Maria, a name that unites us

For the Christian world, Mary has the titles of Mother of God, Virgin, Immaculate, Assumed, Holy and Blessed, and in the minds and hearts of Christians her importance is capital. For two thousand years, art and spirituality have been nourished by its beauty. But what is surprising is the veneration also among Muslims around the world and its exceptional presence, if not unique, in the sacred text, the Koran. There are hundreds of mosques named after Mary in Asia, in Africa or on other continents, Sunni and Shiite temples.

In Pakistan every year there is a pilgrimage in which hundreds of thousands of women and men, young and old, Christians, Muslims and Hindus participate who, on the occasion of the festivity of September 8 of the Nativity of the Virgin, go to the sanctuary from Mariamabad, the city of Mary, pilgrimage, singing, dancing and praying together. Muslim women during childbirth and postpartum read the 19th chapter of the Quran about Mary. There are thousands and thousands of Muslim women called Maryam, the Arabic name for Mary. The beauty and purity of Mary is the subject of dozens of poems by Persian or Arab poets.

Rumi, the great 13th century Persian mystic poet, presents Mary as the light to follow. In El libro interior de ella, he compared her pain during childbirth, when she felt desolate and abandoned, with the pain of the soul on the spiritual path when seeking God: “Her body resembles Mary. Each one of us possesses Jesus within himself, but until we experience this pain in ourselves, our Jesus will not be born. If this pain never comes, then Jesus returns to his origins by the same hidden path by which he came, leaving us desolate and without anything of him ”. According to the Koranic story, very young Mary chose the light: “Remember Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East”, sharqiyyan (Quran 19,16).

The word sharqi means East. And the East of Mary is her heart hidden from her; in tradition it is said that the heart of the believer is the throne of God, Mary is the secret of God and God is her secret. Having chosen his path, for a time he builds his inner castle to meditate and enjoy the inner light: “Then he hid himself from them with a veil” (Quran 19.17). To contemplate eternity and meet her beloved Lord: “God has the most beautiful names. Employ them to invoke him” (Quran 7,180).

“He is God. There is no God but He, the Knower of the visible and the invisible. He is the Merciful, the Compassionate. He is God! There is no God but He. He is the King, the Holy One, the Peaceful, the Watchful, the Almighty, the Most Strong, the Imperious, the Magnificent, the One who begins all things, the one who does everything, His are the most beautiful names What is in heaven and on earth celebrates his praises. He is the Almighty, the Wise” (Quran 59, 22-24).

Today more than ever Mary is the radiant light for unity between Christians and Muslims.

We are living a particular historical moment in which, on the one hand, the Earth has become a global village and, on the other, there is a clear imbalance in the distribution of resources. Pope Francis, in his speech to the participants in the conference “Perspectives for a world free of nuclear weapons and for comprehensive disarmament” on November 10, 2017, assured: “International relations cannot be dominated by military force, by mutual intimidation or by the ostentation of war arsenals. Weapons of mass destruction, especially atomic ones, only create a deceptive sense of security and cannot the bases for a peaceful coexistence among the members of the human family, which should rather be inspired by an ethic of solidarity”.

The only woman

Facing this abyss, Mary is the most powerful weapon for unity and peace that offers its light to illuminate the path of the members of the human family and inspires an ethic of solidarity. For both Christians and Muslims she is the mother of Jesus Christ, who was born from the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit. She is also a virgin for the Koran and is an example of faith and fidelity for all human beings of all times (Koran 66,12). She is blessed, she is holy, free, immaculate and teacher of the prophet of her time Zacharias (Koran, 3,37).

She is the only woman named in the entire Muslim holy text! A mystery that has perhaps been preserved for our time as a kind of Marian apparition in the Koran that presents Mary as an example for all believers of all time. And she gives the key to be able to build a world of peace, harmony and unity, in her and with her: A wisdom capable of welcoming everything and everyone and embracing religious plurality, believing in God’s Books. “Here is Mary, the one who preserved her virginity and to whom we infuse Our Spirit. She knew and believed in the words of the Lord and in his books.

*Original article published in the December 2022 issue of Donne Chiesa Mondo. New Life Translation

Maria, a name that unites us