Christianity Facts From Fiction

Jesus, the ‘Son of God’ – An Investigation into the Virgin Birth and its Meaning

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Azhar Goraya, Mexico

The virgin birth of Jesus (as) did not demonstrate his divinity. Rather, it served other purposes such as demonstrating the transfer of prophethood from the House of Isaac (as) to the House of Ishmael (as).

Executive Summary

The virgin birth is an important tenet of Christian doctrine. Nevertheless, it is not well attested in the Gospel narrations. It is only explicitly mentioned in two of the four Gospels – Matthew (1:18-23) and Luke (1:26-35). Mark and John do not mention it at all. This casts doubts on its historicity according to the biblical narrative. Nevertheless, the Qur’an clearly states that Jesus (as) was born of a virgin (3:48), thus bolstering the incomplete claim in the Gospel narratives.

Christian doctrine understands the virgin birth in three ways: demonstrating that Jesus (as) was born without Original Sin, demonstrating that his father was God and demonstrating the fulfilment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14. However, none of these are without serious controversy, as they all acknowledge or attempt to validate the divinity of Jesus (as), something that the primary biblical texts vehemently oppose.

According to the doctrine of Original Sin, Jesus (as) was the only one who was free of Original Sin owing to his virgin birth. At the same time, the Bible also states that all who are born of women are sinful (Jeremiah 17:9). This would mean that Jesus (as) inherited Original Sin despite not having a human father. His physical suffering during his life and physical death practically demonstrated that he inherited Original Sin from his mother. The doctrine is riddled with further contradictions – the Bible describes Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:3) as having been born without a mother or father, who then by the same logic should also have been free of Original Sin. Luke 1:15 states that John (as) was born in a miraculous fashion and that he was filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb – how could he be both corrupted by Original Sin and filled with the Holy Spirit from before birth? The Catholic Church believes that Mary was born without Original Sin, another contradiction. Some claim that Mary was only the surrogate mother of Jesus (as) and he thus avoided inheriting Original Sin from her, but the Bible states that Mary herself conceived Jesus (as) (Luke 1:31). Paul also claims that Jesus (as) was descended from David (as) in the flesh (Romans 1:3). If Jesus (as) was not her son in the flesh, then he would have no claim to the Davidic throne, thus negating his claim of being the Messiah. He would also cease to be both ‘fully human and divine,’ as he did not inherit any human DNA, which contradicts the doctrine of the Trinity. Moreover, such a birth would make the fact that Mary was a virgin redundant and unnecessary.

Moreover, the virgin birth did not demonstrate that Jesus (as) was the literal son of God. The term son of God according to its usage in the Old Testament and by Jesus (as) only indicated someone who was beloved by God and granted a mandate by Him, such as prophethood. God cannot have a physical son as it would be contrary to His perfection. God created other people in miraculous fashions, yet they are considered neither divine, nor literal sons of God. Both Adam (as) (Genesis 2:7) and Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:3) were created without mother or father. Others, such as Isaac (as) (Genesis 17-18), Samuel (as) (1 Samuel 1:1-20), Samson (Judges 13) and John the Baptist (as) (Luke 1:5-17), were born miraculously when God healed their barren mothers. The natural sciences have recorded instances of virgin births in the past, and modern theories have also demonstrated that virgin birth is not impossible.

The prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 also cannot be categorically demonstrated as a prophecy indicating that the Messiah would be born to a virgin. Matthew references the prophecy in support of the virgin birth (Matthew 1:22-23), yet the original wording of the prophecy in the Old Testament Hebrew does not mention that a virgin will give birth to a child, rather the term used is almah, which only means a maiden or young woman. The prophecy was also specific to the time it was made and indicated that the enemies of King Ahaz would be destroyed before a young maiden could give birth to a child who would begin to understand between right and wrong – a stylized way of saying ‘within a few years.’ Jewish texts have never interpreted Isaiah 7:14 as referring to the Messiah. Still, it is possible that some might have understood it and other such prophecies as ‘double prophecies,’ which had both an immediate and later fulfilment.

There are 7 significances that can be attributed to the virgin birth according to monotheistic Islamic thought:

  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

The virgin birth of Jesus (as) [1] is a tenet of Christian doctrine. Even today, it is a belief that is widely held amongst Christians. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of American adults say they believe Jesus was born of a virgin. Even among Americans who have no specific religious affiliation, the story of Christ’s birth resonates with many. One-third (32%) of this group say they believe in the virgin birth. [2]

Most Christians understand the virgin birth in a simple manner – Jesus (as) did not have a human father, which meant that his father was God.

Others insist that although God may have not been his literal father, but the virgin birth demonstrated that the birth of Jesus (as) was special. So special in fact, that it made him unique and distinct from the other ‘sons of God’ in the Bible. His virgin birth is thus reason enough to believe that Jesus (as) was a divine ‘son of God.’

Both these and other significances popularly attributed to the virgin birth are erroneous and contradictory. The virgin birth did demonstrate several important features of the ministry of Jesus (as) and foreshadowed future paradigm shifts, but it definitely did not demonstrate his divinity.

Monotheism vs. Trinitarianism

God is one and has no partner in any sense. This is the central message conveyed by all of the Old Testament prophets and reaffirmed by God in the Qur’an as well. The Old Testament declares unequivocally in Deuteronomy 6:4:

‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.’ (Deuteronomy 6:4)

Jesus (as) reaffirmed this basic teaching and declared it as the greatest commandment in Mark 12:28–29:

‘One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

The Holy Qur’an also affirms that God is one and has no partner or literal son in 114:2-5:

قُلْ هُوَ اللهُ أَحَدٌ [] اللهُ الصَّمَدُ [] لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ [] وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ

Say, ‘He is Allah, the One; ‘Allah, the Independent and Besought of all. ‘He begets not, nor is He begotten; ‘And there is none like unto Him.’ (112:2-5)

It is thus erroneous to understand Jesus (as) as being divine. He was a human prophet of God, sent as the Messiah to the Jews. It will be shown that there is no need to appeal to a divine Christ to understand the virgin birth – the biblical texts demonstrate that it had other significances, all of them within the bounds of pure monotheism.

Was Jesus (as) Born of a Virgin According to the Bible?

Before discussing the true significance of the virgin birth, it is important to note that the Gospels are not unanimous in affirming the virgin birth of Jesus (as). The virgin birth is only explicitly mentioned in two of the four Gospels – Matthew (1:18-23) and Luke (1:26-35).

Matthew states:

‘This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” (Matthew 1:18-23)

Luke records the virgin birth in the following manner:

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.’ ‘How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’ (Luke 1:26-35)

Do the Gospels of Mark and John Support the Belief in the Virgin Birth?

