Interpretation of Sura Maryam (Mary) 23:27

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Interpretation of Sura Maryam (Mary) 23:27

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Most Merciful

فَأَجَاءَهَا الْمَخَاضُ إِلَىٰ جِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ قَالَتْ يَا لَيْتَنِي مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَٰذَا وَكُنتُ نَسْيًا مَّنسِيًّا﴿۲۳﴾‏

The labor pains bring her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, I wish I had died before this, and been completely forgotten (23)

Here are some points, 1- The pain brought her to a palm tree, why does not verse say the pain took her to the palm tree. 2- I wish, I had died and been completely forgotten.

God is everywhere but sometimes verses of the Holy Quran say, “And Jonah, when he went out in fury, thinking We had no power over him. But then He cried out in the darkness, “There is no god but You! Glory to You! I was one of the wrongdoers![1] (Al-Anbiya:87). Here God says, “when he went out in fury”, meaning his anger was not for God’s sake therefore he went out before us but in the story of Lady Mary says, “Pain brings her to palm tree” meaning pain brings people closer to God. In the story of Jonah (A), anger caused distance, and in the story of Lady Maryam (A), pain caused closeness. We become closer to God with every good deed and we become further away from God with bad deeds. (Here the discussion is about our closeness to God not God to us). “And He is with you wherever you may be[2] (Al-Hadid:4).

Lady Mary (A) had two types of pains, one because of childbirth and the other one because of chastity and purity (people’s slander), that is the reason she said, “I wish I had died before this, and been completely forgotten”. Pains bring humans to God. The guardians of God are always afflicted and always live with either illness in the body, fright of the king, or poverty. Allameh Hassanzadeh said, “I do not remember being without pain one day”. Sometimes the emotional pains are accompanied by physical’s, so it intensifies. For example, fasting, hunger, and thirst aggravate human absorption towards God. This is one of the secrets of austerity. Lady Mary’s spiritual pain was the one from chastity and purity (people’s slander). A narrator says, “whoever has no chastity has no religion”.

فَنَادَاهَا مِن تَحْتِهَا أَلَّا تَحْزَنِي قَدْ جَعَلَ رَبُّكِ تَحْتَكِ سَرِيًّا ﴿٢٤﴾‏

Whereupon he called her from beneath her: “Do not worry; your Lord has placed a stream beneath you. (24)

As soon as Jesus was born, he began to talk to his mother. The question is why the verse says, “he called her from beneath her”? It meant to indicate that she had not hugged Prophet Jesus (A) yet, Jesus was on the ground talking, if she had hugged, God would not have said, “called her from beneath her”. The stream in one interpretation refers to Jesus (A), water is the source of life and life is in the hands of Jesus, so the dried palm turned green as soon as he was born, and he was also guiding and giving encouragement to his mother.

وَهُزِّي إِلَيْكِ بِجِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ تُسَاقِطْ عَلَيْكِ رُطَبًا جَنِيًّا ‎﴿٢٥﴾

And shake the palm tree’s trunk towards you, and it will drop ripe dates by you.” (25)

The dried palm tree came to life with the birth of Prophet Jesus (A), and the palm bore fruit without a husband, like Mary (A) who had a child without a husband. Heavenly food was brought for Lady Mary (A) but when Jesus (A) was born, Lady Mary (A) became attached to her child and heavenly food no longer was brought to her. At first, she was completely cut off from this worldly life and the conditions of the material world fade away for her, but it was interrupted with the birth of Prophet Jesus (A). Whenever man goes toward God, his deeds become divinely and God supports him.

فَكُلِي وَاشْرَبِي وَقَرِّي عَيْنًا ۖ فَإِمَّا تَرَيِنَّ مِنَ الْبَشَرِ أَحَدًا فَقُولِي إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ صَوْمًا فَلَنْ أُكَلِّمَ الْيَوْمَ إِنسِيًّا ﴿٢٦﴾

So, eat (date), drink (stream of water), and be consoled. And if you see any human, say, I have vowed a fast to the Most Gracious, so I will not speak to any human today (26)

There are a few points in this verse, first of all, eating dates and drinking water after, is good for a woman in labor. Some people said that eating dates and drinking water on them increases their eyesight. Dates are anti-depressant and it is good for women who suffer from postpartum depression. Another point is that she said, “I have vowed a fast”, so vowing for God is OK, especially with fasting, but it is important to know that it is not good to vow every moment because vowing is obligatory action that you define for yourself. God did not make it obligatory. The fasting mentioned in this verse is meant to be silent because it says, “I will not speak to any human today”. Based on traditions we do not have silent fasting in Islam.

