s everyone knows, Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus and is a major religious festival for Christians all over the world.
But what many people don’t know is that Jesus is also an significant figure in Islam, although most Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas (though some, especially some American Muslims, do).
In honor of the holiday, here are six things that you might not know about Jesus’ role in Islam—and his mother, Mary—:
Jesus, Mary, and Gabriel the angel are all in the Quran (as are Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and a bunch of other characters in the Bible).
Muslims believe that Jesus (called “Isa” in Arabic) was a prophet of God, was born to a virgin (Mary), and would return to earth before Judgment Day to restore justice and kill al-Masih ad-Dajjal (“the false messiah”), also known as the Antichrist. For many Christians all of this can sound pretty familiar.
Mary (in Arabic, called “Maryam”) has a whole chapter named for her in the Quran — the only chapter in the Quran named for a female figure. In addition, Mary is the only woman to be listed by name in the Quran as a whole: as noted in the Quran of Study, “other female figures are known only by their relationship with others, such as Adam’s wife and Moses’ mother, or by their title, such as the Queen of Sheba.” Mary is listed more frequently in the Quran than in the entire New Testament.
As with all the other prophets, including Mohammed, Muslims recite, “Peace be upon him” every time they refer to Jesus.
Muslims believe that Jesus performed miracles: The Quran discusses several of Jesus’ miracles, including sighting the blind, healing lepers, raising the dead, and breathing life into clay birds.
The story of the birth of Jesus, as revealed in the Quran, is also the story of his first miracle, when he spoke in the cradle as an infant and proclaimed himself a prophet of God. Here is the tale:
And remember Mary in the Book when she departed to an eastern place from her home. And from these she concealed herself. Then We [God] sent Our Spirit [Angel Gabriel] to her and it assumed the form of a perfect man for her. She said, “I seek refuge from thee in the Compassionate [i.e., God], if you are reverent!” He said, “I am but a messenger of thy Lord, to bestow upon thee a pure boy.”
She said, “How shall I have a boy, when no man touches me, and I am not chaste?” He said, “Thus shall it be. Thy Lord says, ‘It is easy for me.'” And [it is so] that We may make him a sign to mankind, and a mercy from Us. And this is a decreed matter.
So, she conceived him and fled to a remote place with him. And the pangs of childbirth pushed her to a date palm’s trunk. She said, “Would that I had died before this and had become a thing forgotten, completely forgotten!” Then he called to her from below, “Do not be grieved! Thy Lord has placed a rivulet beneath thee. And shake toward thyself the trunk of the date palm; fresh, ripe dates shall fall upon thee. So eat and drink and cool thine eye. And if thou seest any human being, say, ‘Verily I have vowed a fast unto the Compassionate, so I shall not speak this day to any man.’”
Then she returned to her people , taking him [the infant Jesus] with him. They said, “O Mary, you brought a wonderful thing! O sister of Aaron, your father was not a wicked man, neither was your mother unchaste.” Then she pointed to him [Jesus]. They said, “Why are we going to talk to one in the cradle who is a child yet?”
He [Jesus] said, “Truly I am a servant of God. He has given me the Bible and made me a prophet. He has made me blessed wherever I may be, and has commanded me prayer and almsgiving as long as I live, and has made me oversee my mother, and has not made me king, wretched. Peace be upon me the day that I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I am raised up!”
,That’s Jesus son of Mary — a declaration of truth, which they doubt.