The life of the Prophet Isa (jesus)
The life of the Prophet Isa alayhe salam has been a topical issue of late in the media as well as in popular culture. There is a new awareness and heightened curiosity worldwide regarding the amazing life and miracles of Isa alayhe salam. His personality has impacted the three major religions of this world, namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Given the importance of his time on earth, it is critical for mankind to fully understand his pivotal role in shaping history as well as the final days.
The importance of Isa alayhe salam is apparent in the status that is assigned to him in Islam. He was the last messenger and prophet before the Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhe wasalam, as well as the last messenger of Bani Israel. Allah has bestowed a special favor on the family of Isa alayhe salam by mentioning his name 25 times, and his mother’s 31 times in the Quran. Isa’s name is mentioned in the Quran even more than the Prophet Muhammad’s name. Prophet Isa’s mention is noted in ten different situations in the Quran. There is even an entire chapter (surah) named after Isa’s mother, Maryam alayha salam, as well as his grandparents, Al-Imran alayhum asalam, who were chosen over all of mankind. This surah, Surat Al-Imran, also reveals the story of Maryam alayha salam. It outlines a description of her lineage and upbringing. It also relates the pure conception and birth of Isa alayhe salam.
The fact that Isa’s story is mentioned in the Quran, highlights his importance. There are incidents mentioned related to him or his mother in one part, and then completed in another. This adds to the reader’s curiosity concerning his status and keeps one interested in his story, and his revered status in Islam.
At the crux of the Isa story is how he is caught between two groups. On the one hand, there are the Jews, who in their hatred claim that he is not a messenger and want nothing less than his crucifixion. On the other hand, there are the Christians, who raised him to a level of extreme glorification, claiming he is the son of God and God’s incarnate.
There were among the children of Israel many pious people, and from them was the family of Imran alayhum asalam, as stated in the Quran.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَى آدَمَ وَنُوحًا وَآلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَآلَ عِمْرَانَ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ
ذرِّيَّةً بَعْضُهَا مِنْ بَعْضٍ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
Allah chose Adam, Noah, the family of Abraham and the family of Imran above the Alaamin (mankind and jinns) (of their times). Offspring, one of the other, and Allah is the All-Hearer, All-Knower. 3:33-34
Imran alayhe salam was a pious, adherent, worshiping man whose family chain linked back to Dawud alayhe salam. It was due to the piety of Al-Imran family that Allah saved their generation from mischief and evil. However, Imran’s wife, Hannah bint Fakood alayha salam, was unable to give birth to children. One day after having seen a mother bird care for its young by regurgitating food into their mouths, it was then Hannah desired children for herself. This, however, was not conceivable since she was beyond the child-bearing age, and was not even able to do so during those years. She prayed to Allah for a child, and He who responds to his servant by “Kun Fayakun”, answered her prayer. As soon as she felt the child’s movements in her womb, she promised to dedicate the child to the service of Allah, as gratitude to Allah.
(Remember) when the wife of Imran said, “Oh my Lord! I have vowed to You what (the child that) is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services (free from all worldly work; to serve Your place of worship), so accept this, from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing. 3:35
إِذْ قَالَتِ امْرَأَةُ عِمْرَانَ رَبِّ إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لَكَ مَا فِي بَطْنِي مُحَرَّرًا فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنِّي إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
She wanted a male child to give to the maintenance of Beit AlMaqdis, a place of worship in Jerusalem, since that was the tradition of the time. There were many reasons for having a male in this position. The main reason was due to the predominately male atmosphere which preferentially required men to be the family delegate in the social setting. Another reason was when a woman is on her period, she would be unable to attend to the place of worship’s needs, which is a day-to-day responsibility. Finally, the caretaker of Beit AlMaqdis would have to reside there or in its proximity, potentially compromising the security of a female caretaker.
Finally, Hannah gave birth to a girl:
Then when she delivered her (child Mary), she said:
“Oh my Lord! I have delivered a female child,”-and Allah knew better what she delivered- “And the male is not like the female, and I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge with you (Allah) for her and for her offspring from Satan, the outcast.” 3:36
فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتْهَا قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنْثَى وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ الذَّكَرُ كَالْأُنْثَى وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْيَمَ وَإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ
Despite Hannah’s disappointment, Allah knew ultimately what was best. He had planned for Maryam alayha asalam to be the first female caretaker of Beit AlMaqdis.
