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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Surah Maryam - Mary: 19th Chapter of Quran - Part I



Sürah Maryam " مريم " is the 19th sūrah of the Qur'an. It has 98 verses (āyāt), 6 ruku and is part of the 16th Juz of the Holy Quran. A "Meccan sūrah" that is named after Mary, Mother of Prophet Eesa (Jesus, peace be upon him), the mention of which appears in verse 16. It was revealed before the first ever Muslim migration to Habash, for as per authentic Traditions that Hadrat Ja'afar recited verses 1-40 of this sūrah in the court of Negus when the latter called the migrants to his court.


As already mentioned in the Overview of this surah, the exegesis of the surah has been divided into three parts as per the theme and the subject matter discussed therein as under:
  • Part I  : Ruku 1-2 [Verses 1-40] - Mention of Prophets Zechariah, John and Jesus
  • Part II : Ruku 3-4 [Verses 41-65] Mention of Prophets Abraham, Moses, Ishmael and Idris
  • Part III: Ruku 5-6 [Verses 66-98] The concluding passages
Let us now read the translation and exegesis / tafseer in English of the Part I of the Surah segmented into portions as per the subject matter. For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given at the end and may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

The surah begins with the mysterious disjoined words:

( 1 ) "كٓهٰيٰـعٓـصٓ​ " Kaf. Ha'. Ya'. Ayn. Sad.

[These disjoined letters are one of the mysteries of the Qur'an, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings - see our earlier post for details: Understanding the Holy Quran: Huroof Muqatta’at - Disjoined Letters].

Ruku / Section 1 [ 1-15 ]
The First Section makes a mention of Prophet Zechariah (peace be upon him) and the birth and youth of Prophet Yahya (John). Prophet Zechariah was a prophet of God whose office was in the temple in Jerusalem.  He was in charge of services at the temple.  Zechariah’s wife was barren and both were very old.  Zechariah began to worry over who would carry on the daily services of the temple and preach the message of God after his death.  In response to Zechariah’s earnest prayer to God for a son, an angel announced that God will provide him a son whose name will be Yahya (John). And God made John compassionate, wise, pure, and kind to his parents who diligently practiced the commandments of the Torah.

In the Bible, Zechariah is husband of Elisabeth who is the cousin of Maryam (Mary).  The Quran tells us that Zechariah was also the guardian of Mary, the mother of Prophet Eesa (Jesus, peace be upon him).
( 2 )   This is an account of the mercy of your Lord to His servant Zechariah
 In order to understand the position held by Zechariah, a descendant of Prophet Aaron, one should be acquainted with the system of priesthood among the children of Israel.

After the conquest of Palestine, the entire land was divided among the 12 tribes of the descendants of Prophet Jacob as inheritance, and the 13th tribe, the Levites, was entrusted with religious services and duties. Even among the *Levites, the house that was separated to sanctify the most holy things, to burn incense before the Lord, to minister unto him, and to bless in his name forever was the house of Prophet Aaron. The other Levites were not allowed to enter the Temple. Their duty was to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of the Lord, in the courts, and in the chambers, and in the purifying of all holy things, and to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the Lord in the Sabbaths, in the new moon, and on the set festivals. The descendants of Aaron were divided into 24 families, who came to serve the house of the Lord by turns. One of these families was of Abiah whose chief was Zachariah. Thus it was Zechariah’s duty to go into the house on his family’s turn and burn incense before the Lord. (For details, see 1 Chronicles, chapters 23, 24).

Also read the story of Zechariah as given in (Ayats 34-57 of Surah Aal-Imran). There the public ministry was the point stressed; here the beautiful relations between the son and the father.

The Mercy of Allah to Zechariah was shown in many ways: (1) in the acceptance of his prayer; (2) in bestowing a son like Yahya; and (3) in the love between father and son, in addition to the work which Yahya did as Allah's Messenger for the world.

*Levites are the descendants of the Tribe of Levi, one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Levites are integrated in Jewish and Samaritan communities, but keep a distinct status.
( 3 )   When he called to his Lord a private supplication.
In secret: because he feared that his own family and relatives were going wrong (xix. 5), and he wanted to keep the lamp of Allah burning bright. He could not very well mention the fear about his colleagues (who were his relations) in public.
( 4 )   He said, "My Lord, indeed my bones have weakened, and my head has filled with white, and never have I been in my supplication to You, my Lord, unhappy.
This preface shows the fervent faith of Zakariya, a prophet of the Most High Allah. His office was in the Temple, and his relatives were his colleagues. But he found in them no true spirit of the service of Allah and man. He was filled with anxiety as to who would uphold the godly ideas he had in mind, which were strange to his worldly colleagues.
( 5 )   And indeed, I fear the successors after me, and my wife has been barren, so give me from Yourself an heir
His was not merely a desire for a son. If it had been, he would have prayed much earlier in his life, when he was a young man. He was too full of true piety to put merely selfish things into his prayers. But here was a public need, in the service of the Lord.
( 6 )   Who will inherit me and inherit from the family of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, pleasing [to You]."
That is, I do not pray for a successor to inherit me alone, but a successor who may inherit the good ways of the house of Jacob.

It is true that an heir inherits property, but his higher duty is to represent in everything the personality of him from whom he inherits. It is doubtful whether Zakariya had any worldly property. But he had character and virtue, as a man of God, and this he wanted to transmit to his heir as his most precious possession. It was almost the most precious possession of the posterity of Jacob. The people around him had fallen away from Allah's Message. Could his heir, like him, try and renew it?
( 7 )   [He was told], "O Zechariah, indeed We give you good tidings of a boy whose name will be John. We have not assigned to any before [this] name."
In Luke the words are: There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. (1: 61).

This was John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. In accordance with his father's prayer he, and Jesus for whom he prepared the way, renewed the Message of Allah, which had been corrupted and lost among the Israelites. The Arabic form Yahya suggests "Life". The Hebrew form is Johanan, which means "Jehovah has been Gracious". Cf. Hananan in verse 13 below. It does not mean that the name was given for the first time, for we read of a Johanan the son of Careah in II Kings, xxv. 23, an otherwise obscure man. It means that Allah had, for the first time, called one of His elect by that name.
( 8 )   He said, "My Lord, how will I have a boy when my wife has been barren and I have reached extreme old age?"
( 9 )   He said: "So (it will be): thy Lord saith `That is easy for Me: I did indeed create thee before when thou hadst been nothing!' "
Who is the "He" in this clause? The majority of Commentators are of the opinion that it means the angel who brought the message from Allah. ( also see xix. 21 below.) But some Commentators construe it to refer to Zakariya. In that case the meaning will be: Zakariya after a little reflection said (in his wonder) "So!", i.e., "Can it really be so? Can I really have a son in my old age?" The speech following,"Thy Lord saith," etc., will then be that of the angel-messenger.

This dialogue is meant to impress that Allah is able to do whatever He wills and can make an impotent man and a barren woman give birth to a child, and likewise a virgin can be made to conceive a child.

Every man was nothing just before he was created, i.e., his personality was called into being by Allah. Even if there are material processes in forming the body, in accordance with the laws of nature, the real creative force is the power of Allah. But here there is a subtler meaning. John was the harbinger of Jesus, preparing the way for him; and this sentence also prepares us for the more wonderful birth of Jesus himself, see verse 21 below. Everything is possible with Allah.
( 10 )   [Zechariah] said, "My Lord, make for me a sign." He said, "Your sign is that you will not speak to the people for three nights, [being] sound."
The "Sign", was in order to convince Zakariya that the Lord's promise was true.

Compare this verse with Surah Aal-Imran iii. 41. The variations are interesting. Here it is "for three nights": there it is "for three days". The meaning is the same, for a day is a period of 24 hours. But the point of view is different in each case. There it was from the point of view of the Ummat or Congregation, among whom he worked by day; here the point of view is that of his individual soul, which spent the nights in prayer and praise. Notice again that at the end of the next verse, we have here, "In the morning and the evening", and at the end of iii. 41, "In the evening and in the morning"-showing again that the point of view is reversed.

