Monday, January 23, 2012
by Maniza Naqvi
(This is the Majlis I prepared and read last week for my mother, Narjis Khatoon Rizvi-Naqvi, who died on January 17, 2011).
In this past one year I have sat in this living room in our apartment for long periods of time. In the evenings, this room with the candles lit next to my mother’s photograph and all the lamps ablaze—glows—the windows darkened by the night—this room is radiant with a warmth and grace. I like to sit here and read here and in this past year I’ve read the Koran for Ami and also read a lot more of Tolstoy, Greene, Zizek and Nabokov and I’ve watched a few movies.
The opening sentence of the movie, The Apartment, starring Jack Lemon and Shirley Maclean which was made in 1960 goes like this: “If you laid all these people end to end, figuring an average height of five feet six and a half inches, they would reach from Times Square to the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan. On November 1st, 1959, the population of New York City was 8,042,783.” (watch here)
Isn’t that the same number now? I thought to myself. Doesn’t this city grow? Where do the new people go? I think Ami would have said, “They go Home.”
The day we buried Ami, Ali, said to the mourners at her funeral, that Ami came to here to New York, reluctantly, following her children, then became an immigrant only for her children: He said: Today I am about to consecrate this land with my mother. Today I understand what motherland means.”
Today marks one year of our sorrow for Ami since her passing on January 17, 2011. As is the tradition for a Majlis I have begun with the sacred. Sura 24 of the Koran:
24. The Light: An Nur: 34. We have sent down clear instructions to you, and illustrations from (the accounts) of those who have gone before you, and a warning for those who take heed for themselves.
35. God is the light of the heavens and the earth. The semblance of His light is that of a niche in which is a lamp, the flame within a glass, the glass a glittering star as it were, lit with the oil of a blessed tree, the olive, neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil appears to light up even though fire touches it not, -- light upon light. God guides to His light whom He will. So does God advance precepts of wisdom for men, for God has knowledge of everything. 36. (The light is lit) in houses of worship which God has allowed to be raised, and His name remembered in them.
One of the novels I read in the past few weeks was, Vladimir Nabakov’s Mary. In the novel—Mary is the name of a character—This character appears only in memory in the story—and is a symbol in my view of the homeland as remembered by an exile and a refugee. The homeland left, the first perfect love, revered and worshipped. In the novel the house in which several refugees live together as boarders---is also one that embodies a grace and light and has that quality of mother and womb. The motherland, the homeland, as the womb. The parting, the departure from the motherland, a death, a resurrection. To an exile who is preserving and revering the miracle of the illusory perfection of the purity of memory the process of letting go of reality—And then the moving forward out of that exile of mourning of loss—and moving into reality with memory is that process of resurrection. Again as in Tolstoys novels, in Nabakov’s novel “Mary” the train, symbolizes change, revolution, the rattling of one way of being to another way of being.
Yes—Ami had said, when asked one evening if she had ever wanted to write a novel.
“And what would the first sentence of that book be?”
Ami had replied without hesitation, as though she had already written the book:
Garti minto mein un galion ko chort thi ja rahee thee Jahan hum sadion sey rehtey chaley ah rahey tehe:
The train within minutes
Was leaving behind
Where we had
It was as usual a very loud dinner even though there were just the six of us assembled there. It was a usual dinner at our home amongst just the family members-and the usual conversation—heated and loud—contesting back and forth the prevailing news of the day from Pakistan—an editorial on Pakistanis in the New York Times---and so forth and about novels and books—and as usual while holding forth ourselves, each of us glanced at Ami ---gazed at her face—into her eyes--to gauge if she agreed or not with our opinions. And as usual Ami had sat quietly listening as always the silent arbiter—our compass—our measure of validity.
Ami was asked this question. And we had all stopped chattering and listened for Ami to answer. My throat had constricted— my eyes were filled with tears---it was such a meaningful sentence. And her sentence was much more powerful to me than anything I had ever written. Here was an entire history with all its symbolism in one sentence spoken without effort and spontaneously by Ami. I felt her emotion deeply. Of course I did—I am part of her and she is part of me because I am one of her children.
I had her write the sentence, which she did in Urdu, in my notebook that very evening. Now when I look at it her hand writing, in those three short lines of this sentence, the letters the words appear as though they were, against their will, in forward momentum--- sailing—flying—wispy and swift and dense in detail of dots and swishes in the way of that script’s imperatives. After her inteqal on January 17, 2011-- I framed this page—in a silver frame and it sits on my writing desk. In her absence I have been listening to the universe—straining for instruction from everything and everywhere. For sorrow brings about its own madness its own magic. Madness and magic are essential for clarity.
