Difference between revisions of "Mary, Sister of Aaron"

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[[bg:Грешки в Корана: Моисей и Аарон – вуйчовци на Иисус]]
 
[[bg:Грешки в Корана: Моисей и Аарон – вуйчовци на Иисус]]
{{QualityScore|Lead=3|Structure=4|Content=4|Language=3|References=4}}'''Mary (Miriam) the sister of Aaron''' (and of Moses), is mentioned in the [[Quran]], in passing, in reference to Mary (Mariam) the mother of [[Jesus]].<ref>{{Quran-range|19|27|34}}</ref> Many [[Critics of Islam|critics]] of the Quran as far back as [[Muhammad ibn Abdullah|Muhammad]]'s time regard this as a simple but revealing error.<ref name=":02">Mughira b. Shu'ba reported: When I came to Najran, they (the Christians of Najran) asked me: You read  "O sister of Harun" (i. e. Hadrat Maryam) in the Qur'an, whereas Moses was born much before Jesus. When I came back to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) I asked him about that, whereupon he said: The (people of the old age) used to give names (to their persons) after the names of Apostles and pious persons who had gone before them. {{Muslim|28|13}}</ref> In [[Arabic]] both Marys are called by the same name مريم (''Maryam''). Skeptical Jewish and Christian scholars at the time believed Muhammad had mistook Jesus' mother for Moses' sister.<ref name=":02" /> While they share a common name, they lived more than a thousand years apart. When confronted, in the [[hadith]] Muhammad explains that their perception is a misunderstanding, however, many remained unconvinced.<ref name=":02" /> Ultimately, it seems, Muhammad came to assert that Aaron and Moses had a sister whose name was Kulthum rather than Miriam, though this too seemed to many a poor cover-up.<ref>{{Quran-range|19|27|28}}.</ref><ref>{{Muslim|25|5326}}.</ref><ref>[http://www.al-islam.org/hayat-al-qulub-vol2-allamah-muhammad-baqir-al-majlisi/ Majlisi, ''Hayat al-Qulub'' 2:26].</ref>
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{{QualityScore|Lead=3|Structure=4|Content=4|Language=4|References=4}}'''Mary (Miriam) the sister of Aaron''' (and of Moses), is a phrase used in the [[Quran]] to refer to Mary the mother of [[Jesus]].<ref>{{Quran-range|19|27|34}}</ref> From at least the 8th century, and perhaps as far back as [[Muhammad ibn Abdullah|Muhammad]]'s time, [[Critics of Islam|critics]] have attacked this verse as a simple but revealing error.<ref name=":02">Mughira b. Shu'ba reported: When I came to Najran, they (the Christians of Najran) asked me: You read  "O sister of Harun" (i. e. Hadrat Maryam) in the Qur'an, whereas Moses was born much before Jesus. When I came back to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) I asked him about that, whereupon he said: The (people of the old age) used to give names (to their persons) after the names of Apostles and pious persons who had gone before them. {{Muslim|28|13}}</ref> In [[Arabic]] both Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary the sister of Aaron and Moses are called by the same name, مريم (''Maryam''). Skeptical Jewish and Christian scholars believed that Muhammad had mistaken Jesus' mother for Moses' sister.<ref name=":02" /> While they shared a name, according to the Bible these two women lived more than a thousand years apart. In the [[hadith]] Muhammad explains that this criticism was a misunderstanding, but, according to these same texts many remained unconvinced.<ref name=":02" /> Ultimately, it seems, the Hadith and sirah traditions came to assert that Aaron and Moses had a sister whose name was Kulthum rather than Miriam, which seems to point to the tradition’s fundamental inability to understand the context of these verses and how they relate to the two biblical Miriams.<ref>{{Quran-range|19|27|28}}.</ref><ref>{{Muslim|25|5326}}.</ref><ref>[http://www.al-islam.org/hayat-al-qulub-vol2-allamah-muhammad-baqir-al-majlisi/ Majlisi, ''Hayat al-Qulub'' 2:26].</ref> In contrast to the traditional narrative, modern scholars have rather found in this surah a complex web of inter-textual references, pointing to a highly literate and Christian audience of the original text <ref> Guillaume Dye, “The Qur’ān and its Hypertextuality in Light of Redaction Criticism,” The Fourth Nangeroni Meeting Early Islam: The Sectarian Milieu of Late Antiquity? (Early Islamic Studies Seminar, Milan) (15-19 June 2015): 8</ref><ref>Suleiman A. Mourad, “Mary in the Qur’an: a reexamination of her presentation,” The Qur'an in its Historical Context, Edited by Gabriel Said Reynolds (2008): 165.</ref>.
 
==Mention of Mary in the Quran==
 
==Mention of Mary in the Quran==
 
===Qur'an===
 
===Qur'an===
Mary, the mother of Jesus is called sister of Aaron in sura 19:{{Quote|{{Quran-range|19|27|34}}|Then '''she brought him to her own folk,''' carrying him. '''They said: O Mary!''' Thou hast come with an amazing thing.
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Mary the mother of Jesus is called sister of Aaron in sura 19:{{Quote|{{Quran-range|19|27|34}}|Then '''she brought him to her own folk,''' carrying him. '''They said: O Mary!''' Thou hast come with an amazing thing.
 
 
 
  
 
(19:28) '''O sister of Aaron!''' Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot.
 
(19:28) '''O sister of Aaron!''' Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot.
 
 
  
 
'''Then she pointed to him.''' They said: How can we talk to one who is in the cradle, a young boy?
 
'''Then she pointed to him.''' They said: How can we talk to one who is in the cradle, a young boy?
 
 
  
 
'''He spake: Lo! I am the slave of Allah.''' He hath given me the Scripture and hath appointed me a Prophet,
 
'''He spake: Lo! I am the slave of Allah.''' He hath given me the Scripture and hath appointed me a Prophet,
 
 
  
 
And hath made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and hath enjoined upon me prayer and almsgiving so long as I remain alive,
 
And hath made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and hath enjoined upon me prayer and almsgiving so long as I remain alive,
 
 
  
 
And (hath made me) dutiful toward her who bore me, and hath not made me arrogant, unblest.
 
And (hath made me) dutiful toward her who bore me, and hath not made me arrogant, unblest.
 
 
  
 
Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!
 
Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!
 
 
  
 
'''Such was Jesus, son of Mary:''' (this is) a statement of the truth concerning which they doubt.
 
'''Such was Jesus, son of Mary:''' (this is) a statement of the truth concerning which they doubt.
 
 
}}The Qur'an also says the wife of Imran gave birth to the virgin Mary who gave birth to Jesus.{{Quote|{{Quran-range|3|35|45}}|(Remember) when '''the wife of 'Imran said''': My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee '''that which is in my belly''' as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower!
 
}}The Qur'an also says the wife of Imran gave birth to the virgin Mary who gave birth to Jesus.{{Quote|{{Quran-range|3|35|45}}|(Remember) when '''the wife of 'Imran said''': My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee '''that which is in my belly''' as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower!
 
 
  
 
And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female - Allah knew best of what she was delivered - the male is not as the female; and lo! '''I have named her Mary,''' and lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast.
 
And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female - Allah knew best of what she was delivered - the male is not as the female; and lo! '''I have named her Mary,''' and lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast.
 
 
  
 
And her Lord accepted her with full acceptance and vouchsafed to her a goodly growth; and made Zachariah her guardian. Whenever Zachariah went into the sanctuary where she was, he found that she had food. He said: O Mary! Whence cometh unto thee this (food)? She answered: It is from Allah. Allah giveth without stint to whom He will.
 
And her Lord accepted her with full acceptance and vouchsafed to her a goodly growth; and made Zachariah her guardian. Whenever Zachariah went into the sanctuary where she was, he found that she had food. He said: O Mary! Whence cometh unto thee this (food)? She answered: It is from Allah. Allah giveth without stint to whom He will.
 
 
  
 
Then Zachariah prayed unto his Lord and said: My Lord! Bestow upon me of Thy bounty goodly offspring. Lo! Thou art the Hearer of Prayer.
 
