Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"
Jesus in Islam II : Birth of Jesus
In this segment, Dr. Badawi continues to draw minor parallels between Jesus and John the Baptist in his never ending attempt to convince us that Jesus is "like other Prophets". Upon closer examination, we will find that this is nothing more than a fallacy of false equivalence. Dr. Badawi will then discuss the Qur'an's version of the nativity, much of which is nothing more than tales borrowed from apocryphal stories, some of which were copied incorrectly by Muhammad!
Host : Were there any other similarities between Jesus and John the Baptist?
Jamal Badawi: Well, in addition to the things that we discussed in the previous program, that both were named even before their birth, that both of them had some aspects of uniqueness in their lives and the fact that both of them, as far as we know, did not get married, or get any children. in addition to this, the soul, which we discussed last time, that both of their souls continue to live like the souls of other prophets and martyrs, and that the name and the name Yakub, and the Qur'an indicates that the martyr's soul continues to live.
I am not sure of the point which Dr. Badawi is attempting to make with these "similarities". The fact that John the Baptist, Jesus, and I were named before our births does not diminish the divinity of Jesus. As far as our souls are concerned, they will always exist somewhere - where we spend eternity depends upon whether, or not, we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
But in addition, there is also a couple of similarities one is that their had been a conspiracy of both of them, John the Baptist and Jesus according to the Qur'an. In one case, it did not succeed, in the case of Jesus, but it appeared to people that they successfully crucified him it is a matter that we will discuss latter.
Once again, the fact that people conspired to kill both Jesus and John the Baptist does not change the divine nature of Jesus. We will also discuss the Qur'an's conflicting accounts of what happened to Jesus in a later segment.
And finally, there is an interesting connection also between John the Baptist and Jesus which is similar to the connection between Jesus and Muhammad. Because John the Baptist's advent paved the way for the one to come after him greater than he was and that was Jesus, and he had the greater role. In the same way we find that the coming of Jesus was also paving the way for the one who comes after him in the form of paraklet, which has been misunderstood and misinterpreted from the Bible itself.
No, Dr. Badawi is desperately twisting the text of the Bible to extract this claim. Please read :
Muhammad in the Bible by Samuel Green, and
Muhammad in the Bible by Sam Shamoun.
Briefly, the verses that Dr. Badawi will cite DO NOT refer to Muhammad, but to the Holy Spirit. For example John 14:16 says:
"And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counsellor, to be with you forever"
Clearly this cannot be Muhammad since he is no longer with us, however, the Holy Spirit is with us!
Another clear passage which demostrates that the paraclete is not Muhammad, but the Holy Spirit, is 1 John 4:4:
"the Spirit who IS IN YOU is more powerful than the spirit IN THOSE who belong to the world."
Clearly, Muhammad is not in anyone!
One to come after him to fulfill the greater roles of the last messenger and seal of Allah, that being Muhammad. It is no wonder when we review these similarities that we see in John the Baptist and Jesus that both of them seem to have almost identical words. Both of them were saying repent, the kingdom of God is at hand. This was reported by John the Baptist and Jesus - both of them.
Jesus said much more than this! Jesus gave us the only way to salvation, through His blood. Repentance is very important, however, with accepting the God's gift of salvation, through Jesus Christ, our sins are not forgiven.
No wonder, also we find that John the Baptist and Jesus humble with each other and had a lot of praise for each other. This is reflected in the study of baptism that John the Baptist baptized Jesus and was at the same time was quoted in the Bible as saying how could he baptize someone who was greater that he was. We find Jesus praising John the Baptist immensely and saying that among all of the children born to women there was none greater than John the Baptist.
John the Baptist also said:
Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" "I baptize with water," John replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie." This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, `A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel." Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, `The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." (John 1:24-34 )
John the Baptist was one of God's greatest Prophets. Being a Prophet means that he knew the future (something Muhammad never knew). John knew that Jesus was the Son of God who came into the world to die for our sins according to God's divine plan and that was the message that this great Prophet of God gave to all of humanity.
Now to go back to Zechariah who was the father of John the Baptist, we find that he asked Allah to provide him a sign, that is a sign when the birth of his son John the Baptist is imminent. And the sign, according to the Qur'an was that he would not be able to speak for three days but it is not like some people say that he was totally unable to speak because the Qur'an says to supplicate your Lord morning and evening which means that he was able to speak in praises to the creator, but otherwise, he was not able to communicate with people in other worldly affairs. So this is a very interesting comparison which I like to reflect on, the similarities between both figures.
Clearly, Muhammad, and the Qur'an, got the story mixed up! In fact, the basic historical accuracy of the Qur'an's account is discredited in Sura 19:7:
(It was said unto him): O Zachariah! Lo! We bring thee tidings of a son whose name is John; we have given the same name to none before (him).
