Allah, the Exalted, informed about Zakariyya that he said,
(He (Zakariyya) said: "My Lord! Appoint for me a sign.'') "Give me a sign and a proof of the existence of that which You have promised me, so that my soul will be at rest and my heart will be at ease with Your promise.'' Similarly Ibrahim said,
(My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead. He (Allah) said: "Do you not believe'' He said: "Yes (I believe), but to put my heart at ease.'')(2:260) Then Allah says,
(He said: "Your sign is...'') meaning, "Your sign will be...''
(that you shall not speak unto mankind for three nights, though having no bodily defect.) Meaning, `your tongue will be prevented from speaking for three nights while you are healthy and fit, without any sickness or illness.' Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Wahb, As-Suddi, Qatadah and others said, "His tongue was arrested without any sickness or illness.'' `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said, "He used to recite and glorify Allah, but he was not able to speak to his people except by gestures. '' Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas said,
(three nights, though having no bodily defect.) "The nights were consecutive.'' However, the first statement that is reported from him and the majority is more correct. This Ayah is similar to what Allah, the Exalted, said in Surah Al `Imran,
(He said: "O my Lord! Make a sign for me.'' (Allah) said "Your sign is that you shall not speak to mankind for three days except with signals. And remember your Lord much, and glorify (Him) in the afternoon and in the morning.)(3:41)This is a proof that he did not speak to his people for these three nights and their days as well.
(except with signals.) Meaning, with bodily gestures, this is why Allah says in this noble Ayah,
(Then he came out to his people from the Mihrab) referring to the place where he was given the good news of the child.
(he indicated to them by signs) Meaning he made a gesture to them that was subtle and swift.
(to glorify (Allah) in the morning and in the afternoon.) That they should be agreeable to what he was commanded to do during these three days, to increase in his deeds and gratitude to Allah for what He had given him. Mujahid said,
(he indicated to them by signs) "He made a gesture.'' Wahb and Qatadah said the same.
(12. (It was said to his son): "O Yahya! Hold fast to the Scripture.'' And We gave him wisdom while yet a child.) (13. And Hananan from Us, and Zakatan, and he was pious,) (14. And dutiful to his parents, and he was not arrogant or disobedient.) (15. And Salam (peace) be on him the day he was born, and the day he dies, and the day he will be raised up to life (again)!)
This also implies what is not mentioned, that this promised boy was born and he was Yahya. There is also the implication that Allah taught him the Book, the Tawrah which they used to study among themselves. The Prophets who were sent to the Jews used to rule according to the Tawrah, as did the scholars and rabbis among them. He was still young in age when Allah gave him this knowledge. This is the reason that Allah mentioned it. Because of how Allah favored him and his parents, He says,
(O Yahya! Hold fast to the Scripture (the Tawrah).) Means, "Learn the Book with strength.'' In other words, learn it well, with zeal and studious effort.
(And We gave him wisdom while yet a child.) This means he was given understanding, knowledge, fortitude, diligence and zeal for good and the pursuit of good. He was blessed with these characteristics even though he was young. Allah said,
(And (made him) Hananan from Us,) (19:13) Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said,
(And Hananan from Us,) "This means mercy from Us.'' `Ikrimah, Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak all said the same. Ad-Dahhak added, "Mercy that no one would be able to give except Us.'' Qatadah added, "With it, Allah had mercy upon Zakariyya.'' Mujahid said,
(And Hananan from Us,) "This was gentleness from His Lord upon him.'' The apparent meaning is that Allah's statement Hananan (affection, compassion) is directly related to His statement,
(and We gave him wisdom while yet a child.) meaning, "We gave him wisdom, compassion and purity.'' This means that he was a compassionate man, who was righteous. Hanan means the love for affection and tenderness (towards others). Concerning Allah's statement,
(and Zakatan,) This is related to His statement,
(And Hananan) The word Zakah means purity from filth, wickedness and sins. Qatadah said, "The word Zakah means the righteous deed.'' Ad-Dahhak and Ibn Jurayj both said, "The righteous deed is the pure (Zakah) deed.'' Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas said,
(and Zakatan,) "This means that he was a blessing.''
(and he was pious.)(19:13) meaning that he was pure and had no inclination to do sins. Allah said;
(And dutiful to his parents, and he was not arrogant or disobedient.) After Allah mentioned Yahya's obedience to his Lord and that Allah created him full of mercy, purity and piety, He attached to it his obedience to his parents and his good treatment of them. Allah mentioned that he refrained from disobeying them in speech, actions, commands and prohibitions. Due to this Allah says,
(and he was not arrogant or disobedient.) Then, after mentioning these beautiful characteristics, Allah mentions his reward for this,
(And Salam (peace) be on him the day he was born, and the day he dies, and the day he will be raised up to life (again)!) This means that he had security and safety in these three circumstances. Sufyan bin `Uyaynah said, "The loneliest that a man will ever feel is in three situations. The first situation is on the day that he is born, when he sees himself coming out of what he was in. The second situation is on the day that he dies, when he sees people that he will not see anymore. The third situation is on the day when he is resurrected, when he sees himself in the great gathering. Allah has exclusively honored Yahya, the son of Zakariyya, by granting him peace in these situations. Allah says,
(And Salam (peace) be on him the day he was born, and the day he dies, and the day he will be raised up to life (again)!) This narration was reported by Ibn Jarir, from Ahmad bin Mansur Al-Marwazi, from Sadaqah bin Al-Fadl, from Sufyan bin `Uyaynah.
