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Stories of Some Prophets of the Israelites, Whose Eras Are Not Definitely Known, and Who Appeared between David and Zechariah

(Peace be upon them)

 

Section One - The Story of Isaiah (Shi’a) (PBUH)

Among the prophets between David and Zechariah is Isaiah (Shi’a) (PBUH), Ibn Amoz (Amsiah). According to Muhammad Ibn Ishaaq, Isaiah (PBUH) appeared before Zechariah (Zakariah) (PBUH) and John the Baptist (Yahya) (PBUH). He is among those who prophesied about Jesus (‘Isa) (PBUH) and Muhammad . The king during his time was called Hezekiah (Hazkia). He listened and was obedient to Isaiah in what he advised him to do and prohibit for the good of the state. Affairs took momentum among the Israelites. The king became sick with an infected foot. While he was sick, King Sennacherib (Sinharib) of Babylon advanced towards Jerusalem with sixty thousand men.

The people were greatly terrified. The King asked Isaiah: "What did Allah reveal to you regarding Sennacherib and his army?" He replied: "He has not yet revealed anything to me. Then the revelation came down for King Hezekiah to appoint a successor, as he wished, because his end was at hand. When Isaiah told him this, the king turned to the Qibla (the direction faced in prayer); he prayed, glorified Allah , invoked Him, and wept. Weeping and invoking Allah the All-Powerful and Majestic with a sincere heart, trust and patience, he said: "O Lord of lords, and God of gods! O, Benevolent and Merciful One Whom neither sleep nor nodding can overpower, remember me for my deeds and my just judgment over the children of Israel; and all that was from You, and You know it better than I do, my open acts and my secrets are with You."

Allah answered his prayers and had compassion on him. He revealed to Isaiah to tell him the glad tidings that He had compassion for his weeping and would extend his life for a further fifteen years and save him from his enemy, Sennacherib. When Isaiah told this to Hezekiah, his disease was healed. Evil and sadness departed, and he fell prostrate, saying: "O Lord, it is You Who grants kingship to whomsoever You wish and dethrones whomsoever You wish and elevates whomsoever You wish and degrades whomsoever You wish, Knower of the unseen and the evident. And lo! You are the First and the Last; the Manifest and the Perceived; You grant mercy and answer the prayers of the troubled (ones)."

When he raised his head, Allah revealed to Isaiah to command the king to extract the water of the fig and apply it to his sore, and he would be whole and cured. He did so and was cured.

Then Allah sent death upon the army of Sennacherib. In the morning they were all corpses, except Sennacherib and five of his companions, among them Nebuchadnezzar (Bukhtanasar). The king of Israel immediately sent for them, put them in shackles and displayed them in the land for seventy days to spite and insult them. Every day each of them was fed a loaf of barley bread; after seventy days he confined them in prison.

Allah then revealed to Isaiah that the king should send them back to their country so that they might warn their people what would happen to them. When they returned, Sennacherib gathered his people and told them what had happened to them. The priests and magicians said to him: We told you about their Lord and their prophets, but you did not listen to us. It is a nation which, with their God, nobody can overcome." So, Sennacherib was afraid of Allah . He died seven years later.

Ibn Ishaaq also reported that when King Hezekiah of Israel died, the Israelites’ condition deteriorated; there was political confusion, and their wickedness increased. Isaiah preached to them what Allah revealed to him, directing them to righteousness and warning them of Allah’s severe punishment. His preaching made him their enemy and they decided to kill him, so he escaped from them.

Ibn Ishaaq also reported an Israelite interpolation which said that when Isaiah was passing by a tree, it opened, and he entered therein; but Satan saw him and held onto the loop of his garment so that it stuck out. When they saw it, they brought a saw and sawed the tree, and him with it. Indeed, from Allah we come and to Him we return.

Section Two - The Story of Jeremiah (Aramaya) Ibn Hilkiah (Haqa) (Peace be upon him)

Another prophet is Jeremiah (PBUH) Ibn Hilkiah from the House of Levi Ibn Jacob (PBUH). It has been claimed that he was Al-Khidr. This was related by Al-Dahak from Ibn ‘Abbas, but it is not true.