There were, in fact, men named John [or Johanan] before John the Baptist! There is a Johanan in 1 Kings 25:23, 1 Chronicles 3:15, 24, 6:9, 10, Ezra 8:12. There are 27 instances where the name "Johanan" is mentioned in the Old Testament.
A second issue is Zechariah's lose of speech. The Bible tells us:
Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time." (Luke 1:18-20)
and in verses 62-64:
Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John." Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God.
Host: At this time, let us turn our attention to Mary, was she aware of the birth, or the expected birth of Jesus?
Jamal Badawi: Yes she was and, in fact, we may at this point, turn to the Qur'an for an answer to these questions. In Sura 19, for example, passages 16, I will just read the first , 16 through 22 It says:
And we mention Mary in the book, when she had withdraw from her people to a chamber, or a place, that I a place looking east, and had chosen seclusion from them. Then we sent to her our spirit, that is a reference to the angel Gabriel, and it assumed for her the likeness of a perfect man. She said, I seek refuge in the compassionate one, from you, if you are God fearing. He said [that is Gabriel], I am only a messenger of your Lord that I will bestow on you a blameless and pure son. She said how can I have a son when no man has touched me? Nor have I been unchaste. He said so [so that it will be] your Lord says that it is easy for him, and it will be the we make of him a revelation for mankind, or a sign, it can also be translated as a sign, a sign, a revelation for mankind, and a mercy from us. And it is a thing ordained and she conceived him and she withdrew with him to a far place. Now, perhaps a couple of comments may now help us understand what this message really refers to.
First of all, a question may arise why did Mary seek a secluded place away from her family? Now whether she secluded herself to devote herself to worship, or because the new began to spread among the Israelites that Mary is pregnant and there are all sorts of questions about her so she kept away from her people. That's not a very significant question anyway, the fact that she was secluding herself from them.
If it is not an important question, then why ask it? Why is the Qur'an silent on this issue if it is of any importance?
Now, it says in the Qur'an, the passages that we recited, that he sent to his spirit or our spirit, and spirit, as used in the Qur'an in that particular context is a reference to the Archangel Gabriel, who brought the new to Mary of the coming birth of Jesus. In fact, this is described similarly in the Qur'an in Sura number 3 in passage 42, this is a very interesting passage in the Qur'an, it says when the angels, and again, like we talked about Zechariah, it was actually Gabriel, one angel but again, the sound when it comes from different directions we had the speaking of several angels. When the angel said Oh Mary, Allah has chosen you, purified you and chosen you above the women of all nations. That is an interesting thing because, you know, it talks twice, in the same verse, or the same passage, about Allah choosing Mary. But there is a difference between both choices. The first one, it simply says that Allah chose you . But here it does not mean that she is the only one chosen, it means that this closeness is joint choseness as Allah also chose Adam, Noah, Abraham, and their descendants. And after it says purified you, it says chosen you above women of many nations, which means that there is a special choseness, a general choseness and that is definitely that she would be the mother of one great Prophet of Allah.
But the question, once again is why? If Jesus "was only a Messenger" (Sura 5:75 ) why was all of this necessary? No other Prophet was born this way, why was it necessary for Jesus to be born of a virgin? Once again, the Qur'an does not gives us an answer [the Bible does], but makes it appear that God is simply "showing off". If Muhammad is the last and greatest "Prophet", why did God bring Jesus into the world in this very unique way and not Muhammad?
That is why we find the prophet Muhammad as quoted in Hadith as describing paradise he says that the best women, or the best of women in paradise is Mary, the daughter of Imran, that is the mother of Jesus, and the best of women in paradise in Khadijah, that is his wife, the daughter of Quiad. Of course when it says the one and only because the Hadith seems to join both of them, but it shows that they both have very special characters. And if you look at it really, you find that one of them was a mother of a great prophet the other was a wife who supported a great prophet in a great period of tribulation. The Khadijah, the wife of the prophet, and Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Personally, I believe that Muhammad's statement is a false analogy. The is an enormous difference between Mary, in whom the Word of God became flesh, and Khadijah - who bankrolled Muhammad during his life of leisure and "contemplation". Once again, Muhammad was honoring the Prophets and Mary in his failed attempt to equate himself with them.
The second issue here is that Muhammad confused the Mary of the New Testament with the Mary of the Old Testament [the sister of Moses]. To illustrate how Muhammad confused these two Marys, we need to compare Sura 66:12:
And Mary, daughter of 'Imran, whose body was chaste, therefor We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His scriptures, and was of the obedient.
with Numbers 26:59:
the name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, who was born to the Levites in Egypt. To Amram she bore Aaron, Moses and their sister Miriam.
