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Mary (مريم Maryam in Arabic), the mother of Jesus (Isa), is considered one of the most righteous women in the Islamic tradition. She is mentioned more in the Quran than in the entire New Testament and is also the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran. According to the Quran, Jesus was born miraculously by the will of God without a father. His mother is regarded as a chaste and virtuous woman and is said to have been a virgin. The Quran states clearly that Jesus was the result of a virgin birth, but that neither Mary nor her son were divine. In the Quran, no other woman is given more attention than Mary and the Quran states that Mary was chosen above all women:
Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee- chosen thee above the women of all nations.
The nineteenth chapter of the Quran is named after her and is, to some extent, about her life. Of the Quran’s 114 suras, she is among only eight people who have a chapter named after them. Mary is specifically mentioned in the Quran, alongside Asiya, as an exemplar for all righteous women. Mary plays an important role in Islamic culture and religious tradition, and verses from the Quran relating to Mary are frequently inscribed on the mihrabof various mosques, including in the Hagia Sophia.
|Lineage of six prominent prophets according to Islamic tradition|
The Quran refers to Mary as being from the “house of Amram“, which is a reference to Amram, the father ofMoses (Musa), Aaron (Harun) and Miriam, through whom Mary descended. Mary is further called the “daughter of Amram”, which has again been interpreted to refer to her ancestor rather than her actual father, who is unnamed in the Quran, but to whom Christian tradition applies the name Joachim. Muslim scholars and commentators have seen the Quran’s statement of Mary being a “daughter of Amram” as similar to the description of Elizabeth in the Gospel of Luke as being one of the “daughters of Aaron”; they interpret both of these phrases as referring to ancestral fathers, rather than literal fathers. Take note, however, that the Gospel of Luke only says Mary and Elizabeth are relatives. There is no phrase “the daughter of Aaron.” (Only Luke 1 mentions Elizabeth.)
Mary in the Quran
The birth of Mary is narrated in the Quran with references to her father as well as Saint Anne. Mary’s father is called Amram in tradition and is the equivalent of Joachim in Christian tradition. Muslim literature narrates that Amram (Imran in Arabic) and Anne (Hannah in Arabic) were old and childless and that, one day, the sight of a bird in a tree feeding her young aroused Anne’s desire for a child. She prayed to God to fulfill her desire and vowed, if her prayer was accepted, that her child would be dedicated to the service of God. She prayed for her child to remain protected from Satan (Shayṭān) and Muslim tradition records a hadith, which states that the only children born without the “touch of Satan,” were Mary and Jesus.
The Quran narrates that Mary grew up in the temple of the prayer, and had a special place in the temple of her own. She was placed under the care of the prophet Zechariah. The Muslim narrative makes it clear that lots were cast as to who should be the guardian of Mary and the outcome was that she should be placed under Zechariah’s care. As often as Zechariah entered Mary’s prayer chamber, he found her provided with food and he would ask her where she received it from, to which she would reply that God provides to whom He wills. Scholars have debated as to whether this refers to miraculous food that Mary received from God or whether it was normal food. Those in favor of the former view state that it had to be miraculous food, as Zechariah being aprophet, would have known that God is the provider of all sustenance and thus would not have questioned Mary, if it was normal food.
Annunciation to Mary
The virgin birth of Jesus is supremely important in Islam, as one of the most important miracles of God. The first explicit mention of an annunciation foreshadowing the birth of Jesus is in sura 19 (Maryam), ayah 20 where Mary asks Gabriel (Jibral) how she will be able to conceive, when no man has touched her. Gabriel’s reply assures Mary that for God all things are easy and that Jesus’s virgin birth will be a sign for mankind. The birth is later referred in sura 66 (At-Tahrim), ayah 12, where the Quran states that Mary remained “pure”, while God allowed a life to shape itself in Mary’s womb. A third mention of the annunciation is in sura 3 (Ali-Imran), ayat 37–38, where Mary is also given the glad tidings that she has been chosen above all the women of creation.
Commentators on the Quran remark on the last verse that Mary was as close to a perfect woman as there could be, and she was devoid of almost all failings. Although Islam honors numerous women, including Khadija and Fatimah, many commentators followed this verse in the absolute sense, and agreed that Mary was the greatest woman of all time. Other commentators, however, while maintaining that Mary was the “queen of the saints”, interpreted this verse to mean that Mary was the greatest woman of that time and that Fatimah and Khadija were equally great. According to exegesis and literature, Gabriel appeared to Mary, who was still young in age, in the form of a well-made man with a “shining face” and announced to her the birth of Jesus. After her immediate astonishment, she was reassured by the angel‘s answer that God has the power to do anything. The details of the Mary’s conception are not discussed during these angelic visits, but elsewhere the Quran states (sura 21, (Al-Anbiya), ayah 91 and 66:12) that God breathed “His Spirit” into Mary while she was chaste.
Virgin birth of Jesus
The Quran narrates the virgin birth of Jesus numerous times. In sura 19 (Maryam), ayat 17-21, the annunciation is given, followed by the virgin birth, which exegesis relates took place soon after the annunciation. In Islam, Jesus is called the “spirit of God” because he was through the action of the spirit, but that belief does not include the doctrine of his pre-existence, as it does in Christianity. Sura:66:12 states that Jesus was born when the spirit of God breathed upon Mary, whose body was chaste.
The Quran’s narrative of the virgin birth is somewhat different from that in the New Testament. The Quran states that Mary was in the midst of the desert, when the pains of childbirth came upon her, as she was near a palm tree. Mary cried in pain and held onto the palm, at which point a voice came from “beneath the (palm-tree)” or “beneath her”, understood by some to refer to Jesus, who was yet in her womb, which said ” “Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee; “And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: It will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.” The Quran goes on to describe that Mary vowed not to speak to any man on that day, as God was to make Jesus, whom Muslims believe spoke in the cradle, perform his first miracle. The Quran goes on to narrate that Mary then brought Jesus to the temple, where immediately she began to be taunted by all the men, excluding Zechariah, who believed in the virgin birth. The Israelites accused Mary of having touched another man whilst unmarried. It was then that according to the Quran the infant Jesus began to speak in the cradle, and spoke of his prophecy for the first time.
Mary in Muslim tradition
Mary is one of the most honored figures in Muslim history. Muslim women look upon her as an example and are known to visit both Muslim and Christian shrines. Muslim tradition, like Christian, honors her memory at Matariyyah near Cairo, and in Jerusalem. Muslims also visit the Bath of Mary in Jerusalem, where Muslim tradition recounts Mary once bathed, and this location was visited at times by women, who were seeking a cure for barrenness. Some plants have also been named after Mary, such as Maryammiah, which, as tradition recounts, acquired its sweet scent when Mary wiped her forehead with its leaves. Another plant is Kaff Maryam (Anastatica), which was used by some Muslim women to help in pregnancy, and the water of this plant was given to women to drink while praying.
Islamic literature does not recount many instances from Mary’s later life, and the assumption is one of the Christian events not present in any Muslim records. Nevertheless, some contemporary Muslim scholars, an example being Martin Lings, accepted the assumption as being a historical event from Mary’s life. One of the lesser-known events which is recorded in Muslim literature, is that of Mary visiting Rome with John and Thaddeus (Jude), the disciples (al-Hawāriyūn) of Jesus, during the reign of Nero.
- Qānitah: Mary is so called in sura 66:12.The Arabic term implies the meaning, not only of constant submission to God, but also absorption in prayer and invocation, meanings that coincides with the image of Mary spending her childhood in the temple of prayer. In this way, Mary personifies prayer and contemplation in Islam.
- Siddiqah: She who confirms the truth or She who has faith. Mary is called Siddiqah twice in the Quran (sura 5 (Al-Ma’ida), ayat 73-75 and 66:12). The term has also been translated, She who believes sincerely completely.
- Sājidah: She who prostrates to God in worship. The Quran states: “O Mary! Worship your Lord devoutly: prostrate yourself”. While in Sujud, a Muslim is to praise God and glorify Him. In this motion, which Muslims believe to be derived from Marian nature, hands, knees and the forehead touch the ground together.
- Rāki’ah: She who bows down to God in worship. The Quran states: “O Mary! Bow down in prayer with those men, who bow down.” The command was repeated by angels only to Mary, according to the Muslim view. Ruku’ in Muslim prayer during prayer has been derived from Mary’s practice.
- Tāhirah: She who was purified.
- Mustafia: She who was chosen. The Quran states: “O Mary! God has chosen you and purified you and again he has chosen you above all women of all nations of the worlds” .
- Sa’imah: She who fasts. Mary is reported to fast one-half of a year in some Muslim traditions.
Many other names of Mary can be found in various other books and religious collections. In Hadith, she has been referred to by names such as Batul, Adhraa (Ascetic Virgin), and Marhumah (Enveloped in God’s Mercy).
Mary is belived to have been buried at the Tomb of the Virgin Mary in the Kidron Valley, at the foot of the Mount of Olives, in Jerusalem. The Christian church on the site has been destroyed several times but the crypt has remained intact. The site is run by the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem who share it with the Armenian Apostolic Church. A mihrab is located at the site to aid Muslims.
Inside of the Tomb of Mary
Surat Maryam (Mary) – سورة مريمبسم الله الرحمن الرحيSahih International
[This is] a mention of the mercy of your Lord to His servant ZechariahSahih International
When he called to his Lord a private supplication.Sahih International
He said, “My Lord, indeed my bones have weakened, and my head has filled with white, and never have I been in my supplication to You, my Lord, unhappy.Sahih International
And indeed, I fear the successors after me, and my wife has been barren, so give me from Yourself an heirSahih International
Who will inherit me and inherit from the family of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, pleasing [to You].”Sahih International
[He was told], “O Zechariah, indeed We give you good tidings of a boy whose name will be John. We have not assigned to any before [this] name.”Sahih International
He said, “My Lord, how will I have a boy when my wife has been barren and I have reached extreme old age?”Sahih International
[An angel] said, “Thus [it will be]; your Lord says, ‘It is easy for Me, for I created you before, while you were nothing.’ “Sahih International
[Zechariah] said, “My Lord, make for me a sign.” He said, “Your sign is that you will not speak to the people for three nights, [being] sound.”Sahih International
So he came out to his people from the prayer chamber and signaled to them to exalt [ Allah ] in the morning and afternoon.Sahih International
[ Allah ] said, “O John, take the Scripture with determination.” And We gave him judgement [while yet] a boySahih International
And affection from Us and purity, and he was fearing of AllahSahih International
And dutiful to his parents, and he was not a disobedient tyrant.Sahih International
And peace be upon him the day he was born and the day he dies and the day he is raised alive.Sahih International
And mention, [O Muhammad], in the Book [the story of] Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place toward the east.Sahih International
And she took, in seclusion from them, a screen. Then We sent to her Our Angel, and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man.Sahih International
She said, “Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of Allah .”Sahih International
He said, “I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of] a pure boy.”Sahih International
She said, “How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?”Sahih International
He said, “Thus [it will be]; your Lord says, ‘It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter [already] decreed.’ “Sahih International
So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place.Sahih International
And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.”Sahih International
But he called her from below her, “Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream.Sahih International
And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates.Sahih International
So eat and drink and be contented. And if you see from among humanity anyone, say, ‘Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.’ “Sahih International
Then she brought him to her people, carrying him. They said, “O Mary, you have certainly done a thing unprecedented.Sahih International
O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste.”Sahih International
So she pointed to him. They said, “How can we speak to one who is in the cradle a child?”Sahih International
[Jesus] said, “Indeed, I am the servant of Allah . He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet.Sahih International
And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah as long as I remain aliveSahih International
And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant.Sahih International
And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.”Sahih International
That is Jesus, the son of Mary – the word of truth about which they are in dispute.Sahih International
It is not [befitting] for Allah to take a son; exalted is He! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is.Sahih International
[Jesus said], “And indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is a straight path.”Sahih International
Then the factions differed [concerning Jesus] from among them, so woe to those who disbelieved – from the scene of a tremendous Day.Sahih International
How [clearly] they will hear and see the Day they come to Us, but the wrongdoers today are in clear error.Sahih International
And warn them, [O Muhammad], of the Day of Regret, when the matter will be concluded; and [yet], they are in [a state of] heedlessness, and they do not believe.Sahih International
Indeed, it is We who will inherit the earth and whoever is on it, and to Us they will be returned.Sahih International
And mention in the Book [the story of] Abraham. Indeed, he was a man of truth and a prophet.Sahih International
[Mention] when he said to his father, “O my father, why do you worship that which does not hear and does not see and will not benefit you at all?Sahih International
O my father, indeed there has come to me of knowledge that which has not come to you, so follow me; I will guide you to an even path.Sahih International
O my father, do not worship Satan. Indeed Satan has ever been, to the Most Merciful, disobedient.Sahih International
O my father, indeed I fear that there will touch you a punishment from the Most Merciful so you would be to Satan a companion [in Hellfire].”Sahih International
[His father] said, “Have you no desire for my gods, O Abraham? If you do not desist, I will surely stone you, so avoid me a prolonged time.”Sahih International
[Abraham] said, “Peace will be upon you. I will ask forgiveness for you of my Lord. Indeed, He is ever gracious to me.Sahih International
And I will leave you and those you invoke other than Allah and will invoke my Lord. I expect that I will not be in invocation to my Lord unhappy.”Sahih International
So when he had left them and those they worshipped other than Allah , We gave him Isaac and Jacob, and each [of them] We made a prophet.Sahih International
And We gave them of Our mercy, and we made for them a reputation of high honor.Sahih International
And mention in the Book, Moses. Indeed, he was chosen, and he was a messenger and a prophet.Sahih International
And We called him from the side of the mount at [his] right and brought him near, confiding [to him].Sahih International
And We gave him out of Our mercy his brother Aaron as a prophet.Sahih International
And mention in the Book, Ishmael. Indeed, he was true to his promise, and he was a messenger and a prophet.Sahih International
And he used to enjoin on his people prayer and zakah and was to his Lord pleasing.Sahih International
And mention in the Book, Idrees. Indeed, he was a man of truth and a prophet.Sahih International
And We raised him to a high station.Sahih International
Those were the ones upon whom Allah bestowed favor from among the prophets of the descendants of Adam and of those We carried [in the ship] with Noah, and of the descendants of Abraham and Israel, and of those whom We guided and chose. When the verses of the Most Merciful were recited to them, they fell in prostration and weeping.Sahih International
But there came after them successors who neglected prayer and pursued desires; so they are going to meet evil –Sahih International
Except those who repent, believe and do righteousness; for those will enter Paradise and will not be wronged at all.Sahih International
[Therein are] gardens of perpetual residence which the Most Merciful has promised His servants in the unseen. Indeed, His promise has ever been coming.Sahih International
They will not hear therein any ill speech – only [greetings of] peace – and they will have their provision therein, morning and afternoon.Sahih International
That is Paradise, which We give as inheritance to those of Our servants who were fearing of Allah .Sahih International
[Gabriel said], “And we [angels] descend not except by the order of your Lord. To Him belongs that before us and that behind us and what is in between. And never is your Lord forgetful –Sahih International
Lord of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them – so worship Him and have patience for His worship. Do you know of any similarity to Him?”Sahih International
And the disbeliever says, “When I have died, am I going to be brought forth alive?”Sahih International
Does man not remember that We created him before, while he was nothing?Sahih International
So by your Lord, We will surely gather them and the devils; then We will bring them to be present around Hell upon their knees.Sahih International
Then We will surely extract from every sect those of them who were worst against the Most Merciful in insolence.Sahih International
Then, surely it is We who are most knowing of those most worthy of burning therein.Sahih International
And there is none of you except he will come to it. This is upon your Lord an inevitability decreed.Sahih International
Then We will save those who feared Allah and leave the wrongdoers within it, on their knees.Sahih International
And when Our verses are recited to them as clear evidences, those who disbelieve say to those who believe, “Which of [our] two parties is best in position and best in association?”Sahih International
And how many a generation have We destroyed before them who were better in possessions and [outward] appearance?Sahih International
Say, “Whoever is in error – let the Most Merciful extend for him an extension [in wealth and time] until, when they see that which they were promised – either punishment [in this world] or the Hour [of resurrection] – they will come to know who is worst in position and weaker in soldiers.”Sahih International
And Allah increases those who were guided, in guidance, and the enduring good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for recourse.Sahih International
Then, have you seen he who disbelieved in Our verses and said, “I will surely be given wealth and children [in the next life]?”Sahih International
Has he looked into the unseen, or has he taken from the Most Merciful a promise?Sahih International
No! We will record what he says and extend for him from the punishment extensively.Sahih International
And We will inherit him [in] what he mentions, and he will come to Us alone.Sahih International
And they have taken besides Allah [false] deities that they would be for them [a source of] honor.Sahih International
No! Those “gods” will deny their worship of them and will be against them opponents [on the Day of Judgement].Sahih International
Do you not see that We have sent the devils upon the disbelievers, inciting them to [evil] with [constant] incitement?Sahih International
So be not impatient over them. We only count out to them a [limited] number.Sahih International
On the Day We will gather the righteous to the Most Merciful as a delegationSahih International
And will drive the criminals to Hell in thirstSahih International
None will have [power of] intercession except he who had taken from the Most Merciful a covenant.Sahih International
And they say, “The Most Merciful has taken [for Himself] a son.”Sahih International
You have done an atrocious thing.Sahih International
The heavens almost rupture therefrom and the earth splits open and the mountains collapse in devastationSahih International
That they attribute to the Most Merciful a son.Sahih International
And it is not appropriate for the Most Merciful that He should take a son.Sahih International
There is no one in the heavens and earth but that he comes to the Most Merciful as a servant.Sahih International
He has enumerated them and counted them a [full] counting.Sahih International
And all of them are coming to Him on the Day of Resurrection alone.Sahih International
Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – the Most Merciful will appoint for them affection.Sahih International
So, [O Muhammad], We have only made Qur’an easy in the Arabic language that you may give good tidings thereby to the righteous and warn thereby a hostile people.Sahih International
And how many have We destroyed before them of generations? Do you perceive of them anyone or hear from them a sound?
- ^ Esposito, John. What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam. New York: University Press, 2002. P31.
- ^ “Mary” in Glasse, Cyril, Concise Encyclopedia of Islam. Stacey International, 3rd edition, 2008.
- ^ a b c Quran 3:42
- ^ Quran 66:11–12
- ^ Dimensions of Islam, F. Schuon, Wisdom of the Virgin
- ^ Quran 3:31
- ^ Bukhari, Anbiya, 44; Muslim, Fada’il, trad. 146, 147
- ^ Quran 3:39
- ^ Quran 3:32
- ^ Quran 19:20–22 Sura 19:20 She said: “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?”
19:21 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.”
19:22 So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.
- ^ a b c d e Quran 66:12
- ^ Quran 3:37–38
- ^ Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol. VI, pg. 629
- ^ Two such commentators were Razi and Kurtubi
- ^ R. Arnaldez, Jesus fils de Marie prophete de l’Islam, Paris 1980, 77
- ^ Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol. VI, pg. 629
- ^ Quran 21:91
- ^ Islam: A Guide for Jews and Christians by F. E. Peters 2005 Princeton University Press ISBN 0-691-12233-4 page 23
- ^ Holy people of the world: a cross-cultural encyclopedia, Volume 1 by Phyllis G. Jestice 2004 ISBN 1-57607-355-6pages 558-559
- ^ Quran 19:17–21
- ^ Christianity, Islam, and the West by Robert A. Burns, 2011, ISBN page 32
- ^ Understand My Muslim People by Abraham Sarker 2004 ISBN 1-59498-002-0 page 127
- ^ Quran 19:24–25
- ^ Quran 19:26
- ^ Quran 19:27–33
- ^ T. Canaan, Muhammaden Saints and Sanctuaries in Palestine, in Journal of the Palestine Oriental Sac., iv/1-2, 1924, 1-84
- ^ Muhammad, M. Lings, pg. 101
- ^ Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol. 6, pg. 631
- ^ Quran 5:73–75
- ^ Quran 3:43
- ^ Khattan, Rahib; The Blessed names of Sayyidatina Maryam, pg 111