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(San Jose, 4/3/07) Happy Holidays to all our friends and colleagues!
The first week of April this year brings together a remarkable convergence of holidays, including Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter for both Eastern and Western Christians and Passover (Pesach) for Jews. The month continues with Nirvana Day for Buddhists and Vaisakhi Day (solar New Year) for Hindus and Sikhs.
Muslims the world over also commemorate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad during this month which is the Islamic lunar calendar month of Rabi al-Awwal. This commemoration, commonly known as Mawlid an-Nabi is celebrated by Muslims worldwide with readings about his teachings, and poetry and songs eulogizing his life and character.
In commemoration of these holidays, and in celebration of the spirit and wisdom of all the prophets, we are including some of the Quranic verses and accounts of the life and teachings of Moses and Jesus:
Accounts and teachings of Moses in the Quran:
Moses is known in Quranic Arabic as “Musa”. The Quran recounts more stories about his life than that of any other prophet. The Quranic account of his life, from the time he was saved from death by his mother sending him off in a basket in the river, to his being adopted by Pharaoh as part of his own household, and his mission to Pharaoh with signs and miracles, and the salvation and liberation of his people from slavery, is incredibly similar to accounts in the Bible.
“Then after them We sent Moses with Our signs to Pharaoh and his chief; but they mistreated them. Now observe how the corrupt ended up. Moses said: “Pharaoh, I am an emissary from the Lord of the universe, competent on the condition that I not say anything of God but truth. I have come to you with clarification from your Lord, so release the Children of Israel with me.” Pharaoh said: “If you have come with a sign, produce it if you are telling the truth.” Then he threw his staff and lo! It was an apparent serpent! And he pulled out his hand and lo! It was white to the onlookers! (Quran 7:103-108)
After displaying other signs and miracles, Pharaoh’s sorcerers were convinced of Moses and his faith, “They said, ‘We believe in the Lord of the Universe, the Lord of Moses and Aaron.’” (Quran 7:121-122)
Eventually, Moses and the Children of Israel left Egypt, and Pharaoh and his forces were vanquished. Muslims commemorate the flight from Egypt as the Prophet Muhammad did in emulation of Prophet Moses by fasting as an expression of gratitude to God for liberating the Israelites from Egypt.
Moses is also referred to by the title Kalim Allah meaning “He who spoke with God.” This attribute and his high status are illustrated in the following verses:
“And some messengers We told you about before while some messengers We have not told you of; and God addressed Moses in words.” (Quran 4:164)
“And when Moses came to Our appointment, and his Lord spoke to him, he said: My Lord, appear before me, that I may look at You.” God said, “You will never see Me; but look at the mountain, if it remains in its place, then you will see Me.” Then when its Lord manifested to the mountain, that rendered it into dust, and Moses fell down thunderstruck. Then when he recovered, he said, “Glory to You! I turn to You repentant, and I am the first of the believers.” God said, “Moses, I have chosen you over the people by My mission and by My word. So take what I have given you, and be among the grateful…” (Quran 7:143-144)
Accounts and teachings of Jesus in the Quran:
Jesus is known in Quranic Arabic as “‘Isa”. Jesus is revered by Muslims as a prophet and messenger. He is also known as “Masih”, or the Messiah, – “anointed one” – often referred to as “Jesus, the Messiah” (Isa, Al-Masih). The Quran describes his miraculous birth to Mary; his teachings and the revelation he receives from God known as the Injil or Gospel; the miracles he performed by God’s permission; explains that God raised him to His presence; and, alludes to Jesus’ future return.
“The angels said, “O Mary, God gives you good news of a word from God, named the Messiah, Jesus Son of Mary, honored in the world and the hereafter, and one of the intimates of God. And he will speak to the people in infancy and maturity, and be one of the righteous.” She said, “My Lord! How can I have a son, when no man has touched me?” Thus does God create at will: when God decides on something, God simply says to it “Be!” and it is. And God will teach him scripture and wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel, and to be an emissary to the Children of Israel: ‘I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. I will make you a figure of a bird out of clay, and breathe into it, whereat it will become a bird, with God’s permission. And I heal the blind and the leprous, and revive the dead, with God’s permission. And I tell you what you consume and what you keep in your homes. Surely there is a sign in that for you, if you are believers.’” (Quran 3:45-49)
In another part of the Quran, the birth of Jesus is celebrated by the miracle of the baby himself speaking in the cradle, as he explains his status and mission:
“Now she pointed to him. They said, “How can we talk to one who is an infant in the cradle? He said, “I am indeed the servant of God, who has given me scripture and made me a prophet, and made me blessed wherever I am; and has prescribed prayer and charity for me as long as I live, and kindness to my mother as well; and did not make me an arrogant malcontent. And peace is upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I am resurrected, alive.” That was Jesus, Son of Mary, a word of truth about which they doubt.” (Quran 19:29-34).
The Quran emphasizes that there is no distinction between the prophets, since they all came with the same message (“We make no distinction between messengers.”). It also states that not all the prophets have been named in the Quran (“And some messengers We told you about before, while some messengers We have not told you of…” Quran 4:164), and that every nation was sent a prophet (“We have in fact sent a messenger to every people…” Quran: 16:36)
May your holidays and celebrations be blessed and fulfilling.