near (to God): and He shall speak to men in the cradle and when grown up, and He is of the Just Ones,’ she said, ‘My Lord, whence shall I have a child, since no human being hath touched me?’ He said, ‘Thus God createth what He willeth: when He hath decreed a matter, then indeed He saith to it, Be! — therefore it exists.’"

In reference to what is said in these verses about "casting reeds" or pens, Baidawi and Jalalu'ddin state that Zacharias and twenty-six other priests were rivals to one another in their desire to be Mary's guardian. They therefore went to the bank of the Jordan and threw their reeds into the water; but all the reeds sank except that of Zacharias, and on this account the latter was appointed her guardian.

Turning to Surah XIX., Maryam, 16-35, we find there the following narrative of the birth of Christ:

"And in the Book 1 do thou 2 mention Mary, when she retired from her family to an Eastern place. Then apart from them she assumed a veil. Then We sent unto her Our Spirit 3:accordingly he showed himself to her as a well-formed human being. She said, ‘Verily I take refuge in the Merciful One from thee, if thou art God-fearing.’ He said, ‘Truly I am a messenger of thy Lord that

1 i. e. the Qur'an (commentators).
2 i. e. Muhammad.
3 The angel Gabriel, who is hence called the Holy Spirit by Muslims.

I should give to thee a pure man-child.’ She said, ‘Whence shall I have a man-child, since no human being hath touched me, and I am not rebellious 1?’ He said, ‘Thus hath thy Lord said, It is easy for Me, and let Us make Him a sign unto men and a mercy from us, and it is a thing decided.’ Accordingly she conceived Him 2: then she retired with him to a distant place. Then labour-pains brought her to the trunk of the palm-tree 3. She said, ‘O would that I had died ere this and had become forgotten, forgotten!’ Thereupon he 4 called aloud to her from beneath her: ‘Grieve thou not; thy lord hath made a brook beneath thee. And do thou shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: it shall let fall upon thee freshly-gathered dates. Eat therefore and drink and brighten thy eye 5; then, if thou seest any human being, then say, Verily I have vowed unto my Lord a fast, therefore I shall surely not speak to any man to-day.’ Accordingly she brought Him 6 to her people, carrying Him. They said, ‘O Mary, truly thou hast done a vile thing. O sister of Aaron, thy father was not a man of wickedness, and thy mother was not rebellious 7.’ Then she made a sign unto Him 6. They said,

1 Or, unchaste.
2 Jesus.
3 Note the definite article.
4 Commentators are doubtful whether this is Jesus or Gabriel.
5 That is "Rejoice." The birth of a boy is still said to be a "brightening of the eyes" in the East, and congratulations are expressed by the formula of the text.
6 The Child.
7 Or, unchaste.