MOOMTAZ EMRITH
(Windsor, ON, Canada)

The religion of ISLAM holds Blessed Mother Mary or Virgin Mary (or Maryam in Arabic) in the highest regard. She is the mother of Prophet Jesus and, as such, she gets the highest accolade in Islam’s Holy Book – the Qur’an. Not only does she have a whole surah or chapter named after her (Surah Maryam) but she is also the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an.

Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) did not preach a new religion to the world when he, at the behest of God Almighty, proclaimed himself, in 610 A. D., to be a Prophet of God. He was then forty years old. What he did, in fact, was to confirm and reinforce the monotheistic concept God (Allah) in the Abrahamic tradition. The Oneness of God – the God of Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus had been central to their Message. God (Allah) is One and Muhammed was His last Prophet and Messenger, the Qur’an stressed. Indeed, there are more in common between Islam and the Biblical faiths: Judaism and Christianity than we generally think of. As a matter of fact, Prophet Muhammad called to the worship of the same One God (Allah), who was also the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus and other prophets mentioned in the Bible. In fact, he reinforced and even added, we can say, another ‘chapter’ — the final chapter — so to say, to the Message delivered by the previous Prophets: Abraham, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them all). It is in the Qur’an that God reveals the name of His religion to the believers:

“On this day I have completed my favour upon you and have chosen ISLAM as your religion.”

Little wonder then that Prophet Muhammad knew when that final verse came, that his mission on earth was over. And he died soon after in Medina where he is also buried.

Islam actually means one who submits himself/herself to the Will of the One and only God (Allah) — and whoever does so, is a Muslim.

The Qur’an is the Word of God revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did not write a single word of it. It was all revealed to him piecemeal over a period of twenty-three years by the Arch-angel Gabriel. The first verse came to him when he was in the cave of Mount Hira, in Mecca, where he used to retire to meditate, to reflect … The Qur’an tells the history of the (Biblical) Prophets who came before Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), notably: the Patriarch Abraham, Prophet Moses and Prophet Jesus (peace be upon them all) as well as injunctions and regulations believers have to abide by in their daily and communal lives. It reinforces or should we say, confirms many of the stories and facts contained in the Old and New Testaments and, in certain instances provides rectifications wherever necessary. Thus, the Qur’an tells us, among others, that Jesus (PBUH) did not die on the cross as is generally recounted in the Gospels but that it was somebody else who looked like him who was. Prophet Jesus (PBUH) was raised to heaven and he would come back to earth on Judgment Day. Jesus (PBUH) was a Prophet of God just like the Prophets Abraham, Moses and Muhammad (pbut) were. And Muslims revere him as such. His mother Virgin Mary or Maryam is, understandably, held in the highest regard and reverence by all Muslims.

Mother Mary, in the Qur’an, enjoys a very high and glorified status. She is referred to by Muslims as “the Blessed Mother of Prophet Jesus”. The Qur’an confirms the miraculous conception and birth of her son Jesus – a fact that is stressed several times in the Qur’an. Prophet Jesus (PBUH), the Muslims believe and revere as a Prophet of God and as the Messiah promised to the Jews.

Indeed, the Quran, in Surah: Maryam (Chapter 19), talks about the Blessed Mother Maryam and relates the following about her starting from verse 19 of the same Chapter:

“Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East.

“She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then we send to her our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.

“She said: ‘I seek refuge from thee in Allah Most Gracious, come not near if thou dost fear Allah.   

“He said: ‘I am only a Messenger from thy Lord (to announce) to thee the gift of a pure son.

“She said: ‘How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?

“He said: ‘So it will be: thy Lord saith. ‘That is easy for Me: and We wish to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a mercy from Us. It is a matter so (decreed).

“So she conceived him and she retired with him to a remote place.

And the pain of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree: she cried (in her anguish): ‘Ah! Would that I had died before this! And this has been a thing forgotten“.

“But a voice cried to her from beneath (the palm tree): Grieve not! For thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee.

“And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.

“So eat and drink and cool thine eye. And if thou dost see any man, say: ‘I have vowed a fast to Allah Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being.’

“At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him in her arm. They said: ‘O Mary! Truly a strange thing hast thou brought!’

“’O sister of Aaron, thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!

“But she pointed to the babe. They said: ‘How can we talk to one who is a child in a cradle?’

“He said: ‘I am indeed a servant of Allah. He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet:

He hath made blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live;

“(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable.

“So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again.

“Such was Jesus, the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute.

“It is not fitting to (the Majesty of Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it: ‘Be’, and it is.

“Verily Allah is my Lord and your Lord: Him therefore serve ye: this is a way that is

straight.”

Indeed, there is, in a small town, near Ephesus, in Turkey, an old house – known as the House of Mother Mary – to which, traditions attest, Mother Mary came with the Apostle John, after the ‘crucifixion’ of her son Jesus and stayed there for a while.  How the House was discovered is an interesting story in itself and worth probing into.

The Turks, who are Muslims, have maintained “the House” with religious fervor because of its connection with Mother Mary. Prophet Jesus (PBUH) was raised to Heaven by God Al-Mighty before the ‘crucifixion’ and will make his second coming to earth on Judgement Day. Islamic traditions say that Jesus’ return will take place in Damascus, Syria, near the Grand Umeyyad Mosque of Damascus. Besides, it should be emphasized that, in Islam, a Muslim who does not believe in any one of the Biblical Prophets is NOT considered to be a Muslim because his/her faith is not complete according to the Qur’an.

Inside the house, there is a shrine which glistens ever under the lights of burning candles and the rooms are filled with the sweet aroma of incense while on the walls are inscribed the Surah: Maryam from the Qur’an with translations in English, French and German. At the same time, one can hear a Muslim Qari (Qur’an Reciter) chanting the solemn verses in his sweet and mellifluous voice, which touches every one –Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Also, it is worth stating that one cannot be untouched by the solemn grace and tranquility of the whole place. I have been to the ‘House of Mary ‘and was deeply moved by the solemnity and peace hanging in and around the Shrine, which is maintained by Catholic nuns and the Turkish Department of Tourism. In fact, over the years “the House of Mary” has been attracting more and more visitors of all nationalities and religions. No need to stress how Christians are impressed when they discover how highly Muslims regard “Blessed Mother Mary” and her son Prophet Jesus (PBUH).

In Islam, as said earlier, Blessed Mother Mary holds pride of place in terms of respect, reverence and veneration among the followers of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).