Her one opening sentence has for me everything, pathos in the tone that it was delivered and the words, for me convey the tremendous tragedy that was unfolding across the subcontinent and encapsulated in her experience of history as people and families in movement.
The train in her opening sentence, now that I think about it, was the vehicle—Time itself—history in its past and future converging and meeting--- symbolizing a tremendous change—and in the moment awful for those caught up in it---or awesome, as one era was ending and another, an unstoppable one, another journey was beginning. Many times when we visit Ami’s final resting place, the sound of the train in the distance greets us.
So today we mark the first anniversary of Ami’s passing we mark Ami’s first barsi of her intekal, the first anniversary of her passing. Ami died on January 17, 2011. It was the 11th of Safar by the Muslim calendar. It is the second month the one that follows the month of Moharam. After the battle of Kerbala on the tenth of Moharam, the Eve of Exile descended on the Prophet’s family. We call it Sham ‘e Ghariban—the Eve of Exile. For this was the beginning of a period of exile the wandering in the wilderness: The time, in which the family of the Prophet had no sanctuary, no refuge, no shelter, no welcoming house, or home. Yet in this condition of exile, sorrow and poverty they were in a greater place of grace of faith, courage, sacrifice, sorrow and tribulations. And in this, their example of fortitude and forbearance, they would have been, in the tradition of Mary.
Only one woman is named by her name in the Koran—she is Mary. The others are referred to as the wife of Noah, wife of Pharaoh, wife of Abraham and wife of Lot.
Only one woman, Mary has a chapter named after her in Koran. There is a chapter named Saba—for the people of the land of Saba, or present day Ethiopia, and it speaks of their Queen but not by her name Sheeba.
In the Koran Mary is not the daughter of, she is not the wife of, and she is not even the mother of. She is Mary. It is Jesus who is referred to as the son of Mary. Throughout the Koran he is referred to as the son of Mary.
19 Mary Maryam: 16. Commemorate Mary in the Book. When she withdrew from her family to a place in the East 17. And took cover from them, We sent a spirit of Ours to her who appeared before her in the concrete form of a man. 18. "I seek refuge in the Merciful from you, if you fear Him," she said. 19. He replied: "I am only a messenger from your Lord (sent) to bestow a good son on you." 20. "How can I have a son," she said, "when no man has touched me, nor am I sinful?" 21. He said: "Thus will it be. Your Lord said: 'It is easy for Me,' and that: 'We shall make him a sign for men and a blessing from Us.' This is a thing already decreed." 22. When she conceived him she went away to a distant place. 23. The birth pangs led her to the trunk of a date-palm tree. "Would that I had died before this," she said, "and become a thing forgotten, unremembered." 24. Then (a voice) called to her from below: "Grieve not; your Lord has made a rivulet gush forth right below you. 25. Shake the trunk of the date-palm tree, and it will drop ripe dates for you. 26. Eat and drink, and be at peace. If you see any man, tell him: 'I have verily vowed a fast to Ar-Rahman and cannot speak to any one this day.' 27. Then she brought the child to her people. They exclaimed: "O Mary, you have done a most astonishing thing! 28. O sister of Aaron, your father was not a wicked person, nor your mother sinful!" 29. But she pointed towards him. "How can we talk to one," they said, "who is only an infant in the cradle?" 30. "I am a servant of God," he answered. "He has given me a Book and made me a prophet, 31. And blessed me wherever I may be, and enjoined on me worship and zakat for as long as I live, 32. And be dutiful to my mother. He has not made me haughty or rebellious. 33. There was peace on me the day I was born, and will be the day I die, and on the day I will be raised from the dead." 34. This was Jesus, son of Mary: A true account they contend about. 35. It does not behove God to have a son. Too immaculate is He! When He decrees a thing He has only to say: "Be", and it is. 36. (Jesus only said:) "Surely God is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. This is the straight path." 37. Yet the sectarians differed among themselves. Alas for the unbelievers when they see the Terrible Day!
Of Mary’s place in the Prophet’s heart and in Islam Reza Aslan describes in his excellent book “No God But God” that after the surrender of Meccans, Mohommad made his way to the Ka’ba after the terms and conditions of his victory had been completed:
“When this business was complete, the Prophet made his way to the Ka’ba. With the help of his cousin and son-n-law, Ali, he lifted the heavy veil covering the sanctuary door and entered the sacred interior. One by one, he carried the idols out before the assembled crowd, and raising them over his head, smashed them to the ground. The various depictions of gods and prophets, such as that of Abraham holding divining rods were all washed away with Zamzam water; all, that is, except for the one of Jesus and his mother, Mary. This image, the Prophet put his hands over reverently, saying, “Wash out all except what is beneath my hands.”
