In the Name of God: The Infinitely Merciful and Compassionate Beloved Lord
Throughout my childhood, I have grown up listening to this story being recited out loud:
When the wife of ‘Imran said, “My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service], so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” But when she delivered her, she said, “My Lord, I have delivered a female.” And God was most knowing of what she delivered, “And the male is not like the female. 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 ].”
So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zechariah. 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.”
This is not from the Bible, but the Qur’an (verses 35-37 of Chapter 3). It is the story of the birth of the Virgin Mary, mother of Christ (peace be upon them both). This event is what is celebrated by the Catholic Church on December 8: the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. When I attended Marquette University, a Jesuit institution, I would get the day off from school (always a welcome occurrence). I always thought it was the conception of Jesus. Only recently, however, did I learn that it was actually the conception of Mary. Yet, this fact only made me happier, for Mary is very special to me as a Muslim.
This should come as no surprise. The Mother of Christ is highly regarded and praised in the Qur’an:
And [mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds. (3:42)
The Qur’an mentions that the Virgin Mary and her son Jesus are a sign of God’s grace:
And [remember] she who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her of Our Spirit, and caused her, together with her son, to be a symbol [of Our Grace] unto all people (21:91).
In fact, the Qur’an makes the Virgin Mary an example of the ideal believer:
And [We have propounded yet another parable of God-consciousness in the story of] Mary, the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity, whereupon We breathed of Our spirit into that [which was in her womb], and who accepted the truth of her Lord’s words – and [thus,] of His revelations – and was one of the truly devout. (66:12)
Moreover, in 3:35-37, most translators of the Qur’an interpret the saying of Mary’s mother, when she was born, that “the male is not like the female,” as it is stated above. Yet, there is another interpretation which I like better: “no male child [she might have hoped for] could ever have been like this female.” When the mother of Mary had dedicated the child in her womb to God’s service, she thought it was going to be a male child. When Mary was born, this was not possible at the time. But God is saying in the Qur’an that no male child could ever be like this amazing female child, Mary.
How true a statement that is. What an amazing reward it would be for me to be able to greet the Virgin Mary, kiss her hand, and express to her the love I have for her in my heart. What an amazing reward it would be for me to dwell in Paradise with the Virgin Mary and be in her company. What an amazing reward it would be for me to be able to enjoy her company in highest of Gardens.
Precious Beloved Lord, please make this dream of mine a reality. Amen.