English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 3: Āl Imran — The Family of Amran (Revealed at Madinah: 20 sections, 200 verses)

Section 5 (Verses 3:42–3:54): Birth of Jesus and His Ministry



وَ اِذۡ قَالَتِ الۡمَلٰٓئِکَۃُ یٰمَرۡیَمُ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ اصۡطَفٰکِ وَ طَہَّرَکِ وَ اصۡطَفٰکِ عَلٰی نِسَآءِ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿۴۲﴾

3:42 And when the angels said: O Mary, surely Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the world.

یٰمَرۡیَمُ اقۡنُتِیۡ لِرَبِّکِ وَ اسۡجُدِیۡ وَ ارۡکَعِیۡ مَعَ الرّٰکِعِیۡنَ ﴿۴۳﴾

3:43 O Mary, be obedient to your Lord and humble yourself and bow down with those who bow.1

ذٰلِکَ مِنۡ اَنۡۢبَآءِ الۡغَیۡبِ نُوۡحِیۡہِ اِلَیۡکَ ؕ وَ مَا کُنۡتَ لَدَیۡہِمۡ اِذۡ یُلۡقُوۡنَ اَقۡلَامَہُمۡ اَیُّہُمۡ یَکۡفُلُ مَرۡیَمَ ۪ وَ مَا کُنۡتَ لَدَیۡہِمۡ اِذۡ یَخۡتَصِمُوۡنَ ﴿۴۴﴾

3:44 This is among the tidings of things unseen which We reveal to you. And you were not with them when they cast their pens (to decide) which of them should have Mary in his charge, and you were not with them when they contended with one another.2

اِذۡ قَالَتِ الۡمَلٰٓئِکَۃُ یٰمَرۡیَمُ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ یُبَشِّرُکِ بِکَلِمَۃٍ مِّنۡہُ ٭ۖ اسۡمُہُ الۡمَسِیۡحُ عِیۡسَی ابۡنُ مَرۡیَمَ وَجِیۡہًا فِی الدُّنۡیَا وَ الۡاٰخِرَۃِ وَ مِنَ الۡمُقَرَّبِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۴۵﴾

3:45 When the angels said: O Mary, surely Allah gives you good news with a word from Him3 (of one) whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary,4 worthy of regard in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those who are drawn near (to Allah),

وَ یُکَلِّمُ النَّاسَ فِی الۡمَہۡدِ وَ کَہۡلًا وَّ مِنَ الصّٰلِحِیۡنَ ﴿۴۶﴾

3:46 and he will speak to the people when in the cradle and when of old age, and (he will be) one of the good ones.5

قَالَتۡ رَبِّ اَنّٰی یَکُوۡنُ لِیۡ وَلَدٌ وَّ لَمۡ یَمۡسَسۡنِیۡ بَشَرٌ ؕ قَالَ کَذٰلِکِ اللّٰہُ یَخۡلُقُ مَا یَشَآءُ ؕ اِذَا قَضٰۤی اَمۡرًا فَاِنَّمَا یَقُوۡلُ لَہٗ کُنۡ فَیَکُوۡنُ ﴿۴۷﴾

3:47 She said: My Lord, how can I have a son and man has not yet touched me? He said: Even so; Allah creates what He pleases. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, Be, and it is.6

وَ یُعَلِّمُہُ الۡکِتٰبَ وَ الۡحِکۡمَۃَ وَ التَّوۡرٰىۃَ وَ الۡاِنۡجِیۡلَ ﴿ۚ۴۸﴾

3:48 And He will teach him the Book and the Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel,

وَ رَسُوۡلًا اِلٰی بَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ ۬ۙ اَنِّیۡ قَدۡ جِئۡتُکُمۡ بِاٰیَۃٍ مِّنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ ۙ اَنِّیۡۤ اَخۡلُقُ لَکُمۡ مِّنَ الطِّیۡنِ کَہَیۡـَٔۃِ الطَّیۡرِ فَاَنۡفُخُ فِیۡہِ فَیَکُوۡنُ طَیۡرًۢا بِاِذۡنِ اللّٰہِ ۚ وَ اُبۡرِیُٔ الۡاَکۡمَہَ وَ الۡاَبۡرَصَ وَ اُحۡیِ الۡمَوۡتٰی بِاِذۡنِ اللّٰہِ ۚ وَ اُنَبِّئُکُمۡ بِمَا تَاۡکُلُوۡنَ وَ مَا تَدَّخِرُوۡنَ ۙ فِیۡ بُیُوۡتِکُمۡ ؕ اِنَّ فِیۡ ذٰلِکَ لَاٰیَۃً لَّکُمۡ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ مُّؤۡمِنِیۡنَ ﴿ۚ۴۹﴾

3:49 and (make him) a messenger to the Children of Israel (saying): I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I determine for you out of dust (a thing) like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird with Allah’s permission,7 and I heal the blind and the leprous,8 and bring the dead to life9 with Allah’s permission; and I inform you of what you should eat and what you should store in your houses.10 Surely there is a sign in this for you, if you are believers.

وَ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَیۡنَ یَدَیَّ مِنَ التَّوۡرٰىۃِ وَ لِاُحِلَّ لَکُمۡ بَعۡضَ الَّذِیۡ حُرِّمَ عَلَیۡکُمۡ وَ جِئۡتُکُمۡ بِاٰیَۃٍ مِّنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ ۟ فَاتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ وَ اَطِیۡعُوۡنِ ﴿۵۰﴾

3:50 And (I have come) verifying what is (already) before me of the Torah, and I allow you part of what was forbidden to you;11 and I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so keep your duty to Allah and obey me.

