English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 19: Maryam — Mary (Revealed at Makkah: 6 sections, 98 verses)

Section 2 (Verses 19:16–19:40): Mary and Jesus


وَ اذۡکُرۡ فِی الۡکِتٰبِ مَرۡیَمَ ۘ اِذِ انۡتَبَذَتۡ مِنۡ اَہۡلِہَا مَکَانًا شَرۡقِیًّا ﴿ۙ۱۶﴾

19:16 And mention Mary in the Book. When she drew aside from her family to an eastern place;

فَاتَّخَذَتۡ مِنۡ دُوۡنِہِمۡ حِجَابًا ۪۟ فَاَرۡسَلۡنَاۤ اِلَیۡہَا رُوۡحَنَا فَتَمَثَّلَ لَہَا بَشَرًا سَوِیًّا ﴿۱۷﴾

19:17 so she screened herself from them. Then We sent to her Our spirit and it appeared to her as a well-made man.1

قَالَتۡ اِنِّیۡۤ اَعُوۡذُ بِالرَّحۡمٰنِ مِنۡکَ اِنۡ کُنۡتَ تَقِیًّا ﴿۱۸﴾

19:18 She said: I seek refuge from you in the Beneficent, if you are one guarding against evil.

قَالَ اِنَّمَاۤ اَنَا رَسُوۡلُ رَبِّکِ ٭ۖ لِاَہَبَ لَکِ غُلٰمًا زَکِیًّا ﴿۱۹﴾

19:19 He said: I am only bearer of a message of your Lord: That I will give you a pure boy.2

قَالَتۡ اَنّٰی یَکُوۡنُ لِیۡ غُلٰمٌ وَّ لَمۡ یَمۡسَسۡنِیۡ بَشَرٌ وَّ لَمۡ اَکُ بَغِیًّا ﴿۲۰﴾

19:20 She said: How can I have a son and man has not yet touched me, nor have I been unchaste?

قَالَ کَذٰلِکِ ۚ قَالَ رَبُّکِ ہُوَ عَلَیَّ ہَیِّنٌ ۚ وَ لِنَجۡعَلَہٗۤ اٰیَۃً لِّلنَّاسِ وَ رَحۡمَۃً مِّنَّا ۚ وَ کَانَ اَمۡرًا مَّقۡضِیًّا ﴿۲۱﴾

19:21 He said: So (it will be). Your Lord says: It is easy to Me; and that We may make him a sign to people and a mercy from Us.3 And it is a matter decreed.4

فَحَمَلَتۡہُ فَانۡتَبَذَتۡ بِہٖ مَکَانًا قَصِیًّا ﴿۲۲﴾

19:22 Then she conceived him, and withdrew with him to a remote place.

فَاَجَآءَہَا الۡمَخَاضُ اِلٰی جِذۡعِ النَّخۡلَۃِ ۚ قَالَتۡ یٰلَیۡتَنِیۡ مِتُّ قَبۡلَ ہٰذَا وَ کُنۡتُ نَسۡیًا مَّنۡسِیًّا ﴿۲۳﴾

19:23 And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree.5 She said: Oh, I wish I had died before this, and had been a thing quite forgotten!6

فَنَادٰىہَا مِنۡ تَحۡتِہَاۤ اَلَّا تَحۡزَنِیۡ قَدۡ جَعَلَ رَبُّکِ تَحۡتَکِ سَرِیًّا ﴿۲۴﴾

19:24 So a voice came to her from beneath her: Do not grieve, surely your Lord has provided a stream beneath you.

وَ ہُزِّیۡۤ اِلَیۡکِ بِجِذۡعِ النَّخۡلَۃِ تُسٰقِطۡ عَلَیۡکِ رُطَبًا جَنِیًّا ﴿۫۲۵﴾

19:25 And shake towards you the trunk of the palm-tree, it will drop on you fresh ripe dates.7

فَکُلِیۡ وَ اشۡرَبِیۡ وَ قَرِّیۡ عَیۡنًا ۚ فَاِمَّا تَرَیِنَّ مِنَ الۡبَشَرِ اَحَدًا ۙ فَقُوۡلِیۡۤ اِنِّیۡ نَذَرۡتُ لِلرَّحۡمٰنِ صَوۡمًا فَلَنۡ اُکَلِّمَ الۡیَوۡمَ اِنۡسِیًّا ﴿ۚ۲۶﴾

19:26 So eat and drink and be comforted. Then if you see any mortal, say: Surely I have vowed a fast to the Beneficent, so I will not speak to anyone today.8

فَاَتَتۡ بِہٖ قَوۡمَہَا تَحۡمِلُہٗ ؕ قَالُوۡا یٰمَرۡیَمُ لَقَدۡ جِئۡتِ شَیۡئًا فَرِیًّا ﴿۲۷﴾

19:27 Then she came to her people with him, carrying him.9 They said: Mary, you have indeed brought a strange thing!10

یٰۤاُخۡتَ ہٰرُوۡنَ مَا کَانَ اَبُوۡکِ امۡرَ اَ سَوۡءٍ وَّ مَا کَانَتۡ اُمُّکِ بَغِیًّا ﴿ۖۚ۲۸﴾

19:28 Sister of Aaron,11 your father was not a wicked man, nor was your mother an unchaste woman!

