Thanks and praise to God’ that I was fortunate enough to be born into and raised in a small, agricultural community in rural Kansas. Within that community, and especially within my family, there was an emphasis on certain “old fashioned” values and conceptions of morality and self-responsibility, which were still prevalent during my childhood days of 1950s.
Within the context of that security, my upbringing may appear strange to many contemporary Americans, but may nostalgically remind them of a by gone American era. At that time and place, doors to the house were seldom locked, a man’s word was his bond, and a handshake was worth more than any legally binding contract. A child’s mother was usually in the home for him 24 hours a day, grandparents were near at hand, and one’s neighbors when one was two were one’s neighbors when one was sixteen, resulting in a familial and social stability that is almost non existent today.
Teachers were citizens of respect within the community, and violence was unheard of, whether in the school or elsewhere. Divorce would have been cause for a social scandal, and I cannot remember even one nuclear family that was not intact. The church was the center of community life, prayers were still said at the beginning of every school day, and weekly Sunday School inoculated each child with a simple, but worthy, moral code of conduct, based squarely upon the Ten Commandments.! as well as on the reported words of Jesus, peace be upon him.
He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)
If this all seems to be a re-run from Leave It to Beaver, Oziie and Harriet, or Father Knows Best, perhaps it was. However, it was no celluloid illusion created by the myth makers of Hollywood. Rather, it was our daily life.
While some older and middle-aged Americans can perhaps relate to the setting I am writing about, there was one aspect of that community that would probably seem foreign even to them. The community in which I was raised was primarily Mennonite” in its religious affiliation, and the paternal side of my family traced to Mennonite roots, although my own nuclear family was Methodist in denominational affiliation. Given that influence, there were certain aspects of my early life, which helped me prepare to appreciate many aspects of Islam.
During my early childhood, the Old Mennonite women of my home town most of the time wore “prayer bonnets” that provided a semi-transparent covering for at least part of the hair; dress was conservative and modest, for both men and women, with hem lines never moving higher than the bottom of the knee, and with shorts being a foreign concept. While men and women typically ate at a common table, when company was over the two genders tended to congregate in separate rooms of the house both before and after the meal. Whenever married couples went out together, the men always sat in the front seat of the car, while the women sat in the back seat.
Though dating was allowed among teenagers, it was closely supervised during the early teen years, and social dancing was altogether forbidden. While most individuals kept away from alcohol, a few imbibed on a minimal basis. Later on in life, I could draw many more parallels between the social customs of my childhood community and the Islamic community.
At the age of four I became a victim of the great polio epidemic that swept across America in 1954. I woke up one morning, crying from pain in my neck. The pain that morning, a vague memory of undergoing a spinal tap at the hospital, and an even vaguer memory of another boy in a wheelchair constitute most of the true memories I have of that traumatic time.
The attack left me paralyzed. I was rushed to the hospital and on examining me, the doctors told my parents that I may perhaps not survive the night My mother responded with a round-the-clock bedside vigil. In which she constantly prayed for me, and, in her own way, dedicated my life to Allah. The next morning, my condition had improved, and the physicians decided that the chance of my survival had increased to the point where they could allocate one of their few “iron lungs” in an effort to try and save me. Before I could be transferred to the “iron lung”, my condition had inexplicably improved to the point that the “iron lung” was no longer necessary. Three days later, I was discharged from the hospital. I could walk with a rather pronounced limp, but I could not run without getting my legs tangled together, and without falling down within a few strides.
Apparently, my mother’s prayers had been heard. Certainly, there was no medical explanation for the strange and baffling course of my bout with polio. While my mother’s prayerful dedication was never forced upon me, nor even directly mentioned to me, my later childhood became more and more focused on the church. By the time I was in high school, I was a regular “preacher” during Youth Sundays, and would occasionally make rounds to “preach” at various churches in my own and in neighboring communities. By the time I graduated from high school, I had “filled the pulpit” at about a half dozen different churches, and held an elective conference office in my denomination’s youth organization. I had also decided to enter the ministry.
