𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐖𝐚𝐬 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐑𝐞𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐬 ‘𝐒𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐀𝐚𝐫𝐨𝐧’ 𝐖𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐒𝐡𝐞 𝐁𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐁𝐚𝐛𝐲 𝐉𝐞𝐬𝐮𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐇𝐞𝐫 𝐏𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐐𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐧?
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
When Maryam (peace be upon her) delivered Jesus and brought him to her people, they spoke in astonishment, making great this matter and declaring to her that her parents were not impious people. Here is the Qur’anic account:
فَأَتَتْ بِهِ قَوْمَهَا تَحْمِلُهُ قَالُوا يَا مَرْيَمُ لَقَدْ جِئْتِ شَيْئًا فَرِيًّا يَا أُخْتَ هَارُونَ مَا كَانَ أَبُوكِ امْرَأَ سَوْءٍ وَمَا كَانَتْ أُمُّكِ بَغِيًّا
Then she brought him (the baby) to her people, carrying him. They said: “O Mary! Indeed, you have brought a thing an unheard mighty thing. O sister of Harun (Aaron)! Your father was not a man who used to commit adultery, nor was your mother an unchaste woman.”(Maryam 19:27-28)
The question arises here as to why Maryam was (peace be upon her) addressed by her people as “sister of Aaron.” The Muslim exegetes have cited two explanations for this:
𝐈𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐆𝐥𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐇𝐨𝐥𝐲 𝐐𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐧, 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐲, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐉𝐞𝐬𝐮𝐬, 𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐈𝐦𝐫𝐚𝐧.
𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐛𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐬𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐬, 𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐥𝐮𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐐𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐧 𝟑:𝟑𝟓, 𝟑:𝟑𝟔, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝟑:𝟒𝟓. 𝐇𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫, 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐝𝐨 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐟𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐈𝐦𝐫𝐚𝐧 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐲.
𝐀𝐜𝐜𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐈𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐜 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐆𝐥𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐇𝐨𝐥𝐲 𝐐𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐧, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐈𝐦𝐫𝐚𝐧 𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐝𝐢𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐈𝐦𝐫𝐚𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐎𝐥𝐝 𝐓𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐌𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐀𝐚𝐫𝐨𝐧.
𝐈𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐝, 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐈𝐦𝐫𝐚𝐧 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐞𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐃𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐲. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐈𝐦𝐫𝐚𝐧 𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐚 𝐟𝐞𝐰 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐐𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐧.
𝐈𝐭 𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐬 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐲’𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐩𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤𝐠𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝, 𝐚𝐬 𝐈𝐦𝐫𝐚𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐜𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐞𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐦𝐚𝐧. 𝐈𝐭 𝐡𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐢𝐠𝐧𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐛𝐢𝐫𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐫𝐨𝐥𝐞 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐲 𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐉𝐞𝐬𝐮𝐬.
𝐈𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐉𝐞𝐬𝐮𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐞𝐠𝐚𝐜𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐡𝐞𝐭𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐞𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐝𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐜𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦.
𝐁𝐲 𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐈𝐦𝐫𝐚𝐧, 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐌𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐀𝐚𝐫𝐨𝐧, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐐𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐧 𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐡𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐳𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐮𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐡𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐡𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲.
𝐈𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐡 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐈𝐦𝐫𝐚𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧 𝐈𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐦. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐲 𝐛𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬.
𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐃𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐐𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐧 𝐂𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐀𝐚𝐫𝐨𝐧? | 𝐃𝐫. 𝐒𝐡𝐚𝐛𝐢𝐫 𝐀𝐥𝐥𝐲
𝐈 𝐝𝐨 𝐍𝐎𝐓 𝐚𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐃𝐫. 𝐒𝐡𝐚𝐛𝐢𝐫 𝐀𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐥𝐨𝐭𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰𝐬. 𝐇𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫, 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫 𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰 𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐚𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐯𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐨 𝐜𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬 𝐚 𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧.
𝐈𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐰𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐪𝐮𝐨𝐭𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐌𝐮𝐬𝐥𝐢𝐦 𝐚𝐬 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐜𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬 𝐚 𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐈𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐦
Is that Harun (Aaron) was the name given to righteous people amongst them, because of a man amongst them called Harun who was very righteous. So, when she brought the baby, they said to her “O sister of Harun”, meaning “O one who is associated with rectitude, righteousness” because she came from a righteous family.
Al-Tabari mentions this view from Qataadah (an early commentator of the Qur’an who studied with the Prophet’s companions), and Muhammad bin Seereen and others. Al-Baghawi mentions that Qataadah and others stated that Aaron was a righteous worshipper and that forty-thousand people followed his funeral the day that he died and all of them were called Aaron.
This name, therefore, was associated with piety and righteousness and hence, the use of the phrase “O sister of…” is not referring to blood relationship. This is like the saying of Allah, “Verily, the spendthrifts (those who squander wealth) are the brethren of the devils…” (17:27). Al-Baghawi also cites a narration from al-Kalbi that Aaron referred to here was a brother of Maryam through her father, and he was the most righteous man amongst Bani Israel in that time.
Ibn Kathir supports this view and cites from al-Tabari in this regard. And Imam Al- Sa’dee from the contemporary Scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah (those adhering to the Prophetic tradition) also supports the view that this statement is referring to an actual brother of Mary called Aaron, and that the Bani Israel used to call their children by the names of former prophets.
Is that is indeed Harun (Aaron) the brother of Moses, and Maryam was from his lineage, and thus it was said to her “O sister of Aaron” just like it is said to one who belongs to a tribe, “O brother of the tribe” such as for example one who is a Tamimi (of the Tameem tribe), “O brother of Tameem” and to the Mudarree (of the Mudarr tribe), “O brother of Mudarr.” Al-Tabari mentions this view from al-Sudee (another early Qur’anic exegete).
The first is the most correct view, and when we read the remainder of the verse, “Your father was not a man who used to commit adultery, nor was your mother an unchaste woman…” we see that the people were protesting the fact that she was the sister of a very righteous man and her father and mother were not impious, so on all these three counts, how has she come with a baby, when all of her family members (father, mother, brother) are associated and known for piety and righteousness?
Maryam (peace be upon her) did not speak and simply pointed to the child, and we shall take this matter up in a separate article, and this is from the miracles of Eesaa (peace be upon him) in that he spoke as an infant and defended his mother’s honour and reputation.
The position of Eesaa and his mother Maryam (may peace be upon them both) is a very lofty one in the Qur’an and this contrasts to how they are both viewed in Talmudic literature and the animosity and denigration that is found amongst the Jews towards these two great figures, one a Messenger and Prophet of Allah, and the other (Mary) a Siddeeqah (extremely truthful in intention, word and deed), a title given to those from mankind attaining the best possible rank short of prophethood.
Allah knows Best