Zechariah in the Quran is a prophet of God who was sent to the Children of Israel to guide them to the straight path. Zechariah (زَکَريا) lived during the time of Mary (مَريَم) and witnessed the Birth Jesus the Messiah (المسيحُ عيسی ابن مريَم). He was also the father of John (یحیی) the Baptist. God has mentioned Zechariah’s name seven times in the Quran. In this article on Islam4u we will take a look at:
Zechariah in the Quran: The Messiah
Zechariah was one of the prophets of God who was sent to the Children of Israel. There was also another prophet by the name of ‘Imrān (عِمران). ‘Imrān and Zechariah’s wives were sisters, thus they were brothers-in-law. ‘Imrān had prophesized that a child would be born from his wife, Hannah (حَنَّة) who would be the Messiah. Therefore, Hannah conceived and thinking her child is the Messiah, made a vow to make the child a servant of the Temple.
Zechariah in the Quran: The Prophet of His Time
Meanwhile, ‘Imrān died and could not live to see his newborn child. Therefore, Zechariah became the sole prophet of the Israelites whom they did not very much accept. Either Zechariah and ‘Imrān both were prophets at the same time, or Zechariah was chosen as prophet after ‘Imrān’s death, because it is possible for more than one prophet of God to live at the same time, such as John and Jesus who were both prophets.
So Mary was born. The Quran states:
إِذْ قَالَتِ امْرَأَتُ عِمْرَانَ رَبِّ إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لَكَ مَا فِي بَطْنِي مُحَرَّرًا فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنِّي ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ ﴿35﴾
When the wife of Imran said, ‘My Lord, I dedicate to You in consecration what is in my belly. Accept it from me; indeed You are the All-hearing, the All-knowing.’
فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتْهَا قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنثَىٰ وَاللَّـهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ الذَّكَرُ كَالْأُنثَىٰ ۖ وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْيَمَ وَإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ ﴿36﴾
When she bore her, she said, ‘My Lord, I have borne a female [child]’—and Allah knew better what she had borne, and the male [child she expected] was no match for the female [child she had borne] —‘and I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Your care against [the evil of] the outcast Satan.’ 1
Zechariah in the Quran: The Baby is a Girl
Much to their surprise, the baby was not a boy to be the Messiah but a girl. This caused a number of people from the Israelites to go astray, because they thought they had been lied to. However, it was God’s will that the Messiah be born from this chaste lady. When Mary’s mother dedicated her to the Temple, it was time for someone to be her guardian. So they drew lots, and Zechariah won the lottery and became the guardian of Mary.
The Quran states:
فَتَقَبَّلَهَا رَبُّهَا بِقَبُولٍ حَسَنٍ وَأَنبَتَهَا نَبَاتًا حَسَنًا وَكَفَّلَهَا زَكَرِيَّا ۖ كُلَّمَا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهَا زَكَرِيَّا الْمِحْرَابَ وَجَدَ عِندَهَا رِزْقًا ۖ قَالَ يَا مَرْيَمُ أَنَّىٰ لَكِ هَـٰذَا ۖ قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ ﴿37﴾
Thereupon her Lord accepted her with a gracious acceptance, and made her grow up in a worthy fashion, and He charged Zechariah with her care. Whenever Zechariah visited her in the sanctuary, he would find provisions with her. He said, ‘O Mary, from where does this come for you?’ She said, ‘It comes from Allah. Allah provides whomever He wishes without any reckoning.’ 2
Mary grew up to become a fine and pious young woman. She was so devout that angels would descend to her and bring provision such as fruit and food.
Zechariah in the Quran Prays for a Son
When Zechariah saw how Mary was blessed with God and heard how she said that God provides for whoever He wishes without any measure, he prayed to God and said:
هُنَالِكَ دَعَا زَكَرِيَّا رَبَّهُ ۖ قَالَ رَبِّ هَبْ لِي مِن لَّدُنكَ ذُرِّيَّةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ إِنَّكَ سَمِيعُ الدُّعَاءِ ﴿38﴾
Thereat Zechariah supplicated his Lord. He said, ‘My Lord! Grant me a good offspring from You! Indeed You hear all supplications.’ 3
The Quran mentions exactly what Zechariah prayed in surah Maryam:
ذِكْرُ رَحْمَتِ رَبِّكَ عَبْدَهُ زَكَرِيَّا ﴿2﴾
[This is] an account of your Lord’s mercy on His servant, Zechariah,
إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُ نِدَاءً خَفِيًّا ﴿3﴾
when he called out to his Lord with a secret cry.
قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَهَنَ الْعَظْمُ مِنِّي وَاشْتَعَلَ الرَّأْسُ شَيْبًا وَلَمْ أَكُن بِدُعَائِكَ رَبِّ شَقِيًّا ﴿4﴾
He said, ‘My Lord! Indeed my bones have become feeble, and my head has turned white with age, yet never have I, my Lord, been disappointed in supplicating You!
