An Account of Prophet Zakariyya (a.s.) and Prophet Yahya (a.s.)

In Surah the family of Imran Allah says, “There did Zakariyya pray to his Lord; he said My Lord! Grant me from Thee good offspring; surely Thou art the Hearer of prayer. Then the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary?”

(The Holy Quran, 3:38-39)

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.) says,

“Reciting prayer (Salat) is a service towards Allah and it is the best duty. For this reason the angels told Zakariyya that Allah gives him the news of Yahya verifying a Word from Allah, and honorable and chaste and a Prophet from among the good ones.”

(The Holy Quran, 3:39)

He (Zakariyya) said, My Lord when shall there be a son (born) to me, and old age has already come upon me, and my wife is barren? At that time Zakariyya was 120 years old and his wife
  1. According to Ali ibn Ibrahim the wife was old and did not used to get menstrual course. It was not a question to be against Allah’s will but he was surprised to beget a son in old age.) Zakariyya said, Even thus does Allah what He pleases.

He said, My Lord: appoint a sign for me Said He: Your sign is that you should not speak to men for three days except by signs; and remember your Lord much and glorify Him in the evening and the morning.

(The Holy Quran, 3:41)

In Surah Maryam Ayat no 2 to 6 Allah says,

“A mention of the mercy of your Lord to His servant Zakariyya. When he called upon his Lord in a low voice. He said, My Lord surely my bones are weakened and my head fares with hoariness and my Lord! I have never been unsuccessful in my prayer to Thee. And surely I fear my cousins after me, and my wife is barren, therefore grant me from Thyself an heir. Who should inherit me and inherit from the children of Yaqoob, and make him, my Lord, one in Whom Thou art well pleased.

According to tradition of Ali ibn Ibrahim up to that time he didn’t have any son to continue his generation. And was the chief Scholars of Palestine. He used to get gifts and all facilities from them. His wife was the daughter of Imran’s son Masaan and descendants of Yaqoob were the chiefs of people. They belonged to Prophet Sulayman’s family.

Allah, the exalted says: O Zakariyya! Surely we give you good news of a boy whose name shall be Yahya; we have not made before anyone his equal. He said, O my Lord! when shall I have a son, and my wife is barren, and I myself have reached extreme 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.

(The Holy Quran, 19:7-9)

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) is reported to have said,

“Yahya born five years after Allah’s revelation.” 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.

(The Holy Quran, 19:10)

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.) is quoted in many religious books that Zakariyya had doubt whether it is Allah’s revelation or Satan’s information. For that he asked about the sign from Allah. Allah cleared his doubt by saying, he will not able to speak for three days with anyone while in sound health. When this sign approached upon him, he understood that Allah’s promise was true. Whenever he wanted to say anything to the people, he could not speak but giving the sign by nodding the head.

So he went forth to his people from his place of worship, then he made known to them that they should glorify (Allah) morning and evening.

(The Holy Quran, 19:11)

Zakariyya says that He was coming out from his place of worship at the time of prayer every morning and evening, and calling people for prayer by reciting the holy verses and when time came of his wife’s delivery, he could not speak with anyone nor could recited any Dua or prayer.

Allah says: O Yahya! Take hold of the Book with strength, and We granted him wisdom while yet a child.

(The Holy Quran, 19:12)

According to tradition when Allah commanded him, Yahya was three years old. When the other children tried to play with him, Yahya said that he was not born to play and waste time. According to the report of Ali ibn Asbaat, once he came to Imam Muhammad al-Taqi. Imam Taqi’s height was about 5 feet. Ali ibn Asbaat thought something about his height. Imam looked at him and said that Allah, the Creator, sends the messengers not to merely

promulgate the divine law but act upon them practically. Sometimes the Almighty bestowed Prophethood at the age of forty and sometimes in childhood as in the case of Yahya and Allah, the Exalted says in Qur’an,

“And tenderness from Us and purity, and he was one who guarded (against evil).”

(The Holy Quran, 19:14)

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) said that when the Prophet addressed Him ‘Ya Rabbah’ at once Allah replied, “Labbaik” means “I am here, I am always with you, say what do you want”? In Qur’an, Allah says:

“And dutiful to his parents, and he was not insolent, disobedient. And peace on him on the day he was born, and on the day he dies, and on the day he is raised to life.”

(The Holy Quran, 19:14)

Allah, the Beneficent declares in Qur’an,

“And Zakariyya, when he cried to his Lord O my Lord! Leave me not alone; and Thou art the best of inheritors.”

