In the name of Allah the Most Beneficent the Most Mercifull.
The Story of Maryam and Al-Masih ('Isa - Jesus) Part I
From Tafsir of Imam Ibn Kathir
Abridged under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri
And Mention in the Book, Maryam, when she withdrew in seclusion from her family to place facing the east.
She placed a screen before them; then We sent her Our Ruh, and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects.
She Said: "Verily I seek refuge with the Most Gracious (Allah) from you if you do fear Allah."
(The Angel) said "I am only a messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son."
She said "How can I have a son when no man has touched me, no am I Baghiyya?"
He Said: "Thus says you Lord: 'That is easy for Me (Allah). and (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (Allah), and it is a matter (already decreed (by Allah)'"
[Surah Maryam 16-21]
And Mention in the Book, Maryam,
She was Maryam bint Imran from the family lineage of Dawud (David) She was from a good and wholesome family of the Children of Israel. Allah mentioned the story of her mother's pregnancy with her in Surah Al Imran and that she (Maryam's mother) dedicated the child (Maryam) to the service of the Masjid of the Sacred House (in Jerusalem). Thus, they (Zakariyya, Maryam's mother and Maryam were similar in that aspect.
So her Lord (Allah) accepted her with a goodly acceptance. He made her grow in a good manner.
Thus, Maryam was raised among the Children of Israel in a an honorable way. She was one of the female worshippers, well known for her remarkable acts of worship, devotion and perserverance. She lived under the care of her brother-in-law, Zakariyya, who was a Prophet of the Children of Israel at the time. He was a great man among them, whom they would refer to in their religious matters. Zakariyya saw astonishing miracles occur from her that amazed him.
Every time Zakariyya entered the Mihrab to (visit) her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: "O Maryam! from where have you got this?" She said "This is from Allah." Verily, Allah provides to whom He wills, without limit.
It has been mentioned that he would find her with winter fruit during the summer and summer fruit during the winter. This is explained in Surah Al Imran. Then, when Allah wanted to grant her His servant and Messenger, Isa, one of the five Great Messengers.
She withdrew in seclusion from her family to place facing east.
This means that she withdrew from them and secluded herself from them. She went to the eastern side of the Sacred Masjid (in Jerusalem). It is reported from Ibn 'Abbas that he said 'Verily, I am the most knowledgeable of Allah's creation of why the Christians took the east as the direction of devotional worship. They did because of Allah's statement,
When she withdrew in seclusion from her family to a place facing east
Therefore they took the birthplace of Isa (Jesus) as their direction of worship"
[At-Tabari 18:162. The chain for this particular narration has a deficiency in it. Ibn Kathir mentions a number of narrations about this Ayah, after which he says, "And Alla knows best."]
Concerning Allah's statement,
She placed a screen before them;
This means that she hid herself from them and concealed herself. Then, Allah sent Jibril (Gabriel) to her.
and he appeared before he in the form of a man in all respects.
This means that he came to her in the form of a perfect and complete man. Mujahid, Ad-Dhhak, Qatadah, Ibn Jurayj, Wahb Ibn Munabbih and As-Suddi all commented on Allah's statement,
then We sent to her Our Ruh,
"It means Jibril." [At-Tabari 18:163]
She said: "Verliy, I seek refuge with the Most Gracious from you, if you do fear Allah."
This means that when the angel (Jibril) appeared to her in the form of a man, while she was in a place secluded by herself with a partition between her and her people, she was afraid of him and thought he wanted to rape her. Therefore, she said,
Verily I seek refuge with the Most Gracious from you, if you do fear Allah.
She meant, "If you fear Allah," as a means of reminding him of Allah. This is what is legislated in defense against (evil), so that it may be repulsed with ease. Therefore, the first thing she did was try to make him fear Allah, the Mighty and Sublime.
Ibn Jarir reported from Asim that Abu Wa'il said when mentioning the story of Maryam, "She knew that the pious person would refrain (from committing evil) when she said,
"Verily, I seek refuge with the Most Gracious from you, if you do fear Allah." He said: "I am only a messenger from your Lord..."
This means that the angel said to her in response, and in order to remove fear that she felt within herself, "I am not what you think, but I am a the messenger of your Lord." By this he meant, "Allah has sent me to you." [At-Tabari 18:164]. It is said that when she mentioned the (Name of the) Most Beneficient (Ar-Rahman), Jibril fell apart and returned to his true form (as an angel). He responded,
'I am only a messenger from your Lord, to provide to you the gift of a righteous son.'
She said: "How can I have a son..."
This means that Maryam was amazed at this. She said, how can I have a son?" she said this to mean, "In What way would a son be born to me when I do not have a husband and I do not commit any wicked acts (i.e. fornication)? For this reason she said,
when no man has touched me, nor am I Baghiyya?
The Baghiyya is a female fornicator. For this reason, a Hadith has been reproted prohibiting the money earned from Baghiyy.
[Ahmad 1:235, Al-Bukhari 2237, Muslim 1567]
he said: "Thus said your Lord: 'That is easy from Me (Allah)..."
This means that the angel said to her in response to her question "Verily, Allah has said that a boy will be born from you even though you do not have a husband and you have not committed any lewdness. Verily, he is the Most Able to do whatever He wilss." Due to this, he (jibril) conveyed Allah's Words,
And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind
This means a proof and a sign for mankind of the power of their Maker and Creator, Who diversified them in their creation. He created their father, Adam, without a male or female. Then he created Hawwa (Adam's spouse) from a male(from the rib of Adam) without a female (mother). Then, He created the rest of their progeny from male and female except Isa. He created Isa to be born from a female without a male. Thus, Allah completed the four types of creation of the human being, which proves the perfection of his power and the magnificience of his authority. There is no god worthy of worship except Him and there is no true Lord other than him.
Concerning Allah's statement
and a mercy from Us,
This means, "we will make this boy a mercy from Allah and a Prophet from the Prophets. He will call to the worship of Allah and monotheistic belief in Him. This is as Allah, the Exalted, said in another Ayah,
(Remeber) when the angels said: "O Maryam! Verily, Allah gives you the good news of a Word from Him, his name will be Al-Masih (The Christ), Isa (Jesus), the son of Maryam, held in honor in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah. And he will speak to the people, in the cradle and in manhood, and he will be one of the righteous.
This mean that he will call to the worship of his Lord in his cradle and while adult.
Concerning His statement,
and it is a matter (already) decreed (by Allah).
This is the completion of Jibrils dialogue with Maryam. He informed her that this matter was preordained by Allah's power and will. Muhammad bin Ishaq said
and it is a matter (already decreed (by Allah).
"This means that Allah determined to do this, so there is no avoiding it"
[At Tabari 18:165]