Academic encounters with Islam
Familiar names: In pursuing my decision to enter the ministry, I attempted to receive the best education that I could. Thanks to Allah once again, I was lucky to be admitted to Harvard College (Harvard University) on scholarship. During my freshman year, I enrolled in a two-semester course in comparative religion, which was taught by Wilfred Cantwell Smith, whose specific area of expertise was Islam.” As I began my study of Islam, I was surprised more than ever before to learn how similar Islam was in so may aspects to my own Christianity.
Certainly, the religious history and heritage of the two religions seemed almost similar, if not nearly identical. After all, my initial reading of the Quran revealed numerous references to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, John the Baptist, and Jesus, peace be upon them. In fact, those of the Judeo-Christian tradition may be surprised to learn than the Quran specifically names many Biblical figures far more often than it refers to Muhammad, by name. In that regard, using ‘Abdullah Yusef Ali’s English translation of The Meaning of The Holy Quran.! and counting the number of times a name is cited in the text, one finds that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus are all mentioned far more frequently than are Ishmael and Muhammad:
Frequency of citation of various prophets in the Quran
Moses 177, Abraham 74, Noah 47, Jesus 37, Joseph 34, Adam 25, Solomon 19, Jacob 18, Isaac 16, David 16, Ishmael 6, John the Baptist 5 and Muhammad 4.
The above list does not include every prophet mentioned by name in the Quran. Further, it needs to be noted that not every prophet mentioned in the Quran is mentioned in the Bible either. However, the above list is illustrative of the marked similarity in orientation between Islam and the Judeo-Christian tradition. As shown in the above list, Moses is by far the most frequently mentioned prophet in the Quran, with his name being mentioned more than twice as often as that of Abraham, the second most frequently cited prophet in the Quran. Following the name of Abraham in frequency of citation are those of Noah, Jesus, and Joseph.
Stories in the Quran and the Bible
In reading the Quran, I quickly discovered that the similarities between the Quran and the Bible (Islam and the Judeo-Christian tradition) are not limited to the use of names of prominent Biblical characters alone. Within the pages of the Quran, one finds many stories that are an impressive parallel to those recorded in the Bible. Occasionally, the stories in the Quran offer a slightly different perspective and detail from the parallel ones in the Bible. The overall similarity is impressive, as is shown in the following few examples.
The creation and fall of Adam
Both the Bible and the Quran address the issue of the creation of the first man, Adam, and of his subsequent expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The Biblical narration is recorded in Genesis 2:4-3:24, and details that Adam was created “from the dust of the ground; and Allah “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life”, and Adam became a living being and was asked to give names to every animal.
Eve, Adam’s wife, was formed by Allah from one of Adam’s ribs. Allah then declared that the two were free to eat from the fruit of the trees in the garden, barring one particular tree. The Satan, in the guise of a serpent, persuaded Eve, who in turn persuaded Adam, to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, disobeying the command of their Creator. Thereupon, their nakedness became manifest to them and they were ashamed of it. In punishment of their disobedience, they were expelled from the Garden of Eden. In a distinct similarity of description, the Quran draws a close parallel to this instance:
“Behold! Thy Lord said to the angels: “I am about to create man, from sounding clay from mud moulded into shape; when I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto Him.” (Quran 15:28-29)
And He taught Adam the names of all things…(Quran 2:31) “0 Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the garden, and enjoy (its good things) as ye wish: but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and transgression.” Then began Satan to whisper suggestions to them, in order to reveal to them their shame that was hidden from them (before): he said:
“Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest ye should become angels or such beings as live forever”. And he swore to them both, that he was their sincere adviser. So by deceit he brought about their fall: when they tasted of the tree, their shame became manifest to them, and they began to sew together the leaves of the garden over their bodies. And their Lord called unto them: “Did I not forbid you that tree, and tell you that Satan was an avowed enemy unto you?” They said: “Our Lord! We have wronged our own souls: if Thou forgive us not and bestow not upon us Thy mercy, we shall certainly be lost”.
(Allah) said: “Get ye down, with enmity between yourselves, on earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood-for a time”. He said: “Therein shall ye live, and therein shall ye die; but from it shall ye be taken out (at last).” (Quran 7:19-25)
Cain Murders Abel Genesis 4:1-16 states that Adam and Eve had two sons, i.e. Cain, the elder, and Abel, the younger. Upon reaching maturity, both Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to Allah, but only Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to Allah. Realizing this, Cain was furious and in a rage of anger and frustration murdered Abel. Allah cursed and punished Cain for his homicidal behavior.
