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Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee- chosen thee above the women of all nations.

What was Maryam chosen for?

Iṣṭifā’, the word used in the text for choosing and selecting, in Qur’ānic terminology refers to the selection of someone by Allah for a specific purpose. Allah chose Maryam for the manifestation of one of His great signs, which was also a great trust she was going to bear. Moreover, it was also a great trial. This required that Allah would specially prepare and train her to bear this trust successfully and to cope with any hardships involved. It is this preparation and training that has been referred to here as taṭ-hīr for purifying her. The verse also clarifies that her iṣṭifā’ or selection had a special significance. She was specially selected and chosen above all other women of the world. As in the present verse, when the particle ‘alā is used after iṣṭifā’ it also gives a sense of preference or superiority. She was chosen out of all other women for this special purpose. It is a unique honour and she has no rival in this field. To prepare her for this onerous burden, the heavenly voice advised her: Uqnutī li-rabbiki − worship your Sustainer devoutly. As explained at another place[ 18], the word qunūt means to incline towards Allah out of extreme humility and a sense of subservience. Ṣalāh or Prayer is the best expression of this humility and subservience.

References:

Islahi, Amin Ahsan. Pondering Over The Qur’an: Surah Ali Imran (p. 110). Islamic Book Trust. Kindle Edition.

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