Why I believe in God?

33 80 YEARS AGO MARY’S PARENTAGE (Reproduced from the May issue of the Review of Religions, 1910) One wonders at the blindness of those who say that according to the Holy Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Mary, mother of Jesus, was the sister of Moses, the Law-giver. Any one who reads the Holy Quran will see that it recognises the long distance of time which separates Jesus from Moses, yet it is asserted that the Holy Prophet regarded Jesus as the nephew of Mos’es. Nothing can he more absurd! This error, it is said, probably arose out of a Jewish legend that the angel of death had no power over Mary, Moses’ sister, that she died with the kiss of the Lord, and that no insect or worm could touch her person. This story, ,it is assumed, led the Holy Prophet to think that Mary, mother of Jesus, was the same Mary over whom the angel of death had no power and that she lived down to the Christian era to become the mother of Jesus. The absurdity of this explanation is too gross to need any comment. The Christians assume that the Holy Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not know even this that more than one person could bear the same name and that when he heard that Jesus’ mother was Mary, which was the name of Moses’ sister too, he did not know how to solve this problem except by supposing that Moses’ sister, Mary, must have surrvived to the Christian era. But what did he think of Mary the Copt, who was sent to him by Muckoukas, the Christian king of Egypt? Did he think her also to be Moses’ sister, that had survived to his own time? Really, the ignorance which they impute to the Holy Prophet reverts to their ownselves. The verses on the basis of which it is asserted that according to the Holy Prophet, Mary, mother of Jesus, was Moses’ sister are the following. In Surah Mariam we are told that after the birth of the Holy Child, the people came to her and said, 0 Sister of Aaron, thy father was not a bad man, neither was thy mother a wicked woman. Elsewhere she is spoken of as Mary, daughter of Imran. These verses have led the Christian critics to conclude that the Holy Prophet regarded Mary as the sister of Moses, brother of Aaron. So great is the prejudice of the Christian critics against Islam that while attacking the Holy Quran, they become forgetful even of their own scriptures. If the expressions daughter of Imran and sister of Aaron are open to objection, there are similar expressions in the Gospels which must also be held as objectionable. In Matt. 1,20 we read: Behold the 34 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph son ofDavid^ In chapter IX.2 7 of the same Gospel, we have: And as Jesus passed from thence, there followed him two blind men crying out and saying, Have mercy on us, 0 son of David. Again And all the multitudes were amazed and said: Is not this the ‘Son of David?’ (Matt. XIL23). Many more expressions of this type might be quoted but the foregoing three will suffice. Now what would the Christians think of the man who, on the score of these expressions, should accuse the Gospel writers of making grossly inaccurate statements by representing David as the father of Joseph and Jesus and representing the latter two as brothers, being the sons of one and the same father? The Christian would certainly call such a man a fool. The multitudes called Jesus son of David because it was a custom among the people to call a man after the name of a distinguished ancestor. For the same reason Mary was’ called sister of Aaron and daughter of Imran, and if it is foolish to object to the term, son of David, when used with reference to Jesus and Joseph, it is equally foolish to object to the expressions daughter oflmxan and sister of Aaron, when used with regard to Mary. If the people addressed Mary as the sister of Aaron, they only followed their national custom and it is as foolish to say that the Holy Quran confounds Mary, mother of Jesus, with Mary, sister of Moses, as to say that the Gospels represent Joseph husband of Mary and Jesus son of Mary, as brothers, both being spoken of as the sons of David, king of the Jews. Though almost all Christian critics have blindly objected to the use of these terms with regard to Mary, the natural and true explanation given above has suggested itself to some of the Christian writers. Rodwell says in a foot-note on page 113, If Aaron the brother of Moses be meant, Mary may be called his sister, either because she was of the Levitical race, or by way of comparison. Besides, the Christians would have had some right to object to the terms daughter of Imran and sister of Aaron used with regard to Mary, if they had known who the parents of Mary were. They themselves are in absolute darkness as to the parentage of Mary, but when the Holy Quan speaks of her as daughter of Imran, they take an exception to it, as if they knew who her father was. Being themselves ignorant of the name of Mary’s father, they had no right to object to the Quranic expressions, even if they were taken too literally, unless they showed that among the Jews there was only one Imran (Heb. Amram) and only one Aaron and they were the father and the brother of Moses, the law-giver, respectively. When they cannot show this, when, as a matter of fact, both these names were common among the Jews, and when they themselves are ignorant of Mary’s parentage, is it not foolish for them to object to the use of these expressions, even if the expressions be interpreted in the way in which REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 3 5 they interpret them? To quote once more from the Gospels, in Matthew 1,16 we read And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. From this quotation it appears that Mary, mother of Jesus, was the wife of Joseph and that Joseph was the son of Jacob. Should we then conclude that this verse represents Mary, mother of Jesus, as the wife of that Joseph that was cast into a well and sold as a slave in Egypt, and should we say that this conclusion is strengthened by the fact that Joseph, husband of Mary, is spoken of as the son of Jacob? If it is foolish to draw such a conclusion from the verse quoted above, it is equally foolish to say that wherever the names Aaron and Imran (Amram) occur as the names of a son and a father, they must be taken as referring to the Aaron and the Amram who were respectively the brother and the father of Moses. In the verse quoted above the names Joseph and Jacob are mentioned as the names of a son and a father, but they do not refer to the Joseph and the Jacob that were great-grandson and grandson of Abraham respectively. Thus the objection of the Christian critics must be rejected as foolish even if we interpret the words of the Holy Quran in the way in which the Christian critics interpret them. That the Christians are ignorant of the parentage of Mary, mother of Jesus, is apparent from the following quotation from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol.XV, page 590: Of her (Mary’s) parentage nothing is recorded in any extant historical document of the first century, for the genealogy in Luke III, (of 1,27) is manifestly that of Joseph. The readers have seen the absurdity of the Christian objection which has been just discussed and it is a pity that almost all Christian writers (and among them are such eminent men as professor Noldeke)who have dealt with the subject, have fallen into this deplorable error. From this the reader may judge the worth of their other objections against Islam. They may be otherwise eminent critics, but they behave like children when they deal with Islam. Disappointing as the conduct of these critics of Islam is, we believe that among those who now judge Islam and its Holy Founder (may peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) by the portraits drawn by ignorant Christians, there will be many that will welcome the truth when they learn it.