Ibn ‘Asakir reported that it is written in some scrolls that Jeremiah stood upon the blood of John Ibn Zechariah while it was flowing and he said: "O blood! You have enlightened the people, so take a rest." So it stopped and condensed until it disappeared.

There is a tradition that Jeremiah asked Allah : "O Lord! Which of Your slaves is more lovable to You?" He answered:

"Those who remember Me most away from their remembrance of My creatures; those who are not thinking of death, nor speak of eternal living; those who, when they are allured by the riches of this world, despise them, and when they lose them are happy; those have My love, indeed, and I shall reward them more than they desired."

Section Three - The Destruction of Jerusalem

Almighty Allah declared: "And We gave Moses the Scripture and made it a guidance for the children of Israel (saying): 'Take not other than Me as (your) Wakil (Protector, Lord, or Disposer of your affairs, etc.). O offspring of those whom We carried (in the ship) with Noah. Verily, he was a grateful slave.' And We decreed for the children of Israel in The Scripture, that indeed you would do mischief on the earth twice and you will become tyrants and extremely arrogant! So, when the promise came for the first of the two, We sent against You slaves Of Ours given to terrible warfare. They entered the very innermost parts of your homes. And it was a promise (completely) fulfilled. Then We gave you once again, a return of victory over them. And We helped you with wealth and children and make you more numerous in manpower. (And We said): 'If you do good, you do good for your own selves, and if you do evil (you do it) against yourselves.' Then, when the second promise came to pass, (We permitted your enemies) to make your faces sorrowful and to enter the mosque (Of Jerusalem) as they had entered it before, and to destroy with utter destruction all that fell in their hands. (And We said in the Torah): 'It may be that your Lord may show mercy unto you, but if you return (to sins), We shall return (to Our Punishment). And We have made hell a prison for the disbelievers.'" (Surah 17:2-8)

Wahb Ibn Munbah reported that when sin increased, Allah revealed to an Israelite prophet called Amos (Mamia) (PBUH) that he should stand before his people and admonish them that they are hard-headed, blind, and deaf and tell them: "I [i.e., Allah ] remember their forefathers, and that makes Me merciful with them. And ask them about My bounty: can any of them benefit from disobeying Me? and does any suffer who obeys Me? The beasts remember their countries and return to them, but those people have forgotten why I have favored them for the sake of their forefathers, and have misused My generosity. Your scribes have forgotten My tenets and your reciters worship other than Me, and your women have not learned a useful lesson and their rulers have lied against Me and My messengers. Their hearts and mouths are full of lies. And I swear by My majesty and power that I will send upon them people with strange tongues, and strange faces, merciless in the face of their tears; and I shall send them a tyrannous cruel king, with an army like clouds, and followers like storms, and their flags like the wings of eagles, and the paces of their horses like the decades of a journey. They will return buildings to dust, and leave the villages a wilderness. Woe betide it and its inhabitants if they shout and invoke! I will not look at their faces."

Ibn ‘Asaker has related the same in these words: Ishaaq Ibn Bishr said that Idris told them that Wahb Ibn Munbah said that Allah the Exalted sent Jeremiah to the children of Israel when the situation had become worse among them in disobedience, killing of prophets and covetousness. Allah was determined to revenge Himself upon them vindictively; and so He revealed to Jeremiah: "I am going to destroy Jerusalem (the children of Israel) in revenge. Go the Dome of the Rock. I will give you My commands and revelation." Jeremiah stood up and rent his clothes, and applied ashes to his face and fell prostrate and said: "O Lord! would that my mother had not borne me, when You made me the last prophet of Israel, and Jerusalem be destroyed in my time." Allah said: "Raise your head." He raised his head, wept, and said: "O my Lord! whom will You set against them?" He said: "The worshipers of fire who do not fear My punishment, nor expect My reward. Stand up, Jeremiah, and hear the news about Israel. Before I chose you, I had made you and favored you and honored you. Go with the king and guide and protect him." (He was with the king while he was receiving revelation from Allah , and they forgot how Allah saved them.) "Go and tell them what I have told you."

"O Allah! I am weak if You do not strengthen me."

