If you can’t wait to hear the audio story, scroll down or listen here ! But for another sweet little story within a story read on …
It was December 1993, a young mother of three woke before sunrise from an uncomfortable sleep, there was a fourth one on the way and this pregnancy felt heavier than any of the others before…
She arranged three sets of school uniform shirts on the radiator, three skirts, three pairs of tights, three maroon v-necked sweaters with the school emblem on each.
She eased herself on to the prayer mat, with her back to the warm clothes draped waiting on the radiator and opened her copy of the Quran. She had been reading Surah Maryam, as she had done so for every day of this pregnancy.
The girls would soon come out of their room and get dressed in a flurry of fights and jabs and jokes. Only a couple more weeks now before school would break for Christmas and she was looking forward to the respite of staying inside for the last few days of her pregnancy.
While getting dressed – the middle and the youngest started already
“…away in a manger no crib for a …”
“don’t be silly baby Jesus wasn’t born in a manger”
“Yes he was”
“No he wasn’t it’s just a story isn’t it mama? “
“… no it’s not, is baby Jesus the son of god mama? then who is Joseph? ”
The girls had been coming home from school these days talking about Christmas this and Christmas that… with songs and jingles on their brains…she’d almost picked up all the words herself, one couldn’t get away from any of it!
It was nothing like the winters of her own childhood in Kashmir, which were full of snowy days spent wrapped in woolen pherans..in a house full of cousins and aunts and grandparents. She had never had to deal with Santa and reindeer and trees and presents. It was all too much and she said NO to everything. They were good girls. But she glimpsed the disappointment in their eyes.
And now these questions about baby Jesus. She had never felt so alone and far away from her family.
She looked at her watch, There was still time yet for school.
“Do you know the other name of Baby Jesus? “
The girls turned quiet as she finished placing a hair clip in her youngest daughter’s hair.
“…his name was Isa, son of Mariam …’”
That eldest of those girls was me and I remember still how Mama would hold us captive with stories of the prophets. As a first generation immigrant parent, in a northern English town, she wanted in her way to center our Muslim identity in a community and environment that did nothing to acknowledge it.
Today on this cold December night, in the spirit of sharing stories with our loved ones and centering the Muslim narrative of the ‘Christmas story’ – I offer you – our dear readers, the gift of the story of Prophet Isa’s birth.
As a weary year prepares to fold itself away, listen to this story that recalls the power of an ancestor’s prayer, the faith and action of a single mother and the big miracles and small mercies we are all in need of.
Listen to it with the little people in your life, the not so little ones and elders too. Share it with interfaith friends and family and also with those of no faith at all ~ the Birth Story of Isa Ibn’ Maryam, Jesus Son Of Mary: Listen here now.
If you enjoyed this, you might also like , In The Belly Of The Whale; An Isolation Audio Story about Prophet Yunus
Surah Maryam, Holy Quran Chapter 19
Lives Of the Prophets by Leila Azzam
Illustration by ; Zarina Teli
Recitation Quran19:33 by Hafida Bourote