19. Surah Maryam (Mary)


It takes its name from v. 16.

Period of Revelation

It was revealed before the Migration to Habash. We learn from authentic Traditions that Hadrat Ja'afar recited vv. 1-40 of this Surah in the court of Negus when he called the migrants to his court.

Historical Background

We have already briefly referred to the conditions of that period in the introduction to Surah Al-Kahf. Here we shall give rather fuller details of the same conditions, which will be helpful in grasping the meaning of this Surah and the other Surahs of the period. When the chiefs of the Quraish felt that they had failed to suppress the Islamic movement by ridicule, sarcasm, and by holding out promises and 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 proteges of the Quraish. They were beaten black and blue, were imprisoned and kept thirsty and hungry and were dragged on the burning sands of Makkah. The people would get work from the professional laborers but would not pay them their wages. As an instance we give below the story of Hadrat Khabbab bin Arat, which is given in Bukhari and Muslim:

"I used to work as a blacksmith in Makkah. Once I did some work for As bin Wa'il. When I went to ask for my wages, he said, 'I will not pay your wages unless you disown Muhammad'."

In the same connection Hadrat Khabbab says, "One day the Holy Prophet was sitting in the shadow of the Ka'abah. I went to him and said, '0 Messenger of Allah, now persecution has gone to its extreme; why do you not pray to Allah (for relief)?' At this the Holy Prophet was greatly moved. He said, 'The believers before you were persecuted much more than you. Their bones were scraped with combs of iron and their heads were cut with saws, but still they did not give up their Faith. I assure you that Allah will fulfill this Mission, and there will come a period of such peace that one would travel from Sanna to Hadramaut, and he will have no fear from anyone, save Allah. But you people have already become impatient'." (Bukhari)

When the conditions became unbearable, the Holy Prophet, in the month of Rajab of the fifth year of Prophethood, gave advice to his Companions to this effect: "You may well migrate to Habash, 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 till the time that Allah provides a remedy for your affliction".

Accordingly, at first, eleven men and four women left for Habash. The Quraish pursued them up to the coast but fortunately they got a timely boat for Habash at the sea-port of Shu'aibah, and they escaped attest. Then after a few months, other people migrated to Habash and their number rose to eighty-three men and eleven women of the Quraish and seven non-Quraish. After this, only forty persons were left with the Holy Prophet at Makkah.

There was a great hue and cry in Makkah after this Migration, for every family of the Quraish was adversely affected by this. There was hardly a family of the Quraish which did not lose a son, a son-in-law, a daughter, a brother or a sister. For instance, there were among the Migrants the near relatives of Abu Jahl, Abu Sufyan and other chief of the Quraish who were notorious for their persecution of the Muslims. As a result of this, some of them became even more bitter in their enmity of Islam, while there were others who were so moved by this that they embraced Islam. For instance, this Migration left a deep mark on Hadrat Umar. One of his relatives, Laila, daughter of Hathmah, says, "I was packing my luggage for Migration, while my husband, Amr bin Rabiy'ah, had gone out. In the meantime Umar came there and began to watch me, while I was engaged in preparation for the journey. Then he said, 'Are you also going to migrate?' I answered, 'Yes by God, you people have persecuted us much. But the wide earth of Allah is open for us. Now we are going to a place where Allah will grant us peace'. At this, I noticed such signs of emotion on the face of Umar as I had never seen before. He simply said, 'May God be with you' and went away."

After the migration, the Quraish held consultations, and decided to send Abdullah bin Abi Rabiy'ah, half brother of Abu Jahl, and Amr bin As to Habash with precious gifts so as to persuade Negus to send the migrants back to Makkah. Hadrat Umm Salmah (a wife of the Holy Prophet), who was among the migrants, has related this part of the story in detail. She says, "When these two clever statesmen of the Quraish reached Habash, 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 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 Holy 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, Jafar bin Abi Talib, on behalf of the migrants, made an extempore speech to this effect: "O King! We were sunk deep in ignorance and had become very corrupt; then Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) came to us as a Messenger of God, and did his best to reform us. But the Quraish 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, Hadrat Jafar recited that portion of Surah Maryam which relates the story of Prophets John and Jesus (Allah's peace be upon them). The King listened to it and wept, so much so that his beard became wet with tears. When Hadrat Jafar finished the recital, he said:"Most surely this Revelation and the Message of Jesus have come from the same source. By God I will not give you up into the hands of these people".

