In Arab culture it is common to refer to children by their father’s name. For instance someone named Muhammad who has a father named Abdallah would be called “Muhammad the son of Abdallah.” However, the Qurʾān mentions Jesus as the son of Maryam. This name was given to him by God. Remember when the angels said, “O Maryam, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary held in honor in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah (Q: 3:45).
Maryam (the Arabic of Mary) was mentioned by name in the Qurʾān 34 times in 32 verses, and she was mentioned 11 times without being linked to her son Jesus. Jesusʾ affiliation to Maryam is meant to honor him and to demonstrate his exalted status among mankind. She was honored not only because of him, but because of who she was on her own. She was honored as Allah attributed her great son to her; Jesus, son of Mary, as he was mentioned being attributed to her in the Quran 23 times out of 34 times.
The Qurʾān does not usually mention names of individuals unless they are Prophets. When a name is mentioned it is usually meant to honor the person and show their great status. There are many great women that the Qurʾān mentions, such as the mother of Musa or Pharaoh’s wife, but Maryam is the only woman in the Qurʾān explicitly mentioned by name.
The Qurʾān also declares that Maryam is the best of all women: Remember when the angels said, ‘O Maryam, indeed Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds. O Maryam, be devoutly obedient to your Lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow’ (Q. 3:42-43). We return to the question of why is Maryam the only woman mentioned by name in the Qurʾān? If the Qurʾān were indeed fabricated by Muhammad as some claim, why didn’t he include the names of women who were very dear to him? Why weren’t Khadija, Aisha, Fatima, and other female relatives mentioned in the Qurʾān by name? However, an Israelite woman who lived much earlier is the female who has a chapter named after her. This is evidence that the Prophet, peace be upon him, is not the author of the Qurʾān. It is God who chose who to mention by name and who to exclude.
Due to her great honor in Islam and Christianity, Maryam’s name is widely spread among the Christians and the Muslims. Indeed, many Muslims like naming their daughters Maryam, and her name is famous for females around the Christian world, especially in Spanish speaking countries. She served as a role model for all Muslim women because she maintained her impeccable character throughout her life. God raised her status and chose her from among the women of the entire world.