Hawzah News Agency – Despite our belief in the ‘isma of all the Prophets, we do not regard this ‘isma as being a property of the Prophets alone. For it is possible that a person be ma’sum while not being a Prophet. The Holy Qur’an says about Mary:
O Mary, Verily God hath chosen thee and made thee pure, and hath preferred thee above the women of creation. (Sura All Imran, III: 42)
Since the Qur’an uses the word astafa [lit. to choose, but also meaning ‘to prefer’] in relation to Mary, it is clear that she was ma’sum, for it is this word that is applied to the Prophets:
Verily, God hath preferred Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of Imran above His creatures. (Sura All Imran, III: 33)
Apart from this point, it should be noted that in the verse cited above referring to Mary’s purity, the meaning is that she was intrinsically uncontaminated by any kind of defilement, not that she was exonerated from the sin of which she was accused by the Jews in regard to her son. For her exoneration from this charge was in fact proven during the first days of the birth of Jesus, thanks to his miraculous speech; there was no need for any further explanation.
This having been said, the verse relating to Mary’s purity comes in the series of verses that pertain to the period when she was a devotee at the prayer-niche of the Temple in Jerusalem, and was not yet pregnant with Jesus. Thus, there was no accusation at this stage, so the purity in question could not simply mean that she was innocent of the charge against her.
Ayatollah Jafar Sobhani, Doctrines of Shii Islam, A Compendium of Imami Beliefs and Practices, Translated and Edited by Reza Shah-Kazemi, published by I.B.Tauris Publishers, london • new york 2003.