Christianity Facts From Fiction

How Islam can Help Christianity Understand the True Significance of the Virgin Birth

©Shutterstock

This article has been taken from a larger investigative article titled, ‘Jesus, the ‘Son of God’ – An Investigation into the Virgin Birth and its Meaning‘ It is part of a wider series exploring the sonship and divinity of Jesus (as). To read more on this topic, visit our Facts from Fiction page.

Read the previous artcle: ‘Why Christianity Fails to Understand the Virgin Birth

Azhar Goraya, Mexico

‘Islam provides a purely monotheistic interpretation of the virgin birth that is in accordance with the other miraculous birth narratives in the Bible

Executive Summary

There are 7 significances that can be attributed to the virgin birth according to a careful, monotheistic investigation of the biblical and Islamic narratives:

  1. The virgin birth was a general miraculous sign shown to demonstrate the future truthfulness of Jesus (as) as a prophet of God.
  2. It was a specific sign shown to demonstrate that God had chosen Jesus (as) to be His messenger in the future. The Old Testament has attributed this significance to miraculous births, such as in the case of Isaac (as), Samuel (as) and John the Baptist (as).
  3. The virgin birth was in fulfillment of previous prophecies indicating that the Messiah would be born to a virgin. This could be the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 or perhaps others that are now unknown.
  4. In a similar vein, the purpose of the sign was to demonstrate his close similarity to Adam (as), something that was mentioned in the Book of Enoch and Isaiah 11.
  5. The virgin birth demonstrated the reality of the Day of Judgement upon the Sadducees. His miraculous birth demonstrated that God could create and indeed resurrect mankind after death even without the normal means utilized for creation.
  6. Miraculous births were often associated with paradigm shifts in spiritual and temporal frameworks. The virgin birth thus indicated the imminent transfer of prophethood from the Israelites to the Ishmaelites.
  7. In the same vein, it also indicated the end of temporal kingship amongst the Jews.

Introduction

It has been shown previously that the virgin birth is not well established by the gospel narratives.

Moreover, Christians have attributed certain meanings to the virgin birth that are highly controversial, unsupported and contradictory, such as that the virgin birth demonstrated the purity of Jesus from original sin, or his divine sonship, or even that his birth was in clear fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies that the Messiah would be born of a virgin.

Islam and a careful study of the Bible provide us with a better understanding of the virgin birth, one that is in line with pure monotheism and does not attempt to deify Jesus (as). Seven such understandings come to light after a careful investigation into the biblical and Islamic narratives.

1.     A General Miraculous Sign

Firstly, the virgin birth can be understood as a general miraculous sign which demonstrated the truthfulness of Jesus (as). The Holy Qur’an states that Mary and her son were a sign from God:

وَالَّتِي أَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا فَنَفَخْنَا فِيهَا مِن رُّوحِنَا وَجَعَلْنَاهَا وَابْنَهَا آيَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ

‘And remember her who preserved her chastity; so We breathed into her of Our word and We made her and her son a Sign for peoples.’ [1]

The showing of miracles in different manners is a practice of God in support of His prophets. These signs can be of any nature, as long as they demonstrate the miraculous power of God working in favour of His chosen one. In this regard, the virgin birth would also be seen as one such miracle.

We find parallels of such miracles surrounding the birth of prophets in the birth narratives of the Prophet Muhammad (sa), which is described as having been accompanied by a great many signs:

'Historians have attributed many strange occurrences to the birth of the Holy Prophet (sa). For example, it is said that the palace of Chosroe [2], King of Iran, was struck with a devastating earthquake and that fourteen of his royal galleries collapsed. Furthermore, the fire at ‘The Holy Fire Temple of Persia’, which had been alit for hundreds of years, was suddenly extinguished. Then it is also said that various rivers and fountains became dry, and even in the very house of Muḥammad (sa) many miraculous wonders were manifested. However, these narrations are generally weak. There is also a narration which is perhaps true and it states that during the time of the birth of Muḥammad (sa), the sky was a spectacle of the breaking of many stars. Similarly, there is also another narration which states that the young Muḥammad (sa) was born naturally circumcised. If in fact this is true, it should not spur astonishment, for natural phenomena like this have been witnessed in other children also. Another feature naturally inherited by the Holy Prophet (sa) was an ascent piece of flesh on the left side of his back, which is well-known among the Muslims as the ‘Seal of Prophethood’.' [3]

In short, sometimes there are signs accompanied with the birth of prophets that demonstrate that they are special and will be granted a divine mission in the future. The virgin birth of Jesus (as) was a demonstration of this principle.