فَخَرَجَ عَلٰى قَوۡمِهٖ مِنَ الۡمِحۡرَابِ فَاَوۡحٰٓى اِلَيۡهِمۡ اَنۡ سَبِّحُوۡا بُكۡرَةً وَّعَشِيًّا‏ 
( 11 )   So he came out to his people from the prayer chamber and signaled to them to exalt [Allah] in the morning and afternoon.
The word mihrab usually refers to that niche in mosques where the leader of the prayer stands. In this instance, however, the term signifies the apartments usually built in synagogues and sanctuaries on a raised platform adjacent to the place of congregational worship, which served as the residence of caretakers, servants and beggars. Mary lived in an apartment of this kind and devoted all her time to worship and prayer.

Below we reproduce the details of this event as given in Luke’s Gospel so that the reader may study and compare the Quranic version with the Christian version. The references and additions within the brackets are ours:

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, (see Surah 17. Al-Israa / Surah Bani Israel :7) a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abiah: and his wife was of the daughter of Aaron, and her name wag Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, according to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; (there is no mention of Zacharias’ prayer anywhere in the Bible) and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John (that is, Yahya). And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord (Sayyidun: a great leader according to the Quran, (Surah Aal-Imran, Ayat 39), and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink (the Quranic version: Taqiyyun, pious and pure); and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb (the Quran says: We blessed him with judgment while he was yet a child). And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit of the power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. (This is different from the Quran, which gives it as a sign, whereas according to Luke, it was a punishment. Moreover, the Quran mentions it as the silence for three consecutive days, but Luke says that Zacharias remained dumb till the birth of John). And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. (Luke 1: 5-22).

يٰيَحۡيٰى خُذِ الۡكِتٰبَ بِقُوَّةٍ​ ؕ وَاٰتَيۡنٰهُ الۡحُكۡمَ صَبِيًّا ۙ‏ 
( 12 )   [Allah] said, "O John, take the Scripture with determination." And We gave him judgement [while yet] a boy
Time passes. The son is born. In this section of the Sura the centre of interest is Yahya, and the instruction is now given to him. 'Keep fast hold of Allah's revelation with all your might': for an unbelieving world had either corrupted or neglected it, and Yahya (John the Baptist) was to prepare the way for, Jesus, who was coming to renew and re-interpret it.

The details regarding the birth of Prophet John (peace be upon him), according to the divine will, and his coming of age, have been left out. Here, in one sentence, the mission of Prophethood entrusted to him on attaining maturity has been stated, which was to observe and follow the Torah in letter and spirit, and to exhort the Israelites as well to do the same.

The Arabic word hukm implies ability (1) to make decisions, (2) to form right opinions, (3) to interpret the divine law, (4) to solve problems, and (5) it also means authority from Allah to decide affairs.

Hukm may also be translated Wisdom, implies something more than Wisdom; it is the Wisdom or Judgment that is entitled to judge and command, as in the matter of denouncing sin.

وَّحَنَانًـا مِّنۡ لَّدُنَّا وَزَكٰوةً  ​ؕ وَّكَانَ تَقِيًّا ۙ‏ 
( 13 )   And affection from Us and purity, and he was fearing of Allah
The Arabic word hanan is almost synonymous with mother’s love. In other words, Prophet John bore in his heart the same kind of intense love for Allah’s servants as a mother has for her child.
( 14 )   And dutiful to his parents, and he was not a disobedient tyrant.
( 15 )   And peace be upon him the day he was born and the day he dies and the day he is raised alive.
This is spoken as in the life-time of Yahya. Peace and Allah's Blessings, were on him when he was born; they continue when he is about to die an unjust death at the hands of a tyrant; and they will be specially manifest at the Day of Judgment.

In order to have a full understanding of the mission and the pure character of Prophet John, about which brief references have been made in this Surah and Surah Aal- Imran, it will be useful to study this story as given in different Books of the New Testament in the following order:

According to Luke, Prophet John was older than Prophet Jesus (peace be upon them) by six months and their mothers were cousins. He was appointed a Prophet at the age of 30 years, and according to the Gospel of John, he started his mission of inviting the people toward God in Jordan. He would say: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord. (John, I: 23)

According to Mark: John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. (Mark, I: 45). He thus came to be known as John the Baptist, and the Israelites held him as a prophet. (Mat. 21: 26). Prophet Jesus said about John: Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a man greater than John the Baptist." (Mat. 11 : 11).

