In a 2020 documentary aired on Amazon Prime, “Marketing the Messiah”, the researchers noted that the idea of immaculate conception (virgin birth) did not exist before its mention in the Gospel of Matthew, written some 50 or more years after the death of Prophet Easa/Jesus. It was also said that the chapter on it came immediately after a discussion tracing the lineage of Jesus through his father to prophet Daud/David, but scholars also noted that the idea may have come about due to a mistranslation of the Hebrew word Almah for “childless young woman” to a “virgin”.
The question is, if historical scholars acknowledge that it’s a mistake or fabrication, why do Muslims believe that the Qur’an supports this idea?
Incidentally, even some Sunnis have come to realize that the Qur’an does not support it.
The following main text of this article was originally published by WQT at https://quranthinkers.com/concept-of-virgin-birth-as-per-ayahs-358-361/
A Common Misconception
Many Muslims and Christians believe that Easa was created by Malaik as a miracle since he did not have a father. They all are under the impression that Allah/God Almighty has informed Maryam/Mary to be miraculously conceived by her through the intervention of the divine spirit, though she was still a virgin. However, all these are misinterpretations of the Kitaab. There are no such things as miracles in Quran, everything and every process follow the natural laws as designed, created, and set in motion by Allah. The concept of Virgin birth is not supported by Quran. In fact, this assumption of virgin birth directly contradicts the Quran on numerous levels and on the basis of study of many Ayahs of the Quran.
This article just highlights one set of these Quranic Ayahs.
Surah Aal-e-Imran Ayah #58-61 (3:58 — 3:61)
٥٨ ذَٰلِكَ نَتْلُوهُ عَلَيْكَ مِنَ الْآيَاتِ وَالذِّكْرِ الْحَكِيمِ
[Quran 3:58] This is what We Natluhu (نَتْلُوهُ) to you of the Ayaat (الْآيَاتِ) and the Hakeem (الْحَكِيمِ) the Zikr (الذِّكْرِ).
٥٩ إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَىٰ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ ۖ خَلَقَهُ مِنْ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ
[Quran 3:59] The example of Easa near Allah is like that of Adam (آدَمَ): Allah created him from Turabin (تُرَابٍ), then Qala (قَالَ) to it, Kun (كُنْ) and then Kun (فَيَكُونُ).
٦٠ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّكَ فَلَا تَكُنْ مِنَ الْمُمْتَرِينَ
[Quran 3:60] The Haqq (الْحَقُّ) is from your Rabb (رَبِّكَ), so do not be among Mumtareen (الْمُمْتَرِينَ).
٦١ فَمَنْ حَاجَّكَ فِيهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْا نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءَنَا وَأَبْنَاءَكُمْ وَنِسَاءَنَا وَنِسَاءَكُمْ وَأَنْفُسَنَا وَأَنْفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَلْ لَعْنَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَى الْكَاذِبِينَ
[Quran 3:61] So whoever Haajjaka (حَاجَّكَ) you concerning it, after the knowledge has come to you, say, “Come, let us Nuda’u (نَدْعُ) our Abna’ana (َبْنَاءَنَا) and your Abnaaukum (أَبْنَاءَكُمْ) , and our Nissa’ana (نِسَاءَنَا) and Your Nisaaukum (نِسَاءَكُمْ), and our Anfusana (َنْفُسَنَا) and your Anfusakum (أَنْفُسَكُمْ), and Nubtahil (نَبْتَهِلْ), then invoke La’nat (لَعْنَتَ) of Allah upon the Kaazebeen (الْكَاذِبِينَ).”
