SHAFAQNA- The Holy Qur’an says:
﴾When the angels told Maryam that Allah had given her the glad news of the birth of a son whom He calls His Word, whose name would be Massiah, ‘Isa son of Mary, who would be a man of honour in his life and the life to come and who would be one of the ones nearest to Allah, who would speak to the people while in his cradle and preach to them when he would be a grown – up man, who would be one of the righteous ones, Maryam said, ‘How can there be a son for me when no mortal has touched me?’ The angels replied, ‘That is how Allah creates whatever He wants. When He decides to do something, He just orders it to ‘be’, and it comes into existence﴿ (Surah Ale Imran, 3:45-47)”
Lady Maryam, daughter of Imran, was from the progeny of Prophet Da’ud. Her mother was a noble and pious woman. One day she invoked Allah to bless her with an issue whom she would dedicate to the service of the Holy Land, Baytul Maqdis. Her prayer was granted by Allah and she was blessed with the birth of Maryam. She took her daughter, Maryam, to Baytul Maqdis and invoked Allah to save her and her daughter from the inducement and guiles of the Satan. This prayer was also answered by Allah.
When Lady Maryam was brought to Baytul Maqdis, differences arose between the trustees of the Holy Place about the bringing up of the new-born child. Everybody wanted to bring up the child himself. After all, for arriving at an impartial decision, a lot was drawn from the names of the people and incidentally the lot came to the name of Prophet Zakariya and thus he took the responsibility of looking after the child. When Lady Maryam came of age, Prophet Zakariya set aside a chamber in Baytul Maqdis exclusively for Lady Maryam. Lady Maryam then got herself busy in the worship of Allah and in the glorification of His Name. Lady Maryam was blessed by Allah with the exalted position of infallibility and she was given by Allah the designation of the most superior woman of her time.
When Lady Maryam was in the Sanctuary, a special place for the worship of Allah, Archangel Jibril appeared in the garb of a handsome young man before her and she got very much scared to see him with her. Jibril said to her, “Do not get frightened. I am the Angel of Allah and have brought to you the glad news that the Almighty Allah is going to bless you soon with a son who would be one of the most worthy Divine personages in this world and the Hereafter and he would speak from his cradle. “Maryam said, “How could that be possible when I have not been touched by any man ?”
Jibril said, “There is nothing which is impossible for Allah. He has Power over all things. He can create as He would wish. And whenever Allah wills to do a certain thing, that happens at once with His will”
At that time Lady Maryam felt herself to be pregnant and she became much embarrassed and frightened. She was pondering over as to how a virgin could give birth to an offspring. The more she pondered over, the more she got puzzled and worried. Although she was the most dignified of all the women in the world and had an unflinching faith and belief in Allah of highest degree and knew quite well that the Almighty Lord would help her in all moments, still she was afraid of the mischief and the wicked tongue-lashing of the mischievous and spiteful Jews. She wondered as to what answer she would have against their false accusation to establish her innocence and infallibility!
Much has been written on this topic and different narration’s from various sources have been quoted. Some of those writers who have written the biographies of the Prophets and particularly some of those who follow the Egyptian writers have given the duration of Lady Maryam’s pregnancy as normal period and have said that she remained in constant mental worry. But according to the narration’s of the Shi’ah scholars and authors, Jibril blew his breath into the bosom of Lady Maryam; as a result of which she became pregnant in the night and in the morning she was delivered of the child and thus the duration of her pregnancy was of nine hours instead of the normal nine months. However, the infallible Maryam resigned herself to the will of Allah and entrusted all her affairs to the care of her Lord up to the time of her giving birth to the child.
At the onset of her labour pain, she reached a dried date-palm tree and without the aid of any midwife or any other attendant she gave birth to a handsome child all by herself. The only thing she uttered in her grief was, “Would that I were to die before all this could happen and that I were to be among those who are completely forgotten.
But suddenly, Lady Maryam, the sad and worried, heard a welcome voice. It was as though somebody was consoling her heart and was saying, “Do not be sad. The Almighty Allah has erupted a brooklet from near your feet. Drink its water and shake the old date-palm tree. Ripe dates will fall down from it. Eat them and get rid of all your worries. Still, Lady Maryam seemed to have not been satisfied as she was very much scared of the gossiping of her enemies.
