Mary, daughter of Amram, sister of Aaron: A Qur’anic error or deliberate allusion?

An interesting phenomenon that has gained much attention in contemporary Qur’anic studies is the regular allusion to Judeo-Christian tradition and biblical material. This essay explores the terminology surrounding Mary, the mother of Jesus, and explains how the Qur’an is applying a particular Christian literary genre to this New Testament figure. The primary purpose of this exercise is to dispel the idea that the Qur’an may have mistaken Mary for an Old Testament character of the same name, and to explore how the it interacts with its wider Christian context.

In attempting to censure Mary for what they assumed to be an act of impiety, the Jews called Mary “sister of Aaron” – “Sister of Aaron! Your father was not an evil man; your mother was not unchaste!’ (Qur’an 19:28).

Another verse titles Mary the “daughter of Imran” – “and Mary, daughter of ‘Imran. She guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her from Our spirit. She accepted the truth of her Lord’s words and Scriptures: she was truly devout.” Q66:12

Finally, Mary’s mother is titled “wife of Imran” – “the wife of Imran said, ‘My Lord, I have pledged to you what is in my womb, consecrated, so accept from me – indeed, you are the Hearing, the Knowing.”

It is no secret to readers of the Old Testament that there is another Mary, who is the actual sister of the biblical Moses and the daughter of a man named “Amram”. On a superficial reading, this seems to be some sort of gross Qur’anic error or confusion[1]. How could the Qur’an make such a simple mistake? The charge of error seems wholly unsatisfactory. The Qur’an regularly demonstrates very close interaction with Jewish and Christian tradition as well as the Bible. I have written about these in other places on my blog, some examples I provide as follows:

“The Dye of God”

“Inter-linguistic Pun”

A lengthier and more concrete example is found on page 6 of my essay, The Prophet Muhammad and Isaiah 42. Here the Qur’an seems to have a deliberate and sustained allusion to a certain chapter of Isaiah. This sort of paraphrase is only expected if the author had close familiarity with the Old Testament.

Any critic alleging the Qur’an “confuses” the two Marys must explain how it could contain such highly specific information about Jewish and Christian scripture and religious terminology while simultaneously making such a silly mistake. Furthermore, no actual Qur’anic story portrays Moses and Aaron interacting with Jesus, or her mother Mary, despite the accounts of Moses being one of the most prominent and oft-repeated stories of the Qur’an. Clearly, an alternative explanation is required: and that is found within the early Christian phenomenon of “typology”.

A ‘typology’ in the Christian sense refers to a theory where earlier figures – typically Old Testament characters – pre-figure (or allude to) later persons, usually Jesus. This sort of reading is found even in the New Testament; Adam is called a “type” of Jesus (Romans 5:14). It was fairly popular among early Christian authors, who often applied it to Jesus in order to prove that he was somehow present in the Old Testament even if not explicitly so.

Mary, allegory and typology.

In line with the very poetic nature of Syriac literature, symbolism, allegory and allusion were very heavily applied to the revered Virgin. An important description applied to Mary was her priestly connection, and her allegorical portrayal as the “temple” of God.

The following passage comes from St Ephrem’s (306-373) Hymns on the Nativity:

The Rod of Aaron flourished, and the dry wood bore fruit. Its symbol today received its explanation: it is the virginal womb that bore.[2]

Several other Syriac texts refer to Mary as the “Rod of Aaron”[3] in the same phraseology as the above. Thus, “sister of Aaron” is not unusual – In Arabic, Aramaic and Hebrew, “sister” can more generally mean kinswoman, or religious affiliate. Similarly, “daughter of Amram” would actually mean descendant of Amram. This much has been written about previously by Muslim apologists. However, there is a different approach one may take to this as we shall see.

Church fathers typologised Mary the mother of Jesus with Mary the sister of Aaron and Moses. Aphrahat (d. 345), in On Persecution, writes:





Mary stood on the shore of the river as Moses floated on the water; and Mary bore Jesus, after the Angel Gabriel announced to her …”[4]

Here the name Mary (or Mariam as is said in Syriac) is enclosed in red, to highlight the fact that the same name is used for two different figures, one after another, with the difference between the two in actuality understood by the informed audience.

A direct example comes from the Lection of Jeremiah. Guillaume Dye, in his paper, The Qur’an and its Hypertextuality in Light of Redaction Criticism,” quotes the following passage from this interesting 7th century document:

And the prophet [Jeremiah] said: ‘His coming will be a sign for you, and for other children at the end of the world.57 And nobody will bring forth the hidden Ark from the rock, except the priest Aaron, the brother of Mary. (Dye, p.13)

If Dye’s appraisal of the document is accurate, then it seems there are Christians near-contemporary (or contemporary) to the Qur’anic period who apply the epithet “Brother of Mary” to Aaron, which, while genealogically correct, is obviously deliberate and intends to allude to the Mary of the New Testament.

To an audience steeped in early Christian literature this would not be out of the ordinary. Typology on the basis of a shared name was not an uncommon technique in the writings of Church fathers: Indeed, the usage of the common name bolstered the typology. Origen employed it prominently between Jesus and Joshua, on the basis that they bear the same name in Hebrew: יֵשׁוּעַ (Yeshua). This typology was to be popular, and Eusebius (d. 339) applied it to such an extent that he argued that Moses merely named the Old Testament Joshua after Jesus!

