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QURN, CHAPTER 19 MARY

BACKGROUND AND CONEXT

PERIOD OF REVELATION The chapter was revealed in Mecca before the Migration to Abyssinia in the year 615CE. We learn from authentic traditions that Jfar ibn Ab Tlib , a cousin of Muhammad , recited verses 1-40 of this chapter to King Negus of Abyssinia when he called the Muslims who had migrated to his country to his court. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND When the chiefs of the Quraysh, a powerful merchant tribe that controlled Mecca and the Kaba, felt that they had failed to suppress the Islamic movement by ridicule and sarcasm, holding out promises, threats and by making false accusations they resorted to persecution, beating and economic pressure. They would catch hold of the new Muslims of their clans and persecute them, starve them and would even inflict physical torture on them in order to coerce them to give up Islam. The most pitiful victims of their persecution were the poor people and the slaves and the protgs of the Quraysh. They were beaten, whipped, crushed, were imprisoned and kept thirsty and hungry and were dragged on the burning sands of Mecca. When the conditions became unbearable, the Prophet

You may well migrate to Abyssinia for there is a king who does not allow any kind of injustice to anyone and there is good in his land. You should remain there until the time that God provides a remedy for your affliction.
Accordingly at first, eleven men and four women left for Abyssinia. The Quraysh pursued them up to the coast but the companions succeeded in obtaining a boat for Abyssinia at the sea-port of Shaibah and they escaped. Then, after a few months, other Muslims migrated to Abyssinia and their number rose to eighty-three men and eleven women of the Quraysh and seven non-Quraysh. After this, only forty companions were left with the Prophet in Mecca. There was a great hue and cry in Mecca after this Migration, for every family of the Quraysh was adversely affected by this. There was hardly a family of the Quraysh which did not lose a son, a son-inlaw, a daughter, a brother or a sister. For instance, there were among the migrants the near relatives of Ab Jahl, Ab Sufyn and other chiefs of the Quraysh who were notorious for their persecution of the Muslims. After the migration, the Quraysh held consultations, and decided to send AbdAllh ibn Ab Rabiah, half brother of Abu Jahl, and Amr ibn As to Abyssinia with precious gifts so as to persuade King Negus to send the migrants back to Mecca. Umm Salmah, a wife of the Prophet , who was among the migrants, has related this part of the story in detail. She says, When these two clever statesmen of the Quraysh reached Abyssinia, they distributed the gifts among the courtiers of the King and persuaded them to recommend strongly to him to send the migrants back. Then they saw Negus himself and, presenting rich gifts to him, said, Some headstrong brats of our city have

gave advice to his Companions to this effect:

come to your land and our chiefs have sent us to you with the request that you may kindly send them back. These brats have forsaken our faith and have not embraced your faith either, but have invented a new faith. As soon as they had finished their speech, all the courtiers recommended their case, saying, We should send such people back to their city for their people know them better. It is not proper for us to keep them here. At this the King was annoyed and said, I am not going to give them back without proper inquiry. As these people have put their trust in my country rather than in any other country and have come here to take shelter, I will not betray them. At first I will send for them and investigate into the allegations these people have made against them. Then I will make my final decision . Accordingly,
the King sent for the companions of the Prophet and asked them to come to his court.

When the migrants received the message of the King, they assembled and held consultations as to what they should say to the King. At last they came to this unanimous decision: We will present before the

