Monday, August 15, 2011

Glorifying Virgin Mary in Ramadan

“Behold! The angels said: ‘O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified
thee -- chosen thee above all women. O Mary! Worship Thy Lord devoutly:
Prostrate thyself, and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down’…
Behold! The angels said: ‘O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings
of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor
in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those closest to Him.’”
(Surat Al 'Imran: 42, 43 and 45)

"Mother and Child" by my cousin Huda Asfour Khoury
Today is Eid al 3adra, the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary to Heaven, and it falls during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Both Christians and Muslims will celebrate Our Lady – or “Maryam” in the Holy Qur’an.

The last time Our Lady’s Day was during the Holy Month of Ramadan was 33 years ago in 1978.
The mother of Jesus has a distinguished and honored position among women in the Qur’an. The 19th of the Holy Book’s 114 chapters is titled “Maryam” – the only surah named after a woman.

The Virgin Mary is the only woman directly named in the Qur'an. And in the many translations I found online, she is declared -- uniquely with Jesus -- to be a sign of God to humanity (Qur’an 23:50); one who guarded her chastity (Qur’an 66:12); an obedient one (66:12); chosen of her mother and dedicated to God whist still in the womb (3:36); and uniquely, among women, accepted into service by God (3.37).

In the Qur’an, Christ is called repeatedly Issa ibnu Maryam, Arabic for "Jesus son of Mary" (5:19, 75, 81, 113; 19:34), a name which is best known in the Islamic world.

Here in part is what Giancarlo Finazzo wrote in an article titled "The Virgin Mary in the Qur'an" for the 13 April 1978 weekly English edition of the Holy See publication, L'Osservatore Romano

"Among the persons of Sacred History mentioned in the Qur'an, the Virgin Mary occupies an important position on the historical and dogmatic plane. In addition to being the object of as many as 34 direct or indirect references, Mary also gives Surat 19 its name and is its central figure as the mother of Jesus. The characteristic note of references to the Virgin in the Qur'an and, to an even greater extent, in Islamic tradition, can be seen both in the information about her genealogy and her childhood -- a part of which is more detailed than in the four Gospels...

"...In a famous Hadeeth attributed to the Prophet, it is affirmed that 'every child is touched by the devil as soon as he is born and this contact makes him cry. Excepted are Mary and her Son'...

"Mary's childhood, as seen through the Qur'an narration and Islamic tradition, is entirely a miracle. Mary grows under direct divine protection, she is nourished daily by angels (3:32) and has visions of God every day. Everything contributes to making her and her Son a signum for mankind (5:79; 21:91; 23:50). But if the detailed narration of Mary's childhood confirms the exceptional value of her person, it is necessary to stress the greatness of Mary is completely related to the extraordinary event constituted by the birth of her son Jesus..."

I wonder when Surat Maryam is read at the Taraweeh in mosques this month. I shall continue listening to them in my garden. These are special prayers featuring recitations of the Qur'an after 'Isha (the last evening prayer). They last over an hour and are performed at the mosque and the congregation stands upright to read and listen to passages from the Qur'an. After each cycle -- standing, bowing, prostrating, one sits for rest before continuing, hence the name rest prayer or Taraweeh. Some 1/30th of the Qur'an is read each evening so by the end of the blessed month, the entire Holy Book would have been completed.

To mark the Assumption, the following is a recitation of Surat Maryam with English translation:

May our Heavenly Lady, bring peace, solace and love to all.

And may the Mother of all Mothers shower us -- especially the needy, hungry, sick and infirm -- with her Blessings.

Related post: To the Mother of all Mothers, 15 August 2010
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