Now, to move on with the passage that we cited before, it seemed that she wondered how she could have a child when she had not been touched by any human, she was not married at that time, at least the marriage was not consummated, nor was she unchaste. How could that happen? And then the answer comes in words that are almost identical to the words given to Zachariah when he received the news of the birth of his son John the Baptist. That says, your Lord, it is easy for me. So that is an interesting analogy between the two situations.
Where is the analogy? Zechariah was the biological father of John the Baptist, Jesus came to earth through virgin birth. Although the birth of John the Baptist was a miracle, because his parents were old, the virgin birth of Jesus was a far greater miracle. Once again, Dr. Badawi cannot see the forest for the trees! What was the necessity for Jesus to be born of a virgin, according to the Qur'an? Neither the Qur'an, nor Dr. Badawi answers this question! However, the Bible does.
And then it says that the angel was to give you or bestow on you . It does not mean here that Gabriel, who is a servant of Allah or the creature, the Holy Spirit is the creature in the Islamic understanding, he has the power to bestow anything but it could mean that these are the words of Allah or to bestow on you with the permission or the command of Allah a pure child. Now the zakumen as it appears in that paragraph, in Arabic, come from Zaka which can have two meanings: One growth, that is someone who continues to grow, that also means pure because Zakat, which is one of the pillars of Islam, means purification. And, by the way unlike some people claim, this is not the only time when this term has been used in reference to Jesus, there have been other people in the Qur'an about whom Zaka, and similar terms are used, for example in Sura 19, in passage 13 Prophet John the Baptist is described as Zakatan - purity.
In the Qur'an it speaks also about those people who are purified Zakied, by the prophet Muhammad. Some it means, in the common word that there was not only one person pure, but it means that he was pure others were too.
Wait a minute! How could Muhammad, who was a sinner, purify another sinner? Was Muhammad without sin? Sura 48:2 says:
"That Allah may forgive thee of thy sin that which is past and that which is to come, and may perfect His favor unto thee, and may guide thee on a right path."
Clearly, not only did Muhammad sin in the past, God knew that he would sin in the future! In fact,
Muhammad once prayed:
"So forgive the sins which I have done in the past or will do in the future, and also those (sins) which I did in secret or in public, and that which You know better than I. None has the right to be worshiped but you". (al-Bukhari, Vol. 9, p. 403)
The question that frequently comes in the minds of Muslims and non Muslims, even Christians is the same question: How did Mary conceive? There have been different ways of explaining that. There have been people who want to have science as the ultimate judgment to explain everything and even though they might be religious, Christians or otherwise, they try to find some explanation around the miraculous birth of Jesus and some people say that she was already married to Joseph and they might even refer to the Gospel where it writes the lineage of Jesus and says that Joseph is his father. I think that that is a misunderstanding and it is not a way to speak about miracles that Allah chose as very real. There have been some ideas of people who did not really reject the notion of virgin birth I will try to explain it out, but they came in between saying that the process of parthenogenesis, which is known in plants and insects like bees for example, that it might have been possible, it is a miracle but, this miracle took place through the shock or the way Mary receive this news that might have made her ovum, even though she was not married, to begin division and produce Jesus. One cannot say that this is something that is impossible to happen, but to the best of my knowledge and I am not a biologist or a physician, why don't we hear in all of human history of any documented cases of a Virgin under the state of shock, or whatever it is, of the news, producing a child without being married - a virgin birth?
That is why I am not excited about either of these explanations, I think that if one is fixed to the Qur'an, we find that, as the Qur'an describes, when Gabriel came to Mary, he breathed into her but there is two expressions that appear in that statement, in Sura 46:12, the spirit of Allah or the command of Allah, or the address that gave life to him, he has breathed into Jesus, into Mary herself. Now there is a difference of opinion, but in any case, either of these quotations, when it talks about breathing, into Mary, it does not mean, as some people want to materialize it, that breath that went inside her, in one particular way or another, because Allah does not need all that to ordain a child to be born but the word can be understood best if we interpret it in the context of how, elsewhere, uses the term naq, or breath and I give two references which might solve this issue I hope. In Sura 32:9, and also in Sura 38: 72 we find that Allah created Adam and breathed into him something of his spirit. Now the breath here does not mean something material that came from God , like ours, we cannot materialize God, but it is understood figuratively as the breath of life that can make anything that resembles life, even in the initial formation of the human embryo, already you can talk about a living thing, in terms of something that has a soul, that is the secret that Allah has breathed and since we do not know much about the soul, there is not much benefit in trying to find out or trying to explain how the breath actually came into Mary or came into Adam, it simply means that Allah ordained that life come into Jesus by his will.
Once again, why? If Jesus "was only a Messenger" (Sura 5:75 ) why was all of this necessary?
Host: I would like to ask you now about the pregnancy period, in other words, was there anything unusual about that period and also about the experience of Mary at that time.
