Mary in the Koran

Some Facts :

  • Mary is mentioned more times in the Koran than in the New Testament
  • Other Christian writings of the time, Gnostic scriptures, mention Mary more than both put together
  • The Koran was written by one man in about 20 years, whereas the Bible took over a thousand years to compile, the New Testament took 350 years.  (Some say this means the Koran is “stuck in time” while the Bible “evolved” at least a little bit).
  • Mary is a Christian Goddess, not an Islamic one.  Islamic clerics who interpret their holy book probably hate the thought of a goddess in their religion even more than the Christian “authorities” do.  Side note: For an interesting look at clerical hatred / fear of a goddess in their midst, see Anne Safyre’s article Goddess Hatred at  She may have retitled it to Demonization of the Goddess.

Questions to look for while reading:

Did the NT writers, canonizers, and “editors” take Mary out?

Does Christianity treat Mary better than Islam?

Does the Koran portray Mary as a goddess?  Does it ingratiate her tomodern Muslims? Why do modern Muslims, more than any other people on earth,seem to oppress and mistreat their women?

Mary in the Koran
by Initiate Stephen Andrew

Virtually every modern day Christian knows that the holy book of the Islamic faith is called the Koran or Qur’an, and that its authorship is attributed to the 7th century Arab prophet Muhammad. What many Christians do not know is that both Jesus and Mary, his mother, are key figures in the text. Indeed,as surprising as it might sound, Mary’s name appears as many as four times more often in the various sections, or suras, of the Muslim scriptures than it does in the canonized books of the Greek Scriptures (New Testament). One sura even bears her name as its title, an almost shocking fact considering the perceived sexism of the Muslim religion and the reality that, for all intents and purposes, Mary is a relatively minor figure in the Christian Gospels themselves. No other female character receives anywhere near the same amount of attention as Mary in the Islamic holy book, a point that can be explained only after the meanings of the various suras are placed in their proper socio-historical context.

During Muhammad’s lifetime, and in the century and a half that followed,great debates between Arab Christians and Jews raged, debates over the primacy of the Jewish people as God’s “chosen” and over the proclaimed divinity of Jesus Christ. More or less caught in the middle of these theological arguments,many Arabs sought a way to serve God (Allah, in Arabic) that was pure and untainted by rancorous theological posturing. Muhammad himself, an illiterate but well-spoken and charismatic figure, proposed a complete break from both the Jewish and Christian faiths, tracing an “alternative” religious tradition back to the time of the earliest Hebrew patriarch, Abraham. Those familiar with the Old Testament are surely aware that Jews look to Isaac, the son of Abraham and his “official” wife, Sarah, as the forefather of their nation.Muhammad and his followers claimed that, instead, the legitimate Abrahamic line began with the birth of Ishmael, Abraham’s first son by his concubine Hagar. Thus, while they acknowledged the common source of their faith with Judaism and, by association, Christianity, they traced their lineage through a “forgotten” Abrahamic bloodline. This faith, unlike the others, was the”true” faith and it eventually came to be called Islam.

There is much debate over how the Koran came to be written. The traditional Muslim view holds that the Archangel Gabriel “dictated” the text whole, using the Prophet as his stenographer, more or less. After Muhammad’s death in632 C.E., the legend asserts, his followers sought to gather together the various sayings, stories and laws into a unified form, bringing oral teachings together with Muhammad’s own writings, many of which were scrawled down upon palm leaves. The Koran was the ultimate result. Just as fundamentalist Christians contend that the Bible is God’s inerrant word, the orthodox Muslim view,even today, is that the Koran is Allah’s complete and perfect revelation,unmarred by human error and immune to human criticism. Not surprisingly,many scholars, both Muslim and Western, take serious issue with this view,some even asserting that little, if any, of the book can be attributed to the Prophet himself, let alone to Gabriel.

Because Christianity was becoming a dominant force in the Arab world at the time of the Koran’s creation, the author or authors felt compelled to address the issue of Jesus Christ’s supposed divinity directly. While the holy book does acknowledge the dogma of the Virgin birth and does proclaim Jesus (Isa,in Arabic) a major prophet, second only to Muhammad in stature, it expressly denies his status as God. It also asserts that Jesus was never actually crucified, claiming, instead, that Allah “took up” Jesus at the last moment and allowed another man to die in his place. Though the details are a bit confusing and sketchy, various lines in the Koran also assert that, at some point in the future, Jesus will return to the earth, where he will marry,raise a family, and continue to proclaim the imminent arrival of Allah’s kingdom.

As for Mary herself, she is depicted as being an almost impossibly pure virgin,a young woman who follows the Jewish law to the letter and who wins God’s favor through her piety and cleanliness of heart. Some scholars have stated that, though Jewish by birth, Mary represents the ideal woman even to the Muslims. Docile, passive, faithful, and chaste, she stands as something of a model for the female sex, giving over her body and her will to (the male)God without question.

Both the Annunciation and the Nativity are depicted in the Koran, albeit in rather different forms than they appear in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (both of which conflict among themselves, in any event.) Below is a link to the sura of Mary (or Marium), in which she is visited by the Archangel Gabriel and gives birth to Isa beneath a palm tree. Even the most casual reader will surely note the rapt beauty of the writing, which has captivated Muslims, Christians and even Jews through the ages. (See, specifically, verses16-36).

Once you have read over the above text from the Koran, return to this page,and answer the questions below.

For your extra reading enjoyment.  Here is the entire Koran on line and here are some other places besides the Marium where Mary is mentioned:  In my version of the Koran (the A.J. Arberry one), Mary is also mentioned in”The House of Imran” where she gets a couple of pages (paragraphs 30-45);”Women” (paragraph155); “The Prophets” (around paragraph 87); “The Believers”(paragraph 51) and “The Forbidding” (in the last few lines).

Questions:  send your answers to the Mystery School with the subject line of your email as, Shemsu MaryKoran Answers from(your magikal or clerical name).

1. T/F Mary is mentioned in the Koran as many as four times more often than she is mentioned in the canonical Gospels.

2. From which of Abraham’s sons do Muslims trace their lineage? What was the name of this son’s mother?

3. T/F Muhammad was a highly literate and compelling writer.

4. The traditional Muslim view holds that the Archangel _____ “dictated”the text of the Koran.

5. T/F According to the Islamic faith, Jesus (Isa) was a God who was crucified,died, and resurrected.

6. In what year is it reported that Muhammad died?

7. As for Mary herself, she is depicted as being an almost impossibly pure______, a young woman who follows the Jewish law to the letter and who wins God’s favor through her _____ and ______ ___ ______.

8. Which two events in the life of Mary, also recorded in the canonical Gospels,are included in the Koran?


9. Compare the reading from the Koran above with Luke 1:26-38 ,focusing exclusively on the Annunciation. How are these two accounts alike?How are they different? Does Mary’s response to Gabriel in Luke differ in any significant way from her response in sura Marium? (Hint: In one of the texts, Mary seems to say “yes” to Gabriel and to God’s plan for her.) What,if anything, do you find meaningful about Mary’s response in Luke as opposed to her response in sura Marium?


10. In your opinion, does the Koran portray Mary as a goddess? Does her presence in their holy book ingratiate her to modern Muslims? Why do modern Muslims,more than any other people on earth, seem to oppress and mistreat their women?(Try to base your answer on the material given.)

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