Allah revealed Prophet Isa (Jesus) as the messenger before Prophet Muhammad. He was one of the five best messengers of Allah, called Ulul-Azm, those with the highest status, who were the most patient. He was Isa, the son of Maryam, the daughter of Imran, from the sons of Israel. Prophet Isa, as all the prophets, was truthful in what he conveyed from Allah, and although today we follow the Shariah of Prophet Muhammad, Muslims respect, love, and believe in Isa and in his prophethood.
MARYAM, THE MOTHER OF ISA
Maryam (Mary), the mother of Isa, was a pious Muslim woman from the offspring of Israel during the time of Prophet Zakariyya. Prophet Zakariyya was a prophet of Allah revealed to convey to the people to follow the Shariah revealed to Prophet Musa. In the Qur'an there is a chapter named Maryam referring to Maryam (Mary), the mother of Isa. This chapter talks about Maryam: her birth, her story, and the birth of Prophet Isa, and other things.
Maryam's mother conceived and delivered Maryam when she was an old woman, at an age when women usually can no longer have babies. One day Maryam's mother saw a bird feeding its young and she longed for a baby herself. She made a supplication to Allah to bless her with a child and vowed that she would make him a servant for the Holy House in Jerusalem, dedicated for worship, because she thought the child would be male. Allah answered her supplication and Maryam's mother conceived and delivered a baby girl. She named her "Maryam" and asked Allah to protect her and her offspring from evil.
Since Maryam's father had died, Prophet Zakariyya (who was the husband of Maryam's sister) became Maryam's guardian. From him, Maryam learned the Religion. She grew up as a righteous, pure, and pious Muslim woman worshipping Allah and endeavoring greatly in performing obedience to Him. Before she turned fourteen (14) years old, Maryam was a waliyyah (a very pious woman with a special status). She became the best of the women in the world. It is mentioned in the Qur'an that the angels said Allah chose Maryam and preferred her to the other women of the world. (Al Imran, 42-43).
THE BIRTH OF ISA
Ibn Jarir and others narrated that one day Maryam ran out of water. She asked her cousin, Yusuf, the son of Yaqub to go with her to get some. He declined, saying he had his sufficiency for that day, so Maryam went to fetch water alone. There, she found Jibril, whom Allah had sent to her in the shape of a man. Thinking he was a human who might harm her, she asked refuge with Allah from him. Jibril told her, "I am the Messenger of your Lord to you. I was sent to give you a pious child who is pure from sins." Maryam told him, "How would I have a son? I have no husband, and I am not an adulterer or a fornicator." Jibril told her, "Creating a son without a father is an easy matter to Allah. Allah will make him a sign for the people and an indication of the Power of Allah. He will send him as a mercy from Him and an endowment to the one who follows him and believes in him. Creating him is a matter Allah willed and destined, so it will not be blocked or changed."
Jibril blew the soul of Isa into Maryam and Isa's soul entered into her womb. Maryam became pregnant with Isa, peace be upon him. There is a difference of opinion as to the term of her pregnancy, some said nine months, some said eight, and some said other than that. However, when the signs of pregnancy became apparent on her, her cousin, Yusuf the Carpenter, was disturbed and did not know how to interpret that matter. If he wanted to accuse her he would remember how pious she was. If he wanted to declare her innocence, he would see the signs of pregnancy. So he decided to open the subject with her. He asked her, "Tell me, would plants grow without seeds? Would trees grow without rainfall? Would there be a child without a male?" To all these questions Maryam said "Yes." Then she asked him, "Did you not know Allah made the plants emerge without seeds the day He created them? Did you not know Allah created the trees the first time without rain? Did you not know Allah created Adam and Hawwa' (Eve) without a father or a mother?" Yusuf knew all these things and when she responded in this way, he felt assured of her innocence and that this was something special given to her by Allah.
When the signs of her pregnancy became apparent, Maryam went away from her people. The pangs of birth led her to the trunk of a dead palm tree. Out of her shyness from the people, and fearing they would accuse her of having done something ugly, she wished she was dead and not a trace of her could be found. Jibril called to her, comforting her. He told her Allah made a small river run under her from which she could drink, and should she shake the trunk of the dead palm tree next to her, it would turn green and moist dates would fall down from which she could eat and be nourished. Jibril told her when she faces her people with her son to tell anyone who questions her about him that she had made a vow not to talk to any human for that day. That day, Maryam gave birth to her son, Isa, peace be upon him. Forty (40) days later she carried him back to her people. They accused her of having fornicated. In response, Maryam pointed to her son, meaning to tell them to talk to him. They were angered at this and thought she was mocking them by asking them to speak with a 40-day old baby lying in a small cradle. At this, Allah made Isa speak. He said:
When Maryam's people heard that, they refrained from harming her or Prophet Zakariyya, about whom they had made ugly accusations. After Baby Isa spoke these words, he did not speak again until he became at an age when children normally begin to speak. Isas speaking from the cradle was a preparation and a sign of his creed and coming prophethood, when he would call the people to believe in Allah, the One Who does not have a partner and to believe in the message of Isa--that he was the slave and messenger of Allah. The first words he spoke were, "I am a slave of Allah."
EARLY LIFE OF PROPHET ISA
Lady Maryam took Isa to Egypt where they stayed for a period of time. Then they returned to the countries of ash-Sham--to a city known as an-Nasirah. Isa, peace be upon him, studied the Torah in the schools and memorized it. He spoke Syriac, the language of the people of Palestine at that time, and the language in which the Heavenly Book, called the Injil, was revealed to him. He was a pious worshipper of Allah, following the rules of the Torah revealed to Prophet Musa.