The Quran offers an almost identical narration, but with some additional details about Abel’s refusal to fight his brother, Cain: “Recite to them the truth of the story of the two sons of Adam. Behold! They each presented a sacrifice (to Allah): it was accepted from one, but not from the other. Said the latter: “Be sure I will slay thee.” “Surely,” said the former, “Allah doth accept of the sacrifice of those who are righteous. If thou doest stretch thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee: for I do fear Allah, the cherisher of the worlds. For me, I intend to let thee draw on thyself my sin as well as thine, for thou wilt be among the companions of the fire, and that is the reward of those who do wrong.” The (selfish) soul of the other led him to the murder of his brother: he murdered him, and became (himself) one of the lost ones.’ (Quran 5:27-30)
Moses and the promised land
According to the Bible (Numbers 13:1-14:38 and Deuteronomy 1:19-40) Moses and the Israelites, having escaped from Egypt, were directed by Allah to invade and take the land of Palestine. Before beginning their invasion, the Israelites sent out spies into Palestine. Except for Joshua and Caleb, all the other spies reported that a successful invasion was not feasible, since the inhabitants of Palestine were far taller and stronger than the Israelites.
Even though Joshua and Caleb urged invasion and reliance upon Allah, the people refused to obey them. At this point, according to Numbers 13:11-12, Allah reportedly threatened to dis-inherit the Israelites, a punishment that Numbers 13:13-14:38 states was only averted by the pleading of Moses to Allah. However, as punishment, the Israelites were forced to continue wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, before they were allowed to enter Palestine. A similar description appears in the Quran, too, but with some greater detail.
Remember Moses said to his people: “O my people! Call in remembrance the favor of Allah unto you, when He produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave you what He had not given to any other among the peoples. O my people! Enter the holy land which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.” They said: “O Moses! In this land are a people of exceeding strength: never shall we enter it until they leave it: if (once) they leave, then shall we enter.” But among (their) God-fearing men were two on whom Allah had bestowed His grace: they said: “Assault them at the (proper) gate: when once ye are in, victory will be. yours; but on Allah put your trust if ye have faith.” They said: “O Moses! While they remain there, never shall we be able to enter, to the end of time. Go thou, and thy Lord, and fight ye two, while we sit here (and watch).” He said: “O my Lord! I have power only over myself and my brother: so separate us from this rebellious people!” Allah said: “Therefore will the land be out of their reach for forty years: in distraction will they wander through the land: but sorrow thou not over these rebellious people.” (Quran 5:20-26)
However, there is one marked difference between the narration of this incident in the two Holy Books. While the Quran reports that it was Moses who asked Allah to separate him from the Israelites, the Bible maintains that Moses pled for Allah’s forgiveness of the “rebellious people” – the Israelites – after Allah threatened to disinherit them from His favors. Nonetheless, the Biblical and Quranic accounts, in spite of this slight variation, are amazingly similar.
The Story of Jonah The Biblical book of Jonah tells the story of Jonah, the son of Arnittai, a prophet to the Assyrian city of Nineveh. Reportedly, because he did not want the inhabitants of Nineveh to be saved, Jonah disobeyed Allah’s command for him to go to Nineveh, and preach to its inhabitants. Instead, Jonah fled to Joppa, where he boarded a ship sailing for Tarshish. Once the ship had set sail, Allah created a great storm, which threatened to sink the ship. In response, the crew cast lots to see on whose account the storm had been created, and “the lot fell on Jonah”. After hearing Jonah’s story, the crew continued to try to row to safety, but the storm continued unabated.
Finally, the crew threw Jonah overboard as a sacrifice, in hopes that this sacrifice would result in a calming of the storm. Jonah was swallowed by a large fish, and he remained in its belly for three days and three nights. Therein, Jonah prayed to Allah for forgiveness, and the fish then spat Jonah out on dry land. Having been freed from the belly of the fish, Jonah went to Nineveh, and preached to the inhabitants of the city. Over 120,000 people responded to Jonah’s preaching and prayed to Allah seeking His forgiveness. Thereafter, Jonah retired outside the city angry that Nineveh had been saved. As he sat there lamenting, Allah caused a “bush” to grow up over Jonah, and to offer a comforting shade to Jonah. The next day, Allah reportedly caused the bush to wither.