Allah had bestowed upon Maryam alayha salam many blessings. The Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhe wasalam said she is of the best of women. She is among the four women that are guaranteed heaven. The others being Khadija, the wife of the Prophet, Asiya, the wife of Fir’aun, and Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad. Maryam was the only woman whose son is attributed to her, rather than the father. She was the only woman to have been chosen for the pure birth of a prophet. She was also honored as being the mother of one of the most important figures in history.
وَإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ
“And I seek refuge with you (Allah) for her and for her offspring from Satan, the outcast.” 3:36
In Bukhari, the Prophet said, “There is no newborn except the Shaytan pokes him in his side, thereby coming out crying, except Maryam and her son.” Abu Huraira then recited, “وَإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا
This hadith is evidence that Hannah’s dua to seek refuge in Allah for her progeny from the devil was answered. In fact, this dua was answered fully since Maryam alayha salam and Isa alayhe salam did not have the effect of the devil on them. This would have been true for any offspring that followed. However, her lineage ended with Isa.
فتَقَبَّلَهَا رَبُّهَا بِقَبُولٍ حَسَنٍ وَأَنْبَتَهَا نَبَاتًا حَسَنًا وَكَفَّلَهَا زَكَرِيَّا
“So her Lord (Allah) accepted her with goodly acceptance. He made her grow in good manner and put her under the care of Zakariya.” 3:37
“Fataqaballaha” meaning Allah accepted Hannah’s pledge and desire to give Maryam to the service of Beit AlMaqdis. Allah gave her an outer appearance of peace and tranquility. Hannah alayha salam then took Maryam alayha salam to reside among the pious, so that she would learn and worship with them.
ذَلِكَ مِنْ أَنْبَاءِ الْغَيْبِ نُوحِيهِ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا كُنْتَ لَدَيْهِمْ إِذْ يُلْقُونَ أَقْلَامَهُمْ أَيُّهُمْ يَكْفُلُ مَرْيَمَ وَمَا كُنْتَ لَدَيْهِمْ إِذْ يَخْتَصِمُونَ
"This is part of the news of the Ghaib (unseen) which We inspire you with (Oh Muhammad). You were not with them, when they cast lots with their pens as to which of them should be charged with the care of Mary; nor were you with them when they disputed. 3:44
A crowd gathered as Hannah alayha salam carried Maryam alayha salam to Beit AlMaqdis. Hannah addressed them and said she had given an oath to Allah that her offspring would be dedicated to the service of Beit AlMaqdis. She was unable to enter the masjid due to her menstrual cycle, and refused to take Maryam back home because of the oath she had given. Hannah needed someone to take care of and watch over Maryam by giving her food, water, and clothing.
Zakariya alayhe salam, who was also a messenger, stepped forward for her care. He volunteered to take care of Maryam alayha salam, since his wife was Maryam’s aunt (her mother’s sister), or his wife was Maryam’s sister (depending on the conflicting narrations; however, it is probable that he was Maryam’s brother-in-law).
However, others also wanted the honor of caring for Maryam alayha salam. The dispute continued and the decision was made to draw lots, kur’ah. There are two different narrations as to how the dispute was settled. The first narration states that pens that were used for writing the Tawrah were cast into the river. A young child who had not reached the age of puberty would select a pen and the owner of it would be the one responsible for the care of Maryam alayha salam. This was done three times, and each time Zakariya’s pen was chosen. The second narration states that several pens were cast out. The owner of the pen that went against the current would be responsible for Maryam’s care. This was done three times, and each time Zakariya’s pen was chosen.
Allah chose Zakariya alayhe salam to be Maryam’s caretaker since he was the best among the people of that time. He was a messenger of Allah with the most knowledge and fiqh and could convey it to Maryam alayha salam. In addition, Allah wanted to inspire Zakariya alayhe salam through miracles Maryam alayha salam received.
كُلَّمَا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهَا زَكَرِيَّا الْمِحْرَابَ وَجَدَ عِنْدَهَا رِزْقًا قَالَ يَا مَرْيَمُ أَنَّى لَكِ هَذَا قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَرْزُقُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ
Every time that he entered (her) chamber to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: "O Maryam! From where have you got this?” She said, “From Allah.” Verily, Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills, without limit.”3:37
Every time Zakariya, who was the only person to enter upon Maryam, came into the mihrab (chamber), he found with Maryam sustenance that was out of season.
