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Islam Affirms Jesus’ Physical Descent from King David

According to the Quran, Jesus is the physical seed of Noah and Abraham even though he had no physical father:

That is Our argument, which We bestowed upon Abraham as against his people. We raise up in degrees whom We will; surely thy Lord is All-wise, All-knowing. And We gave to him Isaac and Jacob — each one We guided, And Noah We guided before; and of HIS seed David and Solomon, Job and Joseph, Moses and Aaron — even so We recompense the good-doers — Zachariah and John, JESUS and Elias; each was of the righteous; Ishmael and Elisha, Jonah and Lot-each one We preferred above all beings; and of their fathers, and of their seed, and of their brethren; and We elected them, and We guided them to a straight path. S. 6:83-87 Arberry

This means that the Islamic scripture accepts that a person’s physical lineage can be traced through the female side. In fact, the Muslim scholars themselves readily acknowledged that Jesus was a descendant of David via his blessed mother, and hence of the tribe of Judah.

For instance, noted Muslim scholar and historian Al-Tabari linked Jesus’ mother to David, going as far as to “borrow” the genealogy of Joseph found in Matthew’s Gospel to do so!

“The Persians assert that sixty-five years after Alexander seized Babylonia, and fifty-one years after Arsacid rule began, Mary the daughter of ‘Imran gave birth to Jesus. But the Christians assert that Jesus was born to her 303 years after Alexander conquered Babylonia, and that John the Baptist was born six months before Jesus. They report that Mary was pregnant with Jesus when she was thirteen years old. They also report that Jesus lived thirty-two years and a few days before his ascension, and that Mary lived six more years after his ascension, altogether over fifty years. They assert that John and Jesus met in the Jordan River when Jesus was thirty years of age, and that John was slain before the ascension of Jesus. Zechariah b. Berechiah, the father of Yahya b. Zechariah, and ‘Imran b. Matthan, the father of Mary, were married to two sisters. One was married to Zechariah- she was the mother of John, the other was with ‘Imran b. Matthan, and she was the mother of Mary. ‘Imran b. Matthan died when the mother of Mary was pregnant with her. When Mary was born, Zechariah provided for her after her mother’s death, because her aunt, the sister of her mother, was with him. The name of Mary’s mother was Hanna bt. Faqud b. Qabil; the name of the sister of Mary’s mother, that is, the name of John’s mother was Elizabeth bt. Faqud. Zechariah provided for Mary, and she was engaged to Joseph b. Jacob b. Mathan b. Eleazar b. Eliud b. Achim b. Zadok b. Azor b. Eliakim b. Abiud b. Zerubbabel, b. Shealtiel b. Jechonia b. Josiah b. Amon b. Manasseh b. Hezekiah b. Ahaziah b. Jotham b. Uzziah b. Joram b. Jehosaphat b. Asa b. Abijah b. Rehoboam b. SOLOMON B. DAVID.

According to Ibn Humayd – Salamah – Ibn Ishaq: As far as I could learn from her lineage, Mary was the daughter of ‘Imran b. Josiah b. Amon b. Manasse b. Hezekiah b. Ahaziah b. Jotham b. Azariah b. Amaziah b. Joash b. Ahaziah b. Joram b. Jehosaphat b. Asa b. Abijah b. Rehoboam b. SOLOMON. (The History of al-Tabari Volume IV – The Ancient Kingdom, Moshe Perlman trans. [The State University of New York Press; Albany, 1987], pp. 103-104; bold emphasis mine)

Notice al-Tabari’s use of specific traditions, which affirm that both Joseph AND Mary were descendants of King David.

The other classical Muslim scholars also held to this view:

“The Qur’an informs us that the father of Mary was named ‘Imran and the classical Muslim scholars UNANIMOUSLY ACCEPT that she was from the line of the prophet David… Differences of opinion emerge, however, over the intervening genealogy, most probably due to a lack of familiarity with such foreign names and consequent error in recording them in the Arabic orthography. According to the Spanish exegete al-Qurtubi, ‘All these differences are mentioned because the Prophets and Messengers are all descendants one of the other.’ The following genealogy (taking into account orthographic variations), which is attributed to Ibn Ishaq or directly to the Prophet’s companion Ibn ‘Abbas, is the most generally accepted: Mary bint ‘Imran ibn Yashim ibn Misha ibn Hazqiya ibn Yawish (ibn Isha ibn Yahushafat) IBN SULAYMAN IBN DAWUD… Although the name of her mother is not supplied in the Qur’an, it is universally accepted as Hanna bint Faqudh.” (Aliah Schleifer, Mary The Blessed Virgin of Islam, Fons Vitae; ISBN: 1887752021; July 1, 1998, pp. 22-23; bold and capital emphasis mine)