(16. And mention in the Book, Maryam, when she withdrew in seclusion from her family to place facing east.) (17. She placed a screen before them; then We sent to her Our Ruh, and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects.) (18. She said: "Verily, I seek refuge with the Most Gracious (Allah) from you, if you do fear Allah.'') (19. (The angel) said: "I am only a messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son.'') (20. She said: "How can I have a son when no man has touched me, nor am I Baghiyya'') (21. He said: "Thus says your Lord: `That is easy for Me (Allah). And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (Allah), and it is a matter (already) decreed (by Allah).''')
After Allah, the Exalted, mentioned the story of Zakariyya, and that He blessed him with a righteous, purified and blessed child even in his old age while his wife was barren, He then mentions the story of Maryam. Allah informs of His granting her a child named `Isa without a father being involved (in her pregnancy). Between these two stories there is an appropriate and similar relationship. Due to their closeness in meaning, Allah mentioned them here together, as well as in Surahs Al `Imran and Al-Anbiya'. Allah has mentioned these stories to show His servants His ability, the might of His authority and that He has power over all things. Allah says,
(And mention in the Book, Maryam,) She was Maryam bint `Imran from the family lineage of Dawud. She was from a good and wholesome family of the Children of Israel. Allah mentioned the story of her mother's pregnancy with her in Surah Al `Imran, and that she (Maryam's mother) dedicated her freely for the service of Allah. This meant that she dedicated the child (Maryam) to the service of the Masjid of the Sacred House (in Jerusalem). Thus, they (Zakariyya, Maryam's mother and Maryam) were similar in that aspect.
(So her Lord (Allah) accepted her with goodly acceptance. He made her grow in a good manner.)﴿3:37﴾ Thus, Maryam was raised among the Children of Israel in an honorable way. She was one of the female worshippers, well-known for her remarkable acts of worship, devotion and perseverance. She lived under the care of her brother-in-law, Zakariyya, who was a Prophet of the Children of Israel at that time. He was a great man among them, whom they would refer to in their religious matters. Zakariyya saw astonishing miracles occur from her that amazed him.
(Every time Zakaiyya entered the Mihrab to (visit) her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: "O Maryam! From where have you got this'' She said, "This is from Allah.'' Verily, Allah provides to whom He wills, without limit.) ﴿3:37﴾ It has been mentioned that he would find her with winter fruit during the summer and summer fruit during the winter. This has already been explained in Surah Al `Imran. Then, when Allah wanted to grant her His servant and Messenger, `Isa, one of the five Great Messengers.
(she withdrew in seclusion from her family to place facing east.) (19:16) This means that she withdrew from them and secluded herself from them. She went to the eastern side of the Sacred Masjid (in Jerusalem). It is reported from Ibn `Abbas that he said, "Verily, I am the most knowledgeable of Allah's creation of why the Christians took the east as the direction of devotional worship. They did because of Allah's statement,
(When she withdrew in seclusion from her family to a place facing east.) Therefore, they took the birthplace of `Isa as their direction of worship.'' Concerning Allah's statement,
(She placed a screen before them;) This means that she hid herself from them and concealed herself. Then, Allah sent Jibril to her.
(and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects.) (19:17) This means that he came to her in the form of a perfect and complete man. Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, Ibn Jurayj, Wahb bin Munabbih and As-Suddi all commented on Allah's statement,
(then We sent to her Our Ruh,) "It means Jibril.''
(She said: "Verily, I seek refuge with the Most Gracious from you, if you do fear Allah.'') This means that when the angel (Jibril) appeared to her in the form of a man, while she was in a place secluded by herself with a partition between her and her people, she was afraid of him and thought that he wanted to rape her. Therefore, she said,
(Verily, I seek refuge with the Most Gracious from you, if you do fear Allah.) She meant, "If you fear Allah,'' as a means of reminding him of Allah. This is what is legislated in defense against (evil), so that it may be repulsed with ease. Therefore, the first thing she did was try to make him fear Allah, the Mighty and Sublime. Ibn Jarir reported from `Asim that Abu Wa'il said when mentioning the story of Maryam, "She knew that the pious person would refrain (from committing evil) when she said,
("Verily, I seek refuge with the Most Gracious from you, if you do fear Allah.'' He said: "I am only a messenger from your Lord...'') This means that the angel said to her in response, and in order to remove the fear that she felt within herself, "I am not what you think, but I am the messenger of your Lord.'' By this he meant, "Allah has sent me to you.'' It is said that when she mentioned the (Name of the) Most Beneficent (Ar-Rahman), Jibril fell apart and returned to his true form (as an angel). He responded, (إِنَّمَآ أَنَاْ رَسُولُ رَبِّكِ لِيَهَب لَكِ غُلَـمًا زَكِيًّا) `I am only a messenger from your Lord, to provide to you the gift of a righteous son.'