King the teachings of the Holy Prophet without adding anything to or withholding anything from them and leave it to him whether he lets us remain here or turns us out of his country . When they came to the court, the King put this problem abruptly before them: I understand that you have given up the faith of your own people and have neither embraced my faith nor any other existing faith. I would like to know what your new faith is. At this, Jfar ibn Ab Tlib , on behalf of the migrants, made an unprepared speech to this effect: O King! We were sunk deep in ignorance and had become very corrupt; then Muhammad came to us as a Messenger of God, and did his best to reform us. But the Quraysh began to persecute his followers, so we have come to your country in the hope that here we will be free from persecution. After his speech, the King said, Please recite a piece of the Revelation which has been sent down by God to your Prophet . In response, Jfar recited the portion of Mary which relates the Message of Jesus have come from the same source. By God I will not give you up into the hands of these people.
The next day, Amr ibn As approached Negus and said, Please send for them again and ask them

the story of Prophets John the Baptist and Jesus. The King listened to it and wept, so much so that his beard became wet with tears. When Jfar finished the recital, he said: Most surely this Revelation and

concerning the creed they hold about Jesus, the son of Mary, for they say a horrible thing about him. The
King again sent for the migrants, who had already learnt about the scheme of Amr. They again sat together and held consultations in regard to the answer they should give to the King, if he asked about the belief they held about Prophet Jesus. Though this was a very critical situation and all of them were uneasy about it, they decided that they would say the same thing that God and His Messenger had taught them. Accordingly, when they went to the court, the King put them the question that had been suggested by Amr ibn As. So Jfar ibn Ab Tlib stood up and answered without the least hesitation: He was a

Servant of God and His Messenger. He was a Spirit and a Word of God which had been sent to Virgin Mary. At this the King picked up a straw from the ground and said, By God, Jesus was not worth this straw more than what you have said about him. After this the King returned the gifts sent by the Quraysh, saying, I do not take any bribe. Then he said to the migrants, You are allowed to stay here in perfect peace.
THEME AND SUBJECT

Keeping in view this historical background, it becomes quite obvious that this chapter was sent down to serve the migrants as a provision for their journey to Abyssinia, as if to say though you are leaving your country as persecuted emigrants to a Christian country you should not in the least hide anything from the teachings you have received. Therefore, you should plainly say to the Christians that Prophet Jesus was not the son of God. After relating the story of Prophets John and Jesus in verses 1-40, the story of Prophet Abraham has been related (verses 41-50) also for the benefit of the migrants for he also had been forced like them to leave his country by the persecution of his father, his family and his countrymen. On the one hand, this is meant to console the emigrants that they were following the footsteps of Prophet Abraham and would attain the same good end as that Prophet did. On the other hand, it meant to warn the disbelievers of Mecca that they should note it well that they were in the position of the cruel people who had persecuted their forefather and leader Abraham while the Muslim emigrants were in the position of Prophet Abraham himself. Then the mention of the other Prophets has been made in verses 51-65 with a view to impress that Prophet Muhammad had brought the same way of life that had been brought by the former Prophets but their followers had become corrupt and adopted wrong ways. In the concluding passage (verses 66-98), a strong criticism has been made of the evil ways of the disbelievers of Mecca while the believers have been given the good news that they would turn out to be successful and become the beloved of the people in spite of the worst efforts of the enemies of the truth.

