“And [mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds.” Surah Aale-Imran: 42
“ خَيْرُ نِسَائِهَا خَدِيجَةُ بِنْتُ خُوَيْلِدٍ وَخَيْرُ نِسَائِهَا مَرْيَمُ ابْنَةُ عِمْرَانَ
‘Ali bin Abi Talib narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The best of its women is Khadijah bint Khuwailid, and the best of its women is Mariam bint ‘Imran.”
Tirmidhi Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3877
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ drew four lines on the ground, then he said, “Do you know what this is?” The Companions said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The best of the women of Paradise are Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Fatimah bint Muhammad, Asiya bint Muzahim the wife of Pharaoh, and Maryam bint ‘Imraan” – may Allah be pleased with them all.
– Musnad of Imaam Ahmad 2663
She was chosen by Allah(SWT)
Her name is the major point of the 19th chapter of Qur’an (Surat Maryam). She is the only woman who has been called with her first name in the Holy Quran.
Her name is mentioned more than the name of Isa(AS) and her greatness was an example of modesty for men and women.
She was the daughter of Hennah and Prophet Imran (AS) and they were blessed with a child in their old age and everyone around them rejoiced hoping that this would be a boy they could dedicate to the masjid. Sadly, Imran (AS) passed away before the birth of this child. When the baby was born, to their surprise it was a girl and no girl had ever been dedicated to Masjid ul Aqsa before this.
As the dua of Hennah was “… I seek refuge with you (Allah) for her and for her offspring from Satan, the outcast.” 3:36, the Prophet said, “There is no newborn except the Shaytan pokes him in his side, thereby coming out crying, except Maryam and her son.” (Bukhari)
This hadith is evidence that Hannah’s dua to seek refuge in Allah for her progeny from the devil was answered. In fact, this dua was answered fully since Maryam(AS) and Isa(AS) did not have the effect of the devil on them. This would have been true for any offspring that followed. However, her lineage ended with Isa.
She was known by her worship
Zakariyya (AS), the uncle of Maryam, was a carpenter and he built place of devotion – a wooden mihraab – for her sole worship in the east of the masjid. Even when she was unable to worship, due to her cycle, she would leave the masjid and continue to reflect and remember Allah(SWT) in the mountains.
She was gifted with miracles
Zakariyya (AS) would check on her daily to as her responsible guardian.
“So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zakariyya. Every time Zakariyya entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, “O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?” She said, “It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account.” Surah Aale-Imran: 37
The scholars explain that she would be blessed with fruits which were not possible in that season – the food of winter in summer and summer in winter, and, of course, there were no fridges in those times. The other benefit we take from this is the need to enquire about our youth – where are they getting things, who do they spend their time with, who are they playing Fortnite with, hows their FIFA team doing etc.
Even her wording is beautiful in response for she does not attribute this gift to herself, rather says Allah(SWT) provides for whom He wills, indicating that you all have a connection with Allah(SWT) and he responds. Through this example, Zakariyya (AS) then asks Allah(SWT) for a child in his old age and he too is granted this miracle in Yahya(AS).
She was modest
On one occasion, at the age of 16, while she was in her mihraab, she saw a handsome person there and immediately she sought refuge from Allah(SWT), reminding him that He(SWT) is the most loving (Rahman) so seek forgiveness in Him(SWT) while you still can, if you are mindful of Him(SWT).
It was Jibreel(AS) who clarified that he was bringing news that she will give birth to a pure boy (ghulaaman zakiyya). She was surprised and asks how this is possible despite no man ever touching her or her being unchaste. Jibreel (AS) explains that your Lord states that this is easy for Him(SWT) – Qaala Rabbuka huwa alayya hayyin.
She affirmed the truth immediately
Now, she has proven her worship and her modesty. Now she is to be tried in her honour and standing with the people.
Maryam, as a young 16 year old, accepted the huge task of going through pregnancy and childbirth by herself unsupported by any family. Then she would have to present her child to the people who would inevitably accuse her of being unchaste and reject her.
This shows courage and istiqaama (steadfastness) upon truth.
She cried out in the pains of labour and anguish of being outcast from her community and bringing her lineage into disrepute.
Jibreel (AS) responded to her saying don’t grieve because Allah(SWT) will take care of you as He(SWT) has done your whole life. Rather, he has given you cool water and food. However, you need to take action – shake the palm tree, usually firm and difficult for a man of full strength to shake, but the test is not in the outcome but in following the commands of Allah(SWT). Trust in Him(SWT) and you will see outcomes you never believed in your lifetime.
As part of this test, she had to fast from speaking (as was the practice of Bani Isra’eel) and was not able to respond to explain herself. This is the test of ego and fighting the nafs to submit fully to the command of Allah(SWT). She pointed to the new-born child
Then she pointed to him. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?
He [‘Īsā (Jesus)] said: Verily! I am a slave of Allâh, He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet;
And He has made me blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined on me Salât (prayer), and Zakât, as long as I live.
And dutiful to my mother, and made me not arrogant, unblessed.
And Salâm (peace) be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!
Such is ‘Īsā (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). (it is) a statement of truth, about which they doubt (or dispute)
[Surah Maryam, Aayaat 28-33]
Isa (AS) was a slave of Allah(SWT). As is confirmed in Christian scriptures, he taught that there is only One God and referred to him in Aramaic as Allah – the same word as in Arabic. He didnt eat pork and he greeted others with peace. He washed his face, hands and feet before praying and prostrated before God in prayer. He fasted as did his mother and his mother dressed modestly covering her body and wearing a headscarf. (Christian references)
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely (Jesus,) the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly (as a Just Ruler); he will break the Cross and kill the pigs and there will be no Jizya (i.e. taxation taken from non-Muslims). Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it, and a single prostration to Allah (in prayer) will be better than the whole world and whatever is in it.” Abu Huraira added “If you wish, you can recite (this verse of the Holy Book): — ‘And there is none Of the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him (i.e Jesus as an Apostle of Allah and a human being) Before his death. And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness Against them.” (4.159) (See Fath-ul-Bari, Page 302 Vol 7) – Sahih al-Bukhari 3448
Some other lessons about Isa (AS)