Reflection No. 178 on Q 3:37 – Nurturing of Growth
فَتَقَبَّلَهَا رَبُّهَا بِقَبُولٍ حَسَنٍ وَأَنْبَتَهَا نَبَاتًا حَسَنًا
Fataqabbalahā rabbuhā biqabūlin hasanin wa-ambatahā nabātan hasanā
So her Lord accepted her with a gracious acceptance, and made her grow in a worthy fashion
(Sūrat Āli Imrān, No. 3, Āyat 37)
When the mother of Bibi Maryam (a) was giving birth she expected a male child whom she vowed to dedicate to Baytul Maqdis – the sacred place in Jerusalem. However, she delivered a girl! So she beseeched Allah to accept it. Allah accepted it with a good and worthy acceptance, showing respect and consideration for the mother of Maryam (a). It is an answer to a sincere prayer. Never before had a female been accepted as a servant in the temple. According to some Mufassirīn this acceptance of the female child was conveyed to the mother through ilhām or inspiration.
When Allah accepts Maryam (a), He nurtures her growth and progress. The word anbata here is the same word used for the growth of plants and the progress towards perfection of a tiny seed. A similar term of growth is used in Sūratul Fath where Allah talks about the growth of those who are with the Holy Prophet (s): like a seed that puts forth its sprout, then strengthens it so it becomes stout and stands firmly on its stem, delighting the sowers (Q 48:29).
The inner potential of human beings can be nurtured into progressive growth leading to perfection. Just as a seed has potential that can be nurtured by skilled gardeners and can eventually become a beautiful plant; a human being has potential that can be nurtured. Under the care and guidance of Divine leaders with their wisdom and knowledge, a human being can bloom and make manifest the potential that Allah has placed inside him.
Recite this verse to remind you that Allah causes growth in all aspects of your life towards the blossoming of a Khalīfa (i.e. vicegerent) of Allah. What is hard to understand of circumstances and challenges in life, are part of the growth. Don’t resist, have trust in the Master Gardener. Imam Muhammad al-Bāqir (a) has said: Whoever relies on Allah, subHānahu wa-ta‘āla, will never be defeated, and whoever takes refuge in Allah will never fail (Mishkātul Anwār, H. 45)
Aytaullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirazī (ed), Tafsīr Namūne;
Ibn Hasan Tabarsī, Mishkātul Anwār.