It was narrated that Lady Mariams father, ^Imran the son of Mathan, was a Muslim scholar from the descendants of prophet Ya^qub (Jacob), also known as Prophet Israel. ^Imran married Hannah the daughter of Faqoudh and she bore him a daughter whom they named Isha^. Prophet Zakariyah who was a carpenter and the cousin of Hannah, married Isha^. It is permissible in the rules of Islam for cousins to intermarry.
Prophet Zakariyah used to worship a great deal even before receiving the revelation. At that time there were no prophets in Beit-ul-Maqdis (Jerusalem). One day after he had finished praying in the mihrab (a slightly raised section at the front of the mosque) where his grandfather prophet Dawoud (David) used to pray, Angel Jibril came to Zakariyah with the revelation from Allah that he is a prophet to the Israelites. Prophet Zakariyah started calling people to Islam, supported in his truthful claim by clear miracles. Some people believed in him and followed him while others belied him.
He continued calling them to do what is good and avoid what is bad, and he chose Beit-ul-Maqdis as his place of worship where he was joined by other Muslim scholars at the time.
Many years passed without prophet Zakariyah having children because his wife was barren. By that time, his mother in-law Hannah was old, but once while she was sitting with her husband ^Imran under the shade of a tree, she saw a bird feeding its young. At that moment she missed having children and started crying. She told her husband what she saw and how she felt and she said, “Let us go pray and make supplication (du^a)”.
They got up, prayed and made supplication to Allah to grant them a child. ^Imran then dreamt that Allah had answered their prayers and granted them a child. Their dream did indeed come true when Hannah became pregnant. Allah ta^ala inspired her and she said: “If Allah enables me to deliver this child I shall make him a Muharrar”. That is a person who is devoted to serving and taking care of the mosque and worshipping Allah. When she made this vow, ^Imran said: “What have you done?! What if the child you deliver is a girl?” and they were both saddened by this thought. After a few months, ^Imran died and his wife was left alone, waiting for the birth of their child.
The Muharrar was usually a boy who lived in the mosque, he would take care of it by sweeping it, lighting the lights, and the like until he reached puberty. At that time he would have been given a choice of staying in the mosque or leaving it. If he chose to leave, then he was free to do so. If however, he chose to stay then he was committed to stay there for the rest of his life. All the Israelite prophets had a Muharrar in Jerusalem among their offspring. The position of Muharrar was specific for boys because girls well ill suited for it due to their menstruation, which when in this state it is not permissible for her to remain in a mosque.
When Hannah gave birth, she was expecting a boy and she was surprised she delivered a girl. “ My Lord”, she said, “ I have given birth to a girl”. She was hopeful of having a boy who would be able to become a Muharrar and work in Jerusalem. She then said to herself, “Allah knows best, perhaps something good will come of this girl.” By thinking about the situation in this way, some of the sorrow and disappointment that Hannah felt was lessened. She named her new daughter, Mariam, Which means the worshipper, in the hope that she would live up to her name.
Hannah then said, in supplication to Allah ta^ala, “ I ask you to protect my daughter from the offspring from the cursed devil”.
Prophet Zakariyah then informed Hannah that Allah ta^ala accepted her vow and accepted Mariam as a Muharrar, despite the fact that she was a girl. Mariam was the first female to become a Muharrar. Allah granted Lady Mariam a beautiful appearance, and she was the most beautiful and the most complete women of her time. She would grow in one day what other children would grow in a year. It was narrated the she spoke when she was just a baby as he son ^Isa (Jesus), would later do. Furthermore, Lady Mariam was never breastfed by her mother, rather Allah provided her sustenance in an extra-ordinary way.
It was narrated that upon giving birth to Mariam, Hannah did not breast feed her, rather she wrapped her in a piece of cloth and took her to the mosque. Prophet Zakariyah was there with a group of Israelite scholars who looked after the mosque. They said to her, “ What is this you bring us, Hannah?” wondering why Hannah brought them a girl to be a Muharrrar. “She is my daughter Mariam”, replied Hannah. “ I have committed her to being a Muharrar and Allah accepted her so please don’t turn her away”. They looked at prophet Zakariyah for a decision regarding her and he said, “ It is necessary to appoint someone to look after her until she reaches the age at which she can work in the mosque.”
It was customary for the Muslim scholars to conduct a draw when a Muharrar arrived, to see which one of then would teach him. This time however, they asked Prophet Zakariyah, “Who among us will have this job?” He replied, “ I am better suited because I am her sisters husband and her mothers cousin”. The scholars said, “ Let us conduct a draw anyhow to see which one of us should be her guardian.” All 27 of them, including Prophet Zakariyah, went to the Jordanian River, and threw in the pens that they used to write the Torah with, seeking Allah’s blessings.
All the pens sunk except for prophet Zakariyah’s, which floated, this was a great miracle for prophet Zakariyah. They wanted to do a draw a second time, and so they threw in their pens again. All the pens went with the tide, except for Prophet Zakariyah’s. It went against the current of the water. They wanted to do the draw a third time, and so they threw their pens in again. This time all the pens sunk while Prophet Zakariyah’s stood upright as if it had been emdedded in the mud. And so she became his ward.
Hannah, peace be upon her, died a short while after giving birth to Mariam. Even though Mariam was now an orphan, Allah compensated her by entrusting her to Zakariyah who took her to his wife Isha^, her older sister, to take care of her.
From a young age, Mariam was obedient to Allah and avoided all that went against the rules of Islam. When she was old enough, Prophet Zakariyah built a mihrab for her, which is the most honoured place in the mosque. Prophet Zakariyah was the only person who would come to see Mariam, accompanied by Yusuf the carpenter, Mariams cousin, who was also a Muharrar.
Because Prophet Zakariyah was Mariams guardian, he would frequently come in to visit and check on her. Each time he came to see her, he would find that she had food that he had not brought her. She would have the fruits of summer in the winter, and the fruits of winter in summer.
Having observed this a few times, he was very curious to know where or how her food was coming from, so he asked her. She replied, “It is sustenance from Allah, for Allah grants whomever He wills, whenever he wills”. This was an extraordinary occurrence that Lady Mariam was endowed with and it showed her high status and complete belief. When Prophet Zakariyah heard this, he was happy that the person whom he was entrusted with was pious and had a high rank. She was the best women to ever live, may Allah ta^ala be reward her.