Reviewed and refuted by Khaula Rehman MD
Source / Courtesy: December, 2010 Alislam-eGazette
In the Muslim tradition Jesus, may peace be on him, was a noble prophet and Mother Mary was paragon of virtue and piety. Having said that I embark on reviewing and refuting claims made without proof in the book, ‘Maria: Pope Benedict XVI on the Mother of God.’
Michio Kaku is a Japanese American scientist and science communicator who is Professor of Theoretical Physics specializing in string field theory at the City University of New York. He writes:
One day in Sunday school we studied Genesis. To read about God thundering from the heavens, “Let there be Light!” sounded so much more dramatic than silently meditating about Nirvana. Out of naive curiosity, I asked my Sunday school teacher, “Did God have a mother?” She usually had a snappy answer, as well as a deep moral lesson to offer. This time, however, she was taken aback. No, she replied hesitantly, God probably did not have a mother. ‘But then where did God come from?’ She mumbled that she would have to consult with the minister about that question.” If we bring the sincerity of the questioner and the teacher in examining the question of the mother of Jesus, considered to be god by the Trinitarian Christians, we will be ready for enlightenment.
And relate the story o fMary as mentioned in the Book. When she withdrew from her people to a place to the east, and screened herself off from them, then We sent Our angel to her, and he appeared to her in the form of a perfect man. She said, ‘I seek refuge with the Gracious God from thee if indeed thou dost fear Him.’ He replied, ‘I am only a Messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a righteous son.’ She said, ‘How can I have a son when no man has touched me, neither have I been unchaste?’ He replied, ‘Thus it is.’ But says thy Lord, ‘It is easy for Me; and We shall do so that We may make him a Sign unto men, and a mercy from Us, and it is a matter decreed.’ (Al Quran 19:17-22)
There is a chapter named after Mother Mary in the Holy Quran, not because she was Mother of God, divine in some fashion, but as a role model for all Muslim women and men, a human role model of piety and chastity. [i][ii]
Michio Kaku is an Japanese American scientist and science communicator who is Professor of Theoretical Physics specializing in string field theory at the City University of New York. He writes:
“One day in Sunday school we studied Genesis. To read about God thundering from the heavens, ‘Let there be Light!’ sounded so much more dramatic than silently meditating about Nirvana. Out of naive curiosity, I asked my Sunday school teacher, ‘Did God have a mother?’ She usually had a snappy answer, as well as a deep moral lesson to offer. This time, however, she was taken aback. No, she replied hesitantly, God probably did not have a mother. ‘But then where did God come from?’ She mumbled that she would have to consult with the minister about that question.” 
If we bring the sincerity of the questioner and the teacher in examining the question of the mother of Jesus, considered to be god by the Trinitarian Christians, we will be ready for enlightenment.
If we are to understand Jesus in the Trinitarian Christian mind set as a perfect human and a perfect God then he should have a total of four parents, a human couple and a divine couple. Instead, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI suggests only two in his writings, especially in his book, Maria: Pope Benedict XVI on the Mother of God. A perfect man has 46 chromosomes half of which he gets from his father and half from his mother. His Holiness does not attempt to fully unveil the motherhood of so called God, Jesus, in Maria: Pope Benedict XVI on the Mother of God, he nevertheless claims, “Holy Mother of God, pray for us, just as at Cana you prayed for the bride and the bridegroom! Guide us towards Jesus-ever anew! Amen!” [iii] Now, Maria is claimed to be Mother of God but no explanation is offered, we are not told whether she is mother of the human part of Jesus or of divine part of Jesus and what about his other mother for the second part. The paper jacket of the book under consideration makes another tall claim that the Pope Benedict XVI is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant theologians and spiritual leaders of our age. The ‘most brilliant’ makes many claims and suggestions in his book but offers no reasons how a woman could be mother of God? For example, His Holiness writes, “In Mary shines forth the eternal goodness of the Creator, who chose her in his plan of salvation to be the Mother of his Only-begotten Son.” [iv] Unlike the elusive style of His Holiness, the Holy Quran not only makes claims but alongside them furnishes satisfying proofs as well.
بَدِيْعُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالْاَرْضِؕ اَنّٰى يَكُوْنُ لَهٗ وَلَدٌ وَّلَمْ تَكُنْ لَّهٗ صَاحِبَةٌ ؕ وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَىْءٍۚ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَىْءٍ عَلِيْمٌ
The Originator of the heavens and the earth! How can He have a son when He has no consort, and when He has created everything and has knowledge of all things? (Al Quran 6:102)
We see in our observation of millions of species of both plants and animals on our planet earth that like begets like, so, the Holy Quran offers it as a profound reason that there has to be a consort for God for Him to have a divine son. In the absence of consort or a spouse; conclusion is inevitable that Allah cannot have a son. Additionally, as He is the sole Creator of the Universe He has no need for a son or a helper.
