Zechariah in Islam

Prophet of Islam
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Zechariah's name in Arabic calligraphy
The tomb of Zechariah in the Great Mosque of Aleppo, Syria
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According to the Islamic doctrine, Zakarīyā (Arabic: زكريا, Zechariah) is a prophet and messenger of God (Allah), and a father of the prophet Yahya.

In the Quran

Zakariya was a righteous priest[1] and prophet of God whose office was in the Second Temple in Jerusalem. He would frequently be in charge of managing the services of the temple[2] and he would always remain steadfast in prayer to God.

Praying for a son

As he reached his old age, Zakariya began to worry over who would continue the legacy of preaching the message of God after his death and who would carry on the daily services of the temple after him. Zakariya started to pray to God for a son. The praying for the birth of an offspring was not merely out of the desire for a child.[1] He prayed both for himself and for the public – they needed a messenger, a man of God who would work in the service of the Lord after Zakariya. Zakariya had character and virtue and he wanted to transfer this to his spiritual heir as his most precious possession. His dream was to restore the household to the posterity of the Patriarch Jacob, and to make sure the message of God was renewed for Israel. As the Qur'an recounts:

A mention of the mercy of your Lord to His servant Zakariya. When he cried unto his Lord a cry in secret, saying: My Lord! Lo! the bones of me wax feeble and my head is shining with grey hair, and I have never been unblest in prayer to Thee, my Lord. Lo! I fear my kinsfolk after me, since my wife is barren. Oh, give me from Thy presence a successor who shall inherit of me and inherit (also) of the house of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, acceptable (unto Thee). [Quran 19:4–6 (Translated by Pickthall)]

Fathering Yahya

As a gift from God, Zakariya was given a son named Yaḥyá (Arabic: يحيى, identified with John the Baptist), a name specially chosen for this child alone. Muslim tradition narrates that Zakariya was ninety-two years old[3] when he was told of John's birth.

In accordance with Zakariya's prayer, God made John (Yahya) renew the message of God, which had been corrupted and lost by the Israelites.[4] As the Qur'an says:

O Zachariah! Lo! We bring thee tidings of a son whose name is John; we have given the same name to none before (him). He said: My Lord! How can I have a son when my wife is barren and I have reached infirm old age? He said: So shall it be, your Lord says: It is easy to Me, and indeed I created you before, when you were nothing. He said: My Lord! give me a sign. He said: Your sign is that you will not be able to speak to the people three nights while in sound health.

— [Quran 19:7–10 (Translated by Pickthall)]

Guardian of Maryam

According to the Qur'an, Zakariya was the guardian of Maryam . The Qur'an states:

(Remember) when the wife of 'Imran said: My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee that which is in my belly as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower! And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female - Allah knew best of what she was delivered - the male is not as the female; and lo! I have named her Mary, and lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast. And her Lord accepted her with full acceptance and vouchsafed to her a goodly growth; and made Zachariah her guardian. Whenever Zachariah went into the sanctuary where she was, he found that she had food. He said: O Mary! Whence cometh unto thee this (food)? She answered: It is from Allah. Allah giveth without stint to whom He will.[Quran 3:35–37 (Translated by Pickthall)]

Muslim theology maintains that Zakariya, along with John the Baptist and Jesus, ushered in a new era of prophets – all of whom came from the priestly descent of Amram (Imran), the father of the prophet Aaron. The fact that, of all the priests, it was Zakariya who was given the duty of keeping care of Mary (Maryam) shows his status as a pious man. Zakariya is frequently praised in the Qur'an as a prophet of God and righteous man. One such appraisal is in sura al-An'am:

"And Zakariya and Yahya and Isa and Eliyas. Each one was of the righteous."[Quran 6:85 (Translated by Pickthall)]


References

  1. ^ a b Lives of the Prophets, Leila Azzam, Zacharias and John
  2. ^ Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Qur'anic commentary to Chapter 19
  3. ^ Historical Dictionary of Prophets In Islam and Judaism, B. M. Wheeler, Zechariah, father of John
  4. ^ Luke 1:16: "And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God."
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آدمإدريسنوحهودصالحإبراهيملوطإسماعيل
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إسحاقيعقوبيوسفأيوبشُعيبموسىهارونذو الكفلداود
سليمانإلياسإليسعيونسزكريايحيىعيسىمُحمد
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