The above story is very eloquently related in the following passage from the Quran, wherein one has most of the details from the Biblical book of Jonah (Yunus). The similarities between the two descriptions are truly impressive.
“So also was Jonah among those sent (by Us). When he ran away to the ship (fully) laden, he (agreed to) cast lots, and he was condemned: then the big fish did swallow him, and he had done acts worthy of blame. Had it not been that he (repented and) glorified Allah, he would certainly have remained inside the fish till the Day of Resurrection. But We cast him forth on the naked shore in a state of sickness, and We caused to grow, over him, a spreading plant of the gourd kind, and We sent him (on a mission) to a hundred thousand (men) or more. And they believed so We permitted them to enjoy (their life) for a while.” (Quran 37:139-148)
The birth of John the baptist
It is not only in the Old Testament, but the similarities between the Bible and the Quran also exist in the New Testament as well. In that regard, one can turn to the events leading up to the birth of John (“Yahya” in Arabic) the Baptist, as reported in Luke 1:2-24, 57-66. According to the story (as reported in Luke), Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, were an aged couple, who had never had children – Elizabeth being barren. Once, when Zechariah was praying in the sanctuary, the angel Gabriel appeared, and announced to Zechariah that his prayer had been heard and accepted by Allah.
Zechariah and Elizabeth were soon to have a son who would be named John, and who would be a prophet to his people. Zechariah asked for a sign to confirm this message regarding the birth of a son. According to the account of Luke, the sign was that Zechariah was made mute, and allegedly remained mute throughout the conception, gestation, birth, and first eight days of John the Baptist. Only upon confirming his wife’s choice of the name John for their son, did Zechariah regain his speech.
The above account parallels the Quran, which, too, speaks of this event. “There did Zechariah pray to his Lord, saying: “O my Lord! Grant unto me from Thee a progeny that is pure: for Thou art He that heareth prayed” While he was standing in prayer in the chamber, the angels called unto him: “Allah doth give thee glad tidings of Yahya, witnessing the truth of a word from Allah, and (be besides) noble, chaste, and a Prophet-of the (goodly) company of the righteous. “He said: “O my Lord! How shall I have a son, seeing I am very old, and my wife is barren?” “Thus,” was the answer, “Doth Allah accomplish what He willeth.” He said: “O my Lord! Give me a Sign!” “Thy Sign,” was the answer, “Shall be that thou shalt speak to no man for three days but with signals, then celebrate the praises of thy Lord again and again. And glorify Him in the evening and in the morning.” (Quran 3:38-41)
Bearing in mind that “Yahya” is merely the Arabic name for “John”, the above passage from the Quran offers impressive similarity to the account reported in Luke. The only significant discrepancy is in regard to the length of time that Zechariah remained mute, which the Quran limits to only three days.
The birth of Jesus
The Biblical account of the angelic announcement to Mary of the coming birth of Jesus is related in Luke 1:26-38. Skipping over the later theologizing to be found in this passage from Luke, the basic outline is that the angel Gabriel informs virgin Mary that she has found favor in the sight of Allah, and that she will soon give birth to a son, who will be named Jesus; Mary in a puzzled state asks as to how she could possibly give birth, when she is still a virgin, to which Gabriel reportedly answers that:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.” The words attributed to Gabriel in the above quoted passage call to mind the polytheistic Greek myths of the gods descending from Mount Olympus to rape and impregnate mortal women. In contrast to this polytheistic residual as found in Luke, the Quran, while paralleling the account from Luke in most other respects, presents the virgin birth of Jesus as an act of miraculous creation, not as an act of impregnation:
“Behold! The angels said: O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee chosen, thee above the women of all nations. O Mary! Worship thy Lord devoutly: prostrate thyself, and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down.” This is part of the tidings of the things unseen, which We reveal unto thee (O Prophet!) by inspiration: thou wast not with them when they cast lots with arrows, as to which of them should be charged with the care of Mary: nor wast thou with them when they disputed (the point). Behold! The angels said: “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus. The son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah; he shall speak to the people in childhood and immaturity. And he shall be (of the company) of the righteous.” She said: ” O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?” He said: “Even so: Allah createth what He willeth: when He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, ‘Be,’ and it is! And Allah will teach him the book and wisdom, the law and the gospel,…” (Quran 3:42-48)
Summary and conclusions
There are many more parallels that can be illustrated between the Quran and the Bible. In both books, one finds the story of Noah’s ark and the flood. In both books, one finds similar and additional stories regarding Moses, e.g., the conflict between Moses and the pharaoh of Egypt, the story of Moses receiving the covenant at Mt. Sinai, etc. Likewise, one finds the story of Joseph, the Israelite vizier of Egypt, which unfolds remarkably and in great detail, in the Quran. Furthermore, the Quran tells the story of David’s killing of Goliath, the story of King Saul, the story of Abraham’s trials, etc. Unfortunately, time and space do not permit that all of these parallel stories between the Quran and the Bible can be individually addressed.
