Salam,

The Quran and Previous Scriptures

The Quran, the central religious text of Islam, contain many references of people personalities and events also found in the Bible. While the events and individual narrations told in each book are generally comparable, important differences sometimes emerge. The versions written in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament predate the Quran’s versions archaeologically. As such, non-Muslims regard the Quran’s versions as being derived directly or indirectly from the earlier materials. It is very important to remember that Muslims understand the Quran’s versions to be witness accounts from an omnipotent God. As such, Muslims generally hold that the earlier versions are distorted through flawed processes of transmission and interpretation, and understand the Quran’s versions to be more accurate to the actual events. The Muslims believed that the Quran is more reliable as the original language Arabic is maintained and there are guaranty the Book is protected by Allah as stated in Surah 15:9 We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption). And there is the belief there is no distortion as defined in Surah 39:28 (It is) a Qur’an in Arabic, without any crookedness (therein): in order that they may guard against Evil.

One of the verses that reveal the Quran confirms previous scriptures and act as a “guardian” or as a “criterion” over it is stated in Surah 5:48-49 To thee (O Muhammad) We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah. It is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute; And this (He commands): Judge thou between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, but beware of them lest they beguile thee from any of that (teaching) which Allah hath sent down to thee. And if they turn away, be assured that for some of their crime it is Allah’s purpose to punish them. And truly most men are rebellious.

Nevertheless for this article the content of some of the books on event and personalities will be concentrated on the Quran and the New Testament Bible as many Muslims and Christians are unaware how the Quran make a claim that it confirms previous scriptures whereas the Christians believe much of the Quran is plagiarized from the stories of their Bible. Here I will present the most familiar personality to both the books to see how each book narrate the account of Mary the Mother of Jesus. Then one can form his own judgment which of the two gives more credible information to the truth of the story.

The narration on Mary the Mother of Jesus

First let us compare and examine who is Mary the Mother of Jesus and who is the parent of this Mary. Although the Quran did not elaborate in detail with a genealogical diagram of her family’s ancestry it is enough to know she was from a reputable family and a very good person. Here one can see that the Quran confirms that there is a Mary who was from the Family of Imran as stated in Surah 3:33-36 Allah did choose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of ‘Imran above all people, Offspring, one of the other: And Allah hear and know all things. Behold! A woman of ‘Imran said: “O my Lord! I do dedicate unto Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service: So accept this of me: For Thou hear and know all things.” When she was delivered, she said: “O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!” and Allah knew best what she brought forth- “And no wise is the male like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from the Evil One, the Rejected.” And her daughter Mary was taken cared by Zakariya as stated in Surah 3:37 Right graciously did her Lord accept her: He made her grow in purity and beauty: To the care of Zakariya was she assigned. And Mary the Mother of Jesus in the Quran is described as the relative and the descendent from the House of Aaron as confirmed by the Surah 19:27-28 At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: “O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought! “O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!” And it is clear that she is not from the House of Moses but being a relative of Aaron or from the House of Aaron is supported by the Surah 2:248 And (further) their Prophet said to them: “A Sign of his authority is that there shall come to you the Ark of the covenant, with (an assurance) therein of security from your Lord, and the relics left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron, carried by angels. In this is a symbol for you if ye indeed have faith.” These confirmation of Mary came as revelations inspired to the Prophet Muhammad as stated in Surah 3:44 This is part of the tidings of the things unseen, which We reveal unto thee (O Messenger!) by inspiration: Thou was not with them when they cast lots with arrows, as to which of them should be charged with the care of Mary: Nor was thou with them when they disputed (the point). Thus the Quran narrated the story of Mary the Mother of Jesus by Allah’s revelation to the Prophet Muhammad as a confirmation to what was being revealed in the Bible.

Further while the Quran confirmed the story of Mary it is also a “Muhaiminan” or it acts as a “Guardian” or “criterion” to monitor the truth over previous stories and in the case of Mary while it is quite similar that Mary’s mother was never mentioned by name in the Quran or the Bible, most of the story from Christian sources on the life of Mary was from the New Testament apocrypha rather than the Canonical Testament. It is stated in the Wikipedia that the New Testament tells little of Mary’s early history. John 19:25 states that Mary had a sister; semantically it is unclear if this sister is the same as Mary the wife of Clopas or if she is left unnamed. Jerome identifies Mary of Cleopas as the sister of Mary, mother of Jesus. According to the early second-century historian Hegesippus, Mary of Clopas was likely Mary’s sister-in-law, understanding Clopas (Cleophas) to have been Joseph’s brother. According to the writer of Luke, Mary was a relative of Elizabeth, wife of the priest Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah, who was herself part of the lineage of Aaron and so of the tribe of Levi.[Luke 1:5;1:36] Some of those who consider that the relationship with Elizabeth was on the maternal side, consider that Mary, like Joseph, to whom she was betrothed, was of the House of David and so of the Tribe of Judah, and that the genealogy of Jesus presented in Luke 3 from Nathan, third son of David and Bathsheba, is in fact the genealogy of Mary, while the genealogy from Solomon given in Matthew 1 is that of Joseph. Thus in comparison between the Quran and the Bible the revelation to Prophet Muhammad showed no ambiguity.

