What is the message of ‘al Kitab’ – The Book?

Al Kitab (The Bible) literally means ‘The Book’.  The Bible was the first writing in history to be put in book form that we see today.  The Bible is a world classic book that includes in its scope all peoples and nations on earth.  As such, this great book has been translated into almost all languages on earth.  The Bible has had a profound influence on many nations, and is the most widely read English book.  But this book is also a long book, with a complex story.  So many of us do not know or understand the theme of this book.  This article will take one sentence from the book of the Bible to explain the story of this classic book – the work of the Prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH).

The Bible was given to address a real problem in our future.  This problem is explained in Surah Al-Mujadila (Surah 58 – The Pleading Woman) in looking to the coming Day of Judgment

On the Day that God will raise them all up (again) and show them the Truth (and meaning) of their conduct. God has reckoned its (value), though they may have forgotten it, for God is Witness to all things.

Seest thou not that God doth know (all) that is in the heavens and on earth?  There is not a secret consultation between three, but He makes the fourth among them, – Nor between five but He makes the sixth,- nor between fewer nor more, but He is in their midst, wheresoever they be: In the end will He tell them the truth of their conduct, on the Day of Judgment. For God has full knowledge of all things. (Surah al-Mujadila 58:6-7)

Surah al-Mujadila tells us that there is no secret that Allah does not know about us, and he will use this knowledge to Judge us.

Surah al-Qiyamah (Surah 75 – The Resurrection) calls this Day the ‘Resurrection Day’ and also warns how man will be brought forward to answer for his life.

That Day will Man say: “Where is the refuge?”

By no means! No place of safety!

Before thy Lord (alone), that Day will be the place of rest.

That Day will Man be told (all) that he put forward, and all that he put back.

Nay, man will be evidence against himself,

Even though he were to put up his excuses. (Surah al-Qiyamah 75:10-15)

So what do we do if there are intentions and actions in our lives for which we are ashamed?  The Bible’s message is for those who carry this concern.

The Book’s Message

We examined the final week of the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH.  The Injil records that he was crucified on Day 6 – Good Friday, and he was raised back to life the following Sunday.  This was foreseen both in the Taurat and the Psalms and Prophets.  But why did this happen and what does it mean for you and me today?   Here we seek to understand what is offered by the Prophet Isa al Masih, and how we can receive mercy and forgiveness.  This will help us even understand Surah al Fatihah (Surah 1 – The Opener) when it asks Allah to ‘show us the Straight Way’ as well as understanding why ‘Muslim’ means ‘one who submits’, and why religious observances like wudu, zakat and eating halal are good intentions but insufficient in themselves for the Day of Judgment.

Bad News – what the Prophets say of our relationship with Allah

The Taurat teaches that when Allah created mankind He

So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

“Image” is not meant in a physical sense, but rather that we were made to reflect Him in the way we functioned emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually.  We were created to be in relationship with Him.  We can visualize this relationship in the slide below.  The Creator, as infinite ruler, is placed at the top while man and woman are placed at the bottom of the slide since we are finite creatures.  The relationship is shown by the connecting arrow.

Created in His image, people were made to be in relationship with the Creator
Created in His image, people were made to be in relationship with the Creator

Allah is perfect in character – He is Holy.  Because of this the Zabur says

For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
    with you, evil people are not welcome.
The arrogant cannot stand
    in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong (Psalm 5: 4-5)

Adam committed one act of disobedience – only one- and the Holiness of God required Him to judge.  The Taurat and Qur’an record that Allah made him mortal and expelled him His presence.  The same situation exists for us.  When we sin or disobey in any way we dishonor Allah since we do not act according to the image that we were made in.  Our relationship is broken.  This results in a barrier as solid as a rock wall that comes between us and our Creator.