Lady Maryam was asked by her Lord that if she found people making false allegations against her, she should tell them that she had vowed before Allah to observe fast and as such she was unable to talk with them.
Lady Maryam took hold of her dear son and brought him to Baytul Maqdis. Soon after that the Jews saw her, they started casting aspersions upon her and started calling her with strange names and said, “O Maryam! You have done a very strange thing. Your mother was not that one who mixed up with the strangers, and your father, too, was not in favour of doing any unlawful or immoral thing. How is it that you forsook their ways and adopted a different way by which you gave birth to a child without a husband”
The infallible Maryam pointed out to the cradle of her new-born son, implying thereby to ask him and not her the answer to their question. The Infinite Power of Allah came into action and the new-born child then started speaking about his exalted position and said, “I am the servant of Allah, my Lord. My Lord has showered on me His Mercy and Benevolence. He has sent me as the Prophet of Allah. He has designated me as the most exalted and the most blessed. As long as I am going to be alive, I have been ordained by my Lord, the Almighty Allah, to offer prayers (Salat), pay Zakat (poor-rate) and to treat my Mother in the most respectable manner”.
Thus Prophet ‘Isa introduced himself to the critics of his mother in those words and established the innocence and the infallibility of his most exalted and worthy mother.
As a matter of fact, the birth of a child under the most extra-ordinary circumstances is a great miracle in itself and such a child could never have been born of a mother who was not pious and virtuous herself. And similarly, the Almighty Allah who made the new-born child speak from his cradle was still demonstrating a greater miracle than giving birth to him without the father; which is so very easy for the All-Powerful Allah.
But despite the clear proofs and Divine signs, the Jews continued committing the sins and saying silly and unworthy things. They stuck their neck in the noose of ignorance and obstinacy all the same without remorse. But still there were a few pious who after witnessing this great miracle did not entertain any doubt and misgivings in their mind and instead acknowledged the birth of the new-born child as one of the greatest signs of the Greatness of the Almighty Allah and considered Lady Maryam as the most chaste, virtuous and pious woman free from all sorts of sins and evil things.
When the astrologers of the day came to know of the birth of such an infallible child, they came from all over the country to pay their homage and tribute to him and brought presents for him.
As soon as the Jewish emperor, Herodotus, learnt about the birth of Prophet ‘Isa, he got terribly frightened, as he feared that some unexpected circumstances might lead to the downfall of his kingdom. Thus he plotted to kill Prophet ‘Isa so as to save his empire from any possible mishap. When Lady Maryam sensed the danger to the life of her son, Prophet ‘Isa, she took him away to Egypt. In Egypt, Prophet ‘Isa was brought up by his mother until the time he grew up and reached the age of 30 years. The Almighty Allah then revealed upon Prophet ‘Isa the Divine Book, Injil (Evangel) and afterwards Prophet ‘Isa came back to Baytul Maqdis and invited the Jews to the true religion of Allah. For three years, he continued preaching to them the commandments of Allah.
Prophet ‘Isa was one of the accredited Prophets of Allah and he was endowed with certain miracles. One of such miracles was the raising of the dead to life again under the command and will of Allah. His another miracle was that he could restore the eyesight of the blind and cure the lepers.
A few of the Jews accepted the faith of Prophet ‘Isa and embraced his religion after having been convinced of his miracles, but the rest of them became his enemies so much so that they decided to kill him. From amongst the few people who had embraced the faith, Prophet ‘Isa selected 12 of them as his apostles. These people remained with Prophet ‘Isa all the time and followed his teachings. Prophet ‘Isa delegated them his authority to preach the people the laws as laid down by Injil.
The so-called religious leaders of the people of Bani Isra’il and the Jews who had worldly gains before them thought that with the advent of the Prophethood of Prophet ‘Isa their influence and domination over the people would be brought to an end and they would be deprived of the people’s devotion as well as many gifts and money which they used to receive as a token of love and respect by the people. They formed a united front to oppose the preaching of Prophet ‘Isa and to extinguish the light which the Almighty Allah had kindled in the person of Prophet ‘Isa and so that they might pass an easy and carefree life. They openly refuted the Prophethood of Prophet ‘Isa and called him a magician and skilled juggler.
