Peace, one and all…
In Surah Maryam, we read the following description of an otherwise unknown miracle of Jesus (alaihi al-salam). The newborn infant Jesus (alaihi al-salam) speaks, saying:
‘He said, ‘I am the slave of Allah (inni `Abd Allah). He has given me the Book and made me a prophet’ (19:30)
The immediate context of this verse is the surprise caused by Maryam’s unexpected pregnancy. In response to the alarm caused by this strange affair, Maryam simply points to the newborn Jesus (alaihi al-salam) who then speaks on her behalf.
This verse is very interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, it illustrates God’s miraculous defence of Maryam’s probity. More broadly, it reveals that God can and indeed does, intervene to aid those who seek His aid. Secondly, on a personal note, this verse reminds me not to be judgemental – even in surprising and unusual circumstances. Thirdly, it reveals the status and significance of Isa ibn Maryam himself (peace be always upon him). Jesus (alaihi al-salam) is one of God’s mightiest messengers, one of those endowed with firmness – small wonder then that his birth was heralded by such a miracle.
The words offered in the passage above are also interesting. Jesus (alaihi al-salam) refers to himself as ‘the slave of Allah’ underlining the point that to be a true slave of God is an exalted state. It also underlines the Quran’s consistent attitude that Jesus (alaihi al-salam) though special, was no more than a man – God’s slave in other words. More deeply, this verse illustrates the significance of service to the Divine. Through service to God, we too can rise to become an `Abd Allah, a true servant of God.
The next two verses underline just how we can strive to become such servants:
‘And made me blessed wherever I may be; and He has enjoined upon me prayer and charity as long as I live, And [has endowed me with] piety towards my mother; and He has not made me haughty or bereft of grace’ (19:31-32)
The path to this blessed state runs through honest prayer and charity (literally zakat, the compulsory alms-tax). It passes through piety towards parents, and through them to all others; and this blessed path ends in humility and grace. In other words, to be an `Abd Allah means to have a firm relationship with God, and through that relationship with the whole of creation. It is to share that blessing with everyone and everything that we come into contact with: to strive to never limit the out-pouring of Divine grace through all that we are, do and say:
‘Hence, peace was upon me on the day when I was born, and [will be upon me] on the day of my death, and on the day when I shall be raised to life [again]!’ (19:32)
May God’s peace be always upon our noble master, Isa ibn Maryam (alaihi al-salam)