2.     Miraculous Birth as a Sign of Future Prophethood

Similar to the previous point, the virgin birth specifically demonstrated that Jesus (as) had been set apart at birth by God for the special task of reforming his people, in this case as the awaited Messiah of the Jews.

We find other examples of miraculous births being associated with future prophethood in the Old Testament. Isaac (as) [4], Samuel (as) [5], and John the Baptist (as) [6] were all born to barren women who had been miraculously healed by God. In each of these cases, the miraculous nature of their births foreshadowed their future responsibilities as prophets or spiritual guides of their nations.

The miraculous birth of Jesus (as) thus demonstrated that he would be granted the mantle of prophethood in the future.

3.     A Fulfilment of Previous Prophecies

The fulfilment of past prophecies serves as a sign of the truthfulness of prophets and assists their people in accepting them as true prophets of God.

The virgin birth could thus be understood as being in literal fulfilment of past prophecies about the coming Messiah being born of a virgin. This is especially true if, as Christians insist, the prophecy in Isaiah was a double prophecy that refers to the virgin birth of the Messiah. The prophecy states:

‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.’ [7]

Nevertheless, there seems to be no explicit historical indication that the Jews were expecting a Messiah who would be born of a virgin. According to The Catholic Encyclopedia:

'Hillmann [41] proves that belief in the virgin birth is not contained in the Old Testament, and therefore cannot have been taken from it. Dalman [42] maintains that the Jewish people never expected a fatherless birth of the Messiah, and that there exists no vestige of such a Jewish interpretation of Isaiah 7:14.' [8]

The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology is even more explicit:

'Pre-Christian Jewish tradition never anticipated a virgin birth of the Messiah. It appears that Judaism never understood Isaiah 7:14 as messianic or describing a virgin birth.' [9]

Those that support the idea that Isaiah 7:14 refers to the Messiah sometimes appeal to the argument that the author of Matthew would only have referenced this prophecy in support of the virgin birth if the Jews had previously understood it as referring to the miraculous birth of the Messiah.

In any case, the Holy Qur’an states that Jesus (as) came in fulfilment of previous prophecies:

وَقَفَّيْنَا عَلٰى آثَارِهِم بِعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ ۖ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْإِنجِيلَ فِيهِ هُدًى وَّنُورٌ وَّمُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَهُدًى وَّمَوْعِظَةً لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

‘And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, fulfilling that which was revealed before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel which contained guidance and light, fulfilling that which was revealed before it in the Torah, and a guidance and an admonition for the God-fearing.’ [10]

While there doesn’t seem to be any explicit indication that the Messiah would be born of a virgin, there do seem to be indications that he would be similar to Adam (as), and this could have been understood as also relating to the miraculous nature of his birth.

4.     To Demonstrate the Close Connection between Adam (as) and Jesus (as)

There are several indications that the Messiah would be similar to Adam (as). His virgin birth was thus one aspect in establishing his similarity to Adam (as).

The Book of Enoch – Adam (as) and Jesus as White Bulls

In the Book of Enoch (1 Enoch), Section 4 (The Dream Visions) in chapters 85-90, Enoch (the great-grandfather of Noah) relates an apocalyptic dream where he is shown the history of Israel and its prophets in the form of animals. Though the book does not form part of the Old Testament canon, it is attributed to Enoch, and the section on dream visions is deemed by scholars to have been written sometime between 165-161 B.C. [11]

 The vision begins with an account of Adam (as) being likened to a snow-white cow:

‘and behold a cow emerged from the earth, and that bovid was snow-white; and after it, there came forth one female calf together with two other calves.’ [12]

The vision continues, describing cows of various colours as well as the introduction of other animals such as camels, elephants and donkeys. It seems that the ‘white cow’ represents those who are righteous and are the picture of pristine purity:

'The ideal son is a white bull. Thus, those representing Cain, Abel and Seth are black, red and white representing imperfection, blood and perfection. The vision then mirrors the colours of Adam’s sons in those of Noah, Ham, Japheth and Shem. Later fathers beget disobedient sons in a bewildering array of colours and kinds. Thus, whilst Seth becomes the foundation of a dynasty of white bulls, the Sons of God taking the Daughters of Men (Gen 6:2) results in offspring of a completely different kind, camels, elephants and asses. The dynasty of white bulls ends with Isaac, who sires a white sheep (Jacob) and a black wild boar (Esau). After Isaac the revelation progresses with the sheep centre stage until, somewhere in the author’s envisioned future, the Messiah appears, faithful to the image in which Adam was created, a white bull the like of which has not been seen since Isaac. The Messiah then reproduces after his likeness, though now the method is different. Rather than siring children of his kind, he transforms others to be like him.' [13]

