THEOLOGY & APOLOGETICS
Do Muslims Believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ?
By Dillon Burroughs
Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus. The New Testament accounts clearly teach that Jesus was born of a virgin named Mary (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1-2:20). However, many do not realize that the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, also speaks about the birth of Jesus (Isa). But do Muslims believe in the virgin birth of Jesus?
Interestingly, the Qur'an does teach that Jesus was born of a virgin: "He said: 'Nay, I am only an apostle from thy Lord, [to announce] to thee the gift of a holy son.' She said: 'How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?' He said: 'So [it will be]: Thy Lord saith, "that is easy for Me: and [We wish] to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us": It is a matter [so] decreed.'… And Mary the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into [her body] of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout [servants]" (Sura 19:121; 66:12).
Another well-known place in the Qur'an notes: "Behold! the angels said: 'O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of [the company of] those nearest to Allah; He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be [of the company] of the righteous.' She said: 'O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?' He said: 'Even so: Allah createth what He willeth: When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, "Be," and it is!'" (Sura 3:45-47).
Despite many similarities, a few differences appear. First, there is no mention of Joseph and his Jewish background (Luke 1:27). Second, Jesus is not promised the throne of His father David (Luke 1:32). Third, Jesus is not recognized as a king whose kingdom will have no end (Luke 1:33). Fourth, Jesus is not noted as one who will save people from their sins (Luke 1:21). Fifth, no connection is made between the prophecies of the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the birth of Jesus. In other places in the Qur'an, Jesus is not mentioned as the Son of God and divine, but rather as a created being, the son of Mary (Sura 3:45).
Despite these important differences, this agreement in both the New Testament and the Qur'an regarding the virgin birth of Jesus leads to an interesting question: What is the implication of a person born of a virgin?
According to the Qur'an, Jesus was one of many prophets (Sura 5:75) who points people to Islam (Sura 5:111). Yet He is unique to all other prophets in Islam since He was born of a virgin. Why was the birth of Jesus unique?
To discover the answer to this question, one must look at the teachings about Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus is God (John 1:1) who was sent to provide salvation and eternal life to all those who believe (John 3:16). He is the only way to God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) and must be accepted by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Islam does teach that Jesus was born of a virgin, but does not adequately explain why. The New Testament clearly explains His miraculous virgin birth was both the fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 7:14) as well as proof that Jesus was the divine Son of God.
Image Credit: Sandro Botticelli; "Cestello Annunciation"; Public Domain
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