1738. According to Umm-e-Hani’, the Holy Prophet said that in the combined letters Kaf Ha Ya ‘Ain Sad, Kaf stands for Kafin (All-Sufficient), Ha for Hadi (True Guide), ‘Ain for ‘Alim (All-Knowing) and Sad for Sadiq (Truthful), and thus the combined abbreviated letters would read something like this: Anta Kafin Anta Hadin Ya ‘Alimu Ya Sadiqu, i.e. Thou art Sufficient for all and Thou art the True Guide, O All-Knowing, Truthful God. The four Divine attributes as represented by these combined letters expose and repudiate the basic Christian doctrine of atonement; and if this doctrine is proved to be false, the whole structure of the doctrines of the trinity and godhead of Jesus would automatically fall to the ground. Of these four attributes ‘Alim and Sadiq are the principal and basic attributes and Kafin and Hadin are subordinate ones and flow from the former two attributes and are their inevitable manifestations and result. If God is ‘Alim (All-Knowing), then there is no place for the dogma of atonement, because this dogma presupposes that God had designed to carry on the business of the world according to a certain plan, but His knowledge being defective that plan had miscarried and, therefore, He was compelled to offer His own son as sacrifice to save the world. The failure of God’s plan contradicts His attribute 'All-Knowing,' and when God’s knowledge is shown to be defective, He cannot claim to be Kafin (All-Sufficient), because the Being Who is ‘Alim (All-Knowing) must necessarily be Kafin (All-Sufficient). In the same way the attribute Sadiq (Truthful) and its subordinate attribute Hadi (Guide) demolish this dogma. If God is not the true Guide and salvation without belief in the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus is impossible, then all Divine Messengers will have to be accepted as so many liars and cheats because, contrary to Christian belief, they preached and taught that salvation was possible only through right beliefs and righteous actions; and a reflection on the truthfulness of God’s Messengers constitutes a reflection on the truthfulness of God Himself and consequently on His being Hadi, i.e. the True Guide. Thus in this combination of abbreviated letters a hint is given that in dealing with the beliefs and doctrines of Christians the best way to drive home to them the untenability of these doctrines is to dwell and lay emphasis upon Divine attributes, particularly on these four attributes. For a detailed discussion on Muqatta‘at see 16. (close)
A brief note here on abbreviated letters which have been placed at the beginning of some Surahs of the Quran and which are known as المقطعات (al-Muqatta‘at) i.e. letters used and pronounced separately, is called for. The Muqatta‘at are abbreviations for specific attributes of God and the subject matter of a Surah before which they are placed has a deep connection with the Divine attributes for which they stand. The various Muqatta‘at have not been haphazardly placed at the beginning of different Surahs, nor are their letters combined arbitrarily. There runs a deep and far-reaching connection between the various sets of Muqatta‘at and the letters of which they are made also serve a definite purpose. Surahs 2 & 3 are prefaced with the abbreviated letters الم (Alif Lam Mim), indicating a kinship between their contents. chapters 4, 5 & 6 have no Muqatta‘at placed at their beginning which means that the subject matter of these three chapters is subordinate to and follows the pattern of that of the preceding two Surahs. Chapter 7 begins with the abbreviated letters المص (Alif Lam Mim Sad) which has the additional letter ص. The next two chapters (8 & 9) have no Muqatta‘at and the following three chapters (10, 11 & 12) have the abbreviated letters الر (Alif Lam Ra) placed at their beginning and the 13th chapter begins with المر (Alif Lam Mim Ra) i.e. with the addition ofم to الر. Chapters 14 and 15 have again the combination الر in their beginning which shows that there exists a certain similarity of subject matter among all these Surahs. Chapters 16, 17 and 18 have no Muqatta‘at before them which again shows that the subject matter of these three Surahs is subordinate and similar to that of the preceding Surahs. Chapter 19 is headed with کھیعص(Kaf Ha Ya‘Ain Sad) and deals with a particular subject, i.e. the Christian dogmas of Salvation and Atonement. The next six Surahs have no abbreviated letters at their beginning, طه at the head of 20th chapter, not being treated as Muqatta‘at. The following three Surahs are known as the Surahs of طس (Ta Sin) group. With the 29th chapter the Quranreverts to the same subject which has already been dealt with in Surahs2 & 3 but in a new form and to fulfil a new need and serve a new purpose, and, therefore, this chapter again has the Muqatta‘at الم (Alif Lam Mim) in its beginning. The next three chapters (30, 31 & 32) follow suit and the five chapters following these Surahs have no Muqatta‘at. Chapter ص (Sad) begins with the abbreviated letter ص (Sad) and the next chapter (39) has no Muqatta‘at.
