Muhammad bin Ishaq recorded a Hadith of Umm Salamah in his Sirah, and Ahmad bin Hanbal recorded from Ibn Mas`ud, the story of the Hijrah (migration) to Ethiopia from Makkah. The narration mentions that Ja`far bin Abi Talib recited the first part of this Surah to An-Najashi and his companions.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
(1. Kaf Ha Ya `Ain Sad.) (2. A reminder of the mercy of your Lord to His servant Zakariyya.) (3. When he called his Lord (with) a call in secret.) (4. He said: "My Lord! Indeed my bones have grown feeble, and gray hair has Ashta`al on my head, and I have never been unblessed in my invocation to You, O my Lord!'') (5. "And verily, I fear Mawali after me, and my wife is barren. So give me from Yourself an heir.'') (6. "Who shall inherit me, and inherit (also) the posterity of Ya`qub. And make him, my Lord, one with whom You are well-pleased!'')
Concerning Allah's statement,
(A reminder of the mercy of your Lord) This means that this is a reminder of Allah's mercy upon His servant Zakariyya. Yahya bin Ya`mar recited it, (ذَكَّرَ رَحْمَةَ رَبكَ عبدَه زكريا) "He has reminded of your Lord's mercy to His servant Zakariyya.'' The word Zakariyya in the Ayah has been recited with elongation and also shortened. Both recitations are well-known. He was a great Prophet from the Prophets of the Children of Israel. In Sahih Al-Bukhari, it is recorded ﴿that the Prophet said about Zakariyya﴾ that He was a carpenter who used to eat from what he earned with his own hand through carpentry. Concerning Allah's statement,
(When he called his Lord (with) a call in secret.) He only made his supplication secretly because it is more beloved to Allah. This is similar to what Qatadah said concerning this Ayah,
(When he called out his Lord (with) a call in secret.) "Verily, Allah knows the pious heart and he hears the hidden voice.''
(He said: "My Lord! Indeed my bones have grown feeble...'') meaning, "I have become weak and feeble in strength.''
(and gray hair has Ashta`al on my head,) means the gray hair has burned into the black hair. The intent is to inform of weakness and old age, and its external and internal traces. Concerning Allah's statement,
(and I have never been unblessed in my invocation to You, O my Lord!) This means, "I have not experienced from You except that You would respond to my supplication and that You would never refuse me in whatever I ask of You.'' Concerning His statement,
(And verily, I fear Mawali after me,) Mujahid, Qatadah and As-Suddi, all said, "In saying the word Mawali, he (Zakariyya) meant his succeeding relatives.'' The reason for his fear was that he was afraid that the generation that would succeed him would be a wicked generation. Thus, he asked Allah for a son who would be a Prophet after him, who would guide them with his prophethood and that which was revealed to him. In response to this I would like to point out that he was not afraid of them inheriting his wealth. For a Prophet is too great in status, and too lofty in esteem to become remorseful over his wealth in this fashion. A Prophet would not disdain to leave his wealth to his successive relatives, and thus ask to have a son who would receive his inheritance instead of them. This is one angle of argument. The second argument is that Allah did not mention that he (Zakariyya) was wealthy. On the contrary, he was a carpenter who ate from the earnings of his own hand. This type of person usually does not have a mass of wealth. Amassing wealth is not something normal for Prophets, for verily, they are the most abstentious in matters of this worldly life. The third argument is that it is confirmed in the Two Sahihs, in more than one narration, that the Messenger of Allah said,
(We (the Prophets) do not leave behind inheritance (of wealth). Whatever we leave behind, then it is charity.) In a narration recorded by At-Tirmidhi with an authentic chain of narrations, he said,
(We, Prophets do not leave behind inheritance (of wealth).) Therefore, the meaning in these Hadiths restricts the meaning of Zakariyya's statement,
(So give me from yourself an heir. Who shall inherit me,) inheritance of prophethood. For this reason Allah said,
(and inherit (also) the posterity of Ya`qub.) This is similar to Allah's statement,
(And Sulayman inherited from Dawud.)(27:16) This means that he inherited prophethood from him. If this had meant wealth, he would not have been singled with it among his other brothers. There also would have been no important benefit in mentioning it if it was referring to wealth. It is already well-known and established in all of the previous laws and divinely revealed creeds, that the son inherits the wealth of his father. Therefore, if this was not referring to a specific type of inheritance, then Allah would not have mentioned it. All of this is supported and affirmed by what is in the authentic Hadith:
(We Prophets do not leave behind any inheritance (of wealth). Whatever we leave behind, then it is charity.) Mujahid said concerning his statement,
(Who shall inherit me, and inherit (also) the posterity of Ya'qub.) (19:6) "His inheritance was knowledge, and Zakariyya was one of the descendants of Ya`qub." Hushaym said, "Isma'il bin Abi Khalid informed us that Abu Salih commented about the Ayah:
(who shall inherit me, and inherit (also) the posterity of Ya`qub.) "He would be a Prophet like his forefathers were Prophets.'' Allah's statement,
(and make him, my Lord, one with whom You are well-pleased!) means "Make him pleasing to You (Allah) and your creation. Love him and make him beloved to your creatures, in both his religion and his character.''
(7. (Allah said:) "O Zakariyya! Verily, We give you the good news of a son, whose name will be Yahya. We have given that name to none before (him).'')
This statement implies what is not mentioned, that his supplication was answered. It was said to him,
((Allah said:) "O Zakariyya! Verily, We give you the glad tidings of a son, whose name will be Yahya...'') Similarly Allah, the Exalted, said;
(At that time Zakariyya invoked his Lord, saying: "O my Lord! Grant me from You, a good offspring. You are indeed the All-Hearer of invocation.'' Then the angels called him, while he was standing in prayer in the Mihrab, (saying): "Allah gives you glad tidings of Yahya, confirming (believing in) the word from Allah, noble, keeping away from sexual relations with women, a Prophet, from among the righteous.'')(3:38-39) Allah said,
(We have given that name to none before (him).) Qatadah, Ibn Jurayj and Ibn Zayd said, "This means that no one had this name before him.'' Ibn Jarir preferred this interpretation, may Allah have mercy upon him.
(8. He said: "My Lord! How can I have a son, when my wife is barren, and I have reached the extreme old age.'') (9. He said: "Thus your Lord says: `It is easy for Me. Certainly I have created you before, when you had been nothing!''')(19:8-9)
Zakariyya was amazed when his supplication was answered and he was given the good news of a son. He became extremely overjoyed and asked how this child would be born to him, and in what manner he would come. This was particularly amazing because his wife was an old woman who was barren and had not given birth to any children in her entire life. Even Zakariyya himself had become old and advanced in years, his bones had become feeble and thin, and he had no potent semen or vigor for sexual intercourse. The Answer of the Angel
(He said:) That is, the angel, in his response to Zakariyya and his was amazement.
("Thus says your Lord: `It is easy for Me...''') Meaning the birth of the son will be from you and from this wife of yours and not from any other (woman).
(easy) Meaning, it is simple and easy for Allah to do. Then he (the angel) mentioned to him that which is more amazing than what he was asking about. The angel said that the Lord said,
(Certainly I have created you before, when you had been nothing!) This is similar to Allah's statement,
(Has there not been over man a period of time, when he was not a thing worth mentioning) (76:1)
(10. He Zakariyya said: "My Lord! Appoint for me a sign.'' He said: "Your sign is that you shall not speak unto mankind for three nights, though having no bodily defect.'') (11. Then he came out to his people from the Mihrab and he indicated to them by signs to glorify ﴿Allah﴾ in the morning and in the afternoon.)