The Book of Enoch in 90:37 describes both the last prophet of the Jews and Adam (as) as snow-white cows, with Jesus evidently being the ‘last Adam’ of the Israelite line of prophets, as after him the vision ends:

‘Then I saw that a snow-white cow was born, with huge horns; all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the sky feared him and made petition to him all the time.’ [14]

Isaiah 11 – The Garden of Eden Being Manifested at the Time of the Messiah

Isaiah 11 is another proof-text that certain Christians claim refers to the coming of the Messiah. The first verse states,

‘A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.’ [15]

Jesse was the father of David (as). The verse seems to state that when the Davidic line of kings will have practically come to an end, that there will appear one who will be similar to David (as) and take on the role of King of Israel. According to Christians, it refers to Jesus.

The next few verses in Isaiah paint a picture of a veritable utopia that will be ushered in after his advent, where even carnivorous animals will make peace with their prey and that there will be no more bloodshed or death on earth:

The wolf shall live with the lamb,

the leopard shall lie down with the kid,

the calf and the lion and the fatling together,

and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze,

their young shall lie down together;

and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,

and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.

They will not hurt or destroy

on all my holy mountain;

for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord

as the waters cover the sea. [16]

It sounds very much like a new Garden of Eden, or the perfect garden in which Adam (as) was placed after his creation according to the Old Testament. In this sense, the Messiah would be a sort of ‘new Adam’.

How Islam can Help Christianity Understand the True Significance of the Virgin Birth

©Shutterstock

Further reference to the connection between the Messiah and Adam (as) seems to be found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. These were scrolls found among the 11 caves of Qumran by the Dead Sea, A large salt sea at the southern end of the Jordan River. They date from approximately 250 BC – 50 AD and have had a large impact on the understanding of the language, literature, and history of Judaism in Israel before and during the time of Jesus. The Dictionary of New Testament Background states:

'In the Dead Sea Scrolls, reference is made to the eschatological restoration of "all the glory of Adam/humanity"—it is not clear whether human glory or Adam’s glory will be restored, since ʾādām could refer to either (1QS 4:23; 1QH 17:15; CD 3:20; cf. 4QPs37 3:1–2).' [17]

New Testament References

We find a clearer connection between Adam (as) and Jesus in the New Testament. Luke traces the genealogy of Jesus back to Adam (as), the first ‘son of God.’ [18] In a sense, he is indicating that the coming of Jesus completes the cycle which began with Adam (as), who was also a ‘son of God.’ Other biblical commentators see clear Adam (as) and Garden of Eden motifs in Luke and Matthew:

'The last verse of Luke 3 identifies Adam as “the son of God” (Luke 3:38). Three verses later (Luke 4:3), Luke has Satan identifying Jesus as the Son of God, clearly linking the first Adam and the second stylistically and theologically.

But it is the contrasts and parallels of the temptation experience itself that so closely identifies the two “Adams”: paradise versus wilderness; satisfied versus “starving”; tempted by Satan in both accounts; tempted by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life in both accounts; disobedience to the Word of God versus adherence to the Word of God; yielding to temptation versus resisting temptation; banished by angels versus ministered to by angels (Matt. 4:11); fall from righteousness versus established in righteousness.

Clearly, the early church (Matthew as well as Luke) saw the temptation experience of Christ as being the Garden of Eden revisited.’ [19]

Paul developed this link much further by explicitly contrasting Jesus (as) with Adam (as) in many respects, going as far as to state that Jesus (as) is the ‘last Adam’. [20] Jesus (as) being the ‘last Adam’ in his theology is in the sense of ushering in a new age of humanity. Paul was a devout Jew before his conversion, and it seems he was drawing on the Jewish narrations that compared the Messiah to Adam (as) in his explanations.

The Islamic Understanding

The Holy Qur’an states that there are deep parallels between Jesus (as) and Adam (as). The Qur’an states:

إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسٰى عِندَ اللهِ كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ ۖ خَلَقَهُ مِن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ

‘Surely, the case of Jesus with Allah is like the case of Adam. He created him out of dust, then He said to him, ‘Be!,’ and he was.’ [21]

The first part of the verse draws our attention to the general similarities between both of their lives and missions. Adam (as) was the first prophet and thus an archetype for future prophets. Jesus (as), being a prophet as well, was therefore similar to him in many respects. For example, both were human, both faced persecution and both were forced to migrate from their homes when the persecution reached its climax. Both were the catalysts for new religious movements. Adam (as) was the first prophet, while Jesus (as) was the last prophet in the line of Jewish prophets. The first and last links of any chain usually demonstrate many similarities.

