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Where did Islam come from?

It is a curious feature of the Qur’an that it should give a notably starry role to an episode fundamental, not to Muslim, but to Christian faith: the visitation by an angel to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Indeed, the Annunciation is retold in the Holy Book of Islam not once, but twice. Mary was evidently a person much on the Prophet’s mind. Not only is she the one woman in his revelations to be mentioned by name, but she features as well in a whole range of incidents quite aside from the Annunciation. Details left unrecorded by the New Testament—for instance, that she went into labor beneath a palm tree, where her son, speaking from within her womb, encouraged her to snack on a date or two—are given pride of place in the Qur’an. Gratifying evidence, so it appeared to Muslims contemptuous of the Christian scriptures, that they were far better informed about the life of Jesus than were those who, in their folly and delusion, presumed to worship him as a god.


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