Related pilgrimage sites:
1. The house in Ephesus, Turkey where Mother Mary lived with the Apostle John after they left Jerusalem because of persecutions. This is where the assumption took place. The occasion and the site are sacred to Muslims and Christians alike. Every Sunday at least some Muslims come here before ‘Hazreti Meryem Ana’, Her Majesty Mother Mary and attend mass. (See more about this place under "Mother Mary and the Goddess".)
2. Another site where Mary is honored and invoked by both Christians and Muslims is the 11th century monastery of Kykkos on Cyprus, an island inhabited by believers in Jesus and Mohammed. Followers of both faiths flock to an ancient icon of Mary, said to have been painted by Luke the Evangelist himself. Many miracles have happened when people prayed before this image. In fact, it is deemed so powerful that it is treated like the Ark of the Covenant: completely veiled from sight, but venerated as the presence of God among his people. (Regarding Mary as the new Ark of the Covenant goes back to the first days of Christianity and is rooted in Revelation 11:19-12:1.)
3. Zeitoun is a town in Egypt where Mary appeared on numerous occasions between April 2nd 1968 and May 2nd 1971. Over one million Muslims, Christians, and Jews came to her apparition site (above St. Mary's Coptic church) and confirmed having seen her. Many were cured of incurable diseases. Even the Egyptian government's police investigation concluded that the apparitions of Mary in Zeitoun are an undeniable fact.
In countless places where Muslims and Christians live together they share a devotion to Mary. Another example is Our Lady of Africa in Algiers, Algeria, Protectress of Muslims and Africans. On the wall behind her statue in the Catholic basilica a big inscription in French reads: "Our Lady of Africa, pray for us and for the Muslims." On any given day one may see Muslims kneeling in the basilica, bringing their petitions to Our Lady, whom they call Lala Meriem. A devout Muslim artist with a deep love for the mother of the great prophet Jesus, crafted the precious robes she wears.
In Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, she is particularly revered. Here some quotes from Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut's: "Mary's Vineyard: Daily Meditaions, Readings, and Revelations", The Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton: 1996 They prove that the Mother of God reveals her secrets to her devotees, no matter their religion!
"There are as many paths to God as the children of God have breaths, but of all the paths to God, the Way of Mary, the Divine Mother, is the sweetest and most gentle."(p.133) Hajja Muhibba, 14th century female Sufi
"In every mosque in the world, the Mihrab, or prayer niche in the Eastern wall of the mosque, is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is a shame that more Christians do not know this. Mary is the perfect woman, complete in herself, being the perfect matrix, the perfect receptacle from which Jesus could be born. (p.133) (...) Mary is the Divine Mother, Mary is the blue of the flame, Mary is the matrix of all Divine possibility in Form, here in our world. It is necessary that she be recognized. (p. 130)"
Shaikh Hamid, a 20th century Sufi master
The Quran, the holy book of Islam, was presumably dictated to the Prophet Muhammad by the Archangel Gabriel. It recounts the same stories as the Bible only in different versions and often with different interpretations. It tells of Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, and Jesus. Jesus is not seen as the Son of God but as a prophet. Yet he is special because he ascended into heaven and because of his virgin-mother Mary, whom Islam holds in extremely high esteem. There are actually more verses in the Quran that speak about Mary than in the Bible. A whole chapter, or Surah, is called after her.
Not only that, Mary is mentioned in the Quran as well as in the Hadith, the traditional sayings, attributed to Muhammad himself. Here he says of her: "The best of the world’s women is Mary. (…) Among women, none attained perfection except Mary the daughter of Imran (Joachim in Hebrew), and Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh" (who saved Moses from her husband’s wrath).
Mary’s Arabic name Maryam, is close to her actual Hebrew name "Miriam", which became Maria in Latin. On his web site fonsvitae.com David Burell says: "When any Muslim mentions Mary, he or she always refers to her as ‘Our Lady Mary – May the peace of God be upon her’."
Apparently Her Majesty Mother Mary reciprocates the appreciation of her Muslim children. In Medjugorje she was once asked who was the holiest person in the valley. To every Catholic’s surprise she named a Muslim woman.
