In Mary we see how training the self to have solitude with God helps the heart to endure and stay strong.

Following the process of examining Mary’s unique personality, we can deduce, in this article, that Mary had a deep spiritual relationship with God.

We see in her example how a mind, body, and soul can be spiritually dedicated to Him.

As we examine these elements, we also see how God rewards and honors her. As such, Mary’s spiritual journey reveals significant spiritual pillars for those who seek to be rewarded and honored by God.

1. Trust in God During Tribulations

From her younger years as a student to her trials later on in life, we witness Mary in a constant state of tawakkul (trust in God). 

From hiding the test of her pregnancy, to delivering Jesus (peace be upon him) on her own, to keeping silent while her infant (who according to at-Tabari’s tafseer was just forty days old) spoke to defend her honor, we feel her powerful dependence on God revealed.

We also learn that there are some tests, where one may find no available human support for the struggle to do that which is right, which is closer to piety. In this scenario, Mary provides us with a glimpse into the power of trusting God.

Jesus speaking from the cradle was an amazing and unexpected blessing for Mary, relieving her of the trial that she had endured, providing proof of her innocence:

God says in the Quran:

{Then she pointed to him. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?” He [Isa] said: “Verily! I am a slave of Allah, He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I be…} (19: 29-31)

In the lives of the righteous, many times miracles are granted during a period of trial, where the struggle to stay steadfast was rewarded with the relief that only God brings.

And yet we also take from Mary’s case that her devotion is not only rewarded with relief, but also with success. Today, she is the most honored woman in human history, and she is one of the greatest women in the Hereafter. One can only begin to imagine what her heart endured for the sake of Allah. Her story is a shining example of the promise:

{Truly the end is for the God-Conscious.”} (11: 49)

2. Solitude with God

Her spirituality is also embodied in her solitude with God. Like her mother and father, she was a devout worshiper who always sought to increase her closeness to her Lord. God described that He {… accepted her with a goodly acceptance…} (3: 37)

Ibn Ashur, on his Maqasid Ash-Sharia, comments that this is His acceptance of her service to Bayt Al-Maqdis (Quds in Palestine), which is something no other woman was legally granted permission to do before her. He also mentions that the word mihrab comes from the word harb, meaning war.

Thus the mihrab was understood as a place where one worships in solitude, waging war against the temptations and whispers of Satan. It is a place of introspection, reflection, prayer, learning and du`a (supplication).

While the mosques we have today are also places for these things, when your faith needs a boost, remember Mary, and try to pray Fajr in the mosque or at home, stay a few hours and experience the sweetness of dhikr (remembrance), studying the Quran and other beneficial readings, deep contemplation, etc.

Sometimes when the heart aches, one reaches for unhealthy distractions and the pain goes away temporarily. When the distraction is gone, the pain returns because our hearts are actually thirsty for being with God, and the thirst was not quenched by the distractions.

Rather, the thirst grew stronger and the pain increased. In Mary we see how training the self to have solitude with God helps the heart to endure and stay strong. We also see how having a special space allotted for this solitude can serve one well on the spiritual journey.

3. Appreciating God’s Divine Attributes

Mary also reflected an appreciation for the Attributes of God. Her expression of faith is very practical. God says:

{ Whenever Zachariah went into the sanctuary, where she was, he found her with provisions. ‘O Mary’, he said, ‘Whence comes this to you?’ She said, ‘From God. Truly God provides for whomever He will without limit} (3: 37)

The amazing point to take from Mary’s response to Zachariah is that as she recognized God’s ultimate power and control over her sustenance, she also inspired a Prophet! When the Prophet Zachariah hears her response he supplicates God asking for a son.

{In that same place, Zachariah prayed unto his Sustainer, saying: “O my Sustainer! Bestow upon me [too], out of Your grace, the gift of goodly offspring; for You, indeed, hear all prayers.} (3: 38)

If the Supreme Provider can provide Mary with the fruits of the summer at winter time and the fruits of the winter at summer time (Tafsir Ibn Kathir), He can also provide Zachariah, a very old man, with a son.

How many times are we asked about our provisions and possessions, and how often do our answers reflect our deep belief that they are ultimately blessings given to us from God? How beautiful that such a wise answer would give others renewed hope in God in receiving those things they desire and hold dear!

From Mary we appreciate how a genuine personal example in knowing God is a potent da`wah (invitation), such that even a Prophet would benefit from it.

