Will you explain the verses that mention the family of Imran? Is there a controversy whether the Mary mentioned in the verses (3/31-38) is Mary, the sister of Moses, or Mary, the mother of Christ?

Details of the Question
Will you explain the verses that mention the family of Imran? Is there a controversy whether the Mary mentioned in the verses (3/31-38) is Mary, the sister of Moses, or Mary, the mother of Christ?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is stated clearly in the Quran that Hazrat Maryam (Mary) is the daughter of Imran.

The following verses show it:

“Behold! a woman of Imran said: "O my Lord! I do dedicate into Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service so accept this of me! for Thou hearest and knowest all things.""(Aal-i Imran, 3/35).

“And Mary the daughter of `Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into her (body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (Servants).”(at-Tahrim, 66/12).

According to Ibn Jarir Tabari, the famous Islamic historian and interpreter, the pedigree of Imran, Mary’s father, is as follows: Imran is Yashhem’s son. His father is Emun; Emun’s father is Minsha, and his father is Hazqiya; Hazqiya’s father is Ahzik, and his father is Yusem, whose father is Aazarya; Aazarya’s father is Emsiya, and his father is Yawush, whose father is Ahzihu; Ahzihu’s father is Yarem, and his father is Yahwashat, whose father is Esabir; his father is Ebiya, whose father is Rejam/Rahbeam, whose father is Sulayman; Sulayman’s father is Dawud and his father is Isha (see Tabari, the interpretation of verse 35 of  Aal-i Imran). (N.B. there may be some mistakes in the spellings of the names.)

According to some sources, the father of Imran, who is the father of Mary, is Masan (Razi, Abu’s-Suud, Suyuti-ad-Durru’l-Mansur, the interpretation of verse 35 of Aal-i Imran).

Imran, who is Mary’s father, who is Jesus’ mother, is the son of Masan or Yahshem. Imran who is the father of Mary, who is the sister of Moses (Musa) and Aaron (Harun), is the son of Yasher (see Abu’s- Suud, the interpretation of verse 35 of  Aal-i Imran).

As it is understood from the explanation above, the Imran who is the father of Mary and the Imran who is the father of Moses and Aaron are two completely different people. Only their names resemble; they have no relation in terms of time and place.  

The verses 33-36 of the chapter of Aal-i Imran mentioned in the question:

33-34. Allah did choose Adam and Noah the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran above all people. Offspring, one of the other; and Allah heareth and knoweth all things.

35. Behold! a woman of Imran said: "O my Lord! I do dedicate into Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service so accept this of me! for Thou hearest and knowest all things."

36. When she was delivered she said: "O my Lord! behold! I am delivered of a female child!" And Allah knew best what she brought forth, "And is not the male like the female. I have named her Mary and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from the Evil One, the Rejected."

Explanation of the verses:

The name Imran is mentioned in three places in the Quran. It is clear that the Imran mentioned in the verse above and in verse 12 of the chapter at-Tahrim is Mary’s father (Jesus’ grandfather). As for the Imran mentioned in verse 33 of Aal-i Imran, there are two views about his identity:

According to one view, this Imran is the father of Moses and Aaron. According to the other view, there is a time difference of about 1800 years between the periods when those two people lived; since the family of Jesus is mentioned beginning from verse 35 of this chapter, the Imran mentioned in verse 33 should be Mary’s father.

Even if the Imran mentioned here is regarded as the father of Hazrat Moses and Hazrat Aaron, it is not appropriate to establish a connection between the narration that they had a sister called Maryam and the information in the Quran that Maryam is addressed as, “O sister of Aaron!” (Maryam, 19/28). Establishing such a connection originates from the fact that what is meant in the verse was not understood.   

When it is examined thoroughly, it will be seen that the fact that Mary is addressed as, "O sister of Aaron!" in her community means, "she is his sister in religion and she comes from his descent." Although some orientalists criticized the Quran based on the controversy in the books of some Muslim writers, there is no controversy or contrariness to the historical data in the explanations of the Quran regarding the issue.

It is understood easily that those criticisms coming generally from Christians are not objective because they do not oppose the same information in their holy book. As a matter of fact, the following is said for Elizabeth, Zakariyya’s wife, in the Bible of Luke:  "She was a descendant of Aaron" (Luke, 1/5). (Ömer Faruk Harman, "Hz. İsa", İFAV Ans., IV, 424)

The name of the woman mentioned as the wife of Imran and mother of Mary is not given in the Quran. Her name is mentioned as Hanna in Islamic sources and as Anna in Christian sources. There are various narrations regarding Imran’s wife dedicating her child in her womb to Allah.    