"Do you not know that all affairs are controlled by Me? I am Allah without semblance, or any like Me. I spoke to the oceans so; I am with you, and nothing shall harm you. Go to your people and tell them: Allah has remembered you, with His remembrance of your forefathers’ good deeds. The animals remember their countries and return to them. But those people of yours are drenched in destruction and damnation, for they have forgotten the purpose of My generosity to their forefathers and have misplaced My favors. The scholars and priests have gone astray and have worshiped another god besides Me. "As for their kings and princes, they have been lavished with My bounty and thought themselves safe from My fate. They abandon My Book and kill My prophets. Is it possible for Me to have a partner? Is it possible for Me to make a creature to be worshiped and to be obeyed besides Me? As for their reciters and jurists, they teach and learn what they like. As for the children of prophets, they are oppressed and seduced and go with the crowd. They want the positions of their fathers without the discipline, patience, piety, and kindness of their fathers. By my power, I swear, that I shall send woe upon them that no wise man can understand. I shall replace their luxury with ordeal, chains, and fetters and after dwelling in palaces, they will dwell in dust. I will disgrace and degrade their womenfolk. I create My creatures and slaves with mercy and bounty. If they accept and recognize it, I complete My favors and mercy. When I change My mind, I change My mind; and if I change, I am angry; and if I am angry, I punish; and nothing prospers with My anger."

According to Ka’b, Jeremiah said: "By Your grace I have come to learn before You; how is it possible when I am weak and powerless, to speak before You? But by Your mercy You have spared me to this day. None fears this punishment more than I do, because I have been among them while they disobeyed You, yet without it changing me. If You punish me, I deserve it, and if You spare me, I expect it of Your kindness. O Lord, You are Our lord! Are You going to destroy their country when it is the place of Your prophets, the place of Your revelations? O Lord the Exalted and Blessed be Your Name! for You to destroy this mosque and all pertaining to it, and those houses which lauded Your praise! O Lord, for You to kill these people and punish them, when they are the issue of Abraham Your faithful friend and David Your chosen one! O Lord, which village will escape Your punishment then? Which worshiper will escape Your vengeance after the children of Your faithful friend Abraham?"

He on High said: "He who disobeys Me will not detest My punishment. I had honored them because they obeyed Me. If they disobeyed me I will place them among the disobedient, until I rescue them out of My Mercy."

Jeremiah said: "O Lord, You made friends with Abraham and for his sake You preserved us; and Moses You did save; and he asked You to save us and not abandon us, nor throw us to the enemy." And so Allah revealed to him: "O Jeremiah, I made you honored in your mother’s womb and have chosen you to this day. If your people had protected the orphans, the widows, the helpless, and the stranded, I would have been their Sustainer. They would have been like a blissful garden to Me; but I complain of the children of Israel to you. I have been the kind shepherd to them; but I honor only those who honor and despise those who despise My command. Those before them feared Me, but these people displayed their obedience of Me in the temple, market place, hill and mountain tops, and under the shade of trees until the heavens wondered at them before Me, and the earth and mountains, including the beasts, wondered and wailed. All that had no effect on them; nor was the Book useful to them."

Ka’b said that when Jeremiah delivered the message of his Lord, and the people heard the threats and warnings in it, they said: "You are lying, if you are saying that Allah shall destroy the land, His temple, His Book, His worship, and monotheism." They captured Jeremiah, tied him up, and imprisoned him. At this, Allah sent Nabuchadnezzar upon them. He entered the country with his troops and surrounded the city. When the siege was prolonged they surrendered to his rule. They opened the gates and Nabuchadnezzar’s troops streamed in.

He ruled them savagely and punished them cruelly. He killed a third of them, captured a third, and spared the lame and the old; then he trampled upon them with the horses, demolished their houses, drew the youth along, and stood the women in the market places as guards. He intimidated the troops and destroyed the castles and temples. He burned the Torah. He asked about Daniel, the prophet who had written to him, but he was dead. His family took out the letter which he had written to him. Among the family members were Daniel the youngest son of Ezekiel, Azariah, and Mishael. He left that letter for them. The younger Daniel succeeded the elder Daniel. Nabuchadnezzar entered Jerusalem with his troops, then marched to Syria. He killed the children of Israel until he almost exterminated them. He returned to Babylon with booty in the form of treasure and men, among them young princes and children of priests numbering seventy thousand.