Then Zachariah prayed unto his Lord and said: My Lord! Bestow upon me of Thy bounty goodly offspring. Lo! Thou art the Hearer of Prayer.
 
 
  
 
And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous.
 
And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous.
 
 
  
 
He said: My Lord! How can I have a son when age hath overtaken me already and my wife is barren? (The angel) answered: So (it will be). Allah doeth what He will.
 
He said: My Lord! How can I have a son when age hath overtaken me already and my wife is barren? (The angel) answered: So (it will be). Allah doeth what He will.
 
 
  
 
He said: My Lord! Appoint a token for me. (The angel) said: The token unto thee (shall be) that thou shalt not speak unto mankind three days except by signs. Remember thy Lord much, and praise (Him) in the early hours of night and morning.
 
He said: My Lord! Appoint a token for me. (The angel) said: The token unto thee (shall be) that thou shalt not speak unto mankind three days except by signs. Remember thy Lord much, and praise (Him) in the early hours of night and morning.
 
 
  
 
And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath chosen thee and made thee pure, and hath preferred thee above (all) the women of creation.
 
And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath chosen thee and made thee pure, and hath preferred thee above (all) the women of creation.
 
 
  
 
O Mary! Be obedient to thy Lord, prostrate thyself and bow with those who bow (in worship).
 
O Mary! Be obedient to thy Lord, prostrate thyself and bow with those who bow (in worship).
 
 
  
 
This is of the tidings of things hidden. We reveal it unto thee (Muhammad). Thou wast not present with them when they threw their pens (to know) which of them should be the guardian of Mary, nor wast thou present with them when they quarrelled (thereupon).
 
This is of the tidings of things hidden. We reveal it unto thee (Muhammad). Thou wast not present with them when they threw their pens (to know) which of them should be the guardian of Mary, nor wast thou present with them when they quarrelled (thereupon).
 
 
  
 
(And remember) when the angels said: '''O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary,''' illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah).
 
(And remember) when the angels said: '''O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary,''' illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah).
 
 
  
 
He will speak unto mankind in his cradle and in his manhood, and he is of the righteous.
 
He will speak unto mankind in his cradle and in his manhood, and he is of the righteous.
  
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'''She said: My Lord! How can I have a child when no mortal hath touched me?''' He said: So (it will be). Allah createth what He will. If He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is.}}The Quran mentions prominent families:{{Quote|{{Quran|3|33}}|Indeed, Allah chose Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of 'Imran over the worlds -}}
 
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==Relevant Quotations==
'''She said: My Lord! How can I have a child when no mortal hath touched me?''' He said: So (it will be). Allah createth what He will. If He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is.
 
 
 
}}The Quran mentions prominent families:{{Quote|{{Quran|3|33}}|Indeed, Allah chose Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of 'Imran over the worlds -}}
 
==Relevants Quotations==
 
 
{{Quote|{{Quran-range|3|35|45}}|(Remember) when '''the wife of 'Imran said''': My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee '''that which is in my belly''' as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower!
 
{{Quote|{{Quran-range|3|35|45}}|(Remember) when '''the wife of 'Imran said''': My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee '''that which is in my belly''' as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower!
 
 
  
 
And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female - Allah knew best of what she was delivered - the male is not as the female; and lo! '''I have named her Mary,''' and lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast.
 
And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female - Allah knew best of what she was delivered - the male is not as the female; and lo! '''I have named her Mary,''' and lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast.
 
 
  
 
And her Lord accepted her with full acceptance and vouchsafed to her a goodly growth; and made Zachariah her guardian. Whenever Zachariah went into the sanctuary where she was, he found that she had food. He said: O Mary! Whence cometh unto thee this (food)? She answered: It is from Allah. Allah giveth without stint to whom He will.
 
And her Lord accepted her with full acceptance and vouchsafed to her a goodly growth; and made Zachariah her guardian. Whenever Zachariah went into the sanctuary where she was, he found that she had food. He said: O Mary! Whence cometh unto thee this (food)? She answered: It is from Allah. Allah giveth without stint to whom He will.
 
 
  
 
Then Zachariah prayed unto his Lord and said: My Lord! Bestow upon me of Thy bounty goodly offspring. Lo! Thou art the Hearer of Prayer.
 
Then Zachariah prayed unto his Lord and said: My Lord! Bestow upon me of Thy bounty goodly offspring. Lo! Thou art the Hearer of Prayer.
 
 
  
 
And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous.
 
And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous.
 
 
  
 
He said: My Lord! How can I have a son when age hath overtaken me already and my wife is barren? (The angel) answered: So (it will be). Allah doeth what He will.
 
He said: My Lord! How can I have a son when age hath overtaken me already and my wife is barren? (The angel) answered: So (it will be). Allah doeth what He will.
 
 
  
 
He said: My Lord! Appoint a token for me. (The angel) said: The token unto thee (shall be) that thou shalt not speak unto mankind three days except by signs. Remember thy Lord much, and praise (Him) in the early hours of night and morning.
 
He said: My Lord! Appoint a token for me. (The angel) said: The token unto thee (shall be) that thou shalt not speak unto mankind three days except by signs. Remember thy Lord much, and praise (Him) in the early hours of night and morning.
 
 
  
 
And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath chosen thee and made thee pure, and hath preferred thee above (all) the women of creation.
 
And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath chosen thee and made thee pure, and hath preferred thee above (all) the women of creation.
 
 
  
 
O Mary! Be obedient to thy Lord, prostrate thyself and bow with those who bow (in worship).
 
O Mary! Be obedient to thy Lord, prostrate thyself and bow with those who bow (in worship).
 
 
  
 
This is of the tidings of things hidden. We reveal it unto thee (Muhammad). Thou wast not present with them when they threw their pens (to know) which of them should be the guardian of Mary, nor wast thou present with them when they quarrelled (thereupon).
 
This is of the tidings of things hidden. We reveal it unto thee (Muhammad). Thou wast not present with them when they threw their pens (to know) which of them should be the guardian of Mary, nor wast thou present with them when they quarrelled (thereupon).
 
 
  
 
(And remember) when the angels said: '''O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary,''' illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah).
 
(And remember) when the angels said: '''O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary,''' illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah).
 
 
  
 
He will speak unto mankind in his cradle and in his manhood, and he is of the righteous.
 
He will speak unto mankind in his cradle and in his manhood, and he is of the righteous.
  
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'''She said: My Lord! How can I have a child when no mortal hath touched me?''' He said: So (it will be). Allah createth what He will. If He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is.}}{{Quote|{{Quran|66|12}}|And '''Mary, daughter of 'Imran, whose body was chaste, therefor We breathed therein something of Our Spirit.''' And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His scriptures, and was of the obedient.
 
 
'''She said: My Lord! How can I have a child when no mortal hath touched me?''' He said: So (it will be). Allah createth what He will. If He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is.
 
 
 
}}{{Quote|{{Quran|66|12}}|And '''Mary, daughter of 'Imran, whose body was chaste, therefor We breathed therein something of Our Spirit.''' And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His scriptures, and was of the obedient.
 
