From Mark Laynesmith, Anglican Chaplain:
I’d always known that the story of Christ’s conception is also found in the Qur’an, but until last week I’d never read it alongside the Bible’s version.
In our Bible study group we did a simple compare and contrast: what are the similarities, what are the differences?
“She withdrew from her family to a place to the east and secluded herself away; We sent Our Spirit to appear before her in the form of a perfect man. She said, ‘I seek the Lord of Mercy’s protection against you: if you have any fear of Him do not approach!’
But he said, ‘I am but a Messenger from your Lord, come to announce to you the gift of a pure son.’
She said, ‘How can I have a son when no man has touched me? I have not been unchaste.’ And he said, ‘This is what your Lord said: “It is easy for Me – We shall make him a sign to all people, a blessing from Us.”‘ And so it was ordained: she conceived him…”(Mary, surah 19:16-21)
For myself the exercise brought home to me the significance of Mary’s ‘Let it be to me…’, a sentence that is not present in the Qur’an. It made me think more about Mary as an image of humanity in general.
All of us have a chance to make a ‘space’ inside us for God to live; all of us can let God’s life enter through us into the world. All of us have the chance to say, ‘Let it happen’, for God meets us with invitation and not with force. Or as the famous carol goes ‘... cast out our sin and enter in, be born is us today.’