything. Isa followed the scene with his eyes and observed that the poor people who could not afford the price of the sheep or dove were swept away like flies by the Pharisees and Saducees. Isa was astonished. Why did the priests burn a lot of offerings inside the temple, while thousands of poor people were hungry outside it?
On this blessed night, the two noble prophets John (pbuh) and Zakariyah (pbuh) died, killed by the ruling authority. On the same night, the revelation descended upon Isa (pbuh). Allah the Exalted commanded him to begin his call to the children of Israel. To Isa, the life of ease was closed, and the page of worship and struggled was opened.
Like an opposing force, the message of Isa came to denounce the practices of the Pharisees and to reinforce the Law of Moses. In the face of a materialistic age of luxury and worship of gold, Isa called his people to a nobler life by word and deed. This exemplary life was the only way out of the wretchedness and diseases of his age. Isa’s call, from the beginning, was marked by its complete uprightness and piety. It appealed to the soul, the inner being, and not be a closed system of rules laid down by society.
Isa continued inviting the people to Almighty Allah. His call was based on the principle that there is no mediation between the Creator and His creatures. However, Isa was in conflict with the Jews’ superficial interpretation of the Torah. He said that he did not come to abrogate the Torah, but to complete it by going to the spirit of its substance to arrive at its essence.
He made the Jews understand that the Ten Commandments have more value than they imagined. For instance, the fifth commandment does not only prohibit physical killing, but all forms of killing; physical, psychological, or spiritual. And the sixth commandment does not prohibit adultery only in the sense of unlawful physical contact between a man and a woman, but also prohibits all forms of unlawful relations or acts that might lead to adultery. The eye commits adultery when it looks at anything with passion.
Isa was therefore in confrontation with the materialistic people. He told them to desist from hypocrisy, show and false praise. There was no need to hoard wealth in this life. They should not preoccupy themselves with the goods of this passing world; rather they must preoccupy themselves with the affairs of the coming world because it would be everlasting.
Isa told them that caring for this world is a sin, not fit for pious worshippers. The disbeliveers care for it because they do not know a better way. As for the believers, they know that their sustenance is with Allah, so they trust in Him and scorn this world.
Isa continued to invite people to worship the Only Lord, Who is without partner, just as he invited them to purify the heart and soul.
His teaching annoyed the priests, for every word of Isa was a threat to them and their position, exposing their misdeeds.
The Roman occupiers had, at first, no intention of being involved in this religious discord of the Jews because it was an internal affair, and they saw that this dispute would distract the Jews from the question of the occupation.
However, the priests started to plot against Isa. They wanted to embarrass him and to prove that he had come to destroy the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law provides that an adulteress be stoned to death. They brought him a Jewish adulteress and asked Isa: “Does not the law stipulate the stoning of the adulteress?” Isa answered: “Yes.” They said: “This woman is an adulteress.” Isa looked at the woman and then at the priests. He knew that they were more sinful than she. They agreed that she should be killed according to Mosaic Law, and they understood that if he was going to apply Mosaic Law, he would be destroying his own rules of forgiveness and mercy.
Isa understood their plan. He smiled and assented: “Whoever among you is sinless can stone her.” His voice rose in the middle of the Temple, making a new law on adultery, for the sinless to judge sin. There was none eligible; no mortal can judge sin, only Allah the Most Merciful.
As Isa left the temple, the woman followed him. She took out a bottle of perfume from her garments, knelt before his feet and washed them with perfume and tears, and then dried his feet with her hair. Isa turned to the woman and told her to stand up, adding: “O Lord, forgive her sins.” He let the priests understand that those who call people to Almighty Allah are not executioners. His call was based on mercy for the people, the aim of all divine calls.
Isa continued to pray to Allah for mercy on his people and to teach his people to have mercy on one another and to believe in Allah.
Isa continued his mission, aided by divine miracles. Some Qur’anic commentators said that Isa brought four people back from the dead: a friend of his named Al-Azam, an old woman’s son, and a woman’s only daughter. These three had died during his lifetime. When the Jews saw this they said: “You only resurrect those who have died recently; perhaps they only fainted.” They asked him to bring back to life Sam the Ibn Noah.
When he asked them to show him his grave, the people accompanied him there. Isa invoked Allah the Exalted to bring him back to life and behold, Sam the Ibn Noah came out from the grave gray-haired. Isa asked: “how did you get gray hair, when there was no aging in your time?” He answered: “O Spirit of Allah, I thought that the Day of Resurrection had come; from the fear of that day my hair turned gray.”