Tafseer Maryam Day 4 Ayat 7-11

  • previously in ayah 5 – 6, we see how Zakariyya a.s. was beseeching Allah firt by mentioning his weakness and plight and stating his case
  • part of etiquette of dua is to enumerate and can’t even begin to enumerate the blessings of Allah
  • then he states the objective of the dua
  • why is he asking for the child now more emphatically than before
  • because he is not confident of the people he’s leaving behind him to carry on the message
  • so please to give him someone he can put full confidence and trust in
  • this confidant will inherit from him and all the associates, affiliates of Yaqoub a.s. the akhlaq so he can carry on the message

Ayat 7

Sahih International

[He was told], “O Zechariah, indeed We give you good tidings of a boy whose name will be John. We have not assigned to any before [this] name.”

  • here Allah answers his dua
  • from context, something is not mentioned
  • it doesn’t say his supplication was accepted
  • it doesn’t even say Qaala
  • so scholars say that already you can see how Allah has removed any type of prologue, introduction
  • what we can understand from that, is in same way , without any type of a wait, Allah gave him immediately what he asks for
  • not even for the span of 2 seconds it takes to say  Qaala
  • immediately Allah says “Ya Zakariyya”
  • this sur’ah(immediacy) in kalaam is the immediate fulfillment of the dua of Zakariyya
  • “We are congratulating you on the good news of a son and his name is Yahya.”
  • interesting that Allah is designating the name of Yahya a.s.
  • there is a huge discussion among the classical tafaaser about this
  • when most people make an attempt to name their children, they do it with intention of choosing name of someone who is admirable (Khalid, Fatima, Muhammad etc) because they want to find the quality of the person in their children
  • it’s almost like a dua, “Oh Allah I’m naming my child Aisha, please make her like Aisha.”
  • it can be a very powerful motivational technique that you can tell your child, that he’s name after__ so strive to be like him or her
  • second thing under consideration is the meaning of the name
  • this is also a form of tafa’ul, kind of hoping something good from Allah
  • “I will name my child Saalih, or my daughter Saalihah in the hope that that quality will transfer, oh Allah make him/her a saalihah”
  • when somebody gives their child a good name it’s like a dua/hope that Allah will put that quality in their child
  • here Allah Himself is giving the name Yahya
  • whatever it meant in its original language, it means something very noble
  • no one before him given this name
  • in Surah Aali Imran – Allah described that he would testify as to the truth of the word from Allah and he would be a leader and extremely chaste and he would be a prophet and from the righteous people
  • 3:39
    Sahih International

    So the angels called him while he was standing in prayer in the chamber, “Indeed, Allah gives you good tidings of John, confirming a word from Allah and [who will be] honorable, abstaining [from women], and a prophet from among the righteous.”

  • imagine when Allah Himself give that name to somebody then it’s almost a guarantee this child will be these things
  • so it’s a great virtue of Yahya a.s. that his name has been decided by Allah


  • 2 possible meanings :-

1. if take original meanings of word -> it means elevation/to leave a mark/brand

  • we never made anyone for him of such elevated status or one who would leave such a mark
  • it doesn’t mean he’s going to be better than anyone born before him but it’s an expression that We’re going to make him a mane of great honor, dignity
  • We’re going to take him not just a son you’re asking for but far and beyond your expectation
  • Maryam 65 – when Allah speaks about Himself
  • 19:65
    Sahih International

    Lord of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them – so worship Him and have patience for His worship. Do you know of any similarity to Him?”

  • used in that same meaning

2. but if we were to use it in the meaning of one of its derivatives

  • ism comes from same root as Samiyya
  • so -> no one before him have been named that name
  • both interpretation is valid
  • when there are multiple interpretation even based on language, appreciate all possible meaning at same
  • because that is part of eloquence and magficence of Quran that is able to say so many things at the same time
  • another thing that scholars point out that when saying there is no one like Yahya before, it’s not only in terms of nobility but also in terms of the miraculous nature of his birth (his parents very very old)
  • here Allah is giving us a story to teach us a powerful lessons about supplication
  • when dua made at the right time and made with the right intention and made with firm conviction and with appropriate proper words, at that time there is no distance, interruption between the dua and fulfillment of that dua
  • Allah immediately answers it like in case of Zakariya
  • it doesn’t matter how much the odds are stacked against that supplication
  • Allah will break all the laws, sunnah that Allah has put in place to grant that dua
  • in Quran Allah says “You will find no change in the sunnah of Allah”
  • but when dua made with right intention, motives, time, appropriate words, Allah will break all the sunnah to grant that dua
Sahih International

He said, “My Lord, how will I have a boy when my wife has been barren and I have reached extreme old age?”

