Hard Questions

frank, open and honest discussions

Mary, mother of Jesus or sister of Aaron?

with 20 comments

by Rasheed,

Question: How did the Quran reveal the story of the birth of Jesus so accurately?

The Quran depicts the scene of the virgin Maryam (Mary) bringing her new born baby, Jesus, to meet her people and they reprmanded her saying [Chapter 19: Mariam]:

[19:23] And the pangs of childbirth drove her unto the trunk of the palm-tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died ere this and had become a thing of naught, forgotten!
[19:24] Then (one) cried unto her from below her, saying: Grieve not! Thy Lord hath placed a rivulet beneath thee,
[19:25] And shake the trunk of the palm-tree toward thee, thou wilt cause ripe dates to fall upon thee.
[19:26] So eat and drink and be consoled. And if thou meetest any mortal, say: Lo! I have vowed a fast unto the Beneficent, and may not speak this day to any mortal.

[19:27] Then she brought him to her own folk, carrying him. They said: O Mary! Thou hast come with a strange thing,

[19:28] O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man, nor was thy mother a harlot. [19:29] But she pointed to him. They said: How should we speak to one who was a child in the cradle?[19:30] He [Baby Jesus] said: Surely I am a servant of Allah; He has given me the Book and made me a prophet;[19:31] And He has made me blessed wherever I may be, and He has enjoined on me prayer and almsgiving so long as I live;[19:32] And dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me insolent, unblessed;[19:33] And peace on me on the day I was born, and on the day I die, and on the day I am raised to life.

(The Quran, 19: 23-33, Maryam)

Some Western writers and orientalist critics of Islam suggested that this was a huge error on the part of Prophet Muhammad, claiming that he confused Maryam dughter of Imran and the sister of Moses, with Maryam daughter of Imran, the mother of Jesus. Peace be upon them all.

However, recent discoveries and translation of the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls, completely vindicate the Quranic narration of the story and explains why Mary (Maryam) was addressed as “sister of Aaron” …..

The Dead Sea Scrolls reveal that the Jewish communities at that time , referred to their religous leaders as the ‘Priests of Aaron’. It is also revealed that they were expecting the arrival of TWO messiahs, known as the Messiah of Aaron and the Messiah of David (see scroll 1QS IX 9–11).
Another quotation from Dead Sea Scrolls (Community Rules Document) spoke of:

“In the society of the Yahad there shall be twelve laymen and three priests who are blameless in the light of all that has been revealed from the whole Law, so as to work truth, righteousness, justice, living-kindness, and humility, one with another. They are to preserve faith in the land with self-control and a broken spirit, atoning for sin by working justice and suffering affliction. They are to walk with all by the standard of truth and the dictates proper to the age.”
“When such men as these come to be in Israel, then shall the society of the Yahad truly be established, an ‘eternal planing’ (Jubilees 16:26), a temple for Israel, and – mystery! – a Holy of Holies for Aaron; true witnesses to justice, chosen by God’s will to atone for the land and to recompense the wicked their due. They will be ‘the tested wall, the precious cornerstone’ (Isa. 28:16) whose foundations shall neither be shaken nor swayed, a fortress, a Holy of Holies for Aaron, all of them knowing the Covenant of Justice and thereby offering a sweet savor. They shall be a blameless and true house in Israel, ‘upholding the covenant of eternal statutes. They shall be an acceptable sacrifice, atoning for the land and ringing in the verdict against evil, so that perversity ceases to exist.”

– Community Rule 1QS 8.1-10

I will also quote the Damascus Document -from the Dead Scrolls- in another remarkable text:

“The Lord remembered the covenant of the ancients, and raised from Aaron men of understanding, and from Israel men of wisdom. He made His law known to them, and they dug the well. ‘The well that princes dug, that the nobles of the people delved with the staff’ (Numbers 21:18). – The ‘well’ is the Torah, its ‘diggers’ are the repentant ones of Israel who left the Land of Judah and dwelt in the Land of Damascus.”
– Damascus Document – Geniza manuscript A 6.2-5

Mary was descendant of a highly regarded religous family. Is it any wonder that she was addressed as “sister of Aaron”?. It seems to be the natural thing for those who knew her piety and zeal to the Law to address her in that way.

In fact, referring to Mary as sister of Aaron, is an amazing Quranic narration which prophet Muhammad (pbuh) could not have known without revelation, and is one remarkable demonstration of the fact that the Quran is indeed the revealed words of GOD, exalted.

