Sunday, 20 November 2016

Historical Error: Mary, the mother of Jesus as Miriam, the sister of Moses

The Quran makes a clear historical error when it borrows stories from the Bible (Torah and Gospels). The error we have in spotlight here is that the Quran mentions Mary, the mother of Jesus and Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, as the same person (both names are written as Maryam in Arabic). This is totally absurd since Moses (if at all he existed) lived more than 600-1000 years before Jesus.

The evidence for this is so strong that the Quran repeats this mistake in two different ways.

1) By mistaking Mary, the mother of Jesus as "Sister of Harun (Aaron)" (Quran 19:28).
2) By mistaking Imran (Amram), the father of Moses, Aaron and Miriam, as the father of Mary (Quran 3:35 - 3:45, 66:12).

Before I describe the evidence, let us consider the possibility that the verse 19:28 is not referring to a biological sister. Is it then a mere coincidence that Aaron actually had a sister with the same name Maryam as per the Torah? Even to the point that she is described in Torah as "Sister of Aaron", exactly as Jesus' mother is referred to in the Quran? Think over it. If the Quran is from God, then we have to accept that God was deliberately misleading humans into believing that the Quran is from a human author who mistakes Mary and Miriam as the same person. Or is God so careless that he didn't realize this and ended up using the word "sister" when he could have used much better wordings or atleast made a clarification?

Let us forgive this and see if there is any other place in the Quran where this confusion between Mary and Miriam is repeated. Yes there is! The Quran verses 3:35 - 3:45 describe that the wife of Imran gave birth to Maryam, who later became the mother of Jesus. Verse 66:12 describes Maryam, the mother of Jesus as the daughter of Imran. There are absolutely no inscriptions or scriptures mentioning Imran as the father of Mary, till the author of Quran came up with this claim in the 7th century. Strange! So, from where did the author pull out the name "Imran" from? The answer is Torah. Exodus 6:20 and 15:20 describe that Amram was the father of Moses, Aaron and Miriam. Amram is arabicised to Imran. This idea that Imran had a daughter "Maryam" made the author of Quran think that this was talking about Maryam, the mother of Jesus.

Here is a verse from the Torah that state that Moses and Aaron had a sister named Miriam where she is described as "sister of Aaron", exactly as Jesus' mother is described in Quran:

Here is another verse from the Torah that state that Amram (Imran) was the father of Moses, Aaron and Miriam:

Here are the verses 19:27 - 19:34 from the Quran which show that the author of Quran mistook Mary, the mother of Jesus as the sister of Aaron:

19:27 - Then she brought him to her own folk, carrying him. They said: O Mary! You have come with an amazing thing.
19:28 - O sister of Aaron! Your father was not a wicked man nor was your mother a harlot.
19:29 - Then she pointed to him. They said: How can we talk to one who is in the cradle, a young boy ?
19:30 - He spoke: Lo! I am the slave of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and has appointed me a Prophet,
19:34 - Such was Jesus, son of Mary: (this is) a statement of the truth concerning which they doubt.

Here are the verses 3:35 - 3:45 and 66:12 which show that the author of Quran further affirms his previous error by mistaking Amram, the father of Moses, Aaron and Miriam as the father of Mary:

3:35 - (Remember) when the wife of 'Imran said: My Lord! I have vowed unto you that which is in my belly as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me. Lo!  you, only you, are the Hearer, the Knower!
3:36 - And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female - Allah knew best of what she was delivered - the male is not as the female; and lo! I have named her Mary, and lo! I crave your protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast.
3:45 - (And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah gives you glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah).
66:12 - And Mary, daughter of 'Imran, whose body was chaste, therefore We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His scriptures, and was of the obedient.

A hadith from Sahih Muslim states that the Christians of Najran questioned Mughira bin Shu'ba, one of Muhammad's men regarding this. Mughira was sent to Najran in 631 AD and Muhammad had delivered verses 19:28, 3:35-3:45 and 66:12 long before. Upon Mughira reaching Najran to recite the Quran, the Christians asserted that Moses was born long before Jesus. Mughira was clueless how to respond to this, went back to Muhammad and informed him what happened. Muhammad seemingly understood his mistake at this point and tried to cover it up by indicating that the verse 19:28 was referring to another Harun (or that the usage "sister of Harun" was a symbolic reference to connect Mary with Harun - this claim is addressed in the last 4 paragraphs). Here is the hadith:

Sahih Muslim 25:5326
Mughira b. Shu'ba reported:
When I came to Najran, they (the Christians of Najran) asked me: You read" O sister of Harun" (i. e. Hadrat Maryam) in the Qur'an, whereas Moses was born much before Jesus. When I came back to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) I asked him about that, whereupon he said: The (people of the old age) used to give names (to their persons) after the names of Apostles and pious persons who had gone before them.

Muhammad obviously did not want to change the Quran and attempts to cover it up - "The people of old age used to name people after the names of Apostles". And Muhammad wanted to tell people that it is a mere coincidence that Jesus' mother Maryam (Mary) had a brother with name Harun, exactly as Moses' sister Maryam (Miriam) had a brother named Harun. Not to mention the amazing coincidence of Mary's father having the same name as Miriam's father, on top of the other coincidence. It is well understandable because he would not want to admit having made a mistake, at all cost!

Is it still possible that Mary's father was actually named Imran and/or that she had a brother named Harun? If you are thinking that way, you need to think why no other book ever mentioned this for more than 600 years since Mary's era until the Quran mentioned it? The obvious answer is that the author of Quran borrowed the names from the Torah while making a fatal error, associating these characters with the wrong Maryam. Infact, multiple Christian traditions including the Gospel of James from the second century state that Mary's father was named Joachim:

Many Muslim apologists point out Bible verses depicting Jesus as "son of David", Abraham as "brother of Lut" (found in both Quran and Bible), Quranic depiction of Shuaib as the "brother of Midian" etc and state that it was common in semitic languages for such references to be made depicting a symbolic relationship. They claim that it was such a symbolic relationship between Harun and Mary that is depicted in verse 19:28. However, it should be noted that the alleged speakers in this verse ("O sister of Harun") are 1st century Jews, not Arabs! There is a difference between how the Jews used Type A (Brother of/Sister of usages) and Type B (Son of/Daughter of usages). We have absolutely no examples in Jewish literature around 1st-3rd century of any person A being referred to as "brother/sister of person B" when B lived centuries before A. Whenever there are such references, A and B are contemporaries such as in the example of Abraham and Lut. And in case of Shuaib being referred to as "brother of Midian", Midian was his own tribe. For connecting two individuals who lived in different eras, the Jews used "son of" and "daughter of" phrases - eg: Jesus as "son of David", "son of Abraham", Elizabeth as "of the daughters of Aaron".

And when Jesus is labelled as the son of David, there is no parallel Jesus character who was actually the son of David in the books that describe David's life. Same can be said about Jesus being called as "son of Abraham", Elizabeth being called as "of the daughters of Aaron". As such, the usages "son of" and "daughter of" are understood as "descendant". An overview of these examples strengthen the observation - the phrases "brother of" and "sister of" were not used by the Jews to connect two individuals who lived in different eras. Rather, "son of" and "daughter of" are used; ideally when such references don't bring any confusion to parallel characters with the same name.

Additionally, the fact that the Quran verse 19:28 compares Mary to her father and mother right after making the usage "sister of Harun" increases the chances that the author was infact referring to her as the biological sister of Harun - the idea being to compare Mary with her own family members - indicating that they were all chaste.

There is no way to reconcile this historical error. This only affirms that the author of Quran was actually borrowing second hand knowledge from scriptures such as the Torah and Gospels.