The lady Mary (Maryam in the Arabic) is honored in three profound ways in the Quran. First, the 19th chapter of the Quran is named after her, it is the most melodious of all the chapters in terms of recitation and in meaning it is profound. The choice of it being the 19th chapter also contains a profound secret but no more about this can be said now. The second, is that she is mentioned by name in the Quran and not merely by name, but by title 'Mary the pure truthful sincere one, Maryam Al Siddiqah'. Additionally, the Quran mentions her/her name dozens of times (64) in various contexts and forms, including where the prophet Jesus (pbuh) is titled 'Jesus the son of Mary'. She is mentioned more in the Quran than she is in the Bible by some accounts. Indeed, within the Islamic tradition any thing or person mentioned in the Quran is considered specialized and this frequent mention of the Sayyidah Maryam is a very high honour and a mark of her special function in creation indeed. She is the only one of our foremost four ladies of Paradise mentioned by name in the Quran. Her title is given in Surah Ma'idah (Chapter: The laden table);
مَّا الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ وَأُمُّهُ صِدِّيقَةٌ ۖ كَانَا يَأْكُلَانِ الطَّعَامَ ۗ انظُرْ كَيْفَ نُبَيِّنُ لَهُمُ الْآيَاتِ ثُمَّ انظُرْ أَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ - 5:75
The Messiah, son of Mary, was not but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him. And his mother was a 'siddeeqah' (a truthful pious woman). They both used to eat food. Look how We make clear to them the signs; then look how they are deluded.
Indeed her entire story is one of special mention. The Quran mentions it in detail, spread over several chapters and it is one of the most beautiful of Quranic stories. Her first mention is as a prayer from her mother when she conceived her. The mother of Mary, herself mentioned as a pious woman from the priestly family of Aaron, dedicated her unborn babe to the service of the Judaic temple in Jerusalem. But she was greatly surprised when she delivered a girl instead of a boy, for indeed how was it a girl would be allowed to serve in the temple when during those times that was a vocation reserved for men. The One Divine Allah SWT (subhahana wa ta'ala, meaning 'glorious and exalted) answers her perplexion with a beautiful response - ' indeed the female is not like the male, and indeed I know what you do not know' - she is to be honoured in a way no man can be.
To continue, she grows up in the care of her uncle Zachariah (Zakariya in Arabic), himself a prophet and a priest in the Temple. She is miraculously allowed to dwell in the Temple and lives there under the guardianship of Zakariya. He finds that whenever he enters her quarters, she has been miraculously supplied with food, with fruits out of season and other delicacies. When he asks her about them, she simply replies 'it is from the One Divine Allah SWT, surely the One Divine gives to whom He pleases without measure'. When Zakariya hears her beatiful and accurate reply, he immediately realizes the child has taught him a great lesson. So he goes and prays to the One Divine asking that he be given a child to inherit him. This prayer is immediately answered and despite his and his wife's old age, they soon have a baby. The chapter 19, titled Maryam, begins the story with relating this incident - how Zakariya prayed and how he was answered. A subtle and delicate gesture, a sensitive highlight of the role of Maryam Al Siddiqah, the one who points in the right direction.
In Surah Ali-Imran;
إِذْ قَالَتِ امْرَأَتُ عِمْرَانَ رَبِّ إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لَكَ مَا فِي بَطْنِي مُحَرَّرًا فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنِّي ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ - 3:35
فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتْهَا قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنثَىٰ وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ الذَّكَرُ كَالْأُنثَىٰ ۖ وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْيَمَ وَإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ - 3:36
فَتَقَبَّلَهَا رَبُّهَا بِقَبُولٍ حَسَنٍ وَأَنبَتَهَا نَبَاتًا حَسَنًا وَكَفَّلَهَا زَكَرِيَّا ۖ كُلَّمَا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهَا زَكَرِيَّا الْمِحْرَابَ وَجَدَ عِندَهَا رِزْقًا ۖ قَالَ يَا مَرْيَمُ أَنَّىٰ لَكِ هَٰذَا ۖ قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ - 3:37
When the wife of 'Imran said, "My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service], so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing."
But when she delivered her, she said, "My Lord, I have delivered a female." And Allah was most knowing of what she delivered, "And the male is not like the female. And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled.
So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zechariah. Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, "O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?" She said, "It is from Allah . Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account."
More detail is mentioned in the Quran about Maryam Al Siddiqah. Her virgin birth is recounted in great detail, emphasizing the immense trial upon her it was to bear and birth her son, and emphasizing she did so without any human being by her side to help her. How she cried out for the pain is mentioned and how she feared what the people would say about her is alluded to. And yet, she bore this cheerfully knowing that the One Divine when he places a calling upon a person, also assures, that He will see them through. And so it was, when she was in depths of the pain and despair of childbirth, fruit and water was miraculously provided for her to give her strength and ease her pain. When she was told to take the baby back to the city, where she would face immediate slander and perhaps even death, the baby miraculously spoke to defend her honour.
