JESUS' LIFE

According to the historical sources, Mary was born at a time when the chaos mentioned earlier in the book was happening, when Roman oppression was real, and the Jews were impatiently awaiting the Messiah's arrival. She was a descendent of `Imran, whose family had been made superior by God (Qur'an, 3:33). God chose her from among them, purified her, and placed her above all other women, for as the Qur'an reveals:

And when the angels said: "Mary, God has chosen you and purified you. He has chosen you over all other women. Mary, obey your Lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow." (Qur'an, 3:42-43)

The family of `Imran was known to believe in God, to seek His good pleasure in whatever they do, and to always respect the limits that He has established. When Imran's wife learned of her pregnancy, she immediately turned to God in prayer and dedicated her unborn child to God. It is a sign of her true submission to God that she named her child Maryam (Mary in English), meaning "someone who is always worshipping God." This subject is revealed in the Qur'an:

Remember when the wife of 'Imran said: "My Lord, I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service]. Please accept my prayer. You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing." When she gave birth, she said: "My Lord! I have given birth to a girl"-and God knew very well what she had given birth to, male and female are not the same-"and I have named her Mary and placed her and her children in Your safekeeping from the accursed Satan." (Qur'an, 3:35-36)

God reveals that Mary's mother dedicated her to God, "consecrated for His service." The Arabic word used here, i.e., muharraran, means "one who is wholly preoccupied with the Hereafter, who has no business with the world, who worships God at all times, who is in the service of the House of God, who is sincere in his or her worship and, who has no worldly intentions in his or her worship." Imran's wife asked God to allow Mary to serve only Him, and for her to become totally devoted to His good pleasure rather than other people's.

When Mary was born, Imran's wife asked God to protect Mary and her descendents from the evil of Satan. God answered her sincere prayer and gave Mary a superior morality. The Qur'an reveals how carefully Mary was raised under God's protection:

Her Lord accepted her with approval and made her grow in health and beauty. And Zechariah became her guardian. (Qur'an, 3:37)

God states that Zechariah was a righteous servant who was favored over all beings, and one guided to a straight path as a Prophet. God praises him in the Qur'an and points out his impeccable character (Qur'an, 6:85-87). Zechariah, who took on the responsibility of caring for Mary and thus witnessed many of her miracles, realized that she was God's chosen one.

For instance, whenever Zechariah entered the presence of Mary, who always worshipped by herself, he found food with her. The Qur'an says:

Every time Zechariah visited her in the praying chamber, he found food with her. He said: "Mary, how did you come by this?" She said: "It is from God. God provides for whoever He wills without any reckoning." (Qur'an, 3:37)

Mary became well known in her community as a member of her family who was dedicated wholeheartedly to God. The Qur'an speaks of her chastity in particular, as follows:

And Mary, the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded her chastity-We breathed Our Spirit into her, and she confirmed the Words of her Lord and His Book and was one of the obedient. (Qur'an, 66:12)

Mary's Encounter with Gabriel

Mary's life was full of miracles, one of which was her encounter with Gabriel. At a particular stage in her life, Mary left her community and family and secluded herself somewhere in the east. There, the Qur'an mentions that Gabriel appeared to her in the form of a man:

Mention Mary in the Book, how she withdrew from her people to an eastern place and veiled herself from them. Then We sent Our Spirit to her, and it took on for her the form of a handsome, well-built man. She [Mary] said: "I seek refuge from you with the All-Merciful if you guard against evil." (Qur'an, 19:16-18)

At first, she did not know that the unknown person was Gabriel. Thus, she immediately sought refuge with God when he approached and said that she was a God-fearing believer. Her words make it clear that she was a God-fearing and chaste servant. Gabriel introduced himself by stating that he was sent by God to give her the following good news:

He said [to Mary]: "I am only your Lord's messenger so that He can give you a pure boy." (Qur'an, 19:19)

When the angels said: "Mary, your Lord gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, of high esteem in this world and the Hereafter, one of those brought near." (Qur'an, 3:45)

Mary received this important news and asked Gabriel how she could have a child while she was still a virgin:

She said: "How can I have a boy when no man has touched me and I am not an unchaste woman?" He said: "It will be so, for your Lord says: 'That is easy for Me. It is so that We can make him a Sign for mankind and a mercy from Us.' It is a matter already decreed." So she conceived him and withdrew with him to a distant place. (Qur'an, 19:20-22)

She said: "My Lord, how can I have a son when no man has yet touched me?" He said: "It will be so." God creates whatever He wills. When He decides on something, He just says to it "Be!" and it is. (Qur'an, 3:47)

Gabriel replied that God has the power to do anything and that He needs only to say "Be!" and it is. This is how Mary conceived Jesus-by the will of God and without ever being touched by a man. Her pregnancy was created independent of the worldly order in a miraculous way. As our Lord reveals, after receiving this good news, Mary withdrew to somewhere quiet. God supported her during that time in every way and provided all that a pregnant woman could wish for psychologically as well as materially. He made her withdraw from her people, who would not have been able to comprehend her situation, and thereby prevented the physical or spiritual damage that they could have caused her.

Jesus' Birth
Jesus' Life
Jesus' Struggle
Jesus' Ministry

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