Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Maryam, Mother of Jesus, and Patience

My favorite Qur'anic character is Maryam (or Mary), mother of 'Isa (Jesus) (peace be upon them). I love her. I have two main reasons. One of those reasons has to do with a dream I had about her when I was a child. (I will narrate the dream in another blog post; it's special and significant and deserves an entry of its own.) The other reason is her response to God when she discovered she was to give birth to Jesus. Allow me to explain.

You know how people, Muslims especially, will often dare to suppress our "heretic" thoughts, such as, "God, why are you so unfair!" or "I wish I were dead!" or "I hate my life," etc., etc.? Yeah, well, this happened to a friend of mine recently on her Facebook status. If only I could paste all the comments here that Muslims posted under her status. It was ridiculous. But here's what I said.

It's perfectly natural and human to feel that God is being unfair every now and then. Remember: Even Mary, Mother of Jesus (God be pleased with them both), complained about her situation! In her own words, "Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten" (Quran, 19:23). In another verse (or was it a hadith?), I recall, she said something along the lines of, "I wish I were this leaf." No? I can't find this verse/hadith now, so never mind.

One wonders why that complaint of hers appears in the Qur'an. I think it's because it show that she was as much a human as anyone else, that her having given birth to a Prophet without human intervention did not make her any more or less of a human than the rest of us, that she was NOT afraid of expressing her complaints to God out loud, and, most importantly, that God didn't think what she'd done was wrong.

Muslims who think that we shouldn't complain about God or this and that clearly don't know what God's most beloved woman on of all times said to God herself! Sure, one could argue that what she went through was/is utterly incomparable to what anyone else might ever go through, but that's preposterous. How so? Who determines the intensity of anyone's pain? No one but the one going through it. Who determines what's unfair and what's not? No one but the one who believes she/he is being treated unjustly.
Surely, we must be patient -- but that's not by any means to imply that you can't complain to/about God -- or that you can't complain at all.
So, next time you try to lecture Qrratugai about patience, I will simply say, "I wish I were dead," said Maryam when she was giving birth to Jesus. And that should shut you up.


  1. I really enjoyed this post, Mary(am) has a special place in my heart as well, and I definitely think you are right that is okay to complain (a little) when we go through something tough. I think it is all a matter of what we do after we complain - do we continue to complain and whine and do nothing, or do we begin to deal with the issues.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Becky Jaan! I agree that what's more important is what happens after our complaining. I onno, though - it's more convenient to complain and NOT do anything about it ~sighs~


Dare to opine :)

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