Posted by Dr. Momin Sohil
Maryam (Mary), the mother of Isa (Jesus), was a pious Muslim woman during the time of Prophet Zakariyya. She was Maryam daughter Imran from the family lineage of Dawud (David), the offspring of the Children of Israel. In the Quran there is a chapter named Maryam which talks about Maryam, her birth, her story, the birth of her son Prophet Isa (Jesus), and other things. Allah also mentioned the story of her mother’s pregnancy with her in Surah Al Imran.
Maryam’s mother, Hannah, conceived and delivered Maryam when she was an old woman, at an age when women usually can no longer have babies. With the birth of a son in mind, Hannah vowed that she would dedicate the child to the service of the Sacred House in Jerusalem, dedicate the child for worship, freed from all worldly affairs. Instead Almighty Allah blessed Hannah with a daughter. She named the girl “Maryam,” which literally means “maidservant of Allah,” and she asked Allah to protect Maryam and her offspring from evil. Maryam could not be devoted to temple service as her mother had intended, due to being a female, under the Mosaic Law at the time. However, as the new born was marked out for a special destiny to be the mother of the miracle-child, Prophet Isa, Allah had accepted her for His service.
The Holy Quran says:
(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; to serve Your Place of worship), so accept this, from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing.”
Then when she delivered her [child Maryam (Mary)], she said: “O my Lord! I have delivered a female child,” – and Allah knew better what she delivered, – “And the male is not like the female, and I have named her Maryam, and I seek refuge with You (Allah) for her and for her offspring from Shaitan (Satan), the outcast.” (Surah Al-Imran:35-36)
Since Maryam’s father had died, she lived under the care of Zakariyya, who was the husband of Maryam’s sister and the father of John “the Baptist”. He was a great man among Children of Israel at the time, to whom they would refer their religious matters. She grew up as a righteous, pure, and pious Muslim woman worshipping Allah and endeavoring greatly in performing obedience to Him. Zakariyya saw astonishing miracles occur from her that amazed him.
So her Lord (Allah) accepted her with goodly acceptance. He made her grow in a good manner and put her under the care of Zachariyya. Every time he entered Al-Mihrâb (a praying place or a private room) to (visit) her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: “O Maryam! From where have you got this?” She said, “This is from Allah.” Verily, Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills, without limit.” (Surah Al-Imran:37)
It has been mentioned that he would find her with winter fruit during the summer and summer fruit during the winter.
She became the best of the women in the world. It is mentioned in the Quran that the angels said Allah chose Maryam and preferred her to the other women of the world.
And (remember) when the angels said: “O Maryam (Mary)! Verily, Allah has chosen you, purified you, and chosen you above the women of the ‘Alamîn (mankind and jinns).”
O Maryam! “Submit yourself with obedience to your Lord (Allah, by worshipping none but Him Alone) and prostrate yourself, and Irkâ’i (bow down etc.) along with Ar-Râki’ûn (those who bow down etc.).” (Surah Al-Imran:42-43)
And as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Many men reached the level of perfection, but no woman reached such a level except Maryam, the daughter of Imran and Asia, the wife of Pharaoh.” (Hadith – Sahih Bukhari 4.643, Narrated Abu Musa Al Ashari )
Maryam was unique in that she gave birth to a son by a special miracle, without the intervention of the customary physical means. This of course does not mean that she was more than human, any more than her son was more than human. When Allah wanted to grant her His servant and messenger, Isa (peace be upon him), Maryam withdrew from her family and secluded herself from them. She retired to the eastern side of the Sacred Mosque in Jerusalem where she prayed. It was in this state that the angel appeared to her in the shape of a man. As she thought the angel was a man, she was frightened and asked him not to invade her privacy:
She withdrew in seclusion from her family to place facing east. (Surah Maryam:16)
Then, Allah sent His Ruh, the angel Jibril (Gabriel), to her.
And he appeared before he in the form of a man in all respects. (Surah Maryam:17)
When the angel (Jibril) appeared to her in the form of a man, while she was in a place secluded by herself with a partition between her and her people, she was afraid of him and thought he wanted to rape her. Therefore, she said,
Verily I seek refuge with the Most Gracious from you, if you do fear Allah. (Surah Maryam:18)
She meant, “If you fear Allah,” as a means of reminding him of Allah. This is what is legislated in defense against (evil), so that it may be repulsed with ease. Therefore, the first thing she did was try to make him fear Allah, the Mighty and Sublime.
