Caring for One’s Child: The Story of Maryam

Shaykh Ahmad El Azhary explores the Lessons from the Live of the Prophets in the Quran. He unlocks their aim, which is to direct us towards Allah Almighty and the Day of Judgement. This is the sixth article in the series.

The Quranic stories are pedagogical. They teach you. There is benefit throughout the story. It is interesting, in this context, to know that there is a whole Sura named after Maryam (upon her be peace). Who was she?

An Utterly Truthful Saint

مَّا ٱلْمَسِيحُ ٱبْنُ مَرْيَمَ إِلَّا رَسُولٌۭ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ ٱلرُّسُلُ وَأُمُّهُۥ صِدِّيقَةٌۭ ۖ كَانَا يَأْكُلَانِ ٱلطَّعَامَ ۗ ٱنظُرْ كَيْفَ نُبَيِّنُ لَهُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ ثُمَّ ٱنظُرْ أَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ

“The Christ son of Mary was naught but a divinely-sent messenger, whom all other messengers had passed away before; And his mother was but an utterly truthful saint: Both ate food. See how We make clear to them the verses; Yet behold, how indeed can they be so perverted from the truth?” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 5:75]

The only Siddiqa mentioned in the Quran is Maryam (upon her be peace).

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is told at the end of the story of  Maryam (upon her be peace) in Sura Aal-Imran: 

ذَ ٰلِكَ مِنۡ أَنۢبَاۤءِ ٱلۡغَیۡبِ نُوحِیهِ إِلَیۡكَۚ وَمَا كُنتَ لَدَیۡهِمۡ إِذۡ یُلۡقُونَ أَقۡلَـٰمَهُمۡ أَیُّهُمۡ یَكۡفُلُ مَرۡیَمَ وَمَا كُنتَ لَدَیۡهِمۡ إِذۡ یَخۡتَصِمُونَ

“All that is of the tidings of the unseen We inspire to you: You were not with them when they cast their trimmed reed-pens as to which of them would take charge of Mary, nor with them when they vied.” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 3:44]

This is a very special lesson. 

Righteous Offspring

Maryam (upon her be peace) came as a product of a righteous mother and Imran (the father of Maryam) was a righteous man. He was one of the descendants of Musa (upon him be peace). The scholars disagreed as to whether he was a prophet or not. 

We do not know much about Imran but we do know much about his wife. She is an exemplary righteous woman. 

The mother of Maryam (upon her be peace) was named Hanna. Her sister, the wife of Zakariya (upon him be peace) was reportedly named Elizabeth, These two sisters married two righteous men. For a very long period in their life, they did not have children. 

The wife of Zakariya (upon him be peace) did not have children, and there was no hope that she would because she was barren. The wife of Imran did not have children, but she was not proven to be barren. At a certain point in her life after a long period, Allah graced her with pregnancy. 

Dedicating One’s Child to Allah

The mother of Maryam dedicated her child to God. 

إِذۡ قَالَتِ ٱمۡرَأَتُ عِمۡرَ ٰنَ رَبِّ إِنِّی نَذَرۡتُ لَكَ مَا فِی بَطۡنِی مُحَرَّرا فَتَقَبَّلۡ مِنِّیۤۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلسَّمِیعُ ٱلۡعَلِیمُ

“And remember when the wife of of ‘Imran said, ‘My Lord, verily I vow to You what is in my womb, consecrated to temple service: So wholly accept from me: Verily only You are the All-hearing, the All-knowing.’” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 3:35]

There are two steps to dedicating your children to Allah.

The first is to have good intentions. It starts with choosing the spouse and preparing yourself as a parent. One is not born with parenting skills. Neither can one apply the same experience one had with one’s parents towards one’s children because of the different times. This is not to abandon what one’s parents have taught, take that but change the methods. 

Ali ibn Abi Talib reportedly said, “You have to raise your children for a time different from yours, for they have been born for the future.” 

Dedicating our children to God starts with having good intentions, good planning, and choosing the right environment for them. One should also consider if the person they have been proposed to by or are seeking to marry is fit to be a parent.

Leading by Example

Both mother and father have to inspire the children. You cannot clap with one hand. If the father is really good and the mother is not, that is a problem and vice versa.

The second step of dedicating your children to Allah is to water the seed you have planted. You have to learn how to bring up, look after, and care for a child. On top of all of this, you have to lead by example. Sometimes, you have to work on your worship and righteousness. Allah says:

وَلْيَخْشَ ٱلَّذِينَ لَوْ تَرَكُوا۟ مِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّةًۭ ضِعَـٰفًا خَافُوا۟ عَلَيْهِمْ فَلْيَتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَلْيَقُولُوا۟ قَوْلًۭا سَدِيدًا

“And let those who in charge have fitting dread,—who if they were about to die and leave behind young ones unable to fend for themselves, they would be apprehensive for them—So let them fear Allah, and say to orphans what is fitting and correct.” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 4:9]

Before you do anything, you have to have this consciousness. How will that affect my children?

If one is experiencing difficulty with one’s child there is an important question to ask oneself: are you feeding them halal? It may not be that a parent is selling pork or alcohol but one should think about their work for example, is one neglecting duties by not working the required amount of hours?

One of the outcomes of eating haram or feeding haram is disobedience of the body. 

Having a Vision

In those days when you dedicate a child to the service of Allah you send that child to the temple. The temple or the house of worship was not just a place where people would worship. They would learn the Sharia. These were students who were dedicated to God. 

We as families should think of dedicating one child to God. To have a memorizer of The Quran in the family. To have a scholar in the family. Ibn Raslan remarked, “Practice even one-tenth, just like Zakah, you will be saved from a lot of diseases and problems.”

Even if the children are not interested in becoming scholars or imams, still dedicate some part of their time to memorizing the Quran. There is no problem if your child is a medical doctor and at the same time a bearer of the Quran. That is brilliant. 

This, however, will not happen if parents keep sending their children to weekend schools where the teacher is unqualified and also abuses the child. The children will not learn anything. Your children need to see your relationship with the Quran.

We must have a vision for our children.