THE VIRGIN MARY
(Text of a TV Script)
Mary, the mother of Jesus is called Mariam in the Holy Qur'an; and one Chapter of that Holy Book is named after her. She was a Jewish woman, from the Levites. She is acknowledged by both Christians and Muslims to be the mother of Jesus. The Qur'an calls Jesus the son of Mary; and not the son of god.
The Holy Qur'an mentions Mary with honour and dignity. Allah says:
We made the son of Mary and his mother as a sign. We gave both of them shelter on high ground, furnished with springs, affording them rest and security. (23:50)
Neither Jesus nor his mother Mary was taken care of by any human being. It was Allah Who sustained both of them from infancy right on. Mary was special among the Israelites. She was the special child born after her mother made a vow during her pregnancy to dedicate the unborn child to Allah. Allah tells us about this in the Holy Qur'an in the following verse:
Behold, a woman of Imran said; O my Lord, I do dedicate unto Thee what is in my womb, for Thy special service. So accept this from me; for Thou hearest and know all things. (3:33)
When the child was born the mother realised that it was a girl whom she named Mary. She then supplicated to Allah as follows:
O my Lord, behold, I am delivered of a female child; and Allah knows best what she brought forth; and no wise is the male like the female. I have named her Mariam (Mary); and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection, from the Evil One (Satan) the rejected (3:36)
So Mary was dedicated to Allah. As a result she had to stay in the temple.
It must be understood that while Mary's mother was disappointed with the birth of a daughter; as she thought a female would not be able to do all that is required to be done in the temple. Normally most of the rituals were performed by the male priests.
What she did not know was that Allah had a plan for Mary. Perhaps, one of the reasons for her growing up in a spiritual environment was to ensure that no blame was to be made against her son that was to be born many years later. Also it was to show to the Israelites that Allah is capable of doing anything.
Look how He brought the human species into existence; He created Adam, and from Adam He made Eve, and now He was to bring into existence a young boy Jesus from a woman who had no relation with any male. Allah was showing the Israelites then and mankind at large now, that He Allah has power over all things.
This was one reason why when she expressed disappointment with the birth of a daughter, Allah said: Allah knew best what she brought forth. Allah had His plan which was to become manifest later.
In the Hebrew language the name Mary means, star of the sea, exalted, pious worshipper, the loved one. In Islam Allah has given her many titles. For example He says about her:
She was one of the devout servants. (66:12)
She was a woman of truth. (5:75)
She was a devout worshipper of Allah. (3:43)
She was a pure woman (3:42)
She was the chosen one for a special mission. (3:42)
She was given a status above all women (3:42)
She was the only woman to give birth without any male connection even though she was a virgin. (3:45)
As Mary had to live in the temple, she had to be taken care of by someone. Lots were cast among the elders as to who should be responsible for her. It was finally agreed that Zakariah would be the one. Zakraiah was the husband of her aunt and was an old man. Later on when he was finally given a son after much prayers, the boy John and Jesus were cousins.
Mary grew to be pure and beautiful; Allah says about her the following:
Rightly gracious, did her Lord accept her. He made her grow in purity and beauty. (3:37)
Mary spent her time worshipping Allah and glorifying His Holy Name. She was not dependant on any one for any thing. Zakariah had her in a room all by herself, and he alone had the key for the lock of the door to her room. He used to find something strange about her, i.e. whenever he went into her room, she always had a supply of fresh fruits and food. She used to have summer fruits in winter and winter fruits in summer. Whenever he would ask her from where she got those fruits and food she always replied from Allah. The Qur'an records about this in the following verse:
Every time he entered her chamber to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: O Mary, from where did this come? She said: from Allah; for Allah provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure. (3:37)
The only time when Mary used to come out of her room was to take a bath or to fetch water from the nearby well. One day while she was out, the angel appeared to her in the form of a young handsome man. Allah tells us about this incident in the following verses:
Relate in the Book, (the story of) Mary; when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them. Then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. (19:16-17)
It is possible that, at the time when the angel appeared unto her she was in one of the niches of the temple, where she was worshipping.
Some people doubt that it is not possible to see an angel, and what Mary saw was a vision, or she had a dream. Muslims know that Allah can do anything, and recall the incident when the angel Gabriel came to the Prophet (pboh) in the form of a man, in the presence of many of the companions, and asked him some questions. The Prophet (pboh) told the companions after he had left that it was angel Gabriel who came to teach them something of Islam.
When Mary saw this person standing before her, she got scared and said:
I seek refuge from thee to (Allah) most Gracious. And if you are a God-fearing person, you will not come near me. (19:18)
Mary was aware that she had a special mission, as she was already told by Allah about the birth of her son Jesus who was to be a special person. This is recorded in the Qur'an in the following verses:
Behold, the angels said: O Mary, Allah gives you the good news of a Word from Him; (of one) whose name is the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, worthy of regards in this world and in the Hereafter; and of (the company of) those who are nearest to Allah. He shall speak to the people in the cradle and when of old age. And he shall be one of the righteous. (3:45-6)
Christians believe that Mary conceived Jesus miraculously after she was engaged to Joseph. In Luke 1:27 it is mentioned as follows: A virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph. Then the announcement was made to her that she shall be the mother of Jesus.