The Concepts Behind Ayahs 3:58 — 61
ALLAH BEING AZIZ HAKEEM & AYAAT OF ALLAH: When Allah says in 3:58 “This is what We Natluhu (نَتْلُوهُ) to you of the Ayaat (الْآيَاتِ) and the Hakeem (الْحَكِيمِ) the Zikr (الذِّكْرِ)” Allah is telling us about the fact that these Ayaat of the Kitaab is from the one who is Aziz ul Hakeem, therefore these Ayaat are not only full of hikmat and wisdom but also these Ayaat are Zikar for us for Tatlu. That is these Ayaat have been revealed for us to do Tatlu as is the haq of Tillawat, I.e. follow the divine guidance with utter and deep conviction, Emaan on it being Hidayah from Allah. These ayahs are also Hakeem the Zikar for us. That in addition to Hikmat and wisdom these ayaht are Zikar, i.e. sources and means of understanding, following practically, remembering Allah’s Nai’mat as Hidayah, doing Shukar, taking lessons, ibrat from these stories as narrated in Quran.
EASA IS CREATED THE SAME WAY AS THAT FOR ADAM: The next ayah is an extremely important ayah in regards to the concept of the creation of Easa son of Maryam. Ayah 3:59 “The example of Easa near Allah is like that of Adam (آدَمَ)…” This is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted Ayahs of Quran with completely wrong concepts about the creation of Easa Ibn-e-Maryam with many Muslims that Easa was created by a Malaik, as a miracle. There is no such thing as miracles in Quran, everything and every process follows the natural laws as designed, created and set in motion by Allah. Therefore, when Allah says that “The example of Easa near Allah is like that of Adam” Here the word Adam is not used in the meanings of the name of a person, but the Adam who was made Khalifa on earth by elevating the level of the humans through knowledge, and Allah asking Malaik to do Sajda to Adam. Therefore, whenever in Quran Allah mentions the term bani Adam, it refers to humans, as in the whole of humanity, whoever of them bring upon themselves to act as Khalifa (caretakers) on earth. Therefore, when Allah is saying that the creation of Easa is like that of Adam. It is exactly the same as that for each and every one of us as humans, the same natural reproduction process has been followed as designed by and created by Allah.
THERE IS NO CHANGING OF SUNNAH OF ALLAH: The word Sunnah or Sunnat is normally translated as Sunnat of Nabiy Mohammad, or sayings or actions of Nabiy Mohammad, but in Quran, the word Sunnat, Sunah or Sunnun is used in the meanings of practice, the ways and the acts which are often repeated in similar fashion, by Awwaleen people (those who have already passed) and by Allah for instance, in ayah 8:38 “Say to those who do Kufar if they cease, Yughfir/protection for them, from what was done in the past, but if they return then indeed, preceded the Sunntu of the Awaleen/former people” Here Allah is talking about the practice, the ways and acts of the former people. Similar meanings for Sunnat of the Awaleen are mentioned in ayahs 15:13 and 18:55 as well. In Ayah 33:62 “Such is the Sunnath of Allah with those who have passed from before and never will you find any change in the Sunnath of Allah”. Here it is used in the meanings of practice and ways of Allah, the way Allah carries out Allah’s Amoor, which never changes. This means that all the laws of nature, the laws on the basis of which Allah has created and is carrying out the affairs of the whole universe, including the earth and those of us as human beings- once these laws are created and set in motion, then there Is no changing in these laws. Therefore, there is no concept of Miracle as per Quran, whereby Allah or any of Allah’s Nabiy or Rasool goes against or defies these natural laws, for example there is no possibility of parting of sea by Nabiy Musa so Bani-Israel can walk through the sea. This misinterpretation directly contradicts the Quranic directives that ‘there is no changing in the Sunnah of Allah”. There is no change of Sunnah (practice) of Allah, and therefore the way Allah has created the mankind, it’s created not as a result of trial and error, or different for Adam and Easa versus the rest of humanity. The humanity was not created in an instant action by Allah, but in terms of creation of humanity in its most perfect form and shape as referred in Ayah 95:04 with the phrase “Ahsan e Taqweem”- The best of the best form, shape, design and Allah’s creations. There cannot be any difference in the way Adam (all of us, as humanity who are the Khalifa on earth) and Easa are created, contradicting the general misconception surrounding virgin birth. All of us, as human beings, including Easa and Adam, were all created through the same natural reproduction process as there cannot be any change in the Sunnah of Allah. Similar meanings for Sunnat of Allah are used in Ayahs 33:38 and 48:23. In Ayah 35:43, both the Sunnath of Awaleen and Sunnat of Allah are mentioned.
