The Story of Maryam AS
The Qur'an Al-Majid chronicles the story of Maulatona Maryam AS a woman of outstanding purity and devotion to Allah TA. Her name, Maryam al-Azra, testifies to these virtues, “Maryam the Chaste”; a celebrated standing amongst the women of Islam. The word "azra" applied to very few, and Maulatena Maryam is the first of these venerated women. Not only is Maulatona Maryam AS the only woman who has a Surah in her name, but she is also the only woman in the Qur'an who is mentioned by name. Allah TA goes on to state:
وَإِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلَائِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَاكِ وَطَهَّرَكِ وَاصْطَفَاكِ عَلَىٰ نِسَاءِ الْعَالَمِين
And ˹remember˺ when the angels said, “O Mary! Surely Allah T.A. has selected you, purified you, and chosen you over all women of the world.
600 years later, Rasulullah SAW gives attestation to the perfection of her story and persona; stating “Many amongst men attained perfection amongst women, none attained perfection except 4, of them Maulatona Maryam (Mary), the daughter of 'Imran….
In Arab culture, it is common to refer to an individual with the added suffix of their fathers’ name, an association considered to be a source of dignity and pride. For example, a man named Mohammed, whose father is named Husain, might be referred to as Mohammed bin Husain. Despite Nabi Allah Īsā AS’s miraculous birth, Allah TA refers to Īsā AS in many instances as Īsā ibn Maryam:
ذَلِكَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ قَوْلَ الْحَقّ الّذِي فِيهِ يَمْتُرُونَ
That is Jesus, son of Mary. ˹And this is˺ a word of truth, about which they dispute.
Such was Maulatona Maryam AS's honor and respect in the eyes of Allah TA that he joined the name of his prophet Īsā with hers. Maulatona Maryam's AS prestige is not only hers but a legend for all, and a mark of excellence and grandeur on the name of her son Īsā AS whose name would go on to be immortalized in the annals of history.
To be the mother of a prophet is a great honor, but the Qur’an does not solely recognize Maulatona Maryam AS for her linkage with Īsā Nabi AS Rather the Qur’an pronounces her persona for the nobility and integrity she observed: a woman of chastity and pious devotion. An example is from Surah Al-Tahreem:
وَمَرْيَمَ ابْنَتَ عِمْرَانَ الَّتِي أَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا فَنَفَخْنَا فِيهِ مِن رُّوحِنَا وَصَدَّقَتْ بِكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّهَا وَكُتُبِهِ وَكَانَتْ مِنَ الْقَانِتِينَ
And Mary the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants).
Maulatona Maryam AS’s mother, Hannah bint Faqudh had a dream for a son she sired: to give her child to the service of Masjid-ul-Aqsa, but after the birth of a daughter she said to Allah TA:
قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنثَىٰ
she said, “My Lord! I have given birth to a girl,
Allah TA then replies:
وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ
Allah fully knew what she had delivered
Allah TA was aware Maulatona Maryam AS would both fulfil and surpass her mother’s wishes, and that she would become a personality from which men and women alike would take inspiration.
An amazing example is the narration where Nabi Allah Zakariya AS takes inspiration from Maulatona Maryam AS The Qur'an states:
كُلَّمَا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهَا زَكَرِيَّا الْمِحْرَابَ وَجَدَ عِندَهَا رِزْقًا ۖ قَالَ يَا مَرْيَمُ أَنَّىٰ لَكِ هَٰذَا ۖ قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ
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 T.A. provides for whoever He wills without limit.”
Nabi Allah Zakariya AS observed Maulatona Maryam's AS piety in her prayers and how she reaped its fruits through her devotion. Taking inspiration from her, Zakariya AS decided to pray to Allah TA with that same devotion so that Allah TA granted him a son. After this Aayah the Qur’an states:
هُنَالِكَ دَعَا زَكَرِيَّا رَبَّهُ قَالَ رَبِّ هَبْ لِي مِن لَّدُنْكَ ذُرِّيَّةً طَيِّبَةً إِنَّكَ سَمِيعُ الدُّعَاء
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.”
