The story of ‘Eesaa, his mother, Zakariyyah and Yahya – Imam al-Sa’di

In his book of thematic tafsir, Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di collected the details of the story of the prophet ‘Eesaa (Jesus), his mother Maryam (Mary), his uncle Zakariyyah (Zechariah) and his cousin Yahya (John) together along with a number of benefits from their stories together in one chapter, as follows:

 قصة عيسى وأمه ، وزكريا ويحيى عليهم السلام

The story of ‘Eesaa and his mother, and Zakariyyah and Yahya (‘alaihim al-salaam)

كانت زوجة عمران – وهو من أكابر بني إسرائيل ورؤسائهم وذوي المقامات العالية عندهم – نذرت حين ظهر حملها أن تحرر ما في بطنها لبيت المقدس، يكون خادما لبيت الله، مُعَدًّا لعبادة الله، ظنا أن الذي في بطنها ذكر، فلما وضعتها قالت معتذرة إلى الله شاكية إليه الحال : [ رَ‌بِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنثَىٰ وَاللَّـهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ الذَّكَرُ‌ كَالْأُنثَىٰ ]  أي أن الذكر الذي له القوة والقدرة على ما يراد منه من القيام بخدمة بيت المقدس

There was the wife of ‘Imran – who was one of the esteemed people and leaders of Banu Israa’eel (Children of Israel) and he held a high position in their eyes – who made a vow when it became apparent that she was with child that she would dedicate what was in her womb to Bait al-Maqdis – that it would be a servant for the House of Allah and dedicated to the worship of Allah – thinking that that which was in her stomach was a male. So when she delivered a female child, she made an excuse to Allah in defense of her situation,

رَ‌بِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنثَىٰ وَاللَّـهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ الذَّكَرُ‌ كَالْأُنثَىٰ

“My Lord, I have delivered a female.” And Allah was most knowing of what she delivered, and the male is not like the female. [3:36]

meaning, the male is the one which has the ability and power to do what is desired of him in terms of fulfilling the role of a servant for Bait al-Maqdis.

 ـ [ وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْ‌يَمَ وَإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّ‌يَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّ‌جِيمِ ] فحصنتها بالله من عدوها هي وذريتها، وكان هذا أول حفظ وحماية من الله لها، ولهذا استجاب الله لها في هذه الدنيا . ـ

وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْ‌يَمَ وَإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّ‌يَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّ‌جِيمِ

And I have named her Maryam, and I seek refuge for her in You and for her descendants from Shaytan, the expelled [3:36]

so she sought protection with Allah from her enemy and also for her descendants. And this was this was the first preservation and protection of Allah for her [i.e. Maryam], and due to this Allah responded to her in this dunya.

ـ [ فَتَقَبَّلَهَا رَ‌بُّهَا بِقَبُولٍ حَسَنٍ ] أي أن الله جبر أمها، وصار لها عند ربها من القبول أعظم مما للذكور . ـ

فَتَقَبَّلَهَا رَ‌بُّهَا بِقَبُولٍ حَسَنٍ

So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance [3:37]

meaning, so that Allah obliged her mother, and it became a greater acceptance from her Lord for her than if it had been a male.

 ـ [ وَأَنبَتَهَا نَبَاتًا حَسَنًا وَكَفَّلَهَا زَكَرِ‌يَّا ] فجمع الله لها بين التربية الجسدية والتربية الروحية، حيث قدر أن يكون كافلها أعظم أنبياء بني إسرائيل في ذلك الوقت؛ فإن أمها لما جاءت بها لأهل بيت المقدس تنازعوا أيهم يكفلها؛ لأنها ابنة رئيسهم، فاقترعوا وألقوا أقلامهم، فأصابت القرعة زكريا رحمة به وبمريم

وَأَنبَتَهَا نَبَاتًا حَسَنًا وَكَفَّلَهَا زَكَرِ‌يَّا

And He caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zakariyyah [3:37]

so Allah combined both physical nurturing and spiritual nurturing for her, such that He decreed that her care-taker would be the greatest of the prophets of the Banu Israa’eel at that time. For indeed when her mother had brought her to the people of Bait al-Maqdis, they had disputed over which one of them would be her care-taker since she was the daughter of their leader. So the decided by casting lots with their pens, and Zakariyyah won the drawing of the lots – may Allah have mercy on him and on Maryam.

