Mary in Islam

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Saint Mary, The Holy Virgin
(سانت ماري، العذراء المقدسة)
Virgin Mary and Jesus (old Persian miniature).jpg
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
Bornc. 20 B.C.E
Diedc. 100-120 C.E
Venerated inAll of Islam, All of Christianity
Feast8 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 (Bible). 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 Amran.

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]

Virgin Mary nurtured by a palm tree, as described in the Quran.

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.

Mary with Jesus near the Palm tree where she gave birth.

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.

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.

Burial place[change | change source]

Mary is believed to have been buried in a tomb at the foot of the Mount of Olives in the Kidron Valley. This tomb is known today as the Tomb of the Virgin Mary.