“His successor, at any rate, had not been furnished with the name Iesu previously, having been called by another name, Ausei, which his parents had given him. He (Moses) proclaimed him Iesu, bestowing the name upon him as a gift of honour and even respect, much greater than any kingly crown. And indeed, Iesu son of Nau (ie. Joshua) himself bore the image of our Savior; he alone, after Moses and the conclusion of the symbolic service offered him by that person, he received the leadership of the true and pure religion.” Farber 2016, p. 325

Zeno of Verona (d. 380), in line with the usage of the typology by other church fathers, wrote in his Sermons:

“In reality, Iesu son of Nau (ie. Joshua) — in deed and name — represented a type of Christ (ie. Jesus), who is known to be the true saviour of all.” Farber 2016, p. 334

It seems there is some parallel here – particularly with the Mary typology of Aphrahat, and the appellation of “Brother of Mary” in the Lection of Jeremiah – and the Qur’an. Church fathers would typologize between Jesus and Joshua, Mary and Miriam, and the Qur’an functionally does the same for the latter. What could be thought to be an “error” to those unfamiliar with the wider literary context which the Qur’an operated in actually seems to be a very natural typology. The question of why this typology is being made is certainly a topic in and of itself[5]. Is it possible that the Qur’an is demonstrating its knowledge of wider Christian tradition? There could be a message being communicated here – but this is outside the scope of this post.

Reading the Qur’anic text – “wife of Imran”

Now, with this typology in mind, we shall comment on the common response to the so-called Qur’anic “error.” The Islamic-awareness team have written out a decent response (see here). I would encourage reading this to become familiar of the context in which I write below. For this essay, I quote Suleiman Mourad who has published on this topic.

Qur’anic applications of “sister of Aaron” and “daughter of Amram” can easily be read in light of the wider meaning of kinship terminology. Mourad points this out succinctly:

In the Qur’an, too, the terms ibn and bint (and their derivatives) do not only mean “direct child,” but are also used in the sense of “descendents,” as in the cases of Bani Isra’il in verses 2:246, 3:49, and 5:72, which indicates the Israelites as a people, and not only Jacob’s direct children, and Bani Adam in verses 7:35, 17:70, and 36:60, which refers to all human beings, and not strictly Adam’s direct children.…the Qur’anic akh and ukht (and their derivatives) do not always indicate a sibling relationship. In twenty-eight cases, they refer either to a tribal relationship (e.g. verse 7:73: And to Thamud We sent their kinsman [akhahum] Salih), a religious bond (e.g. verse 3:103: He united your hearts, so that you are now brothers [ikhwanan] through His grace), or an ancestor/predecessor relationship (e.g. verse 7:38: As it enters, every community will curse the one that went before it [ukhtaha]). Thus one cannot argue on the basis of the most common meaning of the terms bint and ukht that their use in the Qur’an indicates only daughter and sister; clearly they are not limited to these two meanings… (Reynolds, p.165)

I do not think this solves the issue entirely. I believe the gap in the typical response to this question is where Mary’s mother is called “wife of Amram.” One can explain “sister of Aaron” and “daughter of Amram” by appealing to terms of genealogy and kinship found in Arabic and Hebrew, however, calling Mary’s mother the “wife of Amram” simply cannot be dealt the same answer.

Imran’s wife said, ‘Lord, I have dedicated what is growing in my womb entirely to You; so accept this from me. You are the One who hears and knows all,’ Q3:35

Mourad does attempt to provide an explanation:

Moreover, the reference to Mary’s mother as Amram’s wife is a reference to biblical Amram in the sense that Mary’s mother was married to a descendant of his.

This is plausible; however, one would expect an example of this sort of usage to be truly convincing. Nonetheless, this interpretation is unnecessary. If a typology is at play here, then it makes complete sense for Mary’s mother to be titled “wife of Amram.” There is no need to find a linguistic basis for a non-literal reading of the term “wife of Amram,” because this is already implied in the fact that a typology is operating. This is the same operative principle behind the typology found in the Lection of Jeremiah, where Aaron is titled the “brother of Mary.”

Narrations and traditional opinions.

Now we turn to historical interpretations of the discussed verses. An interesting Hadith appears in Sahih Muslim which bears further discussion:

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، وَمُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ نُمَيْرٍ، وَأَبُو سَعِيدٍ الأَشَجُّ وَمُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الْمُثَنَّى الْعَنَزِيُّ – وَاللَّفْظُ لاِبْنِ نُمَيْرٍ – قَالُوا حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ إِدْرِيسَ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ سِمَاكِ بْنِ حَرْبٍ، عَنْ عَلْقَمَةَ بْنِ وَائِلٍ، عَنِ الْمُغِيرَةِ بْنِ شُعْبَةَ، قَالَ لَمَّا قَدِمْتُ نَجْرَانَ سَأَلُونِي فَقَالُوا إِنَّكُمْ تَقْرَءُونَ يَا أُخْتَ هَارُونَ وَمُوسَى قَبْلَ عِيسَى بِكَذَا وَكَذَا ‏.‏ فَلَمَّا قَدِمْتُ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم سَأَلْتُهُ عَنْ ذَلِكَ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يُسَمُّونَ بِأَنْبِيَائِهِمْ وَالصَّالِحِينَ قَبْلَهُمْ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Mughira bin Shu’bah said, “When I reached Najraan, they question me, saying “you [Muslims] read ‘Oh sister of Aaron’, but Moses was before Jesus, and so on. So when I went to the Prophet, I asked him about this, and he said, “They used to be marked (alternatively: “called,” “branded”) by their prophets and righteous ones before them.