BOTH ARE CREATED FROM TURABIN: This aspect is further clarified by the subsequent phrase as “…Allah created him from Turabin (تُرَابٍ)…” the word Turabin is generally mistranslated in this ayah as dust, or soil, but the word for clay or dust or soil used in Quran is not Turab (تُرَابٍ) but T’aeen (الطِّينِ). These are two distinct words with distinct meanings. The word Tarab or Turaab with the plural Taraaib is used in the meanings of the chest or more specifically the rib bones. The word is used to describe the very first step of creation process of human. Today scientists have confirmed that bones, specifically the rib bones affect reproduction and fertility in males. The real origin of life, the reproduction process, actually start from the liquid between the ribcage and the backbones in males, which ultimately lead to reproduction and the birth of a child. Therefore when Allah says in the ayah 3:59 “ The example of Adam is like that of Easa, Allah created him from Turabin…” is actually telling us about the reproduction process leading to the birth of a child which is not possible without a male human since Turabin is the first step, initiated from the male ribcage – hence both Adam and Easa were born in the similar fashion, through normal human reproduction process. Therefore, this phrase is telling us so much in just one word that it is not possible for the creation of Easa without a father, or a male human.
THE CONCEPT OF QALA TO IT, ’KUN FAYAAKUN’: The phrase ‘Kun-Fa ya-Kun’ is used in Quran 8 times and in all these instances, the phrase is Qala to it, ‘kun’ and ‘Fayakun’ Here the word Qala when refers to Allah, in terms of Allah ‘Qala’, then we need to keep in mind that Allah does not say anything, but here it means that the whole of Allah’s system, including all the laws and systems of Allah, such as natural laws, Allah’s Malaik and the laws of Allah as per Deen as mentioned in Quran, In Ayah 40:68 “Allah is the One Who gives life and causes death. Then when Allah Amar a thing, Allah Yaqulu Kun Fa YaKun”. The same phrase Kun Fayakun is used in Ayahs 2:117, 3:47, 3:59, 6:73, 16:40 and 36:82. This phrase doesn’t mean that ‘Allah says be and it be’ as is normally misinterpreted. The whole process of Kun Faya Kun is not an instant, one moment, split second, speech or even action by Allah, but in fact spread over billions of years of designing, execution of Allah’s planning, gathering & evolution of basic ingredients in their desired form, creation of a single life form, it is evolution, and finally, creation of a human being with All of Allah’s laws & systems of the universe and Malaik working in synchronization with each other. Similarly, in the ayah 40:68 “Allah is the One Who gives life and causes death. Then when Allah Amar a thing, Allah Qala ‘Kun Fa YaKun’. Again, showing the steps of Kun as the final step of causing any creation to come into existence by Allah. Similarly in all the other Ayahs, the use of the phrase and the word ‘Kun’ is basically the steps of creation. The whole process of evolution, designing and creation as defined by the phrase ‘Kun FyaKun’ basically stems from the word ‘Kana’ (refer the vocabulary ‘KANA’) meaning becoming, reaching a certain final destination or a milestone in terms of evolution of mankind to what it is today. There is no change of Sunnah (practice) of Allah, and therefore the way Allah has created the mankind, it’s created not as a result of trial and error, or different for Adam and Easa versus the rest of humanity. The humanity was not created in an instant action by Allah, but in terms of creation of humanity in its most perfect form and shape as referred in Ayah 95:04 with the phrase “Ahsan e Taqweem”- The best of the best form, shape, design and Allah’s creations. In the ayah 3:59, when Allah says “Surely, the example of ‘Isa (Easa) in the sight of Allah is the same as that of Adam whom Allah formed from clay, then Qala to it ‘Kun’ and ‘Faya Kun”– Not only describes the process of creation of human beings through the phrase ‘Qala to it Kun Faya Kun’, but also tells us that there is no difference in the way Adam (all of us, as humanity who are the Khalifa on earth) and Easa are created, contradicting the general misconception surrounding virgin birth. All of us, including Easa and Adam, were all created through the same natural reproduction process.
