Sunday, June 2, 2024



**Contradictions in the Quran:**

Mary, Aaron and Moses' sister, and the daughter of Amram, who lived 1600 years before the birth of Jesus in the Bible, is claimed to be the mother of Isa in the Quran. Are these claims true?

In several Surahs, the Quran confuses Mary, the mother of Isa [Miriam in Hebrew], with Miriam, the sister of Aaron and Moses, and the daughter of Amram, who lived about 1600 years earlier.

Finally, she (Mary) brought him (the baby) to her people, carrying him. They said, "O Mary! Indeed, you have brought a thing unprecedented. O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste."

-- Surah 19:27-28

And Mary, daughter of Imran...

-- Surah 66:12

I understand what Muslims claim to be the solution to this problem. Yusuf Ali, for example, writes in his footnote 2481, explaining the above verse: “Aaron, the brother of Moses, was the first in the line of Israelite priests. 'Sisters of Aaron' or 'daughters of Imran (who was the father of Aaron).'”

This is a misconception. Only Aaron was made a priest of the Lord and indeed the first High Priest. Only Aaron's descendants became priests. Neither Moses nor their sister Miriam are ever understood to be in the "priestly line." Amram is certainly not a priest. If Mary's lineage as part of the priestly family was to be emphasized, she must be called the daughter of Aaron since all the priests of Israel are descendants of Aaron, while his siblings are not counted among the priestly line.

I acknowledge that the terms "father," "daughter," and "sister" can sometimes be used loosely to indicate a general family relationship. Therefore, we must carefully read each mention to see what it means. The Quran makes it clear that the specific, physical meaning of daughter and (therefore) sister is intended in this matter, as I will show below. Even if there was no concern about the issue of "priesthood" and a broader family relationship was viewed, why does the Quran not say "daughter of Aaron," who is more famous? Although the term "sister" can be used more broadly than a sister in a close family, isn't it standard usage even in Islam that "brothers and sisters" live in nearly the same generation (like cousins) while "father and daughter" indicate a generational difference between the two? Why call her the sister of the famous Aaron (1400 years older than Mary) instead of the daughter of `Imran (Biblically Amram), whose only mention is in genealogical tables in Exodus 6 and 1 Chronicles 23? This seems clear that the two Miriams were indeed confused. But attempts to harmonize seem not very logical.

The above points are only some of the "smaller questions." The larger problem is that the Quran clearly does not speak of a broad genealogical relationship as we see in the following verse.

Remember! The wife of Imran said: "O my Lord! I dedicate to You what is in my womb for Your service... When she delivered, she said: "O my Lord! I have delivered a female child!" "... And I have named her Mary..."

-- Surah 3:35-36

Muslims are generally very precise about who is the wife of whom, and it is certainly not allowed that anyone can just make love to a woman because she is "more his sister." If Mary is a female child from the womb of the wife of `Imran, then she is directly the daughter of Imran and there is no doubt that the theory of a "distant lineage" is contradicted by the Quran itself.

Yusuf Ali in his footnote 375 to Surah 3:35 even goes further by concocting (?) a second Imran by claiming that “by tradition, Mary's mother was called Hanna... and her father was called Imran,” to somehow save the Quran from this conflict. But the same tradition that names Mary's mother as Hanna also names her father as Joachim. Why does Yusuf Ali accept one part of this tradition (e.g., in the Proto-Evangelion of James the Less) and reject another?

Yusuf Ali provides no reference for this "tradition" he refers to. Until I see any reference for this, there is no reason to accept this theory. To my current knowledge, there was no such tradition preceding Muhammad. Some Islamic commentators may have created something later to explain this very issue, but a late theory/"tradition" is not very reliable.

And a final question:

Is there any other instance in the Quran where someone is repeatedly called the daughter [son] or sister [brother] of people who are more distant relatives?

Even if there were one such name in the lineage that was so strong that everyone is referred to in relation to that one person, it is doubly unlikely that anyone would be called in relation to two distant relatives instead of "father" and "brother," and never mentioned in relation to their actual parents or siblings. If this is the only instance, then the explanations of Muslims become more difficult since emergency explanations, i.e., explanations that have no purpose other than to explain this one problem but are not used elsewhere, are not very reliable. It appears like a makeshift argument in this case. And the fact that Aaron is the son of Imran and this is a direct and correct genealogical relationship also shows that all others are understood as daughter and sister in the usual, everyday meaning.

Thomas Patrick Hughes in his book "A Dictionary of Islam," page 328, writes on this issue that "it certainly is the cause of some perplexity for commentators. Al-Baidawi says she was called `sister of Aaron' because she was of the tribe of Levi; but Husein says that the Aaron mentioned in the verse is not the same person as the brother of Moses."

As usual, conflicting explanations are evidence that there is indeed a problem in the Quran and no clear and satisfactory solution is found.

Note: Moses and Aaron are called "Moses ibn `Imran" and "Aaron ibn `Imran" in the Hadith, just as Mary is called "Maryam ibnat `Imran" in Surah 66:12.


Dr. Max Shimba for Max Shimba Ministries

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