Next day `Amr bin `As went to Negus and said, "Please send for them again and ask them 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 learned 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 Allah 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 bin As. So Jafar bin Abi Talib stood up and answered without the least hesitation: "He was a Servant of Allah and His Messenger. He was a Spirit and a Word of Allah which had been sent to virgin Mary." At this the King picked up a straw from the ground and said, 'Bye 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 Quraish, 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 Surah was sent down to serve the migrants as a "provision" for their journey to Habash, 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. There- fore 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 vv. 1-40, the story of Prophet Abraham has been related (vv. 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 country men. On the one hand, this 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 disbeliever, of Makkah 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 vv. 51-65 with a view to impress that Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) 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 (vv. 66-98), a strong criticism has been made of the evil ways of the disbelievers of Makkah, while the Believers have been given the good news that they would come out successful and become the beloved of the people, in spite of the worst efforts of the enemies of the Truth.

  Surah 19. Maryam
                                                     Surah 19. Maryam
(19:1) Kaf. Ha. Ya. Ayn. Sad.

(19:2) This is an account of the mercy of your Lord to His servant Zechariah

(19:3) When he cried to his Lord in secret.

(19:4) He said: 'Lord! My bones have grown feeble and my head is glistening with age; yet, never have my prayers to You, my Lord, been unfruitful.

(19:5) I fear after me evil from my kinsmen and my wife is barren. So grant me an heir out of Your special grace,

(19:6) One that might be my heir and the heir of the house of Jacob and make him, Lord, one that will be pleasing to You.'

(19:7) (He was told): Zechariah, We bring you the good news of the birth of a son whose name shall be Yahya (John), one whose namesake We never created before.'

(19:8) He said: 'My Lord! How can I have a boy when my wife is barren and I have reached an extremely old age?'

(19:9) He answered: 'So shall it be.' Your Lord says: “It is easy for me”, and then added: “For beyond doubt, I created you earlier when you were nothing.

(19:10) Zechariah said: 'Lord, grant me a sign.' Said He: 'Your sign is that you shall not be able to speak to people for three nights, though you will be otherwise sound.'

(19:11.Thereupon Zechariah came out from the sanctuary and directed his people by gestures to extol His glory by day and by night.

(19:12) 'O John! Hold fast the Book with all your strength. We had bestowed wisdom upon him while he was still a child;

(19:13) and We also endowed him with tenderness and purity; and he was exceedingly pious

(19:14) And cherishing to his parents. Never was he insolent or rebellious.

(19:15) Peace be upon him, the day he was born, and the day he will die, and the day he will be raised up alive.'

(19:16) (O Muhammad!) : Recite in the Book the account of Mary, when she withdrew from her people to a place towards the east;

(19:17) And drew a curtain, screening herself from people, whereupon We sent to her Our spirit and he appeared to her as a well-shaped man.

(19:18) Mary exclaimed: 'I surely take refuge from you with the Most Compassionate Lord, if you are at all God-fearing.'

(19:19) He said: 'I am just a message-bearer of your Lord, come to grant you a most pure boy.'

(19:20) Mary said: 'How can a boy be born to me when no man has even touched me, nor have I ever been unchaste?'

(19:21) The angel said: 'Thus shall it be. Your Lord says: “It is easy for me; and We shall do so in order to make him a sign for mankind and a mercy from Us. This has been decreed.”

(19:22) Then she conceived him and withdrew with him to a far-off place.

(19:23) Then the birth pangs drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree and she said: 'Oh, would that I had died before this and had been all forgotten.'

(19:24) Thereupon the angel at the foot of her cried out: 'Grieve not, for your Lord has caused a stream of water to flow beneath you.

(19:25) Shake the trunk of the palm-tree towards yourself and fresh and ripe dates shall fall upon you.