Three female Goddesses are mentioned by name in the Koran in verse 53: The Star (Najm) These were three Goddesses which the pre-Islamic Arabs worshipped, as the daughters of their pre-Islamic idol-the Moon God, Allah, these daughters are mentioned by name in the Koran as Uzza, the Star Goddess and Lanat and Manat. All of these idols were destroyed by the Prophet.
The Koran is replete with verses on the One Creator such as Verse 21 The Prophets (Al Anbiya) which says:
16. We have not created the heavens and the earth, and all that lies between them, out of fun. 17. If We had pleased to make a plaything We could have made it Ourself, if We had cared to do so. 18. In fact We strike the truth against the false, which shatters it, and it disappears. Woe to you for what you attribute (to Him)! 19. Whosoever is in the heavens and the earth belongs to Him; and those who are near Him do not disdain to worship Him or weary (of His service), 20. Nor cease to endeavour praising Him night and day. 21. Or have they taken gods from the earth who can raise the dead? 22. Had there been gods apart from God, both (the heavens and the earth) would have been despoiled. Much too glorious is God, the Lord of the mighty throne, for things they assert! 23. He cannot be questioned about what He does, but they will be questioned. 24. Have they taken gods besides God? Say: "Then bring your proof. Here is the Book of those who are with me, and the Book of those who have gone before me." But most men do not know the truth and turn away. 25. We have not sent an apostle before you without instructing him that there is no god but I, so worship Me.
And another in verse 53: The Star (Najm) speaking to the Arab people who preferred sons, goes on to make the case for the absurdity of idols and the truth of a monotheistic Creator who does not have progeny it says:
Have you considered Lat and 'Uzza, 20. And Manat, the other third (of the pagan deities)? 21. Are there sons for you, and daughters for Him? 22. This is certainly an unjust apportioning. 23. These are only names which you and your fathers have invented. No authority was sent down by God for them. They only follow conjecture and wish-fulfillment, even though guidance had come to them already from their Lord.
My mother loved Medieval and Renaissance paintings. She wrote a beautiful critique of several painters for an Urdu journal when she was a young girl. Her favorite painter was Titian and his paintings of Mary. In her bedroom in Manila and in Karachi is a small reprint of a painting of Mary from that period though I am not sure it is Titian. And there is a poster of a Leonardo Di Vinci study a sketch of the Madonna and child. Recently walking –rather wading through the crowds in the Metropolitan Museum after walking through several exhibits including one with carvings of Goddesses from Congo, Benin, Nigeria, Mali, Ghana and other places on the African continent and after viewing the art of the Arab lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia, I went to visit a small painting that I like very much. The painting is in a glass case on a pedestal and sits in the center of a room surrounded by larger paintings of the period on the walls. The room was almost empty of visitors and I was able to stand alone in front of this particular work of art for a good thirty minutes. It is a painting of Mary and her son. It is by Duccio di Buoninsegna painted in 1300 -and it shows Mary’s face within the folds of her veil. It is as though her face is that lit lamp framed with folds upon folds of the veils and layers of the universes. Her son cradled in her arms—clutches her veil and looks up to her as though he sits in a house looking through a window. (More on the painting here).
Mary is the symbol of mother, embodiment of the universe, the womb, earth, home, innocence, hope and all that is good. She is the window to the universes. Mary, is the symbol of all that is good, mother and home. In Nabakov’s novel, the house is the symbol of the sacred body or the mind containing the bereaved tenants: remnants of a cultural community memory—the poet, the dancers, the widow, the single woman, the husband, the mind and the brain itself—the wind the breath rattling through it—
Mary the embodiment of a Sham e Ghariban (The Eve of Exile or the journey in the wilderness).
Mary-- the sanctuary.
Mary-- the motherland.
Mary-- the shelter.
Mary-- the refuge.
Mary-- the refugee.
Mary—the shelter, the sanctuary, the motherland for refugees and immigrants.
Mary-- the beloved country.
Every welcoming, warm, generous space of embrace filled with grace, Mary.
Where ever a light is lit, a morsel shared and eyes in peace, Mary.
Mary is not in need of land or a house. She is the house.
