Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Can There Have Been Two Annunciations?

In addition to being Good Friday for Western Christians, last Friday was March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. As the hymn for the Feast says, 

Today is the beginning of our salvation,
The revelation of the eternal mystery!
The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin
As Gabriel announces the coming of Grace...

Islam also begins with an annunciation of sorts, to Muhammad, coincidentally by a spirit being also identified as the angel Jibril (Gabriel). Only the nature and outcome of that annunciation is quite different from the one to the Virgin Mary six centuries earlier.

This article contrasts the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary, with that 'second annunciation', to Muhammad. This is one of the most significant and revealing facts about Islam, one which we should always keep in the forefront of our considerations.

If Muslims worship the Same God as Christians, how could that Same God possibly send two such radically opposed revelations and messages? And could it be the Same God if He chose to send His revelation to Muhammad through such a dark and blatantly evil "annunciation"?

Can There Have Been Two Annunciations?

by Ralph H. Sidway

March 25 is the Feast of the Annunciation, when we commemorate the Archangel Gabriel's appearing to the Virgin Mary, as described in Luke 1:24-38:

Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, "Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people." 
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 
And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” 
But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 
"He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." 
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” 
And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 
"Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." 
Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

The icon for the Feast depicts this amazing scene, and the modest, reverent interchange between the young maiden and the powerful archangel sent from God. Notice how the Virgin Mary is traditionally depicted with her hand raised just a bit, with a posture which suggests a bit of reserve, a recoiling, for "she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was."

The Archangel Gabriel is likewise depicted in a dynamic manner, moving towards the Virgin Mary, his right hand blessing, but his knees bent in a posture very familiar to Orthodox Christians, that being one of veneration, such as we make when we venerate a holy icon, or ask a blessing of a priest. And the Gospel indicates Gabriel's assurances to the initially troubled maiden; he wishes to immediately reassure her, describing the ineffable mystery of the conception of the Son of God, as well as offering confirmation of the validity of his annunciation through the news of Mary's cousin Elizabeth, who is nearing the third trimester of her own miraculous pregnancy, "for with God, nothing will be impossible."

Liturgical texts for the feast expand the dialogue between the Archangel and the Maiden, the former saying such things as these to the Theotokos, "Why are you afraid of me, O undefiled one? I rather am afraid of you! Lady, why do you stand in awe of me, who stand in reverent awe of you?"

Then we are told of Mary's humble obedience to the will of God, depicted in the icon by Mary holding the spool of yarn, a visual reference both to the practice of working the loom (traditionally women's work), but especially to the spiritual reality of the Son of God taking flesh, being woven and knit together in the womb of the Virgin. As in all icons of the Theotokos (Greek for Bearer of God), three stars adorn the Virgin Mary's covering, on her shoulders and on her head, denoting that she was a virgin before giving birth, remained a virgin during childbearing, and continued in virginity after giving birth. Hence she is often referred to as the "Ever Virgin" (Greek: Aeiparthenos). A shaft of divine light from the heavens (usually with the form of a dove enveloped in a small nimbus in the middle) indicates the overshadowing by the Holy Spirit and the moment of conception of the son to be named JESUS. As we sing in the profound troparion for the Feast:

Today is the beginning of our salvation,
The revelation of the eternal mystery!
The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin
As Gabriel announces the coming of Grace.
Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos:
Rejoice, O Full of Grace, 
The Lord is with You!

Approximately six centuries after this powerful event — and after the saving acts of the Son of Mary, the Son of God, Jesus the Christ — his public ministry, the healings and miracles and signs he performed, (healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, making the lame to walk, preaching the gospel to the poor, raising the dead), and ultimately his sufferings, his execution and death by crucifixion, his resurrection on the third day, and his ascension in glory into the heavens — followed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost and the rapid growth (with persecutions) of the Christian Church, and that followed by centuries of continued growth of the Church even against incredible odds and frequent persecution until the advent of Constantine and the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity; and THAT followed by the age of the first six Ecumenical Councils, through which the Church articulated more precisely what it had always believed and taught from the beginning, repudiating every false teaching (heresy) about Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Triune Godhead — Six centuries after the Christian Faith was set in motion by the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, another annunciation is claimed to have occurred.

This second annunciation sought to sweep away the entire Christian Revelation, sought to nullify the first and true Annunciation.

The Second Annunciation: The demon Jibril prepares to "press [Muhammad] so hard he will think it is death..."