Mark and John do not explicitly mention the virgin birth. Looking beyond the explicit, there are a few statements in both Gospels which some have interpreted as meaning that the authors were familiar with the virgin birth. One of these instances is in Mark 6:3, where the author writes that the Jews referred to Jesus (as) as the son of Mary:

‘Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.’ (Mark 6:3)

Presumably, they did not refer to him as the ‘son of Joseph’ because they knew he was born to a virgin. Nevertheless, The New International Greek Testament Commentary contradicts this view, and states about this passage:

There is no suggestion that local gossip had any inkling of anything unusual about his origin—and indeed if Mark knew of the tradition of Jesus’ virgin conception he has kept it very quiet… the unusual use of the mother’s name has been read as Mark’s cryptic way of indicating that he (and/or the villagers?) knew that Jesus was not actually the carpenter’s son. But Mark never mentions Joseph, and the absence of a father in 3:31–35 suggests that a simpler explanation is the traditional view that by the time of Jesus’ ministry Joseph had died, and therefore featured nowhere in the story outside the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke; in that case he was simply not a part of the tradition known to Mark. The absence of Joseph’s name even in this verse, where members of the family are listed explicitly, supports this view. In that case Jesus, as the eldest son, would naturally have taken over the family business as ὁ τέκτων (the carpenter).’ [3]

If they didn’t believe he was Joseph’s son, did this mean that they believed that Jesus (as) was born of a virgin? The author of the above commentary states quite the contrary – it was because the Jews considered his birth as illegitimate and the result of fornication that they attributed his birth to Mary, in effect stating that they did not know who his father was. According to the Lexham Biblical Dictionary:

‘Jewish texts and traditions reported in Christian sources from the second century to the Middle Ages reflect the notion that the Jews represented Jesus as an illegitimate child…A collection of popular Jewish stories regarding Jesus, Toledoth Jeshu, appeared during the Middle Ages. This text describes Mary as coming from a very distinguished family, for which reason she is betrothed to a member of David’s noble family. A wicked man sneaks into her home and convinces her that he is her husband, Joseph, and rapes her…Origen’s text Contra Celsum (written ca. ad 231–233) preserves citations from Celsus’ Alethes Logos, which presents a Jew accusing Jesus of having fabricated the story of his miraculous birth from a virgin. According to this account, the Jew claims that Mary’s carpenter husband divorced her because he suspected her of having an adulterous relationship with a soldier named Pantera, from which Jesus was conceived…The tendency in Jewish tradition to portray Jesus’ birth as illegitimate is likely connected to the rejection of Jesus’ messiahship.’ [4]

This idea is reinforced by John 8:41, where the Jews sharply responded to Jesus (as) in an accusatory tone ‘we are not illegitimate children.’ Some have also suggested the title son of Mary was just an informal way of referring to him. According to The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text:

‘…E. Stauffer, in E. E. Ellis and M. Wilcox (ed.), Neotestamenta et Semitica, 119–28, argues for a polemical background to this title in the Jewish accusation, which later gained wide currency, that Jesus’ birth was illegitimate, a point sharply made by referring to him as ‘son of Mary’ rather than ‘son of Joseph’. It is, he believes, as a result of this slander that the title was carefully avoided in all other NT references, and progressively eliminated in this verse by textual emendation. H. K. McArthur, NovT 15 (1973) 38–58, offers an exhaustive study of possible reasons for a Jew to be identified by his mother’s name, and concludes that this is not a formal identification but an informal description—‘Oh yes! that’s Mary’s boy from down the street’. He therefore rejects any ulterior motive such as Stauffer suggests.’ [5]

As opposed to a virgin birth, John is understood as emphasizing the supposed pre-existence of Jesus (as) in many passages. In any case, he doesn’t make reference to it at all.

The lack of unity of the gospels throws doubt on the validity of the virgin birth itself. After all, if it really happened, why would half of the gospel writers fail to mention such a miracle related to Jesus (as), one that was significant to establishing his special status? In trying to explain this silence, The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology states:

‘The relative silence of the gospel tradition to the virgin birth probably reveals the true historical situation: Mary and Joseph kept the matter secret in an attempt to ward off possible misunderstanding and ridicule.’ [6]

Of course, this would mean that the gospels are only limited portraits of the life of Jesus (as), and there is likely much information that is not contained within them about important aspects of the life and teachings of Jesus (as) that perhaps did not become common knowledge amongst the general public.

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Jesus (as) Never Confirms the Virgin Birth

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the virgin birth is that Jesus (as) never explicitly confirms it anywhere in the gospel narratives. The virgin birth is thus a gospel narrative attributed at most to the authors of the gospels but cannot be traced back to any saying attributed to Jesus (as).

In any case, the lack of parallel narrations in the four gospels about the virgin birth and the absence of confirmation of the miracle from Jesus (as) raises serious questions about the historicity of the virgin birth from the biblical perspective.

Islam – Jesus (as) was Born of a Virgin

Muslims believe that God revealed the religion of Islam to the Prophet Muhammad (sa) in part to clarify the history of the previous prophets. The Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, speaks at length about the life of Jesus and his miracles, such as the healing of the spiritually and physically sick. [7]

The Holy Qur’an has bolstered the incomplete declaration of the gospels by stating categorically that Mary was a virgin when she conceived. She received glad tidings of the birth of a son who was created by God within her:

قَالَتْ رَبِّ أَنّٰى يَكُونُ لِي وَلَدٌ وَلَمْ يَمْسَسْنِي بَشَرٌ ۖ قَالَ كَذٰلِكِ اللهُ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِذَا قَضَىٰ أَمْرًا فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ

She said, ‘My Lord, how shall I have a son, when no man has touched me?’ He said, “Such is the way of Allah, He creates what He pleases. When He decrees a thing, He says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is. (3:48)

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) was the promised reformer of this age. He claimed to be the second advent of Jesus (as), and many of his printed works are dedicated to clarifying the true teachings of Jesus (as) and highlighting his life as a prophet of God. He was once asked: ‘Is it necessary to believe that the Messiah was born without a father?’ He responded:

'This is proven from the Holy Qur’an, and we believe in the Holy Qur’an. Moreover, we do not find any argument against it in the Laws of Nature....where this has been mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, there Allah Almighty has mentioned two extraordinary instances of His Power. First there is the story of Prophet Zachariah and how Allah granted him a son in his old age while his wife was barren. And alongside this is a second narration which is a demonstration of the wonderful power of God Almighty. There is no such problem in accepting this. The Qur’an acknowledges that the Messiah is without a father, and this cannot be objected to. As the Holy Qur’an has mentioned that, '[the creation of Jesus] was like the creation of Adam,' this too demonstrates that it is a special miracle, for which the example of Adam had to be given.' [8]

The Significance of the Virgin Birth According to Christian Doctrine

There are three major significances Christian doctrine attributes to the virgin birth:

  1. To demonstrate the purity of Jesus (as) from the effects of Original Sin
  2. To demonstrate that Jesus (as) did not have a human father and therefore God was his father.
  3. In fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 which states that the Messiah would be born of a virgin.

Nevertheless, each of these are either contradictory or highly controversial.