(19:26) So eat and drink and cool your eyes; and if you see any person say to him: Verily I have vowed a fast to the Most Compassionate Lord, and so I shall not speak to anyone today.'

(19:27) Then she came to her people, carrying her baby. They said: 'O Mary! You have committed a monstrous thing.

(19:28) O sister of Aaron! Your father was not an evil man, nor was your mother an unchaste woman.'

(19:29) Thereupon Mary pointed to the child. They exclaimed: 'How can we speak to one who is in the cradle, a mere child?'

(19:30) The Child cried out: 'Verily I am Allah's servant. He has granted me the Book and has made me a Prophet

(19:31) and has made me blessed wherever I might be and has enjoined upon me Prayer and Zakah (purifying alms) as long as I live;

(19:32) And has made me dutiful to my mother. He has not made me oppressive, nor bereft of God's blessings.

(19:33) Peace be upon me the day I was born and the day I will die, and the day I will be raised up alive.'

(19:34) This is Jesus, the son of Mary; and this is the truth about him concerning which they are in doubt.

(19:35) It does not behove Allah to take for Himself a son. Glory be to Him! When He decrees a thing He only says: 'Be' and it is.

(19:36) (Jesus had said): 'Indeed Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so serve Him alone. This is the straight way.'

(19:37) But different parties began to dispute with one another. A dreadful woe awaits on that great Day for those that reject the truth.

(19:38) How well shall they hear and how well shall they see on the Day they come to Us! But today the evil-doers are in manifest error.

(19:39) (O Muhammad!): Warn those who are steeped in heedlessness and are obstinately rejecting the truth that the Day shall come when things will be finally decided and they shall be left with utter remorse.

(19:40) Ultimately, We shall inherit the earth and whatever is on it; to Us shall they be returned.

(19:41) (O Muhammad!) : Recite in the Book the account of Abraham. Most surely he was a man of truth, a Prophet.

(19:42) (And remind people) when he said to his father: 'Father! Why for do you worship that which neither sees nor hears, and which can be of no avail to you?

(19:43) Father, a knowledge that has not reached you has come to me. So follow me that I may guide you to a straight way.

(19:44) Father, do not serve Satan, for Satan has indeed been a persistent rebel against the Most Compassionate Lord.

(19:45) Father I fear that a punishment from the Most Compassionate Lord might strike you and you may end up as one of Satan's companions?'

(19:46) The father said: 'Abraham, have you turned away from my gods? If you do not give this up, I shall stone you to death. Now begone from me for ever.'

(19:47) Abraham answered: 'Peace be upon you. I shall seek pardon for you from my Lord. My Lord has always been kind to me.

(19:48) I shall withdraw from you and all that you call upon beside Allah. I shall only call upon my Lord. I trust the prayer to my Lord will not go unanswered.'

(19:49) thereupon after Abraham withdrew from his people and all whom they served beside Allah, We bestowed upon him Isaac and Jacob and made each of them a Prophet:

(19:50) And we bestowed on them Our mercy, and granted them a truly lofty renown.

(19:51) And recite in the Book the account of Moses. He was a chosen person, a Messenger, a Prophet.

(19:52) We cried out to him from the right side of the Mount, and We drew him near to Us by communing to him in secret,

(19:53) And out of Our mercy We appointed his brother Aaron, a Prophet (that he may assist him).

(19:54) And recite in the Book the account of Ishmael! He was ever true to his promise, and was Messenger, a Prophet.

(19:55) He enjoined his household to observe Prayer and to give Zakah (purifying alms); and his Lord was well please with him.

(19:56) And recite in the Book the account of Idris. He was a man of truth a Prophet;

(19:57) And We exalted him to a lofty position.

(19:58) These are the Prophets upon whom Allah bestowed His favour from the seed of Adam, and from the seed of those whom We carried (in the Ark) with Noah, and from the seed of Abraham and Israel. They were those whom We guided and chose (for an exalted position). They were such that when the words of the Most Compassionate Lord were recited to them, they fell down in prostration, weeping.

(19:59) They were succeeded by a people who neglected the Prayers and pursued their lusts. They shall presently meet with their doom.

