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  • Writer's pictureZack Shaheen

Who is the mother of Jesus AS in Islam?

Compiled and Edited by: Faddy Shaheen

Day 296: Mary or Maryam (pbuh): The Mother of Jesus or ‘Isa (pbuh)

It was narrated by ‘Ali (r) that he heard the Prophet (S) saying: “The best women (of her time) was Maryam bint ‘Imran, and the best woman (of her time) is Khadijah.”

عَنْ عَلِيٍّ، رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ خَيْرُ نِسَائِهَا مَرْيَمُ بِنْتُ عِمْرَانَ وَخَيْرُ نِسَائِهَا خَدِيجَةُ‏.‏

Source: Musnad Ahmed

Transliteration: “Khairu Nisa’iha Maryam bint ‘Imran, Wa Khairu Nisa’iha Khadijah.”

In Islam, we understand that Mary or Maryam (pbuh) is the daughter of ’Imran and the mother of Jesus or ‘Isa (pbuh), whom both Muslims love dearly, sincerely and religiously!

To assess and grasp the true virtue of ‘Isa (pbuh), the Prophet of Allah, it is necessary to learn about his mother Maryam bint ‘Imran and shed some light on her personality.

Islam teaches that the one of the most touching and telling, the mother-son relationships, in the Quran, is that of ‘Isa bin Maryam (pbuh).

For the first and last time in history a Prophet would not be addressed by his father’s name.

Rather, he is referred to as Jesus (‘Isa), the son of Mary (Maryam).

Mary’s mother grew to be of an old age and became barren.

She prayed to God for one final child, whom she would dedicate in God’s service.

˹Remember˺ when the wife of ’Imran said, “My Lord! I dedicate what is in my womb entirely to Your service, so accept it from me. You ˹alone˺ are truly the All-Hearing (of all my prayers), All-Knowing (and you know my sincere intention in fulfilling this vow).” (Qur’an 3:35)

إِذْ قَالَتِ امْرَأَةُ عِمْرَانَ رَبِّ إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لَكَ مَا فِي بَطْنِي مُحَرَّرًا فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنِّي إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

When she delivered, she said, “My Lord! I have given birth to a girl,” - and Allah fully knew what she had delivered - “and the male is not like the female. I have named her Mary (Maryam), and I seek Your protection for her and her offspring from Satan, the accursed.” (Qur’an 3:36)

فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتْهَا قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنثَى وَاللّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ الذَّكَرُ كَالأُنثَى وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْيَمَ وِإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ

“So, her Lord accepted her graciously and blessed her with a pleasant upbringing—entrusting her to the care of Zachariah. Whenever Zachariah visited her in the sanctuary, he found her supplied with provisions. He exclaimed, “O Mary! Where did this come from?” She replied, “It is from Allah. Surely Allah provides for whoever He wills without limit.” (Qur’an 3:37)

فَتَقَبَّلَهَا رَبُّهَا بِقَبُولٍ حَسَنٍ وَأَنبَتَهَا نَبَاتًا حَسَنًا وَكَفَّلَهَا زَكَرِيَّا كُلَّمَا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهَا زَكَرِيَّا الْمِحْرَابَ وَجَدَ عِندَهَا رِزْقاً قَالَ يَا مَرْيَمُ أَنَّى لَكِ هَذَا قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللّهِ إنَّ اللّهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاء بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

“Then and there, Zachariah prayed to his Lord, saying, “My Lord! Grant me - by your grace - righteous offspring. You are certainly the Hearer of ˹all˺ prayers.” (Qur’an 3:38)

هُنَالِكَ دَعَا زَكَرِيَّا رَبَّهُ قَالَ رَبِّ هَبْ لِي مِن لَّدُنْكَ ذُرِّيَّةً طَيِّبَةً إِنَّكَ سَمِيعُ الدُّعَاء

When Mary’s mother gave birth to Mary, she was saddened that the child was a girl, because, in the religious tradition of the time, there are very few religious acts of devotion that could be performed by a female.

So, her Lord (Allah) accepted her with goodly acceptance.

He made her grow in a good manner and put her under the care of Zakariyya (who was one of the Prophets of Allah." (Qur’an 3:33-37)

Islam teaches that Maryam was chosen above all women of humanity to bear ‘Isa (pbuh).

Allah said in the Qur’an: "And ˹remember˺ when the angels said, “O Mary! Surely Allah has selected you, purified you, and chosen you over all women of the world. (Qur’an 3: 42)

وَإِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلاَئِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللّهَ اصْطَفَاكِ وَطَهَّرَكِ وَاصْطَفَاكِ عَلَى نِسَاء الْعَالَمِينَ

She is the only female servant of God mentioned in the Qur’an by name – Maryam.

There are some more women mentioned in the Qur’an but not explicitly by their names.

Other virtuous women are discussed in the Qur'an, and we know their names from Islamic tradition. They are:

• Hawwa - She was the wife of Adam, and they were both created directly by God (known as Eve). (Qur'an 4:1)

• Sara - In Islamic tradition, she is the wife of Abraham who gave birth to Isaac in her later years. (Qur'an 11:71-72)

• Hajirah - Also known as Hajar in English and she was a younger wife of Abraham who gave birth to Ismail. During the annual pilgrimage (Hajj), Muslims reenact her desperate search for water in the valley near Makkah. (Qur'an 2:158)

• Asiya - She was described as the wife of Pharoah, who cared for Moses after his rescue as an infant. She protected Moses and stood up for him in front of her husband. (Qur'an 66:11)

Maryam’s story is told in different verses of the seven chapters of the Qur’an.

The Qur’an refers to Maryam (Mary) more often than the Bible.

The whole Chapter 19 of the Qur’an is titled "Maryam or Mary” and is dedicated to her story and the virgin birth of Jesus or ‘Isa (pbuh).

Ya Rabb! Guide us to learn about Mary (Maryam) – the mother of Jesus or ‘Isa (pbuh) and make us of those who would share her story from the Qur’an with our family members and our friends or colleagues – be they Muslims or non-Muslims!

Allahumma Amin!

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