Imam Zijad’s Corner: Maryam or Mary — The daughter of ’Imran and the mother of ‘Isa or Jesus (pbuh)

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Imam Zijad’s Corner:  Maryam or Mary — The daughter of ’Imran and the mother of ‘Isa or Jesus (pbuh)

God Almighty praised Mary in the Qur’an: “And (remember) when the angels said, “O Mary, truly God has chosen thee and purified thee, and has chosen thee above the women of the worlds. O Mary! Be devoutly obedient to thy Lord, prostrate, and bow with those who bow” (3:42-43).

I think that it would be totally inappropriate and unfair to proceed with the discussion about Isa or Jesus (pbuh) without shedding some light on the personality of Maryam, may peace be with her. To assess and grasp the true virtue of ‘Isa (pbuh) it is necessary to learn about his mother Maryam bint ‘Imran.

Of the most touching and telling mother-son relationships in the Quran is that of ‘Isa bin Maryam (pbuh). For the first and last time in history a Prophet would not be addressed by his father’s name. Rather, he is referred to as Jesus, the son of Mary.

Mary’s mother grew to be of an old age, and became barren. She prayed to God for one final child, whom she would dedicate in God’s service. When she conceived in old age, she said, as recorded in the Quran: “Allah chose Adam, Nuh (Noah), and the family of Ibrahim and the family of ‘Imran above the ‘Alamin (all creation during their respective times). Offspring, one of the other and Allah is the All-Hearer, All-Knowing.

(Remember) when the wife of ‘Imran said: ‘O my Lord! I have vowed to You what (the child that) is in my womb to be dedicated for your services (free from all worldly work and obligations; solely for your worship) so accept this from me. Verily you are the All-Hearer (You hear my Du‘a) and the All-Knowing (and you know my sincere intention in fulfilling this vow).’

Then when she gave birth to her (Maryam), she said ‘O my Lord! I have given birth to a female child.’ – And Allah knew better what she brought forth (He is the Creator), – ‘And the male is not like the female, and I have named her Maryam (literally = pure maidservant of Allah), and I seek refuge with You (Allah) for her and her offspring from the Shaytan (Satan), the outcast.’

When Mary’s mother gave birth to Mary, she was saddened that the child was a girl. This was because, in Jewish tradition, there are very few religious acts of devotion that could be performed by a female. Of 514 daily acts of devotion, only 4 required of a Jewish woman.

So her Lord (Allah) accepted her with goodly acceptance. He made her grow in a good manner and put her under the care of Zakariyya (Prophet Zachary).” Ali-‘Imran 3:33-37

Zakariyyah was one of the prophets of Islam. He was chosen out of all of the scribes of his time, who were gathered together and instructed to throw their pens into a stream. They were told that whoever’s pen flowed against the current would be the child’s guardian. Zakariyyah’s pen was the one that flowed against the current.

Of Maryam, the Prophet Muhammad (S) said: “Of men, many have attained completion with their Lord. But of women, there were four – Maryam the daughter of ‘Imran, Asiyah the wife of Pharoah, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid and Fatimah the daughter of Muhammad.” (Agreed Upon)

Allah said in the Qur’an: “And (remember) when the angels said: “O Maryam! Verily, Allah has chosen you, purified you (from polytheism and disbelief), and chosen you above the women of the ’Alamin (mankind and jinn).” Qur’an – Surat Al ‘Imran 3: 42

Thus, Maryam was chosen above all of humanity to bear ‘Isa. She is the only female servant of God mentioned in the Qur’an by name – Maryam. There are some more women mentioned in the Qur’an but not explicitly by their names.

Other virtuous women are discussed in the Qur’an, and we know their names from Islamic tradition. They are:

•Hawwa – Hawwa was the wife of Adam, and they were both created directly by God. In English, she is known as “Eve.” (Qur’an 4:1)

•Sara – In Islamic tradition, Sara is the wife of Abraham who gave birth to Isaac in her later years. (Qur’an 11:71-72)

•Hajirah – Also known as Hajar in English, she was a younger wife of Abraham who gave birth to Ismail. During the annual pilgrimage (Hajj), Muslims re-enact her desperate search for water in the valley near Makkah. (Qur’an 2:158)

•Asiya – Asiya was described as the wife of Pharoah, who cared for Moses after his rescue as an infant. She protected Moses and stood up for him in front of her husband. (Qur’an 66:11)

Maryam’s story is told in many different verses and chapters of the Qur’an. The whole Chapter 19 of the Qur’an is titled “Maryam or Mary”, and is dedicated to her story and the Immaculate Conception.

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