In Order to Demonstrate the Purity of Jesus (as) from Original Sin

One significance that Christian doctrine attributes to the virgin birth is its relation to the doctrine of atonement. That is, that there was a fall from grace when Adam (as) first disobeyed God. This sin corrupted his very nature, and thereafter he and all his progeny became irresistibly attracted to sin, the result of which is spiritual death. God, who is Just, could not forgive the sin and wipe out the stain of corruption without first exacting an equal payment. This equal payment, according to orthodox doctrine, was through the willing death and sacrifice of someone who had not been corrupted by this Original Sin.

The doctrine goes on to state that Jesus (as) was the only such person born free from sin. Being born of a virgin, he had not inherited Original Sin. If he was born sinless, he was not a son of Adam (as), and therefore he must have been divine.

The fallacies and weaknesses of the doctrine of Atonement will be dealt with at another time. Islam accepts neither the validity nor the need for it. What will be analyzed here is that even according to this doctrine, the virgin of birth of Jesus (as) would still not qualify him as a sinless individual.

All who are Born of Women also Inherit Original Sin

According to the doctrine of Original Sin, both males and females inherit its effect. No one is pure in terms of being free from Original Sin. Portions of the Old Testament are cited in support of this belief, such as Jeremiah 17:9, which states:

‘The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse — who can understand it?’ (Jeremiah 17:9)

Or Psalms 51:5, which reads as:

‘Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.’ (Psalms 51:5)

Even if we accept this interpretation of these verses, then by the same logic we must accept that Mary was not free from Original Sin either. Of course, this means that neither was Jesus (as), despite his virgin birth. This is because the Bible emphasizes that those born of women cannot be pure. Job 15:14 states:

‘What are mortals, that they could be pure, or those born of woman, that they could be righteous?’ (Job 15:14)

The same book reiterates this belief in 25:4:

‘How then can a mortal be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure?’ (Job 25:4)

This means that Mary undoubtedly inherited Original Sin and would have thus passed it on to Jesus (as). Nowhere is it stated that the sinful ‘gene’ or propensity is passed on only through the male.

In fact, the Bible states in Genesis 3:6-7 that it was Eve who first fell prey to the deceit of Satan in the Garden of Eden, and it was she who caused Adam (as) to disobey God. If anything, then, the propensity to sin is even stronger within the female according to Christianity. Therefore, it makes more sense that the ‘sin gene’ would be passed on through the female rather than the male.

Jesus (as) Inherited the Effects of Original Sin

The above statement is not just conjecture. The effects of Original Sin include not only spiritual death, but physical death, pain and hardship as well. Genesis 3:16-19 states:

‘To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’ And to the man he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ (Genesis 3:16-19)

Jesus (as) suffered from physical hardships, demonstrating that he did indeed inherit Original Sin from his mother. The Promised Messiah (as) touches on this contradiction in his book Kitabul Bariyya:

'Another objection that I have made is that it is claimed about Jesus that he was free from both inherited and personal sin, although this is patently false. Christians themselves accept that Jesus received his fleshly body from his mother, who was not free from sin. Moreover, Christians also claim that all physical pain and suffering is a result of sin. There is no doubt that Jesus suffered from the pangs of hunger and thirst, and that during childhood, according to the law of nature, he probably suffered from chickenpox and smallpox, and must have suffered when his teeth began to come out, and from the heat of the day. According to the Christian doctrine, this was all the effect of sin. How then can Jesus be accepted as a pure sacrifice?' [9]

In short, Jesus (as) being born without a father in no way saves him from the effects of Original Sin, as the same proof texts that are used to prove the doctrine specifically state that the effects are inherited by all those who are born of women, regardless of whether there was the agency of a male or not. Moreover, Jesus (as) demonstrated that he was not free from the effects of Original Sin, proving that he did indeed inherit it from his mother.

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Was Jesus (as) the Only One Born Pure?

Moreover, if we accept that because of his virgin birth Jesus (as) was free from the stain of Original Sin, then we must also logically accept the same for others who also had such extraordinary births. This of course contradicts another doctrine, which claims that Jesus (as) was the only one who was born pure.

Melchizedek, a priest who was alive during the time of Abraham, is stated in Hebrews 7:3 to have lacked both a mother and father:

‘Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.’ (Hebrews 7:3)

John (as), a relative of Jesus (as), was filled with the Holy Spirit from birth according to Luke 1:15:

‘For he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ (Luke 1:15)

How could original sin cohabit a body that was filled with the Holy Spirit even before it’s birth?

Though not grounded in the Bible, the Catholic Church believes in the Immaculate Conception. That is, that Mary, the mother of Jesus (as), was born without sin, the same as Jesus (as).

In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX pronounced:

‘We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of Original Sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.’

It seems that the above declaration was made in part to extricate Jesus (as) from the situation of being born to a mother who had inherited original sin and would most certainly have passed it on to him. Nevertheless, the belief in the Immaculate Conception raises more doubts than it resolves.

How could Mary have been cleansed of Original Sin without the death of Jesus (as) on the Cross? If God cleansed her, then this goes against His standard of justice. Moreover, if people other than Jesus (as) could be free of the stain of Original Sin, then Jesus (as) was not the only one who could have theoretically died for the sins of mankind. The deaths of any of these other specially pure individuals could also have sufficed.

Moreover, if people could be born without being affected by Original Sin, why was the death of Jesus (as) necessary on the Cross? Why didn’t God just forgive Original Sin for all people?

If God was Just and couldn’t forgive Original Sin without a blood sacrifice, how did He exclude Mary, born of a human mother and father, from inheriting Original Sin? In that case, how did He exclude even Jesus (as), born of a human mother?

Mary – Only A Surrogate Mother of Jesus (as)?

Upon seeing that Original Sin is most certainly inherited through the mother, certain Christians propose that Mary was only the surrogate mother of Jesus (as). That is, she did not contribute any genetic material to Jesus (as). Jesus (as) was miraculously formed whole within her, and her body only nourished his until his birth. In this way, they hope to avoid the implication that Jesus (as) inherited Original Sin through Mary.

This belief is also unfounded and comes with its own problems.

The Bible states in Luke 1:31 that an angel told Mary,

You will conceive and give birth to a son.’ (Luke 1:31)

In other words, Mary would conceive Jesus (as), not that he would be created from outside and merely placed in her. Paul also rejects the idea of Mary only being a surrogate by stating in Romans 1:3:

‘The gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh.’ (Romans 1:3)

If Jesus (as) was created as a special creation of God without truly being of Mary, then he had no real relationship with mankind. He then not only avoided inheriting Original Sin, but he also avoided inheriting any aspect of human nature at all! He therefore could not be considered fully human, which goes against a central tenet of orthodox Christian Trinitarian theology, which states that Jesus (as) was both fully human and fully divine.

He would also no longer in any sense be truly of the lineage of David (as) as he no longer shared any genetic material with Mary. This would nullify his claim of being the Messiah, as being of the line of David (as) was a requirement for the post.

Moreover, the lineages of Jesus (as) that are given in the gospels of Matthew and Luke traced from his parents would also be false – Jesus (as) was then not truly the son of either Mary or Joseph.