Ibn Ishaaq Ibn Bishr reported that Wahb bin Munbah stated that after Nabuchadnezzar had destroyed Jerusalem, he was told that the Israelites had a man who used to predict what had befallen them, describing the king and his actions, foretelling that he would slay their warriors, capture their children, destroy the temple, and burn their Torah. They had said he was lying, and so they had tied him and kept him in prison. Nabuchadnezzar ordered that he be brought out from prison. Jeremiah was released and the king said to him: "Did you warn those people against what has happened to them?" Jeremiah affirmed it and the king said: "I knew that." Jeremiah stated: "Allah sent me to them and they accused me of lying." He asked: "And did they beat you and imprison you?" He replied: "Yes." The king said: "What a wicked race, to deny their prophet and their Lord’s message! So would you like to join me, for me to honor you and make you free? And if you want to remain in your country, I grant you that." Jeremiah replied: "I am still in the security of Allah when I did not go away from the country at all. If the Israelites did not go out of it, they would not fear you, nor any other, nor would you have authority over them." When Nabuchadnezzar heard this, he let him alone, and so Jeremiah went to live in his place in Elia (Elat).

According to Hisham Ibn al-Kalbi, Nabuchadnezzar marched on Jerusalem, its king - who was a descendant of David, who had built Jerusalem for the Israelites - made peace with him. Nabuchadnezzar took hostages and departed. When he had gone as far as Thahria, he learned that the Israelites had risen against their king and killed him because he had made peace with him. So, Nabuchadnezzar beheaded all the hostages that were with him. He returned to the Israelites and invaded the city, killing the warriors and capturing their families.

When he had found Jeremiah in prison and released him, Jeremiah told him his story and his warnings concerning him. Nabuchadnezzar said: "What a wicked people, that disobey the prophet of Allah!" He set him free and honored him. Jeremiah gathered around him the remaining weak souls of Israel. He said to them: "Woe to us! We have disobeyed Allah. We must repent to Allah, Great and Majestic, for what we have done, and I shall pray to Allah to accept our repentance." He prayed so, and Allah revealed to him that He would not accept it: "If they are sincere, they must stay with you in this country (or town)." He told them what Allah had revealed. They said: "How can we stay in this town when it has been devastated and Allah is angry with its people?" So they refused to stay.

Ibn al-Kalbi said that since that time, the children of Israel were dispersed the world over. Some of them went to the Hijaz, Taif and Medina, and others settled in Wadi al-Qura. Some went to Egypt, and Nabuchadnezzar wrote to its king, demanding those who had escaped thither, but he refused. So Nabuchadnezzar mounted his army and fought him. He defeated him and captured their children. Then he marched to the extreme of Morocco. He returned from Morocco, Egypt, Jerusalem, Palestine, and Jordan with many captives, and among them was Daniel.

Ibn al-Kalbi said that it appears that it was Daniel, the youngest son of Ezekiel, and not the elder Daniel, according to Ibn Munbah. Allah knows best.

Section Four - A Glimpse of Daniel (PBUH)

Ibn Abi Al-Dunya narrated the following, based on a chain of citations. Nabuchadnezzar captured two lions and threw them into a pit. He then brought Daniel and threw him at them; yet they did not pounce at him; rather, he remained as Allah wished. When then he desired food and drink, Allah revealed to Jeremiah, who was in Sham (Palestine/Syria): "Prepare food and drink for Daniel." He said: "O Lord I am in Jerusalem while Daniel is in Babylon (Iraq)." Allah revealed to him: "Do what I have commanded you to do, and I shall send you one who will carry you and what you have prepared." Jeremiah did so and Allah sent him something that would carry him until he arrived at the brink of the pit. Then Daniel asked: "Who is this?" He answered: "I am Jeremiah." He asked: "What brought you?" He answered: "Your Lord sent me to you." He said: "And so my Lord has remembered me?" He said: "Yes." Daniel said: "Praise be to Allah Who has never forgotten me! And Praise be to Allah Who never forgets those who appeal to Him! And Praise be to Him Who compensates good with good, rewards patience with safety, dispels harm after distress, assures us when we are overwhelmed, and is our hope when skill fails us."

