‘Mary in Islam’ is focus of Saturday event

The Columbus Dispatch: by JoAnne Viviano —

When Nadia Mirza is asked in school why she wears a head covering, she sometimes thinks of Mary, the mother of Jesus. 

The Muslim teen said that Mary helps her understand modesty and teaches her righteousness, honesty and piety. 

The importance of Mary in both Islam and Christianity will be discussed on Saturday at an event sponsored by the Women’s Auxiliary of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a Groveport mosque.

The event, for women only, is open to all faiths and will run from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Parsons Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 845 Parsons Ave. 

Mirza, 16, a member of the Groveport mosque, plans to attend. “We’re trying to spread the word of Islam, of peace,” she said. 

Her mother, Laeeqa Mirza, said the Christmas season is an ideal time to discuss the high status of Mary among Muslims and the similarities between their beliefs and those of Christians. 

Mary is so important in Islam that the faith’s holy book, the Quran, has a chapter (called a sura) named after her. She is one of the few people mentioned by name in the book. The Muslim prophet Mohammed is said to have called her the most blessed of all women. 

Muslims view Jesus’ virgin birth as a miraculous event and consider him an important prophet but not divine. The story of his life is included in the Quran, and Muslims pray for him but not to him, and not to his mother. 

Hafsahmuhammadi Armour of the auxiliary said the Saturday event will explore the similarities between what the Bible says about Mary and what the Quran says and will delve into areas of Mary’s life that are found only in the Quran, including her life as a girl. 

“In Islam, Mary’s life is given to us in more depth,” Armour said. “There is so little known about her, how she was raised and the difficulties she went through.” 

The Quran teaches that when Mary’s mother was pregnant with her, she promised through prayer to dedicate her child to serving the Lord. When she had a daughter, not a son, she still went through with the plan, even though it was untraditional at the time, said Sameera Basith, also a member of the auxiliary. 

“Mary was a very righteous woman who believed in asking for all she needed from her Lord,” Basith said. “She believed he would take care of everything.” 

Learning about Mary reveals more about where Jesus came from, why God chose him and how he prepared the world for his arrival, Basith said. 

Mary “was destined to have a place in history,” she said. 

Organizers of the event say the goal is to foster understanding between faiths by exploring similarities and differences. They plan a presentation, a Q&A session and refreshments. 

While they have had interfaith events at their mosque, this is the first time they have hosted a discussion in the community. They hope it is the first of many events that will allow women of different faiths to form bonds of understanding. 

A lot can be learned from the life of Mary, regardless of your faith or background, the women said. 

Mary teaches her to have peace with herself and to raise her children to be grateful and to do what they can for God and for others, Basith said. 

“When I think about Mary, my feeling is that this was a very, very quiet introspective lady,” she said. “She suffered through all these things with peace and patience. She relied truly on God for all things.” 

Following Mary’s example can be a challenge but is attainable with mindfulness, Armour said. 

“Mary was all about love,” she said. “She was a servant of God, and we should all be servants of God.” 

For information on the Mary in Islam event, contact Hafsahmuhammadi Armour at 414-343-9652.

Origional Post here:  http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/12/11/mary-in-islam-event.html

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