In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring
“My Lord, truly I dedicate to Thee what is in my belly, in consecration. So accept it from me. Truly Thou art the Hearing, the Knowing.”
The woman was thinking she was going to have a boy, and thus she wanted to dedicate him to service, as a Priest, in the Temple in Jerusalem. The Lord, however, had other plans because, lo and behold, the child was a girl:
And when she bore her, she said, “My Lord, I have borne a female…and I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in Thee, and for her progeny, from Satan the outcast.”
At that time, women were not allowed to be Priests in the Temple. Yet, that did not stop this little girl from becoming one of the greatest women human history has ever seen, the Virgin Mary:
So her Lord accepted her with a beautiful acceptance, and made her to grow in a beautiful way, and placed her under the care of Zachariah. Whenever Zachariah entered upon her in the sanctuary he found provision with her. He said, “Mary, whence comes this unto thee?” She said, “It is from God. Truly God provides for whomsoever He will without reckoning.”
These are verses 35-38 of the third chapter of the Quran. As can be seen, they detail in great beauty the birth of the Virgin Mary, one of the greatest events in the spiritual history of humanity.
Elsewhere in the Quran, it is said:
“And [remember] when the angels said, “O Mary, truly God has chosen thee and purified thee, and has chosen thee above the women of the worlds. O Mary! Be devoutly obedient to thy Lord, prostrate, and bow with those who bow.” (3:43-44)
What’s more, Mary the mother of Christ is hailed as an exemplary believer:
“And God sets forth as an example for those who believe…Mary, the daughter of ʿ Imrān, who preserved her chastity. Then We breathed therein of Our Spirit, and she confirmed the Words of her Lord and His Books; and she was among the devoutly obedient.” (66:11-12)
Given all this, I often scratch my head in puzzlement when I hear Christian missionaries claim that they want to “bring Jesus to Muslims.” The truth is we Muslims have had Jesus – and his mother – all along. In fact, the only woman to be mentioned by name in the Quran is none other than the Virgin Mary, whose namesake is given to chapter 19.
Yet, there is something I left out in the first passage from the Quran above. Right after the mother of Mary said, “My Lord, I have borne a female,” God interjects in the verse:
and God knows best what she bore, and the male is not like the female,
What this means is this: no male child could ever be like this female child Mary. If this child had been born a boy, like his mother thought, he would never have become as amazing, as extraordinary, as truly awe-inspiring as this female child Mary.
As Catholics the world over celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, which commemorates the birth of the Virgin Mary, let this Muslim declare to one and all, far and wide, my love for the Virgin Mary. Let this Muslim declare to one and all, far and wide, my admiration for the strength and power of this amazing mother. Let this Muslim declare to one and all, far and wide, my desire to meet her one day in the Lord’s Garden and kiss her hand.
And let this Muslim extend his hand to one and all, far and wide, in brotherhood to all those who share the love of the mother of Christ in his or her heart.