Yunus Ibn Bakeer reported that Muhammad Ibn Ishaaq reported that Abu Khalid Ibn Dinar reported that Abul ‘Aa’lia said: "When Tastar was invaded, we found, in the treasure house of Al-Harmazan, a bed on which lay a dead man, with a holy script at his bedside. We took the scripture to ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab. He called Ka’b and he translated it into Arabic, and I was the first Arab to read it. I read it as I read the Qur’an." Here, I (i.e. Khalid Ibn Dinar) said to Abul ‘Aa’lia: "What was in it?" He said: "Life history, annals, songs, speech, and what is to come." I asked: "And what did you do with the man?" He said: "We dug in the river bank thirteen separate graves. At nightfall we buried him and leveled all the graves in order to mislead people for they would tamper with him." I asked: "And what did they want from him?" He said: "When the sky was cloudless for them, they went out with his bed, and it rained." I asked: "Who did you think the man was?" He said: "A man called Daniel." I asked: "And for how long had he been dead when you found him?" He said: "Three hundred years." I asked: "Did not anything change on him?" He said: "No, except for the hairs of his face (beard and mustache); the skin of the prophets is not harmed by the earth, nor devoured by hyenas."

The chain of citation from Abul ‘Aa’lia is good, but if the date of the dead man’s death was really three hundred years, then he was not a prophet but a saintly man, because there was no prophet between Jesus (PBUH) and the Prophet Muhammad , according to the hadith in Bukhari. The span between them (i.e. the dead man and Muhammad ) was variously reported as four hundred, six hundred, and six hundred twenty years. It could be that he had died eight hundred years earlier, which would be near to Daniel’s time, if his being Daniel is correct. However, he could still have been somebody else, either a prophet or a saint. Yet the truth is more likely that he was Daniel, because he had been taken by the King of Persia and remained imprisoned, as already mentioned.

It was narrated with a correct citation that his nose was one span (nine inches)long. Anas Ibn Malik, with good citation, said that his nose was an arm’s stretch long (two feet), on which basis he is thought to be an ancient prophet from before this period. Almighty Allah knows best.

Abu Bakr Ibn Abu Dunya wrote in the book Ahkam-alQubur (The Rules of Graves), based on a long chain of citation, that the Prophet said: "Daniel prayed to his Lord, Great and Majestic for the nation of Muhammad to bury him." And he (i.e. Muhammad, ) said: "Whoever discovers Daniel give him tidings of Paradise." The man who discovered him (his corpse) was called Harqus. ‘Umar sent to Abu Musa saying: "Bury him; and send to Harqus, for the Prophet (PBUH) has given him promise of Paradise."

This hadith is mursal (it has a good chain of citation) as it is recorded, and Allah knows best.

Ibn Abu Dunya reported from Abu Bilal that Abu Musa found with Daniel a holy script and a container in which were Dirhams, his ring and ointment. He wrote to ‘Umar, who replied: "Send the scripture to us, send some of the ointment, tell the Muslims who are with you to use it, share the Dirhams among them, and leave the ring for you."

Abu Dunya related without citation that when Abu Musa was told that he was Daniel, he stayed with him, embraced him, and kissed him. Then he wrote to ‘Umar that he found with him nearly ten thousand Dirhams. It used to be that people came to borrow from it, and if they did not return it, they became sick. ‘Umar ordered his burial in a grave to be kept secret and the money to be sent to the treasury, with the box and the ring a gift to him (Abu Musa).

It is related of Abu Musa that he told four of the captives to dam the river and dig a grave in the middle, where he buried him. Then he beheaded the four captives in order for the secret to be kept from all except himself.

Ibn Abu Dunya also reported, by a chain of citations, that a ring was seen on the hand of Ibn Abu Barda Ibn Abu Musa. The gem was carved with two lions with a man between them, whom they were licking. Abu Barda said: "This is the ring of that man whom the people of this town say is Daniel. Abu Musa took it the day he was buried. The learned people of that town told Abu Musa that soothsayers and astrologers told the king in Daniel’s time that a boy would be born who would destroy him and his kingdom. So the king swore to kill all the baby boys, except that they threw Daniel in the lions’ den, and the lion and lioness began to lick him and did not harm him. His mother came and took him. Abu Musa said: "And so Daniel carved his image and the image of the two lions into the gem of his ring, for him not to forget Allah’s blessing upon him in this." This has a good citation.