  • this is Zakariya a.s. speaking out
  • after Zakariya given this pleasing unbelievable news, Zakariya responds out of joy, being overjoyed

anna – word of astonishment

  • how is it possible that I will have a son? And my wife up to this point has not been able to bear children and I have crossed all limits when it comes to being old
  • rabbi anna yakoonu li ghulaam?
  • in the story of birth of Isa a.s. to Maryam especially in Aali Imran, when Maryam expresses that same type of astonishment, she says ‘walad
  • walada – a child
  • 3:47
  • 3:47
    Sahih International

    She said, “My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?” [The angel] said, “Such is Allah ; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.

  • here, he uses ghulaam
  • what’s the difference, significance?
  • context is very very important
  • sometimes the explanation is right there we just have to look a little bit closer
  • when Allah gave good news to Zakariyya , He said, ghulaam, so when Zakariya expresses astonishment, he uses ghulam too
  • when Maryam was given the good news of forthcoming birth of Isa a.s., she was told by Allah, ‘bikalimatin‘ and from that will be maseeh Isa ibn Maryam
  • 3:45
  • 3:45
    Sahih International

    [And mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary – distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to Allah ].

  • so it wasn’t designated it will be son or daughter but that just a command will be issued
  • and she responds, with walad, it doesn’t mean son
  • in modern Arabic it means boy/son but in classical Arabic, walad simply means ‘one that is given birth to’ either son or daughter
  • so Maryam uses walad, general, can be either son or girl
  • here, Zakariyya told he was going to have a son and he responds with word ghulam too
  • ‘my wife hasn’t been able to bear children up to this point, and I most definitely reached from old age, ‘itiyyan
  • itiyyan‘ comes from ‘utoo
  • root of the word means to cross limits of all  bondaries
  • ‘utuwan kafoora – someone who breaks all limits, crosses all lines of indecency in his disbelief
  • I haven’t just gotten old but I have crosses all limit of being old – this is what Zakariyya was saying
  • in Aali Imran, when Zakariya states him being in old age, he says ‘old age has reached me’
  • 3:40
  • 3:40
    Sahih International

    He said, “My Lord, how will I have a boy when I have reached old age and my wife is barren?” The angel said, “Such is Allah ; He does what He wills.”

  • here he says “I have reached old age’
  • this might not seem like a huge difference, but in Arabic it’s a huge difference
  • in terms of figure or speech, ‘I have reached old age’ expresses a lot more seniority than saying ‘old age has reached me’
  • Old age has reached me = “I’m still trying to hold on, time has caught up with me but as far as I’m concerned, I’m still willing to go on”
  • but saying “I have reached old age” it’s like someone admitting I have gotten really really old, admitting at a greater level that i have gotten very old
  • so why is he saying he is much older here than over there in Aali Imran
  • look at context
  • in Aali Imran, right then and there Zakariya made dua to Allah, “give me a righteous offspring”
  • 3:38
  • 3:38
    Sahih International

    At that, Zechariah called upon his Lord, saying, “My Lord, grant me from Yourself a good offspring. Indeed, You are the Hearer of supplication.”

