Interpretation of Sura Maryam (Mary) - Verses 6-8
6. " (One that) shall be my inheritor and the inheritor of the posterity of Jacob; and make him, my Lord, well-pleasing."
7. (His prayer was answered:) O' Zakariyya! verily We give you good tidings of a son whose name is Yahya (John). We have given the same name to none before (him)."
8. " He said: 'My Lord! How shall there be for me a son while my wife is barren and I have reached infirm old age?' "
Zechariah, the prophet, in his prayer, invoked Allah to grant him a successor to be the inheritor of him and the posterity of Jacob, and He would make him well-pleasing. The verse says:
" (One that) shall be my inheritor and the inheritor of the posterity of Jacob; and make him, my Lord, well-pleasing."
The purpose of the phrase 'to inherit', here, has been rendered differently by the Islamic commentators. Some of them believe that 'heritage' in this verse is heritage in properties, while some others have said that it refers to the rank of prophethood.
A group of the commentators have also thought that the objective meaning of it is an inclusive concept which probably envelops both of them.
Many of the Shi'ite scholars have taken the first interpretation, while some Sunnite scholars have seized the second meaning, and some others, among Islamic scholars, such as: Sayyid-i-Qutb in Fi-Zilal and 'A-lusi in Rouh-ul-Ma'ani, have chosen the third idea.
Those who have taken it, confined to the inheritance of property, have reasoned to the existence of the word /yari?u/ (inheritor) in this sense. For, when this word is used apart from other evidences, it means 'the inheritance of the wealth'. But when it is used in the sense of spiritual affairs, it is usually for the sake of the existence of some evidence in that verse; like Sura Fatir, No 95, verse 32 which says: "Then We gave the Book for an inheritance to those whom We chose from among Our servants, …"
Moreover, the wife of Zechariah, who was from the progeny of Solayman-ibn-Dawood, regarding the very good condition of Solayman and Dawood's wealth, had inherited some considerable properties.
Zechariah was afraid that those properties would be obtained by some impious persons who might amass them, or use them in a false way, which itself could be the source of a corruption in the society.
That was why he asked his Lord to grant him a righteous child so that this offspring might protect those properties and spend them in the best way.
It is narrated in a tradition that Fatimat-uz-Zahra (a.s.), the pure daughter of the Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h.) , reasoned to defend her claim to Fadak. This incident is another evidence upon the above idea.
The Late Tabarsi, in his book 'Ihtijaj, has said regarding this issue concerning the Lady of Islam (a.s.), as follows:
When some people had decided to withhold Fadak from Fatimah (a.s.), and she was informed of it, she said: "Is there in the Book of Allah that you inherit from your father and I do not inherit from my father? Verily you have done a very indecent thing. 3 Did you deliberately leave out from the Book of Allah where, in the story of Yahya-ibn-Zakariyya, it says: 'O Lord! Grant me from Your presence a successor (a child); (One that) shall be my inheritor and the inheritor of the posterity of Jacob?' "
For more information on the idea of 'inheritance' as something spiritual, or both spiritual and material you may refer to Tafsir-i-Atyab-ul-Bayan, as well as other great commentaries of Islamic scholars.
However, the Arabic word /radiyy/ means both: 'being well-pleased with Allah' and 'being loved by people'. The rank of Allah being well-pleased with a person, and vice versa, is the best rank, a great salvation.
The subsequent verse states that the prayer of Zechariah was accepted in the presence of Allah, an acceptance with full grace and particular favour. The words of Allah in the verse are recited as follows:
"(His prayer was answered:) O' Zakariyya! Verily We give you good tidings of a son whose name is Yahya (John). We have given the same name to none before (him)."
The Qur'anic phrase 'the same name to none before (him)' means either that the name 'Yahya' had not been used before him, or that such personal qualities were not found in any one before him.
Zechariah, who did not see the relevant preconditions to assist in gaining what he desired, asked Allah to explain the circumstance for him. The verse says:
" He said: 'My Lord! How shall there be for me a son while my wife is barren and I have reached infirm old age?' "
Zechariah, saying: "How shall there be for me a son…?" means whether he and his wife would become young again, or they would have a child in the same state of old age. (Tafsir-i-Kabir by Fakhr-i-Razi)
Yes, even the prophets' knowledge is limited, and their surprise about something does not contrast with the rank of their prophethood.
However, the Qur'anic word /'itiyya/ means 'to go beyond the limit' which is usually said upon a person whose body has lost its elasticity as a result of old age.
Imam Baqir (a.s.) said that five years elapsed between the time when the glad tidings was given and when the birth of Yahya occurred. (Majma'-ul-Bayan, and Bihar-ul-'Anwar, vol. 14, p. 176)
3. Sura Maryam, No. 19, verse 27
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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