By Kathy Martin…
Written December 2013
Chris, a good friend of mine in the UK, recently asked me if I was going to do a Christmas “special”. As I now live in a Muslim country, the thought hadn’t crossed my mind.
However, shortly after we came to live here, Huseyin, another good friend who lives here, gave me an English translation of the Koran. It was an interesting read, and has many parallels with the bible. So I will do some research and may come up with a Christmas special next week.
Last week I said that I might do some research into both the bible and the Koran (Qur’an) to see if I could come up with a “Christmas Special”. If any readers wonder why the (Muslim) Koran could be of any possible use in conjunction with the bible, as a source of reference on a Christian occasion, here is the reason.
Stripped of their religious aspects, both books are the recorded histories and events (however true or apocryphal) of the peoples who inhabited the “Middle East”.
Both have many similar stories, although the names may not be the same! Both say that the first man was Adam; the Jewish exodus from Egypt is recorded, although the leader is called Musa in the Koran, instead of Moses, in the Bible. I could go on and on! Although the Koran does not accept that Jesus (Îsâ) is the Son of God, it does accept that he was a major prophet. Along with the bible, it also states that he was born of a virgin birth. So the Koran is not such an unlikely source of information about Christmas after all!
Unfortunately, for my purposes – a non-blasphemous, to Christians and Muslims, yet slightly off-beat ramble, about Christmas, many of the details of the events at or immediately after Jesus’ birth are not recorded in the Koran.
So, here is one that is a “what if” inspired by the Gospels – especially Matthew Chapter 2 verses 16-18 as well as the saying “a prophet is not liked in his own country”.
Imagine a newspaper reporter (from Kibkom times, of course!) going to Bethlehem shortly after the adult Jesus had started preaching and his religious sect had become well known. If the reporter had stopped a “man in the street” and asked him what he thought of Jesus, would we, modern Christians and Muslims, be amazed if the man replied, “I hate him; he should be put to death for the amount of misery, despair and anguish that he caused”?
On being pressed for a reason the man might say “let me tell you over a glass of wine at the local bistro”, so off they go.
Once comfortably seated, the man began to tell his tale…..
I remember the day and the night that Jesus was born for a number of reasons. Firstly, a young man who said his name was Joseph asked if I knew of anywhere that he and his very, very pregnant wife Mary could sleep. All the extra available accommodation in the town (and there wasn’t much of that) had been taken up by ex-residents returning to be recorded in the imminent census. Recently, I had become a first-time father, so I had great empathy with the young couple. I told them to sleep in my stables overnight and that I would try to find more suitable accommodation for them the next day.
The weather had been cold all day, but as evening fell the chance of sleet or snow became highly probable. Therefore, I and my neighbours went out to try to get our sheep into sheltered areas. We had only travelled a short distance from the village when three prosperous looking gentlemen, riding camels, asked us where the new king of Israel was going to be born. We told them that they were a long way from Jerusalem, where the palace was. I jokingly added that there was a very pregnant woman sleeping in my stables and pointed in the general direction of where the building was situated.
A short time later, as we were driving our sheep into the sheltered areas, the night sky lit up and loud, but sonorous, voices told us (and everyone else as far as the ear could hear!) not to be afraid, but to be joyful as a new king was born! When we finally returned to the town, we saw that my stables roof was glowing, but fortunately the building wasn’t on fire, the glow was the result of a beam from a very bright star that appeared to be static in the heavens above.
When we entered the stables we were extremely pleased to see that our guests had become the parents of a baby boy! News of this joyous event quickly spread and soon most of our friends and neighbours were, along with the three prosperous gentlemen, enjoying a lively party in my stables.
So what, I see you are desperate to ask, went wrong?
Well, very early the following morning, my wife, who had been feeding our baby, saw the couple leave, somewhat surreptitiously, with their baby. She thought that she heard the mother, Mary, say “it is dangerous here, as Jesus, our baby, may not be safe until we get as far away as Egypt”. We were, of course, sorry not to have enjoyed their company for a longer period, or to bid them farewell properly, but life must go on.
We (the townsfolk) hadn’t forgotten the above incident, but it was no longer the main topic of conversation, when, a few days later, a detachment of Judean soldiers arrived. They set up camp just outside the town. On entering Bethlehem they issued orders that the complete families of all townsfolk, as well as the people living in the nearby villages must assemble here.
We assumed that this was part of the census procedure, so everyone complied. We were struck dumb with amazed horror, when the soldiers went through the crowd, taking all the male children, under the age of two, (including, of course, my week-old baby) and put them to the sword! The captain of the soldiers (who appeared to be extremely remorseful) said that these innocents had been massacred because King Herod feared that a rival to his throne had been born in this area.
Bad news travels fast, so, within a few days all of Judea knew about the massacre. Everyone accepts that King Herod issued the orders, but they also knew that Jesus was the root cause.
This is why I don’t think that this Jesus will ever get a large following in this country!