Our sins create a barrier between us and Holy God
Our sins create a solid barrier between us and Holy God

Piercing Sin’s barrier by Religious Merit

Many of us try to pierce this barrier between us and Allah by religious deeds or works that earn enough merit to break the barrier.  Prayers, fasting, Hajj, going to mosque, zakat, alms to charity are the ways we seek to earn merit to pierce the barrier as illustrated next.  The hope is that religious merit will cancel out some sin.  If our many deeds earn enough merit we hope to cancel all our sins and receive mercy and forgiveness.

We try to pierce this barrier by doing good deeds to earn merit before Allah
We try to pierce this barrier by doing good deeds to earn merit before Allah

But how much merit do we need to cancel sin?  What is our assurance that our meritorious deeds will be sufficient to cancel the sin and pierce the barrier that has come between us and our Creator?  Do we know if our efforts for good intentions will be sufficient? We have no assurance and so we try to do as much as we can and hope it will be sufficient on Judgment Day.

Along with deeds to gain merit, efforts for good intentions, many of us work hard to stay clean.  We diligently perform wudu before prayers.  We work hard to stay away from people, objects and food that make us unclean.  But the prophet Isaiah revealed that:

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

The prophet tells us that even if we avoid everything that make us unclean, our sins will make our ‘righteous acts’ as useless as ‘filthy rags’ in making us clean.  That is bad news.  But it gets worse.

Worse News: the power of Sin and Death

The Prophet Musa PBUH clearly set the standard in the Law that total obedience was required.  The law never said something like “attempt to follow most of the commands”.  In fact the Law stated time and again that the only work that assured payment for sin was death.   We saw in the time of Nouh PBUH and even with the wife of Lut PBUH that death resulted from sin.

The Injil summarizes this truth in the following way:

For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23)

“Death” literally means ‘separation’.  When our soul separates from our body we die physically.  Similarly we are even now separated from God spiritually and are dead and unclean in His sight.

This reveals the problem of our hope in earning merit to pay for sin.  The problem is that our hard efforts, merits, good intentions, and deeds, though not wrong, are insufficient because the payment required (the ‘wages’) for our sins is ‘death’.  Only death will pierce this wall because it satisfies God’s justice.  Our efforts to gain merit are like trying to cure cancer (which results in death) by eating halal food.  Eating halal is not bad, it is good – and one should eat halal – but it will not cure cancer.  For cancer you need a totally different treatment that puts the cancerous cells to death.

So even in our efforts and good intentions to generate religious merit we are actually dead and unclean as a corpse in the sight of our Creator

Our sin results in death - We are like unclean dead bodies before Allah
Our sin results in death – We are like unclean dead bodies before Allah

Ibrahim – showing the Straight Path

It was different with the Prophet Ibrahim PBUH.  He was ‘credited righteousness’, not because of his merit but because he believed and trusted the promise to him.  He trusted Allah to meet the payment required, rather than earning it himself.  We saw in his great sacrifice that death (the payment for sin) was paid, but not by his son but instead by a lamb provided by God.

Ibrahim was revealed the Way - He simply trusted God's Promise and God Provided the payment
Ibrahim was shown the Straight Path- He simply trusted God’s Promise and God Provided the payment of death for sin

The Quran speaks of this in Surah As-Saffat where it says:

And we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. And we left (the blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times.  “Peace and salutation to Ibrahim” (Surah As-Saffat 37:107-109)

Allah ‘ransomed’ (paid the price) and Ibrahim received the blessing, mercy and forgiveness, which included ‘peace’.

Good News: The work of Isa al Masih on our behalf

The example of the prophet is there to show us the Straight Path in accordance with the request of Surah Al-Fatihah

Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.
It is You we worship and You we ask for help.
Guide us to the straight path –
The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray. (Surah al-Fatihah 1:4-7)

The Injil explains that this was an illustration to show how Allah would pay for sin and provide a cure for death and uncleanness in a simple but powerful way.

For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)

Up until now, it has all been ‘bad news’.  But ‘injil’ literally means ‘good news’ and in declaring that the sacrifice of Isa’s death is sufficient to pierce this barrier between us and God we can see why it is good news as shown.