The second part of the verse draws our attention to the similarities in their birth. As Adam (as) was created in a remarkable fashion, so too was Jesus (as).

Nevertheless, it would be wrong to believe that Jesus (as) was the only one who was similar to Adam, a fact alluded to by Paul as well. He did not call him the ‘second Adam’, but the ‘last Adam’, essentially stating that there were other Adams who appeared before him. Though he is incorrect in his claim that Jesus (as) was the ‘last Adam’, his view on the appearance of other Adams before Jesus (as) is supported by the Islamic perspective. All prophets of God are the respective ‘Adams’ of their time periods, who give rise to a new generation of righteous communities. At times, even their righteous followers are granted this title.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) elaborates on this point in his book Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya:

'Likewise, He [God] has the power to bring about the spiritual birth of man; meaning that the divine law regarding spiritual birth is exactly the same as His law governing physical birth in that, initially at the time of misguidance—which amounts to [spiritual] nothingness—He grants spiritual birth to a man with His own hand. Then, He bestows spiritual life upon his followers, who are his [spiritual] progeny by virtue of their obedience to him. Therefore, all Messengers are spiritual ‘Adams’ and the pious among their followers are their spiritual progeny, and the spiritual and the physical realms maintain a complete conformity with one another…' [22]
The Promised Messiah (as)

The Promised Messiah & Imam Mahdi, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) of Qadian (1835-1908)

In his book Taryaq-ul-Qulub he identifies himself as the ‘last Adam’ as he is the awaited reformer of the latter days:

'It is proven that Elijah appeared in the nature and disposition of the Prophet John [the Baptist]. In the same manner, our Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, appeared upon the nature and disposition of Prophet Abraham. It is based upon this subtle matter that the nation of Muhammad was called the nation of Abraham. It was thus necessary that the cycle of Adamhood come to an end in the last age. So, in this age, which is the last age, God Almighty created a person like Adam, may peace be upon him, who is myself, and even named him as Adam, as is evident from the aforementioned revelations. And like the first Adam, God created this Adam with both his hands of power and beauty at a time when the world was empty of true human beings, and then blew into him His spirit, because there was no spiritual individual present on earth who could give spiritual birth to this Adam. This is why God himself became a spiritual father and created this Adam. From the perspective of physical creation, He created him upon the pattern of both male and female as he created the first Adam. That is to say that he created me, the last Adam, as a twin as well, as is subtly indicated in the revelation “O Adam, dwell you and your partner in paradise”. And some previous saints, based on divine revelation, prophesied that the last Adam, who is the complete guide and at the pinnacle of common sainthood, will be physically born as a twin. This means that like Adam, the chosen one of God, his birth will involve both a male and female. He will be the Khatamul Aulad (the last of progeny) because Adam was the firstborn of mankind. So, it was imperative that the person upon whom the perfect and complete cycle of true Adamhood come to an end be the Khatamul Aulad (the last of progeny), meaning that after his death there not appear any other perfect individual from the womb of any woman. Now it should be kept in mind that my physical birth was also according to this prophecy, meaning that I was born a twin. A girl was born alongside me whose name was Jannat…' [23]

5.     To Demonstrate the Reality of the Day of Judgement Upon the Sadducees

Another reason for his virgin birth was to demonstrate to the Sadducees, a Jewish sect which denied the resurrection [24], that God could most certainly bring them to life after death. If God could cause a child to be born without the agency of a male, so too could he grant life to one after death without any material means whatsoever.

The Promised Messiah (as) writes about this significance behind his unusual birth in his book Hamamatul Bushra:

'About the birth of Jesus without a father, the detail behind this is that a sect from amongst the Jews – meaning the Sadducees - denied the reality of the Resurrection. So, Allah informed them through some of His prophets that a boy will be born without a father, amongst their own people, and that this will be a sign for them about the reality of the Resurrection. It is towards this that the following verse alludes, “But verily, he (i.e. Jesus) was a sign of the Hour”, and likewise in the verse, “And so that we make him (i.e. Jesus) a sign for men”, meaning, for the Sadducees.' [25]

6.     To Indicate the transfer of Prophethood from the House of Israel to the House of Ishmael

Miraculous births in the Old Testament were also associated with pivotal transitions in future spiritual and temporal frameworks. The virgin birth of Jesus (as) indicated a monumental shift in the future spiritual framework. Prophethood, previously the domain of the Israelites, would be transferred to the Ishmaelites.