One such scholar was Ibn Kathir who had this to say in regards to Q. 19:16:

<And mention in the Book, Maryam,> She was Maryam bint `Imran from the family lineage of Dawud. She was from a good and wholesome family of the Children of Israel. Allah mentioned the story of her mother’s pregnancy with her in Surah Al `Imran, and that she (Maryam’s mother) dedicated her freely for the service of Allah. This meant that she dedicated the child (Maryam) to the service of the Masjid of the Sacred House (in Jerusalem). Thus, they (Zakariyya, Maryam’s mother and Maryam) were similar in that aspect. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; bold emphasis mine)

And here is what he wrote concerning Q. 3:33:

Allah states that He has chosen these households over the people of the earth. For instance, Allah chose Adam, created him with His Hand and blew life into him. Allah commanded the angels to prostrate before Adam, taught him the names of everything and allowed him to dwell in Paradise, but then sent him down from it out of His wisdom. Allah chose Nuh and made him the first Messenger to the people of the earth, when the people worshipped idols and associated others with Allah in worship. Allah avenged the way Nuh was treated, for he kept calling his people day and night, in public and in secret, for a very long time. However, his calling them only made them shun him more, and this is when Nuh supplicated against them. So Allah caused them to drown, and none among them was saved, except those who followed the religion that Allah sent to Nuh. Allah also chose the household of Ibrahim, including the master of all mankind, and the Final Prophet, Muhammad. Allah also chose the household of `Imran, the father of Marym bint `Imran, the mother of `Isa, peace be upon them. SO `ISA IS FROM THE OFFSPRING OF IBRAHIM, as we will mention in the Tafsir of Surat Al-An`am, Allah willing, and our trust is in Him… (Ibid.:; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Ironically, Ibn Kathir mentions specific Muslims that used the example of Jesus to prove that a man can trace his lineage through his mother!

“… Mentioning `Isa in the offspring of Ibrahim, or Nuh as we stated above, is proof that the grandchildren from a man’s daughter’s side are included among his offspring. `Isa is included among Ibrahim’s progeny through his mother, although `Isa did not have a father. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Harb bin Abi Al-Aswad said, ‘Al-Hajjaj sent to Yahya bin Ya`mar, saying, “I was told that you claim that Al-Hasan and Al-Hussein are from the offspring of the Prophet, did you find it in the Book of Allah? I read the Qur’an from beginning to end and did not find it.” Yahya said, “Do you not read in Surah Al-An`am…

(and among his progeny Dawud, Sulayman…) until, (and Yahya and `Isa…).

Al-Hajjaj said, “Yes.” Yahya said, “Is not `Isa from the offspring of Ibrahim, although he did not have a father!” Al-Hajjaj said, “You have said the truth.”’ For example, when a man leaves behind a legacy, a trust, or gift to his ‘offspring’ then the children of his daughters are included. But if a man gives something to his ‘sons’, or he leaves a trust behind for them, then that would be particular to his male children and their male children…” (Ibid., Q. 6:84-90:; bold emphasis mine)

The following Muslim scholars all concur that physical lineage can be traced through one’s mother:

And Zachariah and, his son, John, and Jesus, son of Mary — THIS SHOWS THAT [the term] ‘SEED’ (dhurriyya) CAN INCLUDE OFFSPRING FROM THE FEMALE [side] — and Elias, the paternal nephew of Aaron, brother of Moses; all, of them, were of the righteous. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; bold and capital emphasis mine)

(And Zachariah and John and Jesus and Elias. Each one (of them)) We guided by bestowing upon them prophethood and Islam; and all of them were of the seed of Abraham (was of the righteous) i.e. they were messengers. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs; bold emphasis mine)

Out of these seventeen prophets identified in the cited verses, Sayyidna Nuh is the patriarch of Sayyidna Ibrahim. The rest have been called their progeny: (and, of his progeny, to Dawud and Sulayman … ). This poses two difficulties. The first could be about Sayyidna ‘Isa who, because of his father-less birth, is a progeny of Sayyidna Ibrahim from the daughter’s side, that is, not a paternal grandson, instead, is a grand-son from the maternal side.

If so, how would calling him his progeny would be correct? Most learned Muslim scholars and jurists have answered it by saying that progeny is inclusive of both paternal and maternal grandsons. It is from here that they prove that Sayyidna Hasan and Sayyidna Husain stand included under the progeny of the Holy Prophet. (Ma’ariful-Qur’an, by Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi’, translated by Muhammad Shamim, revised by Taqi ‘Usmani, Volume 3, p. 406:; bold emphasis mine)

With the foregoing in perspective, a Muslim has no grounds to call into question Jesus’ physical descent from king David when even their own sources and Muslim scholars accept that he is.

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