Friday Sermon: The Jesus Dilemma
by Mustaq Ali
30 December 2022 (Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam Lahore UK)
Assalam-o-Alaikum to all joining us today for the Jumuah.
My khutbah [sermon] today is taken from [the Holy Quran] Chapter 19, verses 19–21:
قَالَ اِنَّمَاۤ اَنَا رَسُوۡلُ رَبِّکِ ٭ۖ لِاَہَبَ لَکِ غُلٰمًا زَکِیًّا ﴿۱۹﴾ قَالَتۡ اَنّٰی یَکُوۡنُ لِیۡ غُلٰمٌ وَّ لَمۡ یَمۡسَسۡنِیۡ بَشَرٌ وَّ لَمۡ اَکُ بَغِیًّا ﴿۲۰﴾ قَالَ کَذٰلِکِ ۚ قَالَ رَبُّکِ ہُوَ عَلَیَّ ہَیِّنٌ ۚ وَ لِنَجۡعَلَہٗۤ اٰیَۃً لِّلنَّاسِ وَ رَحۡمَۃً مِّنَّا ۚ وَ کَانَ اَمۡرًا مَّقۡضِیًّا ﴿۲۱﴾ فَحَمَلَتۡہُ فَانۡتَبَذَتۡ بِہٖ مَکَانًا قَصِیًّا ﴿۲۲﴾
19:19 qaa-la inn-na-maa a-naa ra-soo-lu rabb-bi-ki li-a-ha-ba la-ki ghu-laa-man za-kiyy-yaa.
19:20 qaa-lat ann-naa ya-koo-nu lee ghu-laa-munw wa lam yam-sas-nee ba-sha-runw wa lam a-ku ba-ghiyy-yaa.
19:21 qaa-la ka-zaa-li-ki, qaa-la rabb-bu-ki hu-wa ‘a-liyy-ya hayy-yi-nun, wa li-naj-‘a-la-hoo aa-ya-tal linn-naa-si wa rah-ma-tam minn-naa, wa kaa-na am-ram maq-diyy-yaa.
19:22 fa-ha-ma-lat-hu fan-ta-ba-zat bi-hee ma-kaa-nan qa-siyy-yaa.
19:19 He said: I am only bearer of a message of thy Lord: That I will give thee a pure boy.
19:20 She said: How can I have a son and no mortal has yet touched me, nor have I been unchaste?
19:21 He said: So (it will be). Thy Lord says: It is easy to Me; and that We may make him a sign to men and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter decreed.
19:22 Then she conceived him; and withdrew with him to a remote place.
There is a dilemma faced by Muslims about Jesus, his birth is a contentious issue but so too is his crucifixion, death, resurrection, his current status and his return.
These may be too much to deal with in today’s short khutbah so I would focus on one issue and that is his birth.
In support of their belief that Jesus was born without a father, Muslims use statement such as:
- Allah can do anything
- Allah only has to say ‘Be’ and it happens
- They quote the verse of the Quran [3:59]: اِنَّ مَثَلَ عِیۡسٰی عِنۡدَ اللّٰہِ کَمَثَلِ اٰدَمَ ؕ خَلَقَہٗ مِنۡ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَہٗ کُنۡ فَیَکُوۡنُ — “The likeness of Jesus with Allah is truly as the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust, then said to him, Be, and he was.”
- They also alleged that he is alive and will return at the end of time to fight the dajjal [Anti-Christ]
Let us address the issue raised here, i.e., Chapter 19, verses 20–21:
The Angel said that he is only a bearer of a message from Allah to Mary, not that anything was going to happen at that time. After he delivered his message to Mary, she raised an objection to the news that she received in 2 ways:
- she explained to the Angel that the only way that she could have a son was either a legitimate way in which a man must touch her through wedlock, or,
- an illegitimate way to which she said that she was not unchaste.
So, she was fully aware of the law of procreation.
This is the response from a mature young woman who understood the way to have a child and the natural means for this to happen.
The reply of the Angel was that it was a message from Allah and that it was a matter decreed or decided.
Point 1: Analysing the response of the Angel to Mary’s response does not in any way allude to Mary becoming impregnated there and then and that Jesus was born without a father.
This is where Muslims make the error by inferring that at that point everything happened but this is corrected by the Holy Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] when he told the delegation from the Najran that:
“Do you not know that Mary conceived in the way women conceive,”
and further more,
“Do you not know that every son bears resemblance to his father”!
Further evidence from the Quran is found about the birth of Jesus when Allah says in the Quran Chapter 19, verse 23:
فَاَجَآءَہَا الۡمَخَاضُ اِلٰی جِذۡعِ النَّخۡلَۃِ ۚ قَالَتۡ یٰلَیۡتَنِیۡ مِتُّ قَبۡلَ ہٰذَا وَ کُنۡتُ نَسۡیًا مَّنۡسِیًّا ﴿۲۳﴾
“And the throes of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died before this, and had been a thing quite forgotten!”
So, a short summary of the verses above is that Mary rebutted news from the Angel of Allah, and quite rightly so, she was dedicated to the service of Allah and had not violated her duty to Allah. The Holy Prophet Muhammad said that:
“Mary conceived as women conceive”
And, lastly, Mary narrates in the Quran about the pains off childbirth. Need I say more on the topic.
Point 2: Let us now critically analyse the response of the Angel to Mary’s rebuttal, the news that she was to have a son came as a shock and almost as an accusation to her chastity, thus she defended her position. So, analysing the response of the Angel,
“So it will be”.
Does this confirming that Mary will have a son by marriage — a legitimate way or was the angel saying “so it will be” (astaghfirullah). That it is the decree of Allah that it will happen in an illegitimate way!
Will Allah decree such a thing that a pious young woman should have a child through an illegitimate way when Allah says in the Quran in Chapter 3, verse 42:
وَ اِذۡ قَالَتِ الۡمَلٰٓئِکَۃُ یٰمَرۡیَمُ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ اصۡطَفٰکِ وَ طَہَّرَکِ وَ اصۡطَفٰکِ عَلٰی نِسَآءِ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿۴۲﴾
“And when the angels said: O Mary, surely Allah has chosen thee and purified thee and chosen thee above the women of the world.”
How do we resolve this problem — the Quran sheds some light on the issue in the marriage of Mary in the Quran, Chapter 3, verse 44,
ذٰلِکَ مِنۡ اَنۡۢبَآءِ الۡغَیۡبِ نُوۡحِیۡہِ اِلَیۡکَ ؕ وَ مَا کُنۡتَ لَدَیۡہِمۡ اِذۡ یُلۡقُوۡنَ اَقۡلَامَہُمۡ اَیُّہُمۡ یَکۡفُلُ مَرۡیَمَ ۪ وَ مَا کُنۡتَ لَدَیۡہِمۡ اِذۡ یَخۡتَصِمُوۡنَ ﴿۴۴﴾
“This is of the tidings of things unseen which We reveal to thee. And thou wast not with them when they cast their pens (to decide) which of them should have Mary in his charge, and thou wast not with them when they contended one with another.”
The expression used here “Cast their Pens” — Ibn Kathir’s commentary on this verse taken from the website suggests that according to Hanafi jurist, for example, if something is jointly owned by several persons and a lot is drawn to decide that the one whose name comes out in the lot shall take the whole thing.
Further internet searches asking the question what does “Casting lots mean” reveals:
Question: What is casting lots and what did it mean to ancient Israel? When was it practiced and by whom? What did it seek to accomplish?
Answer: The tradition of casting lots is referenced 47 times in the Old Testament and 7 times in the New Testament. A variety of objects were used to cast a lot, depending on the place and local customs, such as coins, polished sticks, cards, dice, and so on. We today carry out a form of this ancient custom whenever we throw a dice or flip a coin.
