Getting married … Having a family … Raising cute children… All are beautiful and natural instincts that Allah has put inside each and every one of us.
Surah Maryam discusses this tendency, but adds the spiritual dimension to the father-son relation:
Families with Purpose
The Surah starts with a humble recitation from Prophet Zachariah, asking Allah to grant him a successor who will continue his legacy of spreading good among the children of Israel:
وَإِنِّي خِفْتُ الْمَوَالِيَ مِن وَرَائِي وَكَانَتِ امْرَأَتِي عَاقِرًا فَهَبْ لِي مِن لَّدُنكَ وَلِيًّا. يَرِثُنِي وَيَرِثُ مِنْ آلِ يَعْقُوبَ وَاجْعَلْهُ رَبِّ رَضِيًّا
I fear [what] my kinsmen [will do] when I am gone, for my wife is barren, so grant me a successor––a gift from You––to be my heir and the heir of the family of Jacob. Lord, make him well pleasing [to You].’ [19:5-6]
And the answer for his prayer was the great prophet, Yahya, who was raised on great principles:
يَا يَحْيَى خُذِ الْكِتَابَ بِقُوَّةٍ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْحُكْمَ صَبِيًّا. وَحَنَانًا مِّن لَّدُنَّا وَزَكَاةً وَكَانَ تَقِيًّا. وَبَرًّا بِوَالِدَيْهِ وَلَمْ يَكُن جَبَّارًا عَصِيًّا
[We said], ‘John, hold on to the Scripture firmly.’ While he was still a boy, We granted him wisdom, tenderness from Us, and purity. He was devout, kind to his parents, not domineering or rebellious. [19:12-14]
Afterwards, the miraculous birth of Prophet Jesus PBUH is mentioned; the righteousness and chastity of his mother Maryam is also highlighted:
قَالَتْ أَنَّى يَكُونُ لِي غُلامٌ وَلَمْ يَمْسَسْنِي بَشَرٌ وَلَمْ أَكُ بَغِيًّا
She said, ‘How can I have a son when no man has touched me? I have not been unchaste,’ [19:20]
The secret behind having righteous obedient children is to live by that lifestyle yourself; Prophet Jesus spoke in the cradle, and among his early words he said:
وَبَرًّا بِوَالِدَتِي وَلَمْ يَجْعَلْنِي جَبَّارًا شَقِيًّا
To cherish my mother. He did not make me domineering or graceless. [19:32]
Why would Allah choose the name Maryam as the title of this beautiful Surah? Allah wants us to reflect on the value of the mother, and how she is the main source of spirituality for the whole family. This is a very important message for all believers:
For Muslim women: Please understand how Islam values you and your role in bringing stability and spirituality to the home
For married Muslim men: honor and love your wife, because SHE is the ultimate educator of your home
For Single folks: The number one criterion in choosing your future spouse is her relation with Allah SWT!
A Righteous Son and a Disobedient Dad
We move on with the Surah to find another story, this time of a righteous son (Ibrahim) who was protected from the disbelief of his dad. Not only he didn’t inherit the false religion, but he also tried to advise his father by choosing the best of words:
يَا أَبَتِ لا تَعْبُدِ الشَّيْطَانَ إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ كَانَ لِلرَّحْمَنِ عَصِيًّا.يَا أَبَتِ إِنِّي أَخَافُ أَن يَمَسَّكَ عَذَابٌ مِّنَ الرَّحْمَن فَتَكُونَ لِلشَّيْطَانِ وَلِيًّا
Father, do not worship Satan– Satan has rebelled against the Lord of Mercy. Father, I fear that a punishment from the Lord of Mercy may afflict you and that you may become Satan’s companion [in Hell].’ [19:44-45]
This story gives inspiration to all those who might be living in a rough family: it is never too late – and not an excuse – to be strong in your religion even if your parents are not. It also commands us to be very gentle in the way we preach the religion to the adults and particularly to our parents. Kids who become religious and start treating their family harshly did not really grasp the true legacy of prophet Ibrahim.
More Righteous Families
Prophet Musa is mentioned briefly in this Surah, with a special emphasis on how Allah gifted him a companion form his family: his own brother Harun becoming a prophet.
Ismael the son of Ibrahim was mentioned next: He was one of the gifts that Ibrahim was rewarded due to his patience. Not only that, but also Ismael himself used to command his family to for prayer and charity:
وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ إِسْمَاعِيلَ إِنَّهُ كَانَ صَادِقَ الْوَعْدِ وَكَانَ رَسُولا نَّبِيًّا. وَكَانَ يَأْمُرُ أَهْلَهُ بِالصَّلاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ وَكَانَ عِندَ رَبِّهِ مَرْضِيًّا
Mention too, in the Quran, the story of Ishmael. He was true to his promise, a messenger and a prophet. He commanded his household to pray and give alms, and his Lord was well pleased with him. [19:54-55]
A beautiful verse mentions generations of families, from prophets Adam and Noah to Israel (Yacub) to many others: they main inheritance they gave to their children and loved ones:
إِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُ الرَّحْمَن خَرُّوا سُجَّدًا وَبُكِيًّا
When the revelations of the Lord of Mercy were recited to them, they fell to their knees and Wept [19:58]
And because the Quran offers a complete spiritual and educational experience: we are encouraged to fall down in sujud (prostration) when we read this verse in addition to 13 other locations in the Quran. The idea is to have positive jealousy from those role models mentioned in the Quran, and to follow their example in submitting yourself to Allah and prostrate to Him.
However: after a chain of honored families of faith, the further generations did not hold on to the message, and this occurred due to two things in particular: ignoring prayer and following temptations:
فَخَلَفَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ أَضَاعُوا الصَّلاةَ وَاتَّبَعُوا الشَّهَوَاتِ فَسَوْفَ يَلْقَوْنَ غَيًّا
But there came after them generations who neglected prayer and were driven by their own desires. These will come face to face with their evil [19:59]
Allah Does not Need A Family
The surah switches tone towards the end and confirms a very important concept in the Islamic faith: human beings NEED families, Allah DOES NOT! He has no partners, spouse, or child.
وَقَالُوا اتَّخَذَ الرَّحْمَنُ وَلَدًا. لَقَدْ جِئْتُمْ شَيْئًا إِدًّا. تَكَادُ السَّمَاوَاتُ يَتَفَطَّرْنَ مِنْهُ وَتَنشَقُّ الأَرْضُ وَتَخِرُّ الْجِبَالُ هَدًّا. أَن دَعَوْا لِلرَّحْمَنِ وَلَدًا
The disbelievers say, ‘The Lord of Mercy has offspring.’ How terrible is this thing you assert: it almost causes the heavens to be torn apart, the earth to split asunder, the mountains to crumble to pieces, that they attribute offspring to the Lord of Mercy. [19:88-91]
- When you read this beautiful Surah, you’ll notice the frequency of the term “mercy” and its derivatives, and the usage of the name of Allah Al-Rahman “The Lord of mercy”. So reflect on your relation with your family members and how much mercy you show them
- Direct your intention in your worldly affairs, marriage, children, etc.. towards raising a righteous family that worships Allah SWT and shows mercy to other creations