  
 
}}{{Quote|{{Quran|19|28}}|O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot.}}{{Quote|{{Muslim|28|13}}| Mughira b. Shu'ba reported:
 
}}{{Quote|{{Quran|19|28}}|O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot.}}{{Quote|{{Muslim|28|13}}| Mughira b. Shu'ba reported:
Line 145: Line 78:
 
It was narrated from Ibn Jarir, narrated from Yaqub, narrated from Ibn U’laya, narrated from Sa’id Ibn Abi Sadaqa, narrated from Muhammad Ibn Sireen who stated that he was told that Ka’b said the verse that reads, "O sister of Harun (Aaron)!" (of Sura 19:28) does not refer to Aaron the brother of Moses. Aisha replied to Ka’b, "You have lied." Ka’b responded, "O Mother of the believers! If the prophet, may Allah’s prayers be upon him, has said it, and he is more knowledgeable, then this is what he related. Besides, I find the difference in time between them (Jesus and Moses) to be 600 years." He said that she remained silent.}}
 
It was narrated from Ibn Jarir, narrated from Yaqub, narrated from Ibn U’laya, narrated from Sa’id Ibn Abi Sadaqa, narrated from Muhammad Ibn Sireen who stated that he was told that Ka’b said the verse that reads, "O sister of Harun (Aaron)!" (of Sura 19:28) does not refer to Aaron the brother of Moses. Aisha replied to Ka’b, "You have lied." Ka’b responded, "O Mother of the believers! If the prophet, may Allah’s prayers be upon him, has said it, and he is more knowledgeable, then this is what he related. Besides, I find the difference in time between them (Jesus and Moses) to be 600 years." He said that she remained silent.}}
 
==Biblical and Talmudic accounts of Mary==
 
==Biblical and Talmudic accounts of Mary==
Miriam, Aaron and Moses were the children of Amram (Imran in Arabic):{{Quote|1 Chronicles 6:3 |The children of Amram:
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Miriam, Aaron, and Moses were the children of Amram (Imran in Arabic):{{Quote|1 Chronicles 6:3 |The children of Amram:
  
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Aaron, Moses and Miriam.}}Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the daughter of Joachim and from the family of David (not from the family of Aaron):{{Quote|The gospel of the birth of Mary, 1:1-2 |The blessed and ever glorious Virgin Mary, sprung from the royal race and family of David, was born in the city of Nazareth, and educated at Jerusalem, in the temple of the Lord.
 
 
Aaron, Moses and Miriam.}}Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the daughter of Joachim and she was from the family of David (not Aaron):{{Quote|The gospel of the birth of Mary, 1:1-2 |The blessed and ever glorious Virgin Mary, sprung from the royal race and family of David, was born in the city of Nazareth, and educated at Jerusalem, in the temple of the Lord.
 
  
 
Her father's name was Joachim, and her mother's Anna. The family of her father was of Galilee and the city of Nazareth. The family of her mother was of Bethlehem.}}
 
Her father's name was Joachim, and her mother's Anna. The family of her father was of Galilee and the city of Nazareth. The family of her mother was of Bethlehem.}}
==Apologetic Arguments==
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==Traditional Muslim Explanations==
Ibn Kathir gave the following explanation in his tafsir:{{Quote|1=[http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2684&Itemid=75 Maryam with Al-Masih before the People, Their Rejection of Her and His Reply to Them]<BR>Tafsir Ibn Kathir|2=(O sister of Harun!) referring to the brother of Musa, because she was of his descendants. This is similar to the saying, `O brother of Tamim,' to one who is from the Tamimi tribe, and `O brother of Mudar,' to one who is from the Mudari tribe. It has also been said that she was related to a righteous man among them whose name was Harun and she was comparable to him in her abstinence and worship.}}That he mentioned two alternative explanations suggests he was unsure regarding the certainty of either of them
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Ibn Kathir gave the following explanation in his tafsir:{{Quote|1=[http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2684&Itemid=75 Maryam with Al-Masih before the People, Their Rejection of Her and His Reply to Them]<BR>Tafsir Ibn Kathir|2=(O sister of Harun!) referring to the brother of Musa, because she was of his descendants. This is similar to the saying, `O brother of Tamim,' to one who is from the Tamimi tribe, and `O brother of Mudar,' to one who is from the Mudari tribe. It has also been said that she was related to a righteous man among them whose name was Harun and she was comparable to him in her abstinence and worship.}}That he mentioned two alternative explanations suggests he was unsure regarding the certainty of either of them.
 
==="Sister of Aaron means a descendant of Aaron"===
 
==="Sister of Aaron means a descendant of Aaron"===
The Qur'an says "sister (أُخْتَ) of Aaron" and people understood the verse to literally mean "sister of Aaron". Only when Muhammad came to know that it was wrong, the meaning changed into "a descendant of Aaron". In the Christian sources she is said to be from the family of David, so many wondered why the Qur'an would describe her as being from the family of Aaron? Some point out that in Luke 1:5, Elizabeth is said to be a descendant of Aaron; and in Luke 1:36, Elizabeth is said to be a cousin or relative of Mary <ref>https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+1</ref>. But, as it stands, being related to a descendant doesn't guarantee one's own descendancy from the same ancestor (Aaron in this case).
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The Qur'an says "sister (أُخْتَ) of Aaron" and people understood the verse to literally mean "sister of Aaron". Only after this relation was criticized as an error did it become instead understood as a metaphor meaning "a descendant of Aaron". Christian sources consistently stated that Mary was from the family of David, so many wondered why the Qur'an would describe her as instead being from the family of Aaron. Some point out that in Luke 1:5, Elizabeth is said to be a descendant of Aaron; and in Luke 1:36, Elizabeth is said to be a cousin or relative of Mary <ref>https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+1</ref>. But being related to another person does not guarantee that one also descends from any particular one of that person’s distant ancestors (Aaron in this case).
  
 
Furthermore, if she was a known descendant of Aaron, then one wonders why the learned Arab Christians (and Aisha and Mughira b. Shu'ba) of Muhammad's time were unaware of this.
 
Furthermore, if she was a known descendant of Aaron, then one wonders why the learned Arab Christians (and Aisha and Mughira b. Shu'ba) of Muhammad's time were unaware of this.
Line 161: Line 92:
 
The additional description of her as the "daughter of Amram (Imran)" in Surahs 3 and 66 appears to make the matter even foggier and more clearly problematic.
 
The additional description of her as the "daughter of Amram (Imran)" in Surahs 3 and 66 appears to make the matter even foggier and more clearly problematic.
 
==="Mary coincidentally had a father called Imran and a brother called Aaron"===
 
==="Mary coincidentally had a father called Imran and a brother called Aaron"===
Christian sources say her father was named Joachim and they don't mention she had a brother called Aaron. And if she had a brother called Aaron, then the question still is, why is she called "sister of Aaron"? If her brother is so important that he had to be mentioned with her name, why don't we hear more about him? It is more probable that the author of the Qur'an thought that she really is the sister of Aaron and Moses and so in the Qur'an people called her "sister of Aaron" to emphasize her social status.{{Quote|{{Quran|19|28}}|O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot.}}In other words, the people asked "How can you have a baby without a husband, when you are from such a moral family".
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Christian sources say her father was named Joachim, and they don't mention she had a brother called Aaron. And if she had a brother called Aaron, then the question still is, why is she called "sister of Aaron"? If this brother is so important that he had to be mentioned with her name, why don't we hear more about him? It is more probable that the author of the Qur'an thought that she really is the sister of Aaron and Moses, and so in the Qur'an people called her "sister of Aaron" to emphasize her social status.{{Quote|{{Quran|19|28}}|O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot.}}In other words, the people asked "How can you have a baby without a husband, when you are from such a moral family".
 +
 
 
==Moses' Father==
 
==Moses' Father==
In Hebrew he is called Amram (עַמְרָם) with the letter ''mem'' (ם) at the end. In the Arabic Bible he is also called Amram (عمرام), with the letter ''meem'' (م) at the end:{{Quote|1 Chronicles 6:3 in Arabic Bible|
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In Hebrew he is called Amram (עַמְרָם) with the letter ''mem'' (ם) at the end. In the Arabic Bible he is also called Amram (عمرام), with the letter ''meem'' (م) at the end:{{Quote|1 Chronicles 6:3 in Arabic Bible|أبْناءُ عَمْرامَ هُمْ هارُونُ وَمُوسَى وَمَرْيَمُ
 +
 
 +
 
 +
The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses and Miriam.}}In Islam he is called Imran (عمران). English translators commonly choose to translate the name as Amram:{{Quote|History of at-Tabari, volume 3|
  
أبْناءُ عَمْرامَ هُمْ هارُونُ وَمُوسَى وَمَرْيَمُ
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The Genealogy of Moses b. Amram
 +
 
 +
}}The Arabic original has the letter ''nun'' (ن) at the end:{{Quote|History of at-Tabari (ِArabic) <ref>https://al-maktaba.org/book/9783/383</ref>|ذكر نسب موسى بن عمران
  
 
   
 
   
 +
Genealogy of Musa bin Imran (عمران)}}Miriam was the daughter of Amram and a sister of Aaron. The Qur'an describes Mary, the mother of Jesus, as being a daughter of Amram and a sister of Aaron - in the same family relationship as Miriam. Many people, including Aisha, understood Mary and Miriam to be the same person, based on their understanding of the Qur'anic text.
  
