Why does the Holy Quran refer to some people who are not prophets as “the chosen ones”?

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Last Updated on 16th July 2021

Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa was asked:

2. why the Holy Quran had used the word اصْطَفَاكِ [He has chosen you] for Hazrat Maryam since she was a woman and not a prophet? 

Huzooraa, in a letter dated 14 January 2020, gave the following reply:..

2. “As far as the usage of the word اصْطَفَاكِ [I have chosen you] by the Holy Quran for Hazrat Maryam is concerned, the Holy Quran and the ahadith show that this word has not only been used for prophets but also for other people ‘chosen’ to carry out any extraordinary or important task. Hence, the word is used in the Holy Quran by Hazrat Abrahamas and Hazrat Jacobas to tell their children that Allah the Exalted had ‘chosen’ an extraordinary religion for them. It reads:

يٰبَنِيَّ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ اصۡطَفٰي لَكُمُ الدِّيۡنَ فَلَا تَمُوۡتُنَّ اِلَّا وَ اَنۡتُمۡ مُّسۡلِمُوۡنَ

‘O my sons, truly Allah has chosen this religion for you; so let not death overtake you except when you are in a state of submission.’ (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.133)

“Furthermore, the Holy Quran has used this word while describing the superiority of the progeny of Abraham [Aal-e-Ibrahim] and the progeny of Imran [Aal-e-Imran] over the peoples of that era. It states: 

اِنَّ‭ ‬اللّٰهَ‭ ‬اصۡطَفٰۤي‭ ‬اٰدَمَ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬نُوۡحًا‭ ‬وَّ‭ ‬اٰلَ‭ ‬اِبۡرٰهِيۡمَ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬اٰلَ‭ ‬عِمۡرٰنَ‭ ‬عَلَي‭ ‬الۡعٰلَمِيۡنَ

‘Allah did choose Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of Imran above all peoples.’ (Surah Al-e-Imran, Ch.3: V.34)

“Similarly, it is mentioned in ahadith that the Holy Prophetsa was asked as to which zikr was most liked by Allah the Exalted. He replied:

مَا اصْطَفَاهُ اللهُ لِمَلَائِكَتِهِ سُبْحَانَ رَبِّي وَبِحَمْدِهِ سُبْحَانَ رَبِّي وَبِحَمْدِهِ

‘The zikr “preferred’ by Allah for his angels is “Subhana Rabbi wa bi-hamdihi, subhana Rabbi wa bi-hamdihi” [Holy is my Lord and to Him belongs all praise. Holy is my Lord and to Him belongs all praise]’ (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Kitab al-Da‘waat)

“Thus, the word اصْطِفَاء means to choose, to prefer and to select. That is to say, to bring someone closer because of their most excellent qualities or to accord them a station in one’s vicinity on account of their good deeds. 

“Although Hazrat Maryam was not a prophet of God, Allah the Exalted had endowed her with such excellent qualities that upon seeing these very qualities, Hazrat Zakariaas, a prophet of Allah, wished to have children like her. Thus, thanks to the prayer of Hazrat Zakariaas, Allah the Exalted blessed him with a son in the form of Hazrat Yahyaas who was also a prophet. 

“Owing to the Israelites’ constant disobedience to God’s prophets, and their mockery and denial of them, Allah the Exalted granted Hazrat Maryam a son in the personage of Hazrat Jesusas who was a prophet but none of the men from among the Children of Israel had any part in the birth of that son. Following that, the great blessing of prophethood was taken away from the Children of Israel forever. 

“Thus, it is due to her extraordinary qualities, that Allah the Exalted used the word اصْطَفَاكِ [He has chosen you] for Hazrat Maryam in the Holy Quran.” 

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