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Zachariah was a righteous priest and prophet of Allah whose office was in the temple of prayer in Jerusalem. He would frequently be in charge of managing the services of the temple and he would always remain steadfast in prayer to Allah. As he reached his old age, Zachariah began to worry over who would continue the legacy of preaching the message of Allah after his death and who would carry on the daily services of the temple after him. Zachariah started to pray to God for a son, and Allah blessed him with the birth of John.
Zachariah was an illustrious Prophet of the Israelites. He was one of the descendants of Prophet Solomon . The name of his wife was al-Yashbi’ who belonged to the family of Aaron . Zachariah was the patron of Mary, the mother of Jesus . He was the trustee of Hekal. He worked as a carpenter and earned his livelihood.
The years had taken their toll on Zachariah. He was now old and bent with age, in his nineties. Despite his feebleness, he went to the temple daily to deliver his sermons.
Zachariah was not a rich man, but he was always ready to help those in need. His one disappointment in life was that he had no children, for his wife was barren. This worried him, for he feared there was no one after him to carry out his work. The people needed a strong leader, for it they were left on their own, they would move away from Allah’s teachings and change the Holy Laws to suit themselves.
Zachariah kept the torch of Mosaic law burning. He used to pray devotionally and preach zealously. His wife and he were the symbols of piety and righteousness. Most of his kinsmen lacked in spirit of true faith. As they were seduced, they were inclined to doing evil deeds. They were going out of the right path. Zachariah was much anxious about this state of affairs. He had no offspring and there was no suitable person to hold the office of priesthood of Hekal after his death. He was desirous of having a son to become his good successor. He did not long for a son to satisfy a mere human desire for one’s progeny. He wanted to have a son to maintain the warmth of religious activities. One night he
God in His infinite mercy removed the defect of his wife’s barrenness so that she might become mother. She gave birth to John who was destined to be honourable, chaste, and a prophet from among the righteous. Zachariah felt satisfied as his son grew up and became a symbol of piety. He was graced with wisdom, obedience and asceticism.
During one of his visits to the temple, he went to check on Mary, who was living in a secluded room of the temple. He was surprised to find fresh out of season fruit in her room. Besides him, no one had entry to her room. When he inquired, she told him that the fruit was from Allah. She found it every morning. But why was he so surprised, she asked him. Did he not know that Allah provides without measure for whom He wills?
This noble girl had opened this eyes to a startling idea. Could he not ask his Lord to bless him with a child in his old age? Even if his wife was past childbearing age, nothing was impossible for his Gracious Lord!
Zachariah continued preaching the religion of Allah even in old age. The Israelites were indulged in mischief making and wickedness. They had not only ignored the teachings of his Prophet but tortured him also. The Holy Quran makes mention of the cruel acts of the Israelites in the following Verses:
“As to those who deny the Signs of Allah and in defiance of right, slay the prophets, and slay those who teach just dealing with mankind, announce to them a grievous penalty.” (3:21)
Zachariah did not die a natural death. One day the Israelites decided to put him to death. He hid himself in the covern of the tree. The Jews began to saw that part of the tree. Zachariah did not even utter a faint cry. His body was cut into two pieces.