Hard Questions

frank, open and honest discussions

Who was Mary, mother of Jesus, according to the Quran?

with 11 comments

My blogging friend, hkveinderr, raised an important issue with my previous post “Mary: Mother of Jesus or sister Aaron“. The thrust of his argument was that; were it was possible to associate priests with Aaron, there is no evidence that female members of their families were treated similarly; ( you can read his full comment in my previous post).

My response to his valid concern ran into a long piece, so I thought a post on the subject was more appropriate:

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:

{Allah says in The Quran [translated to English], Chapter 3: The Family of Imran}:

[3:42]: And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath chosen thee and made thee pure, and hath preferred thee above (all) the women of creation.*
[3:43]: O Mary! Be obedient to thy Lord, prostrate thyself and bow with those who bow (in worship).*

Moreover, Mary, was raised in the temple, fostered by prophet Zachariah, and even prophet Zachariah was amazed at her closeness to God (see verses below).Her father [Imran], and her mother are among the few people in history who were honoured to have their names spoken by God explicitly in the Quran.
Mary is mentioned in 34 verses of the Quran, in 11 Chapters out of 114. One chapter (19) bears her name, another chapter (3) bears the name of her family.

Prophet Muhammad is quoted in {Book of Bukhari} saying :
Many men where complete (in being virtuous) but only two women were ever complete : Mary daughter of Imran and Asia, the wife of Pharaoh.
Now, this type of honour, is only reserved for the most revered prophets in the Quran, the likes of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Noah, may peace be upon all of them.
Only one of prophet Muhammad [pbuh] companions had his name explicitly mentioned in the Quran and it appeared one time only.

In conclusion, Mary was closely associated with piety, the temple and the prophets.Please read below is the account of Mary’s birth from the Quran, to illustrate the points I am trying to make:


{God says in The Quran []translated to English], Chapter 3: The Family Imran}:

[3:35] (Remember) when the wife of ‘Imran said: My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee that which is in my belly as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower!

[3:36] And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female – Allah knew best of what she was delivered – the male is not as the female; and lo! I have named her Mary, and lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast.

[3:37] And her Lord accepted her with full acceptance and vouchsafed to her a goodly growth; and made Zachariah her guardian. Whenever Zachariah went into the sanctuary where she was, he found that she had food. He said: O Mary! Whence cometh unto thee this (food)? She answered: It is from Allah. Allah giveth without stint to whom He will.

[please see also my post: The Gospel of Birth of Mary].

Written by Rasheed Gadir

October 15, 2007 at 11:08 am

11 Responses

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  1. It is indeed very interesting what you have written here my friend. It has been sometime since I’ve read a translation of the Quran, thank you for refreshing my memory. There is still one problem that I must raise, for Judaism in the First Century AD there were no women who served as priests. In fact, women were not even allowed to enter the inner portions of the Temple. There were three courts, one for the Women and Gentiles, one for the men of Israel, and then the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest was allowed to enter once a year.
    While there is a great deal of Christian writings on the piety of Mary, there is no thought of her serving as a priest, and in truth she could not have served as a priest. Women did not have that option. Additionally, there was little or no attention paid to the religious training of women. So, while Mary was devout, and pious, she would never have been a priest. Again, I have to place the burden of proof on you for this argument. You are working against every tradition of the time, and there is no evidence that I can find to support the possibility.



    October 16, 2007 at 1:40 am

  2. The use of the term “sister of” for association is very common in Semitic languages, and other languages too.
    For example, in the Epistle of John to Kiyra he writes:
    2 John 1:13: “salute thee do the children of thy choice sister. Amen.”

    The connection between Mary and Aaron can be further highlighted by looking at the canonical gospel of Luke:

    Luke 1:5. There was in the days of Herod, king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abijah: and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth

    Luke 1:36: And behold, Elisabeth thy kinswoman, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that was called barren.

    Furthermore, The word “sister” is used to this day in churches and monasteries throughout the world.

    Having established that association with Aaron was common in Jewish communities around the time of Jesus birth {Priest of Aaron, Messiah of Aaron}, and having established that there is strong connection between Mary and Aaron, and having also shown that the term “sister” was used for association, it is no wonder that that Mary was addressed as “sister of Aaron”.

    This discussion we are having, gave me a better understanding of the words of Mary’s mother when she gave birth, the feeling of slight disappointment that she might not be able to fully fulfil her vow to dedicate her child to the Lord.

    According to the Quran [03: 35-36], When Mary was in the womb, her mother said:
    “My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee that which is in my belly as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me”; but when the mother gave birth and found out that the baby was a girl, she said:
    ”And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female – Allah knew best of what she was delivered – the male is not as the female”.