أَنَّى لَكِ هذاَ
"O Maryam! From where have you got this?"3:37
قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَرْزُقُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ
She said: “From Allah.” Verily, Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills, without limit.”3:37
This sustenance was not from a creation, but rather from Allah, the one who provides without limits. Allah made Zakariya alayhe salam notice that Maryam alayha salam was truly blessed and because of the miracles he witnessed, Zakariya asked Allah for a child in order to further carry on the message of Allah. Instantly, his dua was answered.
هُنَالِكَ دَعَا زَكَرِيَّا رَبَّهُ قَالَ رَبِّ هَبْ لِي مِنْ لَدُنْكَ ذُرِّيَّةً طَيِّبَةً إِنَّكَ سَمِيعُ الدُّعَاءِ
فَنَادَتْهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَهُوَ قَائِمٌ يُصَلِّي فِي الْمِحْرَابِ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يُبَشِّرُكَ بِيَحْيَى مُصَدِّقًا بِكَلِمَةٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَسَيِّدًا وَحَصُورًا وَنَبِيًّا مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ
“At that time Zakariya invoked his Lord, saying: “O my Lord! Grant me from You, a good offspring. You are indeed the All-Hearer of invocation.” 3:38
“Then the angels called him, while he was standing in prayer in al-Mihrab (a praying place) (saying): “Allah gives you glad tidings of Yahya (John) confirming (believing in) the Word from Allah (i.e. creation of Jesus the word from Allah “Be! And he was!), noble, keeping away from sexual relations with women, a Prophet, from among the righteous.” 3:39
He said: “Oh my Lord! Make a sign for me.” Allah said: “Your sign is that you shall not speak to mankind for three days except with signals. And remember your Lord much (by praising Him again and again), and glorify (Him), in the afternoon and in the morning.” 3:40
In another verse Allah mentions that Zakariya alayhe salam used to praise him. Though seemingly contradictory, Zakariya alayhe salam refrained from engaging in worldly matters, but continued to utter the praise of Allah.
From this example, Allah shows us his supremacy in his provision whether or not the means are available. This is specifically illustrated in three ways. The first being where the means are provided and one receives the offspring. In this case, a male and female are healthy and are able to conceive children. The second is a situation where the means are available but one is unable to conceive, as was the case with Zakariya alayhe salam. Finally, a situation where the means are not available and yet one is able to conceive. Isa and Adam are two examples of the latter situation. That is why depending entirely on the means is shirk. Allah teaches us through the story of Maryam alayha salam that his powers are limitless and he reigns supreme over all things. Therefore, our trust should be placed with Him.
As Maryam alayha salam was praying the angels came to her and said:
وَإِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلَائِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَاكِ وَطَهَّرَكِ وَاصْطَفَاكِ عَلَى نِسَاءِ
And (remember) when the angels said: “Oh Mary! Verily, Allah has chosen you, purified you (from polytheism and disbelief), and chosen you above the women of the Alamin (mankind and jinns).”
In one verse Allah, subhana watala has shown Maryam alayha salam his favor twice by choosing her over the rest of the women of creation.
The story and Maryam alayha salam and Isa alayhe salam is revealed in Surat Maryam.
وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ مَرْيَمَ إِذِ انْتَبَذَتْ مِنْ أَهْلِهَا مَكَانًا شَرْقِيًّا
And mention in the Book (the Quran, O Muhammad, the story of) Mary, when she withdrew in seclusion from her family to a place facing east. 19:16
Maryam alayha salam left the mihrab towards the east of Jerusalem. There are three narrations as to why she left the mihrab. One states she needed to relieve herself. Another one states that because she was on her menstrual cycle she was unable to stay in the mihrab. The third narration states she wanted to worship alone in seclusion. There is not one narration that is stronger than the other. However, the emphasis is on her desire to stay apart from society, which is indicative of her nature.
فَاتَّخَذَتْ مِنْ دُونِهِمْ حِجَابًا فَأَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْهَا رُوحَنَا فَتَمَثَّلَ لَهَا بَشَرًا سَوِيًّا
She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her our Ruh (Angel Jibril), and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects. 19:17
In this aya, Maryam screens herself with a hijab, which means a physical barrier or piece of clothing, which prevents her from being seen.
فَأَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْهَا رُوحَنَا
“We sent to her Our angel” 19:17
In the Quran, Allah uses the word “rooh”, or soul, which refers to Angel Jibril. Angel Jibril is called the soul for three reasons. He is the soul of human kind and delivers what is needed for salvation, as well as what fuels the spirit. Second, the term “ya roohy” is like a term of endearment, expressed to the most beloved creation of Allah. Finally, Angel Jibril is a spiritual being that exudes all things good and pure, without being tainted by evil.
Angel Jibril has appeared in different forms, depending who the message was being carried to. When he came to the Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhe wasalam, he came in his original form. When he asked Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhe wasalam to recite he lifted one wing which covered the horizon. The Prophet was so terrified that he went running back in fear to his wife and cried to her, cover me, cover me.
However, when he appeared to Maryam alayha salam, he revealed himself as a man.
فَتَمَثَّلَ لَهَا بَشَرًا سَوِيًّا
means in a beautiful handsome male figure.
Based on the premise that Angel Jibril revealed himself to her, can one say that Maryam was a prophet or messenger? There are two opinions on this issue. The former being that few scholars adopt the opinion that she was a prophet since Angel Jibril came to her. Though, a vast majority say she was not a prophet and is actually a waliya, or one who is close to Allah.
One who receives revelation is not necessarily a prophet. An aya in the Quran in Surat Al-Nahl states, “Wawha rabuka ila al-nahl”16:68, Allah gave revelation to the bees. This supports the fact that mere reception of revelation does not mean prophethood. Another reason that supports her being a waliya is that a female messenger would be required to travel, which would be unsafe for her. It would also be difficult for a female prophet to convey the message of Allah due to menstruation, pregnancy, or childbirth. The most decisive proof is the aya in surah 5, verse 75 which states, “Wa Ummuhu sideeqa”, his (Jesus) mother was a woman of truth (high ranked believer).
The term “sawia” (19:17) in this verse describes Angel Jibril. This word implies he has no deficiency in his character, nor is he a horrible sight. All angels come in this form. In order not to frighten Maryam alayha salam, Angel Jibril appeared to her as a handsome man. Due to her lack of contact with men, and Angel Jibril’s actual alarming form, it was important that he appeared to her as a handsome man.
قَالَتْ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِالرَّحْمَنِ مِنْكَ إِنْ كُنْتَ تَقِيًّا
She said: “Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (Allah) from you, if you do fear Allah.” 19:18
When Angel Jibril came to Maryam alayha salam, she was horrified and speechless, but her response was that of a pious woman. Her warning to stay away would apply only to one who fears Allah. It would be useless to make such a statement for those who do not have any fear from Allah. Of all the possible names and attributes of Allah, Maryam alayha salam referred to Him as ArRahman, the merciful, rather than the Vengeful or the Mighty. She appealed to His having mercy on her weakness, on being female, on being alone.
قَالَ إِنَّمَا أَنَا رَسُولُ رَبِّكِ لِأَهَبَ لَكِ غُلَامًا زَكِيًّا
(The angel) said: “I am only a Messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son.” 19:19
Angel Jibril comforted her and tried to calm her by saying he was a messenger from Allah. She believed him because she saw in him purity, or some say that Allah inspired her to believe in him.
Here the verse says to grant you (it refers to granting something with nothing expected in return). Angel Jibril was sent to grant Maryam a baby boy by the will of Allah.
One of the attributes of that boy is zaky, meaning that he is pure and not an illegitimate child.
قَالَتْ أَنَّى يَكُونُ لِي غُلَامٌ وَلَمْ يَمْسَسْنِي بَشَرٌ وَلَمْ أَكُ بَغِيًّا
She said: "How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?” 19:20
Maryam alayha salam was appalled to hear that she would bear a child when she was not married nor had been touched by a man. Her modesty and honor would be compromised.
The term “baghiyya” (19:20) implies someone who prostitutes and desires men. Maryam adamantly exclaims that she is not one who follows such desires.
قَالَ كَذَلِكِ قَالَ رَبُّكِ هُوَ عَلَيَّ هَيِّنٌ وَلِنَجْعَلَهُ آيَةً لِلنَّاسِ وَرَحْمَةً مِنَّا وَكَانَ أَمْرًا مَقْضِيًّا
He said: “So (it will be), your Lord said: ‘That is easy for Me (Allah): and (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (Allah), and it is a matter (already) decreed, (by Allah).’ ” 19:21
Jibril informs Maryam alayha salam that Allah’s commands are effortless and He wills it and so it happens. Just as Allah granted Zakirya a child, he is capable of doing the same for Maryam alayha salam.
