Prophet Zakariya AS

The Story of Prophet Zakariyah (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ)

The Character of Zakariyah (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ).

prophet Zakariya Calligraphy image

Like the Prophets who came before and after him, Prophet Zakariyah was a righteous man of noble descent. He was among the Prophets sent to tread the blessed soil of Jerusalem, guiding the Children of Israel along the path of Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ).

Prophet Zakariyah was a man of humble means but always eager to help those in need.

Wood border image
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
"Zakariyya was a carpenter."
(Sahih hadith from Sunan Ibn Majah 2150 as well as Sahih Muslim 2379)
Wood border image
prophet Ibrahim Calligraphy image

Imam Nawawi mentions how this profession further reflects his humility and dedication to earning a living through honest means. In a separate hadith,

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,
“No one has ever eaten food better than that which his hands have earned.”
— (Sahih al-Bukhari 2072)

Aside from his work as a carpenter, he remained steadfast in his service to Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ). He oversaw Bayt al-Maqdis (Masjid Al-Aqsa), and here, he tirelessly strived to remind his people of their duty through his sermons.

While content and grateful for all that Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) had blessed him with, he harbored one growing concern. He was well into his nineties with no heir to continue his legacy. He felt Bani Israel needed a strong, vibrant leader who would keep them on the straight path of Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ). As the seasons passed, Prophet Zakariyah (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and his wife aged, reaching well beyond the years of parenthood.

Paragraph Separator


The Holy Qur'an mentions how:

English Translation:

Allah chose Adam, Nuh, the family of Ibrahim and the family of 'Imran above the 'Alamin (mankind and jinns). They were descendants one of another. Allah is Hearer, Knower.
Surah Al-Imran, ayat 33-34

The Qur'an further has two surahs titled "Surah Al-Imran" and "Surah Maryam," named after Imran, who was the father of Maryam (ra), who in turn was the mother of Isa or Jesus (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ).

This was a very blessed family, and the verse traces the bloodline of The House of Imran back to Ibrahim and Nuh and ultimately from Adam (peace be upon them all). This ayah is significant from the perspective of understanding that Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) did not elevate one family over the other. Rather, they were all descendants of one another and further connected through their obedient worship of one God.

Imran Family Tree image

Now, the wife of Imran is believed to be Hannah, although not explicitly named in the Qur'an. She was a very pious and respected woman. Ibn Katheer mentions how one day, Hannah came across a bird feeding its chick. She herself was unable to conceive, and she deeply longed for a child.

Hannah Praying image
Upon seeing the birds, it inspired her to pray to Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ), saying,
"My Lord! I dedicate what is in my belly entirely to Your service, so accept it from me. You alone are truly the All-Hearing, All-Knowing."
— (Surah al-Imran, ayah 35)

This highlights an important aspect of their imaan (faith). Their primary concern was not around the material aspirations of their children. Rather, success and happiness were from the level of the child's dedication and devotion to Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ). This means keeping on the straight path, being virtuous, doing good deeds, and being safe from the whispers of shaitan. So, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) heard the call, bestowed his blessings, and granted Hannah a daughter who was given the beautiful name Maryam.

So, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) heard the call, bestowed his blessings, and granted Hannah a daughter who was given the beautiful name Maryam. Hannah was happy at the birth of her newborn baby but was initially surprised to find she had given birth to a girl.

Maryam Newborn image

She was expecting Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) to provide her with a son to fulfill specific religious duties better suited for a male inside the masjid.

She called out to Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ), saying,
"O Lord! I have given birth to a female," but Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) was fully aware of what she had given birth to. She continued to say, "I have named her Maryam and commit her and her offspring to You for protection from Shaitan, the accursed."
— (Surah Al-Imran, ayah 36)

In a hadith, the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
"Many a man achieved perfection, but no woman achieved perfection except for Maryam, the daughter of 'Imran, and Asiyah, the wife of Fir'awn."
— Sahih (Darussalam) Jami at-Tirmidhi 1834

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) blessed and honored Maryam and protected her from shaitan.