فكفلها أحسن كفالة، وأعانه على كفالتها بكرامة عظيمة منه، فكانت قد نشأت نشأة الصالحات الصدِّيقات، وعكفت على عبادة ربها، ولزمت محرابها، فكان زكريا كلما دخل عليها المحراب وجد عندها رزقا، قال: [ أَنَّىٰ لَكِ هَـٰذَا ] ؟ فإنه ليس لها كافل غير زكريا، قالت: [ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَرْ‌زُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ‌ حِسَابٍ ] أي: رزقه تعالى يأتي بطرق معهودة وبطرق أخرى، والله على كل شيء قدير . ـ

So he took care of her with the best care-taking, and Allah assisted him in his care-taking of her with a great miracle from Him. So she grew up with a righteous and truthful maturation, and was devoutly dedicated to the worship of her Lord and attached to her secluded place of worship. And whenever Zakariyyah would enter into her place, he would find some form of provision with her, so he said,

أَنَّىٰ لَكِ هَـٰذَا

from where is this coming to you? [3:37]

for she did not have any other care-taker than Zakariyyah. She replied,

هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَرْ‌زُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ‌ حِسَابٍ

It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account [3:37]

meaning His provision comes to me in unconventional ways and in other ways, and Allah is all-powerful over everything.

فحين رأى هذه الحالة ذكره ذلك لطف ربه، ورجاه إلى رحمته، فدعا الله أن يهب له ولدا يرثه علمه ونبوته، ويقوم بعده في بني إسرائيل في تعليمهم وهدايتهم . ـ

So when he saw this situation, he remembered the kind and subtle nature of his Lord, and he had hope in His mercy. So he supplicated to Allah that He would provide a son for him and cause the son to inherit his knowledge and position of prophethood and look over Children of Israa’eel after him in regards to teaching and guidance.

 ـ [ فَنَادَتْهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَهُوَ قَائِمٌ يُصَلِّي فِي الْمِحْرَ‌ابِ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ يُبَشِّرُ‌كَ بِيَحْيَىٰ مُصَدِّقًا بِكَلِمَةٍ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ ] أي: بعيسى

فَنَادَتْهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَهُوَ قَائِمٌ يُصَلِّي فِي الْمِحْرَ‌ابِ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ يُبَشِّرُ‌كَ بِيَحْيَىٰ مُصَدِّقًا بِكَلِمَةٍ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ

So the angels called him while he was standing in prayer in the place of prayer, “Indeed, Allah gives you good tidings of Yahya, confirming a word from Allah … [3:39]

meaning ‘Eesaa.

 ـ [وَسَيِّدًا] أي: عظيما عند الله، وعند الخلق لما جبله الله عليه من الأخلاق الحميدة، والعلوم العظيمة، والأعمال الصالحة . ـ

وَسَيِّدًا

… honorable …

meaning, great in the sight of Allah and in the sight of the creation, because Allah would cause him to have a praiseworthy character, great knowledge and righteous actions.

ـ [وَحَصُورً‌ا ] أي: ممنوعا بعصمة الله وحفظه، ووقايته من مواقعة المعاصي؛ فوصفه الله بالتوفيق لجميع الخيرات، والحماية من السيئات والزلات، وهذا غاية كمال العبد

وَحَصُورً‌ا

… and abstaining.”

meaning prevented from committing acts of disobedience by the protection of Allah and His preservation and prevention. So Allah described him with what coincides with all forms of good, and with protection from sins and mistakes, and this is the utmost of a slave’s completeness.

فتعجب زكريا من ذلك وقال: أني يكون لي ولد وامرأتي عاقر [وَقَدْ بَلَغْتُ مِنَ الْكِبَرِ‌ عِتِيًّا *  قَالَ كَذَٰلِكَ قَالَ رَ‌بُّكَ هُوَ عَلَيَّ هَيِّنٌ وَقَدْ خَلَقْتُكَ مِن قَبْلُ وَلَمْ تَكُ شَيْئًا ] وهذا أعجب من حملها وهي عاقر على كبرك، فمن فرحه ورغبته العظيمة في طمأنينة قلبه قال: [رَ‌بِّ اجْعَل لِّي آيَةً] تدلني على وجود الولد ، قال : [آيَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلَاثَ لَيَالٍ سَوِيًّا] ، [وَاذْكُر‌ رَّ‌بَّكَ كَثِيرً‌ا وَسَبِّحْ بِالْعَشِيِّ وَالْإِبْكَارِ‌] . ـ

