While Maryam (Mary), may Allaah exalt her mention, was praying in her place of worship, an angel in the form of a man appeared before her. Filled with terror, she tried to flee, praying (what means): "…'Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of Allaah.' He said: 'I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of] a pure boy [i.e., son].' She said: 'How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?' He said: 'Thus [it will be]; your Lord says: 'It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter [already] decreed.''" [Quran: 19:18-21]
The angel's visit caused Maryam, may Allaah exalt her mention, great anxiety, which increased as the months went by. How could she face giving birth to a child without having a husband?
Later, she felt life kicking inside her. With a heavy heart, she left the place of prayer and went to Nazareth, the city in which she had been born, where she settled in a simple farm house to avoid the public.
But fear and anxiety did not leave her. She was from a noble and pious family. Her father had not been an evil man nor was her mother an impure woman. How could she prevent tongues from wagging about her honour?
After some months, she could bear the mental strain no longer. Burdened with a heavy womb, she left Nazareth, not knowing where to go to be away from this depressing atmosphere.
She had not gone far, when she was overtaken by the pains of childbirth. She sat down against a dry palm tree, and here she gave birth to a son. Looking at her beautiful baby, she was hurt that she had brought him into the world without a father. She exclaimed (what means): "…Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten." [Quran: 19:23]
Suddenly, she heard a voice nearby saying (what means): "…'Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream. And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates. So eat and drink and be contented. And if you see from among humanity anyone, say: 'Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.'" [Quran: 19:24-26]
For a while she was comforted by Allaah's miracle, for it was a sure sign of her innocence and purity. She decided to return to the city. However, her fears also returned. What was she going to tell the people?
As she had expected, her arrival in the city with a newborn baby in her arms aroused the curiosity of the people. They scolded her: "This is a terrible sin that you have committed!" She put her finger to her lips and pointed to the child. They asked: "How can we speak to a newborn baby?" To their total amazement, the child began to speak clearly, saying (what means): "…'Indeed, I am the servant of Allaah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and Zakaah as long as I remain alive. Allaah [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant. And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.'" [Quran: 19:30-33]
Most of the people realised that the baby was unique, for if Allaah wills something, He merely says 'Be' and it happens. Of course, there were some who regarded the baby's speech as a strange trick, but at least Maryam, may Allaah exalt her mention, could now stay in Nazareth without being harassed.
It was said that Yoosuf (Joseph) the Carpenter was greatly surprised when he knew the story, so he asked Maryam, may Allaah exalt her mention: "Can a tree come to grow without a seed?" She replied: "Yes, the one which Allaah created for the first time." He asked her again: "Is it possible to bear a child without a male partner?" She replied: "Yes, Allaah, created Aadam without male or female!"
The Jewish priests felt this child ('Eesaa, or Jesus) was dangerous, for they felt that the people would turn their worship to Allaah, the Almighty, displacing the existing Jewish tenets. Consequently, they would lose their authority over the people. Therefore, they kept the miracle of 'Eesaa's speech in infancy a secret and accused Maryam, may Allaah exalt her mention, of a great misdeed.
As 'Eesaa, may Allah exalt his mention, grew, the signs of prophethood began to increase. He could tell his friends what kind of supper waited for them at home and what they had hidden and where. When he was twelve years old, he accompanied his mother to Jerusalem. There, he wandered into the temple and joined a crowd listening to the lecture of the Rabbis (Jewish priests). The audience was all adult, but he was not afraid to sit with them. After listening intently, he asked questions and expressed his opinion. The learned rabbis were disturbed by the boy's boldness and puzzled by the questions he asked, for they were unable to answer him. They tried to silence him, but he ignored their attempts and continued to express his views. 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention became so involved in this exchange that he forgot he was expected back home.
In the meantime, his mother went home, thinking that he might have gone back with relatives or friends. When she arrived, she discovered that he was not there, so she returned to the city to look for him. At last she found him in the temple, sitting among the learned, conversing with them.
Maryam, may Allaah exalt her mention, became angry with him for causing her worry. He tried to assure her that all the arguing and debating with the learned had made him forget the time.
'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention grew into manhood. It was the Sabbath (Saturday), a day of complete rest for the Jews: no fire could be lit or extinguished, nor could females plait their hair. It was a Jewish practice that Saturday be dedicated to the worship of Allaah. However, the wisdom behind the Sabbath and its spirit had gone, and only the letter remained in the Jews' hearts. Also, they thought that Sabbath was kept in heaven, and that the People of Israel had been chosen by Allaah only to observe the Sabbath.
