Wednesday, 2 May 2018

"Sister of Aaron" (Sura 19:28)


بسم الله الرحمـن الرحيم

والعاقبة للمتقين


يَا أُخْتَ هَارُونَ مَا كَانَ أَبُوكِ امْرَأَ سَوْءٍ وَمَا كَانَتْ أُمُّكِ بَغِيًّا۞

“O sister of Aaron; your father was not an evil man and your mother was not unchaste.”

(Sura 19:28)

Opponents and critics of Islam allege that the Qur’an cannot be the Word of God because this verse has apparently confused Mary mother of Jesus with Miriam, the sister of Aaron. Little do they realize that this same objection was raised to the Prophet Muhammad by the Christians of Najran, who answered:
إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يُسَمُّونَ بِأَنْبِيَائِهِمْ وَالصَّالِحِينَ قَبْلَهُمْ
“They used to name with (names of) their prophets and the pious people (from) before them.” (Sahih Muslim)
This statement of the Prophet has been interpreted in different ways. Some explain it to mean that Mary mother of Jesus actually had a brother named Aaron. However, this explanation is not satisfactory because there is no historical mention of such a person named Aaron. It is clear from the context of the verse that by referring to Mary as “sister of Aaron” that this Aaron had to have been a person of renound piety. It has also been suggested that Mary was referred to as Aaron’s sister figuratively, because she was from the priestly line of Aaron. Luke’s Gospel mentions the fact that Mary was a relative of Elizabeth, a descendant of Aaron and married to the priest Zecharias (Luke 1:5, 36). Therefore we can safely assume that Mary herself was a descendant of Aaron. But note the fact that Mary was not referred to as “daughter of Aaron” rather “sister of Aaron”. It is clear to me that when the Prophet Muhammad stated that the Israelites used to name themselves after their prophets and pious people, he meant to point out the obvious fact that Mary mother of Jesus was in fact named after Miriam the pious sister of Moses and Aaron. Now because of Mary’s own extreme piety, her people gave her the title “Sister of Aaron”, comparing her with the original Miriam. They were shocked when she gave birth to Jesus, as she was unmarried at the time, and wandered how she could have been with child when not only she herself was extremely pious and God-fearing, but her parents were also well known for their righteousness and chastity. The mufassir Ibn Kathir wrote in explanation of the Ayah:
{ يٰأُخْتَ هَـٰرُونَ } أي يا شبيهة هارون في العبادة
O sister of Aaron, that is, O resemblance of Aaron in worship
(Tafsir Ibn Kathir: v.5, p.226)


1 comment:

  1. Harun (Aaron) was the name given to righteous people amongst them, because of a man amongst them called Harun who was very righteous. So when she brought the baby, they said to her "O sister of Harun", meaning "O one who is associated with rectitude, righteousness" because she came from a righteous family. Al-Tabari mentions this view from Qataadah (an early commentator of the Qur'an who studied with the Prophet's companions), and Muhammad bin Seereen and others. Al-Baghawi mentions that Qataadah and others stated that Aaron was a righteous worshipper and that forty-thousand people followed his funeral the day that he died and all of them were called Aaron. This name therefore was associated with piety and righteousness and hence, the use of the phrase "O sister of..." is not referring to blood relationship. This is like the saying of Allaah, "Verily, the spendthrifts (those who squander wealth) are the brethren of the devils..." (17:27).

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