THIS IS HAQQ FROM THE RABB: The next ayah 3:60 “The Haqq (الْحَقُّ) is from your Rabb (رَبِّكَ)…” Is telling us very categorically that Allah has communicated the Haqq, the absolute and confirmed truth on an overall basis as per the Kitaab and specifically related to the birth of Easa, similar to Adam, as per the normal human reproduction process, involving both male and female. Therefore, when Allah says in the next phrase “… so do not be among Mumtareen (الْمُمْتَرِينَ), it means this is a direct and explicit divine instruction, a commandment to be not among those who make assumptions, rather than following the Haqq – the absolute truth as revealed and communicated by Allah, do not assume, mix Baatil with Haqq or enter into any disputes or disagreements with each other on these matters.
WHOEVER HAJJAKA: The next ayah when Allah says 3:61 “So whoever Haajjaka (حَاجَّكَ) you concerning it, after the knowledge has come to you…” Allah is talking about all those who in spite of the fact that Allah has communicated the Haqq, the absolute truth through the Rasool and Nabi, they still argue, and dispute in these matters. For such people, Allah is giving us a very explicit instructions that “… say, “Come, let us Nuda’u (نَدْعُ) our Abna’ana (َبْنَاءَنَا) and your Abnaaukum (أَبْنَاءَكُمْ) , and our Nissa’ana (نِسَاءَنَا) and Your Nisaaukum (نِسَاءَكُمْ), and our Anfusana (َنْفُسَنَا) and your Anfusakum (أَنْفُسَكُمْ)…” that is to call upon a gathering, a meeting, of all the stronger and influential segments (Abnaukum, Abnaana), the segments which lack resources (Nisaukum, Nisaana) and both of those who are doing Hujjat/arguments as well as the Rasool/Nabi/Momineen ( Anfusakum and Anfusana), Therefore this gathering, meeting is to be attended by each and every one from both sides.
NUBTAHIL IN THE GATHERING: And during the meeting the divine instruction is “…and Nubtahil (نَبْتَهِلْ),…” is normally mistranslated as “let us pray humbly” but this is a wrong translation, when we look at the ayah again “Then whoever does Hujjat concerning it from after the knowledge has come to you, then say, let us call, Anbanana, and Abnaukum, and Nisaana and Nisaaukum, and Anfusena and Anfusekum, then Nubtahim and so invoke Lanat of Allah upon the Kazibeen” in this ayah translating the word Nubtahil as “let us pray humbly” does not fit in or make any sense at all. The actual meanings of the word Nubtahil is in terms of decision, determination, fixation, fixing, resolution, regulation, setting, and settlement. Therefore, in this ayah, Allah is not asking us to gather everyone, who is doing Hujjat, argument for the sake of arguments, after the knowledge has been made Bayyinin (clear and distinct) of the Haqq, and is not asking everyone to gather so that they all can pray humbly. But in fact, the divine guidance in such situations is to have a meeting, a gathering involving everyone, with Haqq as the focus, in order to reach the final settlement, to fix the argument based on the Haqq, to settle and fix these arguments in light of the Haqq, it has nothing to do with praying humbling.
