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The story of Mary’s life before the birth of Jesus Christ: (Part 1)
The shine of the bright sun of chastity was emitted in the Imran’s little house to remove those dark ages. In that house, the role model for chastity and modesty was grown up by Saint Anne. She got famous among all other people for her serenity, chastity and purity. When Worship of God is replaced by the Ignorance and superstition and worldly vanities do not let the people see the true God and also when the nature of mankind who has been made out of soil, waits joining those in the heavens, the need for a role model is felt more than ever especially a role model who will treat another role model. She is no one but daughter of Imran who is preeminent among other women of her time. She lived among the people and nations which all of them were so called said “they have a heart without a sweetheart”! But the grace of the Holy Spirit to that nation is no one but Jesus Christ (pbuh). Messiah (pbuh) is a life giving and a great term. Messiah (pbuh) gave life to the wandering hearts.
Divine selection of Al-Imran above all people in the world:
Some verses of Surah Al-Imran, is a preface to explaining the story of Mary and a reference to her ancestors’ status. It is also a perfect example of true love toward God and manifestation of this love in her action. “God Almighty chose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran (Al-Imran) above all people”, “Offspring, co-related with one another, and God is the All-Hearer, All-Knower” (Surah al-Imran-verses 33-34). Apparently here in this verse Al-Imran refers to the family of Imran and Mary’s father. In the Quran’s verses the term “Mary the daughter of Imran” has frequently been used but the term, Imran the father of Moses has never been used and if it has been mentioned so, it does not indicate that Imran is Moses’ father. It confirms the possibility that Al-Imran refers to Imran the father of Mary (a.s) and therefore in general Al-Imran refers to Mary and Jesus (a.s) or both of them along with Imran’s wife. But that the Christians do not agree that Mary's father’s name was Imran is not important, because Quran is not supposed to be based on their inclinations. In the verse “Offspring, co-related with one another” the word (Offspring) as it’s been stated, means minor children but later this word has been used for all children whether they are minor or major and since this word in Arabic is used with nunnation, this very meaning is meant by this verse. Also this verse “co-related with one another” refers to considering every one of them that leads to another one. This statement requires that all of them be similar to each other and there is no difference between their traits and characteristics. Since it is about their divine selection, we realize that they are offspring with similar good traits and they all have common characteristics which have caused them to be chosen above all people in the world. Because God do not do anything in vain, therefore one of the acts of God is choosing these people, which these divine selections are considered as the source of all the good deeds in the world. Also this verse “and God is the All-Hearer, All-Knower” means that God is hearing their words. Words that reveal the inner feelings and the spiritual things and God is aware of their intentions. Therefore the earlier statement refers to the reasons of choosing them and it explains that reason. The sentence “Offspring, co-related with one another” also refers to that reason because it explains why the gift of this divine selection has been bestowed upon these people.
As a result this verse means that: God chose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran above all people and the reason why this gift of divine selection bestowed upon them was that, all of them were similar offspring which were the same in submission of their heart to God and their loyalty to the pledge of truth. The mighty God rewarded them by the gift of divine selection because not only He heard their words but also He was all aware of their hearts. According to a Hadith in the book Oyoun which is about the conversation between Imam Reza (a.s) and Al-Ma'mun, Al-Ma'mun has said: Has God Almighty considered Itrat above all the other people? “God Almighty has made this superiority obvious in His Book” replied Imam Reza (a.s). “Where are those verses in the Quran?” asked Al-Ma’mun. Those are in the verse “God Almighty chose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of ´Imran (Al-Imran) above all people” replied Imam Reza (a.s). In Tafseer-Ayashi (Ayashi exegesis) there is a Hadith which has been quoted from Ahmad ibn Muhammad, Imam Reza (a.s) and Jfar Ibn Abi Tlib, according to this Hadith: whoever thinks that God is unaware of His servants and leaves them to themselves, has said that God is a liar. The reason is that, will of God is still clear in His creatures, He wills whatever He wants, because according to this verse from the Holy Quran: “Offspring, co-related with one another, and God is the All-Hearer, All-Knower”, the offspring are co-related from the beginning to the end. (For example) if you heard that God Almighty promised a son to Imran, but his wife delivered Mary, you must not consider the promise of God as a lie, because God fulfilled His promise through the birth of Jesus Christ. However, we can definitely say that: Al-Imran refers to Mary and Jesus (a.s) or both of them along with Imran’s wife. In the Quran’s verses the term “Mary the daughter of Imran” has frequently been used. According to the Quran and its various interpretations, Imran is not recognized as the father of Moses.