In Chapter Maryam;
فَحَمَلَتْهُ فَانتَبَذَتْ بِهِ مَكَانًا قَصِيًّا - 19:22
فَأَجَاءَهَا الْمَخَاضُ إِلَىٰ جِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ قَالَتْ يَا لَيْتَنِي مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَٰذَا وَكُنتُ نَسْيًا مَّنسِيًّا - 19:23
فَنَادَاهَا مِن تَحْتِهَا أَلَّا تَحْزَنِي قَدْ جَعَلَ رَبُّكِ تَحْتَكِ سَرِيًّا - 19:24
وَهُزِّي إِلَيْكِ بِجِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ تُسَاقِطْ عَلَيْكِ رُطَبًا جَنِيًّا - 19:25
فَكُلِي وَاشْرَبِي وَقَرِّي عَيْنًا ۖ فَإِمَّا تَرَيِنَّ مِنَ الْبَشَرِ أَحَدًا فَقُولِي إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ صَوْمًا فَلَنْ أُكَلِّمَ الْيَوْمَ إِنسِيًّا - 19:26
فَأَتَتْ بِهِ قَوْمَهَا تَحْمِلُهُ ۖ قَالُوا يَا مَرْيَمُ لَقَدْ جِئْتِ شَيْئًا فَرِيًّا - 19:27
يَا أُخْتَ هَارُونَ مَا كَانَ أَبُوكِ امْرَأَ سَوْءٍ وَمَا كَانَتْ أُمُّكِ بَغِيًّا - 19:28
فَأَشَارَتْ إِلَيْهِ ۖ قَالُوا كَيْفَ نُكَلِّمُ مَن كَانَ فِي الْمَهْدِ صَبِيًّا - 19:29
قَالَ إِنِّي عَبْدُ اللَّهِ آتَانِيَ الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلَنِي نَبِيًّا - 19:30
وَجَعَلَنِي مُبَارَكًا أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُ وَأَوْصَانِي بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ مَا دُمْتُ حَيًّا - 19:31
وَبَرًّا بِوَالِدَتِي وَلَمْ يَجْعَلْنِي جَبَّارًا شَقِيًّا - 19:32
وَالسَّلَامُ عَلَيَّ يَوْمَ وُلِدتُّ وَيَوْمَ أَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ أُبْعَثُ حَيًّا - 19:33
So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place.
And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, "Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten."
But he called her from below her, "Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream.
And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates.
So eat and drink and be contented. And if you see from among humanity anyone, say, 'Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to anyone' "
Then she brought him to her people, carrying him. They said, "O Mary, you have certainly done a thing unprecedented.
O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste."
So she pointed to him. They said, "How can we speak to one who is in the cradle a child?"
He said, "Indeed, I am the servant of Allah . He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet.
And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah (charity) as long as I remain alive
And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant.
And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive."
Thus Maryam Al Siddiqah, was honoured not only to be the mother of one of the greatest prophets (pbuh). But she was especially chosen and purified and blessed with a virgin birth. A great miracle indeed and a clear sign. The word of the One Divine was blown into her and she bore it with grace, strength, dignity, calmness, sincerity and purity. It takes a great deal of strength of character to bear such a tremendous trial with grace. Her grace, her strength, her ability to stand alone as a parent without support from a man in a patriarchal society, her beauty and purity, are lights all Muslim women and men and indeed all of humanity draws courage and inspiration from. She has watered many nations, and the blue light of the rivers of guidance that emanate from her flow out upon the world from the cosmos. She is our 7 streams flowing out of the fountain of Khadija and A'siya and Fathima, God be pleased with them all.
The foremost four ladies of Paradise, the blessed Sayyidathunna Maryam, Fathima, A'siya and Khadija. Each honoured due to their special relationship with three of the greatest prophets (pbut); respectively, as a biological mother without the contribution of a father to one, a daughter to one, a foster-mother to one (again without contribution from the male/father), and a wife to one. In each case the uniqueness of the female relationship is highlighted, and even where motherhood is the special relationship it is by design that no fatherhood enters the picture. Each of them overcoming great difficulties and sacrificing much in the cause of truth, but none wavering in answering the call. Each of them a force of truth. Each of them beacons of unique strengths and energies, but all of them displaying grace, virtue, wisdom, purity, deep wells of womanly insight and immense female strength. Together they circumvent the full force of womanhood. What it truly means to be a human woman, fulfilling her full potential. A fountain of hidden knowledge rooted in Paradise and flowing with generous merciful nurturing waters upon the earth, for all to drink and a mother, daughter, wife, guide to all.
We pray the Muslim nation and indeed all women and men in all of humanity will rekindle their relationship with these four foremost women and be able to draw strength and be healed with a complete healing, by their collective grace.