    Here, we have additional association between Mary and Aaron, as it implies that had she been a boy, she could enlist in the temple and ultimately join the priesthood. This position was only open to people who could claim descent from Aaron.

    Finally, there was never a suggestion in my posts that Mary was a priest/ess. I said the Quran considered Mary to be much more than a priest in her closeness to God, but there is no suggestion anywhere that she assumed the function of a priest.


    October 17, 2007 at 1:14 pm

  3. Sorry I misunderstood your post concerning Mary in a priestly light. Thanks for correcting my mistake.
    You are right in stating that sister is used in some very broad ways, but you quote from 2 John 1:13 may well be a statement about a literal sibling relationship or it may be about those who are also considered followers of Jesus. Yet, I don’t see how this signifies anything more than Mary was of descent from the tribe of Levi. It does not indicate at all that she was more than a priest.
    You also rightly indicate that sister is used in churches and religious orders today, and this is correct, but it only indicates a these women are followers of Jesus.
    Yet neither of these points establish only that Mary was from the Family of Aaron and if she had been a boy, she could have served as a priest. This would be true of any female offspring of the family of Aaron. There is nothing remarkable about this. And the fact that Christian women may be spoken of as sisters, simply implies membership in the same family. Sister may have many different usages. But none of this establishes special standing for Mary.

    I must also point out that Luke 1:5 is a reference to the parents of John the Baptist, not to Mary’s parents. Luke 1:36 is about John’s birth, not Mary’s. And as such has little offer other than Elizabeth being of Aaron’s family, a daughter, but not listed as a sister in the Greek Text. You have not established that assosiation with Aaron was common in the time that Jesus was born, but it was only common for families of in the tribe of Levi that are of the line of Aaron. You have also established that John the Baptist was of the line of Aaron on both his mothers and fathers side of the family.
    The biggest problem is that you have yet to establish that Mary is in the family line of Aaron. In the New Testament, it only states that Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1) is a relative of Mary. That does not indicate that she is of the same paternal line. If Mary’s father was not of Aaron, there is no way that she could have been of a priestly line. From the New Testament and Christian Tradition, there is no indication that Mary was of a priestly family.
    All this said, Mary is revered in Christianity. Especially among Roman Catholics and the Orthodox branches of the church. Clearly she holds a unique and honored place in the New Testament. But, there is no sense that she is a prophet or linked to the Temple in any unique ways. The reason for her honored place is Luke 1:26-38.


    October 18, 2007 at 2:21 pm

  4. hkevinderr,

    I have written a post in response to this latest comment.
    Please see my post: The Gospel of the Birth of Mary,


    December 24, 2007 at 2:32 am

  5. It is the hebrew custom to say the daughter of………then say someone’s ancestor…it does not mean the actual physical child of that person..

    Jesus was called the “son of David” – who was his ancestor…..

    Jesus called a women who was sick a “daughter of Abraham.” this was long after Abraham was dead…and the woman was just a descendant of Abraham, not his child.

    in the same way, Arabs could call themselves sons of Ishmael.

    Mary was not the child of Aaron…but just his dependent. Her real father was someone else.


    May 20, 2008 at 2:26 am

  6. Are you telling us that Aaron, the brother of Moses, and Mary, mother of Jesus, were contemporaries?

    Guy Macher

    November 7, 2009 at 6:34 pm

  7. Sahih Muslim Hadith explains that Haroon was brother of Maryam alayhis salam, he was named after Haroon alayhis salam. Prophet of Allah explained this.

    Muhammed Ali Razvi

    March 1, 2011 at 6:29 am

  8. I believe one should view the following as it is quite relevant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHfsJxeAdC8&feature=BFp&list=WLD64B1164C8E0D007&index=7

    Ummer Farooq

    April 26, 2011 at 3:20 am

  9. It is very unfortunate in the Bible from beginning to end doesn’t show the parents of the virgin Mary!!!
    Neither Christian preachers nor christian scholars mention this…
    Is she an angel of God? Definetely no…..who are the parents now according to christianity belief?


    October 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    • So sorry that youtube video does not exist. I was just thinking how could Mary be the sister of Aaron when there were many years in between the birth of Aaron and Mary. Please explain RIGHT AWAY. (isa)

      Fatimah Hasan

      December 1, 2015 at 5:52 am

      • Dear Fatimah
        Please read the duscussion and comments, and my post , which addresses your question.

        Rasheed Gadir

        December 1, 2015 at 3:33 pm

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