فَاتَّخَذَتْ مِن دُونِهِمْ حِجَابًا فَأَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْهَا رُوحَنَا فَتَمَثَّلَ لَهَا بَشَرًا سَوِيًّا
Thus, she (Mary) kept herself in seclusion from people. Then, We sent to her Our spirit, and it appeared before her in the form of a perfect man. (Maryam 19:17)
Mary, may God be pleased with her, withdrew from her family to a chamber in the Temple facing east or to the east from her house. Furthermore, she kept herself in seclusion from her family and others. This she did in order that others should not be aware of her womanly state and so that she would be able to fully dedicate herself to worship of God and the service of the Temple. Mary was so sensitive about her both physical and spiritual purity that as if, according to the principle, “Pure women are for good, pure men” (An-Nūr 24:26), the Spirit (Rūhu’l-Quds), who came with the good news of a new Spirit, took the form of a man in that transcendental and spiritual atmosphere. Humanity would be revived once more with this transformation, and the similar instances of revival would continue until the end of time.
What or who was “the Spirit” who appeared in front of Mary? Most of the Qur’anic commentators opined that the Spirit was the Archangel Gabriel, upon him be peace. However, the Qur’ān uses the word “Spirit,” without specification, and there is no agreement on the identity of the Spirit. Therefore, different views can be put forward concerning his identity provided it should not exceed the limits of the concept and should remain within the framework of the basic principles of Islam.