An Islamic View of the True CHRISTMAS

Part 1 of the Muslim view on Jesus Christ

Imam Khalil Akbar

Christmas is a time of year where all of humanity can celebrate together in many respects.  Muslims do not generally celebrate Christmas, but we must recognize the factual events of the virgin birth and the blessed nature of Jesus’s birth.  In this article, Imam Khalil Akbar (a student of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed) expounds upon the Islamic view of “Christmas”.

During my 26 year career as an employed Clinical Chaplain for the North Carolina Department of Correction, I experienced occasions when I was asked to explain the beliefs and practices of Muslims. One such occasion was at Western Youth Center in Morganton, NC. The audience I addressed consisted of the Chaplain, Superintendent, Correctional Officers and other Staff members.

 Due to having to work with inmates who believed in Islam, the staff wanted to get some idea as to what Islam is and who Muslims were. The popular perception of Muslims at the time was that Islam was a religion of hate whose adherents were predominantly Black. My task was to present the true picture of Islam in order that the staff would know that this was a fallacy. The audience was attentive and seemed to receive the presentation well; however, following the meeting with the staff, the superintendent of programs invited me to his office for further discussion.

He said to me that the presentation was good but it left questions in his mind about what I had said was the Qur’anic position on the birth of Prophet Jesus (AS). He said it was difficult for him to accept that Muslims really believed in Jesus. He said that he thought that my statement was merely a strategy to get the staff to accept that Islam was indeed a religion. I assured him that everything I had said about Jesus’s birth being in the Qur’an was true and no fabrication.  Subsequently, I begin to share with him what the Quran said on the subject.

This man was typical of many people today who live in the west and who have no knowledge of the Muslim belief in Jesus Christ. They are surprised to learn that not only do Muslims believe in Jesus as an article of faith but anyone among them who does not believe in him is considered to be a disbeliever. They are even more surprised to learn that Muslims accept the miraculous (virgin) birth of Jesus and his gift of being able to do miraculous works.

The Birth of Jesus is mentioned in two Surahs of Qur’an, Al-Imran (3:42-49) and Maryam (19: 16-35). It agrees, differs, adds, corrects or criticizes the Biblical accounts that are given in the Gospels of Matthew (1:18) and Luke (1:27-38). The following gives a description of events surrounding the birth of Jesus as mentioned in Gospels and Qur’an.

1. Angel’s visit to Mary

The Gospel of Luke is much more detailed on the subject than the Gospel of Matthew. Therefore we will refer to it in comparison with the Qur’an.  Therein Luke’s account is that the Angel Gabriel (Jibreel) was sent from G-d to the Virgin Mary. The Angel came to her and said: Hail thou art a highly favored woman and when she saw him she was troubled at his saying and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the Angel said unto her; Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou shall conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son and shall call his name Jesus. Then said Mary unto the Angel; how shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the Angel answered With God nothing shall be impossible. (Luke 1:26-39)

The same is described in Qur’an

When the angels said; Behold! The angels said: “O Mary! Allah has chosen you and purified you- and chosen you above the women of all nations.  “O Mary! Worship your Lord devoutly: Prostrate yourself, and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down.”  This is part of the tidings of the things unseen, which we reveal unto thee (O Messenger!) by inspiration: You were not with them when they cast lots with arrows, as to which of them should be charged with the care of Mary: Nor were you with them when they disputed (the point). Behold! The angels said: “O Mary! Allah gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name will be the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and shall be one of those who are nearest to Allah. She said My Lord! How can I have a child when no man has touched me? He said Even so. Allah creates what He wills. When He has decreed something, He says to it only, “Be and it is” (Qur’an 3:42-45)

Qur’an account

According to Qur’an Mary had secluded herself into eastern part of the temple for prayer and devotion to Allah. While she was in this state of purity the angel Gabriel appeared before her in the form of a man. She became frightened at his presence and said I seek refuge from you to (Allah) Most Gracious: (come not near) if you do fear Allah. At this point angel introduced himself by saying I am only a messenger from your Lord to (announce) to you the gift of a righteous son. (Qur’an 19:

2. Different places of residence in gospels and Qur’an

 Luke says When the angel came to Mary she was living in Nazareth (a town in Galilee). She and Joseph then went to Bethlehem (a town in Judaea); Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and after the birth they went to Jerusalem and then back to Nazareth.

Matthew says Mary and Joseph used to live in Bethlehem, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and they then went to Egypt and from Egypt to Nazareth.

Qur’an says Mary lived in Jerusalem and secluded herself to the private eastern chambers of the temple. It was there that Angel Gabriel came. After she conceived Jesus she went to a distant area (could be Bethlehem) and after giving birth she came back to Jerusalem. The name of this ‘distant area’ is not mentioned but many Qur’anic scholars say that it could be Bethlehem.

4. Events at birth

In the Gospels the events at birth are only mentioned in Luke who says that Mary and Joseph found shelter in a stable. Jesus was born there and Mary made a cradle for him in a manger. Shepherds near Bethlehem saw angels in the sky, singing glory of the Lord.

Qur’an says that when the pains of childbirth started, Mary went to a palm tree in a deserted area where Jesus was born. In the moments of her labor pains the, angel spoke to her. Miraculously, a water stream came out around her and fresh ripe dates fell close to her.

5. Events shortly after the Birth

Matthew and to some extent Luke say that the news of Jesus’s birth spread until it reached King Herod. His birth was being heralded as that of the expected Messiah of Jews who would restore the kingdom of Israel. This news disturbed King Herod, who was the Roman ruler at that time so he ordered all boys above the age two, to be killed. Matthew relates that the King learned about the birth of Jesus from some wise men who studied stars and had come from the east to see the newborn Messiah.

The Qur’an says that after birth, Mary carried Jesus in her arms, and returned to her own people. According to Qur’an: “They said O Mary! Indeed you have brought a thing that is mighty unheard of. O sister of Aaron, Your father was not a man who used to commit adultery nor was your mother an unchaste woman. Then she pointed to him. They said how we could talk to one who is child in cradle. He (Jesus) said; Verily I am a slave of Allah, he has given me the scriptures and made me a prophet. And he made me blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined on me prayer, and charity as long as I live.”(Qur’an 19:27-31) It was probably this miracle, Jesus, speaking in the cradle, which spread as the news that a ‘Savior’ of Israel has been born.

Muslims accept the miraculous birth of Jesus without any reservations or hesitations. But we believe that it is Blasphemous (shirk) to say that he is more than man or that he is the son of G-d. This is stated clearly in the Qur’an which compares this miraculous creation of Jesus with the creation of Adam, where God created Adam by his act of will (kun-fayakun, meaning “Be and it is.”). It is accepted universally that Adam was created by G-d, If the birth of Jesus is like that of Adam that means that Jesus is G-d’s Creation and not His only “Begotten Son”.

To Be Continued…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top