Mary with the birth of Jesus

In another example the Quran confirmed previous scriptures and act as a guardian over it when it revealed that a daughter from the family of Imran Mary (Surah 3:36) in turn borne a son Jesus as stated in Surah 3:45 Behold! The angels said: “O Mary! Allah give thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah. But in Surah 3:47-49 She said: “O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?” He said: “Even so: Allah create what He will: When He hath decreed a plan, He but said to it, ‘Be,’ and it is!” And Allah will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel, “And (appoint him) an apostle to the Children of Israel, (with this message): “‘I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah’s leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe.

Although the Quran confirmed the miraculous birth of Jesus of the Bible one can find very different situation being portrayed in the bible as giving contrary conclusion as stated in Luke 1:28-35 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, [thou that art] highly favored, the Lord [is] with thee: blessed [art] thou among women. 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 shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, how shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Here the difference is contrasting in the Bible Jesus is called the son of God while in the Quran Jesus is called the son of Mary as stated in Surah 5:110 Then will Allah say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favor to thee and to thy mother. This different in statement lead to different in belief!

Jesus Mary’s son was kind to his mother

This is another account the Quran confirmed of previous scripture of Mary having a son Jesus who Allah made him kind to his mother as stated as stated in 19:30-32 He (Jesus) said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah. He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; “And He hath made me blessed where so ever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live; “(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable. Judging from here in the Quran it can be observed that Jesus attitude to his mother is in harmony with the command of Allah as stated in Surah 17:23-24 Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: “My Lord! Bestow on them thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” And in another matter in attitude and conduct to parents it is enjoined in Surah 31:14 And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), “Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal.

However Jesus in the Bible seems to be portrayed as a very rude son as not to show humility and kindness to his mother Mary by calling her “Woman” as stated in John 2:2-5 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, they have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And the same when he addressed his mother in John 19:26-27 “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. On the contrary to the Muslims who follow Jesus and knows him from the Quran this is kind of a weird representation of a Prophet and a Messenger of God.

Mary and her son Jesus were mere mortals

In the Quran it is written explicitly that Jesus is a man and he was appointed as a prophet and a messenger of Allah and his mother was chosen as stated in Surah 3:42 Behold! The angels said: “O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee- chosen thee above the women of all nations. Both were favored by Allah as stated in Surah 5:110 Then will Allah say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favor to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy spirit, so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold! I taught thee the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel and behold! Thou make out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and thou breath into it and it becomes a bird by My leave, and thou heal those born blind, and the lepers, by My leave. And behold! Thou bring forth the dead by My leave. And behold! I did restrain the Children of Israel from (violence to) thee when thou didst show them the clear Signs and the unbelievers among them said: ‘This is nothing but evident magic.’ It can be seen from the evidences of the Quran that being mortals both of them had to eat their daily food as in Surah 5:75 Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how Allah doth make His signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth! Thus this is how the Quran confirmed the personalities of Mary and Jesus that the similarities can also be found as depicted in the Bible that they are also mortals as they have to eat as is stated at Luke 14:1 And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath day, that they watched him. And again in Luke 24:41-43 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. However the Quran as “guardian” over previous scripture did not acknowledge the man Jesus as a god besides Allah as confirmed in Surah 5:17 In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary. Say: “Who then hath the least power against Allah, if His will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and all every one that is on the earth? For to Allah belong the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He creates what He pleases. For Allah hath power over all things.”

These are some of the examples the Quran confirmed of previous scriptures and act as a “guardian” or quality control over what is falsified and give the true narration of events of the past which is revealed to last Prophet Muhammad to enlighten the world as stated in Surah 34:28 We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not. And in Surah 4:174 O mankind! Verily there hath come to you a convincing proof from your Lord: For We have sent unto you a light (that is) manifest. Further in Surah 10:108 Say: “O ye men! Now Truth hath reached you from your Lord! Those who receive guidance, do so for the good of their own souls; those who stray, do so to their own loss: and I am not (set) over you to arrange your affairs.” Finally it is stated in Surah 35:31 That which We have revealed to thee of the Book is the Truth, confirming what was (revealed) before it: for Allah is assuredly- with respect to His Servants – well acquainted and Fully Observant.

Asar