(She said: "How can I have a son...'') This means that Maryam was amazed at this. She said, "How can I have a son'' She said this to mean, "In what way would a son be born to me when I do not have a husband and I do not commit any wicked acts (i.e. fornication)'' For this reason she said,
(when no man has touched me, nor am I Baghiyya) The Baghiyy is a female fornicator. For this reason, a Hadith has been reported prohibiting the money earned from Baghiyy.
(He said: "Thus said your Lord: `That is easy for Me (Allah)...'') This means that the angel said to her in response to her question, "Verily, Allah has said that a boy will be born from you even though you do not have a husband and you have not committed any lewdness. Verily, He is Most Able to do whatever He wills.'' Due to this, he (Jibril) conveyed Allah's Words,
(And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind) This means a proof and a sign for mankind of the power of their Maker and Creator, Who diversified them in their creation. He created their father, Adam, without a male (father) or female (mother). Then, He created Hawwa' (Adam's spouse) from a male (father) without a female (mother). Then, He created the rest of their progeny from male and female, except `Isa. He caused `Isa to be born from a female without a male. Thus, Allah completed the four types of creation (of the human being), which proves the perfection of His power and the magnificence of His authority. There is no god worthy of worship except Him and there is no true Lord other than Him. Concerning Allah's statement,
(and a mercy from Us,) This means, "We will make this boy a mercy from Allah and a Prophet from among the Prophets. He will call to the worship of Allah and monotheistic belief in Him. This is as Allah, the Exalted, said in another Ayah,
((Remember) when the angels said: "O Maryam! Verily, Allah gives you the good news of a Word from Him, his name will be Al-Masih, `Isa, the son of Maryam, held in honor in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah. And he will speak to the people, in the cradle and in manhood, and he will be one of the righteous.) (3:45-46) This means that he will call to the worship of his Lord in his cradle and while and adult. Concerning His statement,
(and it is a matter (already) decreed (by Allah).) This is the completion of Jibril's dialogue with Maryam. He informed her that this matter was preordained by Allah's power and will. Muhammad bin Ishaq said,
(and it is a matter (already) decreed (by Allah).) "This means that Allah determined to do this, so there is no avoiding it.''
(22. So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place.) (23. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a date palm. She said: "Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!'')
Allah, the Exalted, informs about Maryam that when Jibril had spoken to her about what Allah said, she accepted the decree of Allah. Many scholars of the predecessors (Salaf) have mentioned that at this point the angel (who was Jibril) blew into the opening of the garment that she was wearing. Then the breath descended until it entered into her vagina and she conceived the child by the leave of Allah. Muhammad bin Ishaq said, "When she conceived him and filled her water jug (at a well), she returned (to her people). After this, her menstrual bleeding ceased and she experienced what the pregnant woman experiences of sickness, hunger, change of color and there was even a change in the manner of her speech. After this, no people came to visit any house like they did the house of Zakariyya. The word spread among the Children of Israel and the people were saying, `Verily, her partner (in fornication) was Yusuf, because there was no one else in the temple with her except him.' So she hid herself from the people and placed a veil between herself and them. No one saw her and she did not see anyone else.'' Allah said;
(And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a date palm.) This means that her pains of labor compelled her to go to the trunk of a date-palm tree that was at the place where she had secluded herself. The scholars differed over its location. As-Suddi said, "Her place of seclusion was to the east and that was where she would pray at the Sacred House of Jerusalem.'' Wahb bin Munabbih said, "She ran away and when she reached an area between Ash-Sham and Egypt, she was overcome by labor pains.'' In another narration from Wahb, he said, "This took place eight miles from the Sacred House of Jerusalem in a village that was known as Bayt Al-Lahm (Bethlehem).'' I say, there are Hadiths about the Isra' (Night Journey of the Prophet ) that are reported by An-Nasa'i on the authority of Anas, and Al-Bayhaqi on the authority of Shadad bin Aws, that say that this took place at Bait Al-Lahm. Allah knows best. This is what is well known that the people all relate from each other. The Christians have no doubt held that the place of this occurrence was Bethlehem and this is what all the people relate. It has been related in a Hadith also, if the Hadith is authentic. Allah says, informing about her,
(She said: "Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!'') In this is an evidence of the permissibility to wish for death when a calamity strikes. She knew that she was going to be tested with the birth, the people would not assist her, and they would not believe her story. After she was known as a devout worshipper among them, they now thought that she had become a fornicating whore. She said,
(Would that I had died before this,) She said this to mean before this situation.
(and I had been forgotten and out of sight!) This means, "I wish I had not been created and I was nothing.'' This was mentioned by Ibn `Abbas. Qatadah said,
(and I had been forgotten and out of sight!) "This means something unknown, forgotten and no one knew who I was.''
(24. Then he cried unto her from below her, saying: "Grieve not: your Lord has provided a Sariy under you.'') (25. "And shake the trunk of date palm towards you, it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon you.'') (26. "So eat and drink and rejoice. And if you see any human being, say: `Verily, I have vowed a fast for the Most Gracious so I shall not speak to any human being today.,'')