  • but here, he’s expressing how old he is, he is expressing it more emphatically here because the context demands it
  • Zakariya is being given good news from Allah Himself
  • name already fixed and confirmed and he’s going to be an amazing individual, guarantee comes from Allah
  • when Zakariya expresses astonishment, is this doubt?
  • when someone receives extremely good news, you always want to know more about it
  • like when you receive letter saying you’re accepted to a college that you applied to, you don’t just say thank you and throw it in the trash
  • you probably read it 18 times, put it on your bed, sleep on it, take picture of it, put it on FB wall, you indulge in that good news
  • anyone who has had a child, when you go through your first sonogram, you come home with the picture and you don’t know what’s in that picture
  • you pretend like you know
  • you put it up on your fridge and show it to everyone and people pretend like they enjoy looking at it, they don’t want to see your insides
  • that’s the indulgence, you’re soaking it up, you want to know more
  • this is something that was the condition spiritual condition of the prophet
  • we have the story in front of us in surah Baqarah of Ibrahim a.s. when he asked “My lord please show me how it is that You revive the dead.”
  • Just so we would have a clear explanation of this, Allah lets us see the dialogue
  • 2:260
  • 2:260
    Sahih International

    And [mention] when Abraham said, “My Lord, show me how You give life to the dead.” [ Allah ] said, “Have you not believed?” He said, “Yes, but [I ask] only that my heart may be satisfied.” [ Allah ] said, “Take four birds and commit them to yourself. Then [after slaughtering them] put on each hill a portion of them; then call them – they will come [flying] to you in haste. And know that Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.”

  • “What’s the matter Ibrahim, you don’t believe?”
  • Balaa, Of course I believe, but I’m asking to give full satisfaction of my heart, to let me enjoy this moment, it’s to let me enjoy the grandeur, magnificence of You reviving the dead.”
  • So this is what is happening here with Zakariyya too
  • “I’m going to have a son? “


Ayat 9

Sahih International

[An angel] said, “Thus [it will be]; your Lord says, ‘It is easy for Me, for I created you before, while you were nothing.’ “

  • Allah responds

\kazhaalik = ‘just like that’

  • something is omitted here
  • al amru’ kazhaalik or khazhaalik’ al amru
  • al amru kazhaalik is how it would be typically in the language – that’s just how it is
  • kazhaalikal amru – more in line with Quranic language, more emphatic – that’s just how thing works, that’s exactly how things work

qala rabbuka – your master, rabb said

  • ‘your Lord said’ – this is returning the conversation back to the Prophet saw
  • in ayat 2, it’s addressed to Prophet saw (this is a reminder of how ‘your Rabb’ has bestowed His mercy on His servant Zakariyya
  • then the story went on and the whole story was being told and here it returns back to Prophet saw
  • intifaat – transition
  • “Just like that. Muhammad, what are you worried about?”

huwa alayya hayyin – goes to first person

  • huwa – it is
  • alayya – upon Me


  • hawn – something that is very easy for the doer to take care of (requires not effort on part of the doer)
  • it’s like when someone would say, “No problem, that’s nothing for me!”
  • why is it so easy?

wa qad khalaqtu min qablu – Most definitely I created you before

wa lam taku shay “an

  • in the situation that you were nothing, I created you
  • logically, this human being came into existence from nothingness
  • think back to the origin of even your soul
  • is it easier to create something from nothing or a child out of an old and barren mother?
  • an interesting thing about Quranic eloquence:
  • Maryam 4 – wa lam akun
  • when we read we say wa lam akum, but that is becuase of tajweed and phonetics
  • when lam appears on top of present tense verb, it abbreviates the end of the verb
  • so typically it’s lam akun (the noon stays), it’s akoonu, and you put lam on it and it becomes akun
  • here it’s wa lam taku shay”a
  • it’s takoonu, and if abbreviated it should have been takun, but it’s taku only here
  • explanation:
  • when we look in sarf, Arabic morphology, we find that both are permissible, different established dialects of the Arabs
  • taku and takun both okay
  • but that still doesn’t answer question of why 5 ayahs ago Allah maintained the noon and now it’s dropped


  • you were nothing like that noon is gone
  • And Allah still brought you into existence, not only that, He gave you a wife, and you grew very very old, and you had no children, and now at old age, Allah is giving you a child
  • through you, now, Allah is giving you more life forward


Ayat 10

Sahih International

[Zechariah] said, “My Lord, make for me a sign.” He said, “Your sign is that you will not speak to the people for three nights, [being] sound.”

