Virgin Mary and Koran
Virgin Mary is a Big Deal in the Quran and Muslim Tradition
And when she bore her, she said, ‘My Lord, I have borne a female [child]’ —and God [Allah] knew better what she had borne — ‘and the male is not like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Your care against [the evil of] the outcast Satan.’ (3:36)
Mary is the most important woman in Christianity, but in truth there are more references to Mary in the Quran than there are in the Bible. In fact, Mary—or Maryam—is the only woman to be referred to by name in the Quran (the names of other women are inferred from tradition). A hadith (traditional saying) adds that “the Prophet names Mary as one of the four spiritually perfected women of the world,” (763) who will “lead the soul of blessed women to Paradise” (143).
“Many men have achieved perfection and among women, Mary daughter of ‘Imran and Asiyah wife of Pharoah.” Ibn Arabi, volume 3.
And when the angels said: ‘O Mary, Allah has chosen you and purified you and He has chosen you above the women of the worlds.’ (3:42)
The Quran supports the idea of a Virgin birth. In the Quran God declares, “[Mary is the one who] preserved her chastity. We breathed Our Spirit into her and made her, and her son, signs to the worlds” (Q 21.91)
And Mary, daughter of Imran, who guarded the chastity of her womb, so We breathed into it of Our spirit… (66:12)
She [Mary] said, ‘My Lord, how shall I have a child seeing that no human has ever touched me?’ (3:47)
She [Mary] said, ‘How shall I have a child seeing that no human being has ever touched me, nor have I been unchaste?’ (19:20)
And when the angels said, ‘O Mary, Allah has chosen you and purified you and He has chosen you above the world’s women. (3:42)
… and We made her and her son a sign for all the nations. (21:91)
The description of the birth of Jesus sounds a great deal like the birth of Adam: God breathes life into something. Some people have seen this as anti-Christian polemic, but Gabriel Reynolds, a professor at the University of Notre Dame, notes in his book The Qur’an and Its Biblical Subtext that “when the Qur’an compares the birth of Christ with that of Adam… it is indeed making a polemical point, only not against Christians. On the contrary, it is arguing against the Jews who deny the Virgin Birth and Christ himself.”
Interestingly, the Quran is completely silent about the role of Joseph. In this version of the Virgin Birth, an angel announces that Mary will give birth, Mary consents (as she does in the Gospel of Luke) but, later, feels forgotten and abandoned. As she is overcome by the burden of pregnancy, she cries out “Would that I had died before this and was a thing forgotten, utterly forgotten!” (19:23). The angel shows her running water and a date tree to ease her suffering. The reference to eating dates is especially noteworthy as, even today, dates are thought to induce labor. After giving birth, Mary returns with her child to the Temple. There, Jesus miraculous speaks (as an infant) and proclaims his identity as a prophet. To this day March 25, the Day of the Annunciation, is a public holiday in Lebanon.