In this article I have argued that the Qur’an is operating on typological grounds where describing Mary in genealogical terms. This does not negate the historical reality behind the verses, nor does it contradict the Hadith above. It is not historically implausible that the Jews, in their alarm, appealed to Mary’s reputation and lineage, corresponding to the Qur’anic account (and the corresponding Hadith) where they called her “sister of Aaron.”  On the other hand, the Qur’an does not say that the Jews called Mary’s mother the “wife of Amram” – rather it applies the epithet to her in passing, and not in the context of describing a historical event. This can be seen as purely typological and should be understood allegorically.

Another Hadith on this topic involves ‘A’ishah, narrated in Tafsir al-Tabari:

حدثنـي يعقوب، قال: ثنا ابن علـية، عن سعيد بن أبـي صدقة، عن مـحمد بن سيرين، قال: نبئت أن كعبـا قال: إن قوله: { يا أُخْتَ هارُونَ } لـيس بهارون أخي موسى، قال: فقالت له عائشة: كذبت، قال: يا أمّ الـمؤمنـين، إن كان النبـيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قاله فهو أعلـم وأخبر، وإلا فإنـي أجد بـينهما ستّ مئة سنة، قال: فسكتت

Muhammad bin Sirin said, I was informed that Kaʿb said, “The [Qur’anic] saying, “oh Sister of Aaron” does not refer to Aaron, the brother of Moses. ‘A’ishah said to him, “you have spoken falsely.” [Kaʿb] said, “oh mother of the believers, if the prophet, peace be upon him, said this (ie. contrary to my opinion), then (I concede because) he knows more and is better informed, but as for me, I find between them (ie. Aaron and Mary) 600 years. She did not say anything more.

Rather unusually, this has been taken as evidence by polemicists to support the idea that the Qur’an actually intends to say that Mary, the mother of Jesus, actually is the sister of Aaron. Even if this narration is authentic[6], it does not suggest this at all. Here, ‘A’ishah held the interpretation that Mary really was the sister of Aaron, which Ka’b corrected. That ‘A’isha stayed silent shows that she did not source her opinion from the Prophet himself; it was merely a personal interpretation. Given that the subtext of the story of Mary is Christian, it is expected that a proper understanding of what the Qur’an intends here requires some knowledge of the biblical and patristic tradition. Ka’b’s opinion seems to also source from his own understanding of Israelite tradition. Were he of Christian scholarly background, it is possible he would have read the verses typologically rather than suggesting an alternative Aaron.


The Qur’an deliberately melds Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary of the Old Testament, through genealogical terms in order to produce a typology between the two figures. “Sister of Aaron,” “Daughter of Amram,” and “[daughter of] the Wife of Amram” are thus to be understood typologically, rather than in a literal sense. Far from an “error”, this demonstrates an acute awareness of the patristic genre of typology employed by earlier church authors for the same figures.


Marx, M. (2009). Glimpses Of A Mariology In The Qurʾan: From Hagiography To Theology Via Religious-Political Debate. In The Qurʾān in Context (pp. 533-564). BRILL.

Murray, R. (2006). Symbols of church and kingdom: a study in early Syriac tradition. A&C Black.

Schaff, P. NPNF-213. Gregory the Great (II), Ephraim Syrus, Aphrahat. CCEL.

Brock, S. P. (1973). Mary in Syriac Tradition. Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Reynolds, Gabriel Said, ed. The Qur’an in its historical context. Routledge, 2007.

Reynolds, G. S. (2010). The Qur’an and its biblical subtext. Routledge.

Farber, Z. (2016). Images of Joshua in the Bible and their Reception (Vol. 457). Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG.

Al-ʿAmeri, Yusuf Muḥammad (1992). Kaʿb al-aḥbār marwiyātuhu wa-aqwāluhu fil-tafsīr bil-māthūr – jamʿan wa-dirāsah.

Parisot, Aphraatis Sapientis Persae Demonstrationes, vol. 1. Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1894

Dye, Guillaume (2015). The Qur’an and its Hypertextuality in Light of Redaction Criticism. Early Islamic Studies Seminar, Milan, 15-19 June 2015. 


[1] This is a common argument employed by mostly Christian apologists, and some earlier orientalists. I do not need to refer to any examples, due to the abundance of videos and articles on this topic.

[2] Marx 2009, p.553.

[3] Ibid, p553-554

[4] “XXI. On Persecution”, Demonstrations of Aphrahat. Syriac Text taken from Parisot (see bibliography).

[5] The church fathers seem to have employed this polemically against their Jewish interlocutors to demonstrate how well Jesus fit into the (Hebrew) biblical tradition, and therefore was its natural culmination. I would highly recommend Marx’s essay as found in the bibliography.

[6] Yusuf Muhammad al-ʿAmeri writes, “The narrators in this chain are authentic, however, I do not know whether this is in the sayings of ibn Sirin.” Whether this narration is authentic seems indeterminate. See al-ʿAmeri (1992), page. 85.


55 thoughts on “Mary, daughter of Amram, sister of Aaron: A Qur’anic error or deliberate allusion?

  1. But the Quran says that the Jews not early christians referred to mary as ‘sister of aaron’

    This parsitic device is only used in christian literature not in jewish literature and hence it makes no sense for jews during mary’s era to be using a chrisitan typological method for calling mary the sister of aaron.


    • I believe that there is a historical reality behind the verses, however the way that the Qur’an EXPRESSES it is in a Christian genre.

      Calling Mary “sister of Aaron” is still broadly plausible because Jews of that period may have possibly used “sister” in that sense.