We find other examples of miraculous births leading to profound changes in the spiritual status quo in both the Old and New Testaments.

For example, in Genesis 17, God promised Abraham that he would make him a father of nations, that he would safeguard his descendants and that they would be granted Canaan as an inheritance. He also declared that he would grant Abraham (as) a son, Isaac (as), by curing the barrenness of his wife Sarah. This birth would mark the confirmation and continuation of this covenant between God and the descendants of Abraham (as). [26] Isaac (as) also served as the indispensable link between Abraham and that of Jacob (as), Isaac’s son, who was the father of the tribes of Israel.

The birth of John the Baptist (as) also indicated the end of the age of regular prophets and death of the prophets at the hands of the Jews. He was also the harbinger of the Messiah. These special roles that he occupied were dictated by Jesus (as) in Matthew 11:7-13, where he called John ‘more than a prophet’:

‘As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came;‘ [27]

There is a further indication in the virgin birth of Jesus (as) of the imminent transfer of prophethood.

The Israelites traced their lineage paternally. Jesus (as), who did not have an Israelite father, could not thus be considered fully Israelite. His receiving prophethood despite lacking paternal lineage to the Israelites was a sign that prophethood was soon to depart completely from the Israelites and find a place amongst the sons of Ishmael.

The Qur’an indicates that Jesus (as) was sent as a sign of the hour, meaning that his person, in this case, his virgin birth, signalled a massive change in the previous prophetic order:

وَلَمَّا ضُرِبَ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ مَثَلًا إِذَا قَوْمُكَ مِنْهُ يَصِدُّونَ [] وَقَالُوا أَآلِهَتُنَا خَيْرٌ أَمْ هُوَ ۚ مَا ضَرَبُوهُ لَكَ إِلَّا جَدَلًا ۚ بَلْ هُمْ قَوْمٌ خَصِمُونَ [] إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا عَبْدٌ أَنْعَمْنَا عَلَيْهِ وَجَعَلْنَاهُ مَثَلًا لِّبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ [] وَلَوْ نَشَاءُ لَجَعَلْنَا مِنكُم مَّلَائِكَةً فِي الْأَرْضِ يَخْلُفُونَ [] وَإِنَّهُ لَعِلْمٌ لِّلسَّاعَةِ فَلَا تَمْتَرُنَّ بِهَا وَاتَّبِعُونِ ۚ هَٰذَا صِرَاطٌ مُّسْتَقِيمٌ

‘And when the son of Mary is mentioned as an instance, lo! thy people raise a clamour thereat; And they say, ‘Are our gods better, or he?’ They mention not this to thee but for the sake of disputation. Nay, but they are a contentious people. He was only Our servant on whom We bestowed Our favour, and We made him an example for the children of Israel. And if We so willed, We could make from among you angels in the earth to be successors therein. But verily, he was a sign of the Hour. So have no doubt about it, but follow me. This is the right path.’ [28]

The Promised Messiah (as) explains the significance of his virgin birth in his work Hamamatul Bushra:

'Allah sent His messenger, Jesus the son of Mary, amongst them and made him the seal of their prophets and a sign of the hour, which was the transfer of prophethood, as a punishment*. So, in this manner He warned and admonished them. And he did not have a parent from amongst the children of Israel other than his mother, and in this manner, Allah created him without a father, and thus made an indication in the matter in which He did. And it was a sign and an argument against the Jews, and a hidden message for them [that prophethood was to depart from them]. And it was a precursor to the advent of our prophet, the best of creation. And Allah made the Messiah the last [prophet] of the Mosaic dispensation as a punishment upon the Jews and destroyed them as he destroyed previous nations. Then Allah chose another people and caused a pure child to be born amongst them, from the mother of towns [Mecca]. And this [child] was Muhammad (sa), the Messenger of Allah and His beloved.
*Mary gave birth to a son who was not from amongst the children of Israel. Then those things were said about him which are known to all, and they harassed him with their words. So, these two matters were a sign of the hour, which was the transfer of prophethood [from the Israelites to the Ishmaelites], and an argument proving the punishment of this group. So, the Jews were humiliated through their exile from this garden [of prophethood], and prophethood was transferred to the children of Ishmael as a punishment from Allah. Then they were afflicted with another humiliation and punishment through the then-existing authorities, rather from all authorities, up until the present day. And in that there is certainly a sign for the intelligent and sagacious.' [29]

7.     To indicate the end of Temporal Kingship amongst the Jews

As mentioned previously, miraculous births in the bible generally foreshadowed momentous changes in spiritual and temporal paradigms. Alongside the spiritual change in terms of the transfer of prophethood, the virgin birth also indicated the end of temporal kingship amongst the Jews.

