Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā: Biographical Details from the Qur’ān

“And (remember) when the angels said: ‘O Maryam (Mary)! Verily, Allāh has chosen you, purified you, and chosen you above the women of the world [of her lifetime].
‘O Maryam! Submit yourself with obedience to your Lord [Allah, by worshipping none but Him Alone] and prostrate yourself, and bow down along with those who bow down”[1].
Sayyidunā Ibn Abbās raḍiyallāhu ‘anhuma reports that Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The best of women among the people of Paradise are Khadija bint Khuwaylid, Fatimah bint Muḥammad, Maryam bint ‘Imran, and ‘Asiyah bint Muzahim, the wife of Pharaoh.”[2]
History, and the corrupted scriptures of the past, cannot accurately inform us about the biography of this great woman, described as such by Allāh Ta’ālā and Sayyidunā Muḥammad Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The only reliable source for us today is the Noble Qur’ān and the authentic Sunnah. In fact, the Christians, who have made her into a deity – we seek the protection of Allāh Ta’ālā – cannot provide us with an accurate account regarding this noble, chaste and pure woman.
Now, let us stop for a moment and ask:
As a Muslim, how much do I really know about Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā?
How well can I defend the purity and chastity of this great woman from the attacks of the Modernists, Jews, Qādiyānīs, and the irreligious?
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The Noble Qur’ān, pure and unchanged, is the word of Allāh Ta’ālā that accords the highest level of respect and honor to Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā, her family, and son. It surpasses the current Torah and Bible in this regard. The Noble Qur’ān has a Sūrah called Āl ‘Imrān, i.e., the family of ‘Imrān, the second longest Sūrah in the book. This is the family of Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā. Secondly, there is a Surah called ‘Maryam’. Glory be to Allāh.
The biographical details of Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā within these two Sūrahs (Sūrah Āl ‘Imrān and Sūrah Maryam) also testify to the truthfulness of Sayyidunā Muḥammad ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam because he could not have extracted them from older scriptures. The older scriptures were – and remain – self-contradictory.
1. Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā is mentioned by name 24 times in the Noble Qur’ān. Maryam is the only proper name of a female present in the Noble Qur’ān. All other females have been referred to by honorifics/agnomens.
2. Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā is the daughter of ‘Imrān.[3] ‘Imrān is mentioned 3 times in the Noble Qur’ān.
3. ‘Imrān’s family consisted of five members. Details regarding three of them are known: ‘Imrān, his son Hārūn and his daughter Maryam. The Noble Qur’ān does not mention the name of the wife of ‘Imrān and the other children. The great messenger, Sayyidunā Zakariyya ‘alayhi as-salām was married to the sister of Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā. Hence, Sayyidunā ‘Isā ‘alayhi as-salām (son of Maryam) and Sayyidunā Yaḥyā ‘alayhi as-salām (son of Zakariyya) are cousins.
4. This family lived in the Palestine and Jordan area.
5. ‘Imrān was an Imām, he would lead the Banī Isrā’īl in prayer and his wife was upright and pure. Allāh Ta’ālā blessed them with a daughter, Maryam.
6. The wife of ‘Imrān had made a vow that if she delivers a child, she will dedicate it to the service of Allāh Ta’ālā. Subsequently, she delivered a female and named her Maryam.[4] Maryam means ‘worshipper’ in the language of the Banū Isrā’īl. She had also asked Allāh Ta’ālā to accept her baby girl and sought protection for her from Shayṭān, the accursed.
7. Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā was not touched or afflicted by Shayṭān in any way. A Ḥadīth in Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī states, ‘All mankind is touched by Shayṭān when they are born, except for Maryam and her son.’
8. Sayyidunā Zakariyya ‘alayhi as-salām accepted that Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā stay within the boundaries of Bayt-ul-Muqaddas and worship Allāh Ta’ālā. No other female had this honor before her. She was pure and righteous from her early years.
9. The wife of ‘Imrān handed Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā over to Sayyidunā Zakariyya ‘alayhi as-salām after she completed the breastfeeding period. Guardianship of the baby girl was given to Sayyidunā Zakariyya ‘alayhi as-salām. This was decided by drawing lots.[5]
10. Sayyidunā Zakariyya ‘alayhi as-salām was kind to Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā. He taught her and nurtured her. He would find that Allāh Ta’ālā was providing for her from His treasures when he would check on her in her chamber.[6]
11. After seeing this miracle, Sayyidunā Zakariyya ‘alayhi as-salām began to yearn for children of his own. He did not desire a child or son except that he was concerned for the people after his demise. He then asked Allāh Ta’ālā to bless him with a child, and in his old age, he was given Sayyidunā Yaḥyā ‘alayhi as-salām.[7] None before him had this name. In this way, he was given a son who was also a Messenger of Allāh Ta’ālā.
12. Sayyidunā Zakariyya ‘alayhi as-salām earned through carpentry and ate of his own earning.[8] He wanted his legacy of Nubuwwah and knowledge to carry on, not any wealth, because the Messengers do not leave inheritance in the form of wealth.[9]
13. Sayyidunā Yaḥyā ‘alayhi as-salām was born miraculously, as his father was very old and his mother had already passed child-bearing age. The same was the case with Sayyidunā Isḥāq ‘alayhi as-salām. If the Christians feel that the miraculous birth of Sayyidunā ‘Isā ‘alayhi as-salām makes him worthy of being a deity, then what about these Anbiyā’? What about Sayyidunā Ādam ‘alayhi as-salām who was created without a father and mother?
14. Allāh Ta’ālā sent an angel to Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā to convey news of a word from Allāh, a son who will be born to her by the name of ‘Isā.[10]
15. Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā was pure and chaste. She was shocked at the presence of a stranger and then even more at the prospect of bearing a child.[11] This is testimony to her purity, contrary to the fabricated slanders thrown at her. May Allāh Ta’ālā protect us.
16. Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā would remain in her room, a place well-known to this day, and she would not leave, except to answer the call of nature or other necessities.
17. The title ‘son of Maryam’ for Sayyidunā ‘Isā ‘alayhi as-salām is used 23 times in the Noble Qur’ān. This emphasizes that he was a human and counters the claims made by Christians that he is divine. The miraculous birth of Sayyidunā ‘Isā ‘alayhi as-salām demonstrates the great power of Allāh Ta’ālā and negates the theory of evolution too.
18. Whilst Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā had gone into seclusion, the greatest angel, Jibrīl ‘alayhi as-salām, had come to her to convey the command of Allāh Ta’ālā. She was pure, pious, and chaste. Hence, she was startled at the appearance of a stranger. She immediately sought the protection of Allāh Ta’ālā and told the stranger to fear Allāh Ta’ālā. In the same way, when Sayyidunā Yūsuf ‘alayhi as-salām was tempted by the wife of the ‘Azīz, he immediately sought the protection of Allāh Ta’ālā. He told her that he was a messenger of Allāh to announce the gift to her of a pure son.[12] Jibrīl ‘alayhi as-salām further said that this son will be a sign unto humanity and a mercy from Allāh Ta’ālā.[13]
19. The Noble Qur’ān does not describe how the soul and life was blown into Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā. That is in the knowledge and wisdom of Allāh Ta’ālā.[14]
20. Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā went to a distant place, away from the eyes of people. This is reported to be east of Bethlehem.
21. The reports differ on the time period of her pregnancy. Some say it was a natural one lasting nine months. Other scholars say that it was just for a few hours. Others say she gave birth almost immediately after becoming pregnant. Allāh Ta’ālā knows best.
22. Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā was alone in a far-off place with no experience and knowledge of what she was going through. She was distressed as there was no one to help her with the delivery. She was in anguish and wished for death.[15]
23. Allāh Ta’ālā sent provision of dates and fresh water for her and inspired her to tell people that she is fasting and should point to the child when asked about the child.[16]
24. The Christians claim December 25th to be the birth date of Sayyidunā ‘Isā ‘alayhi as-salām. However, this is the winter time and dates are not ripe at that time in Palestine.
25. Sayyidunā ‘Isā ‘alayhi as-salām spoke in the cradle and told the people that he is a Messenger of Allāh.[17] The people were in shock and bewilderment and had no idea how to respond.
26. The King of Abyssinia, Najāshi, had verified the verses of Sūrah Maryam when he heard them from Sayyidunā Ja’far Ibn Abī Ṭālib raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu, when the Muslims migrated to his land. He had also embraced Islām. Before this, he was a Christian. The case of Najāshi becoming emotional and embracing the truth of Islām is clear proof that true and genuine Christians recognize the truth and understand the correct position of honor and respect that Islām accords to Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā and Sayyidunā ‘Isā ‘alayhi as-salām.
27. The Noble Qur’ān has immortalized the honor and great rank of Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā. It teaches us many lessons that we can implement in our lives. We realise and understand that one must be true to Allāh Ta’ālā, as the mother of Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā was. Thus, every person must turn to a life of modesty, purity and chastity, as was the case with Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā. This is probably because (and Allāh Ta’ālā knows best) towards the end of time, immorality will increase to inhuman levels. Her remaining pure is a lesson for us all. Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā teaches us patience and obedience to Allāh Ta’ālā, without questioning and objecting. The task given to her was tremendous and she fulfilled it in the best way. Moreover, she dealt with accusations against her within her time, and it is only the foolish who perpetuate slander against her.
28. Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā and her blessed mother teach us to ask for pious offspring, to desire that our children be dedicated to the worship of Allāh Ta’ālā and the service of religion.
29. The blessed son of Sayyidah Maryam raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā was sent as a Messenger to the Banī Isrā’īl and he brought glad tidings of the coming of the final Messenger, Sayyidunā Muḥammad Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam.[18]
30. Muslims are obligated to accept and believe in the Messenger, Sayyidunā ‘Isā ‘alayhi as-salām. If we do not accept him as a Messenger and servant of Allāh Ta’ālā, our faith is incomplete and we cannot be regarded as Muslims. Muslims believe in all the Messengers of Allāh Ta’ālā, respect and revere them all.[19]
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Sources
Lanterns of Guidance: Biographies of the Ambiyā’ ‘alayhim as-salām, Maulānā Muḥammad ‘Abdur-Raḥmān Mazharī, 2012
Ma’ārif-ul-Qur’ān, Muftī Muḥammad Shafī’ raḥimahullāh, Idārat-ul-Ma’ārif, Karachi, 2008
The Messiah ‘Isā son of Maryam: The Complete Truth, Dr ‘Alī Mohammad al-Sallabi, Asalet, Istanbul, March 202
Notes
Āl ‘Imrān 3:42, 43 
Musnad Aḥmad 
Sūrah at-Taḥrīm: 12 
Sūrah Āl-‘Imrān: 35, 36 
Sūrah Āl-‘Imrān: 44 
Sūrah Āl-‘Imrān: 37 
Sūrah Maryam: 1-6 
Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 
Ṣaḥīḥ BukhārīṢaḥīḥ Muslim 
Sūrah Āl-‘Imrān: 45-46 
Sūrah Āl-‘Imrān: 47 
Sūrah Maryam: 19 
Sūrah Maryam: 21 
Sūrah Al-Anbiyā’: 91 
Sūrah Maryam: 23 
Sūrah Maryam: 24-26 
Sūrah Maryam: 27-33 
Sūrah Aṣ-Ṣaff: 6 
Sūrah Baqarah: 136 
Follow Mufti Abdullah on Twitter: @MuftiAMoolla
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