May the peace of Allah be upon you!
Have you ever stopped to wonder about the dangers ancient pearl divers faced in searching out and retrieving pearls from the depths of the sea? Often they had to hold their breath as they swam a hundred feet down to the sea bed to obtain their valuable treasure. Risking oxygen black-out, dangerous sea creatures and other hazards, these divers would bravely seek the oysters that contained pearls of great beauty, and then bring them back safely to the boat from which they had set off. Truly these pearls hidden inside the rough exterior of the oyster are beautiful treasures created by the power and will of Allah! We are told in the Honored Quran that Allah "knows whatever there is on the earth and in the sea.” (Surah 6:59) Almighty Allah is truly the wonderful architect and creator of not only the things on the land, but also the treasures hidden in the vast oceans of this world. People are like precious pearls to Allah. Each person is a unique and precious treasure. Each has great worth and value in the sight of our Creator. And just as the different shapes, sizes and colors of the pearls determine their ultimate use, so, too, Allah chooses different people to fulfill special tasks. He selects and directs each of His “pearls” in the outworking of his perfect purposes and plans. Truly, "the best of planners is Allah." Surah 8:30
One of these great pearls mentioned in the Honored Quran is Maryam. Did you know she is the only woman mentioned by name in the pages of the Quran? Not only that, she has an entire chapter (surah) named after her! Just as an exceptional pearl is often set on display in an expensive ring, so, too, Maryam is set on display in the pages of the Quran for all of us to see. But why is that?
Maryam a True Servant
It is because Maryam is truly a role model for all those who desire to worship Allah in steadfastness. The Honored Quran tells us, "O Maryam, Allah has chosen you and purified you, and has chosen you ABOVE ALL THE WOMEN OF THE WORLD.” (Surah 3:42) In the pages of the Quran, we are told that Maryam was a true servant of Allah, devout in prayer, a person of integrity—“and was of the humble.” (Surah 66:12)
Some people without understanding, however, misrepresent Maryam, ascribing to her almost the status of divinity, or “godhood.” It is true that Maryam exhibited the qualities of mercy, compassion and love. It is true she was a reflection of the goodness of Allah. However, Maryam was only a servant of Allah. The moon may reflect the light of the sun, but the moon is never the sun itself! Indeed, in the Injeel, Maryam glorifies Allah alone when she declares, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my saviour.” Luke 1:46-47. Maryam would have known Allah's Ten Commandments, and would have observed the first commandment: " Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Taurat Exodus 20:3) Never would she have accepted honor and worship for herself. Remember, she was “of the humble.”
The Conception of Isa/Jesus
Not only was Maryam a humble servant of Allah, but she was also entrusted with a precious gift. The Honored Quran tells us that an angel came to Maryam and said, "I am only a messenger from the Lord to announce to thee the gift of a righteous son." Surah 19:19.
The angel messenger also announced to her the most unusual way in which Isa, or Jesus, would be conceived. The child in her would come about by the Spirit of Allah (Ruh Allah): “We breathed into her of Our Spirit….” (Surah 21:91) Again in Surah 61:12, “…We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit….” In the Injeel, in almost the same words, Luke 1:35 reads, “…The Holy Ghost [Spirit] shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee….” And “she was found with child of the Holy Ghost [Ruh Allah].” Injeel Matthew 1:18.