So Zakariyyah was amazed by this and said: how can I have a child when my wife is barren

وَقَدْ بَلَغْتُ مِنَ الْكِبَرِ‌ عِتِيًّا *  قَالَ كَذَٰلِكَ قَالَ رَ‌بُّكَ هُوَ عَلَيَّ هَيِّنٌ وَقَدْ خَلَقْتُكَ مِن قَبْلُ وَلَمْ تَكُ شَيْئًا

and I have reached extreme old age? [An angel] said, “Thus it will be; your Lord says, طIt is easy for Me, for I created you before, while you were nothing.'” [19:8-9]

and that is more amazing than her conceiving while she is barren and you are in your old age. So out of his delight and great desire to give his heart contentment he said,

رَ‌بِّ اجْعَل لِّي آيَةً

My Lord, make for me a sign [19:10]

to prove to me the presence of a child. He said,

آيَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلَاثَ لَيَالٍ سَوِيًّا

Your sign is that you will not speak to the people for three nights, despite being otherwise sound [19:10]

وَاذْكُر‌ رَّ‌بَّكَ كَثِيرً‌ا وَسَبِّحْ بِالْعَشِيِّ وَالْإِبْكَارِ‌

And remember your Lord much and exalt Him in the evening and the morning. [3:41]

وهذه آية كبرى، يمنع من الكلام الذي هو أسهل ما يقدر عليه الإنسان، وهو سويّ، فلا يقدر أن يكلم أحدا إلا بالإشارة، ومع ذلك لسانه منطلق بذكر الله وتسبيحه وتحميده، فحينئذ تمت له البشارة من الله، وعرف أنه لا بد أن يكون

And this is a great sign; he was prevented from speaking which is the easiest of things for a person to be able to do and which is commonplace, but he was not able to say anything except by hand-motions. But despite that his tongue was free to make dhikr of Allah, and say subhanAllaah and al-hamdu lillaah. So this fulfilled the good news from Allah for him, for he knew that it was going to happen.

فولدت زوجته يحيى، وأنشأه الله نشأة عجيبة، فتعلم وهو صغير، ومهر في العلم وهو صغير، ولهذا قال: [وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْحُكْمَ صَبِيًّا] حتى قيل: إن الله نبأه وهو صغير، وكما أعطاه الله العلم العظيم فقد من عليه بأكمل الصفات فقال: [وَحَنَانًا مِّن لَّدُنَّا وَزَكَاةً ۖ وَكَانَ تَقِيًّا * وَبَرًّ‌ا بِوَالِدَيْهِ وَلَمْ يَكُن جَبَّارً‌ا عَصِيًّا * وَسَلَامٌ عَلَيْهِ يَوْمَ وُلِدَ وَيَوْمَ يَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ يُبْعَثُ حَيًّا ] ومضمون هذا وصفه بالقيام بحقوق الله، وحقوق والديه، وحقوق الخلق، وأن الله سيحسن له العواقب في أحواله كلها. ـ

So his wife gave birth to Yahya, and Allah caused him to grow up in an amazing way, for He gave him knowledge while he was still young and he became very adept in terms of knowledge while he was still young. And concerning this Allah said,

وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْحُكْمَ صَبِيًّا

And We gave him judgement while only a boy [19:12]

to the extent that is is said, ‘Verily Allah made him a prophet while he was only a boy’, and just as Allah gave him great knowledge He also made him to have the most perfect characteristics. He said,

وَحَنَانًا مِّن لَّدُنَّا وَزَكَاةً ۖ وَكَانَ تَقِيًّا * وَبَرًّ‌ا بِوَالِدَيْهِ وَلَمْ يَكُن جَبَّارً‌ا عَصِيًّا * وَسَلَامٌ عَلَيْهِ يَوْمَ وُلِدَ وَيَوْمَ يَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ يُبْعَثُ حَيًّا

And affection from Us and purity, and he was fearing of Allah * And dutiful to his parents, and he was not a disobedient tyrant * And peace be upon him the day he was born and the day he dies and the day he is raised alive [19:13-15]

And this includes his characteristics of fulfilling the rights of Allah, the rights of his parents, and the rights of the creation more generally, and that Allah will make his final ends and all of his conditions good.

