Mary is one of the outstanding personalities and a distinguished woman in the Abrahamic religions. In Islam, Mary is considered as one of the four celestial women of Paradise, an exemplary role model and a leader of the women of the universe
In the Quran, no woman has been mentioned by her proper name except Mary, and interestingly, her name occurs 34 times in the Quran [i]. Also, a chapter of the Quran was named after her.
Mary was a daughter of Imran and Hannah. Imran, a progeny of Solomon son of David, was one of the leading religious scholars of his time. According to the reports, following a prayer request of Hannah for a child, they were blessed at old age with a baby girl named Mary. However, Imran died before the birth of Mary.
Meanwhile, according to a narration , it was said that Imran had informed his wife of a son who by Allah’s permission could heal the blind and raise the dead to life. Thus, Hannah has vowed to devote the child to the service of the Lord in the Sanctuary.
The Quran says:
“When the wife of Imran said, ‘My Lord, I dedicate to You in consecration what is in my belly. Accept it from me; indeed You are the All-hearing, the All-knowing” (3: 35)
Meanwhile, since the conceived child was a girl, who could not be allowed to serve in the sanctuary due to her weakness and menses, Hannah was amazed, and she exclaimed bashfully:
“When she bore her, she said, ‘My Lord, I have borne a female [child]’—and Allah knew better what she had borne, and the male [child she expected] was no match for the female [child she had borne] —‘and I have named her Mary…” (3: 36)
However, contrary to her expectation, Allah graciously accepted her vow by permitting her daughter; Mary to serve the Lord in the Sanctuary:
“Thereupon her Lord accepted her with a gracious acceptance, and made her grow up in a worthy fashion…” (3: 37)
After that, Hannah took her baby to the Sanctuary, and she handed her over to the custodians of the House of God while she returned home.
There were disputes among the custodians of the Sanctuary about taking charge of the guardianship of Mary. Every one of them wished to take the responsibility, but Zakariyya told them he was more worthy of her since her aunt was his wife.
They later agreed on casting a lot by throwing their pens with which they wrote the Torah in water to decide the guardianship of Mary. In line with a divine will, only the Zakariyya’s pen surfaced over the water while the remaining ones submerged. Thus, Zakariyyah finally took charge of the guardianship of Mary.
“…and He charged Zechariah with her care…” (3: 37)
When Mary attained puberty, a separate room was built for her in the temple so that she may have a maximum concentration on her devotions. Thus, none was allowed to see her or talk with her except Zakariyya, who made provisions for her needs. According to the Quranic report, every time Zakariyya entered her sanctuary to see her, he found some food in her room.
“…Whenever Zechariah visited her in the sanctuary, he would find provisions with her. He said, ‘O Mary, from where does this come for you?’ She said, ‘It comes from Allah. Allah provides whomever He wishes without any reckoning.” (3: 37)
One day, the Gabriel in the guise of a handsome man [ii] appeared to Mary but she was frightened, and she sought refuge from Allah against him. But he responded that he was a messenger of her Lord to give her a glad tiding of a pure boy.
“…We sent to her Our Spirit, and he became incarnate for her as a well-proportioned human. She said, ‘I seek the protection of the All-beneficent from you, should you be Godwary! He said, ‘I am only a messenger of your Lord that I may give you a pure son.” (19: 17-19)
However, Mary enquired on the possibility of having a child while not being touched by any man. The Gabriel told her that creating a child out of a virgin and without a father is not difficult for God [iii]. After that, Mary by the decree of Allah became pregnant of Jesus, who shall be a sign for the humankind and a mercy to the world. In order to avoid people’s accusations, Mary retreated to a remote place where no one could see her.
However, at the time of childbirth, apart from loneliness, she went through severe pains to such an extent that she aspired for death [iv]. Then, a voice called unto her to console her not to grieve, and she was commanded by Allah to eat from the fresh dates, drink from the spring water and to refresh her eyes by the newly born baby [v].
