Aal-Imran · Juz 3 · Qur'an Tafseer

Mariam’s Upbringing and Prophet Zakariyya’s Supplication for an Offspring

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 37-38


Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala states that He accepted the vow of Mariam ‘alayhi salaam’s mother and Mariam (AS) was chosen for the service of His religion. …and caused her to grow in a good manner…” meaning made her conduct becoming, her mannerism delightful and He made her well liked among the people. He also made her accompany the righteous people, so that she learned righteousness, knowledge and religion. “…and put her in the care of Zakariyya…” Prophet Zakariyya ‘alayhi salaam was the husband of Mariam’s maternal aunt. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala chose him to become the guardian of Mariam (AS) so that she could learn from his tremendous knowledge and righteous conduct.

[A Mother’s Single-Handed Upbringing]

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala highlights Mariam’s honor and virtue at the place of worship she attended, “Every time Zakariyya entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision.” The scholars have commented that he would find with her the fruits of the summer during winter, and the fruits of winter during summer. When Prophet Zakariyya (AS) would see them, he would ask, “O Mariam, from where is this [coming] to you?” Mariam (AS) replied from Allah, “It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account.”

When Zakariyya (AS) saw that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala provided sustenance for Mariam (AS) by giving her the fruits of winter in summer and the fruits of summer in winter, he was eager to have a child of his own. By then, Zakariyya had become an old man, his bones feeble and his head full of gray hair. His wife was an old woman who was barren. Yet, he supplicated to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and called Him in secret,

رَبِّ هَبْ لِي مِن لَّدُنكَ ذُرِّيَّةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ إِنَّكَ سَمِيعُ الدُّعَاءِ

“My Lord, grant me from Yourself a good offspring. Indeed, You are the Hearer of supplication.”

Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 39-41 – the Birth of Prophet Yahya ‘alayhi salaam


The angels spoke to him directly when he was alone, standing in prayer at his place of worship. They had brought the good news of a baby boy, Yahya who would be born to Prophet Zakariyya (AS) and his wife. Qatadah and other scholars said that Yahya means “he lives” because Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala filled his life with faith.

Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu and other scholars such as Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ikrimah and Mujahid said, “Confirming a word from Allah,” means believing in ‘Eesa ‘alayhi salaam.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gives a description of Yahya ‘alayhi salaam, “honorable, abstaining, and a prophet from among the righteous.” SubhanAllah! Prophet Zakariyya (AS) was not only going to become a father but the child will be born with many admirable qualities.

Sayyidan [سَيِّدًا] – honorable

Hasuran [حَصُورًا] – abstaining

Saliheen [الصَّالِحِينَ] – righteous

The scholars explain these characteristics in different ways. Ibn ‘Abbas, Ath-Thawri and Ad-Dahhak said that sayyidan means, “the noble, wise and pious man.” Sa’eed ibn Al-Musayyib said that Sayyid is “the scholar and Faqih.” ‘Atiyah said that Sayyid is “the man noble in behavior and piety.” ‘Ikrimah said that it refers to a person who is not overcome by anger, while Ibn Zayd said that it refers to the noble man. Mujahid said that Sayyidan means, “honored by Allah.”

Explaining the word hasuran, Ibn Katheer writes that it does not mean the child to be born will refrain from sexual relations with women, but that he is immune from illegal sexual relations. Prophet Zakariyya’s prayer was: Grant me a good offspring. It means grant me a son from whom I will have grandchildren. Allah knows best.

When Zakariyya (AS) heard the good news, he started contemplating about having children at his age. He said, “My Lord, how will I have a boy when I have reached old age and my wife is barren?” The angels replied, “Such is Allah; He does what He wills.” It means that this is Allah’s matter. He is Mighty and nothing escapes His power, nor is anything beyond His ability. Prophet Zakariyya asks Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for a sign that would alert him that the child will come. He was told that he would not speak to the people for three days except by signals although he would not be mute.

He was then told to supplicate, thank and praise Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala often, “And remember your Lord much and exalt [Him with praise] in the evening and the morning.”


-Being given the inspiration and strength to do a good deed is a special favor of Allah subhanahu wa taala. Otherwise, how many people are there in this world? How many Muslims? How many are righteous? How many strive in the path of Allah subhanahu wa taala?

La hawla wala quwata illa billah huwal aliyul azeem

-What is a Dua? Dua is a reflection of one’s inner state. We read in Surah Al-Baqarah, some people go for Hajj and only ask for Dunya. Allah subhanahu wa taala says they will have no share in the Hereafter. What do we ask from Allah subhanahu wa taala?

[When the Heart is Filled with Desires No Khair Reaches It]

-We learn that instead of getting jealous of or being depressed after seeing others’ blessings, we should ask the Provider and Owner of everything to bless us from His Bounty. Prophet Zakariyya ‘alayhi salaam teaches us a beautiful character trait. He saw how Mariam AS was being miraculously fed and taken cared by Allah subhanahu wa taala, so he instantly asks Allah subhanahu wa taala for His special favors and “Fadhl.”

So, if you are single and see all your friends getting married, instead of feeling bad for yourself, “ask” Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala immediately to bless you with a righteous spouse. If you are married but do not have children, do not get sad upon hearing the news of someone else’s pregnancy, ask Allah. Ask Allah for the good of this world and the next.

[Asking Allah for the Good of this World and the Next]

-Often we think, if we choose the path of serving Deen for ourselves or our children then from where would we or they eat? Allah subhanahu wa taala shows us in the story of Mariam AS that if we are sincere and committed in His Path, He will provide us the means for our sustenance. Shaytan discourages us and gives us numerous excuses to “not” work in the path of Allah subhanahu wa taala but if we are sincere and truly rely on Allah subhanahu wa taala then He will provide for us (this does not mean making no efforts to earn halal and tayab rizq).

-Prophet Zakariyya and Mariam’s (AS) mother teach us beautiful Duas to make when expecting a child. Most people only ask for health, beauty and good fortune. What about character traits? What did the prophets (AS) ask for when asking Allah ta’ala for a child? Make it forbearing, make it righteous, make it obedient and make it a leader of his people. SubhanAllah!

Let’s reflect on our duas.

-Make Dua with full certainty that it will be accepted. Prophet Zakariyya (AS) makes Dua and has the yaqeen – my Lord hears the supplication. At another place in the Qur’an, we learn that he says: Never have I been in my supplication to You, my Lord, unhappy.

[Allah (SWT) Hears His Servant’s Supplication]

-We also learn the etiquette of expressing gratitude when our Duas are accepted. Prophet Zakariyya (AS) is asked to increase the remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Instead talking about your blessings or showing off, be humble and remember Allah.

-We learn that it is okay to ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for children. Many people advise the infertile couple to accept their fate and stop trying for a child or stop having this desire. We learn from the stories of the prophets (AS) that they continued to ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala until they were granted. However, we must remember to ask “the good.” The prophets didn’t ask for any child – but a good and righteous child. Their need for a child was not so that someone could call them “Dad” or “Baba,” but so that they would help them in serving the Deen of Allah.

-When a du’a is sincere, Allah ta’ala grants even more than what a person asked for. Prophet Zakariyya (AS) asked Allah for a righteous child and Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala blessed this child with admirable traits and also made him a prophet. SubhanAllah! Allah’s treasures have no limit, ask as much as you want – but ask for the right things.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 37-41

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم                
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]

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