هَيِّنٌ وَلِنَجْعَلَهُ آيَةً لِلنَّاسِ وَرَحْمَة
He (Jesus) was a miracle who brought miracles to mankind.
He also was a mercy to humanity and a beacon of salvation through the teachings Allah revealed to him.
وَكَانَ أَمْرًا مَقْضِيًّا
Angel Jibril conveyed to Maryam alayha salam this was something destined by Allah.
The question of Isa’s conception was answered in three different ways.
There are those whose iman overrides their thinking, and this would be the pinnacle of belief, like Abu Bakr and Maryam alayha salam. Abu Bakr was told the Prophet salla allahu alayhe wasalam went from Mecca to Jerusalem and from Jerusalem to the seven skies and returned, all the while his bed was still warm. When questioned by the Kuffar as to if he believed the Prophet salla allahu alayhe wasalam, he replied without hesitation that if he had said it, it was the truth.
Another example is the story of Maryam alayha salam. She was told she would conceive and she questioned the manner of how that would be possible. After Jibril explained “kathalik”, she immediately accepted the supreme power of Allah.
The second group of people are those whose thinking governs their iman. They question everything that is told to them. An example of this group is the mu’atazilah. Anything that is presented to them, they use their thinking and rationale to accept or reject it.
Another example of this category is the story of Yousef Al-Najjar, who was Maryam’s cousin and caretaker of Beit Al-Maqdis. He asked Maryam alayha salam concerning her unique pregnancy. He had seen her during her pregnancy and was unable to overlook her condition. He approached her hesitantly, knowing that she is a pious believer. He wished to receive an explanation to satisfy the questions in his mind about her pregnancy. Maryam alayha salam permitted him to ask, emphasizing that he be understanding and kind. He asked her if trees, grass, and plants grow without water. She replied yes, explaining that the One who was able to create it the first time from nothing, can make it grow with and without water. She then asked him who made water before it was water. He replied that Allah did. He asked her can a baby be conceived without a husband. She answered him by saying the One who created Adam without a father or a mother can create a baby without a father. Then he responded by saying “Inna Allah ‘ala kulli shay’in qadeer, Allahu Akbar”, Allah has the power over all things, Allah is great, and he believed.
Finally, the third group is one who has no iman and no proper thinking, at times even rejecting concrete or tangible proof. An example of such a people would be the Jews, who repeatedly denied the truth because of their lack of faith and lack of thinking. They had reached a conclusion before hearing an explanation from Maryam alayha salam, due to their stubbornness and arrogance. We can deduce that the best way to deal with such people is through silence. Even after they were shown another miracle, which was Isa alayhe salam speaking as an infant, they still denied Allah’s power.
Maryam alayha salam was ordered to remain silent so the infant Isa alayhe salam could speak. This was ordained so Allah could show mankind that he can put words into the mouth of a breast-feeding infant, just as He can create a child in the womb without a father. Yet they do not see, so it is best for one to remain silent.
Jibril blew into the opening at the neck of Maryam’s garment and his breath traveled down to her womb and Isa alayhe salam was conceived. She gave birth to Isa alayhe salam, yet remained a virgin. This serves as a lesson to those that try to fathom the power of Allah. One cannot comprehend his power since our intellect is limited, in comprehension.
Who is it that created the earth and formed within it the oceans and grew from it the trees? Who created the wheat and enveloped within it that which preserves it?
The creation of Isa alayhe salam is akin to the creation of Adam alayhe salam. A healthy couple who is unable to bear children compared to another that is blessed with offspring; one must ask who is the provider for one and not the other. Without a doubt, it would be Allah.
According to Ibn Kathir, Maryam alayha salam and her sister, Um Yahya alayha salam, who is also Zakariya’s wife, were pregnant at the same time. When Um Yahya was near Maryam, the child in her womb would bow to the child in Maryam’s, since at that time sujood was permissible. Um Yahya alayha salam and her unborn baby also felt most comfortable and at peace when they were around Maryam alayha salam. Indeed it was miraculous for the two messengers to communicate before their actual birth. Isa alayhe salam would even speak to his mother while in her womb. If he is not speaking to her, she hears his constant praise and tasbeeh to Allah.
فَحَمَلَتْهُ فَانْتَبَذ به مكانا قصياََ19:22
And she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place. 19:22
She was aware of the type of society that surrounded her and what their reaction would be. She did not want to submit herself to their accusations, as well as to the agony and anguish of childbirth. It was then she decided to withdraw and seclude herself in a faraway place.