وَإِنِّي خِفْتُ الْمَوَالِيَ مِن وَرَائِي وَكَانَتِ امْرَأَتِي عَاقِرًا فَهَبْ لِي مِن لَّدُنكَ وَلِيًّا ﴿5﴾
Indeed I fear my kinsmen, after me, and my wife is barren. So grant me from Yourself an heir
يَرِثُنِي وَيَرِثُ مِنْ آلِ يَعْقُوبَ ۖ وَاجْعَلْهُ رَبِّ رَضِيًّا ﴿6﴾
who may inherit from me and inherit from the House of Jacob, and make him, my Lord, pleasing [to You]!’ 4
In surah Anbiyā’, Zechariah supplicates God by saying:
وَزَكَرِيَّا إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُ رَبِّ لَا تَذَرْنِي فَرْدًا وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ الْوَارِثِينَ ﴿89﴾
And [remember] Zechariah, when he cried out to his Lord, ‘My Lord! Do not leave me without an heir, and You are the best of inheritors.’ 5
Zechariah in the Quran: His Prayer Is Accepted
In a number of surahs of the Quran, God mentions how God Almighty accepted Zechariah’s prayer for a son and vicegerent. Surah Maryam gives a good account of it:
يَا زَكَرِيَّا إِنَّا نُبَشِّرُكَ بِغُلَامٍ اسْمُهُ يَحْيَىٰ لَمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُ مِن قَبْلُ سَمِيًّا ﴿7﴾
‘O Zechariah! Indeed We give you the good news of a son, whose name is ‘‘John.’’ Never before have We made anyone his namesake.’
قَالَ رَبِّ أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لِي غُلَامٌ وَكَانَتِ امْرَأَتِي عَاقِرًا وَقَدْ بَلَغْتُ مِنَ الْكِبَرِ عِتِيًّا ﴿8﴾
He said, ‘My Lord! How shall I have a son, when my wife is barren, and I am already advanced in age?’
قَالَ كَذَٰلِكَ قَالَ رَبُّكَ هُوَ عَلَيَّ هَيِّنٌ وَقَدْ خَلَقْتُكَ مِن قَبْلُ وَلَمْ تَكُ شَيْئًا ﴿9﴾
He said, ‘So shall it be. Your Lord has said, ‘‘It is simple for Me.’’ Certainly I created you before when you were nothing.’
قَالَ رَبِّ اجْعَل لِّي آيَةً ۚ قَالَ آيَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلَاثَ لَيَالٍ سَوِيًّا ﴿10﴾
He said, ‘My Lord! Appoint a sign for me.’ He said, ‘Your sign is that you will not speak to the people for three complete nights.’
فَخَرَجَ عَلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ مِنَ الْمِحْرَابِ فَأَوْحَىٰ إِلَيْهِمْ أَن سَبِّحُوا بُكْرَةً وَعَشِيًّا ﴿11﴾
So he emerged before his people from the Temple, and signalled to them that they should glorify [Allah] morning and evening. 6
John’s birth was a miracle. Zechariah was a man of old age and his wife was barren. Nevertheless, God can do whatever He desires. In fact, he can create a human being from dust without any parents. Or He can cause a child to be born from a woman without a father. This is how powerful God is.
John: Confirmer of Jesus
The angels said to Zechariah:
فَنَادَتْهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَهُوَ قَائِمٌ يُصَلِّي فِي الْمِحْرَابِ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ يُبَشِّرُكَ بِيَحْيَىٰ مُصَدِّقًا بِكَلِمَةٍ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ وَسَيِّدًا وَحَصُورًا وَنَبِيًّا مِّنَ الصَّالِحِينَ ﴿39﴾
Then, as he stood praying in the sanctuary the angels called out to him: ‘Allah gives you the good news of John, as a confirmer of a Word of Allah, eminent and chaste, a prophet, and one of the righteous.’ 7
Zechariah: A Righteous Man
Zechariah in the Quran has been mentioned six times. In one surah, he is said to be among the righteous along three other prophets:
وَزَكَرِيَّا وَيَحْيَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَإِلْيَاسَ ۖ كُلٌّ مِّنَ الصَّالِحِينَ ﴿85﴾
And Zechariah, John, Jesus and Ilyas—each of them among the righteous— 8
Zechariah in the Quran Takes Care of Mary
Since Mary had lost his father, Zechariah was the guardian of Mary and would take care of her in the Temple. Mary was a nun at the Temple and Zechariah would bring her food and clothing. Of course, when Mary grew to be an Adult, she could take care of herself and Zechariah was only a spiritual guide. At this instant, Mary conceived Jesus and went to a far place to give birth.
Zechariah and John in Narrations
Narrations state that after God told the story and tragedy of Imam Hussain (امام حسین) to Zechariah, as He would to all His prophets, Zechariah wept a lot and asked God to give him a son who would be similar to Imam Hussain, in that he would be martyred. Thus, God gave him John. John was very similar to Imam Hussain. He was born in six months like him and his head was severed too and placed in a tub and given to a cruel person of his time. Therefore, they were both martyred. 9
- Quran 3:35-36 (Qara’i).
- Quran 3:37 (Qara’i).
- Quran 3:38 (Qara’i).
- Quran 19:2-6 (Qara’i).
- Quran 21:89 (Qara’i).
- Quran 19:7-11 (Qara’i).
- Quran 3:39 (Qara’i).
- Quran 6:85 (Qara’i).
- Kamāl al-Din wa Tamām al-Ni‘mah (کمال الدین و تَمامُ النِّعمَة), p. 488.
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