      However, terms such as ‘wife of imran’ are obviously intended typologically – the Qur’anic verses do not say the Jews called Mary’s mother that – the Qur’an merely does it itself, in passing. So there’s no historical event being referred to here, rather a typology.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We are told in the Hadith of Israa-and miraaj (night journey of the Prophet):

        “The gate was opened. When I entered ‘Isa b. Maryam and Yahya b. Zakariya (peace be upon both of them), cousins from the maternal side. welcomed me and prayed for my good ” [Sahih Muslim]

        How can reconcile this Hadith with the argument of typology?


      • Well, that simply says that Mary and Elizabeth were sisters. I don’t think this says anything that would contradict a typology. A typology is literary feature and is not trying to describe history. In other words, Mary and Miriam were deliberately described interchangeably, but the Christian authors such as Aphrahat, or the author of the Lection of Jeremiah, do not intend them to be taken as the same person.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well they weren’t actually sisters. In Luke 1:36 they were known as cousins/relatives :

        And, behold, thy COUSIN Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. [Luke 1:36, KJV]

        Can it be argued that Mary AS was a Levite from the House of Aaron AS while still adhering to the concept of typology?


      • You’re right! I think the words of the Hadith would also allow for that. Also, yes, I think you can accept there is a typology the way that it is presented in the Qur’an, but also say that the Jews really did appeal to Mary’s genealogical to Aaron in order to shame her, and the Qur’an relates this as them saying “Sister of Aaron”.

        I wrote this article moreso to address the other 2 descriptors of Mary, ie. the daughter of the wife of Imran, or the daughter of Imran, which when you combine them together, seem to be a deliberate melding of the two women rather than a coincidence.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Akhi I have an article suggestion. Can you help address a complication within the Qur’an? One regarding Yahya AS :

        “O Zechariah, indeed We give you good tidings of a boy whose name will be John. We have not assigned to any before [this] name.” (19:7)

        The verse above is paraded around by detractors in order to prove an alleged “historical error” in the Qur’an. It is said that the name John was not unique and it was used multiple times in the Old Testament. According to a response given in the Islamic-Awareness website the name “Yahya” is etymologically different than “Yowchanan/Yuhanna” which means that the former was the one considered to be unique. However, according to Wikipedia regarding Yahya AS, the name is etymologically similar to the Hebrew “Yechiya”.

        In the Old Testament, there’s a rather obscure individual by the name Jehiah (whom the Wikipedia page is referring). The following is taken from 1 Chronicles 15:24 and it is the only time the name is mentioned in the Hebrew bible :

        24 Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah and Eliezer the priests were to blow trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-Edom and JEHIAH were also to be doorkeepers for the ark. (capital emphasis mine)

        You can read the context here :

        According to the context, Jehiah was a Levite. Zakariyya AS was from the lineage of Harun AS which makes him a Levite. Doesn’t this suggest that the name Yahya was not unique? I need someone to address this seeming contradiction.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Had a look, I think these names are not the same even though they come from the same root. Yahya يحيى literally means “he lives”, and is the imperfect tense verb conjugated in verb form 1. A friend suggested that this might be a foreshadowing of the fact that he’s a martyr, or perhaps because of the fact that his birth was a miracle.

        Yehiyah on the other hand, is two words, and means “may Yahweh live”. The verb is the same here (live), but here God is mentioned as the subject.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m also wondering. Could the argument regarding Yahya AS be another case of typology? I look forward to reading your response in a future article.


      • (See my earlier comment for my response)

        For typology: It’s possible. I have an idea as to where to look. In Luke, you see his mother insisting on the name “John”. It’s possible that this prompted some early Christians to write narratives on the origin of the name. Anyway, as far as the Qur’an is concerned, I’ve heard of other explanations:

        1. Yahya had a miraculous birth: the fact that he was born to a barren mother, might give impetus to the name “he lives”, which points out the miraculous nature of his birth. It could also be to do with the fact that the immediate context of his naming revolves around his life, death and resurrection (19:15).

        2. The name was given as an allusion to the fact that he would be a martyr.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Akhi after re-reading the article I’m still a little perplexed. I wish you could elaborate more like why is Imran the father of Maryam an allusion to Amram. What are the commonalities between the two. Also with regards to “sister of Aaron” I need to know the exact connection between Maryam and Aaron. Where does the typology fit?


      • The name Yahya is attested in Safaitic inscriptions as yhyy (note that the alif maqsura was initially a ya) just as the name Isa (‘sy). I think it is more probable that Arabs started to equate these names with Yeshua and Johanan, whereas one might ask: why? Well, there’s no doubt that their names were Johanan ad Jeshua. There is no evidence for double names afaik. Regarding Yahya being a completely new name, note that سميّا can have more meanings (eg Q 19:65, same sura!).

        As for the hadith, I’d be cautious: Is this attested in the other versions and narrations of the journey?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you! Interesting. In my opinion, what the Qur’an is actually saying is that this is the first time that God *himself* has named a person “yahya” (or Yuhanan) – perhaps as a special sign of favour – though that is not to deny that the name has not existed before.


      • Also: the root ḥnn occurs only once in the Quran and guess to whom of all people this is applied to…


    • I forgot: if samiyyah means “exalted”, then compare it to the sayings of GLuke and GMatthew:

      “I tell you, among those born of women there has not arisen one greater than John; but the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”


  2. Just FYI
    A bunch of gambling ads showed up as I read this on my phone,
    Had to scroll past like 5 or 6,
    Also an ad with attractive uncovered legs…
    In case you can influence what ads show up…


    • Unfortunately I can’t control the ads on this site, nor do I earn from them (wordpress does). I may pay to have them removed in the future.