The following seven Surahs open with the abbreviated letters حم (Ha Mim), only chapter 42 having the letters عسق(‘Ain Sin Qaf) added to حم (Ha Mim). They are known as Surahs of حم group. The next three Surahs, viz. 47, 48 & 49 again have no Muqatta‘at in their beginning. The 50th chapter is the last chapter which has an abbreviated letter i.e. ق(Qaf).
This somewhat detailed examination shows that three main categories of Muqatta‘at have been used in the Quran and that the Surahs having the same category of Muqatta‘at have been placed together which is a further indication of the fact that the subjects dealt with in such Surahs bear a close resemblance to each other and that the Muqatta‘at placed in their beginning serve as a key to their subject matter.
It is also pertinent to note that there is one thing which is common to all those Surahs that have Muqatta‘at. They open with the subject of the revelation of the Quran and this is no mere chance.
The system of using abbreviations (Muqatta‘at) was in vogue among the Arabs and at present is very popular in western countries and in its imitation in all eastern countries.
According to Ummi Hani, a cousin of the Holy Prophet, he (the Holy Prophet) is reported to have said that in the combined letters کھیعص the letter ک stands for کاف (the All-Sufficient), ھ for ھاد (the Guide), ع for علیم (the All-Knowing), and ص for صادق (the Truthful). According to Ibn ‘Abbas, however, the letters ک stands for کبیر (the Great), ھ for ھاد (the Guide), ی for امین (Who gives peace and protection), ع forعزیز (the Mighty) and ص for صادق (the Truthful). Ibn Mas‘ud and some other Companions interpreted these combined letters as الملک (theKing), الاله(God), العزیز (the Mighty) and المصور (the Fashioner). ‘Ali sometimes would preface his prayer with the words یا کھیعص(Fath).
Different combinations of abbreviated letters signify different subjects and the subject matter of a particular Surah at the beginning of which a particular combination is placed is governed by it. It has been explained above that the abbreviated letters stand for Divine attributes, but which particular letter stands for which particular Divine attribute becomes clear only by a deep study of the subject matter of the Surah at the beginning of which those letters are placed. The explanation of کھیعص as given by the Holy Prophet in the hadith narrated by Ummi Hani must necessarily be accepted as the best and should be preferred to all other explanations. But in this explanation the letter ی has been left out which shows that it does not signify any Divine attribute but has been used only as a letter of interjection, joining the first two Divine attributes with the last two. Thus the explanation of the combined abbreviated letters would read like this: انت کاف انت ھاد یا علیم یا صادق i.e. "Thou art Sufficient for all and Thou art the true Guide, O, All-Knowing, Truthful God." Or expanding its sense a little further the expression would mean, "Thou O God, Who knowest all my secrets and art true to Thy promises and art a true Friend, Thou alone canst satisfy all my needs and Thou alone canst guide me."
The four Divine attributes as represented by the combined letters کھیعص expose the falsity of the basic Christian doctrine of Atonement, i.e. salvation through the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus which forms one of the principal subjects of the Surah under comment. And if the doctrine of Atonement is proved to be false, the whole structure of the doctrines of the Trinity and godhead of Jesus would automatically fall to the ground.
Of these four attributes عالم or علیم and صادق are the principal and basic attributes and کاف and ھادare subordinate ones and flow from the former two and are their inevitable manifestation and result. If God is عالم (All-Knowing), then there is no place for the dogma of Atonement because this dogma presupposes that God had designed to carry on the business of the world according to a certain plan but His knowledge being defective that plan failed to function and, therefore, God was compelled to offer His own son for sacrifice to save the world. The failure of God’s plan contradicts His attribute "All-Knowing" and when God’s knowledge is shown to be defective, He cannot claim to be کاف (All-Sufficient) because the Being Who is عالم (All-Knowing) must necessarily be کاف (All-Sufficient).
