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49 HISTORY OF MARY

II. The History of Mary. — In Surah Mariam we are told that after the birth of the Holy Child, the people came to her and said, O Mary, now hast thou done a strange thing; O sister of Aaron, thy father was not a bad man, neither was thy mother a wicked woman.1 According to Muhammad, therefore, Mary (Miriam) was the sister of Aaron, Moses' brother; which is all the plainer as elsewhere she is named Mary daughter of Imr‚n2; and again, We gave unto Moses the Book, and appointed him his brother Aaron as Vizier.3

Hence it is clear that Imran, Moses, Aaron, and Mary (Mariam) are the same persons as are so named in the Torah — excepting only that in the Hebrew the name of the first is Amram; and in Numbers (xxvi. 59) we are told that "the name of Amram's wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt, and she bare unto Amram, Aaron and Moses and Miriam their sister"; and also in Exodus (xv. 20) we read of "Miriam (Mary) the prophetess, the sister of Aaron." Now looking to the words in the Qur'an above quoted: O Mary! O sister of Aaron, it is quite evident that Muhammad is speaking of Mary the sister of Aaron." and daughter of Imran, as the same Mary who, some 1570 years after, became the mother of our blessed Saviour! The Commentators have in vain endeavoured to explain this marvelous confusion of time and space. One attempt may be set down to the fabulous Jewish story regarding Mary the sister of Aaron, that "the angel of death had no power over her, that she passed away with the kiss of the Lord, and that no insect


1 Surah xix. 28, 29. 2 Surah xxv. 37. 3 Surah lxvi. 12 and iii. 31.

THE SOURCES OF ISLAM 50

or worm could touch her person" — A strange conceit this: nor have any of the Jews ever said that she survived to the Christian era.

As regards Mary the mother of Jesus, we find many passages in the Qur'an opposed to the Four Gospels, and taken evidently from the Apocryphal writings of the heretical sects. For example, the following is from Surah iii. vv. 31 and 32:

Then the wife of Imran said, O Lord, I have presented unto Thee that which is in my womb as dedicated to thy service. Accept it, therefore, from me; for thou art he that both heareth and knoweth. So when she was delivered of the child, she said, O Lord, truly I have brought forth a female (and God knoweth what she had brought forth), and a male is not as a female. I have called her Mary; and I commend her unto thee, and her issue, against Satan the stoned one. Whereupon the Lord accepted her with a gracious acceptance, and caused her to bear an excellent offspring. And Zacharias took care of the child; and as often as Zacharias entered the chamber unto her, he found provisions laid beside her, and he said, O Mary, whence hast thou this? She answered, This is from God; for the Lord provideth for whom he pleaseth without measure.

We read also in Beidhawi and other Commentators that Imran's wife, who was aged and barren, one day saw a bird feeding its little ones, and at once longed for a child herself, and cried: — O Lord, if thou wilt give me either a son or a daughter, I will present it unto Thee in the Temple, thy Holy House. The Lord heard her prayer; she conceived and bore a daughter, whom she called Mary. Jelal ood Deen also tells us that some years after, Mary's mother, called Hanna, taking the child to the Temple, made her over to the priests, who in their turn made her over to Zacharias

           

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