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Sister Annelle FItzpatrick invites us to reflect on Mary and the Quran as opportunities for Christian-Muslim Dialog. As Vincentians, devotion to the Blessed Mother and the Miraculous Medal should be in our blood.  What we might not realize until we look more closely at the place of Mary in the Quran is that there is much that Christians and Muslims share in common.

What we have in common could promote a grass roots movement that might get people thinking that Mary indeed might really be the “Queen of Peace

As anti-Muslim sentiment continues to grow and people are looking for ways to build more bridges and not more bombs – perhaps it is time for us, as Vincentians, to create more forums of dialogue where people of faith can ponder the role that Mary might play in building bridges between the Christian/Muslim divide.

What am I talking about?   Few Catholics are aware that Mary is mentioned more times in the Holy Quran than she is in the Holy Bible!  Suffice it to say, that the Quran references events in the life of Mary 34 times and she is the only woman who has an entire chapter dedicated to her entitled “Mary, the Mother of Jesus”).

In the Bible, we don’t meet Mary until the moment of the “Annunciation”.  in the Quran, we are introduced to Mary, while she is still in the womb of her Mother!

The Quran teaches that Mary’s Mother (“Hanna”) was barren.  She prayed for years to have a child. When she found out that she was pregnant she was so filled with gratitude that she (assuming it was a boy) dedicated the child in her womb to Allah for service in the temple!

The Quran tells us that when Mary’s Mother gave birth to a girl both Hannah and Zechariah were very confused and disturbed because women were not allowed in the temple!  (It is interesting to note that the Christian Gospel of James known as the “Protevangelion”  also makes reference to a time in Mary’s life where she lived in the temple – but that is the subject for another day)!

The attributes given to Mary within the Muslim tradition (i.e. “chosen among all women”, “chaste”, “humble”, “obedient”, etc.) often parallel the laudatory title given to Mary by Catholics.

In Jerusalem, there is a site known as the “Bath of Mary”, a place of devotion where many Muslim women seeking to have a child go to pray.  Recently there have also been Marian apparitions witnessed by hundreds of people in a town near Cairo now referenced to as “Our Lady of Zeitoun” (“Our Lady of Light). (These apparitions appeared over a Copitc Church where tradition holds the Holy Family stayed during their flight into Egypt).

Time does not permit further elaboration on the high esteem which Muslims afford the Blessed Mother. But trust me! To any member of the Vincentian family or any parish organizations (Altar Rosary Societies, Miraculous Medal Associations, etc.) looking to re-energize discussion and devotion related to Mary as Queen of Peace, her arms are open, inviting and challenging all to ponder another proposed  title for her in today’s troubled world  “Our Lady of Encounter”!

(August 15th, 2017)

Sr. Annelle Fitzpatrick bio

Sr. Annelle Fitzpatrick, CSJ, Ph.D.  is a Sister of St. Joseph, (Brentwood)  She has a doctorate in Sociology & Cultural Anthropology and has taught at St. John’s University for over twenty-five years.  She is noted for her strong support of the Vincentian Mission and is passionate about interfaith education, dialogue, and encounter.  She is a frequent speaker in national forums on issues related to cultural competency and interfaith dialogue within the educational, parish and healthcare settings.  (Contact info:  fitzpata@stjohns.edu)