9. Does Maryam Clarify Submission to God?

“O Maryam! Be in prayer before your Lord! Prostrate yourself and bow yourself with those who bow themselves!” (s. 3, 43).

In his Commentary on the “Angelic Salutation,” Razi (865-925) – also called Ibn Zakaria or Rhases – an Iranian Sunnite sage, asks himself: does this concern the prostration and the bowing that characterize the prayer of the men in the mosques? He also hypothesizes that these movements correspond to those of Jewish prayer. He finally imagines that Maryam is so prostrated that “her feet become enlarged and that blood and pus comes out of them.”

Many Muslims do not share in these reflections. Pus does not express purity. The idea that prayer prevents walking (the feet are enlarged and bloody) is opposite to the biblical experience where Moses [Mussa] sets the people of the Exodus walking, and where Jesus (‘Issa) makes a paralytic rise by saying “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk” (John 5, 8). Finally, the presence of Maryam among the men in a place reserved for men by Jewish law is strange, unrealistic, contrary to all the symbolism of the Temple’s architecture where the visible difference between the place of men and that of women lets us understand the invisible difference between the God who reveals and the humanity that receives the revelation.

Liberal thinker, Razi considers the prophets to be impostors. Gnostic, he does not consider creation as a divine grace, and he thinks that maternity (procreation) provokes the dramatic fall of a soul. Razi is thus inclined to despise every woman, and Maryam in particular.

Having said this, Razi’s interpretation of this sura raises at any rate a question: Is Maryam truly the image of submission in the meaning of the word “Islam”? Is she submitted to God in the manner of the soldiers of Islam that Razi saw at work? Or are we concerned with something very different?

A Christian mystic makes Maryam the very pure speak thus:

“In the house of Nazareth, I burned more than ever with the desire that the Word descend on earth and I prayed for that. […]
The light which engulfed me was so powerful, my humanity was so embellished by it, it was so totally invested by this Sun of Divine Will, that I could not but produce celestial flowers. I felt that Heaven lowered itself down to me while the earth of my humanity arose; and Heaven and Earth embraced, were reconciled, exchanged the kiss of Peace and of Love; the Earth was preparing to produce the seed that would form the Just, the Holy One, and Heaven opened itself to make the Word descend into this seed.
I kept descending from my celestial home and rising there again: I threw myself in the arms of my Heavenly Father and told Him with all my heart: "Holy Father, I can no more! I burn. And as I am consumed, I feel in myself a terrible force that wants to annihilate me. I want, with the chains of my love, to attach you to disarm you so that you will not delay any more. On the wings of my Love, I want to transport the divine Word from Heaven to the earth."
And vanquished by my tears and supplications, God assured me: "My daughter, who can resist you? You have won! The divine Hour is close. Return to earth and continue to act with the power of my Will. All will be shaken, Heaven and earth will give to each other the kiss of peace."” [1]


[1] Luisa PICCARETTA, La Reine du Ciel dans le royaume de la Volonté divine sur la terre. Résiac, Montsûrs 2000, pp 84-86 (18e jour).