Mary and the baby Jesus

Today we come to a new surah, Maryam, so named because Mary the mother of Jesus is discussed early on.  As has been said here before, Mary is actually mentioned more in the Qur’an than in the Bible. 

Much of the surah is a recounting of “the Lord’s grace towards” eight of “His servant[s]” (19:1), all but one of which we know well from the Bible.

  • Zechariah is granted in his old age an heir and protector for his wife when he is gone. 
  • John (the Baptist) is graced with wisdom, purity, and compassion.  In response to these gifts, John was a most submissive son. 
  • Mary was given a child though still a virgin.  Even during the pains of childbirth she was provided for bountifully with a cool stream of fresh water and an endless supply of dates.
  • Jesus is granted the ability to speak as a baby in order to make clear that he too is a prophet and given a “Scripture” or “revelation” (the Gospels or Injil?).  Like his cousin, Jesus too responds by living a respectful life in submission to his mother. 
  • To Abraham, God gave a “noble reputation” and the chance to share with his idolatrous father the greater truth of One God.  When driven away from his family by their faithless threats of stoning should he not recant this foolish monotheism, Abraham was granted a new family with Isaac and Ishmael. 
  • Ishmael was made a prophet and messenger of God, and he led his family well. 
  • Moses was honored to be God’s prophet and messenger when he was called by God into “secret communion” on the mountain.  When reticent, God even made Aaron a fellow prophet to work alongside Moses.
  • Last, God also blessed the prophet Idris and made him a “man of truth.”  Some have said Idris is another name for Enoch from Genesis 5, but his exact identity is unknown.

After mentioning Jesus, this surah also throws in an aside that clearly denies that God could have children.  Such is not “befitting” (19:34b-40).  Given the context, it would certainly seem this is aimed at Christianity and our view that Jesus is the “son of God.”  The issue is that Christians would certainly agree.  It is not befitting to talk of Jesus as the son of God, if we are talking about God somehow fathering an entirely separate being called Jesus.  But that is not what Christians believe.  Jesus IS God.  They are one.  The Son is an extension of the God-essence, just as the Father is as well.  Christians really wouldn’t have a hard time giving a hearty “Amen!” to this foundational verse from the Qur’an:

There is no god other than God. (59:22)