Maryam and the birth of Jesus

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Allah fully supported Maryam throughout her pregnancy. It is very difficult for a woman to give birth, a potentially life-threatening experience, all alone, without medical equipment or a midwife's assistance. Nevertheless, Maryam overcame all of these difficulties by placing her complete trust in Allah. Allah helped her with revelations while she was struggling toward a date tree in the full throes of labor pains. Allah told her not to grieve, that He had placed a stream at her feet, and that she should shake the date tree in order to get freshly ripe dates to eat. He also told her to drink and to delight her eyes. As a result, she gave birth in the best possible circumstances. Allah reveals her situation:

The pains of labor drove her to the trunk of a date-palm. She exclaimed: "Oh, if only I had died before this time and was something discarded and forgotten!" A voice called out to her from under her: "Do not grieve. Your Lord has placed a small stream at your feet. Shake the trunk of the palm toward you, and fresh, ripe dates will drop down to you. Eat and drink, and delight your eyes. If you should see anyone at all, just say: 'I have made a vow of abstinence to the All-Merciful, and [so] today I will not speak to any human being.'" (Surah Maryam: 23-26)

Maryam withdrew from her society so that she could be in a psychologically peaceful environment and away from the hurtful behavior of people who could not comprehend her miraculous situation. Allah told her not to grieve and bestowed His grace and protection upon her. No doubt, there was much wisdom in this advice, just as there was in Maryam's withdrawal to a distant place. Muslims must not surrender to sadness; rather, they are to trust in Allah and feel the peace of mind that comes with knowing that Allah will always help them.

This attitude, which is required of all believers, has been confirmed by modern medicine, for doctors tell women, both during their pregnancy and while they are giving birth, to maintain a positive attitude and avoid any sadness and stress. His advice to delight her eyes means not to surrender to sadness and to enjoy the news of Allah's gift.

Eat Dates:

Allah advised Maryam to eat freshly ripened dates. Today, such dates are considered to be food and medicine. Scientists now know that dates contain more than ten substances considered essential for the human body's well-being and continuing health.

Dates contain plenty of the easily digested and absorbed sugars that give the human body its energy for heat and movement. More importantly, these sugars are of the fructose type and not of the glucose type, which quickly raises the blood-sugar levels. Dates provide energy, help muscle tissues and nerve cells develop, and are especially beneficial for people weakened by illness or those suffering from exhaustion, because of their high caloric value. For example, 100 grams of dates contain 1.5 grams of protein and 50 grams of carbohydrates. In addition, their caloric value is 225 kcal. Fresh dates have a 60-65 percent sugar content and a 2 percent protein content.

Modern medical findings suggest that dates benefit women who are almost ready to give birth. Doctors now advise pregnant women to take fructose-containing foods on their due dates, for such foods provide energy used by the weakened body to revitalize itself, have a trigger effect on the milk hormones and thus help the woman's body produce milk, and also increase the volume of that milk.

This information reveals some of the wisdom inherent in Allah's advice to Maryam. Another matter worth reflecting upon is the little stream created by Allah and His advice for her to eat and drink. Now, scientists inform us that people can survive on dates and water for years, because they contain all of the necessary essentials for human life. In fact, one renowned expert on the subject, V. H. W. Dowson, suggests that one glass of milk and one date per day provides a person's daily nutritional requirements.

Dates contain various vitamins (e.g., A, beta-carotene, B1, B2, B3, and B6) and minerals, (e.g., sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, iron, sulphur, phosphorus, and chlorine) and are also rich in fiber, fats, and proteins. Some of the ensuing benefits are as follows:

A date's nutritional value is based on the balance between its minerals. During the prolonged period of morning sickness and the altering physiognomy, a shortage of potassium occurs and needs to be supplemented. This fruit's high potassium content is certainly welcome here, as its role in preserving the body's water levels.

Iron controls the red blood cells' synthesis of hemoglobin, which prevents anemia during pregnancy and also regulates the blood's RBC balance, which is so crucial for the baby's development. Due to its high iron content, one-and-a-half dates can meet the body's total iron requirement and thus prevent all complaints caused by a lack of iron.

Calcium and phosphorus are very important elements in developing and balancing the skeleton and the bone structures. Dates protect the body from anemia and weak bones, and thus reduce the risk of such illnesses with their high nutritional value and high phosphorus, calcium, and iron content.

Scientists point out that dates can reduce stress and tension levels. Research done at Berkeley University revealed that dates are rich in vitamin B1 (the "nerve vitamin") and magnesium (essential for muscle functions), both of which are essential for a strong nervous system. Magnesium is also very important for the kidneys, and two or three dates per day are enough to meet all of the human body's magnesium requirements.

Dates also contain folic acid (vitamin B9), which is essential for pregnant women, due to its important role in forming new blood cells, producing amino acids, and developing new cells. As a result, a pregnant woman needs double the usual daily amount of folic acid. If the body's folic acid levels fall below the required amount, bigger but less functional red blood cells are formed and anemia occurs.

Folic acid, which is crucial to developing the cell's genetic makeup and division, is the only substance that must be doubled during pregnancy. Dates are very rich in folic acid.

During pregnancy, a woman's daily vitamin A requirement increases to 800 ug. Dates are very rich in the foremost vitamin A: beta-carotene.

Most other fruits are protein-poor, but dates have good protein content.

Oxytocin is used in modern medicine to accelerate labor and is often referred as "rapid birth." It also increases the level of milk production following birth.