In addition, Mary was henceforth commanded by Allah to refrain from talking to people for a particular time, but her child would be allowed to speak on her behalf and defend her chastity. Finally, Mary brought her miraculous baby to her people while carrying him in her arms. Some of them accused her of adultery [vi], but in line with divine command, she remained silent while pointing to her new baby.
Thus, Jesus while in his cradle testified to the divinity of Allah, his servitude to Him and finally attested to the chastity of her mother [vii].
In Islam, Mary is held in high esteem, and she acquired an elevated status among the women of the world. She was considered a perfect personality for emulation by the women of the world.
However, Islam in a very strong term repudiates the belief in the divinity of Mary or her being considered a mother of God. She is indeed a chosen and purified servant of God, and she was chosen above the women of the world.
[ii] (19: 17)
[iii] (19: 20-21)
[iv] (19: 23)
[v] (19: 24-26)
[vi] (19: 27-28)
[vii] (19: 30-33)
- Majlisi, Muhammad-Baqir, “Bihar-ul-'Anwar” (Beirut Edition), Vol. 14, P. 203, Hadith 15.
Whatever we look at or even see, enters our mind and soul, and sticks to them. Imam Ali (AS) said: “The eye is the reporter of heart and the messenger of mind.” . It means that every act of looking profoundly affects our heart and soul. The prophet (PBUH&HP) said: “Avoid unnecessary excess looks as they grow lust in your hearts and make you heedless.” .
In another saying from Imam Ali (AS), we read that: “The eyes are the snares of Satan” . That is why Islam has special guidelines and rules about at what or whom, one is allowed or not to look. And, this is more pressing in case of Muslims living in a non-Muslim society, where they are constantly exposed to both men and women freely and improperly dressed in the streets, TV, magazines, web pages, etc. Islam has regulated looking at the opposite gender according to the two categories: Mahrams and non-Mahrams .
A man is permitted to look at the body of a woman who is his Mahram, except her private parts (Awrah). And he must not look at her body from the navel down to the knee. This means that a woman should dress decently even in the presence of her Mahrams. One’s wife is an exception to this rule; married couples are allowed to look at the entire body of each other.
It is forbidden for a man to look at the body of any non-Mahram woman but he can look at her hands and face as long as they do not have any decoration. If the woman is Muslim, then he is not allowed to look at her hair. But if she is not Muslim, looking at her hair is not forbidden as long as it is not for pleasure.
Generally, there is no sin on a man for the first involuntary look at any non-Mahram woman, but the second look should be avoided . In any case, men should remember that: “Tell the faithful men to cast down their looks and to guard their private parts. That is more decent for them.” (24:30).
This rule also extends to adolescent boys and even younger ones, who understand women’s physical attributes and might be attracted to them. They should be taught to lower their gaze, too. Since children’s minds and souls are clear lands ready to be cultivated with several types of thoughts and ideas mostly captured by eyes, we need to teach them which seeds they should plant in their lands to attain Allah’s eternal satisfaction.
A man is not allowed to look at another man’s private parts, nor a woman at those of another woman; whether Muslim or not. Besides, looking at any parts of the body of another man, even the face and arms, will be forbidden for a man if done with the intention of having pleasure. The same ruling applies to a woman towards another woman. This also means that one should always cover his/her private parts in the presence of others, even of the same gender.
A woman is allowed to look at the body of a man who is her Mahram, except his private parts, if it is not for having pleasure. One’s husband is an exception to this rule as mentioned earlier.
A woman is not permitted to look at the body of a non-Mahram man, except for the face, hands, and that amount which men usually [i] do not cover and if it is not for pleasure.
One is permitted to look at the entire body of a child until he/she reaches the age when the child’s consciousness of sex has developed, or when evidence of sexual urge is noticed on him/her; even if it is before reaching puberty. However, it is better to accustom the child to always dress properly.
