Church of the Nativity, Birthplace of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام

Spot where, according to christian traditions, Hz. Isa عليه اسلام, was born

Bethlehem, West Bank – Palestine

Coordinates: 31.704306, 35.207639

The Church of the Nativity is a basilica located in Bethlehem in the West Bank.

The grotto it contains holds a prominent religious significance to Christians of various denominations as the birthplace of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام.

The grotto is the oldest site continuously used as a place of worship in Christianity, and the basilica is the oldest major church in the Palestine.

For all Christians, The Church of the Nativity with it’s below-ground grotto/cave marking the birthplace of the Infant Hz. Isa عليه اسلام, is second only to the Church of The Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem as the most sacred spot of Christianity in Palestine.

Church of the Nativity is owned by three sects of christianity, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Roman Catholic.

Greek Orthodox own most of it as seen with the furnishings and embellishments.

Muslims traditions

There is no denying the fact that birth of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام took place underneath the palm three as it is mentioned in the Quran. Whether the grotto is on that exact place where the palm tree once was is debatable.

Some Muslim scholars don’t believe the location of this church to be the birthplace of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام but a place a few kilometres away.

Nevertheless throughout all the christians sects, this is the place where the birth took place.

The Birth of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام in Quran

So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place (Bethlehem valley, about four to six miles from Jerusalem). And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said: “Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!” Then (the babe “Jesus” or Gabriel) cried unto her from below her, saying: “Grieve not! Your Lord has provided you a water stream under you; and shake the trunk of palm tree towards you, it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon you. So eat and drink and be glad, and if you see any human being, say: ‘Verily! I have vowed a fast unto the Most Beneficent (Allah) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.

Quran: Ch. 19: 22-26

The Birth of Hz. Isa عليه اسلام narrated by Ibn kathir

The news brought by Hz. Jibrael عليه اسلام visit caused Bibi Maryam رضي الله عنها great anxiety, which increased as the months went by.

How could she face giving birth to a child without having a husband? Later, she felt life kicking inside her.

With a heavy heart, she left the temple and went to Nazareth, the city in which she had been born where she settled in a simple farm house to avoid the public.

But fear and anxiety did not leave her. She was from a noble and pious family. Her father had not been an evil man nor was her mother an impure woman. How could she prevent tongues from wagging about her honor?

After some months, she could not bear the mental strain any longer. Burdened with a heavy womb, she left Nazareth, not knowing where to go to be away from this depressing atmosphere.

She had not gone far, when she was overtaken by the pains of childbirth.

She saw down against a dry palm tree, and here she gave birth to a son. Looking at her beautiful baby, she was hurt that she had brought him into the world without a father. She exclaimed: “I wish I had died before this happened and had vanished into nothingness!”

Suddenly, she heard a voice nearby: “Grieve not, your Lord has placed a rivulet below, and shake the trunk of this tree, from which ripe dates will fall. So eat and drink and regain the strength you have lost; and be of good cheer, for what you see is the power of Allah, Who made the dry palm tree regain life, in order to provide food for you.”

For a while she was comforted by Allah’s miracle, for it was a sure sign of her innocence and purity.

Bibi Maryam رضي الله عنها Returns to the City with Hz. Isa عليه اسلام

Bibi Maryam رضي الله عنها decided to return to the city. However, her fears also returned. What was she going to tell the people?

While she was worrying about these things, the baby began to speak: “If you meet any person say: ‘I have vowed to fast for The Beneficent and may not speak to any human today.

With this miracle, Bibi Maryam رضي الله عنها felt at ease. As she had expected, her arrival in the city with a newborn baby in her arms aroused the curiosity of the people.

They scolded her: “This is a terrible sin that you have committed.” She put her finger to her lips and pointed to the child.

They asked: “How can we speak to a newborn baby?” To their total amazement, the child began to speak clearly: “I am Allah’s servant. Allah has given me the Book, and has made me a prophet, and has blessed me wherever I may be, and has enjoined on me prayers and alms-giving as long as I live.

Allah has made me dutiful towards she who had borne me.

He has not made me arrogant nor unblessed. Peace unto me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive.”

Most of the people realized that the baby was unique, for it Allah wills something, He merely says “Be” and it happens.

Of course, there were some who regarded the baby’s speech as a strange trick, but at least Bibi Maryam رضي الله عنها could now stay in Nazareth without being harassed.

Note: Some of the information in this article comes from Christians sources.