LA’NAT OF ALLAH UPON THE KAAZIBEEN: This is also confirmed from the later phrase which says “… then invoke La’nat (لَعْنَتَ) of Allah upon the Kaazebeen (الْكَاذِبِينَ).” i.e., in spite of referring and highlighting Allah’s Ayaat, those who are Kazibeen, doing Takzeeb (making fun of, rejecting, denying) Allah’s Ayaat, by sitting and settling the disputing in front of everyone, face to face, Haqq will prevail, and then invoke Allah’s La’nat on them. The word or expression invoke Allah’s La’nat on them is normally mistranslated Allah’s anger or wrath. There is no such thing as Allah’s Anger or wrath. When the word La’nat is used from Allah, it means that Allah’s all the blessings, bounties and Fadal are disconnected and the person would be deprived of such pleasures of life and Allah’s blessings. Therefore, when here Allah is talking about those people, who are denying, rejecting, making fun of or ignoring clear and concise Haqq, the Ayaat of Allah, then they would be disconnected from and deprived from Allah’s blessings as a consequence of their own actions denials and rejecting Allah’s Ayaat, the Haqq. Therefore, La’nat by Allah does not mean cursing them or Allah being upset or angry but it means in terms of facing the consequences of one’s actions and misdeeds in terms of being disconnected from Allah’s blessings. Since the Kazibeen are involved in denying, rejecting, making fun of, (Takzeeb) or ignoring, the Haqq, the Bayyinaat, the Ayaat of Allah and the Kitaab, it is like they are not listening, reading, seeing, or using their faculties and on the top of that rejecting & making fun of it, are therefore deaf, dumb and blind in utter and complete darkness (Zulemaat) and injustice because they are not doing justice to the haqq, the Ayaat of Allah.
Conclusion: The Divine Message of Ayahs 3:58 — 3:61
The Kitaab as revealed on All of Allah’s Nabi and Rasool is the same Kitaab. This Kitaab is full of Allah’s wisdom (Hikmat), knowledge (Ilm) and Zikr (understanding, following practically, remembering Allah’s Nai’mat as Hidayah, doing Shukar, taking lessons, ibrat from these stories as narrated in Quran). We should never be among the Mumtareen- those who make assumptions, rather than following the Haqq- the absolute truth as revealed and communicated by Allah- Mumtareen are those who assume and mix Baatil with Haqq and who enter into disputes or disagreements with each other in illogical and misinformed manner, rather than basing their arguments on Haqq- the clear and Bayyinaat Ayaat of Allah.
Quran talks about using our Aqal, our faculties of knowledge and intellect and also to explore Allah’s Ayaat as scattered all around us in science and universe through the use of our faculties. Everything and every story as narrated in Quran has to be viewed in light of logics and common sense and also of the complete understanding that everything and every process follows the natural laws as designed, created and set in motion by Allah. Creation of Easa is like that of Adam is one of such examples- telling us that it is exactly the same process as that for each and every one of us as humans, following a natural reproduction process as designed by Allah.
There is no change in the Sunnath of Allah. This means that the practice and ways of Allah, the way Allah carries out Allah’s Amoor, never changes. All the laws of nature, the laws on the basis of which Allah has created and is carrying out the affairs of the whole universe, including the earth and those of us as human beings- once these laws are created and set in motion, then there is no changing in these laws. Therefore, there is no concept of Miracle as per Quran, whereby Allah or any of Allah’s Nabiy or Rasool goes against or defies these natural laws, for example there is no possibility of parting of sea by Nabiy Musa so Bani-Israel can walk through the sea. This misinterpretation directly contradicts the Quranic directives that ‘there is no changing in the Sunnah of Allah”. There is no change in the natural laws that have been created and set in motion by Allah, including the process of human reproduction and pro-creation of human beings. There is no change of Sunnah (practice) of Allah, and therefore the way Allah has created the humanity- it’s created not as a result of trial and error, or different for Adam and Easa versus the rest of humanity, but based on the concept of Kun-Faya-Kun.
These ayahs have also given us Divine guidance as to how to handle and approach such situations and people- anyone who is doing Hujjat against these Bayyinaat Ayaat, through denying, rejecting, making fun of or ignoring the Haqq. The divine instruction is to call a meeting, a gathering of both sides, including everyone, and both stronger and weaker segments and discuss, and settle the arguments by fixing and settling these arguments on the basis of Haqq, i.e., Ayaat from the Kitaab. But even if after these attempts of the settlement have been made to expose the Haqq, if they persist, then they are among those whose intention is to create Fasaad and therefore they will be disconnected from the blessings of Allah and to enjoy the benefits of all laws of Allah (the laws of nature and the laws of the Deen).
For the full translation, keyword vocabulary, concepts, and lessons of these verses, click here.