Mary sacrificed giving her whole self to the service of God, and being a sign for His religion. When we think about Mary, how often do we associate her role with the da`wah to Islam?

Do we realize how much she cared about her people being receptive to guidance, coming to the truth?

Do we realize how much of herself she gave so that Islam would spread?

Do we recognize that we can extract lessons from her as a Da’i (Islamic worker/caller)?

Would it surprise you to know that there has been a historical debate amongst the scholars on whether or not Mary was a female Prophet, as she was someone who received revelation directly from God through Gabriel?

I actually tend to agree with the opinion that she was not a female Prophet, though she may share with the prophets a similar status in righteousness.

Yet, I bring this question forth for a purpose: it’s easier to admit to ourselves, that we really do not know Mary and the role she played in the dawah of Islam, as much as we’d like to think we do.

As dawah is something many of us may be involved in, her story and example, especially in the 21st. century, is one we cannot do without. While this article will not do justice to the subject, we will focus on just a few significant lessons that Mary provides for the Islamic worker.

Dawah as Expressed in Chastity and Personal Sacrifice

God mentions Mary in the Quran saying:

{And [mention] the one who guarded her chastity, so We blew into her [garment] through Our angel [Gabriel], and We made her and her son a sign for the worlds.} (21:91)

{And [the example of] Mary, the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We blew into [her garment] through Our angel, and she believed in the words of her Lord and His scriptures and was of the devoutly obedient.} (66: 12)

I mention these verses for us to reflect on a few points. Mary was chosen to be a sign for everyone, all people, all times. When she was given her task, she fully accepted it, believed in the words of God and served her role obediently.

Her test was not just that she would give birth to Jesus (peace be upon him) while she is unmarried. Her test also included not being married at a time that she most probably really wanted to be. The verses emphasize her chastity, Al-Zamakhshari said:

“For those brothers and sisters who are tested with being single at a time when they would want to be married, remember Mary who had patience and acceptance for what was written for her.” Obviously, this doesn’t mean don’t actively seek marriage, as marriage is from the encouraged Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad. It means, so long as it is still unwritten for you, and Mr. or Mrs. Right has yet to be found, do not blame your destiny.

Do not blame God. Rather, be like Mary, believe in His words, His Book, and be ever more obedient. Realize that Mary may have also been lonely, especially as a single mother who is being accused by her people. But also realize her reward in being the best woman in Paradise. Though we will explore the character and modesty of Mary in depth in Part Four of this series, let us remember here that the Prophet Muhammad once said:

“Every religion has a distinct characteristic, and the distinct characteristic of Islam is modesty.” (Ibn Majah, 4181)

Furthermore, Mary sacrificed giving her whole self to the service of God, and being a sign for His religion. In a world that makes romance a false idol, with movie lines about “dying for you” and “living for you” it becomes easy to lose perspective.

Dawah in One of Its Greatest Forms: Motherhood/Parenting

Mary was also a teacher as she was the mother of Jesus. Indeed motherhood, and parenting in general, is one of the most amazing forms of Dawah that can be experienced in this life.

While new moms sometimes express feelings of inadequacy due to lessened community activism, or lessened studies, in reality they do a job that is so great, its true appreciation can only become manifest in the hereafter, as God knows intimately the patient perseverance of mothers:

{Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without measure!} (39: 10)

Even though people everywhere realize the significance of a mother’s role, its continuous hard work and non-stop schedule of self-sacrifice, socially, it still does not enjoy the esteem or support it deserves.

This is not to exclude fathers in any way as many times in the Muslim community, the role of motherhood is heavily praised and emphasized, only to completely ignore the concept of “fatherhood” and perhaps even justify damaging imbalances in the home.

Mary was a great mother, and the daughter of a great mother. The process of self-development is something that gets passed down from one mentor to the next. God mentions in the Quran:

{When the wife of ‘Imran said, “My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service], so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing. But when she delivered her, she said, “My Lord, I have delivered a female.” And Allah was most knowing of what she delivered, “And the male is not like the female. And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allah].” So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner…} (3: 35-7)

This passage has some amazing gems for those who are parents, and even those who are teachers.

Mary’s mother dedicated her child to God while she was still in the womb. This reveals a deep recognition from the parent, that they do not own their child like a possession that they are obsessed with. Rather, the child is an independent human being, a trust from God that is to be cared for and nurtured so that they may live a life dedicated to Him.

This single point if truly appreciated with all its implications by the parents of our communities would eliminate a great amount of the family problems we hear about. Second, sometimes parents have an idea of what their child’s future would look like, what their career should be, what family they would marry from, etc. They usually have good intentions.

But again, children are not possessions, and God may have a different plan for the child than the one intended by the parent.

When Mary becomes a mother, she is alone, exhausted, and without aid. God says:

{And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates.} (19: 25)

It is not enough for one who is facing challenges to simply have trust in God. This verse shows us that God also wants us to put forth our best effort. As the scholars mentioned, how can anyone imagine shaking the trunk of a tree, and a date-palm at that?

Yet, as God has power over all things, any of our efforts are similarly symbolic evidences that we are actively trying our best to fulfill our trusts. And though our human efforts have shortcomings that we consciously recognize, like a human hand trying to shake the trunk of a palm tree, God is the one who brings success, and still blesses us with an abundance of fruits.

When she is physically rejuvenated, she has to face her fears in silence! God mentions:

{Say, ‘Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.’ Then she brought him to her people, carrying him. They said, “O Mary, you have certainly done a thing unprecedented. O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste.” So she pointed to him. They said, “How can we speak to one who is in the cradle a child?} (19:26-9)

Something amazing in these verses is that Mary actually brings Jesus to the people. She initiates the dreaded encounter. She had to because this was the way for the people to be acquainted with the sign of God. We learn from her action to have courage over fear when we are standing for the truth, seeking our confidence from our relationship with God.

Mary’s obedience to God supersedes her natural maternal instinct. As God ordered her to keep silent when the people asked her about Jesus, she resists the temptation to defend herself and her son. There are times when a mother’s protective instinct and the laws of Islam come head to head.

The successful mother is she who loves God more than she loves herself and her family, such that she allows her devotion towards God to guide her motherhood, rather than allowing her motherhood to limit her devotion.

Finally, if we contemplate the role of Jesus in our past and future, we cannot help but also appreciate the role of Mary in nurturing his historic personality. Remember that Mary is the mother of the one who said:

{[Jesus] said, “Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah as long as I remain alive. And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant. And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.} (19: 30-3)

From Mary, we learn what it really means to be a mother for the sake of God.


The lessons we can take from the story of Mary in dawah are so many, this article barely scratched the surface.

A caller to having Taqwa and hope in God’s mercy, her genuine concern for the reputation of Islam, the condition of her people, and their guidance; her life of chastity and sacrifice, and her courageous motherhood provide us with gems to live by.

May God help us to emulate the important lessons we take from our dear beloved Mary.

By Muslema Purmul