اِنَّ اللّٰہَ رَبِّیۡ وَ رَبُّکُمۡ فَاعۡبُدُوۡہُ ؕ ہٰذَا صِرَاطٌ مُّسۡتَقِیۡمٌ ﴿۵۱﴾

3:51 Surely Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so serve Him. This is the right path.

فَلَمَّاۤ اَحَسَّ عِیۡسٰی مِنۡہُمُ الۡکُفۡرَ قَالَ مَنۡ اَنۡصَارِیۡۤ اِلَی اللّٰہِ ؕ قَالَ الۡحَوَارِیُّوۡنَ نَحۡنُ اَنۡصَارُ اللّٰہِ ۚ اٰمَنَّا بِاللّٰہِ ۚ وَ اشۡہَدۡ بِاَنَّا مُسۡلِمُوۡنَ ﴿۵۲﴾

3:52 But when Jesus perceived disbelief on their part, he said: Who will be my helpers in Allah’s way? The disciples said: We are Allah’s helpers, we believe in Allah, and (ask you to) bear witness that we are submitting ones.

رَبَّنَاۤ اٰمَنَّا بِمَاۤ اَنۡزَلۡتَ وَ اتَّبَعۡنَا الرَّسُوۡلَ فَاکۡتُبۡنَا مَعَ الشّٰہِدِیۡنَ ﴿۵۳﴾

3:53 Our Lord, we believe in what You have revealed and we follow the messenger, so write us down with those who bear witness.

وَ مَکَرُوۡا وَ مَکَرَ اللّٰہُ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ خَیۡرُ الۡمٰکِرِیۡنَ ﴿٪۵۴﴾

3:54 And (the Jews) planned and Allah (also) planned. And Allah is the Best of planners.12



  1. After speaking of Mary’s birth and her growing up, the Quran now speaks of her election just as the righteous before her were elected. Evidently this refers to a time when she had grown up to the age of puberty and left the temple.
  2. This verse cannot refer back to Mary’s history as a child in the temple, as some think. The Quran has described her history in the natural order: her con­ception (v. 35), birth (v. 36), being dedicated to and residing in the temple (v. 37), and her election at the age of discretion (v. 42 and 43). Therefore this par­ticular incident refers to her espousal. The casting of lots and the contention as to who should have her in his charge means her charge as a wife.
  3. The good news was given by means of a prophetic word from God.
  4. The Quran makes no mention at all of Mary’s husband, but nor does it at all mention Moses’ father when relating the circumstances of Moses’ birth. The mere fact, therefore, that there is no mention of Jesus’ father is not sufficient to show that Jesus had no father. Moreover, of his two parents Joseph and Mary, Mary was undoubtedly much more well-known than Joseph.
  5. Speaking “when in the cradle and when of old age” cannot be con­si­dered as miracles, as the latter is undoubtedly not. The good news conveyed con­sists in the fact that the child announced will be a healthy child and shall not die in childhood. It would thus appear that, according to the Holy Quran, Jesus did not die at thirty-three years of age, but lived to a sufficiently old age.
  6. She is told in reply to her question that the child will be born because God would bring about the circumstances which result in the birth of a child. The words do not show that she would conceive out of the ordinary course of nature, for there is no doubt that Mary had other children, which no one supposes to have been conceived out of the ordinary course of nature. Nor do the words that follow prove anything beyond the simple fact that Mary must give birth to a son in accor­dance with the prophecy. The whole of creation is brought about, we are told again and again, by the Divine word “Be” (see 2:117), yet no one supposes that creation is not brought about according to the laws of nature.
  7. As Jesus spoke in parables, this passage must be taken allegorically. What is meant is that Jesus, by breathing a spirit into mortals, will make them rise above those who are bent low upon the earth, and the apostles of Jesus, who were all men of humble origin (which is referred to in the word dust in the parable), left everything for the master’s sake and went into the world by his command to preach the truth. Here was mere dust having the form of a bird, which the messen­ger of God converted into high-soaring birds by breathing truth into them.
  8. The Quran gives an explanation of the healing of the sick when, speaking of itself, it says that it is “a healing for what is in the hearts” (10:57), i.e. for spiritual diseases. A prophet’s healing is spiritual, not healing of physical dis­eases. The Quran speaks of the blind and the deaf frequently, but it never means those who do not possess the senses of seeing and hearing.
  9. The Quran says plainly that those who die are not sent back to this world; see 39:42 and 23:100. But the use of the word mautā, i.e. the dead, and of their being raised to life, is frequent in the Quran in a spiritual sense: “Is he who was dead, then We raised him to life … like him whose likeness is that of one in darkness” (6:122). And again: “O you who believe, respond to Allah and His Messenger, when He calls you to that which gives you life” (8:24). The prophets are raised only for quickening to life those who are spiritually dead, and it is to this quickening through Jesus that the Quran refers here.
  10. Jesus laid special stress on not having any care “for the morrow”, and advised a rich man when he came to him to sell all he had. He would have them lay up treasures in heaven. The verse refers to this aspect of his teaching.
  11. The law of Moses was upheld by the Israelite prophets, but amended from time to time. These changes are particularly marked out in Jesus’ teaching.
  12. The word makr used here is the equivalent of the word plan, the good or evil nature of the plan being dependent on the doer’s intention. The Jews plan­ned to put Jesus to death by crucifixion, and Allah made a plan to frustrate their plans; and Allah’s plan was successful, i.e. he was saved from death on the cross, for which see 3:55 and 4:157.