Mary: The Bridge between Muslims and Christians

Islam and Christianity are two of the world’s major religions and consist almost half of the global population today. Peace and understanding among members of these two traditions is crucial for world peace. Therefore, beside theological deliberations, there is a need for more concrete topics of dialogue among them. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is probably the most important topic that brings together Muslims and Christians. Biblical and Qur’anic narratives on Mary are very similar. Mary is an ideal woman, filled with grace, blessed and preferred among all other woman and she is the mother of the Messiah. Mary’s submission and prayers to God can be a significant model in bridging Muslims and Christians for a meaningful dialogue and respect. Many Muslim scholars trace Mary’s genealogy to Moses, another common Biblical and Qur’anic figure. Mary is the only female name that is mentioned in the Qur’an and an entire Qur’anic chapter is named after her. She is regarded as a perfect example of piety and humility. Regardless of the evil treatment by her community, she remained faithful to God but also stayed unselfishly concerned for her own people. To honor her, Lebanon, for example, announced March 25, as the day of the Feast of the Annunciation making it a national public holiday, celebrated by Christians and Muslims every year. This paper will review many aspects of Muslim interpretations of Mary, in comparison to Biblical understanding. The paper will highlight aspects of her devotion, discuss her deference, patience and compassion, virtues that are shared by Muslims and Christians. Also, the paper will highlight her probability of being a prophetess, something that challenges the patriarchal understanding of prophecy being limited to men.