Did Jesus (sws) speak in Infancy?
Question asked by .
Answered by Jhangeer Hanif

I am interested to know your opinion, understanding and explanation of certain verses in the Holy Qur’ān which many Muslims seem to believe that the Prophet Jesus (sws) spoke in infancy, as a baby in his cradle. For example:

He shall speak to the people in cradle and in maturity. (5:110)

But she [Mary] pointed to the baby. They said: ‘How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?’ He [Jesus] said: ‘I am indeed a servant of Allah; he hath given me revelation and made me a prophet’. (19: 29-33)

Yusuf Ali in his commentary on these verses seems to believe that Jesus (sws) did indeed speak as a baby from his cradle, as some kind of miracle. He points out that the ministry of Jesus (sws) lasted only about 3 years, from 30-33 years of age. And he reminds us of the Gospel of Luke (2:46), which describes Jesus (sws) as disputing with his elders in the Temple at the age of 12, and even earlier as a child, and that he was ‘strong in spirit, filled with wisdom’ (Luke 2:40).

I believe that the generally accepted view among most Muslims is that Jesus (sws) did actually speak in infancy, as a baby. But I know there are some Muslims who do not believe that these verses actually suggest this, and who do not believe that Jesus (sws) actually spoke while he was still a little baby in his cradle. Is it possible to understand these verses to mean that Jesus (sws) spoke/preached as a child (from age 12, as the Bible suggests) rather than as an infant or baby? We know that he already was uniquely blessed with great wisdom and mind for knowledge. Would this understanding be equally acceptable and in keeping with the verse of the Qur’ān which says ‘he shall speak to the people in infancy and in maturity? I am very interested to know your understanding and interpretation of these verses. And whether you believe Jesus (sws) actually ‘spoke’ as a baby or rather as a slightly older child?


Of course, Jesus (sws) did speak to people when he was an infant. There is no reason to deny what the Holy Qur’ān so clearly maintains. A twelve year old boy cannot be referred to as one who is in a cradle. The miracle that the Holy Qur’ān seems to assert is in fact that Jesus (sws) spoke to people when he was an infant. A person may offer many reasons for a twelve year old boy to be shrewd and witty but he will be at a loss to explain how an infant uttered such clear words with such conviction as the Prophet Jesus (sws) did. This miracle can only be understood and appreciated by those who have faith and are blessed with wisdom.

You have rightly said that Jesus (sws) came to rescue his mother. Allah commanded Mary (sws) to be mute and observe fast and refer to the child when she would be questioned. She did the same. On seeing this, the people mocked her saying how a child would bear witness to Mary’s chastity. But the Prophet Jesus (sws) spoke right after his mother pointed to him. Do you think this incident could have happened when Jesus (sws) was a twelve year old kid? Well, in that case, people would have expressed no surprise because all twelve years old can speak fluently. The Holy Qur’ān records:

Then she pointed to him. They said: How can we talk to one who is an infant in the cradle!? (19: 29)

As for the age of the Prophet Jesus (sws), there seems to be a consensus that he was almost thirty three years old when he died. The words of the Holy Qur’ān however draw a different picture. The Book of Allah uses the word ‘Kahal’, which means middle aged. Obviously, use of this word compels us to think that he must have been from forty to fifty years old. The Bible also hints toward this probability. It says:

You are not yet fifty years old, the Jews said to him, and you have seen Abraham!. (John: 8: 57)

The expression, you are not yet fifty years old, shows that it must have been addressed to Jesus (sws) when he was near fifty. This expression in the perspective of the word ‘Kahal’ does give us a clue as to the age of the Prophet Jesus (sws). Therefore, it can safely be concluded that the ministry of Jesus (sws) was not just three years as from thirty to thirty three years.

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