(The Holy Quran, 21:89)

Allah, the Merciful replies in connection of these


“So We responded to him and gave him Yahya and made his wife fit for him, surely they used to hasten, one with another in deeds of goodness and to call upon Us hoping and fearing; and they were humble before Us.”

(The Holy Quran, 21:90)

According to Saeed bin Abdullah once he asked some questions to Imam al-Mahdi (a.t.f.s) when he was very young and was sitting on a lap of his father Imam al-Hasan Askari (a.s.) Saeed bin Abdullah asked Imam to explain the meaning of “Kaaf-Haa-yaa-Ayn- Suad.” Imam at once said that there is a great secret behind of these letters. Allah has given the knowledge of these letters to Zakariyya and the last Prophet, Muhammad al-Mustafa.

It is said that Zakariyya requested the Almighty to make him know the names of the people of the cloak.

By the order of Allah Archangel Gabriel approached him and taught him the names of the people of the cloak. When Zakariyya was reciting the names of Muhammad (s.a.w.a.), Ali (a.s.), Fatemah (s.a.), Hasan (a.s.) his tension and sadness dissipated at once but when he recited the name of Husain (a.s.), his throat was choked and he started crying. Then one day after reciting Dua and prayer he asked Allah the reason of his crying by reciting the name Husain (a.s.).

Allah, the beneficent told him about the incident of Karbala by revelation: ‘Kaaf means Karbala, ‘Haa’ means the martyrdom of the son of Rasool ‘Yaa’ means Yazid, ‘Ayn’ means thirst and hunger of the family of Husain. ‘Suad’ means Patience of Imam al-Husain (a.s.).

When Zakariyya heard this, he felt, too much sorrow. He could not come out from his place of worship and forbade people to come and see him. He was saddened deeply, prayed to Allah by crying at Imam’s martyrdom. He said, “O, Allah! You will test your Prophet Muhammad al-Mustafa (s.a.w.a.)’s heart by grievances and troubles for the people of world to spread the principles and laws of Islam! Imam Ali (a.s.) and Fatemah (s.a.) will also mourn and wear black dress for Imam al-Husain (a.s.)’s martyrdom!”

He prayed, “My Lord! Grant me a son, I will prove myself as a truthful servant. O Allah make me cry and sad for my son’s troubles and sorrow as you will make your Prophet sorrowful for his son Imam al-Husain (a.s.)’s grief.”

Allah the Merciful granted him a son named Yahya. His mother’s pregnancy was only of six months and Imam al-Husain (a.s.)’s was also the same.

According to the traditions of Imam al-Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s.) the names Yahya and Husain were fixed by Allah and no one knew these

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:

names before.

The murderer of Prophet Saaleh’s camel, Yahya’s, Imam Ali’s, and Imam al-Husain (a.s.)’s murders were all adulterers.

It is said that the earth and the heavens did not weep for anyone except Yahya and Imam al-Husain (a.s.). The sun lamented on their martyrdom. It became red like blood while rising and setting. According to another tradition, it rained blood. If a white colored cloth was spread on the ground it might have become red, and blood started oozing from below the stones.

According to the tradition of Imam Zayn al-Aabedin (a.s.) after the incident of Karbala, they were returning to Karbala again. On the way wherever they halted, he heard his beloved father Imam al-Husain (a.s.) and Yahya saying that the people of Palestine killed Yahya and sent his head to a prostitute.

Ibn Baabwayh has quoted from Wahab ibn Munabbah that one day Iblees was roaming among the people in Palestine and taking about Maryam and Zakariyya and defaming them. So the people turned against him (Zakariyya) and were ready to kill him. Zakariyya ran towards a tree to escape the enemies. The trunk of the tree cracked and Zakariyya entered in it and the crevices joined as before.

Iblees brought the people to the tree where Zakariyya was hiding. He searched for him by putting his hand below the tree and asked people to split the tree into pieces. The people obeyed him and cut the tree with a saw into two lying in the open and went away. Iblees also disappeared from there. Zakariyya felt no pain when people cut the tree with him.

Allah sent some angels who bathed his dead body and said prayer for three days continuously. The dead body of Allah’s messenger never decomposes nor is it dispersed in the soil.

He in whose presence we (and our miseries) are mentioned and, as a result, his eyes pour out tears, Allah shall make his face forbidden upon the fire of hell.

(Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 44, p. 185)