In the same way the attribute صادق (Truthful) and its subordinate attribute ھاد (Guide) demolish this dogma. If God is not the true Guide and salvation without a belief in the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus is impossible, then all Divine Messengers will have to be accepted as so many liars and cheats because, contrary to Christian belief, they preached and taught that salvation was possible only through right beliefs and righteous actions; and a reflection on the truthfulness of God’s Messengers constitutes a reflection on the truthfulness of God Himself and consequently on His being ھاد i.e. the True Guide. Thus in this combination of abbreviated letters a hint is given that in dealing with the beliefs and doctrines of Christians, the best way to drive home to them the untenability of their doctrines is to dwell and lay emphasis upon Divine attributes, particularly on the attributes which are represented by the four letters ک, ھ , ع , ص .
In fact the best and most effective argument to show that the doctrine of Atonement is entirely unfounded, is to prove that Jesus did not die on the cross and if this thesis is proved, then the question that by his crucifixion he carried away the sins of humanity does not arise. For a detailed and full discussion, however, of the subject that Jesus did not die on the cross but after having remained on it only for a few hours was taken down alive, was kept in a sepulchre and then in fulfilment of his own prophecy, viz. "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd" (John 10:16), he travelled to Afghanistan and Kashmir to reclaim and retrieve the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel who had been dispersed to these countries by the Babylonian kings. See 23:51. (close)
ذِکۡرُ رَحۡمَتِ رَبِّکَ عَبۡدَہٗ زَکَرِیَّا ۖ﴿ۚ۳﴾
ذِكۡرُ رَحۡمَتِ رَبِّكَ عَبۡدَهُۥ زَكَرِيَّآ
1739. The account of Zachariah precedes that of Jesus, because Yahya, (John the Baptist), the son of Zachariah, was the harbinger of Jesus. He heralded Jesus’s advent to give to the Jews the glad tidings that their deliverer was about to make his appearance (Mal. 4:5). As according to Malachi’s prophecy Elias should have come before the coming of Jesus, it was in the fitness of things that while giving an account of Jesus, the Qur’an should have made a mention of Yahya (John) who came in the spirit and power of Elijah. (close)
The account of Zachariah precedes the account of Jesus. This is due to two very valid reasons. Yahya, the son of Zachariah, and John of the New Testament, was a harbinger of Jesus. He heralded Jesus’ advent and acted as his precursor to give to the Jews the glad tidings that their deliverer was about to make his appearance.
That Yahya or John was Jesus’ harbinger is apparent from the following prophecy of Prophet Malachi: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Mal. 4:5). The words "the great and dreadful day" here signify the advent of Jesus. This is why when Jesus was asked where Elias was who was to come before him, he replied: "And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come" (Matt. 11:14). As according to Malachi’s prophecy Elias must have appeared before the coming of Jesus, it was in the fitness of things that while giving an account of Jesus, the Quran should have made a mention of Yahya. Secondly, Mary, the mother of Jesus, had unknowingly become the cause of Yahya’s birth. We are told (3:38, 39) how Zachariah was deeply moved by a pious reply of Mary and prayed to God to be blessed with a good child like her. Thus whereas Yahya became a harbinger of Jesus, Mary, Jesus’ mother having indirectly become the cause of the birth of Yahya may as well be said to have become a precursor of Yahya (John) himself. See also 3:38-42.
The words, "Thy Lord" in the sentence, "This is an account of the mercy of thy Lord," appear to be misplaced because whereas the account given in the following verses is that of the mercy of God shown to Zachariah the words "Thy Lord" seem to indicate as if some account is about to be given of God’s mercy to the Holy Prophet. In fact these words signify that the account of Divine mercy to Zachariah does imply a mercy to the Holy Prophet also. Prophet Yahya, as stated above, was a harbinger of Jesus and Jesus was a harbinger of the Holy Prophet. A description of the birth of Yahyafollowed by a somewhat detailed description of Jesus’ birth pointed to the fact that by the introduction of the life accounts of these two Prophets who, in a way, acted as his precursors, the minds of men were being prepared for the acceptance of the Holy Prophet of Islam by an implied reference to the following Biblical prophecies:
And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee. Behold I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation (Gen. 17:20);
I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put my words in his mouth (Deut. 18:18).
The pronoun "thy" may also possess an oblique but beautiful reference to Mecca, the birth-place of the Holy Prophet. Mecca like Zachariah’s wife was barren. For thousands of years it had not heard the voice of God. Now God’s mercy was about to dawn upon it. The barren valley of Mecca was about to give birth to the greatest of Adam’s sons. To this barrenness of Mecca reference is found in Isaiah 54:1.
Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. (close)
اِذۡ نَادٰی رَبَّہٗ نِدَآءً خَفِیًّا ﴿۴﴾
إِذۡ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُۥ نِدَآءً خَفِيّٗا
a. 3:39; 21:90. (close)
1740. Zachariah had understood from biblical prophecies and heavenly warnings that were administered to the Jews because of their repeated rejection of God’s Prophets that Prophethood was soon to be transferred from the House of Isaac to that of Ishmael. So he gave vent to his feelings in the form of a prayer for the birth of a righteous son. (close)
a. 3:39; 21:90. (close)
2149. Important Words:
نادی (called upon): نادی الرجلmeans, he called the man aloud. نادی بسرہ means, he disclosed his secret. نادی فلاناً means, he consulted him (Aqrab).
The words, when he called upon his Lord, crying in secret, signify that Zachariah had kept concealed in the inmost recesses of his heart a long cherished desire. When he heard Mary’s innocent reply to his query (3:38), he was deeply touched and he laid bare his heart before his Lord and Creator and his long-suppressed desire assumed the form of prayer that a good and righteous son like Mary might be born unto him to continue prophethood in the Israelite line. Zachariah had understood from Biblical prophecies and heavenly warnings that were administered to the Jews for their repeated rejection of God’s Prophets that prophethood was soon to be transferred from the House of Isaac to that of Ishmael. So he gave vent to his feelings in the form of prayer for the birth of a righteous son. (close)
قَالَ رَبِّ اِنِّیۡ وَہَنَ الۡعَظۡمُ مِنِّیۡ وَ اشۡتَعَلَ الرَّاۡسُ شَیۡبًا وَّ لَمۡ اَکُنۡۢ بِدُعَآئِکَ رَبِّ شَقِیًّا ﴿۵﴾
قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَهَنَ ٱلۡعَظۡمُ مِنِّي وَٱشۡتَعَلَ ٱلرَّأۡسُ شَيۡبٗا وَلَمۡ أَكُنۢ بِدُعَآئِكَ رَبِّ شَقِيّٗا
b. 3:41. (close)
b. 3:41. (close)
Besides the rendering given in the text the words ولم اکن بدعائک رب شقیا may mean, "since Thou hast called me and hast made me a Prophet and Thy blessings and favours have covered me, I have never been unsuccessful in achieving my object." (close)
وَ اِنِّیۡ خِفۡتُ الۡمَوَالِیَ مِنۡ وَّرَآءِیۡ وَ کَانَتِ امۡرَاَتِیۡ عَاقِرًا فَہَبۡ لِیۡ مِنۡ لَّدُنۡکَ وَلِیًّا ۙ﴿۶﴾
وَإِنِّي خِفۡتُ ٱلۡمَوَٰلِيَ مِن وَرَآءِي وَكَانَتِ ٱمۡرَأَتِي عَاقِرٗا فَهَبۡ لِي مِن لَّدُنكَ وَلِيّٗا
c. 3:41; 21:91. (close)
d. 3:39; 21:90. (close)
1741. The prayer of Zachariah possesses all the ingredients of a complete and successful prayer. A successful prayer should be offered with fervour and in humility. The supplicant should confess his own weakness and helplessness. He should have firm faith in the power of God to accept his prayers. Zachariah’s prayer fulfils all these conditions. (close)
a. 3:41; 21:91. (close)
b. 3:39; 21:90. (close)
2150. Important Words:
عاقراً (barren) is derived from عقر. They say عقرہ i.e. he wounded him; he wounded him much. عقر الابل means, he cut the feet of the camel. عقر النخلة means, he cut the upper part of the palm-tree so that it dried up and ceased to yield fruit. عقرت المرأةmeans, the woman became barren. عاقر is used both for man and woman and applied to a woman means, barren; that does not conceive or has ceased to conceive; and applied to a man it means, barren; that has no offspring born to him. (Lane & Aqrab).
ولیا (successor) is derived from ولی. They say ولی الرجل i.e. he helped the man; he made friends with him; he loved him. ولی فلاناًmeans, he followed such a one immediately without anyone intervening between them ولی means, a friend; beloved one, helper, master; successor or inheritor etc. (Aqrab). See also 2:108.