They made a hundred things unlawful on Saturday, even self-defence, or calling a doctor to save a patient who was in poor condition. There was, for example, a rule which prohibited a journey of more than one thousand yards on the Sabbath day.
One day (on a Sabbath), 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention was on his way to the temple. He reached out his hand to pick two pieces of fruit to feed a hungry child. This was considered to be a violation of the Sabbath law. He made a fire for the old women to keep themselves warm from the freezing air, which was considered another violation. He went to the temple and looked around.
There were twenty thousand Jewish priests registered there who earned their living from the temple. The rooms of the temple were full of them. In the temple, the Pharisees and Sadducees acted as if it was a market place, and these two groups always disagreed on everything. 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention followed the scene with his eyes and observed that the poor people who could not afford the price of the sheep or dove were swept away like flies by the Pharisees and Sadducees. 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention was astonished. Why did the priests burn so many offerings inside the temple, while thousands of poor people were hungry outside it?
On this night, the two noble Prophets Yahyaa (John) and Zakariyyaa (Zachariah), may Allaah exalt their mention, were executed by the ruling authority. On the same night, the revelation descended upon 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention. Allaah, the Exalted, commanded him to begin his call to the children of Israel. To 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention the life of ease was now closed, and the page of worship and struggle had opened.
Like an opposing force, the message of 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention came to denounce the practices of the Pharisees and to reinforce the Law of Moosaa may Allaah exalt his mention. In the face of a materialistic age of luxury and worship of gold, 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention called his people to a nobler life by word and deed. This exemplary life was the only way out of the wretchedness and diseases of his age.
'Eesaa's call, from the outset, was marked by its complete uprightness and piety. He continued inviting people to Almighty Allaah. His call was based on the principle that there is no mediation between the Creator and His creatures. However, 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention was in conflict with the Jews' superficial interpretation of the Torah. He said that he did not come to abrogate the Torah, but to complete it by going to the spirit of its substance to arrive at its essence.
He made the Jews understand that the Ten Commandments had more value than they imagined. For instance, the fifth commandment does not only prohibit physical killing, but all forms of killing: physical, psychological, or spiritual. The sixth commandment does not prohibit adultery only in the sense of unlawful physical contact between a man and a woman, but also prohibits all forms of unlawful relations or acts that might lead to adultery. The eye commits adultery when it looks at anything with passion.
'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention was, therefore, in confrontation with the materialistic people. He told them to desist from hypocrisy, showing off and false praise. There was no need to hoard wealth in this life. They should not preoccupy themselves with the goods of this passing world; rather they must preoccupy themselves with the affairs of the coming world because it would be everlasting. He told them that caring for this world is a sin, not fit for pious worshippers. As for the believers, they know that their sustenance is with Allaah, so they trust in Him and scorn this world.
'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention continued to invite people to worship the Only Lord who is without partner, and to purify the heart and soul. His teaching annoyed the priests, for every word of 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention was a threat to them and their position, exposing their misdeeds.
The priests started to plot against 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention. They wanted to embarrass him and to prove that he had come to destroy the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law provides that an adulteress be stoned to death. They brought him a Jewish adulteress and asked 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention: "Does not the law stipulate the stoning of the adulteress?" 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention answered: "Yes." They said: "This woman is an adulteress." 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention looked at the woman and then at the priests. He knew that they were more sinful than she. They agreed that she should be killed according to Mosaic Law, and they understood that if he was going to apply Mosaic Law, he would be destroying his own rules of forgiveness and mercy.
'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention understood their plan. He smiled and assented: "Whoever among you is sinless can stone her." His voice rose in the middle of the Temple, making a new law on adultery, for the sinless to judge sin. There was none eligible; no mortal can judge sin, only Allaah the Most Merciful.
He continued his mission, aided by divine miracles. Some Quranic commentators said that 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention brought four people back from the dead: a friend of his, an old woman's son, and a woman's only daughter. These three had died during his lifetime. When the Jews saw this, they said: "You only resurrect those who have died recently; perhaps they simply fainted." They therefore asked him to bring back to life Sam, the son of Nooh may Allaah exalt his mention.
When 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention asked them to show him his grave, the people accompanied him there. 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention invoked Allaah the Exalted to bring him back to life and behold, Sam came out from the grave grey-haired. 'Eesaa may Allaah exalt his mention asked: "How did you get grey hair, when there was no ageing in your time?" He answered: "O Spirit of Allaah! I thought that the Day of Resurrection had come; from the fear of that Day my hair turned grey."