«o mary, indeed god has chosen you
and purified you and chosen you above
the women of the world.»
(surah aali ‘imraan, 3:42)
every muslim loves prophet muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him) and invokes god,s blessings on him whenever he remembers the blessing of monotheism, savors the meaning of worship, recites the qur’an, holds his head high with a sense of freedom and pride, engages industriously in virtuous work, is charitable to others and adheres to the course of moderation in thought, speech, action, and conduct. in all these situations, a muslim,s supplication for blessing upon the prophet fills his heart and is constantly pronounced by him, for all that is good in him has been achieved through the prophet,s guidance.
actually, all mankind is indebted to this kind, noble prophet. it is he who allowed humanity to make the great leap forward by giving great importance to reason, promoting thought and contemplation, freeing the will and conscience from the shackles of paganism and oppression, establishing principles of equality, establishing humanitarian cooperation among nations and peoples, introducing principles of justice and applying them even to adversaries, observing and elevating the value of the common human heritage, and defending righteous persons, irrespective of their customs or environments, rightfully, effectively and generously. this treatise is an elaboration of the last point.
one of the proofs of the truthfulness of our prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) is that he advocated a religion that promotes belief in the whole truth, i.e., truth not subject to partiality, exception or annulment. this is a rational and methodological issue; truth can never be divided or self-contradictory in its essence or its source.
the example of mary
it has been alleged that jesus, son of mary, had a half-brother. islamic religious institutions were quick to refute that statement because it undermines the reputation and blemishes the chastity of the truthful mary, who never married.
which text distinctively testifies to the virgin mary,s chastity, purity, and lack of contact with men?
it is the qur’an, which was inspired to muhammad. that enlightening book establishes firm conviction relating to pure mary, one that affirms the truth and repudiates falsehood and slander.
one of the characteristics of the qur’an is that it defends upright, faithful people regardless of their race, nationality, time, place or gender. mary, who was among the righteous servants of god, is described in the qur’an in the best manner and context. the qur’an defends her with an irrefutable argument that produces love and veneration for her.
she was protected from satan:
«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 god].» (surah aali ‘imraan, 3:36)
she was honored by god,s blessing: «every time zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. he said, o mary, from where is this [coming] to you? she said, it is from god. indeed, god provides for whom he wills without account.» (surah aali ‘imraan, 3:37)
she was chosen over all women: «o mary, indeed god has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds.» (surah aali ‘imraan, 3:42)
she was devout and she prostrated herself and bowed to god: «o mary, be devoutly obedient to your lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow [in prayer].» (surah aali ‘imraan, 3:43)
she received of tidings of a child who would be great and honored: «[and mention] when the angels said, o mary, indeed god 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 god].» (surah aali ‘imraan, 3:45)
she is acclaimed in the qur’an: «and mention, [o muhammad], in the book [the story of] mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place toward the east.» (surah maryam, 19:16)
she was a sign for all mankind: «and we made her and her son a sign for the worlds.» (surah al-anbiyaa’, 21:91)
«and we made the son of mary and his mother a sign.» (surah al-
she was truthful: «and his mother was a supporter of truth.» (surah al-ma’idah, 5:75)
she was a chaste virgin who never married or had contact with any human being:
«and mention, [o muhammad], in the book [the story of] mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place toward the east. and she took, in seclusion from them, a screen. then we sent to her our angel [i.e., gabriel], and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man. she said, indeed, i seek refuge in the most merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of god. he said, i am only the messenger of your lord to give you [news of] a pure boy [i.e., son]. 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.» so she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place. and the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. she said, oh, i wish i had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten. but he called her from below her, do not grieve; your lord has provided beneath you a stream. and shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates. so eat and drink and be contented. and if you see from among humanity anyone, say, «indeed, i have vowed to the most merciful abstention, so i will not speak today to [any] man.» then she brought him to her people, carrying him. they said, o mary, you have certainly done a thing unprecedented. o sister [i.e., descendant] of aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste. so she pointed
to him. they said, how can we speak to one who is in the cradle a child? [jesus] said, indeed, i am the servant of god. he has given me the scripture and made me a prophet. and he has made me blessed wherever i am and has enjoined upon me prayer and charity as long as i remain alive and [made me] dutiful to my mother, and he has not made me a wretched tyrant. and peace is on me the day i was born and the day i will die and the day i am raised alive.» (surah maryam, 19:16-33)
this is the righteous mary as presented in the qur’an - pure and purified, blameless and irreproachable, chaste and immaculate - when she conceived and when she gave birth, untouched by any human being. it was god who made her conception and delivery a miracle from him, and he does as he wills.
it is noteworthy at this point to mention that some people of the book cite the qur’an as evidence when they speak of mary,s purity. to discredit the claim that christ (peace be upon him) had a half-brother, a number of high-ranking clergymen of the coptic church in egypt cite the words of mary quoted in the qur’an: «she said, how can i have a boy while no man has touched me and i have not been unchaste?» (surah maryam, 19:20) this is unquestionably a point of common belief.
it is true that some jews slandered mary and said evil things about her, but the qur’an denounced these atrocious claims of theirs as an expression of disbelief:
«and [we cursed them] for their disbelief and their saying against mary a great slander.» (surah an-nisaa’, 4:156)
i conclude this chapter with something highly relevant in this context. our assertion that muhammad, the messenger of god, has a claim on all mankind is supported by the following facts:
the prophet’s mission was a new and qualitative reorganization of human existence. the components of this reform are respect for the human mind, the designation of personal responsibility, encouragement to harness whatever is in the heavens and earth for the service of man, a declaration of the oneness of the human race, among other advancements.
when wise people become aware that there are some existing historical documents that do justice to and defend their religion as well as their eminent and righteous personalities, their wisdom should prompt them to cherish these documents. accordingly, wisdom should prompt wise christians and jews throughout the world to respect the qur’an and the person to whom it was revealed, for the qur’an is the document that best commends the religious figures in whom they believe.
to cite an example, mary (may god be pleased with her) was not an arab. however, the qur’an, which condemns and prohibits racism in concept and practice, glorifies and extols mary, because it is the scripture that upholds the true criteria for distinguishing between people, the criteria of sincere belief, righteous deeds, and high moral standards.
is it not the right of prophet muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him) who brought the religion that offers a most magnificent picture of all the prophets and their followers, to be recognized and appreciated by all mankind?