In view of the different meanings of the word ولی (successor) given under "Important Words" above, Zachariah’s prayer was for such a son as should prove his true successor and should propagate his mission and inherit the spiritual blessings that God had bestowed on the House of Israel. (close)
یَّرِثُنِیۡ وَ یَرِثُ مِنۡ اٰلِ یَعۡقُوۡبَ ٭ۖ وَ اجۡعَلۡہُ رَبِّ رَضِیًّا ﴿۷﴾
يَرِثُنِي وَيَرِثُ مِنۡ ءَالِ يَعۡقُوبَۖ وَٱجۡعَلۡهُ رَبِّ رَضِيّٗا
e. 3:39. (close)
c. 3:39. (close)
The prayer of Zachariah is complete in every respect and possesses all the ingredients of a successful prayer. A successful prayer should be offered with fervour and in humility. The supplicant should confess his own weakness and helplessness. He should have firm faith in the power of God to accept his prayers. Zachariah’s prayer fulfils all these conditions. He prays to God in words full of extreme pathos. He invokes Divine mercy by referring to his extreme old age and to the barrenness of his wife. He prays fervently and in all humility. He asks for no worldly gains. He prays only for a righteous heir. He felt that righteousness had altogether disappeared from his family and his relations had consigned God to oblivion. He knew that the House of Israel was about to be deprived forever of the boon of prophethood but still he had not despaired of God’s mercy. He hoped that something yet might happen which should save his people and the House of Israel from utter spiritual ruin. He was extremely anxious that the Israelites might not reject the last Israelite Prophet and might still avert the impending wrath of God. This was Zachariah’s wish which he expressed in words full of pathos. He prayed that an heir be born to him who might warn the Israelites to take heed and not to deprive themselves of the light of prophethood by rejecting their own last Prophet. It appears from the Bible that the whole mission of Yahya for whose birth Zachariah had so fervently prayed consisted in preparing the way for Jesus. He says:
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire (Matt. 3:11).
Yahya tried his utmost to make the task of Jesus easy and to prepare the Jews to accept him. But his efforts proved vain. He himself was imprisoned and murdered. His people rejected him as well as his great successor, Jesus. They even sought to kill the latter on the cross. Zachariah’s prayer was only partly fulfilled as Divine decree had also to be implemented. So Yahya was born to Zachariah in fulfilment of his prayer but he (Yahya) failed to soften the hearts of his people. They did not believe in Jesus and thus could not avert the wrath of God and became deprived forever of the light of prophethood which was the real object of Zachariah’s prayer. The Divine will prevailed and prophethood became transferred from the House of Israel to that of Ishmael. (close)
یٰزَکَرِیَّاۤ اِنَّا نُبَشِّرُکَ بِغُلٰمِ ۣاسۡمُہٗ یَحۡیٰی ۙ لَمۡ نَجۡعَلۡ لَّہٗ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ سَمِیًّا ﴿۸﴾
يَٰزَكَرِيَّآ إِنَّا نُبَشِّرُكَ بِغُلَٰمٍ ٱسۡمُهُۥ يَحۡيَىٰ لَمۡ نَجۡعَل لَّهُۥ مِن قَبۡلُ سَمِيّٗا
a. 3:40; 21:91. (close)
b. 19:66. (close)
1742. Samiyy means, competitor or contender for superiority in eminence or glory or excellence; a like or an equal; a namesake of another (Lane). The verse does not mean that there had lived before Yahya (John) no man who was his namesake. From the Bible itself it appears that there had been several persons before him who were called John (II Kings, 25:23; I Chronicles, 3:15; Ezra, 8:12). Nor does it mean that John was peerless and unequalled in every respect. He himself confesses that 'there cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose' (Mark, 1:7). The verse only signifies that Yahya or John was peerless in this respect that he was the first Prophet to come as a precursor to another Prophet—Jesus. And he was peerless in this respect also that he was the first Prophet who came with the power and spirit of another Prophet—Elijah. (close)
a. 3:40; 21:91. (close)
b. 19:66. (close)
2152. Important Words:
سمیا (of that name) is derived from سمی. They say سما و سمی الرجل زیداً i.e. he named the man Zaid. سما means, it became high. سموت الیه ببصری means, I raised my eye towards him. سمی means, competitor or contender for superiority, in eminence or glory or excellence; a like or an equal; a namesake of another. ھو سمیک means, he is thy namesake or he is thy equal or like (Aqrab & Lane).
