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Offline Reader Questions

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Dear Joseph
I read your article on THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF PROPHET JESUS(pbuh). Quite reasonable. Also read UNDERSTANDING THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS (pbuh) FROM A QURAN'S PERSPECTIVE. I appreciate your understanding. (you can also add sura nur ayat 36 or sura fatir ayat 10 for the explanation of word `rafa')
Now my humble query, how do you understand the 49th ayat of sura al imran.
As a messenger to the Children of Israel: "I have come to you with a sign from your Lord; that I create for you from clay the form of a bird, then I blow into it and it becomes a bird by God's leave, and I heal the blind and the lepers, and give life to the dead by God's leave, and I can tell you what you have eaten, and what you have stored in your homes. In that is a sign for you if you have acknowledged."
I feel difficult to understand -
`that I create for you from clay the form of a bird, then I blow into it and it becomes a bird by God's leave'
`give life to the dead.
As we know that `give life to dead' is the absolute authority of Allah and He does not share it with anyone. (6:102, 7:54, 35:3, 39:62, 2:258 and many more)
Is the ayat 39 allegorical? As prophet Jesus used parables frequently.
Mark 4:34
But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.

Offline Joseph Islam

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    • The Quran and its Message
Re: Prophet Jesus Giving Life to the Dead - Is this a Parable or Not?
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2013, 07:16:30 PM »
Wa alaikum assalam

When the Quran coins parables or a similitude, it uses the Arabic word 'mathal' to describe them. Verses which cite them often make it absolutely clear that such a parable has been cited (mathal) which God wants mankind to reflect and ponder over.  They intend to drive an underlying moral teaching. These parables are no different in nature to those found in Prophet Jesus's (pbuh) teachings which can be referenced from the canonical Gospels.

There are numerous such parables found in the Quran.

  • The Man that kindled a fire (2:17-18)
  • Rain-laden cloud (2:19-20)
  • The one who shouts at what does not hear (2:171)
  • A hamlet in ruins (2:259)
  • Grain of corn (2:261)
  • The rock on which falls heavy rain (2:264)
  • The frost (3:117)
  • The dog that lolls his tongue (7:176)
  • Water sent from the skies (10:24)
  • Blind and the deaf (11:24)
  • Gardens of felicity (13:35)
  • Actions of ashes (14:18)
  • Good word like a good tree (14:24)
  • Evil word and an evil tree (14:26)
  • Slave and a free man (16:75)
  • A dumb man against one who commands justice (16:76)
  • Woman who unravels her yarn (16:92)
  • City secure yet ungrateful (16:112)
  • Two men and gardens of grape vines (18:32)
  • Life of this world and rain (18:45)
  • Snatched by the birds or the wind carries away (22:31)
  • Cannot create a fly (22:73)
  • God's light (24:35-36)
  • Mirage in a desert (24:39)
  • Depths of darkness (24:40)
  • Spider's house (29:41)
  • Partners (30:28)
  • Companions of the city and three messengers (36:13-32)
  • One master and several masters (39:29)
  • Gardens promised for believers (47:15)
  • Seed that grows (48:29)
  • Rain which causes vegetation to grow (57:20)
  • The mountain that humbles (59:21)
  • Donkey carrying books (62:5)

If there is a 'mathal' that God cites but does not want believers to pursue, He makes this absolutely clear in the Quran itself. For example the 'mathal' in verses 74:30-31 regarding the number '19' has been cited by implication as one not to be pursued.
074:031 (part)
"...and the disbelievers and those in whose hearts is a disease may say "What does God intend by this example (Arabic: mathalan)?"

The verse you have kindly shared has not been cited as a 'mathal', but as a literal statement of fact.

The Quran does not say that Prophet Jesus gave life on His own will. The Quran's position is clear that Prophet Jesus acted on God's authority and by His will. None of the verses you have quoted contradict this point.

Finally, the Quran confirms (musaddqan) vestiges of knowledge that were known to the People of the Book at the time of Prophet Muhammad’s ministry.

There clearly existed knowledge of the clay bird incident amongst those of the People of the Book. This is evidenced by the Apocrypha Gospels such as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas which predates the Quran (Circa 2nd 3rd Century AD) and carries the same narratives. The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Arabic Gospel of The Infancy of The Saviour are other examples which carry the same narrative. Even the fact that vestiges of knowledge existed amongst the People of the Book that 'Jesus spoke in His cradle' can be evidenced by the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Saviour (Original Syriac Circa 5th 6th Century AD).

So the Quran simply confirms such vestiges of knowledge. The Christians may not agree and accuse the Quran of borrowing errant ideas, but the Quran makes it clear that these events happened. The Quran does not present them as parables.

I hope this helps, God willing.

Peace and regards,

'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell