This church in Bethlehem, one of the oldest in the world has been built over the place where Christian tradition holds that Isa (عليه السلام) [Jesus] was born. A marble floor in the basement denotes the exact spot. A stone block marks the spot where a palm tree once stood which Maryam (عليها السلام) [Mary] shook during the pains of labour.
- Isa (عليه السلام) is mentioned very often in the Quran. He is mentioned by name 25 times, by the title Al-Masih 11 times, and by the name Ibn Maryam (the son of Mary) 23 times.
- The Quran states that Isa (عليه السلام) was the result of a virgin birth. The most detailed account of the annunciation and birth of Isa (عليه السلام) is provided in Surahs 3 and 19 wherein it is written that Allah sent an angel to announce that she could shortly expect to bear a son, despite being a virgin:“(Remember) When the angels said O Mary! Allah gives thee good news of a son through a Word from Him! His name shall be the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honoured in this world and in the next, and of those who are granted nearness to Allah! And he shall speak to the people in the cradle, and when of middle age, and he shall be of the Righteous She said My Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me? He said, That is as it shall be. Allah creates what He pleases. When He decrees a thing He says to it “Be” and it is!” [3:45-47]
- Muslims do not accept the virgin birth of Jesus as evidence of Jesus being God. The Quran further states:“The similitude of Jesus before God is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: ‘Be.’ And he was.” [3:59]
- Maryam (عليها السلام) gave birth to Isa (عليه السلام) at the age of 13. She did not marry and did not give birth to any other children. She lived a long life and was still alive when Isa (عليه السلام) was raised up to the heavens at the age of 33. Her grave is in Jerusalem.
- Note that some Muslim scholars don’t believe the location of this church to be the birthplace of Isa (عليه السلام) but a place a few kilometres away.
- The Byzantine Queen Helena inaugurated the construction of the Basilica of the Nativity in 339 CE at the site where the Roman emperor Hadrian had built a shrine dedicated to Adonis. The Basilica was destroyed and rebuilt by emperor Justinian in 531 CE and reinforced to its present fortress shape by Tancred in 1169 CE. During Ottoman rule, the main entrance was reduced to the existing small door (called the Door of Humility) in order to prevent horsemen from entering the church while riding.
- An anti-war protest was held in front of the church on 30th March 2003 in which Father Pancratius, the residing parish priest banned George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Tony Blair and Jack Straw forever from entering the church for their role in the Iraq war. He described them as child-killers, who would tarnish the church if they entered it.
References: Wikipedia, Atlas of the Quran – Dr. Shauqi Abu Khalili, The Tafsir of Surah Maryam – Sheik Abdur Raheem