Rafed English

Interpretation of Sura Maryam (Mary) - Verses 12-13

12." 'O' Yahya! Take hold of the Book with might.'And We gave him wisdom (apostleship) while yet a child."

13." And (also) compassion from Us and piety; and he was God-fearing."


The Qur'anic term /hukm/ means: 'knowledge and understanding.' 4 It has also been applied in the sense of 'ability and judgment' 5, while it is cited in Tafsir-i-Al-Mizan that the objective meaning of /hukm/, in this verse, is: 'knowledge unto the Divine sciences and the removal of the curtain of Unseen'.

Three persons became prophets in childhood. They were Solomon, Jesus, and John (a.s.). There were also three persons who became Imam in their childhood: Imam Jawad (the ninth Imam), Imam Hadi (the tenth Imam) and Imam Mahdi (the twelfth Imam), peace be upon them all, because the rank of prophethood and Imamate is granted by Allah. Moreover, Divine prophets and the Immaculate Imams were bestowed upon all virtues and sciences in the same World of Light. Therefore they could speak and solve the problems even when they were in the wombs of their mothers, in their cradles, and at the moment of their birth. There are recorded many Islamic traditions in this regard in which it is also said that even S?iddighah-Tahirah, who was neither a prophet nor an Imam, had this quality, too. 6 However, former verses denoted that Allah bestowed on Zechariah a son named Yahya (John) when he was in old age. Following that matter, in this verse, the great commandment of Allah unto John is recited, as follows:

" 'O' Yahya! Take hold of the Book with might.' …"

The objective meaning of 'the Book' here is Turah, and the purpose of 'taking hold of the Book with might' is that he should carry through its content with an intensive sharp conclusiveness, and should act accordingly, so that he could enjoy any material and spiritual power, whether personal and social, in the way of its expansion and generalization.

Next to this commandment, the Qur'an points to the merits that Allah had granted to John, or he had obtained them with the grace of Allah, where it says:

"… And We gave him wisdom (apostleship) while yet a child."

1. Allah gave him the command of prophethood, wisdom, talent and perspicacity in childhood.

2. And he was also given mercy and compassion in respect to people from the side of Allah:

" And also compassion from Us …"

3. And Allah gave him piety and purity of soul, spirit, and action:

" …piety; …"

4. And he avoided whatever was other than the command of Allah:

" …and he was God-fearing."

By the way, the Qur'anic term /hanan/ means 'compassion, kindness'. Thus, it was the compassion of Allah to John and John's love to Allah, which caused the kindness of people to John and John's affection unto people, all of which were from the Grace of Allah and His Mercy.


4. Lisan-ul-'Arab

5. Qamus-ul-Qur'an

6. Tafsir-i-Atyab-ul-Bayan, and Reyhanatun-Nabiyy, p. 60

Adopted from the book : "The Light of the Holy Qur'an; Interpretation of Surah Maryam" by : "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani and a Group of Muslim Scholars"

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