Another question is, the verse says, “And if you see any “Bashar” (human-like), say, I have vowed a fast to the Most Gracious, so I will not speak to any human (Insan) today”, here says, “say that I will not speak”, how is it possible to say something while you vowed for silent fasting? It says if you see any “Bashar (human-like) say that I do not speak to any Insan (human). “Bashar” (human-like) is different than “Insan” (human). Bashar in Arabic rooted in Bashara means outer skin. “Mobashira” also from Bashara means the connection of two skins (shaking hands). Now refer to a couple of verses back which said, “She screened herself away from them, and We sent to her Our spirit, and He appeared to her as an immaculate “Bashar” (human-like)” (Maryam:17). So, Jesus said to her mother, “If you see someone who is Bashar (human-like) say to them that I vowed not to speak to any human” (For example angels). God wanted Jesus (A) (an infant) to talk and defend the chastity and purity of her mother like when a child defends Prophet Josef’s (A) chastity in the story of Zulaikha. “She desired him, and he desired her, had he not seen the proof of his Lord. It was thus that We diverted evil and indecency away from him. He was one of Our loyal servants. (24) As they raced towards the door, she tore his shirt from behind. At the door, they ran into her husband. She said, “What is the penalty for him who desired to dishonor your wife, except imprisonment or a painful punishment?” (25) He said, “It was she who tried to seduce me.” A witness (child based on narrations) from her household suggested: “If his shirt is torn from the front: then she has told the truth, and he is the liar. (26) But if his shirt is torn from the back: then she has lied, and he is the truthful” (27)”[3] (Yusuf:24-27).

Without a miracle, Jewish scholars would not accept the birth of Jesus (A) without a father. Don’t think if you were there, you would accept this. The Holy Quran emphasizes on chastity and purity of Lady Mary (A).

فَأَتَتْ بِهِ قَوْمَهَا تَحْمِلُهُ ۖ قَالُوا يَا مَرْيَمُ لَقَدْ جِئْتِ شَيْئًا فَرِيًّا ﴿٢٧﴾‏

Then she came to her people, carrying him. They said, “O Mary, you have done something terrible. (27)

Lady Mary (A) was carrying her son (Prophet Jesus (A)) while she back to her people. People were surprised by this as they expected only chastity, purity, and piety from her and his father Prophet Imran (A).

All praise is to God to the extent that He deserves it.

Muhammad Mahdi Me’marian


[1] -وَذَا النُّونِ إِذ ذَّهَبَ مُغَاضِبًا فَظَنَّ أَن لَّن نَّقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ فَنَادَىٰ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ أَن لَّا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ

[2] -وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُمْ

[3] -وَلَقَدْ هَمَّتْ بِهِ ۖ وَهَمَّ بِهَا لَوْلَا أَن رَّأَىٰ بُرْهَانَ رَبِّهِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ لِنَصْرِفَ عَنْهُ السُّوءَ وَالْفَحْشَاءَ ۚ إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُخْلَصِينَ ‎﴿٢٤﴾‏ وَاسْتَبَقَا الْبَابَ وَقَدَّتْ قَمِيصَهُ مِن دُبُرٍ وَأَلْفَيَا سَيِّدَهَا لَدَى الْبَابِ ۚ قَالَتْ مَا جَزَاءُ مَنْ أَرَادَ بِأَهْلِكَ سُوءًا إِلَّا أَن يُسْجَنَ أَوْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ ‎﴿٢٥﴾‏ قَالَ هِيَ رَاوَدَتْنِي عَن نَّفْسِي ۚ وَشَهِدَ شَاهِدٌ مِّنْ أَهْلِهَا إِن كَانَ قَمِيصُهُ قُدَّ مِن قُبُلٍ فَصَدَقَتْ وَهُوَ مِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ ‎﴿٢٦﴾‏ وَإِن كَانَ قَمِيصُهُ قُدَّ مِن دُبُرٍ فَكَذَبَتْ وَهُوَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ ‎﴿٢٧﴾

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