Quran Read-A-Long: Al-‘Imran 42-54 Talks All About Jesus, Pre-Birth to Adulthood

In verse 44, Asad is saying that the Quran is saying of itself that it is revelation: “We [now] reveal unto thee.” Even though Christians regard their understanding of Mary’s life as true (virgin birth, mother of God, etc.) the Quran is making clear that this is the true version of the story.

It’s clear that the respect afforded Jesus and the honor done him are not to be disregarded by the Quran. The Quran and Islam believe in the prophetic quality of Jesus and in his greatness as a human being and one beloved by God. However, in Islam, as in Judaism, there is no Son of God in a literal sense. There is no virgin birth. Jesus was a human being with a wonderful message that fell in line with the messages of the other prophets.

Okay, as of verse 47 I’m confused. Verse 47 implies that there is a virgin birth going on here, as no man has ever touched Mary (according to her). I thought, however, that Islam didn’t believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. How is this interpreted otherwise? I understand the purpose of the next part of the line (I think) about God creating what He wills. It actually recalls the creation story in chapter 1 of the book of Genesis, which, considering Christian theology, is a fascinating thing to relate in these Quranic verses. But despite God being able to create what He will however He wants – and we know that to be the case – why would the Quran make a point of saying such a thing here when Muslims don’t believe in the virgin birth? Either I’m wrong about that belief or there’s another way to understand this verse.

The next few verses are things that we consider Jesus to have said in his lifetime. It’s unclear whether or not this is a foretelling of what’s to come in Jesus’ life or another statement of these things. Based on Asad’s note, it’s interesting that verse 49’s reference to the ‘destiny being shaped’ is the word used for bird, considering the fact that in Christianity, the bird is a representation of the Spirit, or God’s third essence. In verse 50, what still remains of the Torah would seem to be those things that the Israelites are still practicing rightly. I’m not sure what Jesus made okay that was forbidden to people beforehand. Jesus, according to the Gospel, said that he intended to change nothing at all about the Law (i.e. the Torah) and he actually seems to make (again, in the Gospels at least) things a little bit stricter (e.g. thinking naughty thoughts is adultary). Only Paul wanted the Torah’s laws to be abolished.

Verse 52 takes quite a little jump there in time. That seems strange to do and inconsistent.

The final verse here talks about God preventing scheming against Jesus from coming to fruition but when I think of the crucifixion, though it’s spun as something that had to happen, it would certainly seem as though the scheming came to something.

I had a lot of disjointed thoughts in here and a variety of questions that were poorly phrased as questions. If you can add anything or clarify anything, I’d be much obliged. Thanks for reading!

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Al-’Imran 42-54

42. AND LO! The angels said: “O Mary! Behold, God has elected thee and made thee pure, and raised thee above all the women of the world. 43. O Mary! Remain thou truly devout unto thy Sustainer, and prostrate thyself in worship, and bow down with those who bow down [before Him].” 44. This account of something that was beyond the reach of thy perception We [now] reveal unto thee: for thou wert not with them when they drew lots as to which of them should be Mary’s guardian, and thou wert not with them when they contended [about it] with one another. 45. Lo! The angels said: “O Mary! Behold, God sends thee the glad tiding, through a word from Him, [of a son] who shall become known as the Christ Jesus, son of Mary, of great honor in this world and in the life to come, and [shall be] of those who are drawn near unto God. 46. And he shall speak unto men in his cradle, and as a grown man, and shall be of the righteous.” 47. Said she: “O my Sustainer! How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?” [The angel] answered: “Thus it is: God creates what He wills: when He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it, ‘Be’ – and it is. 48. And he will impart unto thy son revelation, and wisdom, and the Torah, and the Gospel, 49. and [will make him] an apostle unto the children of Israel.” “I HAVE COME unto you with a message from your Sustainer. I shall create for you out of clay, as it were, the shape of [your] destiny, and then breathe into it, so that it might become [your] destiny by God’s leave; and I shall heal the blind and the leper, and bring the dead back to life by God’s leave; and I shall let you know what you may eat and what you should store up in your houses. Behold, in all this there is indeed a message for you, if you are [truly] believers. 50. “And [I have come] to confirm the truth of whatever there still remains of the Torah, and to make lawful unto you some of the things which [aforetime] were forbidden to you. And I have come unto you with a message from your Sustainer; remain, then, conscious of God, and pay heed unto me. 51. “Verily, God is my Sustainer as well as your Sustainer; so worship Him [alone]: this is a straight way.” 52. And when Jesus became aware of their refusal to acknowledge the truth, he asked: “Who will be my helpers in God’s cause?” The white-garbed ones replied: “We shall be [thy] helpers [in the cause] of God! We believe in God: and bear thou witness that we have surrendered ourselves unto Him! 53. O our Sustainer! We believe in what Thou hast bestowed from on high, and we follow this Apostle; make us one, then, with all who bear witness [to the truth]!” 54. And the unbelievers schemed [against Jesus]; but God brought their scheming to nought: for God is above all schemers.

Cartman Wants to Feel Jesus’ Salvation All Over His Face in South Park Episode 709, “Christian Rock Hard”

As an episode about South Park exploiting the Christian music industry in order to win a bet with Kyle, you can only imagine how much I love “Christian Rock Hard.”

So, now you know the premise, and what’s left to enjoy are Cartman’s experiences creating his awesome band. By taking the lyrics from old songs and replacing key words with Jesus, we’re left with a series of sensual, sexual and disturbing song about Cartman and Jesus. The songs also have great names that recall issues like salvation, crucifixion, sin and forgiveness. The names of the other Christian rock bands, like “Trinity,” also speak to South Park‘s amusing understanding of Christianity.

At Christfest, where Cartman hopes his band will perform, there is a stand selling bibles and another selling items with your favorite psalm printed on them. A particularly hilarious scene is when Cartman and the band are in the record company’s president’s office about to have their band signed. Cartman challenges God to strike him with lightening if he is being insincere about his love of Jesus. Butters scoots away.

In the meantime, in addition to mocking Christian rock and Cartman’s exploitation of evangelical Christians everywhere, the show comments on a social issue prevalent at the time: downloading big bands’ music from Napster and the internet. This lambasting of Metallica and others for their self-obsession, greediness, conceit and lack of interest in the music when compared to the money is both blatant and, I’d say, deserved. Sure, musicians have a right to protect their music – it is theirs after all – but to try to stand in the way of what, we can see 6 years later, is an unstoppable progression in the way music is acquired and listened to, is foolish and short-sighted.

What did you think about this episode? What was your favorite part?

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