The ‘Father-Son’ relationship between God and Jesus Christ is central to Christianity. Let us first try to understand what is the meaning of being a literal son. When we concentrate on the meaning of being a literal son to a literal father, things begin to appear which force us to revise our opinion of Jesus’ ‘sonship.’ Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad
Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad has a chapter devoted to the discussion of the sonship of Jesus Christ,in his book Christianity a journey from fact to fiction. He writes:
“Focusing our attention on the birth of Jesus, let us build a scenario about what might have happened in his case. The first possibility, which can be scientifically considered, is that Mary’s unfertilized ovum provided the 23 chromosomes as the mother’s share in the forming of the embryo. That being so, the question would arise as to how the ovum was fertilized and where did the remaining 23 essential chromosomes come from? It is impossible to suggest that Jesus’ cells had only 23 chromosomes. No human child can be born alive with even 45 chromosomes. Even if a human being was deprived of a single chromosome out of the 46 necessary for the making of all human beings, the result would be something chaotic, if there was anything at all. Scientifically, Mary could not provide the 46 chromosomes alone, 23 had to come from somewhere else. If God is the father then that presents several options. One; God also has the same chromosomes that humans have, and these must have been transferred somehow to the uterus of Mary. That is unbelievable and unacceptable; if God has the chromosomes of human beings it means he is no longer God. So as a consequence of belief in Jesus as the literal ‘Son’ of God, even the divinity of the Father is jeopardized. The second possibility is that God created the extra chromosomes as a supernatural phenomenon of creation. In other words, they did not actually belong to the person of God, but were created miraculously. This would automatically lead us to reject Jesus’ relationship to God as one of child and father, and would result in the all embracing relationship of the Universe to God, that is, the relationship of every created being to its Creator.” [v]
Soren Kierkgaard who crossing the boundaries of philosophy, theology, psychology, and literature, had come to be regarded as a highly significant and influential figure in contemporary thought, had the nerve to suggest:
“It is not the business of any Christian writer or preacher to dilute Christianity to suit the general educated public. The doctrine of the incarnation was to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, and so will it always be, for the doctrine not only transcends reason; it the paradox par excellence; and it can be affirmed only by faith, with passionate inwardness and interest. The substitution of reason for faith means the death of Christianity.”
But, his Holiness has violated this golden advice in writing several books in defense of Christianity and offering them for sale on Amazon. In so doing he has opened flood gates of arguments against the irrational dogma of Christianity. Let me borrow a detailed quote from Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad to highlight what countless contradictions or paradox par excellence are created by insisting that Jesus is literal son of God. Metaphorically yes but literally no, certainly not! Read on and in the words of Sir Francis Bacon, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.” Ahmad writes:
“There are many other problems with the Christian understanding of Jesus, his nature and his relationship with God. From further critical and analytical study of Christian doctrine, what emerges is that there is a ‘Son of God’, who possesses the characteristics of a perfect man and also that of a perfect god. However, remember that even according to the Christian doctrine the Father is not exactly like the ‘Son’. The Father God, is a perfect God and not a perfect man, while the ‘Son’ is both a perfect man and a perfect god. In that case these are two separate personalities with different characteristics. It should be realized that these characteristics are not transferable. There are characters in certain substances which are transferable. For instance, water can become snow and also vapor, without causing a change in the substance or composition of water. But the sort of differences in the characteristics of God and Christ, where certain characteristics are added to one of them, are irreconcilable. It is not possible for one of them to go through this transformation and still remain indistinguishable from the other. That, again, is a problem and a serious one for that matter, whether Jesus Christ was a perfect god as well as a perfect man. If he was, then he was surely different from the Father who was never a perfect man; not even an imperfect one. What type of relationship was this? Was the ‘Son’ greater than the Father? If this additional character did not make the ‘Son’ greater then it must have been a defect. In that case a defective ‘Son God’ is not only against the claims of Christianity, but is also against the universal understanding of God. How, therefore, could anyone comprehend the paradoxical tenet of Christianity which would have us believe that ‘One in Three’ and ‘Three in One’ are the same thing, with no difference at all. This can only happen when the very foundation of a belief is raised, not on a factual base, but merely on myth.” [vi]
In the book, Maria: Pope Benedict XVI on the Mother of God,the Pope calls Jesus an Eternal Son adding paradox to paradox. [vii]How can a begotten son be eternal? One cannot have one’s cake and eat it too. If Jesus became the ‘Son of God’ as a consequence of his birth from Mary’s womb, then what was his position before that? If he was eternally the ‘Son,’ without having been born of Mary, why was it necessary to give birth to him in a human form? If it was necessary, then the quality of Son was not eternal; it only became an added characteristic after he was given birth. This was the reason why some early Christians believed that Jesus was begotten at the time of his birth or at the time of his baptism. Either the Christians say that we have a private faith and we have a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy and then the reasonable thing will be to leave them alone. But the fact of the matter is that the Christian missionaries have been preaching all over the world for the last several centuries. Pope Benedict XVI has authored several books defending and explaining the dogma of Christianity, implying that he is inviting discussion and dialogue on these issues. It is but natural for us to conclude that they want to have logical discussion about all matters of faith.