If Jesus (as) was fully created by God and then merely placed in the womb of Mary, then he was not truly ‘born of a virgin’ either – she acted merely as a surrogate womb. The fact that she happened to be a virgin had no real significance in his birth. In such a case, he could have been born from any animal, or even sprung forth from a rock or a tree, and according to such Christians this would not affect the belief that he was perfectly human and divine in the least.

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In Order to Demonstrate that God was the Literal Father of Jesus (as)?

The idea that God was the Father of Jesus (as) has been previously shown to only be applicable in a metaphorical, non-divine fashion, as it was to others before Jesus (as) in the Old Testament, such as David (as) (Psalms 2:7), Solomon (2 Samuel 7:12-16) and even the tribe of Ephraim (Jeremiah 31:20). It was a term of endearment used by God for Jesus (as). Moreover, the involvement of the “Holy Ghost” in his birth was synonymous to the Old Testament term of the ‘Spirit of God’ being involved in the creation of all things. Far from demonstrating his supposed divinity, the involvement of the Holy Ghost only meant that his birth was due to the wondrous creative powers of God, and that his birth was pure and legitimate as opposed to impure and being the result of fornication. Jesus (as) came to be viewed as the divine son of God when his message began to spread amongst the gentile Roman Christian converts, who interpreted the term literally and in consonance with their own previous polytheistic beliefs.

In any case, it is impossible for God to have a physical son, because if he did it would mean that God had sexual relations with Mary, His own creation, and that Jesus (as) was a half man-half god chimera. Moreover, being his biological father would mean that God has a physical body, experiences sexual desire, and is subject to death. Such ideas are blatantly blasphemous and at odds with the purity, supremacy, and holiness of God.

What remains of the virgin birth argument for those who insist that it demonstrates his divinity is that since Jesus (as) did not have a human father, his creation was special and was therefore divine. This too is illogical– it doesn’t reasonably follow that someone that is not born in the usual manner must be divine. It would certainly be a miracle, but it would be a miraculous creation of God. The creation of God remains separate from Him and does not become divine or God Himself.

This point can be understood from the very first verse of the Bible. The book of Genesis states:

‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.’ (Genesis 1:1)

The creation of the heavens and earth from nothing but the power of God was certainly miraculous. In no place though is there an affirmation that the creation is equal to the Creator or becomes the Creator merely because it came into being through the special creative power of God.

There are other objects that are created by God in a miraculous fashion yet are not seen as being divine. The angels of God are created, spiritual beings. The soul of man is something that comes into being through the special decree of God. Yet, we do not state that angels or souls are divine like God.

Other Humans Born in Extraordinary Ways

The Bible mentions other human beings that were created in extraordinary fashions, even more-so than Jesus (as), yet Christians do not deify them.

Adam (as) is mentioned in Genesis 2:7 as having been created without the agency of either male or female:

‘Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.’ (Genesis 2:7)

The Gospel of Luke in 3:38 moreover indicates that Adam (as)’s father was God himself:

‘…son of Enos, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.’ (Luke 3:38)

If Jesus (as) was divine merely because he lacked a human father, then Adam (as) should be doubly so, as he lacked both mother and father and is identified as God’s son. The Holy Qur’an presents this important argument in 3:60, where it 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.’ (3:60)

The Promised Messiah (as) explains this argument in his book Tuhfa Golarwiya:

‘And remember that in being born without a father, God has compared Adam to the Messiah. The reason why He did not compare him to anyone else is only so that a famous and commonly accepted example be presented. The Christians had claimed that Jesus was distinct in being born without a father and that this is an argument in favor of his divinity. To refute this argument, God presented that example which was undisputed and universally accepted by the Christians. If God had presented any other example, it would not have been as widely and universally accepted as this one, and the matter would have remained conjectural.’ [10]

Melchizedek would also qualify as a divine individual according to this standard. The Book of Hebrews in 7:3 mentions the priest Melchizedek as:

‘Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life.’ (Hebrews 7:3)

His creation seems to be even more miraculous than that of Jesus (as) and Adam (as), as he seems to have existed since eternity, whereas Adam (as) and Jesus (as) both came into being at a specific point in time. Nevertheless, despite his remarkable creation, he is not deified.

Other Extraordinary Birth Narratives

The Bible mentions certain individuals whose births were extraordinary in the sense that God cured the infertility of their mothers and at times the father as well and allowed them to conceive in the normal manner. These narrations are striking in their similarity to the narrative of the birth of Jesus (as). Many times, an angel of God appears before the women to communicate to them that they will be cured of their barrenness and that the child they will conceive will be special and will serve God in a distinct manner.

In Genesis, we find mention of how God cured the infertility of Sarah and allowed her to conceive at the age of 90 whilst Abraham was 100 (Genesis 17:17). In this case, God or perhaps an angel or angels of God conveyed this glad-tiding to them both (Genesis 18:9-10). She gave birth to the prophet Isaac.

Hannah, the wife of Elkanah was cured of her barrenness after praying to God and thereafter gave birth to Samuel (as) (Samuel 1:1-20). An angel of God, once again, conveyed this glad-tiding to her husband and later to her as well.

The wife of Manoah was likewise barren. God sent an angel to her which told her that she would bear a child who should be dedicated to God. She later conceived a child, who was named Samson (Judges 13).

A woman of the town of Shunem was barren but was told by the prophet Elisha that she would give birth to a son, which she later did (2 Kings 4:14-17). This child apparently later died and was miraculously brought back to life by Elisha (2 Kings 4:18-37).

In the New Testament, we find that the mother of John the Baptist (as), Elizabeth was barren and she alongside her husband Zechariah (as) were both of advanced age. An angel appeared to Zechariah (as) and stated that his wife would conceive, and that the child would serve as a prophet in God’s path (Luke 1:5-17).

The Qur’an in 21:90-91 specifically presents the birth of John the Baptist, known as Yahya (as), as comparable to that of Jesus (as) in its miraculous nature. Like Jesus (as), his birth was also foretold and communicated to his parents by God (19:8). The striking similarities between his and Jesus’s narratives serves as a response to those who deify Jesus (as) because of the circumstances surrounded his birth. If John (as) wasn’t divine because of his special birth, Jesus (as) shouldn’t be either:

وَزَكَرِيَّا إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُ رَبِّ لَا تَذَرْنِي فَرْدًا وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ الْوَارِثِينَ [] فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ يَحْيٰى وَأَصْلَحْنَا لَهُ زَوْجَهُ ۚ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَيَدْعُونَنَا رَغَبًا وَرَهَبًا ۖ وَكَانُوا لَنَا خَاشِعِينَ

‘And remember Zachariah when he cried to his Lord, saying, ‘My Lord, leave me not childless, and Thou art the Best of inheritors.’ So We heard his prayer and bestowed upon him John and cured his wife for him. They used to vie with one another in good works and they called on Us in hope and in fear, and they humbled themselves before Us.’ (21:90-91)

These individuals were thus all conceived through the special creative or restorative powers of God, yet they are not deified.

