Mary, Sister Of Aaron(P)?

M S M Saifullah, Muhammad Ghoniem & Mustafa Ahmed

© Islamic Awareness, All Rights Reserved.

Last Modified: 1st September 1999

Assalamu-alaikum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

Christian missionaries have been calling Mary addressed as Sister of Aaron(P) a contradiction. Below is the verse:

At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: "O Mary! truly an amazing thing hast thou brought! "O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!" [Qur'an 19:27-28]

It turns out that Christians in Najran during the time of the Prophet(P) raised a similar objection and it was answered by the Prophet(P). In Sahih Muslim, the hadith related by Mughirah ibn Shu`bah [5326] says:

When I came to Najran, they (the Christians of Najran) asked me: You read "O sister of Harun" (i.e. Maryam) in the Qur'an, whereas Moses was born much before Jesus. When I came back to Allah's Messenger(P) I asked him about that, whereupon he said: The (people of the old age) used to give names (to their persons) after the names of Apostle and pious persons who had gone before them.

This claim of contradiction is apparently mistaken because it disregards both the Arabic idiom and the context of the verse. In Arabic the word akhun or ukhtun (Underlined with Red colour in the images) carries two meanings.

  1. Blood brother or sister and
  2. Brotherhood/sisterhood in clan and faith.

The above verse has used the word ukhtun in the second sense. This is not unusual as the Qur'an uses the same idiomatic expression in several earlier verses. In chapter 11 verse 78, Prophet Lot refers to the women folk of his community as my daughters.

And his people came rushing towards him, and they had been long in the habit of practising abominations. He said: "O my people! Here are my daughters: they are purer for you (if ye marry)! Now fear Allah, and cover me not with shame about my guests! Is there not among you a single right-minded man?" [Qur'an 11:78]

In Chapter 7 verses 65, 73 and 85 Prophets Hud, Saleh and Shuaib(P) are referred to as "brothers" of their respective peoples.

And unto (the tribe of) A'ad (We sent) their brother, Hud. He said: O my people! Serve Allah. Ye have no other Allah save Him. Will ye not ward off (evil)? [Qur'an 7:65]

And to (the tribe of) Thamud (We sent) their brother Salih. He said: O my people! Serve Allah. Ye have no other Allah save Him. A wonder from your Lord hath come unto you. Lo! this is the camel of Allah, a token unto you; so let her feed in Allah's earth, and touch her not with hurt lest painful torment seize you. [Qur'an 7:73]

And unto Midian (We sent) their brother, Shu'eyb. He said: O my people! Serve Allah. Ye have no other Allah save Him. Lo! a clear proof hath come unto you from your Lord; so give full measure and full weight and wrong not mankind in their goods, and work not confusion in the earth after the fair ordering thereof. That will be better for you, if ye are believers. [Qur'an 7:85]

The people of Lot are also mentioned in chapter 50 verse 13 as the brothers of Lot except for the word "banatii" which means my daughters in 11:78, all other references have used the word "akhun" which means brother.

The 'Ad, Pharaoh, the brethren of Lut, (Qur'an 50:13)

And in another place, the Qur'an addresses the believers as brothers-in-faith.

The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear Allah, that ye may receive Mercy. [Qur'an 49:10]

George Sale in his translation of the Qur'an says:

From the identity of names it has been generally imagined by Christian writers that the Koran here confounds Mary the mother of Jesus with Mary of Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron; which intolerable anachronism, if it were certain, is sufficient of itself to destroy the pretended authority of this book. But though Mohammed may be supposed to have been ignorant enough in ancient history and chronology, to have committed so gross a blunder; yet I do not see how it can be made out from the words of the Koran. For it does not follow, because two persons have the same name, and have each a father and brother who bear the same names, that they must therefore necessarily be the same whereby it manifestly appears that Mohammed well knew and asserted that Moses preceded Jesus several ages. And the commentators accordingly fail not to tell us, that there had passed about one thousand eight hundred years between Amran the father of Moses and Amrean the father of the Virgin Mary: they also make them the sons of different persons; the first, they say, was the son of Yeshar, or Izhar (though he was really his brother) the son of Kahath, the son of Levi; and the other was the son of Matthan, whose genealogy they trace, but in a very corrupt and imperfect manner, up to David and thence to Adam. It must be observed that though the Virgin Mary is called in the Koran, the sister of Aaron, yet she is nowhere called the sister of Moses.[1]

In the Bible, Elizabeth was called daughters of Aaron(P). Was she literally a daughter of Aaron?

In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechari'ah, of the division of Abi'jah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. [Luke 1:5, RSV]

Or Jesus(P) was addressed as Son of David in the Bible. Was he literally Son of David(P)?

And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" [Matthew 21:9 RSV]

But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant; [Matthew 21:15 RSV]

If we take that literally then it is also a contradiction in the Bible.

And Allah knows best.

Other Articles Related To The Historical Errors

Mary(P) & Tri-Unity

Al-`Aziz & Potiphar

Qur'anic Accuracy Vs. Biblical Error: The Kings & Pharaohs Of Egypt

The 'Samaritan' Error In The Qur'an

   Islamic Awareness Qur'an Contradictions External Mary(P), Sister Of Aaron(P)?


[1] George Sale, The Koran, IX Edition of 1923, London, p. 38.

Back To Refutation Of External Contradictions In The Qur'an