What are the reasons for this divine selection?
Firstly, they are similar to each other in their words and in their submission of heart to the truth.
Secondly, because of their good deeds they deserve the gift of divine selection by God.
Thirdly, the continuity of the chain of divine selection and its connection with everywhere.
Saint Anne, Imran’s wife’s divine vow (promise):
According to the chronicles and history of Islam, “Anne” and “Ashya” were two sisters. The former married to “Imran” who was one of the prominent figures of Israelites and the latter married to “Zachariah”, the prophet of God. Many years passed but Imran’s wife, “Anne” had no child. One day she was sitting under a tree when she saw a bird feeding its chicks. Observing this motherly love, inflamed the love in the heart of Anne to have a child and she invoked God from the bottom of her heart to have a child. With humble devotion she considered God and vowed to Him that if He grants her an offspring she would make him the servant of Jerusalem. “This vow indicates that Anne’s heart was full of faith, honesty, sincerity and purity toward God that she vowed to God her dearest and the only child.” God answered her prayers and granted her the saint Mary. Accordingly for explaining the saint Anne, these verses of surah Al-Imran (35-36-37) were revealed that was an indication of unutterable purity and chastity of Mary’s Mother. Anne’s faith and believe in God by the heart, her honest dialogue with her creator and her sincerity and the purity caused that God grants her an eternal offspring. Although her intention by her vow was a son, after she realized God’s will and wisdom, she unconditionally submitted God’s divine providence. It means that I like whatever He likes. God says: “when the wife of Imran said: O my God! I have vowed to You the child that is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services, so accept this, from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing. Then when she delivered her she said: O my God! I have delivered a female child, and God knew better what she delivered, and the male is not like the female, and I have named her Maryam (Mary), and I seek refuge with You (God) for her and for her offspring from Satan, the outcast. So God accepted her with goodly acceptance. He made her grow in a good manner and put her under the care of Zachariah. Every time he entered Al-Mihrab to visit her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: "O Mary! From where have you got this?" She said, "This is from God." Verily, God provides sustenance to whom He wills, without limit." (Surah al-Imran-verses 35 to 37)
According to some Hadiths God had revealed to Imran that He will grant him a blessed offspring who could treat patients with incurable diseases and bring the dead to life by God’s Leave. He will be sent as the Prophet of Israelites. He shared that with his wife, Anne, therefore when she conceived she thought that this offspring was the same offspring that was in her womb and she was unaware that the child in her womb was the mother of that son (Mary), so she promised God to dedicate her son for the service of God’s house, “Jerusalem”. But when she delivered the child she observed that she is a female child and she got worried that what can be done in this situation. Because the servants were chosen from among the males and there were no records of a female having been chosen as the servant of God’s house. In this regard God says: “remember when the wife of Imran said: "O my God! I have vowed to You the child that is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services, so accept this, from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing.” (Surah al-Imran-verse 35). This part of the verse “when the wife of Imran said: "O my God! I have vowed to You the child that is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services” implied that she was saying her prayer while she was conceived with Imran. This prayer refers to the point that her wife, Imran was not alive at those days because if he were alive, Imran’s wife would not have the right to independently decide to dedicate her son for the service of God’s house, “Jerusalem”. It is obvious that dedicating a son for the service of God whether it is by the father or the mother does not mean “slavery”. So Imran’s daughter had not been a slave that was supposed to be freed by her mother. Therefore in this verse, being dedicated for the service of God’s house means to make free from the parental supervision which the parents treat their children by virtue of their supervision and it is necessary for the children to obey their parents. Thus by virtue of being dedicated for the service of God, the children become free from the supervision of their parents and it means that they are not supposed to serve their parents. If this dedication for the service of God is done for the sake of God and through promising, it will mean that the child is going to be under the supervision of God and he must only worship and serve Him. Serving God means the act of worship of God in a mosque, a church or a holy place which has been dedicated to the service of God. However, if there was no vow, the child was supposed to serve his parents. Some people have stated that it was common that parents dedicated their children for the service of God and after that they did not use their children for their personal interests but they took her to the synagogue to clean and work there as a servant. This child was continuing her act of serving until she was reaching the age of puberty. Then she was free. She could decide to continue serving in the temple or to leave there.