There are precedents for this interpretation in the Old Testament. The miraculous birth of Samuel (as) foreshadowed the end of the era of Israelite judges and the beginning of the era of kings, beginning with Saul and later David (as). Samuel (as) was the last of the Israelite judges.

The birth of Samson also foreshadowed the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines, who were amongst the most dangerous enemies the Israelites had ever faced and who had subjugated them for 40 years. [30] He was also amongst the last judges of Israel, his birth also thus foreshadowing the end of the era of judges and the beginning of the age of kings.

Jesus (as) being born of a virgin indicated that the Jewish line of worldly kings had come to an end. Practically speaking, duties and privileges related to being of a certain tribe were passed along paternally amongst the Jews. The duties of kingship and priesthood were thus passed through paternal lines.

The Jews were expecting a Messiah from the line of David (as) who would liberate them from the yoke of Roman servitude. Jesus (as) was not from the line of David (as) paternally – how could he, when he did not have an Israelite father? Yet, he was the awaited Messiah and King. Notwithstanding his title and the expectations of the Jews, he declared that his kingship was spiritual rather than temporal:

‘Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”‘ [31]

The alleged prophecy in Isaiah 11:1 about the awaited Messiah indicates as much as well. Kingship has been identified in the verse as being reduced to a stump, and the Messiah, far from becoming a new tree or rehabilitating the old one, is described only as a ‘shoot’ or a singular branch that will grow from its roots – only a vestige of the great tree that was once indicative of the temporal glory of Jewish kingship.

The virgin birth of Jesus (as) was thus a momentous sign of a greater order than the previously seen miraculous births in the history of the Jews. Previous such births indicated future changes in the temporal and spiritual orders. A virgin birth thus indicated massive and previously unseen changes in both realms. His birth indicated the definitive end of not only temporal kingship, but also prophethood amongst the Jews.

The Holy Qur’an also indicates that the Jews would never again enjoy independent kingship after the time of Jesus (as):

ضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الذِّلَّةُ أَيْنَ مَا ثُقِفُوا إِلَّا بِحَبْلٍ مِّنَ اللهِ وَحَبْلٍ مِّنَ النَّاسِ وَبَاءُوا بِغَضَبٍ مِّنَ اللهِ وَضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَسْكَنَةُ ۚ ذٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللهِ وَيَقْتُلُونَ الْأَنبِيَاءَ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ ۚ ذٰلِكَ بِمَا عَصَوا وَّكَانُوا يَعْتَدُونَ

‘Smitten shall they be with abasement wherever they are found, unless they have protection from Allah, or protection from men. They have incurred the wrath of Allah, and smitten are they with wretchedness. That is because they would reject the Signs of Allah and kill the Prophets unjustly. That is because they rebelled and used to transgress.’ [32]

History bears witness to the truth of this Qur’anic declaration. Since the time of Jesus (as), no divinely sanctioned king has appeared amongst the Jews to liberate them from subservience or dependence upon other nations.

Conclusion

In closing, the virgin birth does not demonstrate the divinity of Jesus (as). God was not the literal father of Jesus (as), rather Jesus (as) was created through a special act of creation.

There were others who were born in a miraculous manner, such as Adam (as) and Melchizedek, who were both born without the agency of either a mother or father. Other children were miraculously conceived when God opened the wombs of their mothers who were otherwise barren. Modern science has developed many theories that demonstrate the viability of virgin human birth, further demonstrating that such an occurrence does not indicate divinity.

Islam teaches us that the virgin birth of Jesus (as) had many purposes, such as the fulfilment of past prophecies and to demonstrate the coming transfer of prophethood from the line of Isaac to the line of Ishmael.

About the Author: Azhar Goraya is a graduate from the Ahmadiyya Institute of Languages and Theology in Canada. He is currently serving as an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Mexico. He is also the Central American Coordinator for The Review of Religions en Español.


