By Sadia Dehlvi
Dec 23, 2010
The festive season of Christmas provides an opportunity to reflect on Jesus and the centrality of Love in Divine philosophies. Although the Muslim and Christian narratives somewhat differ, one cannot be a Muslim unless they believe in Maryam, Virgin Mary, and Isa Ruh Allah, Jesus, an important prophet who is the Spirit of Allah, that is, pure compassion and mercy.
If the followers of Jesus, Moses and Muhammad are at odds, it is not because of their teachings, but despite their unifying message of the Oneness of God. Prophet Muhammad proclaimed that he did not bring a new religion; that he was carrying forward the message of the prophets before him. He stated that of all the prophets, he remained closest to Jesus, for there is no prophet between them.
There is a whole chapter named after Mary in the Quran, a righteous, chosen friend of Allah; born to Imran and his wife Hannah whose noble ancestry is from Adam, Noah and Abraham. Mary’s mother had vowed to offer the child in the service of God. When a girl child was born, she knew not how to fulfill this promise, for girls were not accepted in the temples of the rabbis. God entrusted Mary to the care of Prophet Zachariya, whose wife Elizabeth happened to be the sister of Hannah.
At the age of five, Mary was given a cell in the house of worship, where she studied under the scholars and devoted herself to prayer. When Zachariya would visit the cell, he would find Mary with fresh fruits and other provisions. Mary told him that God provided her with sustenance. Inspired, Zachariya prayed for a son in the sacred space and his prayers were accepted. Despite old age and a barren wife, Allah blessed him with Yahya, John the Baptist.
God sent a message through Archangel Jibraeel, Gabriel, to Mary that He had honoured her among the women of all nations and she would give birth to Jesus, to whom God would give a book. Mary asked how that was possible for no man had touched her. Gabriel reminded her that Allah creates whatever He wills. “The likeness of Jesus before God is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, ‘Be’: And he was.”
In Islamic scriptures there is no stable, no manger and no Joseph at the time of Jesus’ birth. Mary is alone in a desert in the eastern part of Damascus. To provide Mary with sustenance, God made a small rivulet run from which she could drink, and informed that she shake the trunk of the dead palm tree which would yield moist dates. Gabriel told Mary that on returning to her people, she was not to speak to anyone for some days. On her arrival, people hurled accusations at her of being unchaste. In response, Mary quietly pointed to the child. “They said: ‘How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?’ He said: ‘I am indeed a servant of God: He hath given me Revelation and made me a prophet; And He hath made me blessed where so ever I be, and hath enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live; (He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable; So Peace is on me, the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised to life again’”!
According to the Quran, Jesus speaking from the cradle is his first miracle, whereas the Bible records his initial miracle at the age of 30, which was turning water into wine. The Quran confirms that with Allah’s leave, Jesus breathed life into birds of clay, healed the blind, the leper and raised the dead.
Muslims believe that Jesus did not die on the Cross, but was raised to the Heavens. However, both Islam and Christianity believe that Christ will return to the earth to destroy the Antichrist who shall bring tyranny and war, selling lust, greed, gluttony and other sins. Both Jesus and Mary have significant roles in Sufi thought, finding frequent mention in mystic verse. Rumi writes:
The hermitage of Jesus
Is the Sufi’s table spread:
Take heed, O sick one,
Never forsake this doorway.
— Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Asian Age