Just as the great Nabi Allah TA Zakariyah AS took inspiration from the actions of Maulatona Maryam AS so too can we. It is a common misconception that in Islam, it is not a women’s place to work independently or earn money. Many post the dua of
إنَّ اللّهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ
in their shops and offices as a blessing; not realizing it was first recited by Maryam A.S. The study of Maulatona Maryam AS teaches us these lessons, that a woman can obtain her own sustenance while maintaining her modesty.
After the birth of Īsā AS Maulatona Maryam AS was ordered to return to her clan Banu Israil. Per tradition, adultery was considered an extreme disgrace. Although people accused her of the worst of sins, Maulatona Maryam AS ignored the pessimism and displayed enormous willpower, resolve, and faith in Allah. She placed her fullest trust in His plan and was therefore unaffected by their accusations.
Often, when we are faced with social hardships, and we encounter the judgment and prejudice of our faith and religion, we falter. Many times we even seek the approval of society and try to hide our identity. Maulatona Maryam AS gives us a valuable lesson that devotion should not be towards society it should be towards Allah TA
Maryam A.S: The Bridge of Interfaith Dialogue
Moulatona Maryam AS is a chief figure in all 3 of the major Abrahamic faiths, and as such remains poised as the perfect bridge for interfaith dialogue. Maulatona Maryam AS occupies the greatest space of overlap between faiths that have historically been at odds for millennia, the violence of which has caused much bloodshed. Today, leaders from the Islamic, Jewish, and Christian worlds come together at interfaith parliaments to promote dialogue where Maulatona Maryam AS unites these creeds, and this legacy of unity and peace is her everlasting mark on the world.
The history of Maulatona Maryam AS bridging faiths extends all the way to the beginning of Islam, when a group of Muslim refugees took asylum in Habbasha, or modern day Ethiopia under the Christian negus (king) known as Al-Najaashi. A Makkan delegation came to demand the refugees be turned over, but before any action was taken the king requested a Surah from the Qur'an be prayed. The Surah Maryam was chosen, and when the verse that chronicled the story of Maulatona Maryam AS’s immaculate conception was told --when Maulatona Maryam AS weeped wishing oblivion on herself, thinking what would come of her reputation and child-- Al-Najaashi and his court wept profusely, and refused to turn over the refugees. Maulatona Mariyam AS story and actions saved the seed of Islam a milennia after, in the very cradle of Christianity. This story is told in Islamic texts like Uyoon Al-Akhbaar by Al-Dai Al-Ajal Syedna Idris Imaduddin R.A. and well-known exegesis like “Learning Interreligiously” by Francis X. Clooney.
Symbols of unity like Maulatona Maryam A.S. show us that all religions seek to tell the same truths and share the same goals, to promote mercy and goodwill among the people of the world, and help those in need. In 2014, the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Father Michel Angel Ayuso addressed a Islamic-Christian congregation to say that
“Since Vatican Council II, the Catholic Church recognizes that Muslims honor the Virgin mother of Jesus, Mary, and invoke her with piety,” he said, noting that Mary is mentioned various times in the Koran. “Respect for her is so evident that when she is mentioned in Islam, it is usual to add 'Alayha l-salam' ('Peace be upon her'). Christians also willingly join in this invocation.”
“...the Church addresses the followers of Islam with esteem. During the last fifty years, a dialogue of friendship and mutual respect has been constructed”.
This is the power of Maulatona Maryam binte Imran AS, this is her legacy. That today, many millennia after her birth, her immaculate conception, she saves lives, forges connections, brings bounties from heaven onto those who invoke her call, and inspires millions to do good in her name.
Authored By: Hassan Ferozpurwala with Mariyam Kapadia
All translations provided are from Sahih International. The views contained herein do not necessarily represent the views of Mahad Alumni, Mahad-al-Zahra, or any other affiliate organization. They are solely the perspectives of the authors named, who have shared them on this platform.