فَاَشَارَتۡ اِلَیۡہِ ؕ قَالُوۡا کَیۡفَ نُکَلِّمُ مَنۡ کَانَ فِی الۡمَہۡدِ صَبِیًّا ﴿۲۹﴾

19:29 But she pointed to him. They said: How should we speak to one who is a child in the cradle?12

قَالَ اِنِّیۡ عَبۡدُ اللّٰہِ ۟ؕ اٰتٰنِیَ الۡکِتٰبَ وَ جَعَلَنِیۡ نَبِیًّا ﴿ۙ۳۰﴾

19:30 He said: I am indeed a servant of Allah. He has given me the Book and made me a prophet,

وَّ جَعَلَنِیۡ مُبٰرَکًا اَیۡنَ مَا کُنۡتُ ۪ وَ اَوۡصٰنِیۡ بِالصَّلٰوۃِ وَ الزَّکٰوۃِ مَا دُمۡتُ حَیًّا ﴿۪ۖ۳۱﴾

19:31 and He has made me blessed wherever I may be, and He has enjoined on me prayer and the due charity so long as I live,13

وَّ بَرًّۢا بِوَالِدَتِیۡ ۫ وَ لَمۡ یَجۡعَلۡنِیۡ جَبَّارًا شَقِیًّا ﴿۳۲﴾

19:32 and to be kind to my mother; and He has not made me insolent, unblessed.14

وَ السَّلٰمُ عَلَیَّ یَوۡمَ وُلِدۡتُّ وَ یَوۡمَ اَمُوۡتُ وَ یَوۡمَ اُبۡعَثُ حَیًّا ﴿۳۳﴾

19:33 And peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I am raised to life.

ذٰلِکَ عِیۡسَی ابۡنُ مَرۡیَمَ ۚ قَوۡلَ الۡحَقِّ الَّذِیۡ فِیۡہِ یَمۡتَرُوۡنَ ﴿۳۴﴾

19:34 Such is Jesus, son of Mary — a statement of truth about which they dispute.

مَا کَانَ لِلّٰہِ اَنۡ یَّتَّخِذَ مِنۡ وَّلَدٍ ۙ سُبۡحٰنَہٗ ؕ اِذَا قَضٰۤی اَمۡرًا فَاِنَّمَا یَقُوۡلُ لَہٗ کُنۡ فَیَکُوۡنُ ﴿ؕ۳۵﴾

19:35 It does not befit Allah that He should take to Himself a son. Glory be to Him! When He decrees a matter He only says to it, Be, and it is.

وَ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ رَبِّیۡ وَ رَبُّکُمۡ فَاعۡبُدُوۡہُ ؕ ہٰذَا صِرَاطٌ مُّسۡتَقِیۡمٌ ﴿۳۶﴾

19:36 And surely Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so serve Him. This is the right path.15

فَاخۡتَلَفَ الۡاَحۡزَابُ مِنۡۢ بَیۡنِہِمۡ ۚ فَوَیۡلٌ لِّلَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا مِنۡ مَّشۡہَدِ یَوۡمٍ عَظِیۡمٍ ﴿۳۷﴾

19:37 But factions from among them differed; so woe to those who disbelieve, because of their presence on a grievous day!

اَسۡمِعۡ بِہِمۡ وَ اَبۡصِرۡ ۙ یَوۡمَ یَاۡتُوۡنَنَا لٰکِنِ الظّٰلِمُوۡنَ الۡیَوۡمَ فِیۡ ضَلٰلٍ مُّبِیۡنٍ ﴿۳۸﴾

19:38 How clearly will they hear and see on the day when they come to Us; but the wrongdoers are today in manifest error.

وَ اَنۡذِرۡہُمۡ یَوۡمَ الۡحَسۡرَۃِ اِذۡ قُضِیَ الۡاَمۡرُ ۘ وَ ہُمۡ فِیۡ غَفۡلَۃٍ وَّ ہُمۡ لَا یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ ﴿۳۹﴾

19:39 And warn them of the day of Regret,16 when the matter is decided. And they are (now) in negligence and they do not believe.

اِنَّا نَحۡنُ نَرِثُ الۡاَرۡضَ وَ مَنۡ عَلَیۡہَا وَ اِلَیۡنَا یُرۡجَعُوۡنَ ﴿٪۴۰﴾

19:40 Surely We inherit the earth and those on it, and to Us they are returned.


