By Sadaf Farooqi
And another one; another friend of mine recently named her baby girl “Maryam”. I smile as I also reflect upon how many friends named “Maryam” I have. And why not, indeed? It is a name oft-mentioned in the Quran in a tremendously positive light, with a chapter/surah having it as its title. For women, for all time to come, Allah has mentioned Maryam Bint `Imran, a pious woman from the Bani `Israel, as a an example serving to be a beacon of light highlighting positive feminine characteristics and modest character for women till the end of time.
The word “Maryam” has Hebrew, Latin and Aramaic origins, and literally means, “pious, chaste”, or, according to other sources, ”bitter sea”, or “wished-for child”. Its Hebrew counterpart is “Miriam“. In Egyptian, it may have been derived from Mry, meaning “beloved”.
The Quran mentions several traits about Maryam Bint `Imran that highlight her high status among the women of mankind. Below I have tried to highlight these traits so that we can endeavor to adopt them for ourselves, and also to appreciate those simple yet valuable women in our lives who possess these traits yet we sometimes undermine them.
She and her future progeny were given into Allah’s protection from Satan by her mother
فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتْهَا قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنثَى وَاللّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ الذَّكَرُ كَالأُنثَى وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْيَمَ وِإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ
But when she had given birth to the child, she said:
“O my Sustainer! Behold, I have given birth to a female” – the while Allah had been fully aware of what she would give birth to, and [fully aware] that no male child [she might have hoped for] could ever have been like this female – “and I have named her Maryam. And, verily, I seek Your protection for her and her offspring against Satan, the accursed.” [3:36]
As I mentioned in my last post, when a woman is expecting her baby, she should start its moral “tarbiyah“ or religious training. The foremost way of doing this is by connecting closely to Allah in worship and prayer, and dedicating the foetus for Allah’s cause even before its birth. Maryam’s mother gave the baby in her womb, as well its succeeding generations/offspring, into Allah’s protection from Satan. How wise she was; what foresight she possessed! Truly, she realized the worth of pious offspring and the pivotal role of the mother in shaping the religious inclination/affiliation of a baby.
Allah made her grow up beautifully, and she was cared for by a Prophet, Zakariyya [عليه السلام]. Allah provided her with eatables for nourishment Himself
فَتَقَبَّلَهَا رَبُّهَا بِقَبُولٍ حَسَنٍ وَأَنبَتَهَا نَبَاتًا حَسَنًا وَكَفَّلَهَا زَكَرِيَّا كُلَّمَا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهَا زَكَرِيَّا الْمِحْرَابَ وَجَدَ عِندَهَا رِزْقاً قَالَ يَا مَرْيَمُ أَنَّى لَكِ هَـذَا قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللّهِ إنَّ اللّهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاء بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ
And thereupon her Sustainer accepted the girl-child with goodly acceptance, and caused her to grow up in goodly growth, and placed her in the care of Zakariyya. Whenever Zakariyya visited her in the sanctuary, he found her provided with food. He would ask:
“O Maryam, whence came this unto you?” She would answer: “It is from Allah; behold, Allah grants sustenance unto whom He wills, beyond measure.“ [3:37]
Because of the pure intention of her mother, Allah accepted her nadhar (of her child). After Maryam was born, she was raised in a beautiful way by Allah, and was given into the caretaking of Prophet Zakariyya. In another place in the Quran, Allah mentions how lots were drawn by those who wanted to take care of the little girl [3:44] – which was won by Prophet Zakarriya [عليه السلام].