Uzair in the Quran is a prophet of God, sent to the Israelites, who asks God to show him how He resurrects the dead. Thus, God shows him by causing him to die for a hundred years and then resurrects him. In this article on Islam4u, we will take a look at:
Who Was Uzair in the Quran?
Uzair and ‘Azīz were two twin brothers who were the descendants of Aaron. They were born in Jerusalem. Uzair is introduced as one of the prophets of God sent to the Children of Israel. The Quran makes mention of his name only once in surah Tawbah verse 30. Uzair lived during the Achaemenid empire.
The Temple Is Destroyed
Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed the Temple of Jerusalem, destroyed all copies of the Torah, and took the Israelites captive in Babylon. However, God sent Uzair to revive the Torah.
Uzair’s Story in Surah Baqarah
The story of Uzair (عُزَير) and the resurrection of the dead is told in surah Baqarah verse 259:
أَوْ كَالَّذِي مَرَّ عَلَىٰ قَرْيَةٍ وَهِيَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَىٰ عُرُوشِهَا قَالَ أَنَّىٰ يُحْيِي هَـٰذِهِ اللَّـهُ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا ۖ فَأَمَاتَهُ اللَّـهُ مِائَةَ عَامٍ ثُمَّ بَعَثَهُ ۖ قَالَ كَمْ لَبِثْتَ ۖ قَالَ لَبِثْتُ يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْضَ يَوْمٍ ۖ قَالَ بَل لَّبِثْتَ مِائَةَ عَامٍ فَانظُرْ إِلَىٰ طَعَامِكَ وَشَرَابِكَ لَمْ يَتَسَنَّهْ ۖ وَانظُرْ إِلَىٰ حِمَارِكَ وَلِنَجْعَلَكَ آيَةً لِّلنَّاسِ ۖ وَانظُرْ إِلَى الْعِظَامِ كَيْفَ نُنشِزُهَا ثُمَّ نَكْسُوهَا لَحْمًا ۚ فَلَمَّا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ قَالَ أَعْلَمُ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ ﴿259﴾
Or him who came upon a township as it lay fallen on its trellises. He said, ‘How will Allah revive this after its death?!’ So Allah made him die for a hundred years, then He resurrected him. He said, ‘How long did you remain?’ Said he, ‘I have remained a day or part of a day.’ He said, ‘No, you have remained a hundred years. Now look at your food and drink which have not rotted! Then look at your ass! [This was done] that We may make you a sign for mankind. And now look at its bones, how We raise them up and clothe them with flesh!’ When it became evident to him, he said, ‘I know that Allah has power over all things.’ 1
Even though the name of Uzair is not mentioned in the above verse, Quranic exegetes agree that the person who wonders how God resurrects the dead is Uzair.
Uzair in the Quran: Life After One Hundred Years
Hundred years had passed and the city had gone through a great deal of changes. Uzair went to his city and asked where his house was from a blind old woman. The women shed tears out of joy that someone is asking where Uzair’s house is for the first time from her. She showed him where she thought his house was. That woman asked Uzair to pray for her health. Therefore, Uzair prayed to God and she regained her sight.
Proving His Identity to the Israelites
According to Ibn Kathir (ابن کَثير), in order to prove that he is the same Uzair, he showed a mark on his shoulders to his children so that they would believe that he is their father. His children were now older than him and more than a hundred years of age. However, the Israelites still did not believe him to be Uzair. Therefore, they asked him to recite the Torah to them that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II and no remains of it was left. Thus, Uzair began reciting the Torah by heart.
He also showed the place where a copy of the Torah was buried by his father. When they brought it out, they compared what Uzair had read by heart with the book and it was exactly the same. Therefore, the Jews of that time revered him so much and called him son of God. That is why the Quran says:
وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللَّـهِ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَى الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ اللَّـهِ ۖ ذَٰلِكَ قَوْلُهُم بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ ۖ يُضَاهِئُونَ قَوْلَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن قَبْلُ ۚ قَاتَلَهُمُ اللَّـهُ ۚ أَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ ﴿30﴾
The Jews call ‘Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth! 2
Of course, Jews today will probably deny that they say Uzair or Ezra (biblical name) is the son of God. However, there definitely were a group of Jews at the time of Prophet Muhammad who used to say Uzair is the son of God.
- Quran 2:259 (Qara’i).
- Quran 9:30 (Qara’i).
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