وأما مريم فإنها انتبذت من أهلها مكانا شرقيا، متجردة لعبادة ربها: [فَاتَّخَذَتْ مِن دُونِهِمْ حِجَابًا] لئلا يشغلها أحد عما هي بصدده؛ فأرسل الله لها الروح الأمين جبريل في صورة بشر سوي من أكمل الرجال وأجملهم، فظنت أنه يريدها بسوء، فقالت: [إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِالرَّ‌حْمَـٰنِ مِنكَ إِن كُنتَ تَقِيًّا] ـ

And as for Maryam, then she was secluded from her people in an easternly place [of Bait al-Maqdis], solely occupied with the worship of her Lord.

فَاتَّخَذَتْ مِن دُونِهِمْ حِجَابًا

And she took, in seclusion from them, a screen [19:17]

so that no one would distract her from what she she was focused on. So Allah sent the Rooh al-Ameen Jibreel to her in the form of a normal human being, an exceptionally handsome and beautiful man. So she thought that he wanted her for evil purposes, so she said,

إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِالرَّ‌حْمَـٰنِ مِنكَ إِن كُنتَ تَقِيًّا

Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of Allah [19:18]

فتوسلت بالله في حفظها وحمايتها، وذكرته وجوب التقوى على كل مسلم يخشى الله، فكان هذا الورع العظيم منها في هذه الحالة التي يخشى منها الوقوع في الفتنة، ورفع الله بذلك مقامها، ونعتها بالعفة الكاملة، وأنها أحصنت فرجها، فقال لها جبريل: [إِنَّمَا أَنَا رَ‌سُولُ رَ‌بِّكِ لِأَهَبَ لَكِ غُلَامًا زَكِيًّا * قَالَتْ أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لِي غُلَامٌ وَلَمْ يَمْسَسْنِي بَشَرٌ‌ وَلَمْ أَكُ بَغِيًّا * قَالَ كَذَٰلِكِ قَالَ رَ‌بُّكِ هُوَ عَلَيَّ هَيِّنٌ ۖ وَلِنَجْعَلَهُ آيَةً لِّلنَّاسِ وَرَ‌حْمَةً مِّنَّا]  به وبك وبالناس  [وَكَانَ أَمْرً‌ا مَّقْضِيًّا] فلا تعجبي مما قدَّرَهُ الله وقضاه . ـ

So she besought Allah for her preservation and protection, and she reminded him of the obligation of taqwa on every Muslim to have fear of Allah, so this was a great form of wara’ (abstemiousness) from her in this situation in which she feared the occurrence of a fitnah (trial, temptation) for herself, and Allah raised her status thereby and attributed complete chastity to her, and verily she protected her private parts. So Jibreel said to her,

إِنَّمَا أَنَا رَ‌سُولُ رَ‌بِّكِ لِأَهَبَ لَكِ غُلَامًا زَكِيًّا * قَالَتْ أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لِي غُلَامٌ وَلَمْ يَمْسَسْنِي بَشَرٌ‌ وَلَمْ أَكُ بَغِيًّا * قَالَ كَذَٰلِكِ قَالَ رَ‌بُّكِ هُوَ عَلَيَّ هَيِّنٌ ۖ وَلِنَجْعَلَهُ آيَةً لِّلنَّاسِ وَرَ‌حْمَةً مِّنَّا

I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you a pure boy.’ * She said, ‘How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?’ * He said, ‘Thus it will be; your Lord says, “It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us” [19:19-21]

to him and to you and to mankind in general,

وَكَانَ أَمْرً‌ا مَّقْضِيًّا

And it is a matter already decreed [19:21]

so do not be amazed with what Allah decreed and ordained.

ـ [فَحَمَلَتْهُ فَانتَبَذَتْ] أي: ابتعدت به عن الناس  [مَكَانًا قَصِيًّا] خشية الاتهام والأذية منهم  [ فَأَجَاءَهَا] أي: ألجأها [الْمَخَاضُ]  أي: الطلق [إِلَىٰ جِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ قَالَتْ يَا لَيْتَنِي مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَـٰذَا وَكُنتُ نَسْيًا مَّنسِيًّا] لما تعرفه مما هي متعرضة له من الناس، وأنهم لا يصدقونها، ولم تدر ما الله صانع لها. ـ

فَحَمَلَتْهُ فَانتَبَذَتْ

So she conceived him, and she withdrew …

meaning, she distanced herself along with him from the people

مَكَانًا قَصِيًّا

… to a remote place [19:22]

fearing accusations and harm from them.

