A Christmas Reflection

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In Sura 19 of the Quran, the Islamic holy book, Jesus is born. He is known as the prophet Isa. Mary appears also.

In a surprising twist to the story, at least to Christians, Mary gives birth alone, under a palm tree. She feels the piercing pains of labor, so much so that she wishes that she had never been born. Allah has compassion on her and provides her with a stream of water and dates to nourish her. It is a realistic portrayal of birth. The baby that is born is a healthy boy—a holy child (Isa the prophet)—whom Christians know as Jesus.

Compare this with the narrative of Jesus’ birth as told by Luke in chapter 2. An angel of the Lord appears to shepherds and the glory of the Lord shines around them, and the angel says:

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

Then a great company of the heavenly host appears praising God, saying:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

In comparing Sura 19 with Luke 2, we see the difference between Jesus being born as a mere man and Jesus being born as the Son of God—the long awaited Messiah. In the Quranic narrative, Mary groans in labor alone in a desert oasis. In the Lukan version, the Glory of God breaks out and the angels sing God’s praise. That is what happens when God enters our world to redeem it. That is why we celebrate with the angels on Christmas.

I hear much anti-Muslim sentiment these days—much of it caused by radical Islam and terrorism. This is indeed a concern for us—but shouldn’t every Muslim have the opportunity to hear the true story of Jesus birth and allow the power of God to change their hearts?

Let’s put more of our resources (emotional, financial, prayer, relationships) towards this end.

The good news of great joy will be for all the people.

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