When secularly knowledgeable Muslims read in the Holy Quran, ‘How can Allah have a son when He has no consort?’ they are reminded that the field of biology has struck a fatal blow to the concept of sonship of Jesus and other dogmas in Christianity on several counts. The one under discussion in this article is the fundamental principle in biology, “Like begets like,” which clearly refutes the concept of son ship of God. In the Holy Quran it is expressed in the words, “How can Allah have a son when He has no consort?” Man’s genetic code is made of 46 chromosomes and God is transcendent and beyond time and space. Paternity unlike the medieval times is now defined in terms of chromosomes and genetic code. In the words of Matt Ridley in his recent book, Genome: autobiography of a species in 23 chapters:
“DNA fingerprinting has revolutionized not just forensic science but all sorts of other fields as well. It was used to confirm the identity of the exhumed corpse of Josef Mengele in 1990. It was used to confirm the presidential parenthood of the semen on Monica Lewinsky’s dress. It was used to identify the illegitimate descendants of Thomas Jefferson. It has so blossomed in the field of paternity testing, both by officials publicly and by parents privately, that in 1998 a company called Identigene placed billboards by freeways all over America reading: ‘WHO’S THE FATHER? CALL 1-800-DNA-TYPE They received 300 calls a day asking for their $600 tests, both from single mothers trying to demand child-support from the ‘fathers’ of their children and from suspicious ‘fathers,’ unsure if their partner’s children were all theirs. In more than two thirds of cases the DNA evidence showed that the mother was telling the truth. It is a moot point whether the offence caused to some fathers by discovering that their partners were unfaithful outweighs the reassurance others receive that their suspicions were unfounded.” [viii]
Now the companies are charging much less for genetic services to settle the paternity issues. See:
The dogmas of Trinity and sonship of God are the remnants of Greek and Roman mythology; of a primitive time when humans did not understand the concept of fatherhood in precise terms. In this day and age with precise understanding of paternity, the medieval ideas cannot continue to sway human imagination. Additionally, we are not offered two set or a total of four parents for Jesus by Pope Benedict XVI, we have to conceptualize Jesus with only two parents. So, question arises if Jesus is God is his mother God also? It was very interesting for me to find that there is a debate on the web, ‘Was Jesus’ mother Mary divine or just human?’There are several comments and of the about 1000 voters 19% voted that she is divine and 81% voted that she is human! [ix]If she is divine, what about her mother, her grandmother or her great grandmother, are they divine also? How far into human past will these marriages between gods and humans go? Would it be all the way to Adam and Eve or even beyond to the evolutionary links with chimpanzees and gorillas? The paradox par excellence of the Christian dogma just does not stop giving! Let me quote an excerpt from His Holiness, where Mother Mary appears to be taking some sort of divinity:
“Let us pray to Mary, Comfort of the Afflicted, our Mother, the Mother of the Church, to give us the courage to say this ‘yes’ and also to give us this joy of being with God and to lead us to his Son, to true life.” [x]
If the Church insists on only one set of parents for Jesus, may peace be on him, then is Mother Mary to be considered as wife of God, God forbid! If so, did God divorce her before she married Joseph? How could that be when in those times the Church had not allowed divorce yet! If there was no divorce was it some sort of polyandry? The character of Mother Mary is beyond these criticisms as she was a chaste and noble lady. These questions are created only by the dogma of Trinity and divinity of Jesus as preached by the Church.