ENDNOTES

[1] Holy Qur’an (21:92)

[2] The correct form is ‘Khosrow I’

[3] “Life and Character of the Seal of Prophets”, vol. 1. Hadhrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad M.A., pg. 130

[4] Genesis 18:10, Genesis 21:2-3

[5] 1 Samuel 1:1-20

[6] Luke 1:5-17

[7] Isaiah 7:14

[8] Maas, A. (1907–1913). Virgin Birth of Christ. In C. G. Herbermann, E. A. Pace, C. B. Pallen, T. J. Shahan, & J. J. Wynne (Eds.), The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church (Vol. I–XV). New York: The Encyclopedia Press; The Universal Knowledge Foundation.

[9] Buckwalter, H. D. (1996). Virgin Birth. In Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology (electronic ed., p. 799). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[10] Holy Qur’an (5:47)

[11] Isaac, E. (1983). A New Translation and Introduction. In The Old Testament pseudepigrapha (Vol. 1, p. 6). New York;  London: Yale University Press.

[12] Charlesworth, J. H. (1983). The Old Testament pseudepigrapha (Vol. 1, p. 63). New York;  London: Yale University Press.

[13] https://www.sermononthemount.org.uk/EmmausView/Chap_03_An_Adam_like_Messiah.html#sdfootnote13sym

[14] Charlesworth, J. H. (1983). The Old Testament pseudepigrapha (Vol. 1, p. 71). New York;  London: Yale University Press.

[15] Isaiah 11:1

[16] Isaiah 11:6-9

[17] Levison, J. R. (2000). Adam and Eve, Literature Concerning. In Dictionary of New Testament background: a compendium of contemporary biblical scholarship (electronic ed., p. 3). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[18] Luke 3:8

[19] Boa, K., & Kruidenier, W. (2000). Romans (Vol. 6, p. 176). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[20] 1 Corinthians 15:45

[21] Holy Qur’an (3:60)

[22] Braheen-e-Ahmadiyya part 4, Ruhani Khazain vol. 1, pg. 655, Eng. Trans. Pg. 64

اِسی طرح وہ انسان کی روحانی پیدائش پر بھی قادر تھا یعنی اس کا قانون قدرت روحانی پیدائش میں بعینہٖ جسمانی پیدائش کی طرح ہے کہ اول وہ ضلالت کے وقت میں کہ جو عدم کا حکم رکھتا ہے کسی انسان کو روحانی طور پر اپنے ہاتھ سے پیداؔ کرتا ہے اور پھر اس کے متبعین کو کہ جو اس کی ذُرّیت کا حکم رکھتے ہیں بہ برکت متابعت اس کی کے روحانی زندگی عطا فرماتا ہے سو تمام مرسل روحانی آدم ہیں اور اُن کی اُمت کے نیک لوگ اُن کی روحانی نسلیں ہیں اور روحانی اور جسمانی سلسلہ بالکل آپس میں تطابق رکھتا ہے   (براھین احمدیہ حصہ چہارم، روحانی خزائن جلد  ۱، صفحہ ۶۵۵)

[23] Taryaq-ul-Quloob, Ruhani Khazain vol. 15 pgs. 476-479

ثابت ہے کہ ایلیا یحییٰ نبی کی خو اور طبیعت پر آگیا اور جیسا کہ ہمارے نبی علیہ السلام حضرت ابراہیم کی خو اور طبیعت پر آئے۔ اسی سر کے لحاظ سے یہ ملّتِ محمدی ابراہیمی ملّت کہلائی۔ سو ضرور تھا کہ مرتبہء آدمیّتؔ کی حرکتِ دوری زمانہ کے انتہا پر ختم ہوتی۔ سو یہ زمانہ جو آخر الزمان ہے۔اِس زمانہ میں خدا تعالیٰ نے ایک شخص کو حضرت آدم علیہ السلام کے قدم پر پیدا کیا جو یہی راقم ہے اور اس کا نام بھی آدم رکھا۔ جیسا کہ مندرجہ بالا الہامات سے ظاہر ہے اور پہلے آدم کی طرح خدا نے اِس آدم کو بھی زمین کے حقیقی انسانوں سے خالی ہونے کے وقت میں اپنے دونوں ہاتھوں جلالی اور جمالی سے پیدا کرکے اس میں اپنی روح پھونکی کیونکہ دنیا میں کوئی روحانی انسان موجود نہ تھا جس سے یہ آدم روحانی تولّد پاتا۔ اس لئے خدا نے خود روحانی باپ بن کر اس آدم کو پیدا کیا اور ظاہری پیدایش کے رُو سے اسی طرح نر اور مادہ پیدا کیا جس طرح کہ پہلا آدم پیدا کیا تھا یعنی اس نے مجھے بھی جو آخری آدم ہوں جوڑا پیدا کیا جیسا کہ الہام یا آدم اسکن انت وزوجک الجنّّۃ میں اس کی طرف ایک لطیف اشارہ ہے اور بعض گذشتہ اکابر نے خدا تعالیٰ سے الہام پاکر یہ پیشگوئی بھی کی تھی کہ وہ انتہائی آدم جو مہدی کامل اور خاتم ولایت عامہ ہے اپنی جسمانی خِلقت کے رُو سے جوڑا پیدا ہوگا یعنی آدم صفی اللہ کی طرح مذکر اور مؤنث کی صورت پر پیدا ہوگا اور خاتم الاولاد ہوگا کیونکہ آدم نوع انسان میں سے پہلا مولود تھا۔ سو ضرور ہوا کہ وہ شخص جس پر بکمال و تمام دورہ حقیقت آدمیہ ختم ہو وہ خاتم الاولاد ہو یعنی اس کی موت کے بعد کوئی کامل انسان کسی عورت کے پیٹ سے نہ نکلے ۔ اب یاد رہے کہ اس بندہء حضرت احدیت کی پیدایش جسمانی اس پیشگوئی کے مطابق بھی ہوئی۔ یعنی مَیں تو ام پیدا ہوا تھا اور میرے ساتھ ایک لڑکی تھی جس کا نام جنت تھا …(تریاق القلوب، روحانی خزائن جلد ۱۵، صفحہ ۴۷۶ تا ۴۷۹)