  3. But all your examples of church fathers reffering to Mary and Jesus by old testament characters and items reference the actions of the old testament figures when using the typology. For instance, Miriams action of watching Moses by the river is used when calling the new testament Mary by Miriam. Likewise Joshua’s action of leading israelites to the promise land is mentioned when calling jesus by that same name.

    None of the examples you quoted appeal to old testament genology when reffering to new testament figures. Jesus was not called the son of Nun in spite of being compared to Joshua. Neither was Miriams geneololgy applied to Mary when referencing her. The quran on the other hand does not reference any action of miriam when talking about new testament mary.

    Moreover,why would marys mother be called the wife of imran in this episode of Marys mother giving birth. Wouldnt reffering to marys mother as a descrndant of imran be more appropriate?


    • Typology takes many various forms, but the common trend I’ve highlighted here is that new testament characters were melded with old testament ones with the same name. I’ve only given a couple of examples here however, I’m certain the usage of typology was more varied than this (you can see the bibliography). I think Ben Adam’s example is probably the best in this regard and directly relevant to the Qur’an.

      Furthermore, it’s entirely possible that the Qur’an is doing something innovative with establishing the typology. The point of the descriptions “wife of Imran”, “sister of Aaron” etc. were clearly to deliberately mix the two characters together.

      “Moreover,why would marys mother be called the wife of imran in this episode of Marys mother giving birth. Wouldnt reffering to marys mother as a descrndant of imran be more appropriate?”

      Well, that’s the point of this post. If you use the typical explanation that the Qur’an is only trying to explain genealogy then it only works for “sister of Aaron” and “daughter of Imran”. Wife of Imran on the other can’t be explained by that. It can be explained though, if you see that the Qur’an is deliberately melding the two Marys for the purpose of establishing a typology. The third possibility is that the Qur’an is making an error, however that seems to be extremely unlikely given that it so easily paraphrases and interacts with both the bible and Christian texts.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I don’t think the argument is very convincing. I think a much simpler and better interpretation is to take: “sister of Harun” as meaning: “descendant of Harun” or “from the tribe of Harun”. This usage of the word ‘akh\ukht’ to mean descendant is found multiple times in the quran (7:65, 7:73, 7:85, 11:50, 11:61, 11:84, 27:45, 29:36, 46:21). The usage is very well known and is used in Arabic and Hebrew both.

    It makes sense in the context of the ayah that the jews were reminding Maryam (pbuh) that she’s from a priestly family, from the family and tribe of Harun pbuh (where priests have to be from).

    Another consequence and possible reason why Allah might have mentioned this is an implicit rejection of the notion that the Messiah is from the line of David as the jews claim from which the christian gospels try to link the lineage of Jesus pbuh to David pbuh.

    Lastly, it is very interesting that we find a very relevant mention of the House of Aaron in some messianic psalms in the bible. Psalms 115 and 118 both specify the House of Aaron (interestingly not the family of Aaron as Jesus pbuh cannot be from the lineage of Aaron since he has no father) and I think that might mark the first and last psalms of the group 115-118. Both 116 and 118 are messianic.


    • How do you explain Mary as the daughter of “the wife of Amram”. I mentioned the interpretation you provide but it does not explain ‘wife of Amram’. There is nothing in Hebrew, Aramaic or Arabic (as far as I know) that would allow for this.

      This is why the typological explanation is more convincing to me. It would be unconvincing to say it’s a sheer coincidence that Mary mother of Jesus is described in a way so as people are directly reminded of Mary the sister of Moses.


  5. The Jews called Mary sister of Aaron rather than daughter/descendant of Aaron. Why? Physically, the distance between a person and his descendant is greater than the distance between a person and his sibling. But what about the distance in terms of piety? To the extent piety shortens the distance between a person and his descendant, it is possible that Jews who until the birth of Jesus regarded took to calling Mary as the sister of Aaron because she was incomparable in piety to contemporary Aaronites. It could also be that her parents gave her the name Mary because they expected her to live up to the same standards as the actual sister of Aaron, and this was known in the community.


  6. Assalamualaikum akhi I have two more so-called Qur’anic difficulties. I need your help refuting them :

    1) Regarding the use of chain mail armor by Prophet Dawud AS (see verse 34:10-11). The Prophet AS is said to have lived in the 10th century BCE while the armor was not invented until the 5th century BCE by the Celts. You can read the tafsir of the verse by ibn Kathir along with others in the following link :

    I really need help in this.

    2) On the alleged Qur’anic historical error of Ibrahim AS being thrown into the fire. David Wood in his debate with Sami Zaatari on the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) brought up the following argument :


    In the Bible Genesis 15, we’re told that God called Abraham out of “Ur of the Chaldeans”. In Babylonian language, “Ur”, just means city. But in the first century, Jewish Rabbi named Jonathan Ben Uziel was translating Genesis 15 into Aramaic. He came across the word “Ur”, now Johathan did not know Babylonian so he confused the Babylonian word “Ur”, which means “city” with the Hebrew word “Ur”, which means “fire”. This caused him to mistranslate the passage. Instead of saying that God delivered Abraham out of “Ur, city of the Chaldeans”, Jonathan’s mistranslation said that God delivered Abraham out of “the fire of the Chaldeans”. Now why is this important? Well, Jewish writers ran with this idea of Abraham escaping from the fire and soon the Talmud contained all kinds of stories of Abraham being thrown into the fire by the Chaldeans and being miraculously rescued by God and these stories were quite popular in Arabia during the time of Muhammad among the Jews living there. And this is crucial because in Surah 21 we read about Abraham being delivered from the fire. Now Muhammad claimed that he was getting this story from God, but we know from history that this entire idea of Abraham being delivered from a fire was based on a mistranslation. So what makes more sense here? That God also mistranslated the word “Ur”? Or that Muhammad was getting his information from the people around him?”

