It seems important at this juncture to discuss the importance of the Virgin Mary in the Islamic faith. But first of all, do let us explore the meaning of juncture. It is a particular point in events or time:. A point in time, moment, moment in time, stage; period, phase.
The events that will take place are ones contained in this blog. A blog, already written but not posted examines the shameful manner that women are treated in the Roman Catholic faith. The facts are found in two New Yorker articles. The New Yorker is known for its fact checking – so thee are facts – not opinions. As well their journalists are investigative journalists, not the lazy journalists of today sitting around waiting to retire. BBB pointed this out when I was complaining about the laziness. She suggested that I send my Gavin the Governor blog to the San Francisco Chronicle . I demurred, as it would be too controversial to be published. It would just be an experience in frustration.
I actually am an investigative journalist in the finest tradition – seeking the truth and being brave enough to write about it. I can say anything I want on my blog – it is free speech in at its finest. I care not, nor know not, if readers agree with my viewpoint.
Therefore, I got to work. My reading on the Islamic faith coupled with my conversation with Hamzaa, the Islamic Scholar, disclosed that she was an extremely important figure in the faith. I shall be quoting an article on the Internet giving proper credit to the author Francis X. Clooney. There is no need, to reinvent the wheel, that being a well known expression. This from Wikipedia: To reinvent the wheel is to duplicate a basic method that has already previously been created or optimized by others. This from Wikipedia: “The inspiration for this idiomatic metaphor lies in the fact that the wheel is the archetype of human ingenuity, both by virtue of the added power and flexibility it affords its users, and also in the ancient origins which allow it to underlie much, if not all, of modern technology. As it has already been invented and is not considered to have any operational flaws, an attempt to reinvent it would be pointless and add no value to the object, and would be a waste of time, diverting the investigator’s resources from possibly more worthy goals. Wikipedia provides further information. The phrase is sometimes used without derision when a person’s activities might be perceived as merely reinventing the wheel when they actually possess additional value. For example, “reinventing the wheel” is an important tool in the instruction of complex ideas. Rather than providing students simply with a list of known facts and techniques and expecting them to incorporate these ideas perfectly and rapidly, the instructor instead will build up the material anew, leaving the student to work out those key steps which embody the reasoning characteristic of the field.
“Reinventing the wheel” may be an ironic cliche – it is not clear when the wheel itself was actually invented. The modern “invention” of the wheel might actually be a “re-invention” of an age-old invention. Additionally, many different wheels featuring enhancements on existing wheels (such as the many types of available tires) are regularly developed and marketed. The metaphor emphasizes understanding existing solutions, but not necessarily settling for them.”
We shall now listen to Francis X. Clooney. “The Study Quran’s ample index tells us that there are more than 50 references to Jesus in the Quran, and more than 15 to Mary. They are mentioned in the editors’ commentary many more times, as the index shows us. The editors point out that Mary is the only woman named in the Quran; while most such named figures are prophets, there is debate about Mary’s status, some listing her among the prophets, others preferring to say that she is “an exceptionally pious woman with the highest spiritual rank among women” (763).
They add that in a hadith (traditional saying), “the Prophet names Mary as one of the four spiritually perfected women of the world,” (763) who will “lead the soul of blessed women to Paradise” (143). In Sura 66 (Forbiddance), Mary is evoked again respectfully, “the daughter of Imran, who preserved her chastity. Then We breathed therein Our Spirit, and she confirmed the Words of her Lord and His Books; and she was among the devoutly obedient” (66:12). One commentator, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, takes this to mean that Mary “believed in all previous revelations”
Finally, Sura 19 (Maryam) treats Zachariah and John at its start, Abraham and Moses later on, and in-between (19:16-36) recounts again the story of Mary and how she came to give birth to Jesus. Mary, exiled in the desert and alone, prays to a mysterious figure who comes to her: “I seek refuge from thee in the Compassionate, if you are reverent.” (19:18) He is an angel, a messenger, who tells her about the son she will bear. Mary consents, but after conceiving the child, she is again alone and bereft, and cries out in words that refugees worldwide may be tempted to use even today: “Would that I had died before this and was a thing forgotten, utterly forgotten!” (19:23) The angel shows her the running water and date palm tree that Lord has provided for her, and she survives. When confronted by her gossiping neighbors when she returns home with her newborn child (there is no Joseph, no Bethlehem.) Mary chooses to be silent (as Zachariah was by force) and lets the child speak for itself.
He said, ‘Truly I am a servant of God. He has given me the Book and made me a prophet. He has made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and has enjoined upon me prayer and almsgiving so long as I live, and (has made me) dutiful toward my mother. And He has not made me domineering, wretched. Peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I am raised alive! (19:30-33)
The commentary fills most of several pages on this account. It highlights Mary’s initial desperation: “She wished he could have died before the onset of the difficulties she now faced as a woman giving birth to a child alone, without a husband, including both the physical pain of labor the embarrassment about what people would think of her.” She almost prefers oblivion, though some traditional commentaries see her as “expressing the ultimate victory against the worldly ego,” to forget the world and be forgotten by it. That Jesus speaks, even as an infant, shows his resolve, as newborn prophet, “to absolve his mother of any blame or suspicion.” That is to say: to be a prophet (even today), is to speak up on behalf of the excluded, downtrodden, helpless.
The commentary reports how this Sura, on Mary and Jesus and other prophets, once helped save the lives of Muslim refugees under the protection of the Christian Negus (king) of Abyssinia. A Makkan delegation had come and demanded that the refugees be turned over for execution. The Negus asks that first a Sura of the Quran be recited. When part of this Sura is recited, “the Negus and the religious leaders of his court began to weep profusely and refused to hand over the Muslims, indicating that the religious teachings of the Quran were deeply related to those of the Christian faith.” Is it not so very right, that Scripture might inspire those in power to protect rather than abandon those in dire need, even if they are of another faith?
Readers interested in more on Mary, Jesus and other biblical figures in the Quran, can turn to John Kaltner’s Ishmael Instructs Isaac: An Introduction to the Qur’an for Bible Readers (1999). That Mary can even today be a powerful protector and nurturer of Muslim and Christian unity was well expressed in 1996 by Cardinal William Keeler. Similarly, in 2014 Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, highlighted the great importance of Mary in Muslim-Christian dialogue.
Francis X. Clooney, S.J is the Parkman Professor of Divinity at Harvard University. He wrote for America’s In All Things column between 2007 and 2016.
I prefer this version of the Virgin Mary to the one found in the Roman Catholic (and to some extent) the Protestant faith. She is stronger has greater individuality and humanity. She has no need for a Joseph and gave birth under a date tree, rather than a lowly manger . Those of the Roman Catholic who convert to the Islamic faith can still have Jesus, they can still have the Virgin Mary. Different versions that is all. For example, Jesus did not die on the cross, someone else took his place. He went on to live an exemplary life and in the Islamic faith he is going to come back to earth.
I can think of no topical photograph so you are not getting one. So sue me!