The Nativity Story in the Qur’an and the Bible

In loving memory of my father, Frits Neervoort.

Marlies ter Borg-Neervoort, Aerdenhout, the Netherlands, December 2005.

This tiny anthology of precious stories is part of an ongoing project ‘Qur’an and Bible Stories’ aimed at making similar texts from the two books easily available for the general public.

I would like to thank Cynthia Capey and Manwar Ali of the Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource, for their encouragement and excellent advice in choosing the most adequate translation and in preparing these texts, and for Brother Bart of Hilfield Franciscan Friary for introducing me to these wonderful people.

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Please feel free to send these stories to family and friends for, and after Christmas.



Glad tidings for Mary


(And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from(of?)  him whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah).


Relate in the Book  (the Qur’an)  (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East.

Y 19.16

And had chosen seclusion from them. Then We sent unto her Our Spirit and it assumed for her the likeness of a perfect man.


She said: “I seek refuge from thee to (Allah) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear Allah.”

He said: “Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son.”

She said: “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?”

He said: “So (it will be): Thy Lord saith, ‘that is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us’:

It is a matter (so) decreed.”

So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.

Y 19.18-22

The visitation of Mary


In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.


He went in and said to her, 'Rejoice, you who enjoy God's favour! The Lord is with you.'


She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her,

'Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God's favour. Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus.

He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.


The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.'


Mary said to the angel, 'But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?'


The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow.


So the child will be holy and will be called Son of God.

Gospel according to Luke,1:26-35

The Birth of Jesus


And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: She cried (in her anguish): “Ah! would that I had died before this! would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!”


Then (the child) called out to her from beneath her: Grieve not, surely your Lord has made a stream to flow beneath you; And shake towards you the trunk of the palmtree, it will drop on you fresh ripe dates: So eat and drink and refresh the eye.

Then if you see any mortal, say: Surely I have vowed a fast to the Beneficent Allah, so I shall not speak to any man today.


 And she came to her people with him, carrying him (with her). They said: “O Mary ! surely you have done a strange thing.”


“O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!”


But she pointed to the babe.

They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?”


He said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet;

And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live;


(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing (arrogant, insolent)  or miserable, (unblessed);


So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!”


Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute. It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son.


Glory be to Him! when He determines a matter, He only says to it, “Be”, and it is.

Y. 19:29-35


From Qu’ran sura 19: “Mary”

Translations used:

Y.= Yusufali

P.= Pickthal

S.= Shakir

The Birth of Jesus


So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee for Judaea, to David's town called Bethlehem, since he was of David's House and line, in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.


Now it happened that, while they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first-born.

She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the living-space.


In the countryside close by there were shepherds out in the fields keeping guard over their sheep during the watches of the night.


An angel of the Lord stood over them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said,

'Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.'


And all at once with the angel there was a great throng of the hosts of heaven, praising God with the words:

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace for those he favours.


Now it happened that when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,

'Let us go to Bethlehem and see this event which the Lord has made known to us.'


So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger.

When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds said to them.


As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.


And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as they had been told.

Gospel according to Luke, 2:4-20


Translation used: New Jerusalem Bible,

available online at