The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses and Miriam.
+
When Christians criticized the verse which calls Mary "sister of Aaron" in the Quran, Muhammad's response was that "people were named after pious persons who lived before them". Islamic scholars concluded that Mary was either called "sister of Aaron" because she was his descendant or she had a brother coincidentally called Aaron. Both these solutions seem to be inventions, because Mary was not known to be a descendant of Aaron and she was not known to have a brother called "Aaron". On the other hand, Miriam was well-known to be a sister of Aaron.
  
}}In Islam he is called Imran (عمران). Although English translation chose to translate it as Amram:{{Quote|History of at-Tabari, volume 3|
+
Since Mary and Miriam are both pronounced Maryam in Arabic, it seems probable, that Muhammad, based on the Christian stories he heard,<ref>For example from Waraqa ibn Nawfal.</ref> mixed these two women into one person when he was making up the Qur'an.
  
The Genealogy of Moses b. Amram
+
==Modern Scholarly Interpretations==
 +
 
 +
Modern scholars note that the author of Surat-Maryam had an in-depth knowledge of Christian tradition, and that he may have been a Christian clergyman whose work was used by the incipient believers movement, or who had joined the movement himself. As the author was evidently steeped in Christian tradition, it seems unlikely that he would have made a mistake about of Mary, the mother of Jesus, conflating her with Mary, the sister of Aaron and Moses. Rather, what is being invoked here is likely both Mary's descent from the scions of the Jewish people, Moses and Aaron, as well a priestly tradition in the Church of Kathisma in Jerusalem, linking the Dormition (apparent death, followed by the resurrection and assumption of Mary alive into heaven) with the priesthood of Aaron. A pre-Islamic Georgian Christian homiletic text exists that seems to explicitly call Mary the sister of Aaron. The shared phrasing between this Georgian text from Jerusalem and the Qur'an is remarkable; it suggests that whoever the author is of the rest of the Qur'an and even surat-Maryam, the author of this specific passage must have been a Christian from the area around Jerusalem, who was intimately familiar with the Christian tradition around the church of Kathisma and the liturgical traditions the church possessed around the virgin Mary <ref> Guillaume Dye, “The Qur’ān and its Hypertextuality in Light of Redaction Criticism,” The Fourth Nangeroni Meeting Early Islam: The Sectarian Milieu of Late Antiquity? (Early Islamic Studies Seminar, Milan) (15-19 June 2015): 10. </ref>.
 +
===References to Other Narratives===
 +
The entire first portion of Surat-Maryam (verses 1-63) makes constant references to apocryphal stories from legendary apocryphal gospels such as the Protoevangelium of James and the gospel of Pseudo-Matthew. These texts outline an infancy gospel of the Virgin Mary, telling of her father Joachim and mother Ana, righteous Jews who served the poor and followed the word of the Lord. Joachim was excluded from a temple ritual because of his lack of a child, however, since all righteous men of Israel had children. He went to the desert to pray and fast while Ana prayed for children from the Lord; after seeing a sparrow's nest in a tree, the angel of the Lord appeared to her and informed her that she would bear a child. In their joy for being granted a child at such an advanced age, the couple dedicated the child, Mary, as a perpetual virgin to the Lord. When she grew older she was entrusted to the care of an older man, Joseph, who would act as her husband but would not engage in sexual intercourse with her. When the Lord impregnated Mary with Jesus, the Jews accused Joseph and Mary of violating her oath to the Lord. The priest of the temple put Joseph to the test of the water of the ordeal of the Lord, drinking it and returning unharmed; furthermore, when Mary gave birth to Jesus, a blinding white light bathed the cave she was in, and both the midwife and the accused inserted their finger into her vagina and were shocked to see that even after Jesus' birth she was still a virgin. After seeing these great signs, the faith of Mary and Joseph was vindicated. Although these sources are uncredited in Muslim exegesis, there is no doubt that Surat-Maryam makes numerous references to this Marian infancy cycle, and in ayah 25 it also makes explicit reference to the Palm miracle recorded in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew 20:1-2 (itself a reworking of the pagan fable of Leto giving birth to Apollo <ref> Suleiman A. Mourad, “Mary in the Qur’an: a reexamination of her presentation,” The Qur'an in its Historical Context, Edited by Gabriel Said Reynolds (2008): 169.</ref>).
 +
 
 +
{{Quote|{{Quran|19|23-26}}|
 +
فَنَادَىٰهَا مِن تَحْتِهَآ أَلَّا تَحْزَنِى قَدْ جَعَلَ رَبُّكِ تَحْتَكِ سَرِيًّا
 +
فَأَجَآءَهَا ٱلْمَخَاضُ إِلَىٰ جِذْعِ ٱلنَّخْلَةِ قَالَتْ يَٰلَيْتَنِى مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَٰذَا وَكُنتُ نَسْيًا مَّنسِيًّا
 +
وَهُزِّىٓ إِلَيْكِ بِجِذْعِ ٱلنَّخْلَةِ تُسَٰقِطْ عَلَيْكِ رُطَبًا جَنِيًّا
 +
فَكُلِى وَٱشْرَبِى وَقَرِّى عَيْنًا ۖ فَإِمَّا تَرَيِنَّ مِنَ ٱلْبَشَرِ أَحَدًا فَقُولِىٓ إِنِّى نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ صَوْمًا فَلَنْ أُكَلِّمَ ٱلْيَوْمَ إِنسِيًّا
 +
 
 +
And the pangs of childbirth drove her unto the trunk of the palm-tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died ere this and had become a thing of naught, forgotten!Then (one) cried unto her from below her, saying: Grieve not! Thy Lord hath placed a rivulet beneath thee, And shake the trunk of the palm-tree toward thee, thou wilt cause ripe dates to fall upon thee. So eat and drink and be consoled. And if thou meetest any mortal, say: Lo! I have vowed a fast unto the Beneficent, and may not speak this day to any mortal.}}
 +
 
 +
Compare with the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew:
 +
 
 +
{{Quote| The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew Chapter 20 http://www.gnosis.org/library/psudomat.htm| And it came to pass on the third day of their journey, while they were walking, that the blessed Mary was fatigued by the excessive heat of the sun in the desert; and seeing a palm tree, she said to Joseph: Let me rest a little under the shade of this tree. Joseph therefore made haste, and led her to the palm, and made her come down from her beast. And as the blessed Mary was sitting there, she looked up to the foliage of the palm, and saw it full of fruit, and said to Joseph: I wish it were possible to get some of the fruit of this palm. And Joseph said to her: I wonder that thou sayest this, when thou seest how high the palm tree is; and that thou thinkest of eating of its fruit. I am thinking more of the want of water, because the skins are now empty, and we have none wherewith to refresh ourselves and our cattle. Then the child Jesus, with a joyful countenance, reposing in the bosom of His mother, said to the palm: O tree, bend thy branches, and refresh my mother with thy fruit. And immediately at these words the palm bent its top down to the very feet of the blessed Mary; and they gathered from it fruit, with which they were all refreshed. And after they had gathered all its fruit, it remained bent down, waiting the order to rise from Him who bad commanded it to stoop. Then Jesus said to it: Raise thyself, O palm tree, and be strong, and be the companion of my trees, which are in the paradise of my Father; and open from thy roots a vein of water which has been hid in the earth, and let the waters flow, so that we may be satisfied from thee. And it rose up immediately, and at its root there began to come forth a spring of water exceedingly clear and cool and sparkling. And when they saw the spring of water, they rejoiced with great joy, and were satisfied, themselves and all their cattle and their beasts. Wherefore they gave thanks to God.}}
 +
 
