Was Mary a Prophet?

Was Mary a Prophet?


What do you think of the idea that Mary was a prophet? I’ve seen it argued fairly convincingly in that her trials, tribulations and her pact with God resemble those of many prophets who were explicitly identified as such in scripture.

Salaam alykum,

There is no doubt that she communicated to God (via the angels), and her place is tremendously important, and the Surah of The Qur’an named after her confirms this, but I feel like the arguments over whether she was a “Prophet” are, in my view, usually argued outside of the confines of theology.

By this I mean what defines someone as a “Nabi” and/or a “Rasul.” Whether someone is “merely” a Prophet or also a Messenger, and what distinctions we should make and how do we extend those titles to people not specifically referred to as such in The Qur’an.

Ibn Hazm, the famous Islamic scholar, actually argued that Mary was a Prophet, and he also classed the mothers of Isaac, Jesus, and Moses as such as well because the angels spoke to them. However, he distinguishes them from Messengers communicating a Message (risala) to simply having the status of Prophethood (nubuwwa). Ibn Hazm’s proof was that since Mary is referred to as “one who never deviated from the truth” [5:75] and that the fact this term was used also for Joseph (Yacoub) “O thou truthful one!” [12:46] who is considered a Prophet underlines, for Ibn Hazm, proof as to how this is the case.

Many other scholars disagree with Ibn Hazm, citing 12:109 and 16:43, which both state “We never sent [as Our apostles] any but [mortal] men, whom We inspired,” but as you can see, in Muhammad Asad’s translation (which is what I use, unless otherwise noted) and to other scholars, the reason for mentioning “men” is not to establish gender, but to underline that only mortal men were sent as Apostles, not those with “superpowers,” as many opponents of The Prophet Muhammad objected to him for being “merely a man.”

In short, there is a debate, although, the majority of theologians would argue that Mary was not a Prophet, because it is 12:109 and 16:43 which are the main arguments against such a position, but ultimately, I’m not sure whether they are classified (by us, nonetheless) as Prophets or not really changes what they did, which to me, is what is most important.

They were incredible human beings, they did communicate with God through angels, and it was through their strength and dedication to God that we learn so much, that we see faith during adversity, a trust in God so strong that they were able to transcend what any other mother would do, like the mother of Moses (Musa).

The arguments over whether they are or are not, to me, is a very distant concern, maybe because I am a male, but, I never think “Prophet Eisa (Jesus) and lowly Mariam (Mary),” astaghfirullah, I look at all the people mentioned in The Qur’an for their function, whether it is the Queen of Sheba or Haroun (Aaron), there is something to learn from them and to attempt to apply in my life.

That is just my mode of thinking and I am wary of arguments that detract from people not knowing the stories themselves, as that, I feel is far more important. So, when we are at a collective place where we are literate enough, then we can debate these finer points, but that is for another day.

I pray this reaches you and your families in the best of health and Iman, insha Allah.

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