The Koran, from what I have read about the comparison, unlike the New Testament speaks abundantly of Mary. In the Koran an entire chapter is devoted to her. And she is referred in numerous places in the Koran but she is referred to by name in the following ten chapters: Sura Baqrah (The Cow), Sura Imran (Family of Imran), Sura Ma’idah (Feast), Sura ,At Taubah (Repentance), Sura Al Anbiya (The Prophets), Sura, Al Ahzab(the Allied Troops), Sura Az Zukhruf (Ornaments), Sura Al Hadid (iron), Sura, As Saaf (formations) and Sura Al Tahreem (Prohibition). (See Endnote.)
Before Mary there were other women—who were revered because they lived in the grace of faith, loyalty, love, courage, sacrifice, sorrow and tribulations, the epitome of the life of the hero.
The Greek Goddess, Artemis whose temple was at Ephesus was completed in 550 B.C—she too is referred to as chaste. The symbol of Artemis is the crescent moon. The crescent moon is also the symbol of the pre-Islamic Moon God who was called Allah and worshipped by the Tribe of Qureish. And the pre-Islamic Arabs believed that this main God called Allah had three daughters, who were also Goddesses. These three female Goddesses are mentioned in the Koran of the pre-Islamic Arabs, by their names Uzza, the Goddess of the Star and Lanat and Manat. These idols were kept in the Ka’ba.
A few miles down the road in Ephesus from where that temple of Artemis stood, is the House of Mary—where it is said Mary had arrived with John the Baptiste—after the death of Jesus. But the story of this house is only traced back to the 12th century. And rediscovered by a nun in the 19th century. Mary is said to have died here. Mary, brave and courageous, to whom the Koran devotes a chapter and references throughout—is referred to as chaste. Chaste means pure of heart, a warrior for justice, one who struggles in goodness.
The Koran speaks of Queen of Sheeba who ruled from 1005-955 BC). A chapter in the Koran is referred to as Saba. to the Ethiopians she is Makeda. In Arabic her name is Bilquees, in Europe she is Nicole and she is referred to as the Queen of Saba or Sheeba. And because she has the attributes of a hero she is referred to as chaste. Legend has it that she successfully averted King Solomon from attacking her lands, instead she visited Solomon in his Kingdom bearing him gifts, and upon her return to her Kingdom, now Ethiopia, bore him a son.
In the National Museum in Addis Ababa, is a Goddess,Yamanat who sits encased in a glass cage. Somewhere in the basement is a model replica of Lucy—for she has been taken away to the US for research and to work for museums as a profitable exhibit gawked at by millions and thus she too has been unable to avoid Diaspora or homelessness even 4 million years after her death.
Depending on the pronunciation in Amharic, I am told, the meaning of Yamanat changes in this manner: Yemanat: Who is she? Yeh-mah-nat - who the hell does she think she is; Yah-meh-nat: She who was believed; Yah-mah-nat: She whom we gossiped about.
Yamanat made of terrocota clay is from Yeha, Tigray from the tribe of Myrb. She holds two vessels in her lap her ankle length dress, is decorated with sprays of flowers and a border: seven dots around a single dot. The inscription is Southern Arabic, translated, reads: “For the god grants a child to Yamanat. 6th-5th C.B.C.” This inscription is from around the same time as when another mother Tomyris lost her son in battle, and defeated Cyrus the great on the banks of the Amyu Darya, the Oxus, five to six hundred years before a child was granted to Mary besides a stream and then taken from her—and another six hundred years later, as a thirsty Zainab, in the wilderness, surrounded by empty water vessels, lost her family, on the Banks of the Euphrates. How closely related are all of them related to each other I wonder?
Tomryis was referred to in history as chaste. She was the Queen of the Massagetae lived with her people in her homeland north of the Amu Darya. Tomyris defeated Cyrus the Great —Zulkernain as he is referred to in the Koran. In 530 B.C Cyrus the Great prepared to occupy her lands and as a pretext offered to marry her. She turned him down. What need was there for marriage? The Massagetae held as sacred the secret of nature: they understood the intricate connection between individual choice and advantage to society. Each woman had one husband, but she slept with anyone of her choosing. Upon her refusal, his ruse made useless, Cyrus prepared to attack and invade the Massagetae. A messenger carried her warning to him: "King of the Medes, cease to press this enterprise, for you cannot know if what you are doing will be of real advantage to you. Be content to rule in peace your own kingdom, and bear to see us reign over the countries that are ours to govern’. His-story tries to erase them—the warriors the defenders the defeaters of blood thirsty cruel men.