فَأَجَاءَهَا الْمَخَاضُ

So the labor pains drove her …

i.e. she was driven to seek refuge

إِلَىٰ جِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ قَالَتْ يَا لَيْتَنِي مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَـٰذَا وَكُنتُ نَسْيًا مَّنسِيًّا

… to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, “Oh, would that I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten!” [19:23]

so that she might not be known or exposed to the people since they consequently would not believe her, and so that they would not know what Allah had made for her.

ـ [فَنَادَاهَا] الملك [مِن تَحْتِهَا] وكانت في مكان مرتفع، وأويناهما إلى ربوة ذات قرار ومعين [وَآوَيْنَاهُمَا إِلَىٰ رَ‌بْوَةٍ ذَاتِ قَرَ‌ارٍ‌ وَمَعِينٍ] [أَلَّا تَحْزَنِي قَدْ جَعَلَ رَ‌بُّكِ تَحْتَكِ سَرِ‌يًّا] أي: نهرا جاريا [ وَهُزِّي إِلَيْكِ بِجِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ ] من دون أن تحوجك إلى صعود [تُسَاقِطْ عَلَيْكِ رُ‌طَبًا جَنِيًّا]  أي: طريا ناضجا [فَكُلِي] من الرطب [وَاشْرَ‌بِي] من السِّريِّ [وَقَرِّ‌ي عَيْنًا] بولادة عيسى، وليذهب روعك وخوفك [فَإِمَّا تَرَ‌يِنَّ مِنَ الْبَشَرِ‌ أَحَدًا فَقُولِي إِنِّي نَذَرْ‌تُ لِلرَّ‌حْمَـٰنِ صَوْمًا] [ أي: سكوتا، وكان معهودا عندهم أنهم يتعبدون بالصمت في جميع النهار، ولذا فسره بقوله [فَلَنْ أُكَلِّمَ الْيَوْمَ إِنسِيًّا] فاطمأن قلبها، وزال عنها ما كانت تجد. ـ

فَنَادَاهَا مِن تَحْتِهَا

But the angel called her from below …

as she was in an elevated place, and Allah sheltered both of them [Maryam and her child] within a high ground having level areas and flowing water,

وَآوَيْنَاهُمَا إِلَىٰ رَ‌بْوَةٍ ذَاتِ قَرَ‌ارٍ‌ وَمَعِينٍ

… and sheltered them within a high ground having level [areas] and flowing water [23:50]

أَلَّا تَحْزَنِي قَدْ جَعَلَ رَ‌بُّكِ تَحْتَكِ سَرِ‌يًّا

Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream,” [29:24]

meaning a flowing river

وَهُزِّي إِلَيْكِ بِجِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ

And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree …

without you needing to get up to do so

تُسَاقِطْ عَلَيْكِ رُطَبًا جَنِيًّا

… it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates [19:25]

i.e. soft and ripe.

فَكُلِي

So eat …

of the ripe dates

وَاشْرَبِي

… and drink …

from the stream

وَقَرِّي عَيْنًا

 … and be contented …

with the birth of ‘Eesaa, so that your concern and fear might depart.

فَإِمَّا تَرَيِنَّ مِنَ الْبَشَرِ أَحَدًا فَقُولِي إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَـٰنِ صَوْمًا فَلَنْ أُكَلِّمَ الْيَوْمَ إِنسِيًّا

… And if you see anyone from among humanity, say, “Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man” [19:26]

meaning to abstain from speaking, and in that era there was a practice of worship among them of silence throughout the entire day, and this is interpreted by His statement, “so I will not speak today to [any] man.” So her heart was made content, and what she had previously felt went away.