John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. (Mat. 3: 4). He would say: Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Mat. 3: 2). By this he meant that very soon Prophet Jesus was going to start his mission of Prophethood. The same thing has been said about him in the Quran: He (John) will come to confirm a command from Allah. (Surah Aal-Imran, Ayat 39). For the same reason he has been called a sign of or pointer to Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him).

He urged the people to observe the Fast and Prayers. (Mat. 9: 14, Luke, 5: 33, I1: 1). He would also tell them: He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. (Luke 3: 11). When the tax-collectors asked: Master, what shall we do? He said unto them: Exact no more than that what is appointed you. (12-13). And when the soldiers sought his guidance, he said: Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. (Luke, 3: 14).

When the corrupt scholars, Pharisees and Sadducees of the Israelites, came to be baptized by him, he rebuked them, saying: O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Think not to say within yourselves: We have Abraham to our father, now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (Mat-3 :7-10).

The Jewish ruler of his time, Herod Antipas, in whose government he was performing his mission of inviting the people to the truth, had been so deeply influenced by the Roman civilization that he was causing sin and evil to spread freely in the land. He had kept Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, unlawfully in his house; when Prophet John reproved him for this and raised his voice against other evils being committed by him, Herod got him arrested and sent to jail. However, he held him in high esteem for his piety and righteousness and even feared him on account of the great respect he enjoyed among the people. On the contrary, Herodias thought that the moral consciousness that Prophet John was producing among the people was directly aimed at women like herself and pulling them down in the public eye. Thus she nursed a grudge against him and would have him killed but could not. Soon an opportunity came her way. On the birthday banquet of Herod, her daughter danced and so delighted Herod and others that the king said to her: Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. The girl asked her mother what she should ask for. The mother said: Ask for the head of John the Baptist. The girl went back to the king and requested to have there and then the head of John the Baptist on a dish. Herod felt sorry to hear this, but could not reject the demand of the daughter of his beloved. He at once got Prophet John killed in the prison and presented his head on a dish to the dancing girl. (Mat. 14: 3-12, Mark, 6: 17-29, Luke, 3: 19-20).

Here we come to the end of Ruku 1. Before we begin Ruku 2, it may be pointed out here that Ruku 1 serves as a premise for what follows after it as Prophets Zakriya and Yahya (peace be upon them both) have had a profound affect on Maryam, Mary mother of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) as will be seen as we sail trough Ruku 2:

Ruku / Section 2 [ 16-40 ]
Section 2 makes a detailed mention of Maryam (Mary, may Allah be pleased with her) and the extraordinary environment in which Prophet Eesa (Jesus, peace be upon him) was born and later his account of prophethood:

Verses 16-26 mention the story of Maryam and the miraculous birth of Isa (Jesus)
( 16 )   And mention, [O Muhammad], in the Book [the story of] Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place toward the east.
For comparison, see ( Surah iii Aal-Imran, Ayats 34-57), and (Surah iv An-Nisa, Ayat 156). The story of Mary as related in iii. 42-51. Here the whole theme is different: it is the personal side of the experiences of the worshippers of Allah in relation to their families or environment.

"when she withdrew from her family to a place toward the east" - To a private eastern chamber, perhaps in the Temple. She went into privacy, from her people and from people in general, for prayer and devotion. It was in this state of purity that the angel appeared to her in the shape of a man. She thought it was a man. She was frightened, and she adjured him not to invade her privacy.
( 17 )   And she took, in seclusion from them, a screen. Then We sent to her Our Angel, and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man.
The Sanctuary where she had retired for devotion in the Temple, where as per the customs in place, she hung a curtain to conceal herself from the people. It cannot be Nazareth as some people have wrongly taken it to be, because Nazareth is to the north of Jerusalem.
( 18 )   She said, "Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of Allah."
( 19 )   He said, "I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of] a pure boy."
Allah had destined her to be the mother of the Prophet Jesus Christ, and now had come the time when this should be announced to her.
( 20 )   She said, "How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?"
( 21 )   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.' "
The word “Thus shall it be” are very significant as has been stated in (verse 9 above). The plain meaning is this: A pure son shall be born to you just as your Lord has decreed, even though no man has touched you. The same was the response to prophet Zechariah as stated in( Ayat 9) above. And it is a sheer perversion to interpret it as: So shall it be that a man will touch you and a son will be born to you. For, if it were to mean: You will bear a son like all other women of the world, the subsequent two sentences, Your Lord says: This is an easy thing for Me to do, and We will make that boy a sign for the people, would have become meaningless. Had this birth been an ordinary birth like the birth of every other child, there would have been no occasion to boast: It is an easy thing, and that it will be made a sign (miracle). This will be so because the child will speak in the cradle.