QURN, CHAPTER 19 MARY


In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy
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Kaf Ha Ya Ayn Sd
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This is an account of your Lords grace towards His servant, Zachariah, when he called to his Lord secretly, saying, 4 Lord, my bones have weakened and my hair is ashen grey, but never, Lord, have I ever prayed to You in vain: 5 I fear [what] my kinsmen [will do] when I am gone, for my wife is barren, so grant me a successora gift from You6 to be my heir and the heir of the family of Jacoba. Lord, make him well pleasing [to You]. Zachariah, We bring you good news of a son whose name will be John [the Baptist]We have chosen this name for no one before him. 8 He said, Lord, how can I have a son when my 9 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 [be able to] speak to anyone for three full [days and] nights. He went out of the sanctuaryb to his people and signalled to them to praise God morning and evening.
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[We said], John, hold on to the Scripture firmly. While he was still a boy, We granted him wisdom, 13 tenderness from Us, and purity. He was devout, 14 kind to his parents, not domineering or rebellious. 15 Peace was on him the day he was born, the day he died, and it will be on him the day he is raised to life again. Mention in the Qurn the story of Mary. She withdrew from her family to a place to the east and secluded herself away; We sent Our Spirit [Gabriel] to appear before her in the form of a perfected man. 18She said, I seek the Lord of Mercys protection against you: if you have any fear of Him [do not approach]! 19 but he said, I am but a Messenger from your Lord, [come] to announce to you the gift of a pure son. 20She said, How can I have a son when no man has touched me? I have not been unchaste, 21 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. 22 And so it was ordained: she conceived him. She withdrew to a distant place 23 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! 24 but a voice cried to her from below, Do not worry: your Lord has provided a stream at your feet 25 and, if you shake the trunk of the palm tree towards you, it 26 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 abstainc from conversation, and I will not talk to anyone today.
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She went back to her people carrying the child, and they said, Mary! You have done something terrible! 28 Sisterd of Aaron! Your father was not an evil man; your mother was not unchaste! 29She pointed at him. They said, How can we converse with an infant who is in the cradle?
a This refers to the inheritance of Prophethood and knowledge rather than wealth or property.
b Zachariah left the sanctuary that he was praying in. c Sawm (known as fasting) can mean abstinence from food or from speech. d Either she had a brother called Aaron, or was simply of Aarons tribe: in Arabic sister/brother of can mean relation of, e.g.

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brother of Hamdan meaning of the tribe of Hamdan.

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[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, 32 to cherish my mother. He did not make me domineering or graceless. 33Peace 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. 34Such was Jesus, son of Mary.
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[This is] a statement of the Truth about which they are in doubt: 35 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. 36 God is my Lord and your Lord, so serve Him: that is a straight path.a 37But sects have differed among themselves. What suffering will come to those who obscure the truth when a dreadful Day arrives! 38How sharp of hearing, how sharp of sight they will be when they come to Us, although now they are clearly off course! Warn them [Muhammad ] of the Day of Remorse when the matter will be decided, 39 for they are heedless and do not believe. 40 It is We who will inherit the earth and all who are on it: they will all be returned to Us. Mention too, in the Qurn, the story of Abraham. He was a man of truth, a prophet. He said to his father, Father, why do you worship something that can neither hear nor see nor benefit you in any way? 43 Father, knowledge that has not reached you has come to me, so follow me: I will guide you to an even path. 44 Father, do not worship Satan Satan has rebelled against the Lord of Mercy.
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Father, I fear that a punishment from the Lord of Mercy may afflict you and that you may become Satans companion [in Hell].b 46 His father answered, Abraham, do you reject my gods? I will stone you if you do not stop this. Keep out of my way! 47Abraham said, Peace be with you: I will beg my Lord to forgive you He is always gracious to me 48but for now I will leave you, and the idols you all pray to, and I will pray to my Lord and trust that my prayer will not be in vain. 49 When he left his people and those they served beside God, We granted him Isaac and Jacob and made them both prophets: 50We granted Our grace to all of them, and gave them a noble reputation. Mention too, in the Qurn, the story of Moses. He was specially chosen, a messenger and a prophet: 52We called to him from the right-hand side of the mountain and brought him 53 close to Us in secret communion; out of Our grace We granted him his brother Aaron as a 54 prophet. Mention too, in the Qurn, the story of Ishmael. He was true to his promise, a messenger and a prophet. 55 He commanded his household to pray and give alms, and his Lord was well pleased with him. 56 Mention too, in the Qurn, the story of Idris. He was a man of truth, a prophet. 57We raised him to a high position. These were the prophets God blessed from the seed of Adam, of those We carried in the Ark with Noah, from the seed of Abraham and Israel and those We guided and chose. When the revelations of the Lord of Mercy were recited to them, they fell to their knees and wept, 59but there came after them generations who neglected prayer and were driven by their own desires. These will come face to face with their evil, 60but those who repent, who believe, who do righteous deeds, will enter Paradise. They will not be wronged in the least: 61 they will enter the Gardens of Lasting Bliss, promised by the Lord of Mercy to His servants it is not yet seen but truly His promise will be fulfilled. 62There they will only hear peaceful talk, nothing bad; there they will be given provision morning and evening.63That is the Garden We shall give as their own to those of Our servants who were devout.
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a Some suggest that Muhammad is ordered to make this statement; others that it is Jesus speaking. b Or that you will be a supporter of Satan.