Virgin Birth in Natural Science

Coming to the natural sciences, we find numerous theories about the processes that could lead to a virgin birth. [11] The Promised Messiah (as) has also commentated about this phenomenon in his book Tuhfa Golarwiyya:

'The birth of Jesus without a father is also a matter of rare occurrence and is not against the natural laws of nature. Greek, Egyptian and Indian doctors have written about many such occurrences, that at times a child can be born without a father. Through divine providence, there are certain women who have both faculties of dispensing and receiving. They therefore have the faculties of both males and females in their seed. The Greeks have mentioned the occurrence of such births, as the Hindus have as well. Recently, medical books that have been printed in Egypt have mentioned such occurrences with great research. The terms 'children of the moon' and 'children of the sun' mentioned in Hindu books refer to these phenomena. So, this type of birth only has a rareness associated with it, like there is a rareness associated with twin births, and nothing more. It cannot be said that being born without a father is an extraordinary event that is limited to Jesus.' [12]

The most plausible theory seems to be virgin birth through a process called parthenogenesis, where a mammal, in essence, fertilizes itself. Undoubtedly, owing to its rarity, claims of virgin births in society would be off-handedly dismissed. It is also possible that in many such cases, the women themselves would be unaware of the conception of their child without male agency, as many would have been sexually active.

Not only is there documented evidence of virgin birth in the past, but there is also precedent for such a birth occurring in modern times as well:

‘There is one documented case of a natural half-parthenogenetic birth. In 1995, Nature Genetics reported a child that had some cells (about 50%) that consisted of genetic material only from his mother and some that were normal and consisted of DNA from both parents. Doctors who studied the child theorized that one of the mother’s eggs that had been fertilized by the father fused with an unfertilized egg that was dividing parthenogenetically.’ [13]

A plausible scientific explanation for the virgin birth would in no way reduce the miraculous nature of the birth of Jesus (as) but would only disqualify it as demonstrating any sort of divinity. After all, no matter how fantastic or rare natural phenomena are, they are still bound within the laws of matter and physicality and are certainly not the stuff of divinity.

In short, merely being born of a mother without the agency of a human father does not prove that Jesus (as) was divine. He was conceived by Mary and was a creation of God, not His biological or metaphorical-yet-divine son. There are others who were created in an even greater miraculous fashion, such as Adam (as) and Melchizedek, and yet others who were born when God cured their mothers who were barren, such as Isaac (as), Samuel (as), Samson and John the Baptist (as), yet they are not deified. Even angels and the human soul are special, spiritual creations of God that are brought into being in a miraculous fashion. The natural sciences speak of virgin birth being a rare but natural and thus non-divine phenomenon.

In Fulfillment of the Prophecy in Isaiah 7:14?

Certain Christians advance the theory that Jesus (as) was born to a virgin in completion of a prophecy in Isaiah 7:14. The prophecy is sometimes translated as stating:

‘Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.’ (Isaiah 7:14)

The author of the Gospel of Matthew specifically referenced this statement in 1:22-23 and claimed that it was fulfilled through the virgin birth of Jesus (as). He writes:

‘All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).’ (Matthew 1:22-23)

Nevertheless, this is controversial – the context of the text hardly supports this interpretation. Jesus (as) himself never claimed that his birth was in fulfilment of this sign.

The Context of the Prophecy – The Victory of King Ahaz

The seventh chapter of the Book of Isaiah (7:1-2) begins by describing the Syro-Ephraimite War, a military crisis that threatened Ahaz, King of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Around the year 735 B.C.E. the House of David (as) in the Kingdom of Judah was facing destruction at the hands of two kingdoms: the northern Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Syria. The northern Kingdom of Israel was led by its prince, Pekah, and the Kingdom of Syria by their king, Rezin. They had both decided to dethrone the king of Judah and install a vassal king in his place. About Pekah it is recorded:

‘Pekah, the son of Remaliah, was the ‘third man’ (Heb. šālîšâ) in Pekahiah’s war chariot. With the help of Gileadites he murdered Pekahiah, successor of Menahem, at Samaria (2 Ki. 15:21ff.). He then seized the throne and reigned as king of Israel from c. 737 to 732 BC.’ [14]

The story of the alliance of Pekah and Rezin against Ahaz is quite interesting:

‘Rezin was born in the town of Bit-Hadara near Damascus in the land of Syria (also called Aram). Upon his accession to the throne, the Syrian people (also called Aramaeans) reasserted their independence from Israel’s domination. During this period, Assyria was strengthening itself and expanding its empire throughout the Near East. Along with King Menahem of Israel, Rezin was forced to pay tribute to the Assyrian monarch Tiglath-Pileser III in 738 bc. The heavy burden of vassalage to the Assyrians generated anti-Assyrian sentiment among the Syrian and neighboring people. During this time Rezin seems to have helped Pekah in his successful coup to seize the throne of Israel. Immediately upon his accession to the throne, Pekah formed an anti-Assyrian coalition with Rezin. They soon realized that successful resistance against Assyria required a larger alliance. They invited King Ahaz of Judah to join their coalition, but Ahaz adamantly refused. With the intention of placing an Aramaean of Davidic lineage upon the throne of Judah in order to effect a broader Syrian-Israelite alliance, Rezin and Pekah joined in an attack on Judah. They inflicted heavy casualties upon the Southern kingdom.’ [15]

These two armies had laid siege to Jerusalem (2 Kings 16:5). The outcome of the attack did not look promising for Ahaz:

‘From Chronicles we learn that, before the siege, Ahaz was twice defeated with great loss, once by the Syrians (2 Chron. 28:5), and once by the Israelites (2 Chron. 28:6). He was probably, therefore, reduced to great straits at the time when Isaiah received directions to seek an interview with him, and communicate to him a comforting message from Jehovah.’ [16]

Isaiah 7:3-9 states that the Prophet Isaiah was instructed to tell Ahaz that God would protect his Kingdom and reduce his enemies to ‘smoldering stumps of firebrands.’ God then told Ahaz to ask Him for a sign. Ahaz refused, saying that ‘He would not put the Lord to the test.’ In response, Isaiah rebuked him and stated that God Himself would thus show him a sign. The sign would be:

‘The young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.’ (Isaiah 7:14-16) [17]

Meaning, that a young woman who was pregnant would give birth to a child and who would have not yet become a toddler when God would destroy both the kingdoms that had united against King Ahaz.

This prophecy was fulfilled in a marvellous manner. Despite winning most of the battles, Rezin and Pekah were unsuccessful in their attempt to take Jerusalem and replace Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:5–15; Isaiah 7:1–9).

