The Prophets Zakariyya and Yahya
Zakariyya’s prayer for a righteous son
Another way in which Allah blesses His slaves, and reveals a sign of His power that encompasses all things, is found in the prayer of Zakariyya. Zakariyya prayed for a son who would be righteous, pleasing to Allah, dutiful and God-fearing; who would be his heir in the line of Ya’qub, of the great family of Prophets who called people to worship Allah. When Zakariyya prayed for a son, he was so advanced in years that his bones were weak and his hair was white. He had lost any hope that his wife could ever bear a child.
Yet, Allah answered his prayer. He gave him a right-guided son. While this child was still young, Allah granted him excellence, wisdom, forbearance, and knowledge, and He bestowed upon him the Book. The boy was endowed with compassion, righteousness, taqwa (piety), and obedience towards his parents. From his compassion the virtues of kindness, gentleness and humility flowed.
Allah fortified Zakariyya’s heart and showed him signs of His infinite power to do whatever He wills and to create whatever He wills. Allah showed Zakariyya in person how He can act in His creation. Zakariyya understood that Allah can make possible what He wills. All
existence is under His command: He brings forth the living from the dead, and brings forth the dead from the living, and provides for whomever He likes without reckoning.
‘Imran’s wife was of the family of the Prophet Zakariyya. She was a righteous woman who loved Allah and His true religion. She had vowed that if she gave birth to a boy, she would give this child to Allah to serve His religion. She asked Allah to accept this child, to help His religion and His servants through him, and to make him one of the Imams of guidance who call to Allah.
She said: ‘My Lord, I have given birth to a girl’
This righteous woman wanted one thing but Allah had willed another. Allah has the best knowledge of what is best for His servants. She gave birth to a girl. She became sad and depressed. But this girl was not like other girls. She was stronger in worship and had more zeal for acts of obedience and good deeds than many boys. When Allah decreed, by a wisdom that only He knew, that the child should be a girl, He also decreed that she should be the mother of a righteous Prophet of great importance, for the burdens of prophethood are only taken on by men.
When the wife of’Imran said: ‘Lord, I have vowed that what is in my womb will belong to You and be devoted to Your service. Accept this from me. You are the Hearing, the Knowing.’ When she gave birth to her, she said: ‘Lord, I have given birth to her, a girl.’ Allah knew better what she had given birth to. The male is not like the female. 7 have named her Maryam and I have entrusted her to You to protect her and her children from the accursed Satan.’ (3: 35-6)
Allah’s care for the righteous girl
The girl was put in the care of Zakariyya because of her relationship to him. She was also in the care of Allah who, as Zakariyya saw, gave her fruits outside of their proper season and place. She ate what she liked of them and gave away whatever she wished.
Her Lord accepted her with favour, and made her grow up well and beautiful. Zakariyya assumed the responsibility for her. Whenever Zakariyya came to her in the inner sanctuary, he found that she had food. He said: ‘Maryam, how did you get this?’ She said: ‘It is from Allah. Allah provides for whomever He will without reckoning.’ (3: 36)
An inspiration from the Merciful Lord
Thus Allah revealed to Zakariyya, one of the Prophets and a wise, intelligent man, that the One who could give fruits out of their season to a righteous girl was well able to give a son to an old man advanced in age, even when he had given up hope owing to his great age and his wife’s barrenness.
Zakariyya’s hopes and aspirations were revived. His spirit soared, and his trust in his Lord was strong. His tongue poured forth supplication which the angels were entrusted with and which set in motion the mercy of Allah. That was an inspiration from the Merciful Lord and something decreed by the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing.
There Zakariyya called on his Lord, saying: ‘My Lord, give me good offspring from You. You are the One who hears the supplication.’ (3: 38)
Good news of a son
Allah answered his prayer and sent him the good news of a righteous son soon to be born.
Man was created hasty. Zakariyya asked for a sign of this great event and how near it was. He said: ‘My Lord, give me a sign.’
He said: ‘Your sign is that you will not speak to people for three days except by gestures. Remember your Lord often and glorify Him in evenings and mornings.’ (3: 41) ‘
Allah can make the articulate tongue dumb, unable to utter a single word. He can endow whatever creatures He wills with whatever properties He wills.
The signs of Allah and His power
The signs of Allah and His power were evident in Zakariyya’s body, and his house and family. Yahya was born. He delighted Zakariyya, assisted him and kept his mission alive.
The Qur’an says: And Zakariyya, when he called unto his Lord: ‘О my Lord, do not leave me alone. You are the best of inheritors.’ We answered him, and gave him Yahya and We set his wife right for him. They vied with each other, hastening to good works and called to Us in yearning and awe. They were humble to Us. (21: 89-90)
Yahya takes on the burden of the call Yahya was a delight to his parents and a successor to his noble father. He took on the burden of calling to Allah and the pure religion. He had a great passion for knowledge when he was still a boy and he was endowed with righteousness and taqwa even as a young man. He surpassed his comrades in love, compassion, and obedience to his parents so that people would point him out. Allah says when He addresses him: ‘O Yahya, take the Book with force.’ We gave him judgement as a child\ and tenderness and purity from Us. He was God-fearing and dutiful to his parents, not arrogant and rebellious. ‘Peace be upon him the day he was born, the day he dies and the day when he will be raised up alive!’ (19:12-15)