The sacrifice of Isa al Masih - the lamb of God - makes the payment for sin on our behalf
The sacrifice of Isa al Masih – the lamb of God – makes the payment by death for sin on our behalf just like Ibrahim’s lamb had done.

The prophet Isa al Masih was sacrificed and then rose from the dead as firstfruits so he now offers us his new life.  We need no longer remain prisoners of sin’s death.

The resurrection of Isa al Masih was 'firstfruits'. We are freed from death and receive the same resurrection life.
The resurrection of Isa al Masih was ‘firstfruits’. We can be freed from death and receive the same resurrection life.

In his sacrifice and resurrection Isa al Masih became the gate through the barrier of sin that separates us from God.  This is why the prophet said:

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:9-10)

Isa al Masih is thus a Gate that breaks through the barrier of sin and death
Isa al Masih is thus the Gate that breaks through the barrier of sin and death

Because of this gate, we now can re-gain the relationship we had with our Creator before our sin became a barrier and we can be assured of receiving mercy and the forgiveness of our sins.

With an open Gate we now are restored in Relationship with our Creator
With an open Gate we now are restored in Relationship with our Creator

As the Injil declares:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.  (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

The Gift of God to you

The prophet ‘gave himself’ for ‘all people‘.  So this must include you as well as me.  Through his death and resurrection he has paid the price to be a ‘mediator’ and offers us life.  How is this life given?

For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)

Notice how it is given to us.  It is offered as a … ‘gift’.  Think about gifts.  No matter what the gift is, if it is really a gift it is something that you do not work for and do not earn by merit.  If you earned it the gift would no longer be a gift – it would be a wage!  In the same way you cannot merit or earn the sacrifice of Isa al Masih.  It is given to you as a gift.  It is that simple.

And what is the gift?  It is ‘eternal life’.  That means that the sin which brought you and me death is now paid up.  God loves you and me that much.  It is that powerful.

So how do you and I obtain eternal life?  Again, think of gifts.  If someone wants to give you a gift you must ‘receive’ it.  Anytime a gift is offered there are only two alternatives.  Either the gift is refused (“No thank you”) or it is received (“Thank you for your gift.  I will take it”).  So also this gift must be received.  It cannot just be mentally believed in, studied or understood.  To be of benefit, any gift offered to you must be ‘received’.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:12-13)

In fact, the Injil says of God that

God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved … (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

He is a Saviour and His desire is that ‘all people’ receive his gift and be saved from sin and death.  If this is His will, then to receive his gift would simply be submitting to His will – the very meaning of the word ‘Muslim’ – one who submits.
So how do we receive this gift?  The Injil says that

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:12)

Notice that this promise is for ‘everyone’.  Since he rose from the dead Isa al Masih is alive even now.  So if you call on him he will hear and give his gift to you.  You call out to him and ask him.  Perhaps you have never done this.  Below is a guide that can help you. It is not a magic chant.  It is not the specific words that give power.  It is the trust like Ibrahim had that we place in Isa al Masih to give us this gift.  As we trust him He will hear us and answer.  The Injil is powerful, and yet also so simple.  Feel free to follow this guide if you find it helpful.

Dear Prophet and Lord Isa al Masih.  I understand that with my sins I am separated from Allah my Creator.  Though I can try hard, my efforts do not pierce this barrier.  But I understand that your death was a sacrifice to wash away all my sins and make me clean.  I know that you rose from the dead after your sacrifice so I believe that your sacrifice was sufficient and so I submit to you.  I ask you to please cleanse me from my sins and mediate with my Creator so I can have eternal life.  Thank you, Isa the Masih, for doing all this for me and would you even now continue to guide me in my life so I can follow you as my Lord.

In the name of Allah, Most Merciful

How are we to understand the title ’Son of God’?