  1. It was in a vision that the spirit came, and the conversation that follows also took place in a vision. The word tamaththala (“it appeared”) lends support to this, for it signifies assuming the likeness of another thing, and this happens only in a vision. Further, the spirit or angel of God appears to His chosen ones only in a vision.
  2. The words I will give you a pure boy are the words of the message. The Spirit only conveyed the Divine message. Every word of the Quran is the word of God, but every word was delivered to the Holy Prophet by the angel.
  3. Jesus was a sign to people, in the sense that he was made a prophet, and every prophet is a sign, because the Divine revelation granted to him affords a clear proof of the existence of the Divine Being. Or, he was a sign to the Israelites in particular, because with him prophethood came to an end among the Israelites.
  4. She conceived him in the ordinary way in which women conceive children.
  5. This shows that Mary gave birth to Jesus while on a journey; hence the reference to water and food in v. 24 and 25, such as one can only find in a journey. That she was going to a distant place is shown by v. 22. She may have had recourse to the trunk of a palm-tree to find a support in the throes of child­birth.
  6. Mary gave birth to Jesus under the ordinary circumstances which women experience in giving birth to children. The throes of childbirth were too severe for her to bear, and hence she gave utterance to such words. The reference to the pains of childbirth clearly shows that an ordinary human child was coming into the world. Or, there may be a reference to Genesis 3:16, In pain you shall bring forth children.
  7. The Quran does not accept that Jesus was born on 25th December. It was the time when fresh ripe dates are found on palm-trees. It is now a recognized fact that 25th December was not Jesus’ birthday. According to the birth account in Luke 2:8, shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks by night in the fields, which shows that it was not winter. The 25th of December was taken from the birthday of the Persian sun-god Mithra.
  8. It was really a kind of fast. Zacharias, as we have already seen, was told not to speak to people for three days.
  9. The conversation in v. 27–33 is alone sufficient to make it clear that this incident relates to a time when Jesus had grown up sufficiently to have been appointed a prophet and to have received Divine revelation. The Quran does not relate stories in all their details, and often omits a number of incidents which are not needed for its purpose. For instance, v. 7–11 relate only Zacharias’ receiving the joyful news of a son, while v. 12 asks that son to take hold of the Book with strength. Jesus could only say that he was made a prophet when he was actually entrusted with the mission of a prophet, and not before. Moreover, it is unreason­able to suppose that, as soon as Mary gave birth to the child, she took it to her people to make a show of it. The word carrying does not show that she was carry­ing him in her arms; it means that he was being carried on an animal. Compare 9:92, where some of the companions are spoken of as coming to the Prophet that he might carry them, and he is related as replying that he did not have that on which to carry them, i.e. animals. Compare Matthew 21:1–7 where the story is related of Jesus entering Jerusalem riding an ass, or an ass and a colt.
  10. The reference in Mary’s bringing a strange thing may be to her having given birth to a son who claimed greater authority than the elders of Israel, with a deeper hint to the calumny against her, for which see 4:156. In his reply Jesus does not make a single reference to the circumstances of his birth. Hence the inference is quite reasonable that the question was directed against the mission of Jesus and not against the circumstances of his birth.
  11. The fact that Mary was devoted to the Temple from the age of three to twelve years shows that she belonged to the priestly class, being of the Levitical race. Hence she is called sister of Aaron. The word ukht, meaning sister, is by no means limited to the close blood-relationship.
  12. Old and learned Jews would no doubt speak of a young man who was born and brought up before their eyes as a child in the cradle, as if disdaining to address one so young.
  13. It is clear that this conversation did not take place when Jesus was an infant in the cradle, but when he had actually been made a prophet. It is absurd to suppose that prayers and charity were enjoined on Jesus while he was only a day old and that he really observed these injunctions at that age. Jesus’ answer clearly shows that he was addressing his people after he had been entrusted with the mission of prophethood.
  14. Here only the mother is spoken of, whereas in a similar case in v. 14 John is spoken of as being kind to both parents. This may be due to the fact that Joseph may not have been living at the time when Jesus spoke these words. Joseph was already an old man when he married Mary, and by the time that the ministry of Jesus begins we find no mention of him even in the Gospels, the mother and brothers being the only relations mentioned. Or, the mother alone is mentioned because the Gospels relate an incident showing that Jesus was rude to his mother (Matthew, 12:48, John, 2:4), and this verse disproves the statement, it being one of the objects of the Quran to clear Jesus of all false charges.
  15. According to Matthew, when Jesus was tempted of the devil, who asked him to worship him, Jesus’ reply was: “For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Matthew, 4:10).
  16. The day of Judgment is here called the day of Regret, because man will then regret that he wasted the opportunity given to him to work for his own good.