If she is the Mother of Jesus, and elsewhere we are taught by the Church that the three persons in the Trinity are of the same substance and homonymous or co-equal, so both the father and the son should have a mother. A logical question that follows, is she the mother of God the Father also? If the answer is in affirmative then in some sense she will also be the Grand Mother of Jesus Christ! This paradox par excellence just does not stop giving, contradiction after contradiction. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI writes:
The first person to be associated with Christ on the path of obedience, proven faith and shared suffering was his Mother, Mary. The Gospel text portrays her in the act of offering her Son; an unconditional offering that involves her in the first person. Mary is the Mother of the One who is ‘the glory of [his] people Israel’ and a ‘light for revelation to the Gentiles,’ but also ‘a sign that is spoken against’ (cf. Lk 2:32,33). And in her immaculate soul, she herself was to be pierced by the sword of sorrow, thus showing that her role in the history of salvation did not end in the mystery of the Incarnation but was completed in loving and sorrowful participation in the death (crucifixion, my addition) and Resurrection of her Son, (or was it resuscitation of her son, my addition). [xi]
His Holiness calls Mother Mary, ‘Mother of the Church,’ but, where the Church went wrong was in giving preference to St Paul over her, who comes twenty years later on the scene and hardly offers any sacrifice for the cause. He gets to have 13 letters included in the New Testament and Mother Mary’s testimony is not adequately recorded in the Scripture. Unlike the Bible the Holy Quran gives a genuine and detailed portrait of Mother Mary. A chapter of the Holy Quran is named after her and she is presented as a role model not only for women but for all Muslims:
And Allah sets forth for those who believe the example of the wife of Pharaoh when she said, ‘My Lord! build for me a house with Thee in the Garden; and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work, and deliver me from the wrongdoing people;’ And the example of Mary, the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her private parts — so We breathed into him of Our Spirit — and she fulfilled in her person the words of her Lord and His Books and was one of the obedient. (Al Quran 66:12-13)
The Assumption of the Virgin Mary has been a subject of veneration, doctrine and Catholic Marian art for centuries. This painting is by Rubens, 1626.
To add further mystery to the person of Mother Mary in the Christian dogma let me mention another dogma of the Church. It is the doctrine or the dogma of ‘Assumption of Mary.’ According to the belief of Christians of the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Catholic Churches, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and parts of the Anglican Communion and Continuing Anglicanism, the Assumption of Mary was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her life. The Roman Catholic Church teaches as dogma that the Virgin Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” This doctrine was dogmatically and infallibly defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950 in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus.  It took the Catholic Church 19-20 centuries after the creation of Canon of the New Testament to understand and precisely define this mystery. This belief is known as the Dormition of the Theotokos by the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. In the churches which observe it, the Assumption is a major feast day, commonly celebrated on August 15. In many countries it is a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation. The Protestants do not believe in this doctrine as they do not find any anchors in the New Testament for this dogma. As a result of this doctrine, according to the Catholics there are two persons bodily in heaven, Jesus Christ and Mother Mary, The nature of human memory is such that it leads to the illusion-of-truth effect, which suggests that we are more likely to rate as true statements those that we have already heard, regardless of their veracity. Many Christians as a result of inherited history over the last 20 centuries become comfortable with many a strange dogma of Christianity including the paternity and maternity of Jesus and generally do not think about these issues but the day they begin to ponder over these issues, they will have a rude awakening and will be hit by a mad elephant which is present in every room of every church and they have been ignoring it for centuries. The day many of them look at the presently invisible mad elephant in the room, they will inaugurate an exodus from Christianity towards the sanity and reasonability of Islam, as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community preaches it.
[i] Al Quran (19:1-99)
[ii] Al Quran (66:12-13)
[iii] Pope Benedict XVI. Maria: Pope Benedict XVI on the Mother of God. Ignatius Press, 2008. Page 13.
[iv] Benedict XVI. Maria: Pope Benedict XVI on the Mother of God. Ignatius Press, 2008. Page 30.
[v] Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad. Christianity a journey from fact to fiction. Islam International Publications Limited, 1996. Pages 8-9.
[vi] Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad. Christianity a journey from fact to fiction. Islam International Publications Limited, 1996. Pages 13-14.
[vii] Pope Benedict XVI. Maria: Pope Benedict XVI on the Mother of God. Ignatius Press, 2008. Page 12.
[viii] Matt Ridley. Genome: autobiography of a species in 23 chapters. Harper Collins, 2006. Pages 134-135.
[x] Benedict XVI. Maria: Pope Benedict XVI on the Mother of God. Ignatius Press, 2008. Page 35.
[xi] Benedict XVI. Maria: Pope Benedict XVI on the Mother of God. Ignatius Press, 2008. Page 42.