Passover celebrates the freedom from bondage, and I have an opportunity as a physician to free my patients from the bondage of illness.
In the Name of God, The Everlastingly Loving and Caring
As is so typical in our day and age, controversies die with the next news cycle. It seems like an age ago that our President was under fire – rightfully so – for retweeting anti-Muslim videos from a British nationalist group.
One of these videos depicts a Muslim man destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary, implying that Muslims somehow hate the Virgin Mary and all of Christianity. This is completely untrue. Islam has such high regard for both Jesus and Mary.
The Virgin Mary is the only woman to be mentioned by name in the Quran. She is the only woman to have an entire chapter – Chapter 19 – named after her. The story of her birth is recounted in beautiful eloquence in the Quran:
“A woman of (the House of Imran) prayed: ‘O my sustainer! Behold, unto Thee do I vow (the child) that is in my womb to be devoted to Thy service. Accept it, then, from me: verily, Thou alone art all-hearing, all-knowing!’ But when she had given birth to the child, she said: ‘O my sustainer! Behold, I have given birth to a female’ – the while God had been fully aware of what she would give birth to – ‘and the male is not like the female. And I have named her Mary, and verily, I seek Thy protection for her and her offspring against Satan, the accursed.’” (3:35-36)
The Quran details how she took a special secluded place in the Temple where she worshiped God devoutly:
“And mention Mary in the Book: when she withdrew from her people to a place in the East and secluded herself from them…” (19:16-17).
It was there that the Angel Gabriel appeared to her to give her the good news of the birth of her son, Jesus:
“…We sent her Our spirit, which appeared to her just like a man. She said, ‘I take refuge from you with the Benevolent One, if you are conscientious.’ He said, ‘I am only a messenger from your Lord, to give you a sinless son.’” (16:17-19)
Moreover, God singles out the Virgin Mary as the ideal example of the believer:
“And God cites as an example of those who believed…Mary, the daughter of Imran. She maintained her chastity, then we blew into her from Our spirit. She believed in the words of her Lord and His scriptures; she was obedient.” (66:11-12)
So, the Virgin Mary is very special in Islam. Therefore, while it is true that we Muslims do not believe in making statutes of any sacred figure, destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary is absolutely unacceptable. Period.
In fact, our Scripture specifically tells us not to insult others’ religious beliefs:
[Believers], do not revile those they call on beside God in case they, in their hostility and ignorance, revile God. To each community We make their own actions seem alluring, but in the end they will return to their Lord and He will inform them of all they did (6:108)
Therefore, that Muslim man in that video was betraying his faith by destroying that statue, which is insulting to so many Christians around the world who – like we Muslims – share in the honor and veneration of the mother of Christ.
In the end, it makes me very sad that there is a perception that Islam somehow denigrates Christianity or teaches Muslims to hate Christians. This is so untrue. In fact, the Quran says that Christians are the ones closest in love to Muslims:
…you are sure to find that the closest in affection towards the believers are those who say, ‘We are Christians,’… (5:82)
Our common love for Jesus and his mother should be that bond that brings Muslims and Christians together. Our common belief in the sanctity and beauty of the Virgin Mary should be that bond that should remove animosity between us. Our common worship of God, the Lord of all, should be enough to prevent anyone from tearing us apart.