The angel said to her in response, and in order to remove the fear that she felt within herself, “I am not what you think, but I am a the messenger of your Lord.” By this he meant, “Allah has sent me to you.” [At-Tabari 18:164]. It is said that when she mentioned the Name of the Most Beneficent (Ar-Rahman), Jibril fell apart and returned to his true form as an angel. He responded,
‘I am only a messenger from your Lord, to provide to you the gift of a righteous son.’ (Surah Maryam:19)
She said: “How can I have a son…”
Maryam was amazed at this. How she could have a son when she did not have a husband nor did she commit wicked acts like fornication? For this reason she said,
…when no man has touched me, nor am I Baghiyya (unchaste)? (Surah Maryam:20)
He said: “Thus said your Lord: ‘That is easy from Me (Allah)…” (Surah Maryam:21)
The angel responded to her “Verily, Allah has said that a boy will be born from you even though you do not have a husband and you have not committed any lewdness. Verily, he is the Most Able to do whatever He wills.” Due to this, he (Jibril) conveyed Allah’s Words,
And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind (Surah Maryam:21)
This means a proof and a sign for mankind of the power of their Maker and Creator, Who diversified them in their creation. He created their father, Adam, without a male or female. Then he created Hawwa (Eve, Adam’s spouse) from a male (from the rib of Adam) without a female (mother). Then, He created the rest of their progeny from male and female, except Isa. He created Isa to be born from a female without a male. Thus, Allah completed the four types of creation of the human being, which proves the perfection of his power and the magnificence of His authority. There is no god worthy of worship except Him and there is no true Lord other than Him.
Concerning Allah’s statement:
and a mercy from Us.. (Surah Maryam:21)
This means, “we will make this boy a mercy from Allah and a Prophet from the Prophets. He will call to the worship of Allah and monotheistic belief in Him. This is as Allah, the Exalted, said in another Ayah,
(Remember) when the angels said: “O Maryam! Verily, Allah gives you the good news of a Word from Him, his name will be Al-Masih (The Christ), Isa (Jesus), the son of Maryam, held in honor in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah. And he will speak to the people, in the cradle and in manhood, and he will be one of the righteous. (Surah Al-Imran:45-46)
Finally Jibril completes his dialogue with Maryam, informing her that this matter was preordained by Allah’s power and will.
and it is a matter (already decreed (by Allah). (Surah Maryam:21)
This means that Allah determined to do this, so there is no avoiding it. [At Tabari 18:165]
So she conceived him and she retired with him to a remote place. (Surah Maryam:22)
Later, Maryam, being human, suffered the effects of childbirth as any expectant mother would during these times.
And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: she cried (in her anguish): “Ah! would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!” But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-free): “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. “So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye. And if thou dost see any man say `I have vowed a fast to (Allah) Most Gracious and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being.’ ” (Surah Maryam:23-26)
When Mary showed the baby to her people, they said that this was truly an amazing thing that had happened. The newly born baby (Jesus) replied to the people:
He said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; “And He hath made me Blessed wheresoever I be and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live; “(He) hath made me kind to my mother and not overbearing or miserable; “So Peace is on me the day I was born the day that I die and the Day that I shall be raised up to life (again)”! (Surah Maryam:30-33)
And that is what is reported of the story of Maryam. Even though Maryam is the mother of Isa (Jesus) and occupies a highest position among women, neither Maryam nor Isa have any divine attributes in them. The Holy Quran makes this clear in the following verse:
They do blaspheme who say: “Allah is Christ the son of Maryam.” But said Christ: “O children of Israel! worship Allah my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with Allah, Allah will forbid him the garden and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help.
They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy) verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.
Why turn they not to Allah and seek His forgiveness? For Allah is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful. Christ the son of Maryam was no more than an Apostle; many were the Apostles that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how Allah doth makes His Signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!
Say: Will ye worship besides Allah something which hath no power either to harm or benefit you? But Allah He it is that heareth and knoweth all things.” Say: “O people of the Book! exceed not in your religion the bounds (of what is proper) trespassing beyond the truth nor follow the vain desires of people who went wrong in times gone by who misled many and strayed (themselves) from the even way. (Surah Al-Ma’idah:72-77)
Say: He is Allah the One and Only; Allah the Eternal Absolute; He begetteth not nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him. (Surah Al-Ikhlas)
Tafsir of Imam Ibn Kathir
Muttaqun Online Islamic Network Center
The Sunnah Islamic Page