 +
===The Palestinian Connection===
 +
There exists in Palestine a Byzantine Church dedicated to the virgin Mary, the church of the Kathisma or Holy Throne of the virgin Mary. This church has a deep and complex relationship with the Islamic tradition, and was the likely model for the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem <ref> Guillaume Dye, “The Qur’ān and its Hypertextuality in Light of Redaction Criticism,” The Fourth Nangeroni Meeting Early Islam: The Sectarian Milieu of Late Antiquity? (Early Islamic Studies Seminar, Milan) (15-19 June 2015): 15.</ref>. Around the time of Muhammad, this church was a center of the Christian cult of the virgin Mary. Unlike modern Catholic and Orthodox Church, where only the Bible is read from the lectionary during the mass, at this time it was not unusual for reading to be done from the apocrypha and other non-canonized works. The Kathisma was built upon the site of the palm miracle mentioned in Pseudo Matthew chapter 20 and surat Maryam verse 23-25. According to the lectionary found for this church, the miracle of the palm, the virgin conception of Jesus, the immaculate (sin-free, virgin) conception of Mary, and the dormition (assumption into heaven alive) of Mary were all celebrated at this church. The Marian stational liturgy of the Dormition was celebrated here from the 13th of August to the 17th of August in the church calendar. In addition, in the middle of this celebration there were also reading on the 14th of August from the ''Life of Jeremiah''. The ''Life'' purports to tell how the prophet Jeremiah saved the Ark of the Covenant and concealed it after the destruction of the 1st temple by the Babylonians. A text from the Kathisma , preserved in Georgian, one of the languages of mass celebration at the church, adds an extra prophecy to the story in the ''Life of Jeremiah'' <ref> Guillaume Dye, “The Qur’ān and its Hypertextuality in Light of Redaction Criticism,” The Fourth Nangeroni Meeting Early Islam: The Sectarian Milieu of Late Antiquity? (Early Islamic Studies Seminar, Milan) (15-19 June 2015): 13. </ref>.
 +
 
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{{Quote|The Lection of Jeremiah|
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“And the prophet [Jeremiah] said: ‘His coming will be a sign for you, and for other children
 +
at the end of the world.57 And nobody will bring forth the hidden Ark from the rock, except the
 +
priest Aaron, '''''the brother of Mary'''''. And nobody will unveil the tables therein, nor be able to read
 +
them, except the lawgiver Moses, the chosen of the Lord. And at the resurrection of the dead, the
 +
Ark will be the first to rise from the rock and to be placed on Mount Sinai, so that the word of the
 +
prophet David will be fulfilled, in which he said: ‘Arise, O Lord, to your resting place, You
 +
and the Ark of Your holiness’, which is the Holy Virgin Mary who passes from this world
 +
to the presence of God, she to whom the apostles proclaimed in Zion the praise of Myrrh
 +
saying: ‘Today the Virgin is being guided from Bethlehem to Zion, and today from earth
 +
to heaven’, and all the saints are gathered together around her and wait for the Lord, putting to
 +
flight the enemy who aims to destroy them.”}}
  
}}the Arabic original has the letter ''nun'' (ن) at the end:{{Quote|History of at-Tabari (ِArabic) <ref>https://al-maktaba.org/book/9783/383</ref>|ذكر نسب موسى بن عمران
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<br />The use of "sister of Aaron" (here reversed as "the brother of Mary" for Aaron) is being invoked here deliberately by the Georgian author, who always uses "Mary" for the mother of Jesus and "Miriam" for the actual sister of Aaron. The Qur'an is thus not showing its ignorance here; rather the reference to Mary as Aaron's sister is a reference to the celebration of the cult of the virgin Mary in Palestine. It is thus unlikely that an uneducated pagan audience in Mecca or Medina might have understood this verse; there are several explanations for how such a complex reference could have made its way into the Qur'an, and none of them align with the traditional narrative:  
  
+
#The Arab audience of the northern Hijaz was not actually illiterate and pagan as the sirah and tafsir literature would have us believe, but was rather already in Muhammad's time largely Christian and intimately familiar with the literate, multi-lingual Grecophone and Syriac-speaking culture of the Byzantine near east.
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#This surah (at least the first section) was not composed as the preaching of Muhammad, but was rather the product of Christian holy men working for an Arabic-speaking audience inside of the Byzantine empire; the first part of the surah which makes these allusions is thus a separate text from the later part of the surah which is heavily "Islamic" and lacks the complex Christian allusions. The entire surah as a whole is thus a composite work.
 +
#Muhammad did not compose and preach this surah in the Hijaz, but rather in or around Palestine for an audience that would understand it; if Shoemaker in his book ''The Death of a Prophet'' is to be believed, this could have been after he personally conquered Jerusalem itself.
  
Genealogy of Musa bin Imran (عمران)}}Miriam was the daughter of Amram and a sister of Aaron. The Qur'an describes Mary, the mother of Jesus, as being a daughter of Amram and a sister of Aaron - in the same family relationship as Miriam. Many people, including Aisha, understood Mary and Miriam to be the same person, based on their understanding of the Qur'anic text.
+
===Likely Meaning of Imran===
  
When Christians criticized the verse which calls Mary "sister of Aaron" in the Quran, Muhammad's response was that "people were named after pious persons who lived before them". Islamic scholars concluded that Mary was either called "sister of Aaron" because she was his descendant or she had a brother coincidentally called Aaron. Both these solutions seem to be inventions, because Mary was not known to be a descendant of Aaron and she was not known to have a brother called "Aaron". On the other hand Miriam was well-known to be a sister of Aaron.
+
When the Qur'an states that Mary is the daughter of 'Imran, it is likely using typology, an approach to scripture that sees later figures as reflections of their biblical forebears. Thus what the Qur'an is here saying, through the mother of Jewish interlocuters, is that Mary and her family were pre-figured by the family of Aaron and Miryam. This pre-figurement further plays into the links established between Mary and Miriam at the church of the Kathisma, and once again demonstrates the author’s intimate knowledge of the Palestinian cult of the virgin Mary <ref>  Guillaume Dye, “The Qur’ān and its Hypertextuality in Light of Redaction Criticism,” The Fourth Nangeroni Meeting Early Islam: The Sectarian Milieu of Late Antiquity? (Early Islamic Studies Seminar, Milan) (15-19 June 2015): 9.</ref>.
  
Since Mary and Miriam are both pronounced Maryam in Arabic, it seems probable, that Muhammad, based on the Christian stories he heard,<ref>For example from Waraqa ibn Nawfal.</ref> mixed these two women into one person, when he was making up the Qur'an.
 
 
==See Also==
 
==See Also==
  
Line 193: Line 165:
  
 
*[http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/qbhc06.html "Mary, Sister of Aaron & Daughter of Amram" (Answering Islam)]
 
*[http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/qbhc06.html "Mary, Sister of Aaron & Daughter of Amram" (Answering Islam)]
 +
 +
*[http://www.gnosis.org/library/psudomat.htm "Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew" (The Gnostic Society Library)]
 +
 +
*[http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/infancyjames.html "The Infancy Gospel of James" AKA the Protoevangelium of James (Early Christian Writings)]
 +
 +
*[https://www.academia.edu/12358270/The_Quran_and_its_Hypertextuality_in_Light_of_Redaction_Criticism "The Quran and its Hypertextuality in Light of Redaction Criticism" (Academia.edu)]
 
{{Translation-links-english|[[Marie, sestra Áronova, v Koránu|Czech]]}}
 
{{Translation-links-english|[[Marie, sestra Áronova, v Koránu|Czech]]}}
  

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Mary (Miriam) the sister of Aaron (and of Moses), is a phrase used in the Quran to refer to Mary the mother of Jesus.[1] From at least the 8th century, and perhaps as far back as Muhammad's time, critics have attacked this verse as a simple but revealing error.[2] In Arabic both Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary the sister of Aaron and Moses are called by the same name, مريم (Maryam). Skeptical Jewish and Christian scholars believed that Muhammad had mistaken Jesus' mother for Moses' sister.[2] While they shared a name, according to the Bible these two women lived more than a thousand years apart. In the hadith Muhammad explains that this criticism was a misunderstanding, but, according to these same texts many remained unconvinced.[2] Ultimately, it seems, the Hadith and sirah traditions came to assert that Aaron and Moses had a sister whose name was Kulthum rather than Miriam, which seems to point to the tradition’s fundamental inability to understand the context of these verses and how they relate to the two biblical Miriams.[3][4][5] In contrast to the traditional narrative, modern scholars have rather found in this surah a complex web of inter-textual references, pointing to a highly literate and Christian audience of the original text [6][7].

