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Book's List > Muhammad and Christ > Chapter 3: Circumstances Relating to Birth > Section 2: Mother's Greatness

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Chapter 3:
Circumstances Relating to Birth --
Section 2: Mother's Greatness
:

Another argument in the same connection runs thus:

The Qur'an itself has mentioned the excellence of Mary, the mother of Christ, above the women of the world and has given her the title of Siddiqah (the righteous woman). But the very name of Hadrat Muhammad's mother is not to be met with in the Qur'an and some Muslims do not hold her to be a believer. From this also it appears that Christ, the son of Mary, is greater than Hadrat Muhammad.

Because the mother is a great woman, her son must also be a great man; such in simple words is the logic of the writer! But how did the mother become great if her mother again was not a great woman? And continue this to Eve, the first female parent of the human race: she must be at least as great as Mary. According to this Christian argument, therefore, Mary's greatness not only imparts that greatness to Jesus and his brothers and sisters, but this logic makes Eve and her offspring -- the whole human race -- to be as great as Jesus Christ.

The real question for a Christian however is: What do the Gospels say about "the mother of God" and her greatness? From his point of view, the truth is in the Gospels and what is against a Gospel statement cannot be used as an argument against an adversary. If the Gospels give her the same place of honour as the Qur'an does, it is good to produce the Qur'anic testimony, but if they treat her as an ordinary woman, it is illogical for a Christian to seek shelter in the Qur'anic statements. Now what do the Gospels say?

Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother (Matt. 12:47-50).

This incident is recorded by all the synoptists in almost the same words, Mark 3:31-35 and Luke 8:19-21, the concluding words of Luke running thus: "My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it." What does this show? The conclusion is inevitable that according to the Gospels, Jesus' mother did not believe in his message. Even if she had been an ordinary believer and not the great woman which the Christians try to make her, Jesus would not have spoken of her in these insulting words: Who is my mother? She stood without to speak with Jesus, but Jesus did neither go out to meet her, nor did he send her word to come in and sit with the disciples. If she had been a believer in Jesus, she could at least have taken her place with the disciples, with those who were sitting there to learn something from the Master. But Jesus considers her to be unworthy of that company. Not only that, but he also plainly told the informant that his mother and his brethren were those that did the will of the heavenly Father, those that heard the word of God and did it, and to leave no doubt on the point, pointed to the disciples as answering that description, leaving intentionally the mother and the brethren. On another occasion Jesus is said to have addressed his mother thus: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" (John 2:4).

The Gospels, therefore, instead of representing Mary as a great woman, describe her in words which make it probable that she was not even a believer in the message of Jesus Christ, and this view was no doubt taken by the writers of the Gospels. The Jews, on the other hand, circulated calumnies of all sorts against her and depicted her character as that of a fallen woman. As it was one of the objects of the Qur'an to inculcate respect for all righteous men and women, and Mary and her son were among the most, if not the most, reviled of all the holy personages in the world, it was bound to defend them. The Jews said that Mary was among the most degraded women of her time; the Holy Qur'an tells us that she was the greatest woman of her time, pure and chaste. Thus it says:

And when the angels said, O Mary! Surely Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the world (3:41).

The words being a reproduction of how the angels then addressed Mary show that what was implied was the excellence of Mary over the women of her time, and not the women of all times and ages. Only a few verses above the passage we have a similar description of Adam and Noah and the descendants of Abraham and the descendants of `Imran: "Surely Allah chose Adam and Noah and the descendants of `Imran above the world. (3:32)" Exactly the same words istifa and `alamin are used here as in the case of Mary. Can it then be supposed that the Holy Qur'an speaks of granting excellence to all these people above the world for all times? Adam was chosen above the world, Noah was chosen above the world, the descendants of Abraham were chosen above the world, the descendants of `Imran were chosen above the world, and lastly Mary was chosen above the women of the world.

Everyone can see that if we put upon these words the wide interpretation which a Christian puts upon the passage speaking of Mary, the whole becomes contradictory in itself. But if we limit the meaning of `alamin to the world as existing then, to the people of the time, the meaning is clear. Adam was the greatest man of his time; Noah was the greatest man of his time; the descendants of Abraham were the most excellent nation of their day; the descendants of `Imran were the greatest people of their age; and Mary was the greatest woman of those living in her time. It is thus that the commentators have explained the words spoken regarding the whole Israelite nation: "I made you excel the world" (2:47), because the same Israelite nation is spoken of in the Holy Qur'an as having made itself deserving of Divine wrath (2:61).

Similarly, the title of siddiqah was given to Mary by the Holy Qur'an to show that the Gospels did not record the facts truly and that the implied charge against Mary that she was not a believer in the message of Jesus Christ was wrong. The word siddiq (of which siddiqah is the feminine form) properly means one who is truthful in the highest degree and is applied to one who is a firm believer in the truth of Divine messages. Thus the Holy Qur'an says:

And as for those who believe in Allah and His apostles, these it is that are the truthful (Ar. siddiqah), and the faithful ones in the sight of their Lord (57:19).

Thus by calling Mary a siddiqah, the Holy Qur'an only shows that the Gospels in our hands have misrepresented the facts. As regards the title of siddiq or siddiqah, if the Holy Qur'an gives it to Mary, it also gives it to every true follower of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, as shown by the above quotation. And siddiqah was the title of `A'isha, the wife of the Holy Prophet, who enjoys the distinction of being a siddiqah to such a high degree that that epithet has not only become a part of her name, `A'isha siddiqah, but even when used alone, it stands for her.

As to the assertion that the Holy Prophet's mother was an unbeliever, it is sufficient to note that she died when he was yet six years old, while he was called to the office of prophet when he was forty years of age. How could she then be said to be an unbeliever? Our Holy Prophet was an orphan when he was born, his father having died before his birth, and he lost his mother also when yet a boy. Therefore he enjoyed neither the tender caresses of a mother, nor the loving care of a father. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, was brought up by a righteous mother in all the sacred traditions of a nation in which prophets had appeared in abundance, and yet he did not attain to that eminence in the perfection of morals to which an orphan Arab attained without the help of any human being. Jesus had his teachers besides his father and mother to instruct him and to look after him, but the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, had neither; and yet the treasures of wisdom met with in the Holy Qur'an would be sought in vain in the Gospels. He was placed in these circumstances to show how the chastening effected by the Divine hand surpasses all chastening. Therefore the Prophet's being brought up as an orphan makes his greatness shine all the more brilliantly.

But if the Prophet's mother did not live to see and share the great transformation he brought about in Arabia, the Holy Qur'an is not altogether silent with respect to her. Nay, it speaks not only of the parents of the Holy Prophet but of all his grandfathers and grandmothers as well. Thus it says:

And rely on the Mighty, the Merciful, Who sees you when you stand up, and your turning among those Who prostrate themselves before Allah (26:217-219).

What is meant by turning among those who prostrate? Ibn `Abbas says, it means "the turning from father to son in their loins until his mother brought him forth." This shows that the Prophet's parents and grand-parents were all among those who were obedient to God. This verse therefore not only speaks of the holiness of his parents but of his grand-parents as well, while according to the Bible this honour was certainly not attained by Jesus Christ, for of some of his grand-parents it does not speak well, though we do not give any credit to such statements and look upon them as alterations effected in the word of God.

 

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Chapter 3: Circumstances Relating to Birth; Section 1: Announcement of Birth

Chapter 3: Circumstances Relating to Birth; Section 3: Extraordinary Occurrences at the Time of Birth

Book's List > Muhammad and Christ > Chapter 3: Circumstances Relating to Birth > Section 2: Mother's Greatness

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