As a general rule, it is forbidden (Haram) to look at anyone (even at one’s own body) or anything (including people’s photos and films, statues, etc.) with the intention of having pleasure (with the exception of one’s spouse), even if one is looking at a Mahram.
In cases of “necessity” such as in administering first aid, medical treatment [ii] or during a trial testimony where the judge requests the witness to look at a non-Mahram to identify him/her , all the rules of the prohibition of looking become void. As an instance, if a doctor is compelled to look at a part of the body of a non-Mahram woman, he must only look at that part necessary for the treatment, but not more than that. Also, if possible, the examination or testing must be performed over the clothing. Other exceptions are looking at one’s spouse as explained above.
[i] This, although following a definite limit indicated in Islamic ruling that should be respected, is based on the normal condition of each society to some extent.
[ii] In the case that a doctor of the same skill and with the same gender is not available.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 104, p. 41, T. 52.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 72, p. 199.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 77, p. 294.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih”, vol.3, p.474, T. 4658.
- looking to others
“O ALLAH, bless Muhammad (PBUH) and his Progeny! Bless us in this day of our festival and our fast-breaking, make it one of the best of days that have passed over us.” Imam Sajjad (AS) - Sahifa Al-Sajjadiyya
Eid al-Fitr is the most important festival in the Islamic calendar. It provides us with an opportunity to offer thanks to Allah for having given us the will and strength to observe fast during the holy month of Ramadan. This Eid falls on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal and marks the end of Ramadan.
On the day of the celebration, a typical Muslim family gets up very early to perform the following tasks:
It is recommended to recite the following Takbirs after performing the Dawn prayer (Salat al-Fajr):
"اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُلاإِلَهَ إِلااللَّهُ وَاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُوَلِلَّهِ الْحَمْدُالْحَمْدُلِلَّهِ عَلَى مَاهَدَانَاوَلَهُ الشُّكْرُعَلَى مَا أَوْلانَا"
‘AllaahuakbarAllaahuakbar la ilaahaillallaahuwwllaahuakbarallaahuakbarwalillaahilh’amd al ha’mdulillaaha’laamaahadaanaawalahushukrua’laamaaawlaanaa’
It means: “Allah is Great. Allah is Great. There is no god but Allah. And Allah is Great. Allah is Great. (All) praise be to Allah. (We) sing the praises of Allah because He has shown us the Right Path. (We) gratefully thank Him because He takes care of us and looks after our interests.”
Zakat al-Fitr is a mandatory religious tax paid by those who can afford it as a kind of charity at the sunset of Eid alFitr night (i.e. the night preceding Eid day), which is about three kilos of the item commonly eaten per person in the house (e.g. wheat, barley, dates, raisins, rice or millet, etc.).
You can also pay the price of one of these items in cash. Fitrah should be given to deserving believers whose income is not sufficient to spend on their families for one year. It is better to give it before the Eid prayer (Salat al-Eid).
The Eid prayer is performed in the morning, between sunrise and the Midday prayer (Salat al-Zuhr). It can be performed either individually or in a congregation and consists of two Rak’ahs (units). During the first Rak’ah, you should recite the first chapter of the Holy Quran (Surah al-Fateha).
Thereafter, you can recite another chapter of your choice. However, it is recommended to recite Chapter 91 (Surah al-Shams) in the first Rak’ah and Chapter 8 (Surah al-Ghashiya) in the second one following Surah al-Fateha; or alternatively, recite Chapter 87 (Surah al-A'ala) in the first Rak’ah and Chapter 91 (Surah al-Shams) in the second (following Surah al-Fateha).
After reciting the Quranic chapters, there are five Takbirs-i.e. ‘Allahu Akbar’- that needs to be said in the first Rak’ah and four in the second one - and along with each of these, you should recite a Qunut (raising hands in prayer).