Jamal Badawi: There is no indication in the Qur'an, or any other indication known to me that this pregnancy was different from any other woman, which means that she went through the same full term like any other mother. In fact, from some of the traditions that I eluded to before, that some rumors might have spread about her being pregnant, shows that there had been a gradual increase in the size of the fetus. There is no indication in the Qur'an or elsewhere also that there was anything unusual about that pregnancy or childbirth. In fact, the Qur'an, it speaks about the pains at the time of birth, we will come to this quotation in a second. And, of course, I would like to make a footnote here that the purity of Mary, that the Qur'an attests to, removes any notion of connection between childbirth pains and original sin that you find in the Book of Genesis in the Bible, for example, and we discuss that in the series on Monotheism. If we turn to the Qur'an then to see how the birth was described, Sura 19:23-26, and the pangs of childbirth drove her to the trunk of the palm tree She said Oh, would that I had become a thing of note forgotten, then one cried to her from below her saying great us, you Lord has placed a rivulet beneath you and shift the trunk of the palm tree towards you. You will cause ripe date to fall on you, so eat and drink and be consoled. And if you read any word, saying I have vowed a fast to the compassionate and I may not speak this day to any other.
Perhaps a couple of comments also regarding the previous passages might help, the question here is why did Mary say, according to the Qur'an, that I wished I died before I which I was nothing and a forgotten thing of the past. Even though she was a believer, she was informed by Gabriel himself, the angel of the revelation, that she was going to have a birth of a child without the father, the physical father. Why was she so distressed at this time? Only Allah knows the answer to that but there have been some interpreters of the Qur'an who said that probably because the angels informed Mary that the child of hers, that holy child, will be worshiped against his will and against the will of he who created him, and as such she was very disappointed because she was a monotheist - a strict monotheist coming from the Israelite tradition believing in the one God. And maybe because of her piety, she was sad, that because of a helpless human being would cause many people to divert. Again, whether that is the reason or not one cannot say for sure.
My problem with this passage is why would God, who knows all, send Jesus to preach monotheism to the strictly monotheistic Jews? Think about it for a moment. If the Qur'an is correct, then God actually undermined His own teachings by sending a prophet of monotheism to the monotheists, which completely backfired [according to the Qur'an's account] because some of those who heard the words of Jesus and followed him would eventually deify Him! To make matters even worse [if we believe the Qur'an], God tricked billions of people throughout history, and deprived them of any chance of salvation, because He "made it appear to them" that Jesus died on the cross! Once again, the Qur'an simply does not provide us with a convincing argument concerning the life and work of Jesus.
Secondly, what kind of tree did she shake or was asked to shake? Was that palm tree really carrying dates or was it dry and didn't have any dates, was it during the season of dates or was it not. This is an issue that you can have so much discussion on. I will just make a quick reference to some of the arguments that might be asked if we assume that the palm tree did actually have dates, this might give very important information about the date of birth of Jesus because we know that dates are not ripe in the Palestine area in winter, in December it must have been towards the end of the summer. And again, we might find people like Rev. Armstrong who have already written a booklet stating that Jesus was not born in December and based that on quotations from the New Testament.
I am not aware of any Christians who believe that Jesus was born on December 25. The Church simply set this day aside to celebrate our Lord's birth. There
is no certain knowledge about the day of Muhammad's birth either, and some even disagree about the year. This does not hinder the majority of Muslims to celebrate Mawlid.
I will not get into that now. But again, the question as to whether the tree was fruitful or not at that time to me what is really more fascinating is how can we expect a woman who has just given birth to a baby to be able to shake a trunk of a huge and strong palm tree so that the dates would fall on her? Clearly, this is a miracle, so that however you want to explain it still, the fact is that it is a miracle and it shows that Allah only ordained Mary to try even though her action was nothing , to try and that Allah would take care of the dates and let they dates fall on her. One of the interpreters of the Qur'an made a very nice connection between dates and the son because the palm trees are a very kind of tree, Muhammad once said that he knew of a tree whose fruits were like the good blessings of the good believing Muslim, that is the palm tree, so it is a special tree, the fruit of the palm tree is special also, the sweetness and juices you get from fresh dates, that is something those who live here miss this, it is very nourishing. It is as if Allah is making an analogy between this sweetness and nourishment of the dates and the spiritual sweetness and nourishment of the baby that was born -Jesus. What is more miraculous is what happened after the birth that is when she was distressed, she heard a voice, some say that it was the voice of an angel or Gabriel, but there is an equally powerful argument that this was the voice of her own baby - Jesus, speaking miraculously soon after his birth to assure and console his mother. It is beautiful how it is presented from underneath her.
Perhaps this is a "nice story", however, how is it related to our salvation? In other words, what was the significance of this in God's plan of redemption or was God [according to the Qur'an's account] "showing off" again? After all, the New Testament Apocrypha contains many similar stories.
Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"
Answering Islam Home Page