According to the decision of the Council of Ephesus in 431, she was given the title of Mother of God. Both the Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches believed that she lived a sinless life. Some of them attribute special attributes and functions to her.
Mary was also given many other titles, e.g. morning star, queen of angels, queen of all saints, gate of heaven, mother of divine grace, etc.
So Mary knew that the time had come when her special mission was to begin, i.e. to bring forth into the world a special person who was designated to be the last prophet to be sent to the Israelites. In the verse quoted above Allah told Mary the name of the boy and some of the unique qualities with which he was to be blessed.
Some people translate the Arabic word, Al Masih as Christ. But this is not correct, as we shall discuss in another program later one. But what we should know at this point in time is that Al Masih means the Messiah.
According to the dictionary meaning, this word Messiah means the promised liberator of the Jews; or the liberator of oppressed people.
Allah continued to educate Mary about the coming events in her life and in the life of her son Jesus. He told her when she inquired from Him about how that could be possible when she did not have a man. He, the Lord explained it to her. The Qur'an records about this in the following verses:
She (Mary) said: O my Lord, how shall I have a son when no man hath touched me? He (Allah) said: Even so; Allah creates what He pleases. When He decrees a matter He says to it: Be; and it is (or it comes into being). And Allah will teach him the Book and the Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel. And appoint him a Messenger to the Children of Israel. (3:47-49)
Allah did not inform Mary at that time how He will be giving her the righteous son; He did not tell her that He was going to command angel Gabriel to appear before her as a male human being. So when the angel appeared in front of Mary, she was not able to know who this person was. It was only when he explained to her that he was sent by the Lord that she realised what was happening. The angel said to her:
Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son. (19:19)
Mary was naturally puzzled, as she is being told that she was to have a son; so she enquired from the angel who was in front of her by asking him:
How shall I have a son, when no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste? (19:20)
Mary, like other human beings, was looking at the issue purely on the basis of reason and logic. She could not understand that Allah can do anything. She did not recall at that time that Allah created Adam from clay, and created Eve from Adam. So that if He wanted her to have a son; that was possible for Him to do. So upon asking the angel the question he replied as follows:
He said: So (it will be). Thy Lord says: It is easy to Me; and that We may make him a sign to men and a mercy from Us; And it is a matter decreed. (19:21)
So, as a virgin, Mary conceived.
A lot of people cannot understand that anything is possible with Allah; look how He can destroy whole towns without being present, or He can cause lands to appear or disappear, etc. We all must be informed that Allah has power over all things, and as He says: If He wants something to come into being, He says; Be and it comes into being.
Contrary to what Christians preach, the virgin birth of Jesus was no favour to the Children of Israel. And while he himself was an exceptionally pious messenger of God; his coming in the world as a virgin birth, was an unusual method used by the merciful Lord to impress upon the progeny of Isaac that they should hearken to the call from the Divine.
There is no doubt about the fact that the Jews were a chosen people. The Qur’an confirms this as follows:
O Children of lsrael! Call to mind the special favour which I bestowed upon you, and that I preferred you to all others (for My Message). (2:47)
More Prophets were sent to them than to any other nation; in addition they were given food, drink and other amenities from God, in a way He did not give to any other nation in the world. (Ex.13:21, 22; 16:1-36)
From the very beginning they had, a succession of divinely appointed messengers, viz. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Later on, there was a continuous succession of Messengers to them the last being Prophet Jesus.
These Messengers had very little impact on the twelve tribes of Israel, who lived a morally corrupt life. Paul says:
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, back-biters, haters of God, despiteful, proud boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful. (2 Rom.1:29-31)
The Qur’an says:
They (the Jews) went on rejecting the Signs of Allah and slaying His Messengers without just cause. They were rebellious and continued transgressing. (2:61)
Many scandalous accusations were made against the messengers of God whenever they tried to get the Jews to conform to the Divine teachings. God had used “every method in the Book” to impress upon them the need to submit to His Laws, with little result. He therefore decided to send a last Israelite prophet in a special way to them, in order that they may understand that He is the controller of the universe, and to Him is the return of man. Some of the outstanding facts connected with the virgin birth of Jesus, are:
1. His mother grew up in a room in the church under the watchful eye of Zachariah who was very old.
2. No one knew her to be immoral.
3. She suddenly appeared with a baby boy.
4. The boy was special, he spoke in the cradle.
Jesus was bestowed with special qualities; e.g.
1. He performed many miracles, even from his youth
2. He preached the Kingdom of the Hereafter, although the Jews were more concerned with this world.
3. Because he was able to cure many people of their physical ailment, many people gathered around him for personal reasons rather than to follow his teachings. Today “faith healing” is used to attract people into the fold of Christianity.
4. The Jews wanted Jesus to be their political leader rather than to tell them about the “kingdom of God”.
5. Many things, which he never preached, are attributed to him. God knew that Jesus would have to return to clarify the misunderstanding they had about Him. That is why his birth was extra-ordinary, his disappearance (supposedly death) confusing, and his return promised.