During this difficult siege, King Ahaz appealed to the Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser III, for his help. He came to his aid and moved against both Rezin and Pekah. This forced them to abandon their attack on Jerusalem. The attack of the Assyrians led to the destruction of their kingdoms:

‘Rezin and Pekah moved their forces to the north to prepare for the impending Assyrian invasion. Tiglath-Pileser attacked in 733 B.C. and captured much of the area of Galilee. He then turned his attention to Damascus, to which Rezin had fled. Assyrian records refer to Rezin as a ‘caged bird’ in besieged Damascus. When Damascus fell in 732 B.C., Rezin was executed and many citizens of Damascus were exiled. Samaria, the capital city of Israel, fell to the Assyrians in 722 B.C. Damascus and the nation of Syria became an Assyrian province. Rezin thus was the last Syrian king to reign in Damascus.’ [18]

Pekah did not fare much better:

‘Following the swift Assyrian invasion of more than half of Israel, Hoshea, son of Elah, conspired against Pekah, whom he slew. Since Tiglath-Pileser claims in his Annals to have replaced Pekah (Paqah̬a) by Hoshea (’Ausi), it is clear that this act was approved, if not instigated, by the Assyrians.’ [19]

Rezin and Pekah were thus both killed in 732 and their kingdoms were reduced to nothing. This occurred approximately three years after the attack on Jerusalem and the prophecy of their destruction. The prophecy was thus fulfilled to the letter. According to A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Isaiah, I–XXXIX:

‘We shall be safest in understanding the statement of vv. 14–16 as follows: within a few months at most, and perhaps immediately, a child (or children) now in the womb will be receiving the name Immanuel, God is with us: for the present popular tension will be relieved; and mothers will express the general feeling of relief at the favourable turn in public events (ct. 1 S 4:21) when they name their children. Such children with their names will be a reminder that the terror of the king and the people (v. 2) was groundless, and the confidence of the prophet justified. Moreover, the withdrawal of Syria and Ephraim will not be merely temporary; the child(ren) to be born will neither starve as they grow up in a beleaguered city, nor in a devastated country side: they will feed on curds and honey (v. 15)—the highly prized products of the land of promise. For within two or three years, Ephraim and Syria will have perished, their land will be a land of ruins (v. 16). The sign lies not, as the traditional Christian and some recent theories assume, in the circumstances of the birth, but in the chain of events now predicted, and their association with the birth and naming of a child, and in the time and order of their occurrence being determined by reference to the child’s growth, as in 8:3f.’ [20]

©Shutterstock

Does the Prophecy Mention a ‘Virgin?’

Coming to the wording of the prophecy in Isaiah, it does not necessarily translate as a virgin giving birth. A better translation would be a ‘young woman’ giving birth.

Certain Christians go to great lengths to translate the passage as referring to a virgin, because that is how the author of Matthew translated it. The word that appears in the text of Matthew that is generally translated as virgin is parthenos παρθένος. The Greek word means virgin, or perhaps simply young maiden:

‘Parethenos παρθένος, ου, ἡ a young woman of marriageable age, with or without focus on virginity.’ [21]

Parthenos παρθένος in the Greek is an attempted translation of the Hebrew word in Isaiah which is almah עַלְמָה. The primary use of the word almah is to convey the idea of a woman who is physically mature and of marriageable age, but not whether she is a virgin:

‘עַלְמָה (ʿǎl∙mā(h)) young woman, i.e., sexually mature female of marriageable age, which may or may not be sexually active (Ge 24:43; Ex 2:8; Ps 68:26[EB 25]; Pr 30:19; SS 1:3; 6:8; Isa 7:14+), note: context will demand or suggest if the young woman is sexually active.’ [22]

Such is the case for the male rendering of the term as well:

‘The word alma only conveys age/gender. Had Isaiah wished to speak about a virgin, he would have used the word betulah (בְּתוּלָה) not almah. The word betulah appears frequently in the Jewish Scriptures and is the only word – in both biblical and modern Hebrew – that conveys sexual purity…the masculine form of the noun עַלְמָה (alma) is עֶלֶם (elem), which means a ‘young man,’ not a male virgin. This word appears twice in the Jewish Scriptures (I Samuel 17:56, 20:22). As expected, without exception, all Christian Bibles correctly translate עֶלֶם as a ‘young man,’ ‘lad,’ or ‘stripling,’ never ‘virgin.” [23]

As mentioned, the context will demonstrate whether the meaning is of a virgin or not. The word itself does not.

It is important to emphasize that If the prophecy wished to emphasize the miracle of a virgin giving birth, then there were other words that would have been more opportune, such as betulah, commonly used in Hebrew to convey the idea of a virgin:

‘The notion of unspotted virginity is not that which this word (Almah) conveys, for which the proper word is בְּתוּלָה (betulah); neither does it convey the idea of the unmarried state…but of the nubile state and puberty.’ [24]

There is no indication in the context of the prophecy itself that the birth of the child was in any way extraordinary. The extraordinary occurrence in the prophecy was the destruction of the enemies of the Kingdom of Judah within a few years, not the birth of a child to a virgin. Nor does it imply that it refers to the birth of a specific child at all – the import of the prophecy seems to be general. It seems to be the stylized way of stating that the enemies of Judah would be destroyed within a few short years.

Nor does the prophecy specify the woman who is being spoken of. Several possibilities have been presented by biblical commentators, namely the wife of the prophet Isaiah, an unspecified woman, a woman who was present at the time of the prophecy or perhaps a specific woman who had been mentioned previously by the prophet. In any case, the context does not allow that the word refers to Mary, the mother of Jesus (as).

Moreover, if the prophecy did refer to the birth of a child to a virgin, this would mean that a virgin had given birth to a child during the time of King Ahaz. There would thus be another candidate for divinity for Christians to consider. If Jesus (as) was a divine ‘son of God’ because he was born to a virgin, must not this other child be considered divine as well?

A Double Prophecy?

Before the weight of the historical context and completion of the prophecy in Isaiah 7, certain Christians claim that the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 is a ‘double prophecy,’ meaning that it had a certain significance during the time of King Ahaz and was fulfilled, but it was also destined to be fulfilled through the virgin birth of the Messiah.

This is problematic for several reasons. Firstly, the context of the prophecy in no way alludes to the birth of the Messiah. The prophecy was made about the destruction of the enemies of Judah and was fulfilled soon after being made. Secondly, as was previously mentioned, there is no explicit mention in the prophecy about the miraculous birth of a child to a virgin. Even if it was a so-called double prophecy, there is no indication in the text to come to that conclusion.

A skeptic could point out that it is more likely that the author of Matthew attempted to draw the parallel between the birth of Jesus (as) and the passage of Isaiah to make the virgin birth more plausible for the Jews, despite the problems discussed above, as it appears that many doubted the virgin birth of Jesus (as), which is perhaps why Mark and John did not include it in their gospels.

Nevertheless, the Islamic viewpoint is that prophecies can have multiple fulfillments, and many times are susceptible to different interpretations.

