Happy Birthday to Jesus !
Today is the Christmas day - 25th December. Christams is all over the place here in the West- a time to reflect and rejoice for all of us. Today is Christ's Birthday. 2005 years ago on this day Jesus, who is known as prophet Isa(PBUH) according to Islamic belief, was born in Bethlehem. Approximately 2 km to the east of Bethlehem lies the village of Beit Sahour, where one of the most sacred places to Christians; the Shepherds' Field; is found, identified as the scene where the Angel of the Lord visited the shepherds and informed them of Jesus' birth (pbuh); "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And the Angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" (Luke 2:8-10).
Muslims believe in the virgin birth of Jesus through Mary. When the angels announced to Mary about Allah’s promise that she will have a son, she was surprised, since she was a virgin. "How can this be?" she thought, but she was reminded that it is easy for Allah to create whatever he wills.
Behold! the angels said, 'Oh Mary! God gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter, and in (the company of) those nearest to God. He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity.
She said: My Lord! How can I have a child when no mortal hath touched me?
He said: So (it will be). Allah createth what He will. If He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is. (Qur’an 3:47).
Located 10 km south of Jerusalem, Bethlehem nestles on two hilly plateaus, and lies 2550 feet (765 m) above sea level, surrounded by rolling hills which stretch out eastward to the Judean desert providing stunning views of an ancient landscape of vine yards, olive trees, and tiny villages.
Old Jerusalem is a walled city with seven gates. It is 3000 years old and contains shrines sacred to Islam, Judaism and Christianity
Old Jerusalem is a walled city about one square kilometer or six city blocks in size. The current wall surrounding the city was built by the Ottoman Turks in 1537 and has seven gates. The holiest shrines within the old city are:
The Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine that contains the rock which the prophet Muhammad stood on before ascending into heaven. This same rock is said to be the one Abraham almost used to sacrifice his son Isaac before God told him he could offer a goat instead. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is part of this complex. This is considered to be the third most sacred site in Islam.
The Church of the Holy Sepulture, the most sacred site in Christianity, which contains both the tomb of Jesus and Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified.
The Western Wall, also called the Wailing Wall, built by Herod in 20 B.C. as part of the second temple. The first temple, built at the same location, was Solomon's temple, which housed the Ark of the Covenant and was destroyed by the Babylonians. The second temple was destroyed by the Romans, leaving only the Western Wall. This is the most sacred site in Judaism, and it is said that the gate to heaven is located above it. Jews come to pray at the wall and often place written prayers into the cracks between the stones; the Wailing Wall is open to anyone who wants to come and pray.
Jerusalem, a spiritual center for at least 3,000 years, was founded by Kind David in 1004 B.C. Because it is a holy city for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, it is directly or indirectly a focal point for the prayers and spiritual energies of over a billion people. It has also been the cause of great conflict between these religious groups, who have fought each other over control of this sacred city. Because of this, Jerusalem has likely been the location of more suffering and bloodshed than any other city on earth. This is a paradox. How can a city that is filled with so much spiritual power also be the cause of so much suffering? This is a puzzle I continued to ponder during my visit to Israel.
Bethlehem is about five miles from Jerusalem and is the location of the Church of the Nativity. This church is built over a grotto said to be the place where Jesus was born. The grotto contains a shrine(see figure in the right) with a star on the floor representing the exact location of his birth. Off to the side and down a few steps is another shrine indicating the location of the manger in which Jesus had been placed after his birth.
Jesus in Islam
Isa (عيسى `Īsā), often seen as Isa, son of Mary (`Īsā ibn Miryam) is the Arabic name for Jesus, who is one of the Prophets of Islam. According to the Qur'an, he was one of God's most beloved prophets sent specifically to guide the Children of Israel (Beni Israel). Christian Arabs refer to Jesus as Yasu' al-Masih or Isa al-Masih (يسوع المسيح Yasū`a al-Masīħ).
In the Qur'an, stories about the life and teachings of Jesus are common. The Qur'an recalls his miraculous birth, his teachings, the miracles he performed by God's permission, and his life as a respected prophet of God. The Qur'an also reminds repeatedly that Jesus was only a human prophet sent by God and not part of God Himself.
Muslims believe that Isa was sent down as a prophet and to be the Messiah. The Qur'anic verse below explicitly calls him by this title. The verse says that Allah (God) sent word to Mary about it, and it also calls him the Word of God. However, Muslims strongly disagree with the mainstream Christian belief that Jesus was divine himself as part of the trinity (Son of God), regarding it as a blasphemous denial of tawhid (monotheism). Therefore, he is not considered the Son of God. (See below for relevant Qur'anic verses.)
Behold! the angels said: "O Mary, Allah gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him; his name will be the Messiah Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah.(al-Qur'an 3:45)
Muslims see Jesus' ministry as a continuation of a single divine message and faith system revealed over time by God to mankind. They regard not only Jesus, but earlier prophets such as Abraham, Noah, Joseph, Moses and David to have been Muslims, and see Isa as the great precursor to the final prophet, Muhammad. Jesus received a Gospel from God, called (in Arabic) the "Injeel," corresponding to the New Testament. However, Muslims hold that the New Testament present today has been changed and corrupted and does not accurately represent the original. Some Muslims accept the Gospel of Barnabas as the most accurate testament of Jesus.
Read more about Prophet Isa(PBUH)