Asalaamu ‘Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakaatuh,
Greetings of peace and blessings to you all, and welcome to my second blog entry pertaining to The Nativity- An Islamic Glance.
As previously discussed, Mary (Peace be upon her) was the daughter of Imran and Hannah. Hannah was childless all her life and would invoke God to bless them with a child, and thus He did. Anne pledged to give this child in the service of God in particular to His house, The Mosque in Jerusalem Bait Al-Maqdis.
This blog will shed light upon the life, virtues and blessings bestowed upon Mary (Peace be upon her).
The dispute of Guardianship
Hannah was true to her word and addressed her people, telling them about her oath. The only issue at hand was that since she was young, someone will have to take care and guardianship over her during her time in the Mosque. Everyone knew that it would be an honour to take care of such a special child and thus many people stood forward to be Mary’s guardian. Prophet Zakariya [Peace be upon him (known as Zachariah in Christianity)] was the first to step forward, since he was related to Mary and her family. However, many others wanted this honour as well and thus a dispute broke out over who should be her Guardian during her time in service to Allah. And so they decided to draw lots to resolve the matter, which has two different narrations pertaining to it. The first narration states that the pens that used to write the Tawrah (also known as the Torah) were cast into the river, and a young child was instructed to draw a pen from the river thrice, and each time the name of Zakariya was drawn. The second narration mentions that several pens were cast out into the river, and the pen which went against the current would be the chosen individual. Again it was Prophet Zakariya (Peace be upon him). Regardless of narration, Allah had selected him to be the guardian and carer of Mary (Peace be upon her), and how a fitting selection, since he was a Prophet of Allah and the most knowledgeable from among the people. Not only was this a virtue and blessing for Maryam, but also for Zakariya himself, as it was Allah’s will to inspire him through Maryam, as we will come to see later on.
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) spoke about Prophet Zakariya (Peace be upon him), mentioning that he was a carpenter by trade and would eat from his daily earnings. Thus Zakariya was an honest and sincere person and an example to those around him.
Zakariya built Maryam a separate room above the Mosque, where Maryam could reside and be in constant devotion to Allah. Since the associates of the Mosque were mainly men, this room of residence gave her ample room for convenience as well as privacy, thus there was no compromise in her modesty and chastity. Classically, such a room/chamber is known as a Mihraab in Arabic, derived from the root word Haaraba, the meaning of which is ‘to wage war’. Now what kind of war is being waged here? Not a war on the battle field but a war against one’s Nafs (ego or lower desires). Maryam (Peace be upon her) was implicitly fighting her human ego sacrificing her energy and strength and ultimately her life for the pleasure of Allah, by staying within the vicinity of the Mosque and worshipping Allah. And she loved it. She craved the remembrance and worship of Allah. Thus was her love that when she was unable to remain in the vicinity of the Mosque due to her monthly cycle, she would exit and head towards the East, and remember Allah whilst she watching the sun to rise. It could be said that the remembrance of Allah was her lifeblood.
The sustenance from Paradise
Prophet Zakariya (Peace be upon him) would regularly check up on Maryam (Peace be upon her) within her chamber and he would find her in constant prayer and remembrance of Allah. He also marvelled at the fact that every time he entered the chamber, he found her in the presence of food and sustenance, in particular fruits which were not in season and thus not readily available within Jerusalem and Canaan. It’s not as though they had facilities to store and preserve such food. He was intrigued and thus one day questioned her about it, which Allah talks about in the Qur’an. He says (about Zakariya) ‘Every time he entered the chamber to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said ‘Oh Maryam! From where have you received this?’ She said ‘From Allah. Verily, Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills, without any limit’ (Chapter 3, verse 37)
Notice how Maryam doesn’t claim to have a lofty status or rank in the eyes of Allah, but rather she emphasises that it is all from Allah, and that he gives to whom he wills without any restrictions. So she is teaching and inspiring Zakariya to invoke Allah and beseech him, since he is The Giver. Maryam’s reply has a deep impact on Zakariya and he invokes Allah there and then for a yearning he has had for many years. He learns that rather than him asking Maryam to pray for him, he himself should turn to Allah and ask him for that which he seeks, Allah says in the Qur’an ‘At that time Zakariya invoked his Lord, saying: Oh my Lord! Grant me from You, a good offspring. You are indeed the All-Hearer of invocations.’ (Chapter 3, verse 38)
Zakariya prayed for a child, since he and his wife did not have any children. Zakariya was an elderly man now, yet the words of Maryam increased his conviction in Allah hearing his pleas, regardless of his age. And thus, once Zakariya was stood in prayer, an angel called out to him saying ‘Allah gives you glad tidings of Yahya (John) confirming in the Word of Allah (i.e. Jesus), noble, keeping away from sexual relations with women, a Prophet, from among the righteous.’ (Chapter 3, verse 40) From this we learn that Allah is The All-Seeing and All-Hearing, and The Bestower of bounties upon his righteous servants. Regardless of our situation or condition, we should ask him and place our trust in his will.
We also learn how all the Prophets are beautifully connected and related, as well as how each one confirms and prophesises the coming of the next Prophet. All of this relates back to the verse in The Qur’an where Allah mentions how all the Prophets are connected through family, some offspring from others. The story of each prophet is not in isolation, but rather they are connected to the lives of each other; to the lives of their parents and forefathers. They are all organically intertwined and subtlety dependent on one another, because after all, the Prophets are brothers of each other. They were sent with the same message; same call; same intention. To ignite the dead hearts of mankind and rotate them towards The Light and Truth, being God. Peace be upon each and every single one of them.
In my next blog entry I shall discuss the glad tidings of a pure son given to Maryam (Peace be upon him), as well as the miraculous birth of this son (Peace be upon him the day he was born, the day he will die and the day he will be resurrected).
Thank you for reading and JazakumAllahu Khairan