For example, the prophecy recorded in 61:7 of the Holy Qur’an states that Jesus (as) foretold that a prophet by the name of Ahmad would appear after him. This primarily refers to the Prophet Muhammad (sa), but also refers to the advent to the Messiah Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) who, owing to his similarity to the Prophet Muhammad (sa), was granted same name by God. In this case, there is ample reasoning for the application of the double prophecy. The Promised Messiah (as) elaborates in his book Tuhfa Gularwiyya:

'And like the verse 'And I give glad tidings of a prophet after me whose name is Ahmad' indicates, there will be a person so similar to the prophet Muhammad (sa) who will appear in the latter days that he will be as one of his hands. He will be called Ahmad in the heavens, and he will spread the faith with benevolence.  In the same fashion, the verse 'And take the station of Abraham as a place of prayer' indicates that when the community of Muhammad will be divided into many factions, then in the latter days an Abraham will be born, and out of all of the groups, that one which follows that Abraham will be granted salvation.' [25]

It is thus not impossible that the prophecy in Isaiah and perhaps other such prophecies implied or were understood in some circles as double prophecies that indicated that the Messiah would be born of a virgin.

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The Significance of the Virgin Birth According to Monotheism and Islam

As it has been shown, the virgin birth did not demonstrate the divinity of Christ, neither by showing his uniqueness as a ‘son of God,’ nor by demonstrating his evasion of inherited sin.

What then was the significance of his virgin birth? The Bible and Islam present us with many meanings behind the virgin birth of Jesus (as) within the framework of pure monotheism.

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 in 21:92 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.’ (21:92)

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 favor 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 Chosroes [26], 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.’ [27]

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) (Genesis 18:10, Genesis 21:2-3), Samuel (as) (1 Samuel 1:1-20), and John the Baptist (as) (Luke 1:5-17) 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 7:14 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.’ (Isaiah 7:14)

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.’ [28]

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.’ [29]

Those that support thw 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 in 5:47 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.’ (5:47)

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 their 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. [30]

 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.’ [31]

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.’ [32]

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.’ [33]

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.’ (Isaiah 11:1)

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.’ (Isaiah 11:6-9)

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.’

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 to 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).’ [34]

The Truth About Salvation – a comparison of Islamic and Christian beliefs

©Shutterstock

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.’ (Luke 3:8) 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.’ [35]

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’ (1 Corinthians 15:45). 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 in 3:60:

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.’ (3:60)

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 [36] 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, both were forced to migrate from their homes when the persecution reached its climax and both were 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…' [37]

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...' [38]
The Promised Messiah (as)
The Promised Messiah(as), Imam Mahdi (Guided One), Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as)

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 (Matthew 22:23), 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.' [40]

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 Testament.

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) (Genesis 17:19). 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;‘ (Matthew 11:7-13)

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 in 43:58-62 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.’ (43:58-62)

The Promised Messiah (as) explains this 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.' [40]

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 (Judges 13:1-5). 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.’ (John 18:36)

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 in 3:113 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.’ (3:113)

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 AuthorAzhar 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. The abbreviation (as) stands for the Arabic prayer alaihis salam, meaning peace be upon him. It is a prayer that is made recited after mentioning the names of the prophets of God.

2. “Celebrating Christmas and the Holidays, Then and Now”. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/18/celebrating-christmas-and-the-holidays-then-and-now/. Accessed July 21 2021.

3. France, R. T. (2002). The Gospel of Mark: a commentary on the Greek text (pp. 242–243). Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.

4. Acosta, D. R. (2016). Mary, Mother of Jesus. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

5. France, R. T. (2002). The Gospel of Mark: a commentary on the Greek text. Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.

6. Buckwalter, H. D. (1996). Virgin Birth. In Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology (electronic ed., p. 800). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

7.

إِذْ قَالَ اللهُ يَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ اذْكُرْ نِعْمَتِي عَلَيْكَ وَعَلٰى وَالِدَتِكَ إِذْ أَيَّدتُّكَ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ تُكَلِّمُ النَّاسَ فِي الْمَهْدِ وَكَهْلًا ۖ وَإِذْ عَلَّمْتُكَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَالتَّوْرَاةَ وَالْإِنجِيلَ ۖ وَإِذْ تَخْلُقُ مِنَ الطِّينِ كَهَيْئَةِ الطَّيْرِ بِإِذْنِي فَتَنفُخُ فِيهَا فَتَكُونُ طَيْرًا بِإِذْنِي ۖ وَتُبْرِئُ الْأَكْمَهَ وَالْأَبْرَصَ بِإِذْنِي ۖ وَإِذْ تُخْرِجُ الْمَوْتٰى بِإِذْنِي ۖ وَإِذْ كَفَفْتُ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ عَنكَ إِذْ جِئْتَهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ فَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْهُمْ إِنْ هٰذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ

When Allah will say, “O Jesus, son of Mary, remember My favour upon thee and upon thy mother; when I strengthened thee with the Spirit of holiness so that thou didst speak to the people in the cradle and in middle age; and when I taught thee the Book and Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and when thou didst fashion a creation out of clay, in the likeness of a bird, by My command; then thou didst breathe into it a new spirit and it became a soaring being by My command; and thou didst heal the night-blind and the leprous by My command; and when thou didst raise the dead by My command; and when I restrained the children of Israel from putting thee to death when thou didst come to them with clear Signs; and those who disbelieved from among them said, ‘This is nothing but clear deception.’” (5:111)

8. Malfuzat, vol. 5, pg. 218-219

قرآن شریف سے ایسا ہی ثابت ہوتا ہے اور قرآنِ شریف پر ہم ایمان لاتے ہیں۔ پھر قانونِ قدرت میں ہم اس کے بر خلاف کوئی دلیل نہیں پاتے۔ ۔۔ قرآن شریف میں جہاں اس کا ذکر ہے وہاں خدا تعالی نے اپنی قدرت کے دو عجائب نمونوں کا ذکر کیا ہے۔ اوّل حضرت زکریا کا ذکر ہے کہ ایسی پیرانہ سالی میں جہاں کہ بیوی بھی بانجھ تھی خدا تعالی نے بیٹا پیدا کیا۔ اور اس کے ساتھ ہی یہ دوسرا واقعہ ہے جو خدا تعالی کی قدرتِ عجیبہ کا نمونہ ہے۔ اس کے ماننے میں کونسا ہرج پیدا ہوتا ہے۔ قرآنِ مجید کے پڑھنے سے ایسا ہی ثابت ہوتا  ہے کہ مسیح بن باپ ہے اور اس پر کوئی اعتراض نہیں ہو سکتا۔ خدا تعالی نے كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ جو فرمایا اس سے بھی ظاہر ہے کہ اس میں ایک عجوبہ قدرت ہے جس کے واسطے آدم کی مثال کا ذکر کرنا پڑا۔  (ملفوظات جلد ۵،  صفحہ ۲۱۸ تا ۲۱۹، ایڈیشن ۲۰۰۳ء مطبوعہ ربوہ)