Excerpts from the Quran:
Surah 3, called "The House of Imran", verses 30-41 tells the story of Jesus, his mother and his grandparents:
"God chose Adam and Noah and the house of Abraham and the House of Imran above all beings, the seed of one another; God hears and knows.
When the wife of Imran (Mary’s mother) said, "Lord, I have vowed to Thee in dedication what is within my womb. Receive Thou this from me; Thou hearest and knowest." And when she gave birth to her (daughter) she said, "Lord, I have given birth to her, a female." And God knew very well what she had given birth to; the male is not as the female. "And I have named her Mary and commend her to Thee with her seed, to protect them from the accursed Satan."
Her Lord received the child with gracious favor and by His goodness she grew up comely (in the temple), Zachariah taking charge of her. Whenever Zachariah went in to her in the Sanctuary, he found her provisioned. "Mary," he said, "how does this come to thee?" "From God," she said.
(Then follows the same story as in the Bible about Zachariah’s barren wife Elizabeth conceiving John "who shall confirm a Word of God".)
"And when the angels said, "Mary, God has chosen thee, and purified thee; He has chosen thee above all women. Mary, be obedient to thy Lord, prostrating and bowing before Him. (…) When the angels said, "Mary, God gives thee good tidings of a Word from Him whose name is Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary; high honored shall he be in this world and the next, near stationed to God. He shall speak to men in the cradle and of age, and righteous he shall be." "Lord," said Mary, "how shall I have a son seeing no mortal has touched me?" "Even so," God said, "God creates what He will."
Surah 19, called "Mary", verses 16-37:
"And mention in the Book Mary when she withdrew from her people to an eastern place, and she took a veil apart from them; then We sent unto her Our Spirit that presented himself to her (as) a man without fault. She said, ‘I take refuge in the All-merciful from thee! If thou fearest God…’ He said, ‘I am but a messenger come from thy Lord, to give thee a boy most pure.’
She said, ‘How shall I, whom no mortal has touched, neither have I been unchaste, have a son? He said, ‘Even so thy Lord has said: "Easy is that for Me; and that We may appoint him a sign unto men and a mercy from Us; it is a thing decreed."’
So she conceived him, and withdrew with him to a distant place. And the birth pangs surprised her by the trunk of the palm-tree. She said, ‘Would I had died ere this, and become a thing forgotten!’ But the one that was below her called to her, ‘Nay, do not sorrow; see, thy Lord has set below thee a rivulet. Shake also to thee the palm trunk, and there shall come tumbling upon thee dates fresh and ripe. Eat therefore, and drink, and be comforted; and if thou shouldst see any mortal, say, "I have vowed to the All-merciful a fast, and today I will not speak to any man."’
Then she brought the child to her folk carrying him; and they said, ‘Mary, thou hast surely committed a monstrous thing! Sister of Aaron, thy father was not a wicked man, nor was thy mother an unchaste woman.’
Mary pointed to her child then; but they said, ‘How shall we speak to one who is still in the cradle, a little child?’ He said, ‘Lo, I am God’s servant; God has given me the Book, and made me a Prophet. Blessed He has made me, wherever I may be; and He has enjoined me to pray, and to give the alms, so long as I live, and likeweise to cherish my mother; He has not made me arrogant, unprosperous. Peace be upon me, the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I am raised up alive!’
That is Jesus, son of Mary, in word of truth, concerning which they are doubting: it is not for God to take a son unto Him. Glory be to Him! When He decrees a thing, He but says to it ‘Be,’ and it is. Surely God is my Lord, and your Lord; so serve Him. This is a straight path."
Surah 21, called "The Prophets", verses 91-94:
"And (then there was) she who guarded her virginity, so We breathed into her of Our spirit and appointed her and her son to be a sign unto all beings. Surely this community of yours is one community, and I am your Lord; so serve Me."
Surah 66, called "The Forbidding", verse 12:
"And Mary, Imran’s daughter, who guarded her virginity, so We breathed into her of Our Spirit, and she confirmed the Words of her Lord and His Books, and became one of the obedient."