The Qur'an further mentions,

English Translation:

Then came the time when the angels said: ‘O Maryam! Behold, Allah has chosen you, and made you pure, and exalted you above all the women in the world. O Mary, be devoutly obedient to your Lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow [in prayer].
Surah al-Imran, ayah 42

And this was Maryam (ra) test, she was commanded by the angels to increase in acts of worship, to prostrate, submit, and remember Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) often. She lived and grew up inside Bayt al-Maqdis, spending countless hours in service to Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ).

Quran Mention Maryam image
Fun fact:
Maryam (ra) is the only woman mentioned in the Qur'an by her name.However, the Qur'an does refer to a total of 33 different women.

Furthermore, when Maryam (ra) was born, it was reported she did not cry.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said,
'No child is born but that Shaitan touches it when it is born, whereupon it starts crying loudly because of being touched by shaitan, except Mary and her son.
— (Sahih al-Bukhari 4548)

Paragraph Separator

PROPHET ZAKARIYAH (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) RELATIONSHIP WITH MARYAM (رضی اللہ عنہ):

As for the relationship between Zakariyah (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and Maryam (ra), there is a difference of opinion. The majority view is that Zakariyah was married to a woman named Eeshaa, and she was Maryam's elder sister. The second opinion is that Eeshaa was the maternal aunt, meaning the sister of Maryam's mother. If true, this would make Zakariyah her maternal uncle.

Regardless, before Maryam (ra) was born, her father, Imran, had already passed away. With the custom of appointing a guardian for children born without a father prevalent at that time, priests and religious leaders began arguing over who would sponsor Maryam.

The people at the masjid said,
"She is the daughter of our Imam,"

as Imran used to lead them in prayer and take care of their rituals. They recognized Maryam (ra) as a special child who came from a blessed family, and they wanted to be the ones to support her.

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) revealed in the Quran:

English Translation:

"This is news of the unseen that We reveal to you. You were not with them when they cast lots to decide who would be Maryam's guardian, nor were you there when they argued about it."
Surah Al-Imran, ayah 44

Among others, Prophet Zakariyah’s (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) name was suggested as a potential guardian for Maryam. The men drew their quills (a writing pen) and placed them in a container, inviting a child to select one. They decided that the owner of the chosen quill would claim their right over Maryam.

Prophet Zakariyah Quill selected Image

By Allah’s (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) will, Prophet Zakariyah's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) quill was chosen.

However, this did not satisfy the contenders, so they decided to let nature choose the rightful guardian.

green Grass image

The priests placed the quills in a stream, ruling that the last quill to resist the water's current would claim guardianship.

By Allah’s (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) infinite power, Prophet Zakariyah’s (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) quill remained afloat and idle in its place while the others moved with the water.

Prophet Zakariyah Quill remained Image

The priests were still not convinced.

green Grass image

This time, they asserted that the quill moving with the water would receive rights over the child.

As Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) decreed, Prophet Zakariyah's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) quill flowed fastest downstream while the others sunk under.

Prophet Zakariyah Quill Flowed Image

Thus, the men could no longer deny Zakariyah (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), and Maryam (ra) came under his protective care.

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) says:
"So her Lord accepted her graciously and blessed her with a pleasant upbringing — entrusting her to the care of Zakariyah."
— (Surah Al-Imran, ayah 37)

Prophet Zakariyah was the imam of Al-Aqsa mosque and spent most of his days there in service to Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ). He had built a separate chamber just for Maryam so he could leave her there alone in her studies and worship. No one was provided entry to her chamber but Prophet Zakariyah

Much to his surprise, each time Zakariyah visited Maryam’s sanctuary, he found fresh fruit. Fruits that grew in Summer were found fresh in her room during winter, and fruits that grew in winter were found fresh in her room during summer.

Fruits image

Zakariyah found it a miracle and was curious as to who would supply these fresh fruits when only he had access to her chamber.