  • Zakariya a.s. continues to indulge in this conversation
  • “I got one more question, just one more question..”
  • ayaatan (nakirah) – kept general, no specification here (I’ve asked for enough as it is today)
  • I asked for a son you gave me a son, I asked for a sign, you give me anything that is appropriate
  • nakirah(tanween) form can sometimes give effect of something insignifcant
  • this reflects the very human emotional side of things
  • when you look forward to something, e.g a big day coming
  • it’s 3 weeks away, you start doing a countdown, you mark the days off your calendar
  • you want some type of a sign to know that you’re getting closer to the big day
  • So Allah says okay
  • You will not speak to people for 3 nights sawiyyan

sawiyyan can have 2 meanings:

1. equal equal – expression to say ‘continuously’

2. but majority of scholars say : something to be level, correct, straight

  • so it means – you will not have gone mute or lost ability to speak or some type of physical ailment, you will be perfectly healthy, okay, but you will just have lost ability to speak for 3 nights
  • here it says 3 nights
  • in story of Zakariya given a child in Aali Imran, it says 3 days
  • if we were to combine these 2, we know it’s 3 days and 3 nights
  • but it goes deeper than that, this is kalamullah
  • look at the tone of the language in this surah
  • look at tone in Aali Imran
  • first he walks in on Maryam eating the fruit. “Who gave this to you?” “Allah did, He can do whatever He wants” very motivating
  • 3:37
  • 3:37
    Sahih International

    So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zechariah. Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, “O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?” She said, “It is from Allah . Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account.”

  • so right there and then Zakariyya made dua to Allah
  • 3:38
  • 3:38
    Sahih International

    At that, Zechariah called upon his Lord, saying, “My Lord, grant me from Yourself a good offspring. Indeed, You are the Hearer of supplication.”

  • zhurriyatan – give to me an entire progeny
  • tayyibatan – pure and appealing
  • right then and there angels call to him and as he was standing there praying in Mihrab, they tell him about Yahya a.s.
  • 3:39
  • 3:39
    Sahih International

    So the angels called him while he was standing in prayer in the chamber, “Indeed, Allah gives you good tidings of John, confirming a word from Allah and [who will be] honorable, abstaining [from women], and a prophet from among the righteous.”

  • he will attest to the truth of the word from Allah, he will be a leader, extremely chaste and pure and he will be from the prophets
  • this is in a very motivating tone
  • when he asks how will I have a son when old age has reached me and my wife is not able to bear children
  • “Allah can do whatever He wills”
  • “Make a sign for me”
  • You won’t be able to talk to people for 3 days
  • we have electricity and we don’t think of this, but day = light
  • because tone is more motivating and inspiring, the word day is used to maintain that tone
  • but now look at tone in surah Maryam
  • look at how this surah started
  • desperation of Zakariyya, bones falling apart, head going white, sun has set on me, fear about the people that he leaves behind (he talks about his death), talking about people inheriting from him (he is coming to term with his death)
  • the tone here is dark
  • so night is used because it is appropriate here and fits into the context

Ayat 11

Sahih International

So he came out to his people from the prayer chamber and signaled to them to exalt [ Allah ] in the morning and afternoon.


2 opinions

1. comes from harb = battle/war

  • mihrab = place of worship or prayer
  • it can also refer to a private room that is separated for individual worship
  • what’s the connection between war and worship?
  • it’s where you go and do harb, you fight the shaytaan, you fight with your nafs
  • it’s easier to pray in congregation, you feel like you want to pray when you’re in a group and with others who are about to do the same thing
  • but praying by yourself, to put that same time and quality in the prayer and not get distracted, is hard
  • it can also come from root harab

2. from harab

  • to such energy out of something
  • you’re supposed to exert energy, work hard when you pray
  • praying is working hard

fa aw7haa ilayhim an sabbi7oo

  • an = an tafsireeyah – explains what was just said
  • sabbih700 – praise and glorify
  • bukratan(early morning time before sun rises) wa ‘ashiyya (later afternoon evening time before sun set)
  • look at ayat in Aali Imran that are in conjunctions with this ayat
  • 3:41
  • 3:41
    Sahih International

    He said, “My Lord, make for me a sign.” He Said, “Your sign 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.”