Mention of Mary in the Quran

Qur'an

Mary the mother of Jesus is called sister of Aaron in sura 19:

Then she brought him to her own folk, carrying him. They said: O Mary! Thou hast come with an amazing thing.

(19:28) O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot.

Then she pointed to him. They said: How can we talk to one who is in the cradle, a young boy?

He spake: Lo! I am the slave of Allah. He hath given me the Scripture and hath appointed me a Prophet,

And hath made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and hath enjoined upon me prayer and almsgiving so long as I remain alive,

And (hath made me) dutiful toward her who bore me, and hath not made me arrogant, unblest.

Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!

Such was Jesus, son of Mary: (this is) a statement of the truth concerning which they doubt.


The Qur'an also says the wife of Imran gave birth to the virgin Mary who gave birth to Jesus.

(Remember) when the wife of 'Imran said: My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee that which is in my belly as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower!

And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female - Allah knew best of what she was delivered - the male is not as the female; and lo! I have named her Mary, and lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast.

And her Lord accepted her with full acceptance and vouchsafed to her a goodly growth; and made Zachariah her guardian. Whenever Zachariah went into the sanctuary where she was, he found that she had food. He said: O Mary! Whence cometh unto thee this (food)? She answered: It is from Allah. Allah giveth without stint to whom He will.

Then Zachariah prayed unto his Lord and said: My Lord! Bestow upon me of Thy bounty goodly offspring. Lo! Thou art the Hearer of Prayer.

And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous.

He said: My Lord! How can I have a son when age hath overtaken me already and my wife is barren? (The angel) answered: So (it will be). Allah doeth what He will.

He said: My Lord! Appoint a token for me. (The angel) said: The token unto thee (shall be) that thou shalt not speak unto mankind three days except by signs. Remember thy Lord much, and praise (Him) in the early hours of night and morning.

And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath chosen thee and made thee pure, and hath preferred thee above (all) the women of creation.

O Mary! Be obedient to thy Lord, prostrate thyself and bow with those who bow (in worship).

This is of the tidings of things hidden. We reveal it unto thee (Muhammad). Thou wast not present with them when they threw their pens (to know) which of them should be the guardian of Mary, nor wast thou present with them when they quarrelled (thereupon).

(And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah).

He will speak unto mankind in his cradle and in his manhood, and he is of the righteous.

She said: My Lord! How can I have a child when no mortal hath touched me? He said: So (it will be). Allah createth what He will. If He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is.

The Quran mentions prominent families:

Indeed, Allah chose Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of 'Imran over the worlds -

Relevant Quotations

(Remember) when the wife of 'Imran said: My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee that which is in my belly as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower!

And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female - Allah knew best of what she was delivered - the male is not as the female; and lo! I have named her Mary, and lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast.

And her Lord accepted her with full acceptance and vouchsafed to her a goodly growth; and made Zachariah her guardian. Whenever Zachariah went into the sanctuary where she was, he found that she had food. He said: O Mary! Whence cometh unto thee this (food)? She answered: It is from Allah. Allah giveth without stint to whom He will.

Then Zachariah prayed unto his Lord and said: My Lord! Bestow upon me of Thy bounty goodly offspring. Lo! Thou art the Hearer of Prayer.

And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous.

He said: My Lord! How can I have a son when age hath overtaken me already and my wife is barren? (The angel) answered: So (it will be). Allah doeth what He will.

He said: My Lord! Appoint a token for me. (The angel) said: The token unto thee (shall be) that thou shalt not speak unto mankind three days except by signs. Remember thy Lord much, and praise (Him) in the early hours of night and morning.

And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath chosen thee and made thee pure, and hath preferred thee above (all) the women of creation.

O Mary! Be obedient to thy Lord, prostrate thyself and bow with those who bow (in worship).

This is of the tidings of things hidden. We reveal it unto thee (Muhammad). Thou wast not present with them when they threw their pens (to know) which of them should be the guardian of Mary, nor wast thou present with them when they quarrelled (thereupon).

(And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah).

He will speak unto mankind in his cradle and in his manhood, and he is of the righteous.

She said: My Lord! How can I have a child when no mortal hath touched me? He said: So (it will be). Allah createth what He will. If He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is.
And Mary, daughter of 'Imran, whose body was chaste, therefor We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His scriptures, and was of the obedient.
O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot.
Mughira b. Shu'ba reported: When I came to Najran, they (the Christians of Najran) asked me: You read  "O sister of Harun" (i. e. Hadrat Maryam) in the Qur'an, whereas Moses was born much before Jesus. When I came back to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) I asked him about that, whereupon he said: The (people of the old age) used to give names (to their persons) after the names of Apostles and pious persons who had gone before them.
وَقَالَ اِبْن جَرِير حَدَّثَنِي يَعْقُوب حَدَّثَنَا اِبْن عُلَيَّة عَنْ سَعِيد بْن أَبِي صَدَقَة عَنْ مُحَمَّد بْن سِيرِينَ قَالَ أُنْبِئْت أَنَّ كَعْبًا قَالَ إِنَّ قَوْله : " يَا أُخْت هَارُون " لَيْسَ بِهَارُون أَخِي مُوسَى قَالَ فَقَالَتْ لَهُ عَائِشَة كَذَبْت قَالَ يَا أُمّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِنْ كَانَ النَّبِيّ صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَهُ فَهُوَ أَعْلَم وَأَخْبَر وَإِلَّا فَإِنِّي أَجِد بَيْنهمَا سِتّمِائَةِ سَنَة قَالَ فَسَكَتَتْ وَفِي هَذَا التَّارِيخ نَظَر


It was narrated from Ibn Jarir, narrated from Yaqub, narrated from Ibn U’laya, narrated from Sa’id Ibn Abi Sadaqa, narrated from Muhammad Ibn Sireen who stated that he was told that Ka’b said the verse that reads, "O sister of Harun (Aaron)!" (of Sura 19:28) does not refer to Aaron the brother of Moses. Aisha replied to Ka’b, "You have lied." Ka’b responded, "O Mother of the believers! If the prophet, may Allah’s prayers be upon him, has said it, and he is more knowledgeable, then this is what he related. Besides, I find the difference in time between them (Jesus and Moses) to be 600 years." He said that she remained silent.
Tafsir Ibn Kathir (non-abridged) on 19:28 [8]

Biblical and Talmudic accounts of Mary

Miriam, Aaron, and Moses were the children of Amram (Imran in Arabic):

The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses and Miriam.
1 Chronicles 6:3

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the daughter of Joachim and from the family of David (not from the family of Aaron):

The blessed and ever glorious Virgin Mary, sprung from the royal race and family of David, was born in the city of Nazareth, and educated at Jerusalem, in the temple of the Lord. Her father's name was Joachim, and her mother's Anna. The family of her father was of Galilee and the city of Nazareth. The family of her mother was of Bethlehem.
The gospel of the birth of Mary, 1:1-2

Traditional Muslim Explanations

Ibn Kathir gave the following explanation in his tafsir:

(O sister of Harun!) referring to the brother of Musa, because she was of his descendants. This is similar to the saying, `O brother of Tamim,' to one who is from the Tamimi tribe, and `O brother of Mudar,' to one who is from the Mudari tribe. It has also been said that she was related to a righteous man among them whose name was Harun and she was comparable to him in her abstinence and worship.

