Epigraph: “The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a Messenger; surely, Messengers like unto him had indeed passed away before him. And his mother was a truthful woman. They both used to eat food. See how We explain the Signs for their good, and see how they are turned away.” (Al Quran 5:76)
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
Pope Francis has recently extended an olive branch to the Muslims, the Jews and the atheists. He has invited all of us to an open dialogue. It would seem that the Church is modernizing. But, Jesus is still literal son of God, co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father and mother Mary is still mother of God. Pope Francis tweeted today, “Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, and guide us on the way that leads to Heaven.”
It is not possible for the modern man to imagine the human mother of God. In medieval times, however, it did not take a large effort. In the first century, when Saint Paul roamed the streets of Rome and Jerusalem, 90% of the population of the Roman Empire was pagan and there were literally thousands of “gods” and a few human gods as well. Emperor Augustus was a “God,” and so was Apollonius of Tyana. If you had a large enough following, you could be a “God.”
The landscape was littered with demons and Jesus himself cast out a few and his apostles had the ambition to cast out some, as well, according to the New Testament. Forty percent of the Americans still believe in demons, thanks to the New Testament. But, the other 60% can appreciate, what sort of world I am talking about. It was a time when almost every one was as irrational as the television evangelist, Pat Robertson or even more. Robertson was questioned recently on national airways by someone, who suspected that his house was haunted. Robertson recipe or solution to the victim was that if it were his house, he will literally burn it down.
In short, supernatural was the order of the day in medieval times or the later dark ages.
So, if one of the Christian leaders decided in the first or the second century that Mary was mother of God, no one was going to demand a detailed explanation or question if biologically it made any sense. Biology had not been invented yet! The issue was discussed in an Ecumenical Council also, but, given the medieval setting, religious rhetoric prevailed.
However, in this information age, we should be able to demand a rational explanation, as how a human lady, pious and prestigious no doubt, could give birth to a crying “God,” covered with blood and placenta?
Before we can dwell in the nature of mother Mary, let us understand the nature of Jesus, may peace be on him, according to the Catholic Church. It can be summed up in a one liner, “Jesus is perfect man and fully divine!”
He is a hybrid. Not one or the other, but both human and “God,” together.
The Church talks about baptism of Jesus in some vague terms, at the hands of John the Baptist, but, does not say that he was not “God,” before. If he was only human before his baptism then mother Mary cannot be mother of God, but, only mother of human Jesus.
But, to the best of our knowledge, Jesus was “perfect man and fully divine” eternally. He was “eternal,” as we are not told when the Father did the fathering and how was it beyond time.
The issue here is however his birth.
If he was always “perfect man and fully divine,” he was certainly so at the time of his birth. When Jesus came out crying from the female passages, his head distorted by the trauma of labor, was it the human Jesus that was crying or the divine Jesus or both natures of Jesus were cryful, at God having been put through this shame?
In a few minutes or hours, as he needed to be breast fed, was it the human Jesus, the divine Jesus or Jesus the hybrid?
In a few hours, as he needed to pee or attend to the major call of nature, was it the human Jesus, the divine Jesus or Jesus the hybrid?
As he periodically cried with a colic, was it the human Jesus, the divine Jesus or Jesus the hybrid?
As his flesh was touched and patted with love by his mother Mary, was it the human Jesus, the divine flesh of Jesus or Jesus the hybrid?
We are not mocking at the Christian theology. By no means. We only seek to show and demonstrate.
It is said, “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.” But, could it be a duck and a man at the same time, or a duck and a “God?”
Mother Mary is a Jewish lady and mother of several children according to the Bible. She is no “mother of God!” God of Islam, Judaism and Unitarian Christianity is eternal and she is not.
According to the Islamic tradition mother Mary was a pious, virtuous and chaste lady and a chapter of the Holy Quran is named after her. In another chapter of the Quran she is presented as a role model, not only for the Muslim women but also the Muslim men. (Al Quran 66:11-13)
In his tweet or otherwise, Pope Francis has not explained that if Mary is mother of God, why does she have to pray to God. Why could not she suggest, advise, order, demand or even legislate?
I love the democratic values of our age of information and how Twitter has leveled the playing field in many ways. I am about to tweet this article to Pope Francis with due respect and honor.
Until the Pope tweets me back, let me suggest an article by my wife, Dr. Khaula Rehman to learn more about mother Mary and the Christian dilemma. The article is titled, Maria: Pope Benedict XVI on the Mother of God.
I started with a verse of the Holy Quran and I conclude with one:
And when Allah will say, “O Jesus, son of Mary, didst thou say to men, ‘Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah?’”, he will answer, “Holy art Thou. I could never say that to which I had no right. If I had said it, Thou wouldst have surely known it. Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Thy mind. It is only Thou Who art the Knower of hidden things. (Al Quran 5:117)