3 Beautiful Lessons from the Story of Maryam a.s.

by Ustazah Nur Hafiza Roslee 2020-12-17 • 10 min read
Upon completing her madrasah education, Ustazah Nur Hafiza Roslee went to Al-Azhar University to pursue her studies in Islamic Jurisprudence. After gaining a few years of teaching experience, she later furthered her studies and graduated with M.A. in Islamic Thought and Civilisation from International Islamic University Malaysia.
2020-12-17 • 10 min read

3 Lessons from the Story of Maryam a.s.

Maryam a.s. is the only woman with a Quranic chapter named after her.[1] In addition, stories about the birth of Maryam a.s, her honourable lineage and upbringing are also mentioned in another chapter that is named after her family name, i.e. Sūrah Āli ‘Imrān.[2] Narrations and stories about Maryam a.s. have provided descriptions on the amazing miracles she had witnessed and how Allah s.w.t. had specially chosen and granted her a unique status above all women. Indeed, Allah s.w.t. has mentioned in Sūrah Āli ‘Imrān verse 42:

وَإِذْ قَالَتِ ٱلْمَلَـٰٓئِكَةُ يَـٰمَرْيَمُ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ ٱصْطَفَىٰكِ وَطَهَّرَكِ وَٱصْطَفَىٰكِ عَلَىٰ نِسَآءِ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ

And when the angels said: “O Maryam, Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you over the women of all the worlds.”

(Surah Ali-’Imran, 3:42)

story of maryam in quran

In addition, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said in a hadith:

خَيْرُ نِسَائِهَا مَرْيَمُ بِنْتُ عِمْرَانَ وَخَيْرُ نِسَائِهَا خَدِيجَةُ

“The best woman (of her time) was Maryam bint ‘Imrān[3], and the best woman (of her time) is Khadījah.”

(Musnad Imam Ahmad)

As we recite the many Quranic verses that speak about Maryam a.s, here are three lessons from her stories that we can apply in today’s context:

maryam as story


1. Importance of being connected to Allah

Most if not all of Maryam’s time were spent on the dzikr (remembrance) of Allah s.w.t. even when she was a young girl. It is said that her guardian, Prophet Zakariyyā a.s.[4] would go and check on her every single day as she was growing up, and he would find her busy worshipping Allah s.w.t. all the time. Even when she could not be in her usual place of worship, she would go out to watch the sunrise and remember Allah s.w.t, which illustrates the deep and strong connection she had with her Lord.

One can never emphasise enough the importance of developing a strong and meaningful connection with Allah, our Creator. While we may never attain the special status that Allah s.w.t. had given to Maryam a.s, we must strive to remember Him as often as possible, not only during times of hardship and despair but also when our hearts are filled with joy and happiness. Indeed, staying connected to Allah s.w.t. will help us remain hopeful in the face of hardship on top of being grateful for His constant blessings.

story of maryam and isa


2. Women are exemplary spiritual figures too

Maryam a.s. was born in a family and a society that wished for a boy who could grow up to be a pious man like ‘Imrān. Indeed, the wife of ‘Imrān had even vowed to dedicate her child solely to the service of Allah s.w.t. and be free of worldly demands or expectations.[5] 

For Maryam’s mother who had waited for so long to become pregnant, what she then hoped for was to have a son who could be a devout servant of Allah and remain in the mosque to worship Him.[6] Allah s.w.t. described the birth of Maryam in Sūrah Āli ‘Imrān verse 36:

فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتْهَا قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّى وَضَعْتُهَآ أُنثَىٰ وَٱللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ ٱلذَّكَرُ كَٱلْأُنثَىٰ ۖ وَإِنِّى سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْيَمَ وَإِنِّىٓ أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنِ ٱلرَّجِيمِ

So, when she delivered her, she said: “O my Lord, I have delivered her, a female child.”-And Allah knew better what she had delivered, and the male was not like the female -” I have named her Maryam, and I place her and her progeny under Your shelter against Satan, the rejected.”