Biblical characters in the Quran
However, it is also the case that the Quran reports numerous stories, regarding well-known Biblical characters that cannot be found in the Bible. One example of the Quran reporting a story not found in the Bible would be the allusion in the immediately quoted passage from the Quran of various individuals casting arrows to see who would be charged with the care of Mary during her pregnancy. (Quran 3:44)
Quite simply, this story is not to be found in the contemporary Bible. Another example would be the passage in the Quran that refers to Jesus fashioning a bird out of clay, and then, by Allah’s leave, causing that clay bird to come to life. (Quran 3:49)
Once again, this story cannot be found anywhere in the modem Bible. Nonetheless, one can see that such stories do find expression in the early Christian literature, most especially in the so-called apocryphal books of the New Testament. As such, these stories illustrate that the Quran is often more consistent with the early roots of Christianity, than is modem Christianity, itself.
Encounters with Early Christianity Graduating from Harvard College in 1971, I was accepted on scholarship to the Master of Divinity program at the Harvard Divinity School (Harvard University), having previously obtained my License to Preach from the United Methodist Church in 1969. After completion of the first year of a three-year study program at Harvard Divinity School, I was ordained into the deaconate of the United Methodist Church in 1972, and was from that point an ordained minister.
There is some irony in the fact that the supposedly best, brightest, and most idealistic o f ministers-to-be are selected for the very best of seminary education (e.g., that offered at that time at the Harvard Divinity School).
The irony is that, with such an education, the seminarian is exposed to a vast knowledge of historical truth – such as the formation of the early, “mainstream” church, and how it was shaped by geopolitical considerations; the “original” reading of various Biblical texts, many of which are in sharp contrast to what most Christians read when they pick up their Bible, although gradually some of this information is being incorporated into newer and better translations of the Bible; the evolution of such concepts as a triune godhead and the “sonship” of Jesus; the non-religious considerations that underlie many Christian creeds and doctrines; the existence of those early churches and Christian movements which never accepted the concept of a triune godhead, and which also never accepted the concept of the divinity of Jesus; and those early Christian writings, once regarded as scripture by many early Christian churches (known as the New Testament apocrypha).
Moreover the information contained therein differed from the information in the canonical New Testament, a New Testament that emerged some centuries later.
Dwelling briefly on the subject, one must consider the issue of those early Christian writings – not incorporated into the later formation of the New Testament.
During my seminary encounters in tracing the roots of early Christianity, I amazingly discovered that certain specific stories in the Quran, (not found in the contemporary Bible, and occasionally even at odds with those contained in the Bible), were preserved and recorded identically in the New Testament apocrypha. Some examples of such occurrences are enumerated below.
The birth and lineage of the virgin Mary
The books of the contemporary New Testament offer nothing or very little substance with regard to the background of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The only readily available information can be seen in Luke, where Mary is said to have been a relative of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and where it is stated that Mary spent three months of her pregnancy in the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. (Luke 1:35, 39-56)
In contrast, the Quran offers a great deal of information regarding Mary.