9. Kitabul Bariyya, Ruhani Khazain vol. 13, pg. 77

ایک اور اعتراض ہے جو ہم نے کیا تھا اور وہ یہ ہے کہ یسوع کی نسبت بیان کیا جاتا ہے کہ وہ موروثی اور کسبی گناہ سے پاک ہے۔ حالانکہ یہ صریح غلط ہے۔ عیسائی خود مانتے ہیں کہ یسوع نے اپنا تمام گوشت و پوست اپنی والدہ سے پایا تھا اور وہ گناہ سے پاک نہ تھی۔ اور نیز عیسائیوں کا یہ بھی اقرار ہے کہ ہر ایک درد اور دکھ گناہ کا پھل ہے اور کچھ شک نہیں ؔ کہ یسوع بھوکا بھی ہوتا تھا اور پیاسا بھی اور بچپن میں قانون قدرت کے موافق خسرہ بھی اس کو نکلا ہوگا اور چیچک بھی اور دانتوں کے نکلنے کے دکھ بھی اٹھائے ہوں گے اور موسموں کے تپوں میں بھی گرفتار ہوتا ہوگا اور بموجب اصول عیسائیوں کے یہ سب گناہ کے پھل ہیں۔ پھر کیونکر اس کو پاک فدیہ سمجھا گیا۔  (کتاب البریّہ ، روحانی خزائن جلد ۱۳ صفحہ ۷۷)

10. Tuhfa Golarwiya (A Present for Golarwiyya), Ruhani Khazain (Heavenly Treasures) vol. 17, pg. 208, footnote

اور یاد رہے کہ خدا نے بے باپ پیدا ہونے میں حضرت آدم سے حضرت مسیح کو مشابہت دی ہے اور یہ بات کہ کسی دوسرے انسان سے کیوں مشابہت نہیں دی یہ محض اس غرض سے ہے کہ تا ایک مشہور متعارف نظیر پیش کی جائے کیونکہ عیسائیوں کو یہ دعویٰ تھا کہ بے باپ پیدا ہونا حضرت مسیح کا خاصہ ہے اور یہ خدائی کی دلیل ہے۔ پس خدا نے اس حجت کے توڑنے کے لئے وہ نظیر پیش کی جو عیسائیوں کے نزدیک مسلّم اور مقبول ہے۔ اگر خدا تعالیٰ اپنی مخلوقات میں سے کوئی اور نظیر پیش کرتا تو وہ اس نظیر کی طرح بدیہی اور مسلّم الثبوت نہ ہوتی اور ایک نظری امر ہوتا۔  (تحفحہ گولڑویہ، روحانی خزائن جلد ۱۷،   صفحہ ۲۰۸، حاشیہ )

11. “The Virgin Birth: Scientific Plausibility”. Dr. Jalil Ahmad Bhatti. https://www.alhakam.org/the-virgin-birth-scientific-plausibility/.

12. Tuhfa Gularwiyya, Ruhani Khazain vol. 17, pg. 202-203, footnote

…حضرت مسیح کا بغیر باپ پیدا ہونا بھی امور نادرہ میں سے ہے۔ خلاف قانون قدرت نہیں ہے کیونکہ یونانی ،مصری، ہندی، طبیبوں نے اس امر کی بہت سی نظیریں لکھی ہیں کہ کبھی بغیر باپ کے بھی بچہ پیدا ہو جاتا ہے۔ بعض عورتیں ایسی ہوتی ہیں کہ بحکم قادرِ مطلق اُن میں دونوں قوتیں عاقدہ اور منعقدہ پائی جاتی ہیں اسلئے دونوں خاصیتیں ذَکر اور اُنثیٰ کی اُن کے تخم میں موجود ہوتی ہیں۔ یونانیوں نے بھی ایسی پیدائشوں کی نظیریں دی ہیں اور ہندؤوں نے بھی نظیریں دی ہیں اور ابھی حال میں مصر میں جو طبی کتابیں تالیف ہوئی ہیں ان میں بھی بڑی تحقیق کے ساتھ نظیروں کو پیش کیا ہے۔ ہندؤوں کی کتابوں کے لفظ چندر بنسی اور سورج بنسی درحقیقت انہی امور کی طرف اشارات ہیں۔ پس اس قسم کی پیدائش صرف اپنے اندر ایک ندرت رکھتی ہے۔ جیسے توام میں ایک ندرت ہے اس سے زیادہ نہیں۔ یہ نہیں کہہ سکتے کہ بغیر باپ پیدا ہونا ایک ایسا امر فوق العادت ہے جو حضرت عیسیٰ علیہ السلام سے خصوصیت رکھتا ہے۔ (تحفحہ گولڑویہ، روحانی خزائن جلد ۱۷، صفحہ ۲۰۲ تا ۲۰۳، حاشیہ)

13. “Are there Really Virgin Births?”. Matt Soniak. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/20413/are-there-really-virgin-births. Accessed July 29, 2020.

14. Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996). New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.) (892). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

15. Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Rezin. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1857). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

16. The Pulpit Commentary: Isaiah Vol. I. 2004 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.) (125). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

17. The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Is 7:14–16). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

18. Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (1857). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House.

19. Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996). New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.) (892). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

20. Gray, G. B. (1912). A critical and exegetical commentary on the book of Isaiah, I–XXXIX (p. 124). New York: C. Scribner’s Sons.

21. Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (777). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

22. Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

23. “Does the Hebrew Word Alma Really Mean Virgin?”. Rabbi Tovia Singer. https://outreachjudaism.org/alma-virgin/#fn1-2580. Accessed July 25 2020.

24. Gesenius, W., & Tregelles, S. P. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (634). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

25. Zamimah Tuhfa Gularwiya, Ruhani Khazain, vol. 17 pg. 68-69

اور جیسا کہ آیت وَمُبَشِّرًا بِرَسُولٍ يَأْتِي مِن بَعْدِي اسْمُهُ أَحْمَدُ  میں یہ اشارہ ہے کہ آنحضرت صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم کا آخر زمانہ میں ایک مظہر ظاہر ہوگا گویا وہ اس کا ایک ہاتھ ہوگا  جس کا  نام آسمان پر احمد ہوگا اور وہ حضرت مسیح کے رنگ میں جمالی طور پر دین کو پھیلائے گا ایسا ہی یہ آیت وَاتَّخِذُوا مِن مَّقَامِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ مُصَلًّى  اس طرف اشارہ کرتی ہے کہ جب اُمت محمدیہ میں بہت فرقے ہو جائیں گے تب آخر زمانہ میں ایک ابراہیم پیدا ہوگا اور ان سب فرقوں میں وہ فرقہ نجات پائے گا کہ اس ابراہیم کا پیرو ہوگا۔ (ضمیمہ تحفہ گولڑویہ، روحانی خزائن جلد ۱۷، صفحہ ۶۸ تا ۶۹)

26.  the correct form is ‘Khosrow I’

27. “Life and Character of the Seal of Prophets”, vol. 1. Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad M.A., pg. 130

28. 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.

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

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

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

32. https://www.sermononthemount.org.uk/EmmausView/Chap_03_An_Adam_like_Messiah.html#sdfootnote13sym

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

34. 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.

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

36.

وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً ۖ قَالُوا أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

And when thy Lord said to the angels: ‘I am about to place a vicegerent in the earth,’ they said: ‘Wilt Thou place therein such as will cause disorder in it, and shed blood? — and we glorify Thee with Thy praise and extol Thy holiness.’ He answered: ‘I know what you know not.’ (2:31)

37. 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)

38. 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)

39. 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)

40. 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)

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