Maryam (as): Women of the Qur’an and the Bible

Bismillahir rahmanir raheem

One thing that hit me when I came to Islam, was how different the story of Maryam (as) was subhanAllah. As a brief overview, her story in the Bible briefly goes like this:

Maryam (as) lived in Nazareth and is often referred to as the ‘Virgin Mary’. She was informed by the Angel Jibril (as) (Garbiel) that she was to be the mother of Jesus and later married Joseph. News came to them that the king, Cesear Augustus, was conducting a census and they had to travel to Bethlehem. By this time, Mary was already heavily pregnant. When they got to Bethlehem all of the inns were closed however, a local inn keeper took pity on them and housed them in his stable. According to the Bible, this is where Jesus was born, placed in a manger among the cattle and the sheep, visited by shepherds and 3 wise men whilst being presented with gifts.

This was the story that I had been told, repeatedly, until Allah swt guided me to the haqq (truth). So what about Maryam (as) in the Qur’an?

Unlike Catholics, Christians don’t necessarily ‘Hail Mary’, so giving this woman the respect she deserved the right right way was not made evident to me until I started to learn about her position in Islam.

Maryam (as) is one of the women promised Jannah by Allah swt. She is the only women mentioned in the Qur’an by name. She appears more in the Qur’an than she does in the New Testament. Maryam (as) was a young chaste women who could often be found in seclusion praying to her Lord. So much so, that when her guardian the Prophet Zachariyyah (as) used to come and check on her and he used to discover fresh fruits out of season in her room, he would be suprised and ask where they came from.

Every time Zakaiyya entered the Mihrab 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 to whom He wills, without limit – Qur’an 3:37

When Jibril (as) came to her to inform her about the birth of Isa (as) she was again in seclusion and her first thought was to guard her chastity subhanAllah.

(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, `Isa, 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 – Qur’an 3:45-46

Now, this is where the story gets even more interesting. When the pangs of labour hit Maryam (as), there was no donkey, no manger and no stable. The exact location that she gave birth Allah swt knows best but He swt provided her with a running stream of water to drink from and fresh dates to help her through the pain, Allahu Akbar and Isa (as) was brought into the world. When she returned to her town, Allah swt had commanded to fast and not speak to anyone. The people of her town ridiculed her. To them she was a seemingly chaste woman who suddenly rolled back into town with a baby with no husband/father in sight. Then she pointed to Isa (as) and he spoke subhanAllah. He spoke whilst he was just a babe in arms.

What an incredible journey our Maryam (as) had taken. From a silent retiring dedicated worshipper of Allah swt to being the mother of the Messiah Isa (as) and a woman who has been promised Jannah.

From both the Bible and the Qur’an we can see that:

  • Maryam (as) was an extremely chaste woman. The ‘VirginMary’ truly lived up to her name.
  • She worshipped her Lord in a way that Allah swt recognised her efforts and raised her rank so high she has a Suran named after her in the Qur’an
  • Although we don’t agree with the way that Mary is revered by Catholics, we recognise that they too love Maryam (as) and hold her in a high station

Maryam (as), a woman of Jannah, an example to us all. May Allah swt raise our rank to that of Maryam (as) and provide us the chance to sit with her in jannah, Ameen.

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