Written by Rasheed Gadir

October 11, 2007 at 9:53 am

20 Responses

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  1. You make an interesting argument, but there is really little connection here. You have not established any solid reason for Mary, the mother of Jesus to be spoken of as a sister to Aaron. While priests may well be spoken of as sons of Aaron or being raised from Aaron, you still have not established one example where a daughter of a priest would be spoken of as a sister of Aaron. Without that, you have not made the necessary logical connections. If you had found a quote where a daughter of a priest is spoken of as a sister of Aaron, then you would have a valid argument. The burden of proof is on you to do this since it is your argument.

    Nice chatting for you,


    October 15, 2007 at 12:38 am

  2. Thanks hkevinderr for your comments. It is really a pleasure chatting to you here.

    According to the Quran, Mary was much more than a priest, she was the woman chosen and purified by God, and elected to be above all women of the creation. I thought that my response to your comment merited a post, since it is an important issue which is also dear to my heart. Please read my post “Mary in the Quran” for full response to this comment.



    October 15, 2007 at 10:38 am

  3. It is hard to think if the world just the endeavor of “individual”. What I mean is Maryam (Mary) should not as Maryam who lived in a vacuum. It seemed that she was from Imran (Amran) family, presumably of Harun (Aaron) lineage.

    There was bitter jealousy between families or tribes over the “shadows” of Moses, Aaron, David, and Solomon legacies. It seemed they had understanding that someday all of those legacies would be enlivened again with the coming Messiah. This was the “atmosphere” of claim, intrigue, politics, etc.

    As just regular guy, I can imagine how those religious and politics elites were “pissed-off” to learn that the Messiah was Jesus (Isa) the son of Mary, who was not from their family or tribe. And moreover, that Jesus messages were totally against those “shrewd-up” elites.


    Toro Kambali

    Toro Kambali

    July 10, 2008 at 1:38 am

  4. Gazak Allah khairan brother Rasheed for your effort…..It really helped

    May Allah accept our good deeds and always keep us on the right path….Ameen


    October 24, 2008 at 12:33 pm

  5. Thank you sister, and welcome to “hard questions”. I am glad that you found the post useful.



    October 25, 2008 at 4:01 am

  6. Hkevinderr raises a valid issue regarding the term “sister of Aaron” he wants rock solid proof why the term “sister of Aaron” should be used to describe and address her.

    There has to be a completely sound and logical basis for this term to be used. The Quran does explain the reason but we have failed to read and understand the Quran’s beautiful narration.

    The Quran says about the birth of Mary, Mother of Jesus – she was to be trained as a Priest (it was assumed that she would be a boy while still in the womb) in the temple but Mary’s mother is surprised when she delivers a girl-child because only males are allowed to be trained in the temple.

    003.035 Behold! a woman of ‘Imran said: “O my Lord! I do dedicate unto Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service: So accept this of me: For Thou hearest and knowest all things.”

    003.036 When she was delivered, she said: “O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!”- and Allah knew best what she brought forth- “And no wise is the male Like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from the Evil One, the Rejected.”

    Mary was given special exception due to her piousness to be trained as a priestess although this was not normally permitted and was a ward of Zachariah as the Quran explains below:

    003.037 Right graciously did her Lord accept her: He made her grow in purity and beauty: To the care of Zakariya was she assigned. Every time that he entered (Her) chamber to see her, He found her supplied with sustenance. He said: “O Mary! Whence (comes) this to you?” She said: “From Allah: for Allah Provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure.”

    Under normal circumstances the female child would be under the protection of the father but as the above verse implies that Mary was assigned to Zakariya because she entered the temple service and was given a chamber therein.

    So the Quran is self-explanatory – she was called “sister of Aaron” because she was a priestess of the temple.

    And Allah knows best.

    Abdul Wahid

    December 11, 2008 at 6:48 am

  7. Thank you brother Rasheed for this very informative post and for many important matters addressed in your blog – it was really very interesting reading

    Abdul Wahid

    December 22, 2008 at 5:04 pm

  8. Women were not, nor could be, priests in the temple in the Jewish religion. In the Torah, Leviticus 6:8: “Yahweh spoke to Moses saying, ‘Command Aaron and his sons'” (sons, not daughters. The same at Leviticus 6.14,18 (the word ‘male’ nor female used), 20, 25 etc.

    When Miriam (the sister of Aaron) got ‘ideas above her station’ God struck her with leprosy as a punishment (Numbers 12.1-16)

    The idea that priests could be women is simply foreign to the Jewish Scriptures and unsupported in the historical record.

    Regards, Jim


    March 18, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    • I accept that the God in the Torah and Bible is a misogynist God but not so in the Glorious Quran.

      In Islam women can achieve full spiritual and religious fulfillment.

      003.042 Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee- chosen thee above the women of all nations.

