Interfaith

Muhammad and Mary – A Christmas Reflection

As the Christmas season approaches, let us briefly reflect on the connections between Prophet Muhammad, who considered Jesus his “brother,” and the Virgin Mary, Jesus’s mother.

Muhammad and Mary are similar in many ways. One commonality is that both were said to have been visited by the Angel Gabriel to usher in God’s plans for the future of humankind.

Gabriel visited Muhammad on the Night of Destiny in a cave at Mount Hira. The Night of Destiny started the revelations of the Qur’an, which the Islamic tradition recognizes as the Word of God.

The Qur’an (2:87) states, “We gave Jesus the son of Mary clear (signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit.” The Islamic holy text also affirms Jesus’s miraculous birth to Mary.

Angel Gabriel visited Mary in her home to announce the birth of Jesus, who Christians believe is the Word of God and who Muslims believe is both a prophet and the Messiah.

Muhammad and Mary also were both falsely accused by their loved ones and peers. He was viewed by the Qurayshites, his fellow tribesmen, as an imposter who preached a “false religion” to overthrow the Meccan elites. She was accused of having an extramarital affair after announcing that she was pregnant with Jesus.

Interestingly, Muhammad reportedly defended Mary’s honor upon his triumphant return to Mecca around the year 630/631. He, after “cleansing” the Ka’aba, is said to have preserved an icon or image of Mary and the baby Jesus located inside the square building.

It should come as no surprise that Prophet Muhammad named Mary as one of the four “spiritually perfected” women in the history of the world. He also said that she would lead the souls of blessed women to paradise.

It is also worth mentioning that in the Qur’an, no woman is given more attention than Mary. Chapter 19 is even named Mariam, the Arabic word for “Mary,” in her distinct honor.

Mary is clearly an important part of the Islamic tradition. Time will only tell if Muhammad emerges as an integral person for Christians worldwide. Nevertheless, they were both close to Jesus either in the spirit world or in the physical world. These points are worth remember during the Christmas season and beyond.

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