Behold! a woman of ‘Imran said: “Oh my Lord! I do dedicate unto Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service: so accept this of me: for Thou hearest and knowest all things.” When she was delivered, she said: “0 my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!”-And Allah knew best what she brought forth
“And no wise is the male like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from the evil one, the rejected.” Right graciously did her Lord accept her: He made her grow in purity and beauty; to the care of Zechariah was she assigned. Every time that he entered (her) chamber to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: “0 Mary! Whence (comes) this to you?” She said: “From Allah: for Allah provides sustenance to whom He pleases, without measure.” (Quran 3:35-37)
Three points emerge from the foregoing Quranic quote:
First, the reference to “a woman of ‘Imran’ appears to be a statement that the lineage of Mary’s mother traced back to the Biblical Amran, the son of Kohath, a member of the Levite tribe of Israel, and the father of Moses. (Exodus 6:16-20) As there was a pronounced tendency among the Israelites to marry within their own clan I tribe, in all probabilities, Mary was of the Levite tribe.
Second, the quotation specifically states that Mary was miraculously “supplied with sustenance” from Allah.
Third, the same passage from the Quran distinctly says that Mary was placed in the care of Zechariah, while Luke merely says that Mary visited Zechariah and Elizabeth for three months during her pregnancy.
As an additional fourth point, and referring back to a previously quoted passage from the Quran, it is noted that several individuals cast lots with arrows to see who would be entrusted with the care of Mary. (Quran 3:44)
The above four points find specific support in the so-called New Testament apocrypha. The Gospel of the Birth of Mary, preserved in a reference given by Faustus, the Bishop of Riez in Provence, directly states that Mary was a Levite. (The Gospel of the Birth of Mary) Further, a passage from the New Testament apocrypha says that angels fed Mary during her stay at the Temple in Jerusalem. (The Protevangelion of James 8:2)
Third, regarding Mary being entrusted into Zechariah’s care, the New Testament apocrypha provides support, by noting that Zechariah petitioned the High Priest about Mary.” (The Protevangelion of James 8:3-4) Further, two passages in the New Testament apocrypha provide evidence for such an event, with Joseph being the one who was chosen to succeed Zechariah in taking care of Mary. (The Gospel of the Birth of Mary 5:4-6:7 and The Protevangelion of James 8:6-16)
Jesus speaks in infancy
In a moving passage, the Quran describes the reaction of people to Mary having given birth to Jesus. Apparently, they were all too ready to think the worst about this righteous young woman, her pregnancy, and her subsequent child. To all of them, Mary said nothing in defense, but pointed to her infant child. Thereupon, the infant Jesus spoke, defending his mother’s honor and preaching to the onlookers.
When she brought the infant Jesus to her people, They reacted sharply: “O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought! 0 sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor was thy mother a woman unchaste!” But she pointed to the babe. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?” He said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelations and made me a prophet; and He hath made me blessed where so ever I be, and hath enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live: (He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable;…” (Quran 19:27-32)
The foregoing account of the birth of Jesus does not appear in the current New Testament. However, the story of Jesus speaking while still an infant in the cradle is preserved in the New Testament apocrypha.’ (1:2. In Platt RH, Brett lA.)
Jesus and the clay pigeons
Two different passages in the Quran refer to Jesus fashioning a clay bird, and then, by Allah’s will, making it come alive.
She said: “O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?” He said: “Even so: Allah createth what He willeth: when He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, ‘Be’, and it is! And Allah will teach him the book and wisdom, the law and the gospel, and (appoint him) a messenger to the children of Israel, (with this message): ‘I have come to you, with a sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave: and I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah’s leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely, therein is a sign for you if ye did believe;…”’ (Quran 3:47-49)
Then will Allah say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favor to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy spirit, so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold! .I taught thee the book and, wisdom, the law and the gospel. And behold! Thou makest out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and thou breathest into it, and it becometh a bird by My leave, and thou healest those born blind, and the lepers, by My leave. And behold! Thou bringest forth the dead by My leave. And behold!
I did restrain the children of Israel from (violence to) thee when thou didst show them the clear signs, and the unbelievers among them said: ‘This is nothing but evident magic’.” (Quran 5:110)
The story of Jesus causing, by the will of Allah, a clay bird to come to life is not found in the contemporary New Testament. But, this story in the Quran can be found in the New Testament apocrypha.