The primary reason for performing this act was to render an impartial, unbiased decision on important matters. Once the lot was cast, no one could argue that the decision was the result of human intervention like nepotism, politics or favouritism, and so it was essentially the will of God.
The Quran is quite clear that Mary was dedicated to a life of servitude in the temple and that when Zacharias found her, he asked Oh Mary from where has this food come — she replied that it was Allah (Chapter 3, verse 37). Seeing this act of devotion by Mary could have triggered a contest for her hand in marriage. The verse [3:44] says
“they contended one with another”
as to who would have charge of Mary. Today, instead of casting lots we have the National Lottery to see who will have a chance of winning a grand prize. A devoted and dedicated person as Mary would have been a grand prize for anyone of marriageable age in her time.
Other verses which lend support to Jesus having a father is Chapter 6, verse 101:
بَدِیۡعُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ ؕ اَنّٰی یَکُوۡنُ لَہٗ وَلَدٌ وَّ لَمۡ تَکُنۡ لَّہٗ صَاحِبَۃٌ ؕ وَ خَلَقَ کُلَّ شَیۡءٍ ۚ وَ ہُوَ بِکُلِّ شَیۡءٍ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۰۱﴾
“Wonderful Originator of the heavens and the earth! How could He have a son when He has no consort? And He created everything, and He is the Knower of all things.”
Here Allah admits that even though that he is the creator of everything, and he knows everything — it is impossible for him to have a son without a consort (a female contributor to an offspring) — so how then is it possible for Mary to have a son without a male intervention.
Biological Evidence: I read a speech by a prominent Muslim Leader who suggested to a cohort of students at Cambridge university that “Mary was a Hermaphrodite”. He based this explanation of the verse of the Quran where the mother of Mary said in Chapter 3, verse 36:
فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتۡہَا قَالَتۡ رَبِّ اِنِّیۡ وَضَعۡتُہَاۤ اُنۡثٰی ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ اَعۡلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتۡ ؕ وَ لَیۡسَ الذَّکَرُ کَالۡاُنۡثٰی ۚ وَ اِنِّیۡ سَمَّیۡتُہَا مَرۡیَمَ وَ اِنِّیۡۤ اُعِیۡذُہَا بِکَ وَ ذُرِّیَّتَہَا مِنَ الشَّیۡطٰنِ الرَّجِیۡمِ ﴿۳۶﴾
“So when she brought it forth, she said: My Lord, I have brought it forth a female — and Allah knew best what she brought forth — and the male is not like the female, and I have named it Mary, and I commend her and her offspring into Thy protection from the accursed devil.”
Biologically a Hermaphrodite has both male and female reproductive organs but even with these special functions they still need another individual to reproduce. This phenomenon is predominantly found in the animal kingdom especially among earthworms and nudibranchs (sea slugs) and there is also a village in the Dominican Republic (Las Salinas) where this phenomenon is seen amongst the children of that village. Internet searches demonstrates that about 1/2000 births results in this phenomenon.
Even the humble sea horse — the male carries the young but to reproduce it also requires male and female.
Lastly, we know that Jesus was a man and therefore must have had XY chromosomes — so where did he get his Y chromosome if he did not have a father.
