The Virgin Mary in the Quran
The Virgin Mary (pbh) is one of the most honored figures in Islam, Mary is mentioned frequently in the Qur’an (34 times), and her narrative occurs consistently from the earliest chapters.
The Qur’an speaks of Virgin Mary (called Myriam in Arabic) not only as the mother of Jesus (pbut), but as a righteous woman in her own right. There is even a chapter of the Qur’an named after her (the 19th chapter of the Qur’an). Below are some direct quotations from the Qur’an regarding Mary.
“Recount in the Book how Mary withdrew from her people to an eastern place and kept herself in seclusion from them. We sent her Our angel, who presented himself to her as a full-grown human being. When she saw him, she said, ‘I seek refuge in the compassionate God from you; [do not come near] if you fear the Lord.’ ‘I am only the messenger of your Lord,’ he replied. ‘I shall bestow upon you the gift of a son endowed with purity.’ She said,‘How can I have a son when no man has touched me; and neither have I been unchaste?’ [The angel] replied, ‘So shall it be; your Lord says, “This is easy for Me; and We shall make him a sign to people and a blessing, from Us. This has been decreed.” (Qur’an 19:16-21, the Chapter of Mary)
“Behold! The angels said, ‘Oh Mary! God has chosen you and purified you, chosen you above the women of all nations. Oh Mary! Worship your Lord devoutly. Prostrate yourself, and bow down in prayer with those who bow down'” (Qur’an 3:42-43).
“Remember the one who guarded her chastity; so We breathed Our Spirit into her, and made her and her son a sign for all people”. (Qur’an 21:91).
The birth of the Blessed Mary:
The birth of Mary (pbh) is narrated in the Qu’ran with references to her father Amram (Imran in Arabic) and mother Anne (Hannah in Arabic) in tradition and is the equivalent of Joachim in Christian tradition. Muslim literature narrates that Amram and his wife were old and childless and that, one day, the sight of a bird in a tree feeding her young aroused Anne’s desire for a child. She prayed to God to fulfill her desire and vowed, if her prayer was accepted, that her child would be dedicated to the service of God. She prayed for her child to remain protected from the devil, and Muslim tradition records that Muhammad (pbuh) narrated that the only children born without having been “touch by the devil” were Mary and Jesus (pbut).
The Qur’an narrates that Mary grew up in the temple of the prayer, and had a special place in the temple of her own. She was placed under the care of the prophet Zechariah. The Muslim narrative makes it clear that lots were cast as to who should be the guardian of Mary and the outcome was that she should be placed under Zechariah’s care. As often as Zechariah entered Mary’s prayer chamber, he found her provided with food and he would ask her where she received it from, to which she would reply that God provides to whom He wills. Scholars have debated as to whether this refers to miraculous food that Mary received from God or whether it was normal food. Those in favor of the former view state that it had to be miraculous food, as Zechariah being a prophet, would have known that God is the provider of all sustenance and thus would not have questioned Mary, if it was normal food.
The miracle birth of Jesus (pbh):
The virgin birth of Jesus is supremely important in Islam, as one of the most important miracles of God. The first explicit mention of an annunciation foreshadowing the birth of Jesus is in chapter 19 (Mary) verses 20 where Mary asks Gabriel (jibral in Arabic) how she will be able to conceive, when no man has touched her. Gabriel’s reply assures Mary that for God all things are easy and that Jesus’s virgin birth will be a sign for mankind. The birth is later referred in Chapter 66 verses 12 where the Qur’an states that Mary remained “pure”, while God allowed a life to shape itself in Mary’s womb. A third mention of the annunciation is in chapter 3 verses 37–38, where Mary is also given the glad tidings that she has been chosen above all the women of creation.