During the month of Ramadan, Al Arabiya English is publishing a series of profiles on prominent historical figures in Islamic history.
Maryam -- may peace be upon her -- is the only woman with a chapter named after her in the Holy Quran. In the Islamic faith, Muslims believe that God purified Maryam, and chose her above all women in the world, to give her the good tidings of a pure son, Prophet Jesus.
“And [mention] when the angels said, “O Maryam, indeed Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds. O Maryam, be devoutly obedient to your Lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow [in prayer].”” (Al Qur’an 3:42 – 3:43)
The Quran honors Maryam with an entire chapter named after her (Surat Maryam). The holy book also tells the story of her birth and her noble lineage, her upbringing under Prophet Zakaria, in a chapter that is named after her family name (Surat Aal Imran).
The story of her birth was a unique one. Her mother, the wife of Imran, had been barren all her life and had reached an old age when she became pregnant with Maryam.
The mother made a sincere pledge to Allah, that if she were granted a child, that she would dedicate that child to His pure service.
“But when she delivered her, she said, ‘My Lord, I have delivered a female.’ And Allah was most knowing of what she delivered, ‘And the male is not like the female. And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allah ].’" [Quran 3:36]
Then the Quran narrates that Allah has “accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zechariah” [Quran 3:37] and bestowed Maryam with His favors and blessings.
Surat Aal Imran continues to narrate that whenever Prophet Zakaria entered the “Mihrab” or the prayer area in which Maryam secluded herself for worship, he’d find fruits that were out of season.
Given that Zakaria was her guardian, and thus the only man allowed to enter her prayer area, He would ask her, "O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?" She said, "It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account." [Quran 3:37]
The birth of Jesus
“[And mention] when the angels said, "O Mary, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary - distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to Allah ]. [3:45]
Her faith and obedience to Allah were tested when an angel came to her to give her the glad tidings of a child. “She said, ‘How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?’"
“He said, Thus [it will be]; your Lord says, 'It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter [already] decreed.' [Quran 19:21]
Known for her piety and chastity among her people, it was difficult for Maryam to face her society with a child out of wedlock.
She withdrew from her family to a place toward east of Bethlehem, distancing herself completely from society. Alone and heavily pregnant, she gave birth to Jesus. In her misery she wished that “Would I that I had died before that, and become a thing forgotten!” (Al Qur’an 19:23)
Her supplication to Allah had set an example to all humankind, and granted her a special status among all the woman of the world.
It is narrated that Prophet Mohammad said: “The best of the women of the world are four: Maryam bint ‘Imran, Aasiyah, the wife of Pharaoh, Khadijah bin Khuwailid, and Fatimah bint Muhammad the Messenger of Allah.”