Selection of the Second Generation – SECTION TWO – V
Ninth Stage: Selection of the Second Generation
“And lo! The angels said: ‘O! Behold, God has elected thee and made thee pure, and raised thee above all the women of the world.’ ” The girl who was devoted to God has grown, and she has joined the candidates for divine selection. Her mother’s prayer was not suffi cient guarantee for her selection, but it gave her a head start as a candidate. The high position of the house of Imran also was not enough to ensure that every member of this family would be chosen for this cause. To be chosen, each family member was to go forward and aff ect the result through his or her own faith, good deeds, and sincerity. “Every human being’s destiny have We tied to his neck.” (Chapter 17, verse 13)
“Every soul draws the meed of its acts on none but itself: no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another.” (Chapter 6, verse 164)
So, Mary’s selection was made based on this divine law, which transcends time and place. It is an important point to recognize that for Mary to belong to a righteous family, to be the benefi ciary of her mother’s sincere prayer, or to be devoted by her mother before birth – none of these were enough reason for her to be selected as amongst the chosen. Only after she reached the age of maturity and responsibility, and she proved herself by her faith and action, only then was she informed that she was chosen. This is clear from the verse at the beginning of this section. The tense of the expression used in the verse shows that Mary’s selection happened within a due process. That is, Mary was selected when the time was right. The choices she made by her free will and subsequent good deeds she did determined the timing of selection.
The sustenance, which appeared out of nowhere, surprised Prophet Zachariah but not Mary. She perceived these blessings as a natural result of her sincere relationship with her Sustainer, and stated her beliefs, which had full conviction in, as follows:
“Behold God grants sustenance onto whom He wills, beyond all reckoning.” (Chapter 3, verse 37)
In addition, to be amongst those whom God chose, she had the maturity to say to her cousin Yusuf, “Oh Yusuf, have faith in God – for sure God will sustain us,” at a time when everyone was struggling for life. This made it possible. She believed this truth with all her being and she turned her heart and mind to God just like her body. For this reason, she did not show any sign of worry and was calming everyone around her by expressing her trust in God.
So Mary was fi nally receiving the glad tiding that she had succeeded on her tests and won the selection:
“And lo! The angels said: ‘O! Behold, God has elected thee and made thee pure, and raised thee above all the women of the world.’ ”
For sure, God chooses the ones who purify themselves, and He also purifi es those whom He chooses. That means when the human being does what is up to himself or herself, then God does more in helping that person. He promised to help those who help His religion. Hence, God purifi es the ones who are devoted to His sake.
As to the nature of this purifi cation, it could be physical, or it could mean removing spiritual blemishes like polytheism, immorality, sins, or transgressions. In our opinion, Mary was purifi ed in all material and spiritual areas where cleansing is possible – mind, heart, and body – for the great responsibility she was going to shoulder. She became so close to God that He rewarded her by faith and sincerity, submission and trust, by honoring her as the “exemplary woman” of all times.
Mary had done what was up to her by trying to stay away from emotional, mental, and material contaminations as much as possible. She never swayed in her trust and faith in God.
Then God aided her in areas that her strength was not suffi – cient and perfected her with purifi cation. This was the law of life: when the servant fulfi lls his or her duty as much as his or her strength allows, then the Sustainer helps and completes what is left unfi nished.
The term “aalameen,” or “the worlds” in the verse, is a plural term used for conscious creatures in the Arabic language. Hence, Mary was selected from among all conscious creatures. No doubt her superiority to the women of the world is symbolic; basically she is being presented as “a role model.” This can be understood from the traditions of the last messenger on this subject: “The best of the women of paradise are the daughter of Imran and Khadijah, the daughter of Khuwaylid,” 19 (19 Narrated by Ali B. Ebu Taalib.) and “Amongst the women who reached the peak of spiritual maturity … Mary, Asiyah, Khadijah and Fatima are amongst them.” 20 (20 Narrated by Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari.)
It is understood from these reports that Mary is an exemplary woman and mother. Her story illustrates the possibility and need for every society in every time period to have a Mary too. If it were impossible for other women to be the “Mary” of their times, why would the Quran point her as an example?
The examples in the Quran are meant to be advice. What is suggested by God is achievable, because suggesting the impossible does not fi t into God’s wisdom. The Quran elaborates on its examples. Asiyah is the model for a woman who has fallen in the hands of such a man like the pharaoh, who is rich in worldly measures but poor in faith.
Just as she protected her faith under such conditions, the Asiyah of the modern age too will protect her faith vigorously against the diverse seductions like hedonistic luxury and selfi sh passions.
For the woman who wants to devote an immortal devotion to God, the example is the wife of Imran, Anna. She would dedicate her devotion like Anna did. She would take the example of Anna’s strong belief, sincerity, and manner.
Mary, Khadijah and Fatimah are more examples for mothers of the leaders. These mothers show guidance, invite humanity to truth, and undergo responsibilities heavier than the mountains … As long as humanity exists, there will be those who follow the examples of these models.
These examples are presented so a Muslim woman can become the Asiyah, Anna, Mary, Khadijah, Fatima, or Zainab of her time, her society, or her family.