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The story of 'Isa (Jesus) and his mother Mary in the Qur'an

Adapted from: Al-Mizan Discourses

It is not meet for a man that Allah should give him the Book and the Judgment and Prophethood, then he should say to men: "Be my servants rather than Allah's;" but rather (he would say): "Be worshippers of the Lord because of your teaching the Book and your reading (it yourselves)". Or that he should enjoin you that you should take the angels and the prophets for lords; what! would he enjoin you with unbelief after you are Muslims (Submitting Ones)?  (Qur'an, 3:79-80)

Mary, daughter of Imran was the mother of the Messiah ('Isa (Jesus)). When her mother was pregnant with her, she made a vow that she would release what was in her womb to be devoted to the service of the Temple. She believed that she was pregnant with a male child; but when she brought it forth and came to know that it was a female, she was disappointed and dejected. Then she named her Mary, that is, servant. Her father, Imran, had died before she was born; so the mother brought her to the Temple for handing her over to the priests – Zakariyya was one of them. They contended with one another to get the privilege of her custody; then they agreed to decide it by lot, in which Zakariyya’s name was drawn; and he became her guardian. When she reached the age of puberty, Zakariyya made for her a partition to protect her from men’s eyes. She used to worship Allah therein and nobody entered that sanctuary except Zakariyya. Whenever Zakariyya entered the sanctuary to see her, he found her with food. He said: "O Mary! Whence comes this to you?" She said: "It is from Allah, and surely Allah gives sustenance to whom He pleases, without measure.

Mary was a truthful woman and was sinless by Allah’s protection; purified, chosen and spoken to; the angels spoke to her and purified her. She was obedient to the Lord and a sign of Allah for the worlds. (vide 3:35-44; 19:16; 21:91; 66:12 in the Qur’an)

Then Allah sent to her His spirit when she had hidden herself behind a curtain, and he appeared to her as a well-made man. He said to her that he was a messenger of her Lord so that he should give her, by permission of Allah, a pure boy without a father. He also gave her the good news of the manifest miracles which were to happen on the hand of her son; and informed her that Allah would surely strengthen him by the Holy Spirit, and would teach him the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel. He also told her that her son would be the messenger to the Children of Israel and would have clear signs. After informing her of the boy’s status and story, he breathed into her the spirit and she became pregnant with 'Isa (Jesus) (peace be on him), as a woman conceives her child. (vide 3:33-50 in the Qur’an)

Then she withdrew herself with him to a remote place. And the throes of childbirth compelled her to betake herself to the trunk of a palm-tree. She said: "Oh, would that I have died before this, and had been a thing quite forgotten!" Then the child called out to her from beneath her: "Grieve not; surely your Lord made a stream to flow beneath you; And shake towards you the trunk of the palm-tree; it will drop on you fresh ripe dates: So eat and drink and refresh the eye. Then if you see my man, say: ‘Surely I have vowed a fast to the Beneficent Allah, so I shall not speak to any man today.’" And she came to her people with him, carrying him (with her). (vide 19:20-27;) His conception, birth, talk and all related affairs were similar to those of other men.

When her people saw her in such a condition, they were enraged, and blamed and taunted her – as was natural in case of an unmarried woman conceiving and bringing forth a child. They said: "O Mary, surely you have done a strange thing. O sister of Aaron! Your father was not a bad man, nor was your mother an unchaste woman." But she pointed to him. They said: "How should we speak to one who is a child in the cradle?" He ('Isa (Jesus)) said: "Surely I am a servant of Allah; He has given me the book and made me a prophet: And he has made me blessed wherever I may be, and He has enjoined on me prayer and charity so long as I live: And dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me insolent, unblessed: And peace on me on the day I was born, and on the day I die, and on the day I am raised to life." (vide 19:27-33)

This talk of 'Isa (Jesus) was a sort of prologue which pointed to his future mission – that he would rise against oppression and injustice, revive and reform the laws of Moses (peace be on him), renovate what was obliterated from the revealed knowledge and make clear to them what they had differed in.

'Isa (Jesus) grew up and became a young man. He and his mother used to eat and drink in normal way with all the necessary concomitants and accidents of human life up to the end.

Then 'Isa (Jesus) was made a messenger to the Children of Israel. He stood up calling them to the religion of monotheism and told them: "I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I create for you out of dust like the form of a bird, and I breathe into it and it and becomes a bird, with Allah’s permission, and I heal the blind and the leper, and bring the dead to life, with Allah’s permission, and I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your homes. Most surely there is a sign in this for you. Surely Allah is my Lord and your Lord, therefore, worship Him only."

He called them to his new Law, which verified the Law of Moses; But he abrogated some parts of it, allowing them some things which were forbidden in the Torah as a punishment to the Jews. 'Isa (Jesus) used to say: "Surely I have come to you with wisdom, so that I make clear to you a part of what you differ in. O Children of Israel! Surely I am the messenger of Allah to you, verifying that which is before me of the Torah and giving the good news of a messenger who will come after me, his name being Ahmad."

He showed the miracles which he had mentioned, e.g. creation of a bird, raising the dead to life, healing the blind and leper, and giving the news of the unseen - all by Allah’s permission.

He continued like that calling them to monotheism and his new Law until he was convinced that they would not believe in him. Seeing their insolence, enmity and hatred, and the arrogance of their priests and rabbis, he turned away from them and selected his apostles (from the small band that had believed in him) to be his helpers to Allah.

Then the Jews rose against him with the intention to kill him. But Allah took him away completely and raised him. The Jews were put in confusion; some thought that they had killed him, others that they had crucified him; but in fact it was made to appear to them like that. (vide 3:45-58; 4:157-158; 5:110-111; 43:63-65; 61:6-14)