  • illa ramza – talking through gestures, that permission given to Zakariyya, so he’s signaling to his people that they need to make tasbeeh
  • even that signalling to people

fa aw7haa comes from root word wahy

  • wahy – divine revelation, inspiration
  • but root of wahy itself means :- it is to inform someone of something through a very quiet and quick subtle means (literal meaning of wahy)
  • in Quran, wahy used in its literal meanings in a number of different ways
  • Allah sues this word when addressing, talking to people who are not prophets like in Surah Qasas
  • 28:7
  • 28:7
    Sahih International

    And We inspired to the mother of Moses, “Suckle him; but when you fear for him, cast him into the river and do not fear and do not grieve. Indeed, We will return him to you and will make him [one] of the messengers.”

  • We told mother of Musa a.s. to nurse him
  • surah Anfaal – when your Lord informs the angels that ‘I am with you so give steadfastness to the believers’
  • 8:12
  • 8:12
    Sahih International

    [Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, “I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.”

  • He uses wahy when He gives information to pious people
  • surah Maaidah – hawariyyoon
  • 5:111
  • 5:111
    Sahih International

    And [remember] when I inspired to the disciples, “Believe in Me and in My messenger Jesus.” They said, “We have believed, so bear witness that indeed we are Muslims [in submission to Allah ].”

  • He uses wahy when giving information to insects like in surah Nahl
  • 16:68
  • 16:68
    Sahih International

    And your Lord inspired to the bee, “Take for yourself among the mountains, houses, and among the trees and [in] that which they construct.

  • Go and make homes in the mountains and trees …
  • He uses wahy when giving information to inanimate objects
  • 99:5
  • 99:5
    Sahih International

    Because your Lord has commanded it.

  • Surah zalzalah – bi anna rabbaka aw7haalaha (because its rabb tells it to do so )
  • when shayateen speak to other shayaaten, wahy is used in its linguistic meaning – they quietly whisper to each other
  • yuhi ba’dhuhum ila ba’dhin zukhrufal qawli ghuroora – surah an’aam
  • 6:112
  • 6:112
    Sahih International

    And thus We have made for every prophet an enemy – devils from mankind and jinn, inspiring to one another decorative speech in delusion. But if your Lord had willed, they would not have done it, so leave them and that which they invent.

  • when shayaaten give information to people that collaborate with them, wahy also used
  • so wahy can be used in its linguistic meaning, and thatis how it’s used here
  • Zakariyya quietly informed his people
  • but how?


  • Qataadah and Qalbi – through signal
  • Mujaahid – he wrote it in ground
  • Ikaramah – he wrote on piece of paper
  • but either way he let them know quietly
  • in Aali Imran , Allah told him to make tasbih and zhikr
  • 3:41
  • 3:41
    Sahih International

    He said, “My Lord, make for me a sign.” He Said, “Your sign 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.”

  • here Zakariyya is telling his followers to make tasbih
  • look at context
  • why did he want this child in first place? he wanted to leave people behind that he could trust
  • so you can see he’s already imparting it
  • he’s already starting to pass on ..he himself makes zhikr, he tellin his people to do the same
  • in Aali Imran , make tasbih in evening and morning
  • 3:41
  • 3:41
    Sahih International

    He said, “My Lord, make for me a sign.” He Said, “Your sign 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.”

  • here, morinng and evening – switching of words
  • in Aali Imran, ‘day’ used. what comes after day? Evening
  • here, ‘night’ used. What comes after night? Morning
  • it may be small but it’s the perfection of Allah’s kalaam, it’s so fluid, who speaks at this level except Allah?

Food for Thought:

  • as a sign of a miraculous event that Zakariya a.s.and his wife will have a biological child without any means of explanation, Zakariya a.s. won’t be able to speak with all the means available to do so
  • you’re going to experience a miracle for 3 days on the way to a greater miracle which is the birth of Yahya a.s.


Link to video series on MuslimMatters


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s