This second annunciation sought to sweep away the entire Christian Revelation, sought to nullify the first and true Annunciation. The theological assault of Islam upon Christianity (what I term "theological jihad") has been treated quite thoroughly elsewhere. What I wish to focus on here, is precisely the character of this second annunciation, in which — according to the claims of Islamic source texts and dogma — the Archangel Gabriel came to Muhammad, setting in motion the religion of Islam.

Before we consider this "second annunciation," we should first note the correspondence between the Virgin Mary and Muhammad. The Virgin Mary bore the Word of God made flesh, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Muhammad claimed to have brought the words of God in book form, the Qur'an, which Islam teaches pre-existed in perfect form with Allah before all the ages, in what Islam calls the "Mother of the Book." Thus, although we can rightly compare Jesus and Muhammad in considering the character and essence of Christianity vis a vis that of Islam, the actual theological equivalence is between Jesus and the Qur'an, and between the Virgin Mary and Muhammad.

But what is the nature of this second annunciation? How does it comport with the first? What was its effect upon the recipient? How did the spiritual being which came to Muhammad approach him? How did Muhammad respond? Can we discern anything from the answers to these questions?

Muhammad himself did not at first believe he was being visited by the archangel Gabriel, thinking rather that he was a victim of a jinn or demon.

The first “revelation” brought by the spiritual being (which Islam teaches was the Archangel Gabriel) was an overpowering, forceful and terrifying event, which occurred after Muhammad had spent many days and nights alone in a cave in Hira, worshipping Allah. The powerful spirit being which commanded him to “read and recite” was frightening: Three times, Muhammad related, "He pressed upon me so tightly I thought it was death" (Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, trans. by A. Guillaume, New York, 1980, p106. cf. Hadith from Sahih Bukhari, 5:96:5).

Significantly, Muhammad himself did not at first believe he was being visited by the archangel Gabriel, thinking rather that he was a victim of a jinn (from which we get the word “genie”) or demon. He fled trembling back to his wife Khadija, fearing for his life, crying, “Woe is me, poet [that is, oppressed by demonic visions] or possessed!” (Ishaq, p106)

Muhammad became fearful and suicidal, but was eventually persuaded by his wife Khadija and her uncle Waraqa (a Nestorian heretic) that the messages were from God and that he was Allah’s chosen messenger.

Khadija is credited with being the first Muslim. That Muhammad then actively sought further encounters with the being which assailed him is testimony to his willingness to open himself up to the unseen realm. That he was so easily convinced by his wife and uncle (and the forceful “being”) that he was specially chosen by God and was not demonically oppressed or possessed shows that vainglory and satanic deception had totally seized control of his mind and heart.

After this harrowing initial visitation, there was a three year drought of “revelations,” during which Muhammad suffered from suicidal depression and self-doubt.  (Ishaq, p106. See also this article at Answering Islam.)

By the time the "revelations" resumed, Muhammad was predisposed to accept them no matter the cost. He identified himself with the revelations, wholly placed his self-worth in being the recipient of them.

(This is an interesting point, as Muhammad's response to the spirit being Jibril and its fierce and deadly assault upon him closely parallels the experiences of today's UFO contactees and abductees. People who have seen a UFO, and especially those who claim a "close encounter," or to have been abducted, often suffer from severe psychological trauma, depression, suicidal tendencies, delusions and more. A very small number become acclimated to the monstrous experience they have had, and some of them, like the hapless Whitley Streiber, write books or otherwise aid in promoting the demons' UFO myth of a Great Disclosure and a new age to follow.)

Even this brief study reveals the "annunciation" to Muhammad to be demonic in origin. Thus it is quite clear that Muhammad was worse than just a false prophet and a fraud, but rather became a willing and cooperative victim of demonic deception, if not outright demon possession.

We know the rest of the story, all from Islamic source texts: the depraved life of Muhammad, the warlord who beheaded over 800 Jews after one battle victory; the pedophile who married the child Ayesha when she was six years old, "consummating the marriage with her when she was nine years old; the lusty prophet who had eleven wives plus sex-slave concubines captured as war booty from defeated enemies; his numerous sexual perversions; the violent history of his successors, who waged war amongst themselves even as Islam was spreading itself through jihad across the Middle East and North Africa; and the ensuing thirteen centuries of bloody and ruthless Islamic jihad and sharia which multiplies its atrocities all around the globe, including now in Europe and America.

All this reveals precisely the nature of this second annunciation.

By their fruits you shall know them.