Mary in Islam
|Saint Mary, The Holy Virgin
(سانت ماري، العذراء المقدسة)
The Virgin Mary and Jesus in a Persian miniature.
|Virgin, The Purified, The Exalted, Mother of Isa, Keeper of Chastity, Mystic, Female Exemplar, Maternal Heroine, Queen of the Saints, The Holy Virgin, Our Lady, Blessed Mary Sai'ma, Mustafia, Rāki’ah, Sājidah, Qānitah, Siddiqah, Tāhirah|
|Born||c. 20 B.C.E
|Died||c. 100-120 C.E
|Venerated in||All of Islam, All of Christianity|
|Feast||8 December (in Christianity)|
Mary (Arabic: مريم; Marīam), the mother of Jesus (عيسى; ʿĪsā) is venerated in Islam. She is one of the most important and righteous women in Islam. She is mentioned in the Quran more than in the New Testament. She is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran. Many Muslim women look up to her as an example. According to the Quran, Allah (God) chose Mary above all women of all nations. The Quran states:
Behold! the angels said: "O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee- chosen thee above the women of all nations.
- —Quran, sura 3 (Al Imran), ayah 42.
Mary in the Quran[change | change source]
Mary is mentioned in the Quran frequently. Her life narrative occurs in the earliest chapters. The nineteenth chapter is named after her. The chapter is called Maryam.
Family[change | change source]
In the Quran, Mary is believed to have come from the house of Amram.
Birth[change | change source]
The birth of Mary is mentioned in the Quran in various chapters. Her father Joachim (Arabic: يواكيم; Imran) and her mother Anne (آن; Hannah) are also mentioned in the Quran. The Quran says that Joachim and Anne were old and had no children for years. One day Anne saw a bird feeding her young. Seeing this made Anne want a child for herself. She prayed to Allah for a child. She promised that if her prayers were answered, her child's life would be dedicated to the service of Allah. Anne also prayed for her child to be protected from the "touch" of Satan (إبليس; Iblīs).
Early years[change | change source]
The Quran says that Mary grew up in the temple of prayer and had a special place of her own in the temple. The Quran states that there was a cast of the dice to decide who would become the guardian of Mary. The person chosen through this process was the Prophet Zechariah. Often, when Zechariah would visit the chamber of Mary, he would find her with quantities of food. He always asked her where she had obtained the food, and Mary would always answer: "Allah provides to whom he will." As a prophet, Zechariah would not have questioned this response because he would have known that Allah is the provider of all things in life and, indeed, of life itself.
Annunciation[change | change source]
The birth of Jesus and the Annunciation of Mary are very important to Islam. They are considered to be some of the most important miracles of Allah. The first mention of the Annunciation following the Birth of Jesus is in sura 19 (Maryam)ayah 20. The Quran tells us that the Angel Gabriel (Arabic: الروح القدس, al-Ruḥ al-Quds, Jibra'il) came to the Virgin Mary and told her that she would soon be pregnant with a holy child. The Virgin Mary asked how it would be possible for her to become pregnant when no man had touched her. The Angel Gabriel replied that nothing is impossible for Allah, and that the Birth of Jesus would be a sign for all mankind. The birth is mentioned later at sura 66 (At-Tahrim) ayah 12, where the Quran says that the Virgin Mary remained pure while Allah created Jesus inside her womb.
Virgin Birth of Jesus[change | change source]
The Quran speaks of the virgin birth of Jesus many times. The Quran also states that Jesus was created when Allah breathed on Mary while her body was chaste.
The Quran's narrative of the birth of Jesus is different from that found in the New Testament. The Quran says that Mary was suffering childbirth pains, when she saw a nearby palm tree and held on to it. While she was holding on to the tree, she heard a voice that seemed to come from the earth beneath the tree. The voice said, "Grieve not! Thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thy feet. Shake the trunk of the palm-tree towards thyself and It will drop its fresh ripe dates upon thee." Mary then promised not to speak with any man that day.
Later, after Jesus' birth, Mary brought him to the temple. All of the men in the temple mocked her, except Zechariah, who believed in the virgin birth. The Israelites demanded to know how she could possibly have had a baby without a man, whereupon the Virgin Mary responded by pointing to Jesus who then spoke his first prophecy.
Mary in Muslim tradition[change | change source]
Mary is one of the most honored and respected figures in Islam and Muslim history. Many women look up to her as an example. Many Muslims consider her to be one of the most righteous women in history. Some Muslims consider her to be a female prophet. Many Muslims also visit Christian shrines. For example, Muslims visit the Bath of Mary in Jerusalem. Muslims believe this is where Mary took her first bath. A number of plants have been named after Mary. One of the plants is the Kaff Maryam. This plant is sometimes used by Muslim women to help with pregnancy. A tea made from the plant is sometimes drunk while praying for this kind of help.
None of the later events of the Virgin Mary's life ‒ such as the Assumption ‒ are recounted in either the Quran or in any other exemplar of Islamic literature, although some Muslim scholars accept that the assumption was a part of the Virgin Mary's life. This reminds us that there are many events in Muslim literature that are not found in the Bible. For example, Mary's visit to Rome, accompanied by John the Baptist and Thaddeus.
Arabic titles[change | change source]
- Qānitah: Mary is called this name in sura 66:12. It refers to Mary spending her childhood in the Temple of Prayer.
- Siddiqah: Mary is called this twice in sura 5 (Al-Ma'ida), ayat 73-75. It means "She who confirms the truth or She who has faith".
- Sājidah: Mary is called this name in the Quran. It means "She who prostrates to God (Allah) in worship". The Quran states that Mary prostrated to Allah:
"O Mary! Worship your Lord devoutly: prostrate yourself".
- Rāki’ah: Mary is also called this name in the Quran. "It means She who bows down to God (Allah) in worship". The Quran states that Mary bowed down to Allah in worship:
"O Mary! Bow down in prayer with those men, who bow down." This is believed to be the command to Mary by the Angels.
- Tāhirah: This name for Mary means "She who was purified".
- Mustafia: This name for Mary means, "She who was chosen". The Quran states that Mary was chosen by Allah above every women of every nation:
"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: This name for Mary means, "She who fasts". This arises from the belief, in some Muslim traditions, that Mary had fasted, on one occasion, for one-half of a year.