4. Submission in Prayer

God also commands Mary toward developing her relationship with Him:

{Oh Mariam, submit yourself with obedience to your Lord and prostrate yourself and bow down along with those who bow down.} (3: 43)

In this command for Mary to observe prayer, God mentions the parts of the prayer rather than simply the command to pray, and mentions the prostration before the bowing. Both prostration and bowing in prayers are symbolic of one’s physical submission to the Creator.

The spiritual relationship is not just an act of the heart, but also one of the limbs. Also, this verse is an evidence for the fact that prayer did not start with Prophet Muhammad. Rather, it was the practice of all the Prophets and righteous people in our history.

As God called on Mary to draw close to Him in prayer, He describes her response:

{And Mary daughter of ‘Imran, who preserved [the chastity of] her womb, so We breathed into it of Our Spirit, and she confirmed the words of her Lord and His Scriptures, and she was of the obedient.} (66: 12)

5. Responding to the Mention of God

Can you imagine the state of Mary’s heart when she was informed by the angels that God has addressed her by name and commanded her by name to pray to Him? What about the condition of our hearts as God also addresses us as a group by name to do the same!

{Oh you who believe! Seek help through patience and prayer.} (2: 153)

Any time we see a verse starts with {Oh you who believe!} we should check our hearts as these verses are calling us out by name. Will it be recorded in our book of deeds that we were of those obedient to God? It is interesting to note that we always benefit in multiple ways when we obey the commands of God.

In prayer, we find a place of help, stress is relieved, sins are prevented, faith is tasted, Du`a is answered, hearts are softened, forgiveness is granted… How Merciful is the one who obligated goodness and benefit on us?!

How do we feel when we remember that this obligation was given to us in the Heavens? And in the Heavens, in a very special space, in a conversation between only the Prophet Muhammad and God, we were mentioned as well! And this moment of mention, is itself mentioned every time we pray and sit for the tashaahud, as we say “Wa salaamu alayna ala ibaadullah as-Saliheen!” (And peace be upon us, the righteous servants of Allah!)

Perhaps we can compare our hearts to another great woman of Paradise, Prophet Muhammad’s wife Khadijah whose name was also mentioned by God. We see in her response a heart that wants to be mentioned by God, and thereafter is overflowing towards Him.

One day, Gabriel came down and told the Prophet Muhammad to convey the peace and blessings of God to Khadijah. Hearing this, Khadijah exclaimed:

“Did Allah mention my name, Oh Prophet of Allah?!” When the Prophet said “yes”, she was so elated that she said: “And unto Allah be all the blessings and peace!” (Al-Bukhari)

What would we do, how far would we go, just to have our Creator mention our specific names and say He is pleased with us? The way He mentioned Mary, and Khadijah, we too can be mentioned by Him!

We know from the famous hadith when God Himself says as related by the Prophet:

“I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself. And if he makes mention of Me in a gathering, I make mention of him in a gathering greater than it.” (Al-Bukhari, 7405)

One of the ways we can have our names mentioned by God is through dhikr (remembrance), as well as by joining study circles and gatherings where His name is being mentioned.

Abu Hurairah and Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri reported: The Messenger of Allah said:

“When a group of people assemble for the remembrance of Allah, the angels surround them (with their wings), (Allah’s) mercy envelops them, tranquility descends upon them and Allah makes a mention of them before those who are near Him.” (Muslim, 41)

Abu Hurairah also reported from the Prophet a conversation that happens between the angels and God when people gather to remember Him and ask His forgiveness. For these people, God says:

“I call you to witness that I hereby grant pardon to them and confer upon them what they ask for; and grant them protection against what they seek protection from.”

One of the angels says: “Our Lord, there is amongst them such and such slave who does not belong to the assembly of those who are participating in Your remembrance. He passed by them and sat down with them.”

He says:

“I also grant him pardon because they are the people by virtue of whom their associates will not be unfortunate’.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim, 40)

Sometimes we forego the opportunity to sit in a halaqah (study-circle) or lecture thinking the information may not be new, but we forget that such a gathering is what the angels search for so they may join and tell our Creator what was said, and the names of those who listened. Such a gathering would be the reason for God Himself to mention our names and forgive us!

When I ask myself, “What would Mary do in her spiritual relationship with God?” there is so much to reflect on and take lessons from. She persevered in her trials armed with trust in God. She enjoyed solitude with God in the mosque for different types of worship.

She appreciated the Attributes of God such that her faith illuminated the hopes of her teacher, a Prophet. She was steadfast in her prayers and obedient to God’s commands. She did those things that allowed her name to be mentioned by the only one whose mention is truly worth striving for.

This article appeared at It is republished with kind permission from the author with slight editorial modifications.

By Muslema Purmul