That he mentioned two alternative explanations suggests he was unsure regarding the certainty of either of them.

"Sister of Aaron means a descendant of Aaron"

The Qur'an says "sister (أُخْتَ) of Aaron" and people understood the verse to literally mean "sister of Aaron". Only after this relation was criticized as an error did it become instead understood as a metaphor meaning "a descendant of Aaron". Christian sources consistently stated that Mary was from the family of David, so many wondered why the Qur'an would describe her as instead being from the family of Aaron. Some point out that in Luke 1:5, Elizabeth is said to be a descendant of Aaron; and in Luke 1:36, Elizabeth is said to be a cousin or relative of Mary [9]. But being related to another person does not guarantee that one also descends from any particular one of that person’s distant ancestors (Aaron in this case).

Furthermore, if she was a known descendant of Aaron, then one wonders why the learned Arab Christians (and Aisha and Mughira b. Shu'ba) of Muhammad's time were unaware of this.

The additional description of her as the "daughter of Amram (Imran)" in Surahs 3 and 66 appears to make the matter even foggier and more clearly problematic.

"Mary coincidentally had a father called Imran and a brother called Aaron"

Christian sources say her father was named Joachim, and they don't mention she had a brother called Aaron. And if she had a brother called Aaron, then the question still is, why is she called "sister of Aaron"? If this brother is so important that he had to be mentioned with her name, why don't we hear more about him? It is more probable that the author of the Qur'an thought that she really is the sister of Aaron and Moses, and so in the Qur'an people called her "sister of Aaron" to emphasize her social status.

O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot.

In other words, the people asked "How can you have a baby without a husband, when you are from such a moral family".

Moses' Father

In Hebrew he is called Amram (עַמְרָם) with the letter mem (ם) at the end. In the Arabic Bible he is also called Amram (عمرام), with the letter meem (م) at the end:

أبْناءُ عَمْرامَ هُمْ هارُونُ وَمُوسَى وَمَرْيَمُ


The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses and Miriam.
1 Chronicles 6:3 in Arabic Bible

In Islam he is called Imran (عمران). English translators commonly choose to translate the name as Amram:

The Genealogy of Moses b. Amram


History of at-Tabari, volume 3

The Arabic original has the letter nun (ن) at the end:

ذكر نسب موسى بن عمران


Genealogy of Musa bin Imran (عمران)
History of at-Tabari (ِArabic) [10]

Miriam was the daughter of Amram and a sister of Aaron. The Qur'an describes Mary, the mother of Jesus, as being a daughter of Amram and a sister of Aaron - in the same family relationship as Miriam. Many people, including Aisha, understood Mary and Miriam to be the same person, based on their understanding of the Qur'anic text.

When Christians criticized the verse which calls Mary "sister of Aaron" in the Quran, Muhammad's response was that "people were named after pious persons who lived before them". Islamic scholars concluded that Mary was either called "sister of Aaron" because she was his descendant or she had a brother coincidentally called Aaron. Both these solutions seem to be inventions, because Mary was not known to be a descendant of Aaron and she was not known to have a brother called "Aaron". On the other hand, Miriam was well-known to be a sister of Aaron.

Since Mary and Miriam are both pronounced Maryam in Arabic, it seems probable, that Muhammad, based on the Christian stories he heard,[11] mixed these two women into one person when he was making up the Qur'an.

Modern Scholarly Interpretations

Modern scholars note that the author of Surat-Maryam had an in-depth knowledge of Christian tradition, and that he may have been a Christian clergyman whose work was used by the incipient believers movement, or who had joined the movement himself. As the author was evidently steeped in Christian tradition, it seems unlikely that he would have made a mistake about of Mary, the mother of Jesus, conflating her with Mary, the sister of Aaron and Moses. Rather, what is being invoked here is likely both Mary's descent from the scions of the Jewish people, Moses and Aaron, as well a priestly tradition in the Church of Kathisma in Jerusalem, linking the Dormition (apparent death, followed by the resurrection and assumption of Mary alive into heaven) with the priesthood of Aaron. A pre-Islamic Georgian Christian homiletic text exists that seems to explicitly call Mary the sister of Aaron. The shared phrasing between this Georgian text from Jerusalem and the Qur'an is remarkable; it suggests that whoever the author is of the rest of the Qur'an and even surat-Maryam, the author of this specific passage must have been a Christian from the area around Jerusalem, who was intimately familiar with the Christian tradition around the church of Kathisma and the liturgical traditions the church possessed around the virgin Mary [12].

References to Other Narratives

The entire first portion of Surat-Maryam (verses 1-63) makes constant references to apocryphal stories from legendary apocryphal gospels such as the Protoevangelium of James and the gospel of Pseudo-Matthew. These texts outline an infancy gospel of the Virgin Mary, telling of her father Joachim and mother Ana, righteous Jews who served the poor and followed the word of the Lord. Joachim was excluded from a temple ritual because of his lack of a child, however, since all righteous men of Israel had children. He went to the desert to pray and fast while Ana prayed for children from the Lord; after seeing a sparrow's nest in a tree, the angel of the Lord appeared to her and informed her that she would bear a child. In their joy for being granted a child at such an advanced age, the couple dedicated the child, Mary, as a perpetual virgin to the Lord. When she grew older she was entrusted to the care of an older man, Joseph, who would act as her husband but would not engage in sexual intercourse with her. When the Lord impregnated Mary with Jesus, the Jews accused Joseph and Mary of violating her oath to the Lord. The priest of the temple put Joseph to the test of the water of the ordeal of the Lord, drinking it and returning unharmed; furthermore, when Mary gave birth to Jesus, a blinding white light bathed the cave she was in, and both the midwife and the accused inserted their finger into her vagina and were shocked to see that even after Jesus' birth she was still a virgin. After seeing these great signs, the faith of Mary and Joseph was vindicated. Although these sources are uncredited in Muslim exegesis, there is no doubt that Surat-Maryam makes numerous references to this Marian infancy cycle, and in ayah 25 it also makes explicit reference to the Palm miracle recorded in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew 20:1-2 (itself a reworking of the pagan fable of Leto giving birth to Apollo [13]).

فَنَادَىٰهَا مِن تَحْتِهَآ أَلَّا تَحْزَنِى قَدْ جَعَلَ رَبُّكِ تَحْتَكِ سَرِيًّا فَأَجَآءَهَا ٱلْمَخَاضُ إِلَىٰ جِذْعِ ٱلنَّخْلَةِ قَالَتْ يَٰلَيْتَنِى مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَٰذَا وَكُنتُ نَسْيًا مَّنسِيًّا وَهُزِّىٓ إِلَيْكِ بِجِذْعِ ٱلنَّخْلَةِ تُسَٰقِطْ عَلَيْكِ رُطَبًا جَنِيًّا فَكُلِى وَٱشْرَبِى وَقَرِّى عَيْنًا ۖ فَإِمَّا تَرَيِنَّ مِنَ ٱلْبَشَرِ أَحَدًا فَقُولِىٓ إِنِّى نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ صَوْمًا فَلَنْ أُكَلِّمَ ٱلْيَوْمَ إِنسِيًّا

And the pangs of childbirth drove her unto the trunk of the palm-tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died ere this and had become a thing of naught, forgotten!Then (one) cried unto her from below her, saying: Grieve not! Thy Lord hath placed a rivulet beneath thee, And shake the trunk of the palm-tree toward thee, thou wilt cause ripe dates to fall upon thee. So eat and drink and be consoled. And if thou meetest any mortal, say: Lo! I have vowed a fast unto the Beneficent, and may not speak this day to any mortal.