(Surah Ali-’Imran, 3:36)

Throughout generations, we have seen how societies have preferred having sons over daughters. However, the story of Maryam’s birth and how she grew up to be a devout and pious servant of Allah s.w.t. serves as a strong reminder that one’s greatness lies in their faith and character, not in their social status or gender. Indeed, Allah s.w.t. mentioned in Sūrah al-Taḥrim verse 12:

وَمَرْيَمَ ٱبْنَتَ عِمْرَٰنَ ٱلَّتِىٓ أَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا فَنَفَخْنَا فِيهِ مِن رُّوحِنَا وَصَدَّقَتْ بِكَلِمَـٰتِ رَبِّهَا وَكُتُبِهِۦ وَكَانَتْ مِنَ ٱلْقَـٰنِتِينَ

“And (Allah has also cited the example of) Maryam, daughter of ‘Imrān who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her Our spirit, and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and His books, and she was one of the devout (men and women).”

(Surah At-Tahrim, 66:12)

According to this particular verse, Maryam a.s. was not just amongst the qānitāt (devout women), as Allah s.w.t. clearly mentions here that she is amongst the qānitīn (devout men and women), hence suggesting that she is a great example for both devout men and women. In other words, Maryam a.s. has a special rank amongst both men and women.

surah maryam story in english


3. The significance of humility

Despite being granted this special rank by Allah s.w.t, Maryam a.s. remained a very humble individual. One day, when Prophet Zakariyyā visited Maryam a.s. in her mihrab[7], he found her with food (fruits) that were supposed to come out on a different season, which was unusual and unbelievable. This event is mentioned in Sūrah Āli ‘Imrān verse 37:

كُلَّمَا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهَا زَكَرِيَّا ٱلْمِحْرَابَ وَجَدَ عِندَهَا رِزْقًۭا ۖ قَالَ يَـٰمَرْيَمُ أَنَّىٰ لَكِ هَـٰذَا ۖ قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ ٱللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَآءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

Whenever Zakariyyā visited her at the place of worship, he found food with her. He said: “Maryam, from where did you get this?” She said: “It is from Allah. Surely, Allah gives whom He wills without measure.”

(Surah Ali-’Imran, 3:37)

It is both interesting and inspiring how Maryam a.s. demonstrated a deep sense of humility and did not claim to have a special relationship with Allah s.w.t. where only she can ask Allah and be given. Instead, she was saying to Zakariyyā a.s. that Allah s.w.t. gives to whomever He wills, so he should also ask Allah s.w.t. for what he wants.

A true servant of Allah s.w.t. would never develop the audacity of thinking (rightly or wrongly) that they are better than others in any way. Indeed, Iblīs’ gravest mistake was not that he did not believe in Allah s.w.t. or did not worship him enough, but it was his overbearing arrogance that resulted in Allah’s wrath.

surah maryam lessons

May Allah s.w.t. grant us His Mercy throughout our lives and allow us to taste the sweetness of faith hence develop a constant craving to worship him every single day. Let us strive to remember Him often so that we remain guided in our words and actions, to attain happiness and success in this world and the next. Āmīn.

And Allah knows best.

_________________________

[1] Surah Maryam is the nineteenth chapter in the Quran.

[2] Surah Āli ‘Imran is the third chapter in the Quran. Āli ‘Imran literally means the family of ‘Imrān.

[3] ‘Imrān, the father of Maryam was a pious man who was also one of the leaders in their society, and had died before she was born.

[4] Prophet Zakariyyā a.s. naturally became her guardian since she was born without a father and he was her maternal uncle.

[5] As mentioned in Surah Āli ‘Imrān verse 35.

[6] They lived in a society where it was not possible nor practical for a woman to be dedicated to the place of worship.

[7] Mihrab is a structure built in a masjid. Prophet Zakariyyā who was also a carpenter had built the mihrab for her where she can have her privacy and worship Allah s.w.t.

 

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