    It seems like David took this argument from Jay Smith, when he writes:

    The Bible itself gives us the answer. In Genesis 15:7, the Lord tells Abraham that it was He who brought Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans. Ur is a place, also mentioned in Genesis 11:31. We have evidence that a Jewish scribe named Jonathan Ben Uziel mistook the Hebrew word “Ur” for the Hebrew word which means “fire.” Thus in his commentary of this verse he writes, “I am the Lord who brought you out of the fire of the Chaldeans.”

    Consequently, because of this misunderstanding, and because of a misreading of the Biblical verse a fable became popular around this era, which stated that God had brought Abraham out of the fire.

    With this information in hand, we can, therefore, discern where the Jewish fable originated: from a misunderstanding of one word in a Biblical verse by one errant scribe. Yet, somehow this errant understanding found its way into the Qur’an. (Jay Smith, Is the Qur’an the Word of God? – Part 2)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wa alaykum as-Salaam,

      I will admit I haven’t researched any of these issues in serious depth, but these are tentative solutions after speaking to a friend–

      1. With regards to David being taught how to make chain mail, note that the verse specifically says that God taught him how to do it. The implication here is that chain mail was not around at the time period. This is consistent with what you would expect. Furthermore, since we have very little evidence from the Davidic / Solomonic period to begin with, the verse is not easy to falsify. All it says is that David had special revelation and knowledge that was not found in his time period, and presumably it got lost after the fall of his dynasty.

      2. I think the author is a little bit confused here. He is referring to the Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan, whose final redaction was post Islamic (it mentions ‘Aisha and Fatimah, the wife and daughter of the Prophet respectively). Regardless, a similar gloss is found in Genesis Rabbah. It’s rather unfeasible that all these Rabbis were fooled by a “mistranslation” so to speak. These rabbis obviously would have known Hebrew and had access to the original text (why would they only have an Aramaic edition?), and “city of the Chaldees” is a reasonable reading in the context. What probably happened was that the story of Abraham and the fire existed independently prior to the midrashic literature, and then some of the rabbis subsequently read “fire of the Chaldees” into the text with the prior tradition to inform them. This seems to make more sense than the rabbis making a simple linguistic blunder and then inventing the story after the fact. Since Midrash traditions could possibly go back to the period of the second temple I don’t really see it as too problematic personally.


    • When watching his vid I hope you could respond to his argument that the Prophet SAW “plagiarized” (astaghfirullah) from the lesser known poems, not the more famous ones, which according to him explains why the majority of pagans was oblivious of the “plagiarism” bcuz of their ignorance of the existence of said lesser poems.


  7. Assalamualaikum brother Taha, I’m just wondering how’s your research regarding the Qur’an coming to confirm the Torah existing in the time of the Prophet SAW? A hadith has been cited so as to argue that the Prophet SAW endorsed the Torah, it is as follows:

    Sunan Abu Dawud 4449

    Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar: A group of Jews came and invited the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) to Quff. So he visited them in their school. They said: AbulQasim, one of our men has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgment upon them. They placed a cushion for the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) who sat on it and said: Bring the Torah. It was then brought. HE THEN WITHDREW THE CUSHION FROM BENEATH HIM AND PLACED THE TORAH ON IT SAYING: I BELIEVED IN THEE AND IN HIM WHO REVEALED THEE.

    He then said: Bring me one who is learned among you. Then a young man was brought. The transmitter then mentioned the rest of the tradition of stoning similar to the one transmitted by Malik from Nafi'(No. 4431).

    What did the Prophet SAW meant by this? How do we reconcile this with the obvious conflicting accounts of the Prophets mentioned between both the Qur’an and the Torah and Surah 2 verses 75-80


      • Akhi I have one more issue for you to address. Can I ask for your help to refute a supposed Islamic historical “error”? The following is taken from Ibn Sa’d’s Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir Volume I, English translation by S. Moinul Haq, M.A., PH.D assisted by H.K. Ghazanfar M.A. (Kitab Bhavan Exporters & Importers, 1784 Kalan Mahal, Daryaganj, New Delhi – 110 002 India):

        Some of them (narrators) said: The Prophet, may Allah bless him, had disappeared that night, so the members of family of ‘Abd al-Muttalib went out to search him. Al-‘Abbas went to Dhu Tuwa and began to shout: O Muhammad! O Muhammad! The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said: I am here. He said: O my brother’s son! You have worried the people since the (beginning of the) night, where had you been? He said: I am coming from Bayt al-Muqaddas. He said: In one night? He said: Yes. He said: Did you experience anything which was not good? He said: I did not experience anything but good. Umm Hani said: He was taken on this journey from our house. He slept that night with us; he offered al-‘Isha prayers, and then he slept. When it was pre-dawn we awoke him (to offer) morning (prayers). He got up and when he offered morning prayers he said: O Umm Hani! I offered al’Isha prayers with you as you witnessed, then I reached Bayt Al-Muqaddas and offered prayers there; then I offered morning prayers before you. After this he got up to go out; I said to him: Do not relate this to the people because they will belie you and harm you. He said: By Allah I shall relate to them and inform them. They wondered at it and said: We have never heard a thing like this. The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said to Gabriel; O Gabriel! my people will not confirm it. He said: Abu Bakr will testify to it; and he is al-Siddiq. The narrator added: Many people who had embraced Islam and offered prayers went astray. (The Prophet continued,) I stood at al-Hijr, visualised Bayt al-Muqaddas and described its signs. Some of them said: HOW MANY DOORS/GATES ARE THERE IN THAT MOSQUE? I HAD NOT COUNTED THEM SO I BEGAN TO LOOK AT IT AND COUNTED THEM ONE BY ONE AND GAVE THEM INFORMATION CONCERNING THEM. I also gave information about their caravan which was on the way and its signs. They found them as I had related. Allah, the Almighty, the Great, revealed: “We appointed the vision which We showed thee as an ordeal for mankind”. He (Ibn Sa’d) said: It refers to the vision of the eye which he saw with the eye. (pp. 246-248; capital emphasis is mine)

        According to history the temple mount was destroyed in 70 AD by the Roman Titus so how could it’s features be described at this moment in time by the Prophet SAW? I really need help with this. Can you make a response?