Our Prophet (saas) pointed out the benefits of dates in the following hadith: A family that has dates will not be hungry. This is a piece of very good advice.

All of our current information on dates reveals Allah's infinite wisdom and grace upon Maryam, who, inspired by Allah, satisfied all of her nutritional needs by eating dates and thereby eased her child's birth. (Allah knows best.)

Allah Creates a Stream:

Allah told Maryam that He had placed a stream by her feet to eat, drink, and delight her eyes.

Water, like dates, eases labor pains and regulates muscle tension. In fact, some modern birth clinics have pools in which the delivery takes place.

Water, which is necessary for life and one's physical well-being, plays an important role in regulating the body's temperature, transporting nutritional elements and oxygen, and removing waste matter from the body's cells. It also ensures the healthy movement of joints, skin moisture and elasticity, the digestive system, and protects tissues and organs. Water is becoming more widely used in therapy by the day. Contact with water stimulates the immune system, increases anti-stress hormone production, reduces pain, and stimulates blood circulation and metabolism.

Water is important during pregnancy for several reasons. At that time, water intake is especially necessary because the volume of blood increases and because of the developing baby's needs. Women who choose to breast-feed need plenty of water to produce the necessary amount of milk. Considering that 87 percent of this milk is water, we can see how important this production is.

Water also maintains the electrolyte balances in the blood of the mother and the child. Hormones released during pregnancy alter the way various body fluids are used. Toward the end of the woman's pregnancy, blood volume increases 150 percent, and the loss of water through breathing is much greater. The amnion fluid, in which the baby grows, is renewed every three hours. However, it can decrease, as in the case of dehydration caused by insufficient water intake.

Maryam Shakes the Date Tree:

Allah tells Maryam to shake the date tree toward her when she was headed toward it in her labor pains. (Surah Maryam: 25)

Doctors say that pulling something toward oneself during labor can have a positive effect on the muscles. In order to ease labor pains and help bring about a safe delivery, women are advised to do certain exercises that reduce pressure in the body and, therefore, the risk of complications during delivery. They are also thought to quicken the process of giving birth.

Doctors suggest that in the second stage of labor, the woman's head should be slightly raised to take advantage of gravity. Thus, hospital delivery rooms have beds with suitably placed handles and footrests that enable pregnant women to give birth in the most comfortable position.

Other practitioners advise their patients to squat or sit on specially adapted birth chairs. Before recent technological developments, some birth rooms featured a rope hanging from the ceiling, which the expectant mother was to use to try and pull herself up, thus helping the birth process. All of these methods are theoretically and logically helpful. Perhaps this is why Allah told Maryam to pull and shake the date tree. (Allah knows best.)

Maryam Returns to Her Community

When Maryam returned with Prophet 'Isa (as), her people could not comprehend Allah's miracle. Thus, they accused her of indecency and slandered her, even though they knew that she, being a member of 'Imran's family, was devout, held Allah in great fear and respect, had an immaculate character, and always protected her modesty. Allah reveals some of these slanders:

She brought him to her people, carrying him. They exclaimed: "Maryam! You have done an unthinkable thing! Sister of Harun, your father was not an evil man nor was your mother an unchaste woman!" (Surah Maryam: 27-28)

No doubt, this was a trial for Maryam, for she had to face such accusations despite being a chaste woman who held Allah in the greatest respect and awe. These people ignored her impeccable character and honorable conduct, despite her own reputation and that of her family, and so, as always, she turned toward Allah, and trusted in Him, knowing that He would defend her in the best possible way.

Allah, Who always answered her prayers with generosity and compassion, gave her inner peace during this trial. Knowing that Allah would exonerate her completely, Allah inspired her to make a vow: "If you should see anyone at all, just say: 'I have made a vow of abstinence to the All-Merciful, and today I will not speak to any human being'" (Surah Maryam: 26). This is what she told her people.

After this, she only pointed to Prophet 'Isa (as), about whom Allah said through Jibril: "He will speak to people in the cradle and when fully grown, and will be one of the believers" (Surah Al 'Imran: 46), when people confronted and slandered her.

Allah showed her people a great miracle by enabling Prophet 'Isa (as) to speak while he was still a baby in the cradle. Through his words, Allah exonerated his mother Maryam and also introduced Prophet 'Isa (as) as one of His Prophets sent to the Israelites:

She pointed toward him. They asked: "How can a baby in the cradle speak?" He ['Isa] said: "I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Book and made me a Prophet. He has made me blessed wherever I am, directed me to perform prayer and give alms [zakat] as long as I live, and to show devotion to my mother. He has not made me insolent or arrogant. Peace be upon me the day I was born and the day I die, and the day I am raised up again alive." That is 'Isa, son of Maryam, the Word of Truth about which they are in doubt. (Surah Maryam: 29-34)

This miracle amazed Maryam's people. By saying: "… and she who guarded her chastity. We breathed into her some of Our Spirit and made her and her son a Sign for all the worlds" (Surat al-Anbiya': 91), Allah made both of them superior to all other people. Maryam's superior character, honor, and purity were revealed through this speech, and those who had slandered her were defeated.

By saying: "And We made the son of Maryam and his mother a Sign and gave them shelter on a mountainside where there was a meadow and a flowing spring" (Surat al-Mu'minun: 50), He reveals that Prophet 'Isa (as) and Maryam continued to live under His grace after these events.

2008-07-08 20:34:06
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