      066.012 And Mary the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants).

      And Allah knows best

      Abdul Wahid

      September 29, 2009 at 8:27 am

      • The reasons these two Surahs treat Mary well is because they are lifted from the Biblical account. In the Quran a woman is field for a man to plough

        “Your women are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like” Surah 2:223

        and he may beat her if he suspects something in her he dislikes (4.34) This same verse says:

        “Men are superior to women on account of the qualities with which God has gifted the one above the other”

        The Bible says ‘there is neither male nor female but all are ONE in Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 3.28). Yet you believe the Quran gives a better place for women?! Wow – that’s the power of a belief over evidence. http://diacrino.blogspot.com/


        December 8, 2009 at 7:37 pm

      • the bible also calls mary blessed among all women, that just proves that the quran is a knock off! thats all it most definatly doesnt prove that wome have equal rights in islam! are you kidding me? you are diluted at best to even breathe such words islam is the most oppresive religion I can imagine towards women! good grief


        September 26, 2012 at 5:50 am

      • In the “holy bible” which you revere so much – Jesus Christ addresses his own mother as “Woman” – I have never heard of any pious man addressing his own mother as “woman” – this is the clear difference between the bible and the quran – the Quran puts into practice good qualities required of piety. Further, the Prophet Muhammad has stated that paradise lies at the feet of your own mother. The Bible just contains a few empty statements and many many self-contradictions (in the thousands) – it also misquotes its own founder making him look barbaric. In Islam we know for sure that Jesus Christ would never have addressed his mother in such a disrespectful manner.

        Which modern society has more strippers, hookers, prostitutes, fornicators and adulteresses? Hands down modern “christian” society of the West will defeat any real Islamic country or society – If that is your definition of “liberating women” then You are right all Christian women have been liberated and have equal rights in all sins that can be performed by a man

        In Islam we are taught that for women modesty and chastity are two of the most important qualities next to faith and prayer – in Islam women should support their fathers, husbands and brothers as it is the men who are supposed to financially maintain women. Since God has placed greater responsibility on men they also have a higher status in Muslim society.

        But Allah has also emphasized in the quran that the only difference between any two human beings be it either man or woman is taqwa “God Consciousness” or piety

        and Allah knows best.


        September 26, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      • asif your comments are terrible and unlogical. you can’t use society as an excuse to put down another religion that’s so primitive. you put ‘christian society’ down by talking about strippers? that has nothing to do with the religion but as you rightly said society.

        Now how silly would you feel if a muslim woman was found comitting adultery or stripping whether its in the west or in the middle east?
        in all religion’s women and men are taught good morals and values so don’t talk about islam as though it has no faults, read your quran and you’ll see what it says about women, surah 4:34, beat women?

        men can also marry more than one wife without the wife’s consent, and can also divorce her freely, and a woman’s finances are only worth half of a mans, a woman can be stoned to death for committing adultery.

        Now understand your own religion and others before u jump to criticism

        Marvin Henry

        December 24, 2012 at 11:58 pm

      • @Marvin- Let me explain why I condemn Christian Society for the ills plaguing Christians – it is because of the belief system that Christians have been asked to accept.

        1. Three Gods equal to one God
        2. God has a “begotten” son called Jesus Christ
        3. Original Sin
        4. Believe that God died for two/three days and was self-resurrected subsequently
        5. Believe in all four versions of the bible – mark/ luke / matthew / john even though they contradict each other
        6. Believe that God died and was resurrected in the disguise of a “Gardner” and that Jesus Christ death on the cross means that all good Christian believers will all be admitted to heaven – if they believe what the Church espouses and rejects what the Church rejects from time to time. – at the moment believing that Jesus died for your sins means that you get admitted to heaven – doesn’t matter if your a foul sinner.

        Of course the above beliefs vary from Christian sect to sect.

        If you think that the Christianity is “terrible and (unlogical) illogical” because of the above I won’t disagree with you.

        A “Christian” pork eating stripper who fornicates or commits adultery every day of the week with a different man will be admitted to a Christian heaven so long as she believes that Jesus has already been punished and has died on the cross for her sins.

        A “Muslim” pork eating stripper who fornicates or commits adultery every day of the week with a different man will be admitted to hell-fire since she has violated God’s command and laws – doesn’t matter if she believes in any number of fairy tales about Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.

        It has been clearly articulated in Islamic Law that any Muslim who sins ceases to be a Muslim at the time of committing the offence. Since “Muslim” by definition mean a person who has submitted his will to God’s command and law – a sinner cannot be a Muslim and will not be admitted to paradise unless repentance has been sincere and accepted by Allah.

        The above explains why I stressed that Christian Society is DOOMED.