Evidence from the Quran:
The Genealogy of Jesus:
Chapter 3, verses 33–36: Allah chose the offspring of Abraham and Amran to be leaders:
اِنَّ اللّٰہَ اصۡطَفٰۤی اٰدَمَ وَ نُوۡحًا وَّ اٰلَ اِبۡرٰہِیۡمَ وَ اٰلَ عِمۡرٰنَ عَلَی الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۳۳﴾ ذُرِّیَّۃًۢ بَعۡضُہَا مِنۡۢ بَعۡضٍ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ سَمِیۡعٌ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿ۚ۳۴﴾ اِذۡ قَالَتِ امۡرَاَتُ عِمۡرٰنَ رَبِّ اِنِّیۡ نَذَرۡتُ لَکَ مَا فِیۡ بَطۡنِیۡ مُحَرَّرًا فَتَقَبَّلۡ مِنِّیۡ ۚ اِنَّکَ اَنۡتَ السَّمِیۡعُ الۡعَلِیۡمُ ﴿۳۵﴾ فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتۡہَا قَالَتۡ رَبِّ اِنِّیۡ وَضَعۡتُہَاۤ اُنۡثٰی ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ اَعۡلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتۡ ؕ وَ لَیۡسَ الذَّکَرُ کَالۡاُنۡثٰی ۚ وَ اِنِّیۡ سَمَّیۡتُہَا مَرۡیَمَ وَ اِنِّیۡۤ اُعِیۡذُہَا بِکَ وَ ذُرِّیَّتَہَا مِنَ الشَّیۡطٰنِ الرَّجِیۡمِ ﴿۳۶﴾
3:33 Truly Allah chose Adam and Noah and the descendants of Abraham and the descendants of Amran above the nations,
3:34 Offspring, one of the other. And Allah is Hearing, Knowing.
3:35 When a woman of Amran said: My Lord, I vow to Thee what is in my womb, to be devoted (to Thy service), so accept (it) from me; surely Thou, only Thou, art the Hearing, the Knowing.
3:36 So when she brought it forth, she said: My Lord, I have brought it forth a female — and Allah knew best what she brought forth — and the male is not like the female, and I have named it Mary, and I commend her and her offspring into Thy protection from the accursed devil.
Here we see that the Mother of Mary had every intention that her daughter will get married and have children despite she being dedicated to the service of Allah. The verse says that “she and her offspring”
More Quranic and Hadith Evidence:
Chapter 86, verses 6–7:
Allah says man is created from water gushing forth from between the ribs and the back bone:
خُلِقَ مِنۡ مَّآءٍ دَافِقٍ ۙ﴿۶﴾ یَّخۡرُجُ مِنۡۢ بَیۡنِ الصُّلۡبِ وَ التَّرَآئِبِ ؕ﴿۷﴾
86:6 He is created of water pouring forth,
86:7 Coming from between the back and the ribs.
A study of the Holy Quran demonstrates that the Prophet Muhammad’s parents are not mentioned in the Quran — this does not mean that he did not have any parents, history tells us about his ancestors. So why not be consistent in our approach to research and look to history to find the Genealogy of Jesus?
Furthermore — What did Jesus believe? — did he believe that he was born without a father. The bible repeatedly mentions Luke, Chapter 2, verse 48:
“When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’”
Jesus had brothers, according to the Bible they are not mentioned in the Quran so what is our opinion of this — did they really exist? Matthew 12:46:
“While Jesus was still speaking to the crowds, His mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to Him.”
His genealogy as given both in Matthew and Luke, Jesus has been called the son of David:
“The book of generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).
“And the Lord shall give unto him (Jesus) the throne of his father, David” (Luke 1:32).
As a look at the genealogical table both in Matthew and Luke would show, Jesus’ descent to David has been traced through Joseph. Joseph has been shown to be a direct descendant to David. Here the Bible and the Quran are in tandem with the genealogical evidence in that the Quran says that the descendants of Abraham and Amran will be honoured above the nations.
Here are the verses:
“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brothers, James and Joses, and Simon and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?” (Matthew 13:55, 56).
“Jesus Himself was about thirty years old when He began His ministry. He was regarded as the son of Joseph, the son of Heli,” (Luke 3:23).
“Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, the One the prophets foretold — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45).
The Aqiqah of Jesus is mentioned in the Bible:
“And when the time of purification according to the Law of Moses was complete, His parents brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord: ‘Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to the Lord’), and to offer the sacrifice specified in the Law of the Lord: ‘A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.’” (Luke 2:22).