He exclaimed:
“O Maryam! Where did this come from?”
— (Surah Al-Imran, ayah 37)
Maryam replied:
“It is from Allah. Surely Allah provides for whoever He wills without limit.”
— (Surah Al-Imran, ayah 37)

Prophet Zakariyah did not doubt her response.

Instead, he was inspired.

He felt that if Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) could miraculously provide Maryam with fruits that were not available in that season, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) could miraculously bless him and his wife with a child in their old age.

prophet Zakariya Praying image
So, he raised his hand and called out:
“My Lord! Surely my bones have become brittle, and gray hair has spread across my head, but I have never been disappointed in my prayer to You, my Lord! And I am concerned about the faith of my relatives after me, since my wife is barren. So grant me, by Your grace, an heir, who will inherit prophethood from me and the family of Yaqub, and make him, O Lord, pleasing to You!”
— (Surah Maryam, ayat 4-6)

Paragraph Separator

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ALLAH (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ).

Nothing happens by chance or coincidence; Allah, the All-Wise, was awaiting this prayer from His Prophet. The Lord’s response was immediate.

Prophet Zakariyah & Angel

When Prophet Zakariyah (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was at the mihrab, the angels approached him and announced:
“O Zakariyah! Indeed, We give you the good news of the birth of a son, whose name will be Yahya — a name We have not given to anyone before.
(Surah Maryam, ayah 7)

…Yahya will confirm the Word of Allah and will be a great leader, chaste, and a prophet among the righteous.”
— (Surah Al-Imran, ayah 39)

Although Prophet Zakariyah was resolute and sincere in his du'a to Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ), he was truly shocked at the knowledge that Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) had not only heard his dua but also accepted it.

He wondered:
“My Lord! How can I have a son when my wife is barren, and I have become extremely old?”
— (Surah Maryam, ayah 8)

An angel replied:
“So will it be! Your Lord says, ‘It is easy for Me, just as I created you before when you were nothing!’”
— (Surah Maryam, ayah 9)

Prophet Zakariyah was grateful to his Lord. He called out to Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ), asking Him to give him a sign when his wife had conceived.

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) responded:
“Your sign is that you will not be able to speak to people for three nights, despite being healthy.”
— (Surah Maryam, ayah 10)

As Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) ordained, while Zakariyah was in the mihrab, he realized that his voice had eluded him. He came out signaling to his people to glorify Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) morning and evening. (Surah Maryam, ayah 11)

In due course, Prophet Yahya was born.

prophet Ibrahim signaling people image

The Quran narrates:

English Translation:

"O Yahya! Hold firmly to the Scriptures.” We granted him wisdom while he was still a child, as well as purity and compassion from Us. And he was God-fearing and kind to his parents. He was neither arrogant nor disobedient. Peace be upon him the day he was born, and the day of his death, and the day he will be raised back to life!"
Surah Maryam, ayat 12-15

Paragraph Separator


Prophet Zakariyah Du'a

رَبِّ هَبۡ لِي مِن لَّدُنكَ ذُرِّيَّةٗ طَيِّبَةًۖ إِنَّكَ سَمِيعُ ٱلدُّعَآءِ ayah 38

Rabbi hab lee mil ladunka zurriyyatan taiyibatan innaka samee’ud du’aaa’

English Translation:

"My Lord, grant me from Yourself a good offspring. Indeed, You are the Hearer of supplication"
(Surah al-Imran, ayah 38)

Prophet Zakariyah Du'a

رَبِّ لَا تَذَرۡنِي فَرۡدٗا وَأَنتَ خَيۡرُ ٱلۡوَٰرِثِينَ ayah 89

Rabbi laa tazarnee fardanw wa Anta khairul waariseen

English Translation:

"My Lord, do not leave me alone [with no heir], while you are the best of inheritors."
(Surah al-Anbiya, ayah 89)

Footer Image
Support this free work