ثم لما تعالت من نفاسها، وأصلحت من شأنها، وقويت بعد الولادة [ فَأَتَتْ بِهِ قَوْمَهَا تَحْمِلُهُ] علنا غير هائبة ولا مبالية، فلما رآه قومها، وقد علموا أنه لا زوج لها، جزموا أنه من وجه آخر فقالوا [قَالُوا يَا مَرْ‌يَمُ لَقَدْ جِئْتِ شَيْئًا فَرِ‌يًّا * يَا أُخْتَ هَارُ‌ونَ مَا كَانَ أَبُوكِ امْرَ‌أَ سَوْءٍ وَمَا كَانَتْ أُمُّكِ بَغِيًّا * فَأَشَارَ‌تْ إِلَيْهِ] كما أمرت بذلك، فقالوا منكرين عليها مقالتها لهم [كَيْفَ نُكَلِّمُ مَن كَانَ فِي الْمَهْدِ صَبِيًّا] فقال، وهو في تلك الحال له أيام يسيرة بعد ولادته [إِنِّي عَبْدُ اللَّـهِ آتَانِيَ الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلَنِي نَبِيًّا * وَجَعَلَنِي مُبَارَ‌كًا أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُ وَأَوْصَانِي بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ مَا دُمْتُ حَيًّا] . ـ

Then after the provision in her maternal bed, and her affair had gone well, and she regained her strength after childbirth,

فَأَتَتْ بِهِ قَوْمَهَا تَحْمِلُهُ

then she brought him to her people, carrying him [19:27]

publicly, without fear or indifference. So when her people saw him and they knew that there she had no husband, they asserted that he had come from another way [i.e. illicit extramarital activities], so

قَالُوا يَا مَرْ‌يَمُ لَقَدْ جِئْتِ شَيْئًا فَرِ‌يًّا * يَا أُخْتَ هَارُ‌ونَ مَا كَانَ أَبُوكِ امْرَ‌أَ سَوْءٍ وَمَا كَانَتْ أُمُّكِ بَغِيًّا * فَأَشَارَ‌تْ إِلَيْهِ

They said, “O Maryam, you have certainly done an unprecedented things, O sister of Haaroon; your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste.” So she pointed to him [19:27-29]

just as she had been commanded to do. So, disapproving of her response to them, they said,

كَيْفَ نُكَلِّمُ مَن كَانَ فِي الْمَهْدِ صَبِيًّا

How can we speak to one who is a child in the cradle? [19:29]

So he said – and he was in that condition of it being just a few days after his birth – ,

إِنِّي عَبْدُ اللَّـهِ آتَانِيَ الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلَنِي نَبِيًّا * وَجَعَلَنِي مُبَارَ‌كًا أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُ وَأَوْصَانِي بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ مَا دُمْتُ حَيًّا

Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah (charity) as long as I remain alive. [19:30-31]

فكان هذا الكلام منه في هذه الحال من آيات الله، وأدلة رسالته، وأنه عبد الله لا كما يزعمه النصارى، وحصل لأمه البراءة العظيمة مما يظن بها من السوء، لأنها لو أتت بألف شاهد على البراءة وهي على هذه الحال ما صدقها الناس، ولكن هذا الكلام من عيسى وهو في المهد جلا كل ريب يقع في القلوب، فانقسم الناس فيه بعد هذا ثلاثة أقسام: ـ

So that speech from him in that condition was one of the signs of Allah, and it proved his prophethood and that he was a slave of Allah – unlike what the Christians assert. And he ensured the great innocence of his mother from the evil that people had thought of her, because even if she had brought one thousand witnesses to bear witness of her innocence while she was in that condition her people would not have believed her. However this speech from ‘Eesaa while he was in the cradle washed away every doubt which had occurred in their hearts.

So the people very divided into three groups concerning him after this:

قسم آمنوا به وصدقوه في كلامه هذا، وفي الانقياد له بعد النبوة، وهم المؤمنون حقيقة. ـ

One group believed in him and affirmed him in this speech of his, and in submitted to him when the prophethood came, and they are the true believers.

وقسم غلوا فيه وهم النصارى، فقالوا فيه المقالات المعروفة، ونزلوه منزلة الرب، تعالى الله عن قولهم علوا كبيرا. ـ

And one group went to extremes concerning him, and they are the Christians. So their statements about him are well-known, and they placed him in the station of Lord – Exalted is Allah above their statements by a great height.