Some narrations say she was pregnant for seven or eight months, however the most authentic narration states that she was pregnant for nine.
At the time of childbirth, she traveled to Beit Lahem, which is present day Bethlehem.
فَأَجَاءَهَا الْمَخَاضُ إِلَى جِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ قَالَتْ يَا لَيْتَنِي مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَذَا وَكُنْتُ نَسْيًا
And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree. She said: “Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!”19:23
Usually one holds the hand of a husband or a mother during this trying time, however, with no one around her, Maryam alayha salam grasped onto the branch of a tree. The Quran does not explicitly describe Maryam’s childbirth and seems to skip over that fact since it is obvious and apparent, and to maintain the eloquence of the Quran.
يَا لَيْتَنِي مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَذَا وَكُنْتُ نَسْيًا
She said: “Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!” 19:23
وَكُنْتُ نَسْيًا منسيا
During this time of hardship, Maryam alayha salam wished she was “nasiya mansiya”, something forgotten or trivial. From these ayat, one might surmise she questioned Allah’s destiny for her, due to a couple of reasons. The first being Maryam alayha salam did not want to be a cause of fitnah for her people. She knew Isa’s birth would be a cause of people either believing or disbelieving in the oneness of Allah. She did not want her unique situation to be the cause of others going to hell. Maryam’s conception of Isa alayhe salam without a father, would lead to the claim that Isa was the son of God, therefore implying she is the wife of God.
Another reason was Maryam alayha salam knew her honor would be attacked, and that was difficult for a woman of piety. Finally, some sects claim Maryam alayha salam raised her head to the sky after giving birth and witnessed Allah’s Looh Al-Mahfooth, the book where everything is written. She was shown that she would be worshipped by some instead of Allah. However, the latter opinion is false.
Based on Maryam’s example, if one was faced with an insurmountable tribulation, it is permissible to ask Allah to take their soul. There are two examples from the time of the Prophet salla allahu alayhe wasalam that illustrate this. It was narrated the Prophet asked Allah that if he was to test his slaves with a fitnah (a major test in their faith), to take his soul prior to it. Umar was also quoted as saying on one occasion, he wished his mother had not given birth to him.
فَنَادَاهَا مِنْ تَحْتِهَا أَلَّا تَحْزَنِي قَدْ جَعَلَ رَبُّكِ تَحْتَكِ سَرِيًّا
Then (the babe Jesus or Jibril) cried unto her from in front of her, saying: “Grieve not! Your Lord has provided a water stream in front of you.” 19:24
Maryam heard a call from in front of her telling her not to grieve, and there are 2 narrations as to who the call was from. One narration states it was Angel Jibril, while the other states it was Isa.
She should not distress about her dishonor or worry about being unable to fulfill the responsibility that Allah endowed upon her.
قَدْ جَعَلَ رَبُّكِ تَحْتَكِ سَرِيًّا
“Sariya” refers to a spring of water from an elevation.
وَهُزِّي إِلَيْكِ بِجِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ تُسَاقِطْ عَلَيْكِ رُطَبًا جَنِيًّا
“And shake the trunk of palm-tree towards you, it will let fall fresh ripe-dates upon you.” 19:25
Allah orders Maryam alayha salam to shake the trunk of the palm-tree towards her, causing the dates to fall as sustenance for her. From this, one can learn that it is imperative for one to put in the effort and then place their trust in Allah. In Tirmidhi, it is stated a man entered the masjid without tying his camel. The Prophet inquired as to why he had not tied it, and he replied he depended on Allah. The Prophet responded by saying that he should tie it, and then depend on Allah. One should do what is in their power, and then leave the rest to Allah.
فَكُلِي وَاشْرَبِي وَقَرِّي عَيْنًا فَإِمَّا تَرَيِنَّ مِنَ الْبَشَرِ أَحَدًا فَقُولِي إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَنِ صَوْمًا فَلَنْ أُكَلِّمَ الْيَوْمَ إِنْسِيًّا
“So eat and drink and be glad, and if you see any human being, say: ‘Verily! I have vowed a fast unto the Most Beneficient (Allah) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.” 19:26
Maryam shook the tree and “balah”, dates in their ripe stage, fell upon her. (Dates in their ripe stages have been proven medically to be healthy and ease the process of birth upon a women.) She ate from them, drank water, and was told to be happy after seeing her beautiful baby.