Her son was killed by Cyrus the Great on the pretext of peace, betrayed on the pretext of a feast. Tomyris was mad with grief. In battle the next day Tomyris defeated Cyrus the Great. And there that awful day on that awful battlefield, strewn with the destroyed bodies of her people, and the army that invaded them, staggered Tomyris, from body to body in search of one corpse. She dragged alongside her a wineskin heavy with the blood she had filled in it of the dead. Finally she found it. Lying, amongst the carnage, there it was the body of Cyrus. Herodotus tells us how Tomyris fell to her knees besides him her face smeared with blood. Then, she had his corpse beheaded. She grabbed Cyrus’s head by a fistful of his hair and shoved it into the wineskin filled with the blood of her kith and kin. Herodotus tells us, that at this point she wailed in a raging scream and the earth shuddered for a mother’s pain: "I warned you that I would quench your thirst for blood, and so I shall." This is what you wanted? Now drown in it. This is my body—mine and this is my blood! (More here.)
And so as in our tradition in our sorrow, we think of the household of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him and his household) who looked towards Mary as the First, in this example of sorrow and fortitude, and we think of his wife Khadija who proposed to him in marriage and was older than him and who probably was of Christian faith before the Koran was revealed unto Mohammad. We think of the Prophet’s, only child, his daughter Fatima. We think of the Prophet’s grand-daughter, Fatima’s daughter, Zainab. We think of the Prophet’s great grand-daughter, and Fatima’s grand-daughter Imam Hussain’s, child Sakina
In my mind’s eye I have an image of Mary kneeling in prayer at the foot of Calvary. The sorrow of her son's immense pain reflected in her eyes—pain for the sake of humanity. Aba! She must have cried, her eyes turned to all of Creation---and then towards her son: Look what they have done. Does she plead with God to stop the suffering? Or does Mary say “Your will be done,”
I see Zainab at the threshold of her tent---as she watches the victorious marauders torch her family’s tents--as she waits to go out into the wilderness in search of the bodies of her loved ones as she musters up the strength and courage to tell the story of what has happened in Kerbala and to bear witness, and to walk in dignity and grace. For she knows, she has faith that the final victory will be of the faithful-----she will wrench this victory step by painful thirsty step, she will win this victory from these so called victors of the moment who are only powerful with their weapons and their violence. Zainab bears he r pain, constructing the argument for humanity and justice.
Zainab, the daughter of Ali, she is Zainab the daughter of Fatima, she is the Zainab the granddaughter of the Prophet. It is in her footsteps we strive to walk.
I have an image of my mother. And yes, because of my beliefs, flawed as they may be---I have faith that this is the only way to be.
Zainab stands in the cold night watching the brutality foretold--enfold—tents are being torn down---their occupants are being rounded up—handcuffed.
Yes night has come and her brothers have not returned—and Zainab unable to restrain Sakina her niece, unable to contain her in her own bruised arms –looks around the encampment in panic for her. Sakina is only six and she has run off into the darkness calling out her father’s name—Aba-------Aba-----Where are you Aba. Zainab searches desperately she must find Sakina before the marauding army comes for her ----but she must stand guard over her ailing nephew too—the next Imam Zain ul Abeedeen who has been left in her protection by her brother Imam Hussain. Her brother has left the charge of this band of resisters to her— Zainab is the head of the family now. She finds her niece—her head on her father’s chest—she is sleeping. Zainab picks her up in her arms—her heart is heavy with the burden of her brother’s body lying before her.
The burden of a body sacrificed in the name of God. This is my body, this is my blood.
Mary witnessed the crucifixion of her son—Khadija the persecution of the Prophet---the flight from Mecca to Medina—The Prophet’s daughter Fatima the trials and tribulations upon her in the wake of her father’s death— And now Zainab watches the mortification of her entire family---severed heads of the beloved raised on the ends of spears—as the victors drunk with power, delirious at what they have accomplished astride their snorting steeds, charge around the encampment---crushing everything in their way under the hoofs of their horses. Where is the bounty? They ask each other –in lust filled shouts-----where is it---the loot which we were promised? These heads can’t be it! Where is the bounty? This old woman---these old women--------this ailing boy—that child there---Where is the loot?
Once again evicted, once again homeless, landless--- She turns her gaze to the heavens for fortitude and then toward the victorious marauders---you came to murder—and you have murdered----And you look for wealth amongst our meager belongings-------you cannot touch it-------it is beyond your grasp, we are beyond your grasp, beyond your violence, beyond your lust, beyond your insults and humiliation: Humanity is our wealth. We wear it. Verse 138 (Sura 2: Baqra). "We have taken the coloring of God; and whose shade is better than God's? Him alone we worship."
The finest ornament and garment is not made of gold or silver or cloth. Humanity, is the best ornament and garment we wear. It is our adornments---humanity is our shield, our shelter our home. Love and loyalty are our wealth. In themselves both perhaps are the greatest struggle.
Zainab understood this—she had been taught this through the tradition she followed: The best of garments, the best of cover, the best of piety, was to be fearless and exposed--facing power---Zainab like Mary is the exemplar of chastity---Chastity means clarity and integrity of thought and purpose. Chastity, the most excellent purdah--is the one taught by Zainab at Kerbala.
Zainab had been entrusted the task of love and loyalty and humanity. She is the focal point of all that is strong and good. That was her chastity that was her ornament and garment. Zainab was faithful to the people she loved. She loved humanity. As did Mary.
In the narrative of Kerbela in the months of Moharram and Safar--Hussain is sacrificed for God. And Zainab is faithful to the sacrifice. This is my body, this is my blood.
In this Faithfulness, Zainab follows the tradition of Mary. Zainab knew the Koran by heart, she had heard it from the lips of her grandfather, the Prophet and from her father and her mother.....For Zainab each verse of the Koran would have been as though it were the voice of her own mother, her father, her family. Each recitation was as though it were her house, her garments are ornaments, her adornment---each recitation of suras and each mention of Mary----the example of love and sacrifice— a sign of good, of being home, and of mother and motherland.
Endnotes: Mary in the Verses of the Koran (Translation by Ahmed Ali):
2 The Cow Al-Baqarah: Madani:
87. Remember We gave Moses the Book and sent after him many an apostle; and to Jesus, son of Mary, We gave clear evidence of the truth, reinforcing him with divine grace. 253. Of all these apostles We have favoured some over the others. God has addressed some of them, and the stations of some have been exalted over the others. And to Jesus, son of Mary, We gave tokens, and reinforced him with divine grace. If God had so willed those who came after them would never have contended when clear signs had come to them. But dissensions arose, some believed, some denied. And if God had willed they would never have fought among themselves. But God does whatsoever He please.
3 The Family of Imran Al-'Imran: Madani:
33. God had chosen Adam and Noah and the families of Abraham and 'Imran in preference to others. 34. They were descendants of one another; and God hears all and knows everything. 35. Remember, when the wife of 'Imran prayed: "O Lord, I offer what I carry in my womb in dedication to Your service, accept it, for You hear all and know everything." 36. And when she had given birth to the child, she said: "O Lord, I have delivered but a girl." -- But God knew better what she had delivered: A boy could not be as that girl was. "I have named her Mary," (she said), "and I give her into Your keeping. Preserve her and her children from Satan the ostracized. 37. Her Lord accepted her graciously, and she grew up with excellence, and was given into the care of Zachariah. Whenever Zachariah came to see her in the chamber, he found her provided with food, and he asked: "Where has this come from, O Mary?" And she said: "From God who gives food in abundance to whomsoever He will." 38. Then prayed Zachariah to his Lord: "O Lord, bestow on me offspring, virtuous and good, for You answer all prayers." 39. Then the angels said to him as he stood in the chamber at prayer: "God sends you good tidings of John who will confirm a thing from God and be noble, continent, and a prophet, and one of those who are upright and do good." 40. "How can I have a son, O Lord," he said, "for I am old and my wife is barren?" "Thus,"came the answer, "God does as He wills." 41. And Zachariah said: "Give me a token, O Lord." "The token will be," was the reply, "that you will speak to no man for three days except by signs; and remember your Lord much, and pray at evening and sunrise." 42. The angels said: "O Mary, indeed God has favoured you and made you immaculate, and chosen you from all the women of the world. 43. So adore your Lord, O Mary, and pay homage and bow with those who bow in prayer." 44. This is news of the Unknown that We send you, for you were not there when they cast lots with quills (to determine) who should take care of Mary, nor when they disputed it. 45. When the angels said: "O Mary, God gives you news of a thing from Him, for rejoicing, (news of one) whose name will be Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in this world and the next, and one among the honoured, 46. Who will speak to the people when in the cradle and when in the prime of life, and will be among the upright and doers of good." 47. She said: "How can I have a son, O Lord, when no man has touched me?" He said: "That is how God creates what He wills. When He decrees a thing, He says 'Be', and it is. 48. He will teach him the Law and the judgment, and the Torah and the Gospel, 61. Tell those who dispute this with you even after the knowledge that has reached you: "Come, let us gather our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, and pray and solicit God to condemn those who lie." 156. And because they denied and spoke dreadful calumnies of Mary; 157. And for saying: "We killed the Christ, Jesus, son of Mary, who was an apostle of God;" but they neither killed nor crucified him, though it so appeared to them. Those who disagree in the matter are only lost in doubt. They have no knowledge about it other than conjecture, for surely they did not kill him, 158. But God raised him up (in position) and closer to Himself; and God is all-mighty and all-wise. 159. There is not one among the people of the Book who will not believe in it before his death; and he will be a witness over them on the Day of Resurrection. 171. O people of the Book, do not be fanatical in your faith, and say nothing but the truth about God. The Messiah who is Jesus, son of Mary, was only an apostle of God, and a command of His which He sent to Mary, as a mercy from Him. So believe in God and His apostles, and do not call Him 'Trinity'. Abstain from this for your own good; for God is only one God, and far from His glory is it to beget a son. All that is in the heavens and the earth belongs to Him; and sufficient is God for all help.
