اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ بِجَمِیعِ مَحَامِدِه کُلِّهَا عَلَی جَمِیعِ نِعَمِهِ کُلِّهَا… اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ مالِکِ الْمُلْکِ مُجْرِی الْفُلْکِ مُسَخِّرِ الرِّیاحِ فالِقِ الاْصْباحِ دَیّانِ الدّینِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمینَ اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی حِلْمِهِ بَعْدَ عِلمِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی عَفْوِهِ بَعْدَ قُدْرَتِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی طُولِ اَناتِهِ فی غَضَبِهِ وَهُوَ قادِرٌ عَلی ما یُریدُ
All praise be to Allah with full gratitude for all His bounties. … All praise be to Allah: the master of the sovereignty, Who allows arks to flow [on seas], Who controls the winds, Who causes the day to break, Who administers the authority, and Who is the Lord of the worlds. All praise be to Allah for His forbearance despite His full knowledge. All praise be to Allah for His amnesty despite His full power. All praise be to Allah for the length of His respite during His wrath, while He is able to do whatever He wills.
و نشهد أن لا اله الا الله وحده لا شریک له، و أَنَّ محمداً عبده و رسوله ارسله بالهدی و دین الحق لیظهره علی الدین کله و لو کره المشرکون
We bear witness that there is no god but Allah. He is one and has no partners. We bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He may make it prevail over all religions, though the polytheists should be averse.
اوصیکم عبادالله و نفسی بتقوی الله و اتباع امره و نهیه، و اخوفکم من عقابه
I enjoin you, servants of Allah and myself, to have fear of God and comply with His commands and forbiddances, and warn you against His retribution.
Prophet Zechariah’s Personality and Characteristics in the Quran
Zechariah, the son of Berechiah (or Berekiah), was from the lineage of Levi, the son of Jacob. He was a great grandson of Prophet David through his daughter. Zechariah’s father was one of the seven leaders who were imprisoned in Babylon but was later released and went to Palestine. Due to the existence of other Israelite prophets named Zechariah, he is commonly known as the “Third Zechariah, the father of John.”
Zechariah was the husband of the maternal aunt of Mary the mother of Jesus. He worked as a carpenter and was responsible for overseeing the gifts and endowments offered to Solomon’s Temple.
Zechariah is a revered prophet whose name is mentioned seven times in the Quran. He holds a significant place in history as a renowned prophet. The noble Quran highlights Zechariah’s distinct qualities in different verses.
- God’s Servant
Servitude to God is a valuable trait for any individual. When God Himself refers to someone as His servant, it signifies their purity and sincerity in serving Him, as well as the acceptance of their actions by the Lord. The noble Quran speaks highly of Zechariah:
ذِكْرُ رَحْمَتِ رَبِّكَ عَبْدَهُ زَكَرِيَّا
[This is] an account of your Lord’s mercy on His servant, Zechariah. (Maryam, 2)
To describe someone as righteous implies a higher level of virtue than simply stating that they perform righteous deeds. When someone is referred to as righteous, it signifies that righteousness is ingrained in their character and inner being. God the Immaculate has acknowledged the presence of this virtue within the essence of Zechariah. The noble Quran, while enumerating the names of esteemed prophets throughout history, states:
وَتِلْكَ حُجَّتُنَا آتَيْنَاهَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَلَى قَوْمِهِ …؛ وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ إِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ كُلًّا هَدَيْنَا وَنُوحًا هَدَيْنَا مِنْ قَبْلُ وَمِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِهِ دَاوُودَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُوسُفَ وَمُوسَى وَهَارُونَ …؛ وَزَكَرِيَّا وَيَحْيَى وَعِيسَى وَإِلْيَاسَ كُلٌّ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ
This was Our argument that We gave to Abraham against his people. … And We gave him Isaac and Jacob and guided each of them. And Noah We had guided before, and from his offspring, David and Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron … and Zechariah, John, Jesus and Ilyas—each of them among the righteous. (Al-Anʿam, 83-85)
- Superior Virtue, Divine Selection, Reception of Special Divine Guidance
The noble Quran presents the common characteristics shared by the esteemed prophets throughout the history of humanity, highlighting their exceptional qualities in comparison to the people of their respective eras. These attributes encompass their superior virtue, their divine selection by God, and their reception of special guidance from the divine. After enumerating the names of these illustrious prophets, the noble Quran further declares:
وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَالْيَسَعَ وَيُونُسَ وَلُوطًا وَكُلًّا فَضَّلْنَا عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ؛ وَمِنْ آبَائِهِمْ وَذُرِّيَّاتِهِمْ وَإِخْوَانِهِمْ وَاجْتَبَيْنَاهُمْ وَهَدَيْنَاهُمْ إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ
and Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah and Lot—each We graced over all the nations—and from among their fathers, their descendants and brethren—We chose them and guided them to a straight path. (Al-Anʿam, 86-87)
These three attributes, namely being “superior,” “virtuous,” and “divinely selected,” are interconnected and have a causal relationship. The prophets’ superiority over others and their unmatched virtues stem from their righteousness, which is ingrained in their very essence and inner being. Furthermore, their exceptional virtues become the reason for their divine selection as prophets. Thus, their divine selection is a result of their surpassing virtue in comparison to others. Subsequently, their divine selection leads them to receive special divine guidance, as they have been chosen to convey God’s message and guide their respective communities.
Therefore, the achievements and elevated status of the divine prophets are not random or arbitrary. Rather, they are a direct result of their righteousness. Zechariah is one of the notable individuals who exemplify this in history.
Zechariah’s Prophetic Mission
Zechariah was chosen by God as a prophet during the reign of Darius the Great, the Achaemenid king. According to the Bible, he had a true dream and later received a divine message, officially becoming a prophet on “the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius” (Zechariah 1:7).
Zechariah’s Guardianship of Virgin Mary
Zechariah’s wife, who was the maternal aunt of Mary, was unable to bear children, and as a result, they did not have any offspring. When Mary was born to her sister, Zechariah was entrusted with her care. The noble Quran mentions the birth of Mary and her mother’s prayer in the following manner:
إِذْ قَالَتِ امْرَأَتُ عِمْرَانَ: «رَبِّ إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لَكَ مَا فِي بَطْنِي مُحَرَّرًا فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنِّي إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ»؛ فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتْهَا قَالَتْ: «رَبِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنْثَى»، وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ الذَّكَرُ كَالْأُنْثَى، «وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْيَمَ وَإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ»
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.’ 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.’ (Al ʿImran, 35-36)
As a result, Mary’s mother fulfilled her vow and dedicated her daughter to serve in the temple and in the house of God. Zechariah, being a servant of the temple, assumed the responsibility of Mary’s guardianship. It was under his care that Mary began her service in the temple. The noble Quran describes this period in the lives of Zechariah and Mary as follows:
فَتَقَبَّلَهَا رَبُّهَا بِقَبُولٍ حَسَنٍ وَأَنْبَتَهَا نَبَاتًا حَسَنًا، وَكَفَّلَهَا زَكَرِيَّا، كُلَّمَا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهَا زَكَرِيَّا الْمِحْرَابَ وَجَدَ عِنْدَهَا رِزْقًا، قَالَ: «يَا مَرْيَمُ أَنَّى لَكِ هَذَا؟» قَالَتْ: «هُوَ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَرْزُقُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ»
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.’ (Al ʿImran, 37)