The Judeo-Christian Origins of Islam
by Ibn Warraq
Part 1 here
William St. Clair Tisdall [1859-1928], in his The Original Sources of the Qur’an [London, 1905], gives us several examples of the probable source of the stories in the Koran. But it must be remembered that he was, in my opinion, working from false premises, since he accepted the entire Muslim traditional fairy tale about the compilation of the Koran, Muhammad, the Hadith, and the rest of One Thousand and One Night fantasies.
Tisdall begins with Surah XIX., Maryam, 28, 29, where we are told that when Mary came to her people after the birth of our Lord, they said to her,
"O Mary, truly thou hast done a strange thing. O sister of Aaron, thy father was not
a man of wickedness, and thy mother was not rebellious."
Tisdall comments, “From these words it is evident that, in Muhammad's opinion, Mary was identical with Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron! This is made still more clear by Surah LVI , At Tahrim, 12, where Mary is styled "the daughter of 'Imran," the latter being the Arabic form of Amram, who in the Pentateuch is called the father of "Aaron and Moses and Miriam their sister" (Numbers. xxvi. 59). The title "sister of Aaron" is given to Miriam in Exodus xv. 20, and it must be from this passage that Muhammad borrowed the expression. The reason of the mistake which identifies the Mother of our Saviour with a woman who lived about one thousand five hundred and seventy years before His birth is evidently the fact that in Arabic both names, Mary and Miriam, are one and the same in form, Maryam. The chronological difficulty of the identification does not seem to have occurred to Muhammad. … [Muslim] commentators have in vain attempted to disprove this charge of historical inaccuracy.”
Let us now see what the Qur'an and the Traditions relate regarding the
In Surah III., Al 'Imran, 35,36 we read:—
"When 'Imran's wife said, ‘My Lord, verily I have dedicated to Thee what is in my womb, as consecrated: receive it therefore from me: verily Thou art the Hearer, the Knower.’ When therefore she bore her, she said, ‘My Lord, verily I have borne her, a female’ — and God was well aware of what she had borne, and the male is not as the female — ‘and verily I have named her Mary, and verily I commit, her and her seed unto Thee from Satan the stoned.’ Accordingly her Lord received her with fair acceptance, and He made her grow with fair growth, and Zacharias reared her. Whenever Zacharias entered the shrine unto her, he found food near her. He said, ‘O Mary, whence is this to thee?’ She said, ‘It is from God: verily God feedeth whomsoever He willeth, without a reckoning.’"
Tisdall continues, “In addition to and explanation of this narrative, Baidawi [died 1260 C.E.] and other commentators and traditionists inform us of the following particulars. ‘Imran's wife was barren and advanced in age. One day, on seeing a bird giving food to its young ones, she longed for offspring, and entreated that God would bestow on her a child. She said, ‘O my God, if Thou givest me a child, whether it be a son or a daughter, I shall offer it as a gift in Thy presence in the Temple at Jerusalem." God heard and answered her prayer, and she conceived and bore a daughter, Mary. Jalalu'ddin tells us that the name of Mary's mother was Hanna. When she brought Mary to the Temple and handed her over to the priests, they accepted the offering and appointed Zacharias to guard the child. He placed her in a room, and permitted no one but himself to enter it; but an angel supplied her with her daily food.”
Returning to the Qur'an (Surah III.,41-46), we learn that, when Mary was older,
"The angels said, ‘O Mary, verily God hath chosen thee and purified thee, and He hath chosen thee above the women of the worlds. O Mary, be devout to thy Lord, and worship, and bow with those that bow.’ That is part of the announcement of the invisible; we reveal it to thee; and thou wast not with them when they threw their reeds (to see) which of them should rear Mary: and thou wast not with them when they disagreed. When the angels said, ‘O Mary, verily God giveth thee good tidings of a Word from Himself, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus Son of Mary, illustrious in the world and in the hereafter, and from among those who draw near (to God): and He shall speak to men in the cradle and when grown up, and He is of the Just Ones,’ she said, ‘My Lord, whence shall I have a child, since no human being hath touched me?’ He said, ‘Thus God createth what He willeth: when He hath decreed a matter, then indeed He saith to it, Be! — therefore it exists.’"
Tisdall comments, “In reference to what is said in these verses about 'casting reeds' or pens, Baidawi and Jalalu'ddin state that Zacharias and twenty-six other priests were rivals to one another in their desire to be Mary's guardian. They therefore went to the bank of the Jordan and threw their reeds into the water; but all the reeds sank except that of Zacharias, and on this account the latter was appointed her guardian."