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Monday, March 31, 2008

Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 19, "Mary"

Robert Spencer has the installment here.

This sura tells stories surrounding the births of John the Baptist and Jesus - with significant departures from the Gospels, naturally. John is reduced to a mere historical footnote; he is simply a near-anonymous holy man, not the great herald of Jesus' ministry.

The Koran teaches the virgin birth of Jesus, but doesn't give this miracle any significance greater than other miracles; it is simply an exercise of Allah's power and mercy.

Unlike the Bible, the Koran speaks of the reproval Mary receives from her family:

And as expected, when her family sees the child, they are amazed (v. 27), and remonstrate with her: "O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!"

Does anything stand out here?/p>

Many have charged that since the Qur'an here calls Mary "sister of Aaron," Muhammed is confusing Mary the mother of Jesus with Miriam the sister of Moses and Aaron – in Arabic the names are identical, Maryam.

Mohammed spins:

Even the Christians of Muhammad's day noticed this, but Muhammad had a ready explanation: "The (people of the old age) used to give names (to their persons) after the names of Apostles and pious persons who had gone before them." So calling Mary "sister of Aaron" was, says Muhammad, an honor, not an error.

Uh, parents accusing their children of fornication generally do not address them by honorific titles - and Jewish parents wouldn't associate such children as the "sister" of their nation's founding high priest. Also, I have a difficult time conceiving the notion of an ancient people referring to their contemporaries as the "brother" or "sister" of an ancestor.

So how does the family come around to recognizing that Mary is innocent of wrongdoing? They're given the sign of a miracle - the infant Jesus speaks. Mohammed may have borrowed this idea from a heretical Christian sect. Of course, Mohammed didn't borrow from that sect that infant Jesus' claim to be the Son of God.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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