An “Amazing Connection” in the Story of Zakariyyah: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah Aali ‘Imran, Allah tells us the story of Zakariyyah, including his du’a to have a son, his amazement at the promise of the fulfillment of this du’a despite his old age and his wife being barren, and his request to have a sign confirming this amazing promise. Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote in his commentary of ayah 3:41:

ـ{ رب اجعل لي آية } أي: علامة على وجود الولد قال { آيتك ألا تكلم الناس ثلاثة أيام إلا رمزًا } أي: ينحبس لسانك عن كلامهم من غير آفة ولا سوء، فلا تقدر إلا على الإشارة والرمز

رَبِّ اجْعَل لِّي آيَةً

[Zakariyyah said] “Lord, make a sign for me”

meaning: a sign of the presence of a son. He replied

آيَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ إِلَّا رَمْزًا

“your sign is that you will not speak to the people for three days, except by gestures”

meaning: your tongue will be restrained from speaking to them but not due to any disease or malady. So you will not be able to communicate except by way of pointing and gesturing. Continue reading

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“If there had been a concession for anyone in leaving off dhikr…”

The Taabi’ and mufassir Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qurathi (d. 108AH) said:

لو رخص لأحد في ترك الذكر، لرخص لزكريا عليه السلام، قال تعالى: { آيَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ إِلَّا رَمْزاً وَاذْكُرْ رَبَّكَ كَثِيراً وَسَبِّحْ بِالْعَشِيِّ وَالْإِبْكَارِ } [آل عمران: 41]. ـ

If there had been a rukhsah (concession) for anyone in leaving off dhikr (remembrance of Allah), then there would have been a rukhsah for Zakariyyah (‘alaihi al-salaam). But Allah said:

آيَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ إِلَّا رَمْزاً وَاذْكُرْ رَبَّكَ كَثِيراً وَسَبِّحْ بِالْعَشِيِّ وَالْإِبْكَارِ

Your sign [that Allah will give you a son, Yahya] is that you will not [be able to] speak to the people for three days except by gesture. And remember your Lord much and exalt [Him with praise] in the evening and the morning. [3:41]

ولو رخص لأحد في ترك الذكر لرخص للذين يقاتلون في سبيل الله، قال تعالى: { يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا لَقِيتُمْ فِئَةً فَاثْبُتُوا وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيراً لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ } [الأنفال: 45] . ـ

And if there were to be a rukhsah for anyone in leaving off dhikr, then there would have been a rukhsah for those who fight in the path of Allah. But Allah said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا لَقِيتُمْ فِئَةً فَاثْبُتُوا وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيراً لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

O you who have believed, when you meet an (enemy) force, stand firm and remember Allah much in order that you may be successful. [8:45]

[al-Bidayah w’al-Nihayah 9/286. See also Jaami’ li-Ahkaam al-Qur’an 4/78, Tafsir ibn ‘Atiyyah 3/217, Hilyah al-Awliyah 3/215]

See also: Two things for which there are no concessions

See also: “O you who have believed, remember Allah with much remembrance”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Four things for you and Three things against you

See also: Performing the Prayers in their Proper Times: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: “The Signs of the Hypocrite are Three” in the Qur’an

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. Continue reading