Section Five - The Reconstruction of Jerusalem in the Era of Jeremiah

"Or like the one who passed by a town and it had tumbled over its roofs. He said: "Oh! How will Allah ever bring it to life after its death?" So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him up (again). He said: 'How long did you remain (dead)?' He (the man) said: '(Perhaps) I remained (dead) a day or part of a day.' He said: 'Nay, you have remained (dead) for a hundred years. Look at your food and your drink, they show no change; and look at your donkey! And thus We have made of you a sign for the people. Look at the bones, how We bring them together and clothe them with the flesh.' When this was clearly shown to him, he said, 'I know (now) that Allah is Able to do all things.'" (Surah 2: 259)

Hashim Ibn Al-Kalbi reported that Allah the Exalted revealed to Jeremiah (PBUH): "I am going to reconstruct Jerusalem, so go there." He went and found it devastated. He said to himself: "Exalted be Allah! Allah told me to come to this city and that He was reconstructing it. When will Allah rebuild it? And when will He bring it back to life?"

Then he slept, and his donkey with him, for seventy years until Nabuchadnezzar and the king over him -- Laharasab, who had ruled one hundred twenty years -- had perished. Laharasab was succeeded by his son Bashtaasib (According to the Bible, Ezra 1, this would be King Cyrus of Persia) . News of the death of Nabuchadnezzar had reached Bashtaasib through Sham (Syria), which was in utter ruin. The wild beasts had multiplied in Palestine, for it had become empty of men. Bashtaasib therefore called to the children of Israel in Babylon: "Whoever wants to return to Sham (Syria/Palestine) may do so." It was ruled by one from the House of David, who was ordered by Bashtaasib to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple, so they returned and rebuilt it. Then Jeremiah opened his eyes, blinked from the seventy year sleep, and saw how the city was being reconstructed. He remained in that sleep of his until he had completed one hundred years. When Allah awoke him, he thought that he had slept not more than an hour. He had known the city as a devastated land; when he saw it rebuilt and peopled, he said: "I know (now) that Allah is able to do all things." (Surah 2: 259)

Ibn Al-Kalbi said that the Israelites settled it, and Allah rebuilt their glory. It remained so until Rome vanquished them in the era of the tribal kings; then they lost their community and their authority after the appearance of Christianity.

This is how Ibn Jarir tells their story in his History of Jerusalem. He said that Laharasab was a just king and diplomatic. The people, chiefs, and kings obeyed him, and he was gifted in the construction of cities, canals and institutions. When he grew too weak to rule, after more than one hundred, his son Bashtaasib ascended to the throne. During his reign the religion of Zoroastrianism (alMajusia) appeared. A man named Zoroaster (Zordahst) had been a companion of Jeremiah (PBUH) and had angered him, so Jeremiah (PBUH) cursed him. Zoroaster became a leper. He went to the land of Azerabaijan, joined Bashtaasib and converted him to Zoroastrianism, which he chose for himself of his own free will. Bashtaasib forced people to embrace it and killed many people who disobeyed him.

After Bashtaasib, his son Barman ruled. They were among the famous and heroic kings of Persia, and Nabuchadnezzar had been deputy to all three of them. He lived a long time, may Allah torment him!

The essence of what has been written by Ibn Jarir is that the person or wayfarer passing through this village was Jeremiah. Others say that it was Hosea (Ozir), and this is the consensus of the ancients and those after them, but Allah knows best.

Section Six - The Story of Ezra (‘Uzair) (PBUH)

Ishaaq Ibn Bishr reported, on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas and others, that Ezra was a saint and a wise man. He went out one day to his own farm, as was his custom About noon he came to a deserted, ruined place and felt the heat. He entered the ruined town and dismounted his donkey, taking figs and grapes in his basket. He went under the shade of the khaiha tree and ate his food. Then he got up to look at what remained of the ruins. The people had long been lost, and he saw bones. "Oh! How will Allah ever bring it to life after its death ?" (Surah 2: 259)

He said this not out of doubt but out of curiosity. Allah sent the Angel of Death to take his life. He remained dead for one hundred years.