        Allah Knows Best


        December 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    • Greetings Jim

      Should you have current interest in your comment re women priests. It would have been inconceivable for women from the the tribe of Levi to offer up priestly sacrifice to God. However, women inclusive of Miriam were approved by God Almighty to prophecy. Exodus 15:20 Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, proceeded to take a tambourine in her hand etc… Miriam was usefull in conveying messages to men as well as women but would not offer up sacrifice for atonement for sin. Therefore it would be acceptable to God for women to speak according to divine inspiration.

      Judges 4:4-16 reveals that Deborah was a prophetess The sons of Israel would go up to Deborah for judgement. The Israelites had become rebellious, God did not protect them until they called to him to save them. That would be the reason Deborah was judging them. They would have to repent. Deborah acting according to divine inspiration called for Barak to fight the Caaniites who were oppressing them. Barak said he would only go into battle if Deborah went also. Deborah agreed but said “Without fail I shall go with you. Just the same, the beautifying thing will not become yours on the way you are going, for it will be into the hand of a woman that God will sell Sisera”. It was Jael the Kenite woman who put Sisera the chief of King Jabin the Caanite to death. The Israelite nation were victorious due to the courage and strength of two women. It was then recorded Judges 5:24 Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite will be the most blessed among women.

      God obviously used and blessed faithful women.

      In Luke 2:36-38 Paul speaks of Anna the prophetess who was devoted to serving in the temple. Anna spoke about the Child Jesus to all those in Jerusalem waiting for deliverance.

      J Manders

      October 30, 2010 at 11:00 pm

  9. Salaam Alaikum

    Can anyone tell me the age of Mary [Peace be upon her] when she delevered Jesus [PBUH], from any source / Scriptures / transcripts etc,. that is verifiable please.?

    Fareed Siddique

    Fareed Siddique

    November 13, 2009 at 2:51 pm

  10. A number of points to make:

    1. Messiah of David and Messiah of Aaron has nothing to do with sister of Aaron. This is a red herring.

    2. There is NO text among the dead sea scrolls that mentions ANYBODY as a sister of Aaron. Nothing in the Old Testament. Nothing in the New Testament. Nothing even in the apocryphal writings or gnostic texts. Nothing in any Jewish writings. NOTHING.

    3. The claim that it refers to someone who is pious is fallacious, because surah 19:27 has her own people, accusing Mary of sexual sin and addressing her by this title Sister of Aaron. Obviously they don’t consider her to be pious if they think she was committing sexual sin.

    Royal Son

    April 8, 2010 at 10:42 am

  11. This claim of contradiction is apparently mistaken because it disregards both the Arabic idiom and the context of the verse. In Arabic the word akhun or ukhtun
    carries two meanings:#1 Blood brother or sister and
    #2 Brotherhood/sisterhood in clan and faith.

    just like jesus said we are all gods children, the priest calls all of the people brothers and sisters in church everyday, so do imans… are we really brothers and sisters or by faith we are brothers and sisters..
    another quote from koran…

    And his people came rushing towards him, and they had been long in the habit of practising abominations. He said: “O my people! Here are my daughters: they are purer for you (if ye marry)! Now fear Allah, and cover me not with shame about my guests! Is there not among you a single right-minded man?” [Qur’an 11:78]

    not really his physical or biological daughters…but in faith…


    August 18, 2010 at 2:36 am

  12. Let us look at what Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said regarding this Noble Verse:

    Mughira b. Shu’ba reported: “When I came to Najran, they (the Christians of Najran) asked me: You read “O sister of Harun (Aaron)” (i. e. Mary) in the Qur’an, whereas Moses was born much before Jesus. When I came back to Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) I asked him about that, whereupon he said: The (people of the old age) used to give names (to their persons) after the names of Apostles and pious persons who had gone before them. (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book on General Behaviour (Kitab Al-Adab), Book 025, Number 5326)”


    July 3, 2011 at 5:16 pm

  13. As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatu Allāhi wa-barakātuh.

    The whole story itself is coherent and each part is justifying the following.

    The Quran mentions Mary as the best woman ever, which means that she would never commit any indecency let alone fornication.

    And this is attested by her people prior to showing Jesus to them.

    So, when Jesus is shown to them, they are shocked and ask how Mary, as a woman so pious and pure so as to be called “the Sister of Aaron,” could ever come up with such a grave sin.

    To prove Mary’s innocence, God allows baby Jesus to miraculously speak in the cradle.

    So, the whole story is completely coherent and calling Mary the Sister of Aaron is completely relevant and logical.

    And all praise is due to Allāh alone.

    Muhammad Al-Hakeem

    February 25, 2013 at 3:27 am

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