Perhaps no part of the Injil (Gospel) arouses as much controversy and discussion as the title ‘Son of God’ which is used of the Prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH) repeatedly through the Injil (Gospel).  This term in the Injil (Gospel) is the main reason why many suspect that the Injil has been corrupted.   The issue of the corruption of the Injil is examined from the Qur’an (here), the sunnah (here), as well as scientific textual criticism (here).  The overwhelming conclusion is that the Injil (Gospel) is not corrupted.  But then what do we make of this term ‘Son of God’ in the Injil?

Sometimes just hearing a term, without trying to understand its meaning, can lead to an incorrect conclusion.  For example, many in the West, react against the term ‘Jihad’ that appears so much in the media.  They believe this term means ‘a crazy fighter’, ‘killing innocent people’, or something similar.  In fact, those who take the time to understand the term will learn that it means ‘struggle’ or ‘effort’ and this can be a struggle against a wide variety of forces, including personal struggle with sin and temptation.  But many do not know this.

We should not fall into the same error with the term ‘Son of God’.  In this article we will look at this term, understanding where it comes from, what it means, and what it does not mean.  We will then be in an informed position with which to respond to this term and to the Injil.

Where does ‘Son of God’ come from?

‘Son of God’ is a title and it does not originate in the Injil (Gospel).  The writers of the gospel did not invent or start the term.  Neither was it invented by Christians.  We know this because it was first used in the Zabur, long before the disciples of Isa al Masih (PBUH) or Christians were alive, in the part inspired by the prophet Dawud (David – PBUH) around 1000 BC.  Let us see where it first occurs.

The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed (= Messiah = Christ), saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”

The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”

I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have become your father.
Ask me,
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of iron;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”

10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.
12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction. (Psalm 2)

We see here a conversation between ‘the LORD’ and ‘his anointed’.  In verse 7 we see that ‘the LORD’ (i.e. God/Allah) says to the Anointed that ‘… you are my Son; today I have become your father…’  This is repeated in verse 12 where it admonishes us to ‘Kiss his Son…’.   Since God is speaking and calling him ‘my son’ this is where the title ‘Son of God’ originates.  To whom is this title ‘Son’ given to?  It is to ‘his anointed’.  In other words, the title ‘Son’ is used interchangeably with the ‘anointed’ through the passage.  We saw that Anointed =Messiah = Masih= Christ, and this Psalm is also where the title ‘Messiah’ originated.  So the title ‘Son of God’ originates in the same passage where the term ‘Masih’ or ‘Christ’ has its origins – in the inspired writings of the Zabur written 1000 years before the arrival of the prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH).

Knowing this, allows us to understand the charges laid against Isa at his trial. Below is how the Jewish leaders questioned him at his trial.

Jesus Titles: The Logical Alternatives about ‘Son of God’

66 At dawn the elders of the people met together. These included the chief priests and the teachers of the law. Jesus was led to them. 67 If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.”

Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me. 68 And if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

70 They all asked, “Are you the Son of God then?

He replied, “You are right in saying that I am.”

71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more witnesses? We have heard it from his own lips.” (Luke 22:66-71)

The leaders first ask Jesus if he is ‘the Christ’ (v. 67).  If I ask someone ‘Are you X?’ it means that I have the idea of X already in my mind.  I am just trying to connect X with the person I am talking to.  In the same way, the fact that the Jewish leaders say to Jesus ‘Are you the Christ?’ means that they had the concept of ‘Christ’ already in their mind.  Their question was about associating the title of ‘Christ’ (or Masih) with the person of Isa.  But then they re-phrase the question a few sentences later to ‘Are you the Son of God then?’  They are treating the titles ‘Christ’ and ‘Son of God’ as equivalent and interchangeable.  These titles were two sides of the same coin.  (Isa does reply in-between with ‘son of man’.  This is another title coming from a passage in the book of Daniel which we cannot deal with here since we are focused on ‘son of God’).  Where did the Jewish leaders get the idea of the equivalence of ‘Christ’ and ‘Son of God’?  They got it from Psalm 2 – inspired one thousand years prior to Jesus’ coming.  It was and is logically possible for Jesus to not be the ‘Son of God’ if he was also not the ‘Christ’.  This was the position that the Jewish leaders took as we see above.