After the fifth Qunut of the first Rak'ah, you should recite a Takbir (Allahu Akbar) and then perform the Ruku’ (bowing) and continue with the Sujud (prostration) twice. In the second Rak’ah, the actions of the first Rak’ah are repeated with four Takbirs. At the end of the prayer, upon the completion of the second Sujud, you should recite the Tashahhud and complete the prayer with the Salutations (Salam).
Although any recitation or Dua will suffice in Qunut of the Eid Prayers, it is recommended to recite the following Dua:
"اَللّهُمَّ اَهلَا لْکِبْرِيَاءِ وَالْعَظَمَةِ،وَاَهْلَا لْجُوْدِ وَالْجَبَرُوتِ، وَاَهْلَا لْعَفْوِ وَالرَّحْمَةِ وَاَهْلَا لتَّقْوٰی وَالْمَغْفِرَةِ،اَسْاَلُكَ بِحَقِّ هٰذَا الْيَوْمِ الَّذِی جَعَلْتَه لِلْمُسْلِمِيْنَ عِيْدًاوَلِمُحَمَّدٍصَلَّی اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ ذُخْراًوَكَرَامَةً وَشَرَفًا وَمَزِيْداً اَنْتُصَلِّیَ عَلٰی مُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَاَنْ تُدْخِلَنِی فِی کُلِّ خَيْرٍاَدْخَلْتَ فِيْهِ مُحَمَّداً وَآلَ مُحَمَّدٍ،وَاَنْ تُخْرِجَنِی مِنْ کُلِّ سُوْٓءٍ اَخْرَجْتَ مِنْهُ مُحَمَّدًا وَآلَ مُحَمَّدٍ صَلَواتُكَ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَيْهِمْ اَجْمَعِيْنَ.اَللَّهُمَّ اِنِّی اَسْاَلُكَ خَيْرَمَاسَاَلَكَ بِهِ عِبادُكَ الصَّالِـحُونَ،وَاَعُوْذُبِكَ مِمَّا اسْتَعاذَ مِنْهُ عِبادُكَ الْمُخْلِصُوْنَ"
‘Allahummaahlalkibriya'iwal 'azamah, waahlaljudiwaljaburat, waahlal 'afwi war rahmah, waahlattaqwawalmaghfirah.
As alukabihaqqihazalyawmillazija'altahulilmuslimina 'ida ,waliMuhammadinsallallahu 'AlaihiwaAlihi, zukhranwasharafanwakaramatanwamazida an tusalliya 'ala Muhammad wa Ali Muhammad wa an tudkhilani fi kullikhayrinadkhaltafihi Muhammadan wa Ala Muhammad wa an tukhrijani min kullisu'inakhrajtaminhu Muhammadan wa Ala Muhammad salawatuka 'alahiwa 'alahim. Allahummainni as alukakhayra ma saalakabihiibadukassalihun, waauzubikamimmastaazaminhuibadukalmukhlasun.’
“O Allah, (belongs to You only) pride, glory, excellence, omnipotence. (You) grant amnesty and show kindness, (You are) Holy and Oft-forgiving, (so), I ask You in the name of this day which You have ordained as a day of happiness for the Muslims. An occasion for Muhammad (blessings of Allah be on him and his progeny) to plan ahead and grow strong to send blessings on Muhammad and on the progeny of Muhammad. And introduce me to every good that had been made available to Muhammad and Muhammad’s progeny. Educate me to keep from every evil as You kept safe Muhammad and Muhammad’s progeny from it. Your blessings are on him and on them. O Allah, I ask you to give me the good which Your pious servants had asked for. And I take refuge with You from that which caused Your pious servants to seek refuge with you.”
This is how Muslims joyfully celebrate the achievement of enhanced piety on this day of forgiveness, moral victory, and peace, of fellowship, brotherhood, and unity. Muslims not only celebrate the end of fasting but also thank God for the strength that He gave them during the previous month to help them practice self-control.
Happy Eid al-Fitr!