Hz. Maryam's father is mentioned as Imran in the Quran. Westerners call him Joachim. Is there a relationship between those two names?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Imran is mentioned as the name of Hz. Maryam's father in the Quran.

It is said that the word Imran comes from the Hebrew word Amram but it is also said that it is derived from Assyrian. On the other hand, it is also reported that it is derived from the Arabic root amr, that it was used in Arabia before Islam and that it exists in Safawi inscriptions. However, since it is the name of Maryam's father, it seems more appropriate to accept that it is of Hebrew origin. (Jeffery, p. 217)

It is stated in verse 33 of the chapter of Aal-i Imran that the families of Adam, Nuh, Ibrahim and Imran were chosen and made superior to the realms. According to what is understood from verse 35 of the same chapter stating that Imran's wife devoted her child to be born to the Lord and that named her Maryam and from the phrase "Imran’s daughter Maryam" in the chapter of at-Tahrim (66/12)what is meant by Imran family is Hz. Maryam and her son Isa.

According to the Torah Imran (Amram) is the father of Hz. Musa (Moses), Harun (Aaron) and their sister Maryam/Miriam-Miryam (Mary); she has no relation with Isa’s mother Maryam. Amram, is the son of Kohat, who is Yaqub's (Jacob’s) grandson. (Numbers, 26/59; I. Chronicles, 6/2-3; 23/12-13)

Islamic scholars put forward different views about who Imran, whose name is mentioned in the Quran, is. Muqatil states that Imran in the phrase "Aal-i Imran (Imran Family)" is the father of Musa and Harun and that his lineage dates back to Hz. Yaqub. Kalbi states that he is Maryam's father and that his lineage dates back to Hz. Sulayman. (Qurtubi, 4/63)

When what is mentioned in the chapter of Aal-i Imran is taken into consideration, it is understood that Imran is the father of Hz. Maryam, not Hz. Musa. When Zamakhshari gives information about Aal-i Imran, he reports the narrations stating that Imran b. Yashur's children are Musa and Harun or Imran b. Masan's daughter Maryam and her son Isa and states that there is a period of 1.800 years between those two Imrans, adding that Imran mentioned in the verse is Hz. Maryam's father. (al-Kashshaf, 1/185)

According to Christians, Maryam's father is not mentioned in the New Testament; it is stated that his name is Yoakim (Joachim) in Protoevangelium, one of the gospels regarded as apocryphal. It is also reported in that apocryphal gospel that Maryam’s grandfather Mathan had three daughters called Maryam, Sobe and Hannah, that Sobe is the mother of Zakariyya’s wife Elisabeth and that Hannah was Virgin Maryam’s mother. (F. Vigouroux. "Anne", DB,1/1 S. 629)

In the Quran, Maryam is also mentioned as Harun's sister; her tribe blamed her for giving birth to a child without a father by saying, "O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste." (Maryam, 19/28)

The only Harun (Aaron) known in the literature of the Bible is Hz. Musa’s and Maryam’s brother Harun. Since Imran (Amram) is their father, Isa’s mother Maryam being presented as Harun’s sister (Maryam, 19/28) in Islamic resources on the one hand and Imran’s being shown as the father of Isa’s mother Maryam though he is the father of Musa, Harun and their sister Maryam on the other hand is regarded as the confusion of two Maryams.  

According to Muslims, acting upon the view that there are two Imrans, two Haruns and two Maryams, the first group consists of Harun, his sister Maryam and their father Imran while the second group consists of Imran, his daughter Maryam and her brother Harun. Musa, Harun and Maryam and their father Amram exist in the Torah; therefore, they are known by Jews and Christians. However, Hz. Maryam's father is mentioned as Imran only in the Quran; Maryam's father name is not mentioned in any Christian resources; the existence of Isa’s mother Maryam's brother called Harun is not known either.

Thus, tafsir scholars state that there are two Imrans, one of them being Musa’s father and the other Maryam’s father; they also say that the Imran mentioned in the Quran is Maryam's father.

Hz. Musa's father Imran's lineage is given as Imran b. Yashur b. Kahes (Fahas) b. Levi b. Yaqub b. Ishaq; Hz. Maryam's father lineage is given as Isa b. Maryam b. Imran b. Masan (Matan) b. Sulayman b. Dawud b. Isha b. Yehuza b. Yaqub b. Ishaq. (Zamakhshari, 1/185; Qurtubi, 4/63)

According to Muhammad Hamidullah, the phrase "imraatu Imran" in the Quran means "woman from Imran's progeny" and Imran is mentioned as a name of a tribe rather than a person in that verse. Hamidullah translates the verse translated as "O sister of Aaron (Maryam, 19/28) as "Aaron's daughter, O sister" and understands it as sister from Aaron's progeny. For, the word "ukht" is also used as a member of a tribe in Arabic. (Le Saint Coran, p. 54, 307; see also. Arnaldez, p. 33-34)

The critiques by the western scholars mentioned above contradict the expressions in the Bible. According to Luke, Zakariyya's wife Elisabeth is a relative of Hz. Isa’s mother Maryam and is among Harun daughters. (Luke, 1/5, 36) It is accepted that Maryam's mother and Yahya's (John’s) mother are sisters. (DB, 2/2, p. 1689) Zakariyya is a prophet from Abiya family (l. Chronicles, 24/10; Luke, 1/5), his wife Elisabeth belongs to a cleric family and hence is a daughter of Hz. Harun. (DB, 2/2, p. 1689) It is natural for the people that has such tradition to call Maryam, who comes from such a family and who is devoted to the temple, "Harun's daughter". (see TDV İslam Ansiklopedisi, Imran item)

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