It is also logically possible for Isa/Jesus to be both the ‘Christ and ‘the Son of God’.  We see this in how Peter, a leading disciple of Isa (PBUH) answers when asked.  It is written in the Gospel

13 [Jesus] asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. (Matthew 16:13-17)

Peter combines the title “Messiah” with ‘Son of God’ naturally, because it was so established when both titles originated in the Psalms (Zabur).  Jesus accepts this as a revelation from God to Peter.  Jesus is ‘Messiah’ and therefore is also ‘Son of God’.

But it is impossible, self-contradictory even, for Jesus to be ‘the Christ’ but not be the ‘Son of God’ because the two terms have the same source and mean the same thing.  That would be the same as saying that a certain shape is a ‘circle’ but it is not ‘round’.  A shape can be a square and thus not be a circle nor be round.  But if it is a circle then it is also round.  Roundness is part of what it means to be a circle, and to say that a certain shape is a circle but is not round is to be incoherent, or to misunderstand what a ‘circle’ and ‘roundness’ mean.  It is the same with ‘Christ’ and ‘son of God’.  Jesus is both ‘Messiah’ and ‘Son of God’ (the assertion of Peter) or he is neither (the view of the Jewish leaders of that day); but he cannot be one and not the other.

What does ‘Son of God’ mean?

So what does the title mean?   A clue appears in how the New Testament introduces the person of Joseph, one of the earliest disciples (not the Joseph of Pharaoh) and how it uses ‘son of…’.  It says

36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:36-37)

You will see that the nickname ‘Barnabas’ means ‘son of encouragement’.  Is the Gospel saying that his literal father’s name was ‘Encouragement’ and this is the reason he is called ‘son of encouragement’?  Of course not!  ‘Encouragement’ is an abstract concept which is difficult to define but is easy to understand by seeing it lived out in an encouraging person.   By looking at the life and person of Joseph someone could ‘see’ encouragement in action and thus understand what ‘encouragement’ means.  In this way Joseph is the ‘son of encouragement’.  He represented ‘encouragement’ in a living way.

“No one has ever seen God” (John 1:18).  Therefore, it is hard for us to really understand the character and nature of God.  What we need is to see God represented in a living way, but that is impossible since ‘God is Spirit’ and thus cannot be seen.  The Gospel thus summarizes and explains the significance of the life and person of Isa al Masih by using both the title ‘Word of God’ and ‘Son of God’

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth…

16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, (John 1:14-18)

How do we know the grace and truth of God?  We see it lived out in the real flesh-and-blood life of Jesus (PBUH).  The disciples could understand the ‘grace and truth’ of God by seeing it in Jesus.  The Law, with its commands, could not give us that visual example.

The Son … coming directly from God

Another use of ‘son of God’ also helps us to understand better what it means in regard to Isa/Jesus (PBUH).  The Gospel of Luke lists the genealogy (father to son) of Jesus going right back to Adam.  We pick up the genealogy at the very end where it says

38 … the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. (Luke 3:38)

We see here that Adam is called ‘the son of God’.  Why?  Because Adam had no human father; he came directly from God.  Jesus also had no human father; he was born of a virgin.  As it says above in the Gospel of John he directly ‘came from the Father’.

A ‘son of …’ example from the Qur’an

The Qur’an uses the expression ‘son of …’ in a similar way as the Injil.  Consider the following ayah

They ask thee what they should spend (In charity). Say: Whatever ye spend that is good, is for parents and kindred and orphans and those in want and for wayfarers. And whatever ye do that is good, -God knoweth it well. (Surat al-Baqarah 2:215)

The word ‘wayfarers’ (or ‘travellers’) is literally written as ‘sons of the road’ in the original arabic (‘ibni sabil’ or  ابن السبيل). Why?  Because interpreters and translators have understood that the phrase does not literally referring to ‘sons’ of the road, but that it is an expression to denote a travellers – those who are strongly connected to and dependent on the road.

What ‘Son of God’ does not mean

It is the same with the Bible when it uses the term ‘son of God’.  Nowhere in the Taurat, Zabur or Injil does the term ‘Son of God’ mean that God had sexual relations with a woman and had a literal and physical son as a result.  This understanding was common in ancient Greek polytheism where gods had ‘wives’.  But nowhere in the Bible (al kitab) is this stated.  Certainly this would be impossible since it says  that Jesus was born of a virgin – thus no relations.

Summary

We saw here that the Prophet Isaiah around 750 BC had prophesied that one day in his future a Sign directly from the LORD would come

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

By definition a son from a virgin would have no human father.  We saw here that the angel Gabriel (Jibril) had declared to Mary that this would happen because ‘the power of the Most High will overshadow you (Mary)’.  This would not come about by unholy relations between God and Mary – that would indeed by blasphemy (shirk).  No, this son would be a ‘holy one’ in a very unique way, proceeding directly from God without human plan or effort.  He would proceed directly from God as words proceed directly from us.  In this sense the Messiah was the Son of God as well as the Word of God.

Should Christmas be ‘Merry’ for Muslims too?

merry christmas

“Merry Christmas!”  This is the greeting that is commonly used at Christmas and I extend it to you.  May you have a Merry Christmas !

Many people know that Christmas is the holiday when the birth of Jesus Christ – Isa al Masih (PBUH) – is remembered.  But, even so, why is this day especially ‘Merry’ or joyful?  After all, there are many prophets born on other days and though we remember them as well, it is the birth of Isa (Jesus – PBUH) that is called Merry.  Why?  And for whom is this merry? Knowing the answer to these questions will make your Christmas change from being a holiday for others to a day when you marvel at the mercy and goodness of Allah – it will make even the other days in the year much more merry.

The birth of Isa al Masih, born of a virgin and announced by Jibril

Many know that what was unique among all the births in human history, including the births of all the prophets, was that Isa al Masih was born of a virgin.  This birth was so important that it was announced to Mary (Mariam) by the archangel Gabriel (Jibril) who, as we know, is only sent with the very most important messages.  The Injil records it like this:

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.  (Luke 1:26-38)

(You will see that in this announcement by Gabriel (Jibril) he uses the peculiar title ‘Son of God’  Please see here on what this term means … and does not mean)

The birth of Isa al Masih – prophesied hundreds of years before

The Injil (Gospel) records the birth of Isa al Masih (‘Masih’ means Messiah =’Christ’) but the story did not start there because 700 years before the birth of Isa al Masih the prophet Isaiah of the Zabur had given the unique prophecy (explained fully here) that

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14, ca 700 BC)

The birth of Isa al Masih – prophesied at the beginning of human history

So this birth from the virgin was deliberately planned and announced by Allah hundreds of year beforehand.  There must be an important reason!  If we look further into the Holy Books we find even that at the very beginning of human history (!) this birth from a virgin was planned.  The Taurat, though addressing the Beginning, was written with the End in view. This can be seen in the Paradise of the Garden, at the beginning of human history, when Shaytan (Iblis) has successfully seduced Adam & Eve.  At that time Allah confronted Shaytan and spoke to him in a riddle:

“… and I (Allah) will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman and between your offspring and hers. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

This is a riddle – but it is understandable. Reading carefully you will see that there are five different characters mentioned AND that this is prophetic in that it is looking forward-in-time (seen by the repeated use of ‘will’ as in future tense). The characters are:

  1. God (or Allah)
  2. Shaytan (or Iblis)
  3. The woman
  4. The offspring of the woman
  5. The offspring of Satan

And the riddle maps out how these characters will relate to each other in the future. This is shown below:

The characters and their relationships in the Promise of Allah given in Paradise
The characters and their relationships in the Promise of Allah given in Paradise

Allah will arrange that both Shaytan and the woman have an ‘offspring’. There will be ‘enmity’ or hatred between these offspring and between the woman and Shaytan. Shaytan will ‘strike the heel’ of the offspring of the woman while the offspring of the woman will ‘crush the head’ of Shaytan.