[24] Matthew 22:23

[25] Hamamatul Bushra, Ruhani Khazain vol. 7, pg. 316

… تولُّدہ من غیر أب، والتفصیل في ذلك أن فرقة من الیهود.. أعني الصدوقيین.. کانوا کافرین بوجود القیامة، فأخبرهم اللّٰہ علی لسان بعض أنبیائه أن ابنًا من قومهم یولد من غیر أب، وهذا یکون آیةً لهم علی وجود القیامة، فإلٰی هٰذا أشار فی آیة وَإِنَّهُ لَعِلْمٌ لِّلسَّاعَةِ، وكذلك في آیة وَلِنَجْعَلَهُ آيَةً لِّلنَّاسِ، أي للصدوقیين۔ (حمامة البشرٰی، روحانی خزائن جلد ۷، صفحہ ۳۱۶)

[26] Genesis 17:19

[27] Matthew 11:7-13

[28] Holy Qur’an (43:58-62)

[29] Khutba Ilhaamiya, Ruhani Khazain vol. 16, pg. 79-81

بعث اللّٰہ رسولهٗ عیسی ابن مریم فیھم وجعلهٗ خاتم انبیائھم وعلمًا لساعة نقل النبوة مع العذاب فانذرھم وخشّٰی* وماکان لهٗ ابٌ من بنی اسرائیل الّا امهٗ ۔ وكذالك خلقه اللّٰہ من غیر ابٍ واومىٰ فیه الٰی ما اومىٰ ۔ وکان ذالك اٰیةً وعلمًا للیهود واخبارًا لهم فی رمزٍ قد اختفٰی ۔ وارهاصًا لظهور نبینا خیر الورٰی ۔ وما جعل اللّٰہ المسیح خاتم السلسلة الموسویة الّا غضبًا علی الیھود فاهلكھم کما اهلك القرون الاولٰی ۔ ثم اختار اللّٰہ قومًا اٰخرین ووُلِدَ لھم ولدٌ طیبٌ من اُمّ القرٰی۔ وهذا هو محمّدٌؐ رسول اللّٰہ وحبیبه

*ان مریم ولدت ابنًا ما کان من بنی اسرائیل۔ ثم قیل فیها ماقیل۔ وعَذّبوها باقاویل۔ فکان ھٰذان الامران علمًا لساعة نقل النبوۃ وعلمًا لتعذیب ھٰذہ الفرقة۔ فاصاب الیھود ذلة باخراجهم من ھٰذا البستان۔ و نقل النبوۃ الٰی بني اسماعیل غضبًا من اللّٰہ الدیان۔ ثم اصابھم ذلة اخریٰ وقارعة من ملوك الزمان۔ بل من کل ملك الٰی ھٰذا الاوان۔ وان فیھا لاٰیةً لاهل العلم والعرفان۔ منه

(خطبہ الھامیہ، روحانی خزائن جلد ۱۶، صفحہ ٧٩ تا ۸۱)

[30] Judges 13:1-5

[31] John 18:36

[32] Holy Qur’an (3:113)

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment