As a new Muslim, I'm seeking new Muslim-appropriate female role models; the obvious one to consider is Mary, mother of Jesus.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is considered one of the most righteous and greatest women in the Islamic religion. -- Wikipedia

Allah affirms her significance in the Qur'an:

And [mention] when the angels said, "O Mary, indeed Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds. O Mary, be devoutly obedient to your Lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow [in prayer]." -- Qur'an 3:42-43

Question: What can a modern Muslimah learn from Mary, mother of Jesus?

The obvious lesson is that of chastity, but I get the feeling I have only a superficial understanding of this. Furthermore, I expect there will be other lessons to learn from the story of Mary, which I am currently unaware of. AboutIslam write:

Maryam’s life teaches us to trust in Allah and do His will. What more could a Muslim want than that?

But this seems overly simplistic; there's plenty more a Muslim, including the modern Muslimah, would want: family, career, travel, etc. Can the life of "the most righteous and greatest women in the Islamic religion" really be summarized as simply "trust in Allah"? And is there really nothing for Muslim women in particular?

  • PS: Its not like Allah thinks... It sounds like Allah can be wrong!(nauzubillah) we should say Allah say, that's it, his knowledge is absolute and we can't even understand his powers(including knowledge). What he say is always right. He is not unsure about anything.<br> Bardon any harsh words, but i tried to make my point. Jazakallah for your curiousity. This question is genuinely very good. Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 12:05
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    Jazakallah. I am trying to write an answer besides. Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 12:11

2 Answers 2


All perfect praise be to Allah

I should say this is a very good question, and it's a very broad topic. There are large number of lessons we can learn from maryam(a.s)'s life. But i will try to be as simple as possible, and sticking to main lessons(visible to me).

Now, firstly, i will recommend you reading surah maryam and its tafseer, i know it's a bit lengthy reading, but it is worth reading. ANd its full of useful lessons.

Getting to the topic:

The story of maryam doesn't start with maryam, it starts with her close relative, a prophet named Zakariya(who will be raising maryam after that):

Allah says in start of the surah maryam:

[This is] a mention of the mercy of your Lord to His servant Zechariah. When he called to his Lord a private supplication. He said, "My Lord, indeed my bones have weakened, and my head has filled with white, and never have I been in my supplication to You, my Lord, unhappy. And indeed, I fear the successors after me, and my wife has been barren, so give me from Yourself an heir Who will inherit me and inherit from the family of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, pleasing [to You]." [He was told], "O Zechariah, indeed We give you good tidings of a boy whose name will be Yahya. We have not assigned to any before [this] name." He said, "My Lord, how will I have a boy when my wife has been barren and I have reached extreme old age?" [An angel] said, "Thus [it will be]; your Lord says, 'It is easy for Me, for I created you before, while you were nothing.' "

So, first lesson we get is of-course that Allah's powers are beyond our imaginations and not limited to our known restrictions(physical or mental/theoretical) and we should have cent percent believe in this, without any dot of doubt in our hearts. Only than we can expect some miracle(like the news of child in all this situation) to happen. Things we think are now impossible, even for them we should have full HOPE and BELIEVE in Allah's will and his power.

Than, the story continues:

[Zechariah] said, "My Lord, make for me a sign." He said, "Your sign is that you will not speak to the people for three nights, [being] sound."

This part gives us the lesson that we should not question Allah's power in any case, even the prophet zakria was not able to absorb that this was happening just like that(it was a miracle), so he asked for a sign to be sure. And Allah gave him a sign, which might seem like a fatherly punishment(which is more of blessing and teaching than punishment, but also works as punishment).

Let's talk about the birth of maryam:

When the wife of Imran said, ‘O my Lord, I have vowed to You what is in my womb, to be dedicated (to Your service), so accept this from me. Indeed, You are All-Hearing, All-Knowing.’ Then when she delivered her (Mary), she said, ‘O my Lord, I have delivered a female,’ and God knew best what she delivered, ‘And the male is not like the female, and I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge with You for her and for her children from Satan, the expelled (from the mercy of God).’” (Quran 3:33-36)

These verses have very great lessons in them, which we all muslims need to understand. Lets talk about them one by one.

Firstly, maryam's mother vowing her child for Allah, which means that she would devote her child in the way of Allah, spreading his word, being a scholar, do jihad for the sake of Allah and doing all this kind of stuff which will benefit Allah's deen. But, when maryam was born, her mother says "And the male is not like the female", which is a wide topic, i will suggest this video explanation for this topic(Otherwise this answer will be double).

Seeking refugee for our child:

and I seek refuge with You for her and for her children from Satan, the expelled (from the mercy of God).’”

Than her mother asks Allah for protection of her child, which is also a great lesson, that despite of doing everything we can for our children, best thing we can do for them is still praying Allah for them. Because, again, we have full believe in his powers, and his will. And him being the best for anything we want.

Raising child in best manner

So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zechariah. Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, "O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?" She said, "It is from Allah . Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account." Quran 3/37

Lesson here is that the child is best grown in an islamic envirenment, under the supervision of someone close to Allah. Like what Allah prepared for maryam, the supervision of prophet zakarya. So, we should look for something like this for our children too.

Keeping an eye on children and asking for any unusual thing:

"O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?" She said, "It is from Allah . Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account."

Than about fruits, when zakarya saw them, he asked about them and the reply of maryam is to very important, we should see if we are raising our children like this? Have they got belief like this?

Young girl protecting and hiding herself

Than maryam moved to a separate place and placed a HIJAB(screen) between her and them(zakariya and other people of the family, tafseer of this might be lengthy you can look it up). And Quran says:

Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them. Then We sent to her Our Angel, and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man. She said, "Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of Allah ." 19/16-18

These verses are self explanatory, maryam was on a separate place, no one was seeing, she was virgin, and Allah sent an angel in form of "well-proportioned" man. And the first reaction of maryam was to worry about herself falling in sin. And she asked for Allah's refuge from this man. This is also a lesson.

Than story continues with this man/angel telling about Allah promise.

HAYA(Modesty) of woman and accepting will/way of Allah

So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, "Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten."... So eat and drink and be contented. And if you see from among humanity anyone, say, 'Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.' "

Even though she knew this child was a sign from Allah, as she was told about it by an angel, still when she was driven out in open area due to pains of childbirth, that area was remote people were not around there, but still because of her being so ashamed of her being in this situation in open, she didn't said a word against the will or way of Allah, she said what she said about herself only. No word against will of Allah, knowing he is making his sign out of her. Still, no complain to him. This is a HUGE LESSON.

And from the last part above, i(personally, so can be wrong) concluded that when things are very confusing and hard to explain to people, we should let the things cool down by somehow avoiding the situation. And with help of Allah(for today, we should pray to Allah to make it clear to people or make it easy for us), after some time when things are a bit cooled down. You can explain it better, it also gives you time to think about how to amke people understand. But the main thing is HOW will you take that time?

I will stop here, because i think this covers a lot of lessons other than Accepting will of Allah(which is indeed, the biggest lesson of the story). And i welcome any updates/inclusions in this answer, i know this is a tafseer related question and their can be a lot of different views and tafseers of this big topic.

(What is right in this post is from Allah, and what is wrong is from my mistake and i ask forgiveness from Allah about it.)

Allah knows best

  • @RebeccaJ.Stones Jazakallah, this story is mostly in surah maryam but also partially in surah al-imran, and on other places, but sorah maryam covers most of it. So, it will be great. Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 4:29
  • @Rehman Mughal Regarding Quran 19:3-10, for 19:10, you wrote that "which might seem like a fatherly punishment(which is more of blessing and teaching than punishment, but also works as punishment)." Umm..I didn't understand, how can this sign also works as a punishment for Zakariya (PBUH)?
    – Tomsofty33
    Commented Jul 3, 2019 at 1:33
  • @Tomsofty33 Think about it like this that when zakria(p.b.u.h) asked for a sign, knowing its from Allah, he was kind of finding it hard to believe what was going on, which was not befitting a prophet, so he was given kind of soft punishment, to remind him to not question such things again. Also think about noah(p.b.u.h), when he asked Allah to save his son, but was scolded by Allah that don't ask for such things. Commented Jul 3, 2019 at 8:14
  • His bones has weaken, his hair has gone white, his wife has gone barren & he doesnt have any child. In that state an average person wouldnt even have any faith left in hoping to be given a child. Yet he (Zakaria pbuh) continues to believe & to have hope. Then He heard a voice saying that he'll have a son. How could he be sure that voice is from God? How can he reassure that it's not his own aged mind playing tricks on him? In that Ayat did Allah SWT sent down an angel in the form of a visible person to tell him (Zakaria pbuh) about the news just like what happened to Abraham pbuh previously?
    – Tomsofty33
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 4:59

Of course, you can learn many things from Mary that helps you navigate the world as a muslim woman.

The most important thing you need to learn is self-confidence and being proud of yourself and your thesis.

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