فَإِمَّا تَرَيِنَّ مِنَ الْبَشَرِ أَحَدًا فَقُولِي إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَنِ صَوْمًا
Then Allah revealed to Maryam alayha salam if she was to see anyone, not to answer, and to fast from talk. In the past, people would fast from talking, and this was part of their belief. In Islam, however, it is prohibited to abstain completely from speaking. This is apparent when Abu Bakr deterred his family from fasting from talk, stating it was haram. Another example is when Ibn Masood was talking to two men, one who was refraining from talking. When asked why he did not want to talk, his friend answered he was fasting from talk. Ibn Masood said to fast from talk only applied to Maryam and her situation, and it is not from our religion, and he ordered the man to speak.
فأتت به قومها تحمله19:27
Then she brought him (the baby) to her people, carrying him. 19:27
While Maryam alayha salam was away, her townspeople had gone looking for her. According to most narrations she was away for 40 days. She approached her people with Isa alayhe salam in her arms.
قالوا يامريم لقد جئت شَيْئًا فَرِيًّا
They said: “O Maryam! Indeed you have brought a thing Fariyya (an unheard mighty thing). 19:27
They saw her coming from far away, and expressed their shock at the sight of the baby in her arms. “Fariyya” refers to something unlike any other, and completely unbelievable.
ياأخت هارون ما كان ابوك امرئ
“O sister of Harun! Your father was not a man who used to commit adultery, nor your mother was an unchaste woman.” 19:28
In a hadith, Mugherah bin Shubah went to debate the people of Najran who were Christians. They asked him does the Quran state that Maryam is Harun’s sister, when in fact, Harun and Musa preceded them by hundreds of years. The Prophet salla allahu alayhe wasalam said people used to be named in honor of the messengers. There are three opinions to clarify this reference. The first is that Maryam alayha salam actually had a brother whose name was Harun, who was named after the messenger Harun. Another opinion was that Maryam had the characteristics of Prophet Harun, being vigilant and pious. Finally, there might have been a pious man at the time of Maryam, named Harun they attributed her prior characteristics to.
The people accused her indirectly of being unchaste and ordered her to speak up. When she refused, they assumed her guilty. Allah chose silence for her, because in certain circumstances silence is better. She pointed to Isa alayhe salam, and they understood that to mean that he would respond. They were bewildered as to how they could speak to one who was still in the cradle.
قالوا كيف نكلم من كان في المهد صبيا
They said: How can we talk to one who is in the cradle, a young boy? 19:29
This is where the miracle begins. The Prophet said three people spoke as infants, and Isa alayhe salam was one of them.
قال اني عبدالله
Isa alayhe salam answered them by saying,
“I am the servant of Allah.” 19:30
This verse is what made Al-Najashy cry and say this is what Isa alayhe salam said. This statement by Isa alayhe salam was clearly denying the status that people would later attribute to him. By stating he was the servant of Allah, he not only negates the curse to Allah and clarifies his status, but also acquits his mother of any lewd behavior.
The term “abd Allah” is an honorable name, which is the highest of human ranks. When one is a slave to Allah, no one else can become his master. When Allah wants to favor his prophets, he gives them the name “abd Allah.”
Isa alayhe salam, while only a few days old, told the people he has received the scripture. He did not actually receive it at that moment, but rather he knew Allah had chosen him as a messenger and would receive it. Knowing it’s something surely going to happen in the future, he words it as though it has happened.
The verse states Isa alayhe salam is a prophet, that he would receive revelation and a scripture from Allah. Again, he was in his crib describing himself as a messenger, although it did not happen. He used such terms because it’s surely to take place.
وجعلني مباركا اينما كنت
Allah blessed Isa alayhe salam because he guided people to the path of righteousness and ordained virtue and forbade evil. He also had the unique ability to cure the ill and bring the dead back to life by the will of Allah as he repeatedly stated.
واوصاني بالصلاوة والزكاة ما دمت حيا
And he has enjoined on me prayer, and Zakat, as long as I live. 19:31
And dutiful to my mother, and made me not arrogant, unblest.
والسلام علي يوم ولدت ويوم اموت ويوم ابعث حيا
Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive! 19:33
There were some who believed that she was speaking the truth. Others and most, however, believed she was using black magic and was attempting to deceive them. They were not convinced and continued to believe her as being unchaste and questioned the manner in which Isa alayhe salam was conceived.