وقسم كفروا به وجفوه – وهم اليهود – ورموا أمه بما برأها الله منه، ولهذا قال تعالى [فَاخْتَلَفَ الْأَحْزَابُ مِن بَيْنِهِمْ ۖ فَوَيْلٌ لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُ‌وا مِن مَّشْهَدِ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ] . ـ

And one group disbelieved in him and they shunned him – and they are the Jews – and they threw accusations against his mother concerning that of which Allah had declared her innocent. And so He said,

فَاخْتَلَفَ الْأَحْزَابُ مِن بَيْنِهِمْ ۖ فَوَيْلٌ لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُ‌وا مِن مَّشْهَدِ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ

Then the factions differed [concerning ‘Eesaa] among themselves, so woe to those who disbelieved – [woe to them] of the scene of a tremendous Day [19:37]

ولما أرسله الله إلى بني إسرائيل آمن به من آمن، وكفر به من كفر، وجعل يريهم الآيات والعجائب، فكان يصور الطين فينفخ فيه فيكون طيرا بإذن الله، ويبرئ الأكمه والأبرص، ويحيي الموتى بإذن الله، وينبئهم عن كثير مما يأكلون، ويدخرون في بيوتهم، ومع ذلك فتكالبت عليه أعداؤه وأرادوا قتله، فألقى الله شبهه على واحد من الحواريين أصحابه أو من غيرهم، ورفعه الله إليه، وطهّره من قتلهم . ـ

And when Allah sent him to the Children of Israa’eel those who believed believed in him, and those who disbelieved disbelieved in him, and He caused him to show them amazing signs. So he formed clay and blew into it and it became a bird by the permission of Allah, and he healed the blind and the leper, and gave life to the dead by the permission of Allah, and informed them of much of what they had eaten and what they had kept stored in their houses. But in spite of that they assailed him and showed enmity to him and desired his murder. So Allah threw his semblance onto one of his disciple companions or onto someone else, and Allah raised him up to Himself and He purified him of their murder.

فأخذوا شبيهه فقتلوه وصلبوه، وباءوا بالإثم العظيم والْجُرم الجسيم، وصدقهم النصارى أنهم قتلوه وصلبوه، ونزّهه الله من هذه الحالة فقال: [وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ وَمَا صَلَبُوهُ وَلَـٰكِن شُبِّهَ لَهُمْ] . ـ

So they seized his look-alike and they killed him and crucified him. And they attributed great wrongs and crimes to him, and the Christians believed and affirmed that he had been killed and crucified. And Allah cleared him of this condition, saying,

وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ وَمَا صَلَبُوهُ وَلَـٰكِن شُبِّهَ لَهُمْ

And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but it was made to appear so to them [4:157]

وقد قام عيسى في بني إسرائيل فبشَّر وأعلن برسالة محمد ﷺ فلما جاءهم محمد الذي يعرفونه كما يعرفون أبناءهم قالوا: [هَـٰذَا سِحْرٌ‌ مُّبِينٌ] كما قالوا في عيسى [فَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُ‌وا مِنْهُمْ إِنْ هَـٰذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ‌ مُّبِينٌ] . ـ

And ‘Eesaa had been among the Children of Israa’eel and had given glad tidings and announced the prophethood of Muhammad. So when Muhammad – who they recognized like they recognized their own sons – came to them, they said,

هَـٰذَا سِحْرٌ‌ مُّبِينٌ

This is clear magic

just as they had said about ‘Eesaa,

فَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُ‌وا مِنْهُمْ إِنْ هَـٰذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ‌ مُّبِينٌ

and those who disbelieved among them said, “This is not but obvious magic.” [5:110]

***

وفي هذه القصة من الفوائد أمور

There are a number of benefits in this story

منها: أن النذر ما زال مشروعا في الأمم السابقة، والنبي ﷺ  قال فيه كلمة جامعة للصحيح النافذ منه للباطل فقال: { من نذر أن يطيع الله فليطعه، ومن نذر أن يعصي الله فلا يعصه } . ـ

One of them is that vows did not cease to be part of the divine legislation in previous nations [i.e. they still remain a part of the divine legislation]. The Prophet (ﷺ) said some comprehensive words concerning this in order for the truth to expel falsehood, he said, “Whoever made a vow to obey Allah then let him obey Him, and whoever made a vow to disobey Allah then let him not disobey Him.”

ومنها: أن من نعمة الله على العبد أن يكون في كفالة الصالحين الأخيار؛ فإن المربي والكافل له الأثر الأعظم في حياة المكفول وأخلاقه وآدابه، ولهذا أَمَرَ الله المربين بالتربية الطيبة المشتملة على الحث على الأخلاق الجميلة، والترهيب من مساوئ الأخلاق. ـ

Another is that from the blessings of Allah upon a slave is that he would be under the care of the best righteous people. For verily the care-taker and nurturer leaves a great impact on the life of the one whom he took care of and on his manners and etiquette. And because of this Allah commanded the nurturers with good nurturing which includes an encouragement towards having excellent manners, and a discouragement against poor manners.