Now let us think about this.  Because the ‘offspring’ of the woman is referred to as a ‘he’ and a ‘his’ we know that it is a single male human. This means that as a ‘he’ the offspring is not a ‘they’ (i.e. it is not plural). Thus the offspring is NOT a group of people whether that refers to a nation or those of a certain religion as in Jews, Christians or Muslims. As a ‘he’ the offspring is not an ‘it’ (the offspring is a person). This eliminates the interpretation that the offspring is a particular philosophy or teaching or religion. So the offspring is NOT (for example) Christianity or Islam because the offspring would then be referred to as an ‘it’.

Notice also what is NOT said. Allah does not promise the man an offspring like he promises the woman. This is quite extraordinary especially given the emphasis of sons coming through fathers through the Taurat, Zabur & Injil (the Bible or al kitab). But in this case it is different – there is no promise of an offspring (a ‘he’) coming from a man. It says only that there will be an offspring coming from the woman, without mentioning a man.

So here we see the first prophecy of the Books, in the form of a riddle to Shaytan, of the coming Virgin Birth because with that perspective, if you read the riddle it all falls into place. Jesus (Isa – PBUH) is the offspring from a woman who is born without the seed of a man – born of a virgin.  He will ‘crush the head’ of Shaytan.  But who is his enemy, the offspring of Satan? The later prophets speak of a ‘Son of Destruction’, ‘Son of Satan’ and other titles that predict a coming ruler who will oppose ‘the Christ’ (Masih). These prophets speak of a coming clash between this ‘Anti-Christ’ and the Christ (or Masih), resulting in the victory of the Masih.

Isa al Masih – save us from our sins

So great themes of the prophets begin here, and even more can be gleaned in this Sign of Adam, but why should this be Merry for you and me?  Since Isa al Masih (PBUH) was not conceived by a man, he was conceived by the power of Allah, and as the Injil records how Gabriel (Jibril) explained this to Joseph, the fiance of Mary (Mariam) when he learned she was pregnant.

Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her (Mary) to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  (Matthew 1:19-21)

Isa al Masih (PBUH) has the power to save us from our sins!  We all sin, sometimes in small ways and sometimes in large ways.  And we know that there is a Judgment Day coming when we will all give an account.  Isa al Masih (PBUH) has the power to save you and me from our sins.  Understanding this will certainly make your Christmas, the day we remember his virgin birth, Merry.  And it will also make all the other days of your year Merry as well.

Merry Christmas – Allah’s gift for you

It is a tradition at Christmas that people give gifts to each other.  Why?  This was done in memory of what Isa al Masih (PBUH) did for us because the Injil declares that he will save us from our sins solely as a gift to us.  As the Injil declares.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

This saving from sin is a gift from God – all because of what happened that day when Isa al Masih (PBUH) was born.  But like any gift it must be received before it can benefit you.  Consider.  ‘Knowing’ about a gift, ‘believing’ in the existence of a gift, even ‘looking’ at a gift will not benefit you in any way unless you also receive it.  This is why the Injil also declares that:

Yet to all who did receive him (Isa al Masih), to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)

Merry Christmas to you

You probably have many good questions. What does ‘Masih’ meanHow does Isa save us from our sins? What does it mean to receive this gift? Is the Injil reliable? This website is my gift to you to help answer these and other worthwhile questions that you have. I hope you explore and understand more about the good news from the Taurat, Zabur and Injil.

My hope is that you, just as I discovered, may also experience a very Merry Christmas.