According to one narration, when Imran, who had not had a child for a long time, saw a bird feeding her young, she envied the bird and prayed Allah to give her a child and she promised that she would dedicate her child to the service of Bayt al-Maqdis. Her husband, Imran, died after she became pregnant. It is clearly understood from the verse that Imran’s wife dedicated the child in her womb definitely to Allah and that she prayed Allah for it.    

However, the word "muharrar" mentioned in the verse and the content of her vow are interpreted in various ways. Lexically, muharrar means “freed, freed completely, nobody having any rights on him”. Here, this word is interpreted as freed from the worldly affairs and dedicating herself to worshipping Allah, a sincere slave, and – acting upon the fact that there was the practice of dedicating a child to the service of the worshipping place especially to Bayt al-Maqdis among Jews – serving the worshipping place or those who read the holy book.   

It is understood that there exists a will of absolute dedication free from any conditions or limitations whether the aspect of serving Allah or the worshipping place is emphasized. Therefore, this word in the verse is translated as “without any conditions or limitations”.   

When Imran's wife made a vow to dedicate her child probably to serve Bayt al-Maqdis, she probably thought she would give birth to a boy. When she saw that it was a girl, she uttered the following words as an expression of her sadness and resentment:

"O my Lord! behold! I am delivered of a female child!" Allah stated the following in the verse: "And Allah knew best what she brought forth", implying that she resented because of not knowing the real nature of the truth and that this female child would have a very lofty rank. This sentence: “And is not the male like the female” that followed was interpreted as being the word of Allah and that the definite article at the beginning of both words denoted something known; thus, the two sentences were interpreted as follows:   

"However, Allah knew it better what she gave birth to; the male child that she wanted was not like this female child (,who was granted by Allah and who would be honored by a lofty rank)." (Zamakhshari, I, 186)

Acting upon the same understanding, some interpreters accepted that Maryam’s mother knew through the inspiration by Allah that her daughter would attain a very lofty rank and interpreted it as follows: "The male child (that I wanted) is definitely not like this female child (, which Allah granted)." (Razi, VIII, 27)

On the other hand, most of the interpreters state that the sentence was uttered by Maryam’s mother but that she uttered it in order to express her sadness because she thought a male child was superior to a female child in terms of fulfilling her vow.

In our opinion, in terms of the general flow of the context, it will be more appropriate to think that the sentence does not denote that boys are superior to girls but that Maryam’s mother thought a boy was different from a girl when she vowed.

The fact that Imran’s wife named her child “Maryam” shows that she continued to try to fulfill her vow though she gave birth to a female child. As it is mentioned above, Maryam is the name of the sister of Moses and Aaron and the name Maryam is regarded as a very respectable name among Sons of Israel.   

Thus, Imran’s wife established a meaningful connection between her father’s name and the father of Maryam, who was the sister of Moses and Aaron by naming her daughter Maryam because she was also Maryam, the daughter of Imran.   

Although it is claimed in the books of tafsir (interpretation) that Maryam meant "a person who worships Allah" (Zamakhshari, I, 186) and "a person who serves the Lord" (Shawkani, 1,372) in their language, Qasimi states that when the meanings of the names in the Old Testament and New Testament are studied, a different meaning  ("bitterness", "bitterness of the sea") is seen. (IV, 835) In the dictionaries of the Bible, after it is stated that Maryam could be a simple noun or a compound, it is expressed that there are several views and explanations about its meaning; the main meanings of Maryam are: bitter sea, their revolt, the lady of the sea, a drop of the sea, starfish. (for instance, see H. Lesetre, "Marie", Dictionnaire De La Bible)

After naming her, Mary’s mother prayed Allah sincerely as follows: "I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from the Evil One, the Rejected." The reason why Maryam mentioned her offspring could be understood as the fact that she wanted her child, whom she dedicated to Allah, not to obey the devil, that she asked her Lord to protect her chastity and that she prayed for the good of her offspring in general. However, it also seems to support the interpretation of those who interpret the previous sentence stating that she knew through the inspiration of God Almighty that she would be a mother of a great prophet. (see Diyanet Tefsiri, Kur’an Yolu: I/400-401)

Questions on Islam

Author:
Questions on Islam
Subject Categories:
Read 16.551 times
In order to make a comment, please login or register