The Quran narrates the story of the vow that ‘Imran’s wife made to God. When she became pregnant, she vowed to dedicate her son to the service of God in the temple. The story is told as an introduction to the story of Mary (PBUH). The story starts with a verse which lists those whom God has chosen from among His servants to carry the responsibility of bringing His guidance to people. There was a continuous chain of messengers that were chosen to deliver God’s message; a single message that was revealed to humankind over the years since the beginning of time, “God did choose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of ‘Imran above all people, offspring, one of the other. And God is All-Hearing, Omniscient.” (3: 33- 34) The word “offspring” does not necessarily mean that there is a blood relation between the messengers; however, they all are the offspring of Adam and Noah (PBUT). The verse mentions two people, Adam and Noah (PBUT) and two families, the families of Abraham and ‘Imran. This indicates that Adam and Noah were chosen by God as individuals, while in the case of Abraham and ‘Imran (PBUT), not only were they chosen as individuals, but their offspring were also chosen as well. The term “offspring” is meant to indicate that prophet-hood is not granted according to familial ties, but rather, it is given on the basis of the legacy of faith.
“When the wife of ‘Imran said, ‘My Lord, I do dedicate what is in my womb entirely for Your special service. So accept this of me. You are the All-Hearing, the Omniscient.’” (3: 35) But the baby came out to be a female, “When she was delivered, she said, ‘My Lord, I am delivered of a female child’- and God knew best what she brought forth – ‘And the male is not like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Your protection from Satan, the rejected.’” (3: 36)
The story of the vow that the wife of ‘Imran, the mother of Mary, made reveals a heart full of faith. She vowed to entrust the most precious thing she had, her child yet still in her womb, to the service of God. This voluntary dedication of her child to the service of God is an act filled with emotion. It suggests that absolute freedom can only be attained by those who dedicate themselves fully to God. The belief in the oneness of God and the application of His law frees individuals from any kind of slavery to others. The humble prayer made by the wife of ‘Imran reflected her absolute submission to God. She was; however, hoping for a son because the tradition at that time was that only males were accepted to serve in the temple. The verses express how Mary’s mother appealed to God to accept her offering asking Him in the words of a person who feels the closeness to God, to protect her gift and her progeny from the rejected one. God responded to her sincerity and accepted her gift, “Her Lord graciously accepted her. He made her grow in purity and beauty under the care of Zachary. Whenever Zachary went into the sanctuary where she was, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said, ‘Mary, whence comes this to you?’ She said, ‘From God. God provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure.’” (3: 37)
This was God’s reward for the sincerity that filled the heart of the mother. God entrusted Mary to the care of Zachary (PBUH), a descendent of the Prophet Aaron (PBUH) and the chief of the temple. She grew up in a pure environment and was supplied with provisions from God. There is no need to discuss the details of the provisions; we will simply say that she was given provisions that made Zachary (PBUH) wonder. He asked her about this, her response was the response of a humble believer who does not boast or brag about the blessings bestowed on her. She simply said it is, “From God. God provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure.” This was an indication for the miracles to come with the births of John and Jesus (PBUH).
Sometimes we want to please God in a certain way and forget that God chooses the way for us to please Him. The wife of ‘Imran wanted a son to dedicate for the service of God. This was her wish because she knew that only males can serve God in the temple. Not only did God give her a daughter and allowed the daughter to serve in the temple but He chose the daughter to be a virgin mother. This was a miracle for the whole world.