5 The Feast Al-Ma'idah: Madani:
17. Verily they are unbelievers who say: "The Messiah, son of Mary, is God." You ask them: "Who could prevail against God if He had chosen to destroy the Messiah, son of Mary, and his mother, and the rest of mankind?" For God's is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and whatsoever lies between them. He creates what He please, for God has the power over all things. 46. Later, in the train (of the prophets), We sent Jesus, son of Mary, confirming the Torah which had been (Sent down) before him, and gave him the Gospel containing guidance and light, which corroborated the earlier Torah, a guidance and warning for those who preserve themselves from evil and follow the straight path. 75. The Christ, son of Mary, was but an apostle, and many apostles had (come and) gone before him; and his mother was a woman of truth. They both ate the (same) food (as men). Behold, how We show men clear signs, and behold, how they wander astray. 110. And when God will say: "O Jesus, son of Mary, remember the favours I bestowed on you and your mother, and reinforced you with divine grace that you spoke to men when in the cradle, and when in the prime of life; when I taught you the law and the judgement and the Torah and the Gospel; when you formed the state of your people's destiny out of mire and you breathed (a new spirit) into it, and they rose by My leave; when you healed the blind by My leave, and the leper ; when you put life into the dead by My will; and when I held back the children of Israel from you when you brought to them My signs, and the disbelievers among them said: "Surely these are nothing but pure magic." 111. And when I inspired the disciples (through Jesus) to believe in Me and My apostle, they said: "We believe, and You bear witness that we submit" 112. When the disciples said: "O Jesus, son of Mary, could your Lord send113. They said: "We should like to eat of it to reassure our hearts and to know that it's the truth you have told us, and that we should be witness to it." 114. Said Jesus, son of Mary. "O God, our Lord, send down a table well laid out with food from the skies so that this day may be a day of feast for the earlier among us and the later, and a token from You. Give us our (daily) bread, for You are the best of all givers of food." 115. And said God: "I shall send it down to you; but if any of you disbelieve after this, I shall inflict such punishment on him as I never shall inflict on any other creature." 116. And when God will ask: "O Jesus, son of Mary, did you say to mankind: 'Worship me and my mother as two deities apart from God?' (Jesus) will answer: "Halleluja. Could I say what I knew I had no right (to say)? Had I said it You would surely have known, for You know what is in my heart though I know not what You have. You alone know the secrets unknown. 117. I said nought to them but what You commanded me: Worship God, my Lord and your Lord. And so long as I dwelt with them I was witness over their actions. And after my life had been done, You were their keeper; and You are a witness over all things. 118. If You punish them, indeed they are Your creatures; if You pardon them, indeed You are mighty and wise."
9 Repentance At-Taubah: Madani:
31. They consider their rabbis and monks and the Christ, son of Mary, to be gods apart from God, even though they had been enjoined to worship only one God, for there is no god but He. Too holy is He for what they ascribe to Him! 32. They wish to extinguish the light of God by uttering blasphemies; but God will not have it so, for He wills to perfect His light, however the unbelievers be averse.
19 Mary Maryam: Makki:
16. Commemorate Mary in the Book. When she withdrew from her family to a place in the East 17. And took cover from them, We sent a spirit of Ours to her who appeared before her in the concrete form of a man. 18. "I seek refuge in the Merciful from you, if you fear Him," she said. 19. He replied: "I am only a messenger from your Lord (sent) to bestow a good son on you." 20. "How can I have a son," she said, "when no man has touched me, nor am I sinful?" 21. He said: "Thus will it be. Your Lord said: 'It is easy for Me,' and that: 'We shall make him a sign for men and a blessing from Us.' This is a thing already decreed." 22. When she conceived him she went away to a distant place. 23. The birth pangs led her to the trunk of a date-palm tree. "Would that I had died before this," she said, "and become a thing forgotten, unremembered." 24. Then (a voice) called to her from below: "Grieve not; your Lord has made a rivulet gush forth right below you. 25. Shake the trunk of the date-palm tree, and it will drop ripe dates for you. 26. Eat and drink, and be at peace. If you see any man, tell him: 'I have verily vowed a fast to Ar-Rahman and cannot speak to any one this day.' 27. Then she brought the child to her people. They exclaimed: "O Mary, you have done a most astonishing thing! 28. O sister of Aaron, your father was not a wicked person, nor your mother sinful!" 29. But she pointed towards him. "How can we talk to one," they said, "who is only an infant in the cradle?" 30. "I am a servant of God," he answered. "He has given me a Book and made me a prophet, 31. And blessed me wherever I may be, and enjoined on me worship and zakat for as long as I live, 32. And be dutiful to my mother. He has not made me haughty or rebellious. 33. There was peace on me the day I was born, and will be the day I die, and on the day I will be raised from the dead." 34. This was Jesus, son of Mary: A true account they contend about. 35. It does not behove God to have a son. Too immaculate is He! When He decrees a thing He has only to say: "Be", and it is. 36. (Jesus only said:) "Surely God is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. This is the straight path." 37. Yet the sectarians differed among themselves. Alas for the unbelievers when they see the Terrible Day!
21 The Prophets Al-Anbiya': Makki
89. (Remember) Zachariah when he called to his Lord: "Do not leave me alone (and childless), for you are the best of givers." 90. So We heard him and gave him John, and cured his wife (of barrenness). These were men who vied in good deeds with one another, and prayed to Us with love and awe, and were meek before Us. 91. (Remember) her who preserved her chastity, into whom We breathed a new life from Us, and made her and her son a token for mankind.
33 The Allied Troops Al-Ahzab: Madani:
7. When We made the covenant with the prophets, and with you, as with Noah and Abraham, Moses and Jesus son of Mary, a binding covenant, 8. (It was) so that God may ask the truthful of their sincerity.
43 Ornaments of Gold Az-Zukhruf: Makki:
57. When the example of Mary's son is quoted before them, your people cry out at it, 58. And say: "Are our deities better or he?" They say this only for disputing. Surely they are a contentious people. 59. (Jesus) was only a creature whom We favoured and made an example for the children of Israel. 60. If We pleased We could have put angels in place of you as trustees on the earth. 61. He is certainly the sign of the Hour (of change). So have no doubt about it, and listen to me. This is the straight path. 62. Let not Satan misdirect you. He is your open enemy. 63. When Jesus came with the signs, he said: "I have come to you with authority, and to explain something about which you are at variance. So fear God, and follow me. 64. Verily God is my Lord and your Lord; so worship Him. This is the straight path."
57 Iron Al-Hadid: Madani:
25. We have surely sent apostles with clear signs, and sent with them the Book and the Balance, so that men may stand by justice; 26. We sent Noah and Abraham, and gave prophethood to their progeny and the Book, and some of them are well-directed, but many of them are disobedient. 27. Then in their train We sent Our apostles, and succeeding them Jesus, son of Mary, and gave him the Gospel, and put into the hearts of his followers compassion and kindness. But they created monasticism which had not been prescribed for them by Us except for seeking the pleasure of God; yet they did not observe it as it should have been rightly observed. So We gave those among them who were believers their reward; but most of them are disobedient.
61 Formations As-Saff: Madani:
6. And when Jesus, son of Mary, said: "O children of Israel, I am sent to you by God to confirm the Torah (sent) before me, and to give you good tidings of an apostle who will come after me, whose name is Ahmad (the praised one)." Yet when he has come to them with clear proofs, they say: "This is only magic." 7. Who is more unjust than he who invents a lie against God when he is called to submit? God does not show the evil-doers the way. 8. They want to extinguish the light of God by uttering blasphemies. But God wills to perfect His light, however the unbelievers may dislike it. 9. It is He who sent His Apostle with the guidance and the true way to raise it above all faiths, however the idolaters may dislike it. 14. O you who believe, be helpers of God, as Jesus, son of Mary, had said to the disciples: "Who will help me in the way of God?" and they had answered: "We are the helpers of God." Then a section among the children of Israel believed, but a section among them did not. So We helped those who believed against their enemies, and they prevailed over them.
66. Prohibitions Al Tahreem (translation not by Ahmed Ali)
11. And GOD cites as an example of those who believed the wife of Pharaoh. She said, "My Lord, build a home for me at You in Paradise, and save me from Pharaoh and his works; save me from the transgressing people." 12. Also Mary, the Amramite. She maintained her chastity, then we blew into her from our spirit. She believed in the words of her Lord and His scriptures; she was obedient.
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