This verse implies that Mary’s mother believed that the child in her womb was a male and not a female because her prayer with God strongly indicated so and it was not conditional too but it had strongly been stated that: “I have vowed to You the child that is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services.” Therefore it is made clear that she was sure she would have a male child. It is recognized from the Quranic story about Mary’s mother and her decisive word that her belief was not based on superstition or a guess which comes to women’s mind through some experience or the like, because these are all some guesses and a guess is not based on science and it is not comparable to a belief as well. From the other hand, the word of Mighty God is not wrong and invalid and if Quran states an invalid matter it will be followed by the reason of its invalidation. As to the following verse, the knowledge of the child’s gender in the womb is unique to God: “Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with God (alone). It is He Who sends down rain, and He Who knows what is in the wombs” (Surah Ra’d-verse 34) and again in the following verse He says about this uniqueness: “God knows what every female (womb) bears, by how much the wombs fall short (of their time or number) or do exceed.” (Surah Luqman-verse 34). In the following verse it is said that the knowledge of the Unseen is the result of revelation from God: “He (alone) knows the Unseen, nor does He make any one acquainted with His Mysteries, except a messenger whom He has chosen: and then He makes a band of watchers march before him and behind him.”(Surah Al Jinn-verse 26-27).
It is understood from the earlier statements that the awareness of Mary’s mother from the male child in her womb was not based on her guess, because according to the Quran, she had stated that with certainty and it indicates that her belief had been based on a divine revelation.
Then He adds, once she delivered her child she said: O my God! I have delivered a female child, (and God knew better what she delivered), and the male is not like the female, and I have named her Maryam (Mary), and I seek refuge with You (God) for her and for her offspring from Satan, the outcast. (Surah al-Imran-verse 36). Girls, after puberty cannot stay in the mosque during menstrual period. Moreover, boys and girls are not the same regarding their physical powers and also issues related to Hijab, conception and childbirth make it difficult for girls to continue serving on the mosque, therefor the parents always vowed their sons. In this verse “and God knew better what she delivered and the male is not like the female” Imran’s wife has not said these two statements but they are words of God Almighty which has been enclosed in parentheses. In this regard, some people have said that there are two possibilities. One is that, these two statements have been said by Mary’s mother (Imran’s wife) and the other is that the first statement is the word of God and the second is the word of Imran’s wife and none of them is true. But the former is not true, because it is crystal clear that if it was the word of Imran's wife this verse would be as follows: “God knows better what I have delivered” therefore as it was stated the earlier statement “I have delivered a female child” was said in regret and sorrow. It is clear by the appearance of the statement “and God knew better what she delivered” that the intention of God is to clarify that: we know that the child will be a female but we intended to make her wish come true in the best possible way to make her more satisfied. If she knew the reason why we made the child in her womb a female, she would never regret. She did not know that if her child was a male, her wish would not come true and it was not possible that she could get to the same results by her son. For, the best result that could be achieved by the birth of a male child was that she could deliver a son like Jesus, a prophet who could heal those who born blind and the lepers and also he could bring the dead to life. However, another result of a female child for her was that the word “Allah” was so called completed, it means that she delivered a male child without having any father at all and thus both she and her son are considered as a miracle for the whole people. She delivered a child whom he spoke to the people while he was in the cradle; he gets a word and a soul of God, a son who is like Adam with God and still there are other clear signs and blessings regarding Jesus and his mother. It is also made clear that the statement “and the male is not like the female” is not the word of Imran’s wife but it is the word of God Almighty. Because if it was the word of Imran’s wife it would be in the following way: “and the female is not like the male”. It is very clear that when a human being wishes something valuable and then he is given something with lower value or a status lower than what he desired for, he will say in regret that: This is not what I desired for or what was given to me was not what I desired for, therefore he does not say that what I desired for is not like what I was given. Then she added: “I have named her Maryam (Mary), and I seek refuge with You (God) for her and for her offspring from Satan, the outcast.”
The good life of Mary:
It’s been stated that on that city the word “Mary” meant a pious woman, and a servant. Thus that’s why her mother named her Mary immediately after delivering her. Because she intended to immediately choose her daughter for the service of God, after being disappointed by delivering a female child. That’s why she said: “I have named her Maryam (Mary)”. It indicates that she intended to say that: “I delivered this female child for Your service”. The reason why this statement indicates a vow is that, following her statement, God accepted her vow and said: “So her God accepted her with goodly acceptance. He made her grow in a good manner.” (Surah al-Imran-verse 37). Also the reason why He added “I seek refuge with God for her and for her offspring from Satan, the outcast” was that she and her offspring be able to worship and serve the Synagogue and Mary’s name matches its real meaning. It may be asked why Mary thought she was going to deliver a male child without any doubt and also how Mary’s mother knew that she would have an offspring when she said to the mighty God “I would….her offspring” though she has no knowledge of the unseen and a child’s future is unseen for everybody because everyone is unaware of that, save God. In response to this question we can say that: she had been informed and knew that soon she would conceive with Imran and she would have a righteous son, therefore when she conceived while her wife had been passed away, she had no doubt that she would deliver a male child which she had been vowed. After she delivered her child and found out that her guess was wrong, she became sure that her daughter, Mary would deliver the son that had been vowed to her and therefore she would have an offspring. So she changed her vow from the son to her daughter and named her daughter, Mary (a pious woman, and servant of synagogue) and sought refuge with God for her from Satan, the outcast. This is what is recognized through paying attention to the word of God. According to the previously mentioned verse, God accepted this pious girl for the first time for this spiritual service. Some interpreters have stated that: the sign that indicated Mary was accepted was that after puberty she never experienced menstruation while serving at Jerusalem to be forced to leave this spiritual place. The other sign was the existence of heavenly foods on her Mihrab. It is also possible that through divine inspiration, Mary’s mother has been informed that her daughter has been chosen and her vow has been accepted. When it is said that “He made her grow in a good manner” it refers to the spiritual evolution and ethical aspects of Mary’s life. In addition, it refers to this point that God make people grow up. It means that as there are so called latent talents inside the seeds of plants and flowers which will grow under the care of a gardener, also inside the nature of human beings and deep in their souls there are all kinds of great latent talents that will be brought up quickly if they are trained under the care of the divine trainer who are considered as the gardeners in the gardens of the world of humanity, therefore the growing will literally happen. Here the acceptance does not mean that if this vow is accepted, Imran’s wife will become close to God, and she will be reward because of her good deed in the hereafter and it is not stated that “so He accepted her vow” but it is said that: He accepted Mary herself. Therefore it means that since Anne’s daughter was accepted, she was named Mary and was chosen for God. As a result this statement refers to the divine selection of Mary and also “growing in a good manner” refers to purity. It indicates the same divine selection and purity which is referred to in the following verse: “and (remember) when the angels said: "O Maryam (Mary)! Verily, God has chosen you, purified you (from polytheism and disbelief)”. So it was made clear that the divine selection of Mary and her purity meant that God accepted her mother’s prayer and also that she delivered Jesus (a.s) which it was an indication that she was chosen above the women of all nations and she and her son were considered as a sign for all mankind, a sign which confirmed this word of God: “and the male is not like the female”.
(To be continued)
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