        Also the following narration is taken from this link :

        It has been narrated that Imam Ja’far as‑Sadiq had said, “When the Prophet along with Jibra’il mounted onto Buraq, one of the horses of Paradise ‑ to go on the Mi’raj, they first went to Bayt al‑Muqaddas. THE MEHRAB (prayer Niche) OF THE PREVIOUS PROPHETS was shown to the Holy Prophet, and he also performed Salat there.

        After the Mi’raj, the Prophet (S) once again returned to Bayt al­ Muqaddas and there he met up with a Caravan from the tribe of Quraish. This group has lost one of their camels and was busy searching for it. The Prophet asked them for a glass of water, drank some of it and poured the rest of it on the ground. Finally, he returned to Makkah.

        When the morning came, he told the Quraish: “In the night, Allah took me to Bayt al‑Muqaddas and in that land, He showed me the after effects and the houses of the previous Prophets. On my return, I met up with a Caravan from the Quraish who had lost one of their camels; I requested a glass of water from them of which I drank some of it, and the rest I poured onto the ground.” Abu Jahl (L) who was one of the staunch enemies of the Noble Prophet  said: “ASK HIM (the Prophet) HOW MANY PILLARS, LIGHTS AND MEHRABS are in Bayt al‑Muqaddas.” At that time, Jibra’il came to the Prophet (S) and placed an image of Bayt al‑Muqaddas in front of him, with which he was able to answer all the questions posed to him. When the people of the Quraish heard this, they said, “Let us wait until the Caravan returns and we can ask them.”

        Also the ahadith below seem to suggest an enclosing structure being present :

        Narrated Zirr bin Hubaish: “I said to Hudhaifah bin Al-Yaman: ‘Did the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) perform Salat IN Bait Al-Maqdis?’ He said: ‘No.’ I said: ‘But he did.’ He said: ‘You say that, O bald one! Based upon what do you say that?’ I said: ‘Based upon the Qur’an, (the Judge) between you and I is the Qur’an.’ So Hudhaifah said: ‘Whoever argues using the Qur’an, then he has indeed succeeded.'” (One of the narrators) Sufyan said: “He means: ‘He has indeed proven'” – and perhaps he (Sufyan) said: “He triumphed.” He (Zirr) said: “Glorified is He Who took His slave for a journey by night from Al-Masjid Al-Haram to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa (17:1).’ He (Hudhaifah) said: ‘Do you see (this proves that) he (ﷺ) performed Salat IN IT?’ I said: ‘No.’ He said: ‘If he had performed Salat IN IT, then it would have been required upon you that you perform Salat IN IT, just as it is required that you perform Salat in Al-Masjid Al-Haram.’ (Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Book 47, Hadith 3440; bold and capital emphasis are mine)

        ‘……I ENTERED the mosque and prayed two rak’ahs IN IT, and then CAME OUT and Gabriel brought me a vessel of wine and a vessel of milk……’ (Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Hadith 318; bold and capital emphasis are mine)

        (Note : the name “Bait al-Maqdis” is interchangeable and can refer to either Jerusalem or the Temple Mount depending on the context. When reading the second Hadith the context is clear that it refers to the Temple Mount since Masjid al-Haram is also mentioned.)

        How can we understand the words ENTERED, IN IT & CAME OUT? Also in Ibn Ishaq’s sirah on pages 181-182, the words used are “temple at Aelia”, “Jerusalem’s temple”, “temple at Jerusalem”. Can you help determine the correct wording from the original Arabic? These words imply that the temple was really present.

        What’s more confusing is that the Surah describing the event i.e. Surah al-Isra’ confirms the destruction of the second temple at verse 7. How can the ahadith contradict the verse? Please do an article in response to this.


    • Peace,

      I can’t say anything about the hadith but look up Q 5:44. Verses like this one make it more or less clear that the mitzvot were preserved. I think it is more interesting to ask what exactly is meant with *Tawrat*. Does it also apply to the entire Tanach and even to parts of the Talmud (oral preservation?). Were there only laws from the time of Moses s or also from later messengers?

      God knows best.


  8. 2.87We gave Moses the Scripture and We sent messengers after him in succession. We gave Jesus, son of Mary, clear signs and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit….

    sample logic really!!
    //moses-a lot of messengers-jesus

    another verse..

    57.27We sent other messengers to follow in their footsteps. After those We sent Jesus, son of Mary: We gave him the Gospel and put compassion and mercy into the hearts of his followers…..

    //many messengers-jesus

    another verse..

    5.44We revealed the Torah with guidance and light, and the prophets, who had submitted to God, judged according to it for the Jews. So did the rabbis and the scholars…

    //torah(moses)-many prophets who had submitted to God and rabbis and  scholars-

    lets go to the next verses.. same ch

    5.46We sent Jesus, son of Mary, in their footsteps, to confirm the Torah that had been sent before him….