This was a miracle birth—not a birth brought about as a result of physical intimacy between two lovers, but a miracle caused by the will of Allah! Truly, "Our God is in the heavens, he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased." (Zabur Psalm 115:3) Or as the Quran states, "Know that Allah has power over all things.” Surah 65:12
The Identity and Purpose of Isa/Jesus
We may read more about this child: "'O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of A WORD FROM HIM: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the hereafter and of the company of those nearest to Allah." (Surah 3:45) In the pages of the Honored Quran, Jesus is called THE WORD OF ALLAH. In Surah 4:171 we are told, "Christ Jesus son of Mary was … a messenger of Allah, and HIS WORD." This is a confirmation of what already had been written in the Injeel, which tells us repeatedly that Jesus is the Word of God. In Injeel John 1:1, for example, we are told, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God….” We also read that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Injeel John 1:14 Words are thoughts spoken or written down. They not only convey information, but also reveal the character and purposes of the one speaking or writing. Maryam, the Pearl of Allah, was mightily used by Him to give birth to a special son—a son who would reveal the character and purposes of Allah. Just as words and thoughts are intrinsically part of the speaker, so, too, Jesus is the very thought and voice of Allah. As a flower pours forth the sweetness of its fragrance, so, too, Allah pours forth His very being and fragrance in Jesus. That is why Jesus (His peace be upon us) is described as "the brightness of [Allah’s] glory, and the exact representation of his being.” (Injeel Hebrews 1:2) He is "the image of the invisible God.” Injeel Colossians 1:15
Maryam, the Pearl of Allah, had the amazing privilege of bringing into this world the One who reflected and revealed the perfection of Allah's mercy, the perfection of His compassion, and the perfection of His eternal love. Maryam brought into this world the Word of Allah—the One who before His earthly birth was with Allah in the heavens, serving Him there. How true it is that "by the word of the LORD were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." (Zabur Psalms 33:6) Indeed, "All things were made by him." Injeel John 1:3
Jesus’ Personal Search for You
Remember the ancient pearl divers who descended to incredible depths to gather in the precious treasure locked inside the oysters? Likewise, the Word of Allah did not shout to us from heaven. Instead, He descended all the way from heaven to this earth in search of His precious pearls. He came in order to speak with us personally—to free us from the things that keep us focused on this world and this life only—to call us to Himself—to call us to follow him. Jesus, the Word of Allah, calls to each one of us today. He says: "Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, …and I will give you rest.” (Injeel Matthew 11:28) This Word of Allah also says, "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” John 18:37
When Jesus walked this earth, he cleansed lepers with the voice of His command. A leper knelt before him and pleaded, "If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." And Jesus, the living Word of Allah, responded with mercy and compassion: " I will, be thou clean." And the leper was cleansed! (Injeel Mark 1:40-42)
The Word of Allah not only healed the physically sick and diseased, he also came to cleanse us from spiritual sickness. No wonder the Honored Quran calls the coming of Jesus (His peace be upon us) "Glad tidings,” which means “good news.” (Surah 3:45) We all need cleansing from our invisible but very real shame. We all need cleansing from the way we dishonor Allah in the things we think, speak and do. The living Word of Allah, Jesus, is the good news we all seek after. The Quran speaks to us directly and instructs us, “…Seek the means of approach unto [Allah].…” Surah 5:35.
Maryam, the Pearl of Allah, brought Jesus into this world for a purpose. Jesus (His peace be upon us) has declared that he is the way of approach to Allah. He has declared, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to [Allah] but by me." (Injil John 14:6) Jesus is the promised Word from Allah. Jesus is the promised Way to Allah. And Jesus is the promised One whose word can cleanse us from our unrighteousness. Jesus declared to his followers, “Now you are clean through the word I have spoken unto you.” (Injeel John 15:3)
As yeast grows, it multiplies and imparts its life to bread dough, silently and steadily expanding it so it can fultill its intended purpose. So, too, Jesus, the Word of Allah, brings life to us, and steadily changes us from the inside out! His life and word in us empowers us to live a righteous life—free from guilt and from fear of the coming judgment! That marvelous fact is summarized in this phrase from the Injeel: ”…Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Injeel Colossians 1:27) "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Injeel Philippians 2:13) We are also told that Jesus "gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people zealous of good works." Injeel Titus 2:14
How thankful we are for Maryam, the Pearl of Allah, that brought Jesus into the world—the life-changing Word of Allah. To experience this new life and change within us, we need to turn to Allah in repentance, and with trusting, grateful hearts, ask for the life and word of Jesus to come into our lives. A cup that is turned upside down in the desert will never fill with water when the precious rains come. Only a cup that is turned toward the sky will receive the infilling of refreshing water. Similarly, we need to turn our thoughts and hearts towards heaven, and ask to receive the life-giving Word of Allah into our lives. Will you do that today? Jesus says, “…Ask