However, Prophet ‘Isa remained undaunted and stood like a firm rock against the dissidents, and continued preaching the people to the path of Allah. For his safety, he only considered Allah as his Saviour and he never became frightened of his opponents. Wherever he went, he preached the people with firm determination. His devotees and followers used to come to Baytul Maqdis on pilgrimage and Prophet ‘Isa then had an ample opportunity of holding big congregations to deliver his sermons. This enabled the large number of people to come to the fold of Divine religion and the number of his supporters and admirers increased day by day. The Jews became all the more worried to see the popularity of Prophet ‘Isa and their enmity against him was deeply rooted in their hearts, but they were helpless against the will of Allah. They tried hard to extinguish the Light of Allah, but the Light continued glowing with all its brilliance.
Food From Heavens
The Holy Qur’an says:
﴾When ‘Isa prayed, “Lord, send us a table full of food from heavens so that it will make a feast for us and for those who are yet to come in this world as an evidence from You. Give us sustenance, for You are the best Provider. Allah replied, “I am sending it to you, but if anyone of you turns back to disbelief I will make him suffer a torment that no one has ever suffered﴿. (Surah al-Ma’idah, 5:114-115)
It has been the tradition and style of the Prophets that in times of difficulties they remained patient and steadfast against the opposition and tortures of their opponents who used to mock them, but they never shirked their responsibility of fulfilling their Prophetic mission and instead by their perseverance and steadfastness they brought their mission to its successful completion.
Prophet ‘Isa with the aid and assistance of the twelve of his disciples who were dedicated to the preaching of Injil, and who suffered at the hands of the unbelievers, went from place to place, from towns to villages, inviting the people towards Monotheism and the Divine teachings of Injil. He used to stay a few days at each place and called upon the people to believe in the Oneness of Allah, Resurrection and the Day of Judgement, Paradise and Hell, and to banish the evil desires and inclinations towards sins from the people’s hearts.
It is but natural that honest men respect a noble and pious man for his piety and virtue and are enthusiastic about learning good things from him. Here we see that Prophet ‘Isa was an exalted Prophet and his twelve disciples too were very pious and virtuous. They possessed noble attributes and from the point of view of their strong attachment to Prophet ‘Isa, they asked him to show them one of the signs of Allah so that they could literally satisfy their hearts and souls by experiencing them personally with their own eyes and reach the extreme limit of perfection of spiritual enlightenment. But they requested Prophet ‘Isa in an awkward way and said, “O Prophet ‘Isa, son of Lady Maryam! Does your Lord not possess enough Power to send food for us from the heavens?”
Prophet ‘Isa said to them, “If you have really faith and belief in Allah, then you must fear Him”. The disciples said, “What we mean is that while eating the food sent from the heavens, we become literally convinced in our hearts of the truthfulness of your words of promise and become a witness to your statement of facts”. At last, Prophet ‘Isa invoked Allah thus: “O my Lord, send food for us from the heavens which may become the cause of our happiness and satisfaction, and by which the first and the last amongst us become happy and that would serve as a sign from You of Your Greatness, and You are the best Provider of sustenance. The Almighty Allah granted his prayers and said, “I am sending food from the heavens, but if anyone of you turns back to disbelief, I will make him suffer a torment that no one has ever suffered”.
Thus the Almighty Allah sent food to them from the heavens and everyone was benefited by His benevolence. Prophet ‘Isa then addressed himself to his apostles and said, “Eat this food and be grateful to Your Lord, the Almighty Allah, so that He increases your means of sustenance further by showering upon you His benevolence”.
They took advantage of the advice and this incident became famous so much so that many people after witnessing this sign of Allah, embraced their faith in the Divine religion and those of the believers who had already embraced the faith became more fervent in their faith.