    //torah(moses)-many prophets who had submitted to God and rabbis and scholars- Jesus in their footsteps.

    so this is simple logic
    moses and torah
    alot of prophets and Generations and rabbis and scholars
    then jesus


  9. Dear Taha,
    You are clearly heading in a good direction by considering typology. This is a central part of the ongoing dialogue between the Qur’an, the New Testament, and the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures). Just as every page of the New Testament is in deep dialogue with the Old Testament, so too is every page of the Qur’an in deep dialogue with both the NT and the OT.

    The depths of these deep conversations are just now starting to be revealed. They are like a new continent, totally unexplored, that has been just discovered, to the amazement of many.

    Regarding Mary, and her connections to the Qur’an and the OT: I’m finishing a book called “The Red Line of Hope.” On a literal level, the Red Line of Hope is four women of the OT, Tamar (Genesis 38), Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. The OT version of the Red Line of Hope ends with Bathsheba and Ruth being the Wisdom teachers to the wise king Solomon. Solomon also represents human integration, in the Jungian sense. His anima is integrated into his person. This integration, this strong and solid human base, allows him to receive more gifts from the Divine, including a deep relationship with Lady Wisdom. (Lady Wisdom is a major character in Proverbs (which is in all Bibles) and also in Sirach, the Book of Wisdom, and Baruch (these latter 3 books being in some Bible versions but not in all).)

    These four women are mentioned in the first 6 verses of the New Testament (Matthew 1:3-6). So right at the beginning of the New Testament, the Red Line of Hope is transplanted and begun anew. A major culmination of the of the Red Line of Hope is Mary, who gives birth to Jesus, who is a new and vastly better version of Solomon. Other OT types of Jesus include Moses, Joshua, etc.
    A theme of the Red Line of Hope is human evolution. This involves our growth in love. Women help in this process.

    As this line reaches a special development in Mary, the line also begins to spread out among and throughout all humanity. For an example of this, let’s look to John 19, to the Johannine version of the Crucifixion. At 19:25 there are either 3, or 4, women standing by the cross. At least three of these women are named Mary, and no other names of women are given here. And mere days earlier, Jesus was at the house of Mary of Bethany, who anointed Jesus and helped him prepare for his suffering and death (see John 12:1-11). What is going on with this one-and-many Marys?

    In John’s version of the Crucifixion, Jesus is the master of ceremonies. From his raised cross, he presided over “his mother” (Mary) entering into the Beloved Disciple (who is often considered to be John the Apostle and Evangelist, author of the Fourth Gospel). Mary enters John’s house, John heart. We are, all of us, the Beloved Disciple. This scene is about the integration of humanity, on a vast and inclusive scale. Our evolution involves the Feminine entering our self more deeply: Integration. Solomon on his throne was a picture of human integration, for 1 person, for 1 moment. Jesus, the king on the cross, giving the Feminine to be integrated in all people, is preparing all of humanity for greater gifts from God.
    Jesus is, also, the high priest, Aaron, presiding over the sacrifice of his own self on the cross. He is also a prophet (like Moses, brother to Aaron). He is also the king on his throne (like David and his son Solomon). Prophet, priest, and king. The discussion of typology is relevant here.
    The Red Line of Hope appears many ways in the Qur’an, and I hope to continue writing about this in the future. The Hebrew “Tamar” means palm tree, and a palm tree is important in the Qur’an’s stories of Mary. Here, the Qur’an links Mary to the very beginning of the Red Line of Hope (Tamar in Genesis 38).

    Sorry if this information is not as smoothly presented as it might be. However, I hope that the above points may be helpful to this wonderful conversation ongoing here.


  10. I actually have a question which was asked to me by a non muslim on the topic ‘sister of haroon’.

    I explained most of the points which you’ve already mentioned above but he insists that the term sister of haroon is a confusion and there’s no other example from Jewish culture where people from bani Israel use the term sister for people who existed centuries apart and the correct way would’ve been daughter of haroon.

    So can you mention an example where people of Israel use the term sister for people who are generations apart?


    • In Surah 4.157, the Jews call Jesus the Messiah and the Messenger of Allah. They were being sarcastic. Could it be that they were sarcastically referring to Mary as the sister of Aaron as well?


  11. You missed the fact that Muhammad hypercorrected and said that Moses and Aaron’s sister was Kulthum in the ahadith after being caught out. He did, in fact, make an error, as he made many errors. The fragmentary nature of written materials and oral traditions contained in Arabia is the easy explanation for his errors; some of his closest parallels appear to have come from hymns or non-extant harmonies that he misunderstood (he says “when the souls are paired” for the line that he is referencing about “as it was in the days of Noah”; it’s clear that he ties the endtimes to the Ark yet has no clue what the following passage is, which explains that some will be destroyed, not that animals will pair up. His misunderstanding, that got inserted into the Qur’an, can only be explained by a source like a hymn, which of course wouldn’t have the whole text) and therefore a degree removed from the source material. If he heard something using Miriam/Mary typologically, he would have repeated it without knowing it was typology–or would have simply made an error. He had CLEARLY left in the mind of all the Muslims that Mary the mother of Jesus was also the sister of Aaron and Moses and the daughter of Amran–if he had meant otherwise, he would have explained it, and everyone would have known rather than being alarmed at being called out by the Christians.


    • @Maryam

      Without even responding to all of this, ironically a simple enough mistake to point out of yours is you taking the ayah “and when the souls are paired” (81:7) in Surah Takwir and thinking it was somehow conflated with Noah when NONE OF THE SURAH is even about Noah


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