[Gabriel said],a We only descend [with revelation] at your Lords command everything before us, everything behind us, everything in between, all belongs to Himyour Lord is never forgetful. 65 He is Lord of the heavens and earth and everything in between so worship Him: be steadfast in worshipping Him. Do you know of anyone equal to Him?
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Man says, What? Once I am dead, will I be brought back to life? 67but does man not remember that We created him when he was nothing before? 68 By your Lord [Prophet] We shall gather them and the devils together and set them on their knees around Hell; We shall seize out of each group those who were most disobedient towards the Lord of Mercy 70We know best who most deserves to burn in Hell 71but every single one of youb will approach it, a decree from your Lord which must be fulfilled. 72We shall save the devout and leave the evildoers there on their knees. When Our revelations are recited to them in all their clarity, [all that] the disbelievers say to the believers [is], Which side is better situated? Which side has the better following? 74 We have destroyed many a generation before them who surpassed them in riches and outward glitter! 75 Say [Prophet], The Lord of Mercy lengthens [the lives] of the misguided, until, when they are confronted with what they have been warned about either the punishment [in this life] or the Hour [of Judgement] they realize who is worse situated and who has the weakest forces. 76 But God gives more guidance to those who are guided, and good deeds of lasting merit are best and most rewarding in your Lords sight. 77Have you considered the man who rejects Our revelation, who says, I will certainly be given wealth and children? 78 Has he penetrated the unknown or received a pledge to that effect from the Lord of Mercy? 79No! We shall certainly record what he says and prolong his punishment: 80We shall inherit from him all that he speaks of and he will come to Us all alone. They have taken other gods beside God to give them strength, 82but these gods will reject their worship and will even turn against them. 83Have you [Prophet] not seen how We send devils to incite the disbelievers to sin? 84 There is no need for you to be impatient concerning them: We are counting down their [allotted] time. 85On the Day We gather the righteous as an honoured company before the Lord of Mercy 86 and drive the sinful like a thirsty 87 herd into Hell, no one will have power to intercede except for those who have permission from the Lord of Mercy. The disbelievers say, The Lord of Mercy has offspring.a 89How terrible is this thing you assert: 90 it almost causes the heavens to be torn apart, the earth to split asunder, the mountains to crumble to pieces, 91 that they attribute offspring to the Lord of Mercy. 92 It does not befit the Lord of Mercy [to have offspring]: 93 there is no one in the heavens or earth who will not come to the Lord of Mercy as a servant 94 He has counted them all: He has numbered them exactly 95 and they will each return to Him on the Day of Resurrection all alone.
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But the Lord of Mercy will give love to those who believe and do righteous deeds: 97We have made itd easy, in your own language [Prophet], so that you may bring glad news to the righteous and warnings to a stubborn people. 98How many generations We have destroyed before them! Do you perceive a single one of them now, or hear as much as a whisper?
and his companions were passing through hardship and were expecting a revelation to guide and comfort them. When Gabriel arrived with this revelation, he at first delivered the part of the message which was immediately needed. Then he said these words as an explanation for the delay. b This is taken to refer either to the disbelievers mentioned here, or to all humanity. c Many translators say a son here, not realizing that walad in classical Arabic means child or children. The discussion here is about the pagans of Mecca, who said that the angels were daughters of God. d The Qurn

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a It is clear from this that Mary was revealed after a long delay. At the time, Muhammad