ومنها: إثبات كرامات الأولياء؛ فإن الله كرَّم مريم بأمور: يسَّر لها أن تكون في كفالة زكريا بعدما حصل الخصام في شأنها، وأكرمها بأن كان رزقُها يأتيها من الله بلا سبب، وأكرمها بوجود عيسى، وولادتها إياه، وبخطاب الملك لها بما يطمِّن قلبها، ثم بكلامه في المهد، فهذه الأخيرة جمعت كرامة وليّ ومعجزة نبي. ـ

Another is a confirmation of the miracles of the awliyah [those servants close to Allah], for verily Allah honored Maryam in several ways: He facilitated her being under the care of Zakariyyah when a quarrel occurred concerning her case, and He honored her by making her provision come from Allah without any cause, and He honored her by the presence of ‘Eesaa and her conception of him, and by the angel speaking to her with what calmed her heart and then with ‘Eesaa’s speech while in the cradle – and this last one combined both a miracle [karaamah] of a wali and the miracle [mu’jizah] of a prophet.

ومنها: الآيات العظيمة التي أجراها الله على يد عيسى ابن مريم: من إحياء الموتى، وإبراء الأكمه والأبرص ونحوهما. ـ

Another is the great signs with which Allah carried out at the hand of ‘Eesaa ibn Maryam – such as giving life to the dead, and curing the leper and blind and the likes of them.

ومنها: ما أكرم الله به عيسى بأن جعل له حواريين وأنصارا في حياته وبعد مماته في بث دعوته والنصر لدينه، ولذلك كثر تابعوه، ولكن منهم المستقيم، وهو الذي آمن به حقيقة، وآمن بجميع الرسل، ومنهم المنحرف، وهم الذين غلوا فيه، وهم جمهور من يدعي أنه من أتباعه، وهم أبعد الناس عنه. ـ

Another benefit is how Allah honored ‘Eesaa in that He made the disciples [Hawaareeyoon] helpers for him during his life and after his [apparent] death in transmitting his call and supporting his deen. And due to that his followers increased in number, however some of them were upon right guidance – and they were the ones who truly believed in him and believed in all of the messengers – and some of the were deviated – and they were the ones who went to extremes concerning him, and they are the majority of of those who claim to be from his followers, though they are the furthest of people from him.

ومنها: أن الله أثنى على مريم بالكمال بالصديقية، وأنها صدقت بكلمات ربها وكتبه، وكانت من القانتين، وهذا وصف لها بالعلم الراسخ، والعبادة الدائمة، والخشوع لله، وأنه اصطفاها وفضلها على نساء العالمين. ـ

Another is that Allah praised Maryam with the best of praise for her siddeeqiyyah, and that she affirmed the words of her Lord and His books, and she was one of the devoutly obedient ones. And so He characterized her with firmly-rooted knowledge, constant worship and humility towards Allah, and that He chose her and favored her above the women of all creation.

ومنها: أن إخبار الله للنبي بهذه القصة وغيرها مفصلة مطابقة للحقيقة من أدلة رسالته وآيات نبوته لقوله: [ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ أَنبَاءِ الْغَيْبِ نُوحِيهِ إِلَيْكَ] . ـ

And another is that Allah informed the prophet of this story and others in a detailed way which corresponds to the reality is one of the proofs of his prophethood and a sign of that according to His statement,

ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ أَنبَاءِ الْغَيْبِ نُوحِيهِ إِلَيْكَ

That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you [12:102]

[Taysir al-Lateef al-Manaan pg. 373-380]

See also: The Messiah was only a Messenger and his mother was a ṣiddīqah: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: “Had Allah willed to take a son…” : Tafsir al-Sa’di and Tafsir ibn Kathir

See also: A reply to those who say, “If God can do anything, why can He not have a son?”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: A response to those who say “We are the children of Allah”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The Themes and Contents of Surah Maryam: ibn Taymiyah

See also: Imam al-Shawkani on the Gospels

See also: Two disbelieving women and two believing women: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Blessed are those who read the Book of Allah and act accordingly

See also: Appropriate Miracles for Each People and Era: Ibn Kathir

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17 thoughts on “The story of ‘Eesaa, his mother, Zakariyyah and Yahya – Imam al-Sa’di

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