The two words غلام and یحیٰی used in this verse are very significant. The word غلام signifies three periods of one’s life i.e. childhood, youth and middle age. Applied to Yahya or John it embodied a prophecy that he shall not die in childhood but shall grow up to be a young man before the eyes of his father and shall live up to middle age and so it actually came to pass. Yahya lived up to middle age and then was killed by the order of Herod to satisfy the wish of a dancing girl. The word یحییٰ literally meaning, "he lives" or "he shall live," also implied a great prophecy, viz. that he will die the death of a martyr and thus will become immortalized. Of the martyrs the Quran says: Say not of those who are killed in the cause of Allah that they are dead; nay they are living; only you perceive not (2:155). Again it says: Think not of those who have been slain in the cause of Allah as dead. Nay, they are living in the presence of their Lord and are granted gifts from Him(3:170). Thus those who are killed in the way of God get everlasting life and so did Yahya or John. His ministry terminated in his imprisonment in the fortress of Machaerus, where he was executed by the order of Herod Antipas (Matt. 14:10 & 11). See also 3:40.
The words, We have not made anyone before him of that name, do not mean that there had lived before him no man whose name was John. From the Bible it appears that there had been several persons before him who were called John. (II Kings 25:23; I Chronicles 3:15; Ezra 8:12). Nor does the verse mean that John was peerless and was unequalled in every respect. He himself confesses that "there cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose" (Mark 1:7). The verse only signifies that in some respects Yahya had no equal, i.e. he enjoyed a partial superiority in some respects over other Israelite Prophets. Abraham, Moses and Jesus were Prophets of much higher spiritual status than John, the Baptist, who had come only to prepare the way for Jesus (Mark 1:3). Yahya was peerless only in this respect that he was the first Prophet to come as a precursor and harbinger to another Prophet—Jesus. And he was peerless in this respect also that he was the first Prophet who came with the power and spirit of another Prophet—Elias. (close)
قَالَ رَبِّ اَنّٰی یَکُوۡنُ لِیۡ غُلٰمٌ وَّ کَانَتِ امۡرَاَتِیۡ عَاقِرًا وَّ قَدۡ بَلَغۡتُ مِنَ الۡکِبَرِ عِتِیًّا ﴿۹﴾
قَالَ رَبِّ أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لِي غُلَٰمٞ وَكَانَتِ ٱمۡرَأَتِي عَاقِرٗا وَقَدۡ بَلَغۡتُ مِنَ ٱلۡكِبَرِ عِتِيّٗا
c. 3:41; 21:91. (close)
1743. The verse expresses Zachariah’s innocent and spontaneous surprise at the greatness of the favour which God was about to bestow upon him. Every person, situated as Zachariah was, would be naturally surprised at the unusual glad tidings that he had received. (close)
2153. Important Words:
عتیا (extreme limit) is derived from عتا which means, he behaved proudly and was immoderate and inordinate; he was excessively proud or corrupt; he became advanced in age. عتت الریح means, the wind blew fiercely. The Quranic expression وقد بلغت من الکبر عتیا means, And I have reached the extreme degree of old age, or hardness and dryness in the joints and the bones like dry wood. The word also signifies that state of extreme old age which is incurable (Mufradat, Lane & Aqrab).
The word غلام as stated above (v.8) implied that Zachariah would see his son grow before his eyes and that he would also be able to train and educate him. The glad tidings was indeed a source of great comfort but at the same time it was a surprise for a man who had reached such an advanced old age as Zachariah.
The words, How shall I have a son, do not express despair. V.5 above shows that Zachariah had not despaired of God’s mercy. On the contrary he had perfect faith in the power of God to grant him a son. Moreover, a true believer never despairs of God’s mercy. "None despairs of Allah’s mercy save the unbelieving people", says the Quran (12:88). The verse only expresses Zachariah’s innocent and spontaneous surprise at the greatness of the favour which God was about to bestow upon him. Every person situated as Zachariah was would be naturally surprised at the unusual glad tidings that he had received. (close)
قَالَ کَذٰلِکَ ۚ قَالَ رَبُّکَ ہُوَ عَلَیَّ ہَیِّنٌ وَّ قَدۡ خَلَقۡتُکَ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ وَ لَمۡ تَکُ شَیۡئًا ﴿۱۰﴾
قَالَ كَذَٰلِكَ قَالَ رَبُّكَ هُوَ عَلَيَّ هَيِّنٞ وَقَدۡ خَلَقۡتُكَ مِن قَبۡلُ وَلَمۡ تَكُ شَيۡـٔٗا
d. 3:41, 48; 19:22; 51:31. (close)
a. 3:41, 48; 19:22; 51:31. (close)
The words, and indeed I created thee before, when thou wast nothing, primarily refer to the spiritual creation of Zachariah rather than to his physical creation. There seems to be no point in referring to an ordinary everyday physical phenomenon of the creation of one individual. If God had intended to refer to the phenomenon of physical creation, He would have referred to the creation of the whole universe and not to the creation of Zachariah alone. In fact, the present verse is an answer to the surprise of Zachariah expressed in the previous verses. Zachariah was promised the birth of a son in his extreme old age. The son was not to be an ordinary one but was to be possessed of great spiritual powers and to be peerless in respect of certain spiritual qualities. So the reference here is to the spiritual birth of Zachariah and to his great moral qualities.
