CHAPTER 2


    And as for Mary, it came to pass that she withdrew from her people to a place in the

    east.

    She placed a screen to screen herself from them; then God sent His angel, and he

    appeared before her as a man in all respects.

    She said, I seek refuge from you to the Most Gracious: come not near me if you do fear

    God.

    He said, Nay, I am but a messenger of God to you. (Note 1)

    O Mary! God has chosen you and purified you - chosen you above the women of all

    nations.

    O Mary! worship your Lord devoutly, prostrate yourself, and bow in prayer with those

    who bow down.

    O Mary! God gives you the good news of a word from Him; his name will be Jesus the

    Messiah. (Note 2) He will be held in honor in this world and the world to come and will

    be of the company of those nearest to God.

    He shall speak to the people in infancy and in manhood, and he shall be of the company

    of the righteous. (Note 3)

    He shall be an example to the children of Israel and a knowledge for the hour. (Note 4)

    Mary said, O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me and I am

    not unchaste?

    He said, Even so it shall be: God creates what He wills; for when He decides upon a

    plan, He saith to it, "Be"! and it is. (Note 5)

    Because Jesus was made with God's creative word "Be," he was called a word from

    God.

    So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.

    And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree, and she cried, Ah! would

    that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!

    But a voice cried to her from beneath the palm tree, Grieve not, for your Lord has

    provided a rivulet beneath you;

    And shake towards yourself the trunk of the tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon you.

    So eat and drink and cool your eyes. If you do see any man, say, I have vowed a fast to

    the Most Gracious, and this day I enter into no talk with any human being.

    Then she came to her people carrying the babe in her arms. They said, O Mary! Truly an

    amazing thing you have brought.

    O sister of Aaron! Your father was not a man of evil, nor your mother a woman unchaste!

    But she pointed to the babe. They said, How can we talk to an infant in the cradle.

    (Note 6)

    But the child spoke up and said, I am indeed a servant of God. He has appointed me as

    a sign for men and a mercy from Him. This was a matter decreed.

    He will give me the Book and make me His messenger to the children of Israel.

    That I may verify the Torah and make lawful for Israel part of what was forbidden to them.

    That I may teach to them wisdom and make clear to them some of the things, in which

    they disputed. (Note 7)

Go to Chapter 3

Notes (Chapter 2)

1Qur`an 19:16-19. [return]

2In connection with Jesus, this is the only use of the Jewish messianic language in the Qur`an. That it is said, "His name will be Jesus the Messiah," and not, for example, "His name will be Jesus and he will be appointed as the Messiah," suggests a less than wholehearted acceptance of the messiahship of Jesus on the part of the Qur`an. It is as if the Quran is saying: Jesus came to be accepted as the Messiah and one may continue to use the title for him, if nothing else, as a courtesy to the Christian tradition. This hesitation to present Jesus as the Messiah and the lack of the messianic language in describing his work is justified. For one thing Jesus himself showed hesitation in coming forward as the Messiah (Mark 8:27-30, etc), who, it must be admitted, was a somewhat confused figure created as much by rabbinical imaginations as by genuine prophetic revelation. Second, there does not exist a convincing correspondence between what was generally expected of the Messiah and what Jesus did. And, finally, although Jesus did make me of the messianic expectations of his people, the significance of his work is not adequately described in terms of those expectations; for, otherwise, Jesus' mission would not have survived after he had failed in bringing about the messianic kingdom. [return]

3Qur`an 3;42-46. In 3:44, the Qur`an introduces an intriguing note:

    "This is part of the tidings of the things unseen which We reveal to you 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 matter."

In apocryphal Gospels, it is related that the priests contended for taking charge of Mary, and the matter was decided in favor of Zacharias by means of rods or reeds, The above Qur`anic verse is, however, not telling exactly the same story; for Mary was already in the charge of Zacharias (3:37). We may be tempted to regard the verse as having been displaced, but, conceptually, the only better place we can rind for it is between 3:36 and 3:37; however, it does not fit there linguistically. It seems better to read the verse in its present context and to assume that Zacharias had died and the contention among the priests arose out of a search for a substitute. The priests' interest in a religious, young, and beautiful girl is understandable: she could be a most desirable wife in the future for any one of them. [return]

4Queen 43:59, 61. Jesus can be called "a knowledge of the Hour" in two senses:

    He preached the imminence of the Hour, or the day of the Lord, and became one of the greatest instrument of establishing in the world the belief and knowledge about it, so that he is a knowledge of the Hour in the sense of being a source of that knowledge.

    According to Hadith, Jesus' Second Coming is one of the signs of the coming of the Hour, and thus when he returns the world will know that the Hour is at hand. We may therefore regard Jesus a knowledge of the Hour in the sense of being a sign for it. [return]

5Qur`an 3:47; 19.20-21. [return]

6Qur`an 19:22-29. [return]

7Qur`an 3:50; 19:21, 30; 43:63. [return]