A Clue in his Name:
In the New Testament, the genealogy of Jesus according to the Gospel of Luke traces Jesus; lineage back to King David through the line of Nathan, which the Gospel of Matthew traces it through Solomon, the line of Joseph, his legal father.
The name used for Jesus in the Quran — Al-Masih Isa ibn Maryam — The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary — The Messiah to come to establish the religion of the Jews was from King David — so his name also gives a confirmation that he had a father and a physical genealogy.
So, the Messiah — is a descendent of David — sent to the Jews.
The Expression Kun faya Kun (کُنۡ فَیَکُوۡنُ) — Most Muslims genuinely believe that when Allah says “Kun” something happens immediately but if this is the case why didn’t Allah say “Kun” and the heavens and the earth should have been created instantaneously.
The Quran tells us that:
Chapter 7, verse 54: the heavens and the earth created in 6 periods.
In Chapter 70, verse 4 the Quran says one period is 50,000 years. So that the heavens and the earth took 300,000 years to create. What happened to “Kun”. The Answer is that the laws of nature had to be established first for the expression “Kun” to come into action. After the creation of the heavens and the earth and the laws of nature and procreation then everything would obey the command of Allah — so “Kun” is the mechanism utilising the universal laws that Allah has put into place to bring something into being, whether that was the destruction of the dinosaurs or the creation of fossil fuel so that we could drive our cars and fly in aeroplanes, all of these came as a result of the command “Kun” but only after all the laws of nature was put into place so that we could exist and live and thrive. So, this expression does not imply an instantaneous action but rather an action that will occur in a result of following the laws that Allah has put in place.
Chapter 22, verse 47: one day is like 1000 years.
This explanation is supported by the Quranic verse found in Chapter 2, verse 117:
بَدِیۡعُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ ؕ وَ اِذَا قَضٰۤی اَمۡرًا فَاِنَّمَا یَقُوۡلُ لَہٗ کُنۡ فَیَکُوۡنُ ﴿۱۱۷﴾
“Wonderful Originator of the heavens and the earth! And when He decrees an affair, He says to it only, Be, and it is.”
So, as I explained the Origination of the Heavens and the earth occurred first, the laws were put in place, then “Kun faya kun” (came into being by the established laws and mechanisms that Allah had put in place) and it functions to carry out his decree.
Another verse quoted in support of Jesus not having a father is Chapter 3, verse 59:
اِنَّ مَثَلَ عِیۡسٰی عِنۡدَ اللّٰہِ کَمَثَلِ اٰدَمَ ؕ خَلَقَہٗ مِنۡ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَہٗ کُنۡ فَیَکُوۡنُ ﴿۵۹﴾
“The likeness of Jesus with Allah is truly as the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust, then said to him, Be, and he was.”
This verse is not comparing the birth of Adam with the birth of Jesus because Jesus had a mother whereas we don’t know if Adam had a father or a mother — What is being compared here is that all mankind including Jesus and Adam were created in the same way and from the same source, i.e., dust and more importantly just as Adam had a wife and children so did Jesus, and just as Adam died so to Jesus died. This is the law of nature for all of mankind none of us are exempt.
The Holy Quran, Chapter 49, verse 13:
یٰۤاَیُّہَا النَّاسُ اِنَّا خَلَقۡنٰکُمۡ مِّنۡ ذَکَرٍ وَّ اُنۡثٰی وَ جَعَلۡنٰکُمۡ شُعُوۡبًا وَّ قَبَآئِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوۡا ؕ
“O mankind, surely We have created you from a male and a female, and made you tribes and families that you may know each other….”
Abraham and Mary and Zacharias give similar responses to the news of a son.