The word "he" in the expression "he said", refers to the angel who brought the glad tidings to Zachariah. In verse 8 Zachariah is mentioned as having been addressed by God; in the present verse, however, he is described as having been addressed by one angel while in 3:40 it is stated that several angels called to him. These three statements seem to be mutually contradictory and the critics of Islam like Wherry have not failed to represent this fact as such. But in reality there is no such contradiction. According to the Quran when a Divine revelation of exceptional importance descends upon a Prophet of God, a number of angels, in accordance with the nature of its importance, are made to accompany it for its safeguarding (35:2) but only one angel representing all of them and on their behalf is entrusted with the duty to convey the Divine revelation to the Prophet. Thus the speaking of one angel means the speaking of all of them and therefore to say that one or many angels spoke to a Prophet makes no difference. Similarly, there is no contradiction in the words "God said" or "the angels said", because angels only speak to a Prophet as God’s representatives and as His servants convey to him the Divine Message. (close)
قَالَ رَبِّ اجۡعَلۡ لِّیۡۤ اٰیَۃً ؕ قَالَ اٰیَتُکَ اَلَّا تُکَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلٰثَ لَیَالٍ سَوِیًّا ﴿۱۱﴾
قَالَ رَبِّ ٱجۡعَل لِّيٓ ءَايَةٗۖ قَالَ ءَايَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ ٱلنَّاسَ ثَلَٰثَ لَيَالٖ سَوِيّٗا
a. 3:42. (close)
1744. The commandment enjoining upon Zachariah to abstain from talking and to devote himself fully to the remembrance and glorification of God was a spiritual measure calculated to recuperate his exhausted physical powers. He had not become deprived of his power of speech, as the Gospels seem to suggest, as a punishment for his not believing in the words of God (Luke 1:20-22). (close)
a. 3:42. (close)
2155. Important Words:
آیة (token). They say أیاآیة i.e. he put or set up a sign, token or mark by which a person or thing might be known. آیةmeans, a sign, token or mark by which a person or thing is known, a message or communication sent from one person to another; a person or individual; a whole company of people; a verse or a chapter of the Quran; a miracle, an evidence or a proof; an example or a warning; a Divine commandment (Lane, Aqrab & Mufradat), See also 2:130.
سویا is derived from سوی (sawwa) which again is derived from سوی (sawiya) which means, it became straight and even and rightly set. سواہ (sawwa) means, he made it equal, uniform, even. سوی (sawiyyun) means, equal, symmetrical, smooth and even; straight; whole; in good condition. غلام سوی means, a young man uniform in make or symmetrical, without disease and without fault or defect (Lane & Aqrab).
Zachariah beseeches God to appoint for him a token or to give him a commandment (the word آیة also meaning 'a commandment' as given under "Important Words" above) by acting upon which he might give palpable expression to his feeling of extreme gratefulness for the most unusual favour God has bestowed upon him.
The commandment enjoining upon Zachariah to abstain from talking and to devote himself fully to the remembrance and glorification of God was a spiritual measure calculated to recuperate his exhausted physical powers. He had not become deprived of his power of speech, as the Gospels seem to suggest, as a punishment for his not believing in the words of God (Luke 1:20-22). See also 3:42.
In view of the meaning of the word سویا given under "Important Words" above, the verse, besides the meaning given in the text, also signifies that Zachariah was commanded by God not to speak to his people for three days and nights while he was without any defect or disease and was in perfect state of health. The very word used in this verse about Zachariah contradicts the Biblical statement of his having been struck dumb. (close)