Aal-Imran · Juz 3 · Qur'an Tafseer

The Virtue of Mariam (AS) Over the Women of Her Time

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 42-44

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala states that the angels spoke to Mariam (AS) by His command and told her that He chose her because of her service to Him because of her modesty, honor, innocence and conviction. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala also chose her because of her virtue over the women of the world. At-Tirmidhi recorded that ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (RA) said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam say,

خَيْرُ نِسَائِهَا مَرْيَمُ بِنْتُ عِمْرَانَ، وَخَيْرُ نِسَائِهَا خَدِيجَةُ بِنْتُ خُوَيْلِد

‘The best woman (in her time) was Mariam, daughter of ‘Imran, and the best woman (of the Prophet’s time) is Khadijah (his wife), daughter of Khuwaylid.’”

The Two Saheehs recorded this Hadith. Ibn Jareer recorded that Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari (RA) said that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

كَمُلَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ كَثِيرٌ، وَلَمْ يَكْمُلْ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَرْيَمُ بِنْتُ عِمْرَانَ وَ آسِيَةُ امْرَأَةُ فِرْعَوْن

“Many men achieved perfection, but among women, only Mariam the daughter of ‘Imran and Asiah, the wife of Fir’awn, achieved perfection.”

The Six — with the exception of Abu Dawud – recorded it. Al-Bukhari’s wording for it reads,

كَمُلَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ كَثِيرٌ، وَلَمْ يَكْمُلْ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا آسِيَةُ امْرَأَةُ فِرْعَوْنَ، وَمَرْيَمُ بِنْتُ عِمْرَانَ، وَإِنَّ فَضْلَ عَائِشَةَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ كَفَضْلِ الثَّرِيدِ عَلى سَائِرِ الطَّعَام

“Many men reached the level of perfection, but no woman reached such a level except Asiah, the wife of Fir’awn, and Mariam, the daughter of ‘Imran. The superiority of ‘A’ishah (his wife) to other women, is like the superiority of Tharid (meat and bread dish) to other meals.”

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala states that the angels commanded Mariam (AS) to increase acts of worship, humbleness, submission, prostration, bowing, and so forth, so that she would acquire what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala had decreed for her, as a test for her. Yet, this test also earned her a higher grade in this life and the Hereafter, for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala demonstrated His might by creating a son inside her without male intervention.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said, “O Mariam, be devoutly obedient to your Lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow [in prayer].” The qunoot (aqnooti in the ayah) means to submit with humbleness.

[Ruling on Women going to the Mosque]

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then addresses the Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that he was not present when this occurred so he cannot narrate to the people as an eye witness of what happened. Rather, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala disclosed these facts to him as if he were a witness when they were drawing names that who will look after Mariam (AS).

Ibn Jareer recorded that ‘Ikrimah said, “Mariam’s mother left with Mariam, carrying her in her infant cloth, and took her to the rabbis from the offspring of Aaron, the brother of Musa. They were responsible for taking care of Bayt Al-Maqdis (the Masjid) at that time, just as there were those who took care of the Ka’bah. Mariam’s mother said to them, ‘Take this child whom I vowed (to serve the Masjid), I have set her free, since she is my daughter, for no menstruating woman should enter the Masjid, and I shall not take her back home.’

They said, ‘She is the daughter of our Imam,’ as ‘Imran used to lead them in prayer, ‘who took care of our sacrificial rituals.’ Zakariyya (AS) said, ‘Give her to me, for her maternal aunt is my wife.’ They said, ‘Our hearts cannot bear that you take her, for she is the daughter of our Imam.’ So they conducted a lottery with the pens with which they wrote the Tawrah, and Zakariyya won the lottery and took Mariam into his care.’” ‘Ikrimah, As-Suddi, Qatadah, Ar-Rabi’ bin Anas, and several others said that the rabbis went into the Jordan river and conducted a lottery there, deciding to throw their pens into the river. The pen that remained afloat and idle would indicate that its owner would take care of Mariam. When they threw their pens into the river, the water took all the pens under, except Zakariyya’s pen, which remained afloat in its place. Zakariyya was also their master, chief, scholar, Imam and Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be on him and the rest of the prophets, ameen.

Lessons:

-We are taught that a woman’s role is restricted to cooking food and cleaning the house, but by sharing the incidences of some of the greatest women to ever live, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala teaches us that a woman can be much more than that. Khadijah (RA) was a wealthy businesswoman, she didn’t use her wealth to boast among the people but spent it all on the propagation of Islam. ‘Aishah (RA) continued to teach men and women many years after the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed away. And here we have the story of Mariam (AS) to whom Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala instructs to be obedient to Him and busy herself with worship. SubhanAllah! As a woman, recognize your role in this world.

One is being recognized and honored in this world, for example, the beauty peasant contests. And other recognition is being honored by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Beauty peasant is for a season only. One day her pictures are in all the publications and the next day we see the same pictures or publications in trash. But with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala all records are preserved till eternity. We should strive to be “chosen” and honored by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

-A woman can go to a mosque for prayer or for gaining knowledge but there are certain conditions such as she should be modestly dressed. She should not be wearing fragrance. Although, the best place for prayer for a woman is in the privacy of her home.

-We learn that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala “chooses” people. Sometimes when someone invites us to a good deed such as cleaning up the Mosque, volunteering, etc. we get irritated, “Am I the only one you could find?” We learn from the Seerah of Rasoolullah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that when a black woman who used to clean the Prophet’s Mosque passed away and was buried without his knowledge, he asked the Companions (RA) to take him to her grave. He prayed the funeral prayer for her and asked Allah ta’ala for her forgiveness. SubhanAllah! We should be greedy in serving the Deen and not say, “Why me?”

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 42-44

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم                
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]
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