Chapter 19: Mary
This section of the Qur’an is one of my favorites, because the story is so beautiful, and the Qur’anic recitation of it is almost magical. Hearing the recitation gives me goosebumps. This is not the speech of humankind—it is undoubtedly heavenly.
Below is a translation of certain sections of the chapter. This chapter, named after Mary the mother of Jesus (may God’s peace be upon them both) recounts the grace God showed Mary, and talks about the birth of Jesus and some of his miracles. This chapter also firmly denies Jesus’ divinity, describing him as a prophet and beloved of God. The audio file is about 19 minutes long. A few translated passages are below:
In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy
Kaf Ha Ya ‘Ayn Sad
This is an account of your Lord’s grace towards His servant, Zachariah, when he called to his Lord secretly, saying, ‘Lord, my bones have weakened and my hair is ashen grey, but never, Lord, have I ever prayed to You in vain: I fear [what] my kinsmen [will do] when I am gone, for my wife is barren, so grant me a successor—a gift from You—to be my heir and the heir of the family of Jacob. Lord, make him well pleasing [to You].’
‘Zachariah, We bring you good news of a son whose name will be John—We have chosen this name for no one before him.’ He said, ‘Lord, how can I have a son when my wife is barren, and I am old and frail?’ He said, ‘This is what your Lord has said: “It is easy for Me: I created you, though you were nothing before.” ‘
He said, ‘Give me a sign, Lord.’ He said, ‘Your sign is that you will not speak to anyone for three full [days and] nights.’ He went out of the sanctuary to his people and signaled to them to praise God morning and evening.
[We said], ‘John, hold on to the Scripture firmly.’ While he was still a boy, We granted him wisdom, tenderness from Us, and purity. He was devout, kind to his parents, not domineering or rebellious. Peace on him the day he was born, on the day of his death, and on the day he is raised to life again.
Mention in the Scripture the story of Mary. She withdrew from her family to a place east and secluded herself away; We sent Our Spirit to appear before her in the form of a normal human. She said, ‘I seek the Lord of Mercy’s protection against you: if you have any fear of Him [do not approach]!’ but he said, ‘I am but a Messenger from your Lord, [come] to announce to you the gift of a pure son.’ She said, ‘How can I have a son when no man has touched me? I have not been unchaste,’ and he said, ‘This is what your Lord said: “It is easy for Me—We shall make him a sign to all people, a blessing from Us.” ‘
And so it was ordained: she conceived him. She withdrew to a distant place and, when the pains of childbirth drove her to [cling to] the trunk of a palm tree, she exclaimed, ‘I wish I had been dead and forgotten long before all this!’ but a voice cried to her from below, ‘Do not worry: your Lord has provided a stream at your feet and, if you shake the trunk of the palm tree towards you, it will deliver fresh ripe dates for you, so eat, drink, be glad, and say to anyone you may see: “I have vowed to the Lord of Mercy to abstain from conversation, and I will not talk to anyone today.” ‘
She went back to her people carrying the child, and they said, ‘Mary! You have done something terrible! Sister of Aaron! Your father was not a bad man; your mother was not unchaste!’ She pointed at him. They said, ‘How can we converse with an infant?’ [But] he said: ‘I am a servant of God. He has granted me the Scripture; made me a prophet; made me blessed wherever I may be. He commanded me to pray, to give alms as long as I live, to cherish my mother. He did not make me domineering or graceless. Peace was on me the day I was born, and will be on me the day I die and the day I am raised to life again.’ Such was Jesus, son of Mary.
[This is] a statement of the Truth about which they are in doubt: it would not befit God to have a child. He is far above that: when He decrees something, He says only, ‘Be,’ and it is. ‘God is my Lord and your Lord, so serve Him: that is a straight path.’