Compare with the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew:

And it came to pass on the third day of their journey, while they were walking, that the blessed Mary was fatigued by the excessive heat of the sun in the desert; and seeing a palm tree, she said to Joseph: Let me rest a little under the shade of this tree. Joseph therefore made haste, and led her to the palm, and made her come down from her beast. And as the blessed Mary was sitting there, she looked up to the foliage of the palm, and saw it full of fruit, and said to Joseph: I wish it were possible to get some of the fruit of this palm. And Joseph said to her: I wonder that thou sayest this, when thou seest how high the palm tree is; and that thou thinkest of eating of its fruit. I am thinking more of the want of water, because the skins are now empty, and we have none wherewith to refresh ourselves and our cattle. Then the child Jesus, with a joyful countenance, reposing in the bosom of His mother, said to the palm: O tree, bend thy branches, and refresh my mother with thy fruit. And immediately at these words the palm bent its top down to the very feet of the blessed Mary; and they gathered from it fruit, with which they were all refreshed. And after they had gathered all its fruit, it remained bent down, waiting the order to rise from Him who bad commanded it to stoop. Then Jesus said to it: Raise thyself, O palm tree, and be strong, and be the companion of my trees, which are in the paradise of my Father; and open from thy roots a vein of water which has been hid in the earth, and let the waters flow, so that we may be satisfied from thee. And it rose up immediately, and at its root there began to come forth a spring of water exceedingly clear and cool and sparkling. And when they saw the spring of water, they rejoiced with great joy, and were satisfied, themselves and all their cattle and their beasts. Wherefore they gave thanks to God.
The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew Chapter 20 http://www.gnosis.org/library/psudomat.htm

The Palestinian Connection

There exists in Palestine a Byzantine Church dedicated to the virgin Mary, the church of the Kathisma or Holy Throne of the virgin Mary. This church has a deep and complex relationship with the Islamic tradition, and was the likely model for the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem [14]. Around the time of Muhammad, this church was a center of the Christian cult of the virgin Mary. Unlike modern Catholic and Orthodox Church, where only the Bible is read from the lectionary during the mass, at this time it was not unusual for reading to be done from the apocrypha and other non-canonized works. The Kathisma was built upon the site of the palm miracle mentioned in Pseudo Matthew chapter 20 and surat Maryam verse 23-25. According to the lectionary found for this church, the miracle of the palm, the virgin conception of Jesus, the immaculate (sin-free, virgin) conception of Mary, and the dormition (assumption into heaven alive) of Mary were all celebrated at this church. The Marian stational liturgy of the Dormition was celebrated here from the 13th of August to the 17th of August in the church calendar. In addition, in the middle of this celebration there were also reading on the 14th of August from the Life of Jeremiah. The Life purports to tell how the prophet Jeremiah saved the Ark of the Covenant and concealed it after the destruction of the 1st temple by the Babylonians. A text from the Kathisma , preserved in Georgian, one of the languages of mass celebration at the church, adds an extra prophecy to the story in the Life of Jeremiah [15].

“And the prophet [Jeremiah] said: ‘His coming will be a sign for you, and for other children at the end of the world.57 And nobody will bring forth the hidden Ark from the rock, except the priest Aaron, the brother of Mary. And nobody will unveil the tables therein, nor be able to read them, except the lawgiver Moses, the chosen of the Lord. And at the resurrection of the dead, the Ark will be the first to rise from the rock and to be placed on Mount Sinai, so that the word of the prophet David will be fulfilled, in which he said: ‘Arise, O Lord, to your resting place, You and the Ark of Your holiness’, which is the Holy Virgin Mary who passes from this world to the presence of God, she to whom the apostles proclaimed in Zion the praise of Myrrh saying: ‘Today the Virgin is being guided from Bethlehem to Zion, and today from earth to heaven’, and all the saints are gathered together around her and wait for the Lord, putting to

flight the enemy who aims to destroy them.”
The Lection of Jeremiah


The use of "sister of Aaron" (here reversed as "the brother of Mary" for Aaron) is being invoked here deliberately by the Georgian author, who always uses "Mary" for the mother of Jesus and "Miriam" for the actual sister of Aaron. The Qur'an is thus not showing its ignorance here; rather the reference to Mary as Aaron's sister is a reference to the celebration of the cult of the virgin Mary in Palestine. It is thus unlikely that an uneducated pagan audience in Mecca or Medina might have understood this verse; there are several explanations for how such a complex reference could have made its way into the Qur'an, and none of them align with the traditional narrative:

  1. The Arab audience of the northern Hijaz was not actually illiterate and pagan as the sirah and tafsir literature would have us believe, but was rather already in Muhammad's time largely Christian and intimately familiar with the literate, multi-lingual Grecophone and Syriac-speaking culture of the Byzantine near east.
  2. This surah (at least the first section) was not composed as the preaching of Muhammad, but was rather the product of Christian holy men working for an Arabic-speaking audience inside of the Byzantine empire; the first part of the surah which makes these allusions is thus a separate text from the later part of the surah which is heavily "Islamic" and lacks the complex Christian allusions. The entire surah as a whole is thus a composite work.
  3. Muhammad did not compose and preach this surah in the Hijaz, but rather in or around Palestine for an audience that would understand it; if Shoemaker in his book The Death of a Prophet is to be believed, this could have been after he personally conquered Jerusalem itself.

Likely Meaning of Imran

When the Qur'an states that Mary is the daughter of 'Imran, it is likely using typology, an approach to scripture that sees later figures as reflections of their biblical forebears. Thus what the Qur'an is here saying, through the mother of Jewish interlocuters, is that Mary and her family were pre-figured by the family of Aaron and Miryam. This pre-figurement further plays into the links established between Mary and Miriam at the church of the Kathisma, and once again demonstrates the author’s intimate knowledge of the Palestinian cult of the virgin Mary [16].

See Also

Translations

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References

  1. Quran 19:27-34
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Mughira b. Shu'ba reported: When I came to Najran, they (the Christians of Najran) asked me: You read  "O sister of Harun" (i. e. Hadrat Maryam) in the Qur'an, whereas Moses was born much before Jesus. When I came back to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) I asked him about that, whereupon he said: The (people of the old age) used to give names (to their persons) after the names of Apostles and pious persons who had gone before them. Sahih Muslim 28:13
  3. Quran 19:27-28.
  4. Sahih Muslim 25:5326.
  5. Majlisi, Hayat al-Qulub 2:26.
  6. Guillaume Dye, “The Qur’ān and its Hypertextuality in Light of Redaction Criticism,” The Fourth Nangeroni Meeting Early Islam: The Sectarian Milieu of Late Antiquity? (Early Islamic Studies Seminar, Milan) (15-19 June 2015): 8
  7. Suleiman A. Mourad, “Mary in the Qur’an: a reexamination of her presentation,” The Qur'an in its Historical Context, Edited by Gabriel Said Reynolds (2008): 165.
  8. http://quran.al-islam.com/Page.aspx?pageid=221&BookID=11&Page=1
  9. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+1
  10. https://al-maktaba.org/book/9783/383
  11. For example from Waraqa ibn Nawfal.
  12. Guillaume Dye, “The Qur’ān and its Hypertextuality in Light of Redaction Criticism,” The Fourth Nangeroni Meeting Early Islam: The Sectarian Milieu of Late Antiquity? (Early Islamic Studies Seminar, Milan) (15-19 June 2015): 10.
  13. Suleiman A. Mourad, “Mary in the Qur’an: a reexamination of her presentation,” The Qur'an in its Historical Context, Edited by Gabriel Said Reynolds (2008): 169.
  14. Guillaume Dye, “The Qur’ān and its Hypertextuality in Light of Redaction Criticism,” The Fourth Nangeroni Meeting Early Islam: The Sectarian Milieu of Late Antiquity? (Early Islamic Studies Seminar, Milan) (15-19 June 2015): 15.
  15. Guillaume Dye, “The Qur’ān and its Hypertextuality in Light of Redaction Criticism,” The Fourth Nangeroni Meeting Early Islam: The Sectarian Milieu of Late Antiquity? (Early Islamic Studies Seminar, Milan) (15-19 June 2015): 13.
  16. Guillaume Dye, “The Qur’ān and its Hypertextuality in Light of Redaction Criticism,” The Fourth Nangeroni Meeting Early Islam: The Sectarian Milieu of Late Antiquity? (Early Islamic Studies Seminar, Milan) (15-19 June 2015): 9.