Mary was a righteous woman whose mother had dedicated her to God’s service even before she was born. As a child, she lived an admirable life marked by good health and piety. She was raised by the wise Zachariah, who instilled in her a beautiful sense of faith in God. As a young woman, Mary sought to purify herself further for her Lord. She withdrew from her people to a sanctuary in the east, where she could meditate in seclusion and peace.
During this period, on a day that seemed no different from the rest, the angel Gabriel visited her in the form of a man. Fearful of the stranger, Mary prayed for protection. He comforted her, declaring that God sent him to announce the glad tidings of a faultless son. Stunned, Mary asked how this was possible since no man had ever touched her. Gabriel replied, “‘This is how God creates what He will: when He has ordained something, He only says, “Be,” and it is’” (Quran, 3:47).
When she felt the baby within her, Mary fled her sanctuary, fearing what people would do or say when they heard the news. In her anguish, she cried out, “‘I wish I had been dead and forgotten long before all this!’” (Quran, 19:23). The angel Gabriel reassured her of God’s blessings and she found shade and a cool spring. Under a date-palm in the warmth of late summer, she made her dwelling, and there bore the child who was unlike any other in human history.
Shortly thereafter, the Quran recounts that Mary returned to her community carrying the child who was to be called the “Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary” (3:45). When her people saw the baby in her arms, they could not believe their eyes. They accused her of being unchaste and implied that she had ruined her family name and reputation. Gabriel had already instructed her to abstain from conversation (19:26). So, Mary simply pointed towards the child.