Prophet ‘Isa from his side spared no pains to invite the Jews towards the right path, for doing the good and forbidding the evil. But the obstinacy of the Jews had overpowered them so strongly that despite the preaching of Prophet ‘Isa they remained stubborn and arrogant and did not give up abominable things such as greed, usury, etc. They continued showing their bias and animosity against Prophet ‘Isa. The only reason for all these was their love for power and they did not want to leave it. They feared that the time of their domination was coming to an end and somebody else was going to snatch their power and kingdom. The Jews did not give up their opposition to the Prophet of Allah who was endowed with piety and virtue. Instead they blamed him for making disruptions in the rank and file of the people by which the peace and tranquility of the land was in jeopardy. The Jews thought that by adopting such nefarious designs they would succeed in their aims; but it was their sheer ignorance. Prophet ‘Isa had belief in his Lord and he knew that Allah was the best Protector and Helper and He had promised him that he would be saved from harm done by his enemies.
The Jews not only remained content with their nefarious deeds, but they termed Prophet ‘Isa’s guidance towards Allah a magical charm and accused him of witchcraft and wizardry. They also claimed that Prophet ‘Isa had become dissident of the religion of Prophet Musa and he did not consider Saturday a sacred day.
The Jews ultimately decided to do away with the exalted Prophet of Allah and so they started looking for Prophet ‘Isa. They sent their spies and informers all over the place to trace Prophet ‘Isa out. At last they caught hold of one of Prophet ‘Isa’s apostles, Sham’un al-Safa. The Jews interrogated him about Prophet ‘Isa, but could not succeed in getting any information about his whereabouts. They then came across someone named Yahuda and this man who was one of the apostles of Prophet ‘Isa, was cunning and hypocrite. He told the Jews the whereabouts of Prophet ‘Isa, his benefactor and mentor.
Prophet ‘Isa was busy in a cave, offering worship to Allah in deep meditation. The Jews caught hold of him and took him away to crucify him by nailing his hands and feet on a cross. They rejoiced in thinking that they had achieved their purpose and by crucifixion of the Prophet of Allah, all their problems would be solved. But it was their utter ignorance as the Power of Allah is supreme and His humble creature can not stand before it. Whenever Allah wills to do a thing, it happens. Prophet ‘Isa was the great sign of Allah. He was born under an extraordinary and unbelievable circumstances and it was obvious that his life too would be extraordinarily quite different from others.
Therefore under the most dangerous situation when Prophet ‘Isa was soon going to be crucified by his enemies, the Infinite Power of Allah came into action and Allah raised his chosen Prophet to the heavens where he is still alive.
According to the prophecy of the Prophet of Islam, when the advent of the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi, (Imam of the Time) will take place, Prophet ‘Isa will descend on the Earth from the heavens and offer his prayers behind him.
Since there is a hidden Power to take revenge upon the oppressors, it is but necessary that sooner or later the culprit would have to meet his ill-fate by suffering from unbearable torment. Therefore, Yahuda, the apostle who had betrayed Prophet ‘Isa was caught hold of by the Jews as he resembled Prophet ‘Isa very much. Taking him as Prophet ‘Isa, they crucified him. By this, the Divine Will and Power prevailed.
The Propagation of the Religion of Prophet ‘Isa The Christian calendar begins from the date of birth of Prophet ‘Isa (Jesus Christ). At the time of his raising alive to the heavens, Prophet ‘Isa’s age was 33 years. After this, according to the testament of Prophet ‘Isa, his apostles dedicated themselves to the propagation of the religion of Prophet ‘Isa.
Some of them went to Baytul Maqdis, some to Rome, and some to Asia Minor, India, and other countries of Asia and Africa. After his apostles, the responsibility of propagating the teachings of Prophet ‘Isa and Injil fell on the shoulders of the vicegerents of Prophet ‘Isa. At that time, most of the countries of Europe, Asia and Africa were under the domination of the Roman Emperor. The emperor used to torture the followers of Prophet ‘Isa, but still the followers of Prophet ‘Isa continued their mission of preaching, and despite oppressions and severe tortures, they did not give up their mission and instead, they preached the people secretly.
This state of affairs continued for about 300 years. In 313 A.D., Qustuntin (Constantine), the Roman Emperor, after seeing the popularity of Christianity, embraced this religion and dedicated himself to the propagation of Christianity. The big Roman Empire having come under the influence of Christianity gave an impetus to its propagation in far – off places. After Constantine, the succeeding emperors too contributed a lot towards increasing the numerical majority of the Christians.