The wife of Abraham was given news of things to come and generations to come:
وَ امۡرَاَتُہٗ قَآئِمَۃٌ فَضَحِکَتۡ فَبَشَّرۡنٰہَا بِاِسۡحٰقَ ۙ وَ مِنۡ وَّرَآءِ اِسۡحٰقَ یَعۡقُوۡبَ ﴿۷۱﴾ قَالَتۡ یٰوَیۡلَتٰۤیءَ اَلِدُ وَ اَنَا عَجُوۡزٌ وَّ ہٰذَا بَعۡلِیۡ شَیۡخًا ؕ اِنَّ ہٰذَا لَشَیۡءٌ عَجِیۡبٌ ﴿۷۲﴾ قَالُوۡۤا اَتَعۡجَبِیۡنَ مِنۡ اَمۡرِ اللّٰہِ رَحۡمَتُ اللّٰہِ وَ بَرَکٰتُہٗ عَلَیۡکُمۡ اَہۡلَ الۡبَیۡتِ ؕ اِنَّہٗ حَمِیۡدٌ مَّجِیۡدٌ ﴿۷۳﴾
11:71 And his wife was standing (by), so she wondered. Then We gave her the good news of Isaac, and beyond Isaac, of Jacob.
11:72 She said: O wonder! Shall I bear a son when I am an extremely old woman, and this my husband an extremely old man? This is a wonderful thing indeed!
11:73 They said: Wonderest thou at Allah’s commandment? The mercy of Allah and His blessings on you, O people of the house! Surely He is Praised, Glorious.
Chapter 19, verses 7–9:
یٰزَکَرِیَّاۤ اِنَّا نُبَشِّرُکَ بِغُلٰمِۣ اسۡمُہٗ یَحۡیٰی ۙ لَمۡ نَجۡعَلۡ لَّہٗ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ سَمِیًّا ﴿۷﴾ قَالَ رَبِّ اَنّٰی یَکُوۡنُ لِیۡ غُلٰمٌ وَّ کَانَتِ امۡرَاَتِیۡ عَاقِرًا وَّ قَدۡ بَلَغۡتُ مِنَ الۡکِبَرِ عِتِیًّا ﴿۸﴾ قَالَ کَذٰلِکَ ۚ قَالَ رَبُّکَ ہُوَ عَلَیَّ ہَیِّنٌ وَّ قَدۡ خَلَقۡتُکَ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ وَ لَمۡ تَکُ شَیۡئًا ﴿۹﴾
19:7 O Zacharias, We give thee good news of a boy, whose name is John: We have not made before anyone his equal.
19:8 He said: My Lord, how shall I have a son, and my wife is barren, and I have reached extreme old age?
19:9 He said: So (it will be). Thy Lord says: It is easy to Me, and indeed I created thee before, when thou wast nothing.
Abraham — Chapter 19, verse 49
فَلَمَّا اعۡتَزَلَہُمۡ وَ مَا یَعۡبُدُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ ۙ وَہَبۡنَا لَہٗۤ اِسۡحٰقَ وَ یَعۡقُوۡبَ ؕ وَ کُلًّا جَعَلۡنَا نَبِیًّا ﴿۴۹﴾
“So when he withdrew from them and what they worshipped besides Allah, We gave him Isaac and Jacob. And each (of them) We made a prophet.”
Here we see that Abraham withdrew from his people and Allah gave him the good news of future progeny and prophets from his descendants.
Abraham withdrew from his people just as Mary withdrew from her people. In the case of Mary Muslims makes assumptions but in the case of Abraham no assumptions are made.
In conclusion, Allah says in Chapter 5, verse 3:
اَلۡیَوۡمَ اَکۡمَلۡتُ لَکُمۡ دِیۡنَکُمۡ وَ اَتۡمَمۡتُ عَلَیۡکُمۡ نِعۡمَتِیۡ وَ رَضِیۡتُ لَکُمُ الۡاِسۡلَامَ دِیۡنًا ؕ
“This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favour to you and chosen for you Islam as a religion.”
If religion is perfect, the book is faultless, prophethood is finalised so our salvation does not depend on Jesus’ birth, his resurrection or his physical descent but our salvation depends on the relationship we have with our Maker and with mankind.
Best of the New Year to everyone.