Anonymous Questioner: I want to start by commending the good work you are doing by enlightening Muslims and non Muslims alike across the globe. Alhamdullillah, my question is about the birth of prophet Eesa aka Jesus. A while ago, I was trying to do da’awa to a colleague in school about the deen. MashaAllah he understood a lot about Islam but still had some concerns as to the birth of Eesa and salvation in modern day Christianity. His concern was “if the manner of birth of Jesus had nothing to do with him being a sacrificial lamb, then why did God make him come to earth in that manner “. Can you please clarify for me the reason of Eesa special birth so I can answer him. Thank you.
Short Answer: Possible reasons for the virgin birth:
1. To elevate the status of women in a patriarchal society.
2. To indicate that Jesus was a holy and purified prophet from birth.
3. To show the power of God’s spoken Word.
As a humble and lowly servant of Allah, I cannot know the mind of Allah, but I can use the Scriptures to find hints to what was God’s purpose.
First, I want to very briefly address the part of the question about Jesus “being a sacrificial lamb”.
In the Christian view, Jesus (peace upon him) is the ultimate and final answer to the sin sacrifice required by Jewish law in Leviticus 4, which requires a bullock (steer).
But nowhere in the Tanakh (Jewish Bible) does God ask for a human sacrifice.
“Thou shalt not kill” is one of the Ten Commandments.
It makes no sense that God would require that one of His commandments be broken by humanity in order for humanity to be saved.
Elevation of Women
Jesus (peace upon him) was born into an overbearing patriarchal society.
The virgin birth emphasized the value of women. The nativity story is just as much about Mary as it is about Jesus.
Muslims view Mary as one of the most righteous women who ever lived.
“Remember when angels said, ‘O Mary, truly God has chosen you and purified you and preferred you over all other women of the world. O Mary, remain faithful to your Lord. Prostrate in worship. Bow with those who bow’” (Surah 3: 42-43).
A Holy and Purified Prophet from Birth
It seems that every prophet went through some sort of purification process, as in the stories of Moses, Joseph, and Jonah (peace upon them).
In the case of Prophet Muhammad (peace upon him), there is a story in the ahadith (related by Anas to Muslim) that tells of Angel Gabriel opening the chest of the Prophet in order to remove the small part of his heart that contained Satan.
The virgin birth is a sign that Jesus was born in a holy and purified state. He even spoke as a baby.
“They said, ‘O Mary, truly you have brought an astonishing thing! O sister of Aaron, your father was not an evil man, and your mother was not unchaste!’
She pointed to (the baby) [as if to say, ‘Ask him’].
“They said, ‘How can we talk with an infant from the cradle?’
“(The baby Jesus) said, ‘I am indeed a servant of God. He has given me Scriptures and made me a prophet. He has made me blessed wherever I am and has instilled in me prayer and charity as long as I live. He has made me kind to my mother and not arrogant or rebellious. Peace was upon me the day I was born, and will be upon me the day that I die and the day I shall be resurrected’” (Surah 19: 27-33).
The Power of God’s Word
The Qur’an explains that Jesus (peace upon him) is “a spirit emanating from God” (Surah 4: 171).
In the Bible, he is called the “last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45).
Adam (peace upon him) was created on earth as a physical being, but Jesus (peace upon him) was created as a spiritual being.
The virgin birth emphasizes God’s ability to create as He wills by His spoken word.
“Remember when angels said, ‘O Mary, truly Allah gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name will be the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary. He will be honored in this world and in the hereafter. He will be among those brought near [to Allah]. From the cradle, he will speak to people, as well as speak as an adult. He will be among the righteous.’
“She said, ‘My Lord, how can I have a child when no man has even touched me?’
“(An angel) said, “So be it. Allah creates what He will. When He decides a thing, He only says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is’” (Surah 3: 45-47).
The virgin birth is a sign of Jesus’ unique relationship with Allah.
The immaculate conception and birth themselves have nothing to do with salvation.
Jesus’ message of repentance and redemption is the guiding light for receiving Allah’s grace in the form of forgiveness and salvation from Hell.
May Allah continue to provide guidance and wisdom to us His servants.