Sūrat Maryam

Sūrah No. 19.The Sūrah is named after Lady Maryam (a) whose story is given in detail in it. This is the only Sūrah named after a female figure, and Lady Maryam is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran. She represents a unique point of connection between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, being born into a Jewish family, giving birth to Jesus, and playing a significant role the history of Islam.

– Sūrat Maryam has an important part in the early history of Islam. When the early Muslims migrated to Abyssinia Ja’far bin Abu Talib recited from it for King Negus who wanted to know more about Islam. The King was greatly touched by the passage on Lady Maryam (a) and Prophet ‘Īsā (a).

– The Sūrah has a distinct linguistic rhythmic pattern. It is one of the longest Sūrahs to have such a clear pattern; 67 of its 98 verses end with the same sound.

– The Divine name al-Rahmān is mentioned 16 times in this Sūrah, a third of the number of times the name is mentioned in the Quran, apart from the opening bismillāhs of Sūrahs.

Merits of reciting the Sūrah

Whoever recites Sūrat Maryam constantly, through the blessings of this Sūrah Allah will make him needless in his self, his wealth, and his children, so long as he lives in the world. Imam al-Sādiq (a) (Tafsīr Majma‘ al Bayān). 

Note: Tafsīr Namūneh says that the needlessness would come due to reflection of the contents of the Sūrah which become ingrained in the thoughts and actions of the reciter.

General synopsis of contents

1) A big part of the Sūrah talks about the stories of the past.

  1. a) Prophet Zakariyya (a) and Prophet Yahya (a)
  2. b) Lady Maryam (a) and Prophet ‘Īsā (a)
  3. c) Prophet Ibrāhīm (a)
  4. d) Prophet Mūsā (a)
  5. e) Other Prophets mentioned briefly

2) The Day of Judgement

3) A rejection of claims that God has a child.

Selected Lessons

1) What seems impossible for us is easy for Allah to do (vv. 9, 21)

2) God is with those who are in pain and helps them when they help themselves (vv. 24-25)

3) There is no-one like God who deserves worship and steadfastness from us (v. 65)

4) Allah enhances the guidance of those who are guided (v. 76)

5) All creatures are but servants of the al-Rahmān (v. 93)

Important Messages

1) Supplication to God is very powerful for the fulfillment of desires.

2) The days of birth, death, and life again are significant indicators of the stages of human life.

3) Divine Messengers are from a blessed progeny.

4) Human beings throughout history have always been skeptical about life after death.

5) Sins and false utterances can influence the systems in the universe.

Suggested verses for reflection and memorization.

1) 19:4 – He said, ‘My Lord! Indeed, my bones have become feeble, and my head has turned white with age, yet never have I, my Lord, been disappointed in supplicating You!

2) 19:33 – Peace to me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I am raised alive.’

3) 19:62 – Therein they will not hear vain talk, but only ‘Peace!’ Therein they will have their provision morning and evening.

Activities for self-study

1) Cross reference – Compare the story of Lady Maryam (a) in this Sūrah (vv. 16-29) and in Sūrah Āli Imrān, vv. 35-48. What details do each of these passages cover?

2) What are some common elements in the four main stories mentioned in this Sūrah (Nos.1 a-d in synopsis of contents?

3) There are many repeated themes in the Sūrah; separation from people/world, silence, speech, the greeting salaam, man created from nothing, etc. Choose one theme to explore in the Sūrah.