Tag Archives: mary

Why the Virgin Birth Isn’t Enough

Mary and Jesus in Persian Shi'a Miniature

As the holiday season approaches, fringe Muslims like Anjem Choudary are preparing their next anti-Christmas campaigns in the UK.  Meanwhile his more “moderate” coreligionists in Saudi Arabia plan to crack down mercilessly on any foreigners caught celebrating this illegal holiday in the land where Islam was born.  While criticism of commercialism or pagan ties would be understandable, this outright hostility to Advent in general is difficult to explain outside of Islam’s built-in disdain for the religion that preceded it.  After all, when trying to depict Islam in more Christian-friendly terms, Muslim apologists will often point out how they revere Jesus as the Messiah, born of the virgin Mary (the only female mentioned in the Qur’an).

This small attempt at interfaith unity is really a stretch if one is aware that these are about the only two points of similarity between the Bible and the Qur’an on the life of Christ.  Muhammad was more influenced by non-canonical infancy gospels for Christ’s miracles, and rejected the crucifixion, death, and resurrection altogether, although he provided no alternative explanation.  The typical Muslim defense goes that those stories had already been told and Muhammad was presenting new material.  This excuse is rather flimsy for a number of reasons: first, the Qur’an copies at length from other sources and retells a number of Bible stories, including most of the life of Moses; second, considering Muslims have to believe the Gospels are heavily corrupted, even at the time of Muhammad, if there was ever a time to present the real story it was in the Qur’an, since there won’t exactly be another prophet after him to make corrections.

The presence of the virgin birth in the Qur’an, however, is more of a problem for Muslims because it raises more questions than it answers.  In Christianity, the virgin birth serves a theological purpose, and the particular theology it supports is the Incarnation, which Islam considers the greatest sin, shirk, or “equating partners with God.”   In Christianity, the virgin birth has a self-explanatory imperative, demonstrating in one complete theological package how God entered the world and how Jesus Christ inherited no sinful nature while still being fully human.  The meaning in Islam is, on the other hand, elusive and theologically unnecessary.  Like so many founders of other religions, Muhammad had a magical view of miracles, so that the miracles he records serve no purpose other than to shock and awe like cheap card tricks, but have no underlying meaning or purpose behind them. The virgin birth in this light is as meaningless and random as the Qur’anic miracle of Christ turning clay into pigeons (Surahs 3:49, 5:110).

The bigger question that this demands is why is it even important for any believers to know that Christ was born of a virgin?  With all the events, miracles, and teachings of Christ omitted from the Qur’an, why is it absolutely necessary for mankind to know about this particular incident that occurred before he was even born?  This is indicative of the fundamental problem with Islam, that it merely requires that one know information about the religion.  This salvation based on knowledge is an unforgiving sword that cuts both ways, since believing something incorrect can be damning.  For instance, just believing that Jesus was crucified is displeasing to Muhammad’s god, even if one doesn’t believe that Jesus is God Incarnate.  But if knowing about God (or apparently just his messengers) were the key to salvation, then man would either have to know everything about God and his messengers (which is impossible), or everything man knows about God and his messengers would have to be accurate (which is improbable if not impossible).  From this perspective, mankind would probably be better off the less they knew about God.

Therefore, even if Muslims cite the virgin birth to argue that they consider Christianity and Islam to be one and the same, it only shows the extent to which they’ve failed to understand the meaning of Christianity.  By not simply rejecting the crucifixion, but also making mere belief in it a determination of apostasy, Islam has positioned itself as truly anti-Christian.  Believing in Christ’s death is obviously necessary for belief in his resurrection, which is the only piece of information one must know about God in order to have salvation in Christianity.  It doesn’t matter if a Christian knows that Christ walked on water, healed the sick, turned water to wine, or cast out demons.  Dare I say, one doesn’t actually even have to believe in these miracles so long as one simply believes that Christ died for their sins.  But on the other hand, Osama bin Laden and Ayatollah Khomeini knew far more about Islam than I ever would in my lifetime, if knowing the right things about God were the deciding factor in getting into heaven, then I wouldn’t stand a chance compared to them.  Finally, perhaps the most tragic thing about the Muslim rejection of the crucifixion is that it leaves them with no empirical evidence for the resurrection.  In the opposite way that Islam retains the event of the virgin birth while rejecting its underlying doctrinal truth, Muslims hold onto belief in the resurrection while having no event to base it on.  Christians have hope of life after death by believing in a man who returned from the dead, but the Muslim’s faith in the resurrection is hopeless.

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Obama Is Not a Muslim (but I’m not sure why he isn’t)

Taking a departure from the usual topic, I thought I’d cover some textual analysis pertaining to Islam, and its leftist apologists.  Despite Islam violating all principles that one would think the Left would hold as uncompromising–separation of church and state, women’s rights (including abortion), minority rights, gay rights, free thought, and basic human rights–the liberal far Left has adopted Muslims as their latest pet group in need of their protection.  Liberals are quick to denounce any criticism of Islam as so-called “Islamophobia”, and will voluntarily parrot Islamic apologetics on their behalf.

Even theological debates or textual criticism of the Qur’an is considered offensive to these secular apologists, though they defiantly exercise their right to be able to criticize Christian theology or scripture.  It almost seems as if, subconsciously or secretly, they really do believe or subscribe to Islam, and in a way, I would argue they do.  For instance, take a common textual criticism of the Qur’an: Muhammad thought that Jesus was the son of Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron.  You see, Muhammad didn’t have a linear view of history, and he thought that all the Bible stories he had heard from passersby on the trade routes all occurred simultaneously in some mythic past.  The name for Mary and Miriam are both Maryam in the Arabic Qur’an, so one can easily see how he confused the two.

In the eponymous Surah for Mary the mother of Jesus, he refers to Mary as “sister of Aaron”:

Qur’an 19:27-28–“At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: ‘O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought! O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!”

Elsewhere, Muhammad refers to Mary’s mother as “the wife of Imran”:

Qur’an 3:31–“How the wife of ʿImrān said, O my Lord, I have vowed to thee what is in my womb. Now accept [this vow] from me, thou art the hearing, the knowing. And when she had given birth to the child, she said, O my lord, I have given birth to a female child… and I have called her Mary.”

Qur’an 66:12–“And Mary, daughter of ‘Imran, whose body was chaste, therefor We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His scriptures, and was of the obedient.”

This Imran corresponds to Amram in the Hebrew Bible, the father of Moses, Aaron, and of course, Miriam (Ex. 6:20).  Oops!

Now I’ve received death threats from Muslims just for making this argument, but I was more surprised that hardcore atheists and agnostics would take the time to research Islamic apologetics and copy+paste them into the discussion.  I already knew Muslims have argued since the time of Muhammad that “sister of Aaron” is supposedly either a general term for descendants of Levi or a different Aaron.  But I was more amused what these non-Muslim apologists of Islam repeated about the Amram problem.  Muslims argue that both Miriam and Mary had a father named Amram.  Seems like a simple enough solution at first glance, but this actually creates a bigger problem for people who don’t even believe Islam.  You see, there’s no natural way Muhammad could have known Mary’s father’s name even if the Biblical genealogies are wrong (which one must reject anyway if one is going to defend the Islamic position), since there was no record in history of his name being Amram.  The only possible options are that Muhammad made a very obvious mistake, or was given this name through divine revelation, an unprecedented feat in the Abrahamic tradition yet Muslims are suspiciously silent about this “miracle” in the Qur’an.

The agnostic cannot sit on the fence here, either the Qur’an is wrong or it is divinely inspired.  Unlike the Bible, which can be evaluated as truthful or historical even if not accepted as inspired, you must believe the Qur’an is the Word of God if you support it’s unfounded historical re-writes.  Yet surprisingly, liberals who don’t even believe in God will provide a defense which requires belief in the Qur’an.  Instead of acknowledging facts and allowing that to shape their worldview, they have pre-determined their worldview around a political agenda, defending Islam from any criticism, no matter how legitimate.  This movement permeates the spectrum from atheists to liberal Christians, even the most visible Islamic apologist in the West, President Barack Obama.  While there’s a far-Right conspiracy that’s convinced Obama is a closet Muslim, his support of Islam is really no different from his Leftist peers.  Obama is on a political mission, his worldview is agenda-driven, and as a result he overlooks facts that are in conflict with this goal.  In his desire to be liked by Muslims, he recites their own indoctrination and apologetics, claiming Islamic peace and unity while betraying his own values to Islamic subordination.  Obama is not actually a Muslim, but considering everything he says and claims to believe about Islam, my only question to him is:  Why aren’t you a Muslim?

Kneel before Saud

Kneel before Saud!

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