Friday, December 24, 2010

Surah (Chapter) 19 Maryam (Mary) Ayat (verses) 16 to 33 - about Mary (Maryam) and Jesus ('Isa)

Translation - Muhammad Asad

16 - Apparently, in order to devote herself undisturbed to prayer and meditation. The eastern place may possibly, as Ibn Kathir suggests, signify an eastern chamber of the Temple, to the service of which Mary had been dedicated by her mother (cf. Surah 3:35 -37).

17 - The Sanctuary where she had retired for devotion was an eastern chamber in the Temple, and as was customary she had hung a curtain to conceal herself from the people. It cannot be Nazareth as some people have wrongly taken it to be, because Nazareth is to the north of Jerusalem.

As pointed out in surah 2: 87 and 16: 2, the term ruh often denotes divine inspiration. Occasionally, however, it is used to describe the medium through which such inspiration is imparted to Gods elect: in other words, the angel (or angelic force) of revelation. Since - as is implied in 6: 9 - mortals cannot perceive an angel in his true manifestation, God caused him to appear to Mary in the shape of a well made human being, i.e., in a shape accessible to her perception. According to Razi, the designation of the angel as ruh (spirit or soul) indicates that this category of beings is purely spiritual, without any physical element.

21 - the identical phrase in verse 9 of this surah, relating to the announcement of Johns birth to Zachariah. In both these cases, the implication is that God can and does bring about events, which may be utterly unexpected or even inconceivable before they materialize. In connection with the announcement of a son to Mary, the Quran states in 3: 47 that when He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it, Be - and it is: but since neither the Quran nor any authentic Tradition tells us anything about the chain of causes and effects (asbab) which Gods decree Be was to bring into being, all speculation as to the how of this event must remain beyond the scope of a Quran-commentary. (But see also note on 21: 91.)

21 - "Thus it is" means "A pure son shall be born to you just as your Lord has decreed, even though no man has touched you. "

21 - One of the several meanings of the term ayah is a sign or, as elaborately defined by Raghib, a symbol (cf. surah 17: 1). However, the sense in which it is most frequently used in the Quran is a [divine] message: hence, its metonymic application to Jesus may mean that he was destined to become a vehicle of Gods message to man - i.e., a prophet - and, thus, a symbol of Gods grace. As regards the words thou shalt have a son interpolated by me between brackets, a statement to this effect is implied in the subsequent phrase beginning with so that (Zamakhshari and Razi).

23 - I.e., compelling her to cling to it for support: thus stressing the natural, normal circumstances of this childbirth attended - as is the case with all women - by severe labour pains.

24 - Thereupon [a voice] called out to her from beneath that [palm-tree]: [Or: from beneath her. However, Qatadah (as quoted by Zamakhshari) interprets this as meaning from beneath the palm-tree.]

26 - Lit., say - but since actual speech would contradict what follows, the saying implies here a communication by gestures.

26 - In its primary sense, the term sawm denotes abstinence or self-denial; in the present context it is synonymous with samt (abstinence from speech); in fact - as pointed out by Zamakhshari - the latter term is said to have figured in the Quran-copy belonging to Abd Allah ibn Masud (possibly as a marginal, explanatory notation).

27 - Lit., she came with him to her people, carrying him.
28 - In ancient Semitic usage, a persons name was often linked with that of a renowned ancestor or founder of the tribal line. Thus, for instance, a man of the tribe of Bano Tamim was sometimes addressed as son of Tamim or brother of Tamim. Since Mary belonged to the priestly caste, and hence descended from Aaron, the brother of Moses, she was called a sister of Aaron (in the same way as her cousin Elisabeth, the wife of Zachariah, is spoken of in Luke i, 5, as one of the daughters of Aaron).

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