(19:60) Except those who repent and believe and act righteously. Such shall enter Paradise and shall not be wronged at all.

(19:61) Theirs shall be everlasting Gardens which the Most Compassionate Lord has promised His servants in a realm which is beyond the ken of sense perception. Surely His promise shall be fulfilled.

(19:62) They shall not hear in it anything vain; they shall hear only what is good; and they shall have their provision in it, morning and evening.

(19:63) Such is the Paradise which We shall cause those of Our servants who have been God-fearing to inherit.

(19:64) (The angels will say) '(O Muhammad!) : We descend not except by the command of your Lord. To Him belongs all that is before us and all that is behind us, and all that is in-between, Your Lord is not forgetful in the least.

(19:65) He is the Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is in-between. Serve Him, then, and be constant in serving Him. Do you know anyone that might be His compeer?'

(19:66) Man is prone to say: 'Shall I be raised to life after I die?'

(19:67) Does man not remember that We created him before when he was nothing.

(19:68) By your Lord, We will surely muster them and the devils together. Then We will surely bring them all, on their knees, around Hell,

(19:69) and then We will draw aside from each party those who were most rebellious against the Most Compassionate Lord,

(19:70) And then We shall know well all those most worthy to be cast in Hell.

(19:71) There is not one of you but shall pass by Hell. This is a decree which your Lord will fulfill.

(19:72) Then We shall deliver those that feared Allah and leave the wrong-doers there on their knees

(19:73) When Our clear revelations are recited to those who deny the truth they are wont to say to those who have faith: 'Which of the two groups has a better status and whose assemblies are grander?'

(19:74) How numerous are the peoples We destroyed before them those that were more resourceful and grander in outward appearance!

(19:75) Say : 'The Most Compassionate Lord grants respite to those who stray into error, until they behold what they had been threatened with, either God's chastisement [in the world] or the Hour (or Resurrection)' then they fully know whose station is worse, and who is weaker in hosts!

(19:76) (On the Contrary), Allah increases in guidance those who follow the right way. Lasting acts of righteousness are better in the sight of your Lord as reward and conducive to a better end.

(19:77) Have you seen him who rejects Our sings and said: 'Surely I shall continue to be favoured with riches and children.'

(19:78) Has he obtained knowledge of the Unseen, or has he taken a covenant with the Most Compassionate Lord?

(19:79) By no means! We shall writ down all what he says; and We shall greatly prolong his chastisement.

(19:80) And We shall inherit all the resources and hosts of which he boasts, and he will come to Us all alone.

(19:81) They have taken other gods beside Allah that they may be a source of strength for them.

(19:82) By no means! They shall soon deny their worship and shall become their adversaries instead.

(19:83) Do you not see that We have sent devils upon the unbelievers who greatly incite them (to oppose the truth)?

(19:84) Therefore, do not hasten (in seeking a scourge against them). We are counting their days.

(19:85) They Day shall soon come when We shall bring together the God-fearing to [Us] the Most compassionate Lord, as honoured guests;

(19:86) And We shall drive the guilty ones to Hell as thirsty animals.

(19:87) On that day none will have the power to intercede for them except those who received a sanction from the Most Compassionate Lord.

(19:88) They claim: 'The Most Compassionate Lord has taken a son to Himself.'

(19:89) Surely you have made a monstrous statement.

(19:90) it is such a monstrosity that heavens might well-night burst forth at it, the earth might be cleaved, and the mountains fall

(19:91) At their ascribing a son to the Most Compassionate Lord.

(19:92.It does not behove the Most compassionate Lord that He should take a son.

(19:93.There is no one in the heavens and the earth but he shall come to the Most Compassionate Lord as His servant.

(19:94.Verily He encompasses them and has counted them all.

(19:95.On the Day of Resurrection each one of them will come to Him singly.

(19:96) Indeed the Most Compassionate Lord will soon create enduring love for those who believe and do righteous works.

(19:97.Therefore, We have revealed the Qur'an in your tongue and made it easy to understand that you may give glad tidings to the god-fearing and warn a contentious people.

(19:98.How numerous are the peoples that We destroyed before them! Do you perceive any one of them, or hear even a whisper of them?