Yousaf Ali interprets the verse as under:

The mission of Jesus is announced in two ways (1) he was to be a Sign to men; his wonderful birth and wonderful life were to turn an ungodly world back to Allah; and (2) his mission was similar to that of all prophets of Allah. But the point here is that the Israelites, to whom Jesus was sent, were a hardened race, for whom the message of Jesus was truly a gospel of Mercy.

For anything that Allah wishes to create, He says "Be", and it is (Surah iii Aal-Imran. 47). There is no interval between His decree and its accomplishment, except such as He imposes by His decree. Time may be only a projection of our own minds in this world of relativity.
( 22 )   So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place.
 When she conceived the child, she left the sanctuary and went to a distant place (Bethlehem) in order to escape the bitter criticism of the people. They would have said: Look at the virgin daughter of the pious house of Aaron! She has conceived a child and that, too, in the sanctuary where she had retired for devotion! Thus she temporarily succeeded in concealing the shame of the conception, but this event itself is a proof that prophet Jesus was born without a father. Had Mary been married and had a husband, she would not have left his or her parents house by herself and chosen a distant place for the purpose of delivery.
( 23 )   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." 
The words “Would that...” show the extreme state of anxiety in which Mary found herself at the time. She did not utter these words on account of the labor pains but due to the pangs of sorrow as to how she would conceal the child from her people. The angel’s words, grieve not at all explain why she had spoken these desperate words. When a married girl is delivering her first baby, she might be dying with pains, but she is never so sorrowful and grieved.
( 24 )   But he called her from below her, "Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream
.( 25 )   And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates.
Unseen Providence had seen that she should not suffer from thirst or from hunger. The rivulet provided her with water also for ablutions.
( 26 )   So eat and drink and cool your eyes; and if you see any person say to him: 'Verily I have vowed a fast to the Most Compassionate Lord, and so I shall not speak to anyone today.'
That is, you need not say anything with regard to the child. It is now Our responsibility to answer the critics. This also indicates why Mary was so sad and grieved. Had she been married and given birth to her first baby like any other mother, there was no occasion to tell her to observe a fast of silence, though it was a common custom among the Jews.

Cool thine eye: An idiom for "comfort thyself and be glad". The literal meaning should not, however, be lost sight of. She was to cool her eyes (perhaps full of tears) with the fresh water of the rivulet and take comfort that a remarkable babe had been born to her. She was also to look around, and if any one came near, she was to decline all conversation. It was quite true: she was under a vow, and could not talk to anyone.

She was to decline all conversation with man or woman, on the plea of a vow to Allah. The "fast" here does not mean abstinence literally from eating and drinking. She has just been advised to eat the dates and drink of the stream. It means abstinence from the ordinary household meals, and indeed from human intercourse generally.

Verses 27-34 mention how Maryem brought her baby (Jesus) to her people, and the baby spoke to his people in the cradle to defend his mother and proclaim his assignment to be their Prophet
( 27 )   Then she brought him to her people, carrying him. They said, "O Mary, you have certainly done a thing unprecedented.
The amazement of the people knew no bounds. In any case they were ready to think the worst of her, as she had disappeared from her kin for some time. But now she comes, shamelessly parading a baby in her arms! How she had disgraced the house of Aaron, the fountain of priesthood!

يٰۤـاُخۡتَ هٰرُوۡنَ مَا كَانَ اَ بُوۡكِ امۡرَاَ سَوۡءٍ وَّمَا كَانَتۡ اُمُّكِ بَغِيًّا​ ۖ​ ۚ‏ 
( 28 )   O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste."
Sister of Aaron” may either mean that Mary had a brother of the name of Aaron, or it may mean that she belonged to the family of Prophet Aaron. The first meaning is supported by a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the second is plausible because that is supported by the Arabic idiom. But we are inclined to the second meaning, for the wording of the said tradition does not necessarily mean that she actually had a brother named Aaron. The tradition as related in Muslim, Nasai, Tirmizi, etc. says that when the Christians of Najran criticized the Quranic version of stating Mary as the sister of Aaron before Mughirah bin Shubah, he was not able to satisfy them, because Prophet Aaron had passed away centuries earlier. When he presented the problem before the Prophet (peace be upon him), he replied: Why didn’t you say that the Israelites named their children after their Prophets and other pious men? That is: You could have answered their objection like this as well."

Cross Reference Surah iii Aal-Imran:
(3:35). (He also heard) when the woman of 'Imran said: 'O Lord! Behold, unto You do I vow that the child in my womb is to be devoted to Your exclusive service. Accept it, then, from me. Surely You alone are All-Hearing, All-Knowing.'
If the 'woman of 'Imran' is interpreted as the wife of 'Imran, this 'Imran must be different from the 'Imran just mentioned (verse 34 of Surah iii Aal Imran). In the Christian tradition the name of the father of Mary is mentioned as Joachim. If this expression, however, is interpreted to mean 'a woman of the house of 'Imran', it would mean that the mother of Mary belonged to that tribe. There is, unfortunately, no definite source of information that would lead us to prefer one interpretation to the other, as there is no historical record either about who the parents of Mary were, or to which tribes they belonged. Were we to accept the tradition that the mother of John (Yahya) and the mother of Jesus were cousins, then it would be valid to interpret the expression as meaning 'a woman of the tribe of 'Imran' for, according to the Gospel of Luke, the mother of John was one of the daughters of Aaron (Luke 1:5).
( 29 )   So she pointed to him. They said, "How can we speak to one who is in the cradle a child?"
People who misinterpret the Quran translate this verse as: How shall we talk with him, who is but a child of yesterday? They attribute these words to the elderly people of the Jews, who said years later, when Jesus was a grown up boy, that they could not have any useful dialogue with a mere kid. But the person who keeps the whole context in view, will realize that this interpretation is absurd and has been given merely to avoid the miracle. As a matter of fact, the dialogue took place when the people were condemning Mary who being unmarried, had brought forth a child, and not when the child had grown up into manhood. (Ayat 46 of Surah Aal-Imran) and (Ayat 110 of Surah Al-Maidah) also support the view that Prophet Jesus had uttered these words as a baby in the cradle and not when grown up. In the first verse, the angel while giving the good news of a son to Mary, says: He will speak to the people alike when in the cradle and when grown up. In the other verse, Allah Himself says to Prophet Jesus: You talked to the people even in the cradle as you talked when you were grown up.
قَالَ اِنِّىۡ عَبۡدُ اللّٰهِ ؕ اٰتٰٮنِىَ الۡكِتٰبَ وَجَعَلَنِىۡ نَبِيًّا ۙ‏ 
( 30 )   [Jesus] said, "Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet.
Here the words " عَبۡدُ اللّٰهِ " clearly mean "The Servant of Allah." And it totally negates the notion that the young Jesus had said that he was the son of Allah (God forbids).
( 31 )   And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah as long as I remain alive
( 32 )   And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant.
The words used are: “dutiful to my mother” instead of “dutiful to my parents”. This is another proof of the fact that Jesus (peace be upon him) had no father, and for the same reason he has been called Jesus son of Mary everywhere in the Quran.
( 33 )   And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive."
 This speech in the cradle by Jesus was the sign to which the angel referred in ( Ayat 21 above ). As Allah intended to punish the children of Israel for their continuous wicked ways and evil deeds, He made a pious virgin girl of the family of Prophet Aaron, who had devoted herself to worship in the Temple under the patronage of Zachariah, bear a child and bring it before her people in order to concentrate the whole attention of people assembled there on this extraordinary event. Then He made this new born child speak out even in the cradle that he had been appointed a Prophet. Though they had seen this wonderful sign of Allah, they rejected the Prophethood of Jesus and brought him to the court for crucifixion, and thus incurred the wrath of Allah.

Please read detailed explanation of verse 171 of Surah An Nisa, Chapter 4 for detailed commentary on birth of Jesus.
( 34 )   That is Jesus, the son of Mary - the word of truth about which they are in dispute.
The disputations about the nature of Jesus Christ were vain, but also persistent and sanguinary. The modern Christian churches have thrown them into the background, but they would do well to abandon irrational dogmas altogether.

Verses 35-40 make it very clear that Prophet Eesa (Jesus) is not the son of God, it is not befitting to the Majesty of God that He needs to beget a son for name, fame, help or continuity of race
( 35 )   It is not [befitting] for Allah to take a son; exalted is He! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it, "Be," and it is.
In (Ayats 1-35), it has been shown that the “Doctrine of the son of God” in regard to Prophet Jesus is absolutely wrong. For just as the miraculous birth of Prophet John did not make him the son of God, so the miraculous birth of Prophet Jesus could not make him the son of God. For the births of both were the result of the same sort of miracle as they have been mentioned together in the same context in the Gospel of Luke. Therefore, it is mere distortion that the Christians should regard one as the servant of God and the other as the son of God.
( 36 )   [Jesus said], "And indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is a straight path."
This declaration by Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) has been cited to tell the Christians that Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) also taught the same doctrine of Tawhid as was taught by all other Prophets. And it was they who had invented the doctrine of shirk by making him the son of God.

As opposed to the crooked superstitions which take refuge in all sorts of metaphysical sophistries to prove three in one and one in three. In the Qur'an there is no crookedness (xviii. 1). Christ's teaching was simple, like his life, but the Christians have made it crooked.

Please also refer to Surah iii Aal-Imran verse 80, and Surah v Al- Maidah verses 75, 77 and 116.

فَاخۡتَلَفَ الۡاَحۡزَابُ مِنۡۢ بَيۡنِهِمۡ​ۚ فَوَيۡلٌ لِّـلَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡا مِنۡ مَّشۡهَدِ يَوۡمٍ عَظِيۡمٍ‏ 
( 37 )   But different parties began to dispute with one another. A dreadful woe awaits on that great Day for those that reject the Truth.
Factions means the sects of the Christians.

Judgment: the word in the original is Mash-had, which implies many things: (1) the time or place where evidence is taken, as in a Court of Judgment; (2) the time or place where people are produced (to be judged); and (3) the occasion for such production for the taking of evidence. A very expressive phrase for the Day of Judgment.
( 38 )   How [clearly] they will hear and see the Day they come to Us, but the wrongdoers today are in clear error.( 39 )   And warn them, [O Muhammad], of the Day of Regret, when the matter will be concluded; and [yet], they are in [a state of] heedlessness, and they do not believe.
( 40 )   Indeed, it is We who will inherit the earth and whoever is on it, and to Us they will be returned.
Here the address which was meant to be delivered before King Negus and his courtiers comes to an end. In the Overview to this Surah, we have already stated the historical background of this address. In order to form an idea of its great significance, it should be kept in mind that:

(a) This address was sent down at the time when the persecuted Muslims of Makkah were going to migrate to a Christian kingdom so that they may present before the Christians the true Islamic creed about Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him). This shows that the Muslims under no circumstances should conceal the truth,

(b) It shows a most wonderful moral courage of the Muslim migrants to Habash that they recited this address in the royal court at the critical moment, when the courtiers who had been bribed were bent on handing them over to their enemies. They indeed were faced with the real threat that this frank Islamic criticism of the basic articles of the Christian faith might turn the king against them and he might hand them over to the Quraish. But in spite of this, they presented the whole truth before the king without the least hesitation.

Here we come to the end of Part I of the exegesis of Surah Maryam. In Part II we will begin with the mention of Prophets Abraham, Moses, Ishmael and Idris

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sürah Maryam with English subtitles:


You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.


An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [2] 
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources:
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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