After the one hundred years had passed and there had been changes in Israelite affairs, Allah sent an angel upon Ezra to revive his heart and his eyes in order for him to feel and see how Allah revives the dead. The angel said: "For how long did you sleep?" He said: "A day or part of a day." He said this because he knew he had slept early in the afternoon and woke up late in the afternoon. The angel said: "You remained asleep for one hundred years." He ate and drank the food which he had prepared before he was overtaken by that long sleep. Then the angel revived his donkey.

Almighty Allah said: "And look at your donkey! And thus We have made of you a sign for the people. Look at the bones, how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh." When this was clearly shown to him he said: "I know (now) that Allah is able to do all things." (Surah 2: 259)

He rode on his donkey and entered his native place, but the people did not recognize him, nor did his household, except his maid, now an old woman. He asked her: "Is this the house of Ezra?" She said: "Yes, but the people have long forgotten Ezra." He said: "I am Ezra. Allah had taken my life for a hundred years and has now returned it to me." She said: "Ezra used to be answered when he prayed to Allah. Pray to cure me of blindness if you are Ezra." He prayed for her and massaged her eyes and took her by the hand. "Get up by the power of Allah," he said. The crippled woman stood up and walked; she opened her eyes and saw: her blindness was gone. She said: "I bear witness that you are Ezra."

She rushed to the assembly of the Israelites. Ezra’s son was one hundred eighteen years old, and his children’s children now were lords of the assembly. She called out to them saying: "This is Ezra come to you." They accused her of lying. She said: "I am your old maid. He has just prayed to Allah for me, and here I am whole again, walking and seeing." The people stood up and looked at him. His son said: "My father had a mark between his shoulders, a black mole," and they discovered it. They said: "None among us memorized the Torah since Nabuchadnezzar burnt it, except Ezra; and there was only one copy of the Torah, which was hidden by Sarukha. He buried it in the days of Nabuchadnezzar in a place none but Ezra knows." Ezra led the people to the hidden place and took out that copy of the Torah. Its leaves had rotted, and the book itself crumpled.

Ezra sat under the shade of a tree surrounded by the children of Israel and copied out the Torah for them from that script. Henceforth the Jews said that Ezra is the son Allah , for the two evidences which came down from Heaven and for his copying the Torah and for his fighting the cause of the Israelites. He had been copying the Torah for Ezekial in the land of darkness in the hermitage of Ezekiel. The village which was in ruins is said to be Sayrabadh.

Ibn ‘Abbas commented: "So it is as Allah said: "We have made of you a sign for the people." (Surah 2: 259) That is, for the Israelites, in that he was sitting among his children, they old men, and he a youth. He died as a forty-year-old, and Allah resurrected him at the same age on the day of his death."

The Story of Zechariah (Zakariyah) and John (Yahya)

The years had taken their toll on the Prophet Zechariah (Zakariyah) (PBUH). He was now old and bent with age, in his nineties. Despite his feebleness, he went to the temple daily to deliver his sermons.

Zechariah was not a rich man, but he was always ready to help those in need. His one disappointment in life was that he had no children, for his wife was barren. This worried him, for he feared there was no one after him to carry out his work. The people needed a strong leader, for if they were left on their own, they would move away from Allah’s teachings and change the Holy Laws to suit themselves.

During one of his visits to the temple, he went to check on Mary, who was living in a secluded room of the temple. He was surprised to find fresh out-of-season fruit in her room. Besides him, no one had entry to her room. When he inquired, she told him that the fruit was from Allah . She found it every morning. But why was he so surprised, she asked him. Did he not know that Allah provides without measure for whom He wills?

This noble girl had opened his eyes to a startling idea. Could he not ask his Lord to bless him with a child in his old age? Even if his wife was past child-bearing age, nothing was impossible for his Gracious Lord!

Allah the Almighty revealed: "Kaf, Ha, Ya, Ain, Sad, [These letters are one of the miracles of the Quran, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings. (This is) a mention of the Mercy of your Lord to His slave Zechariah when he called out his Lord (Allah ), a call in secret, saying: 'My Lord! Indeed my bones have grown feeble and grey hair has spread on my head, and I have never been unblessed in my invocation to You, O my Lord! And Verily! I fear my relatives after me, since my wife is barren. So give me from Yourself an heir, who shall inherit me, and inherit (also) the posterity of Jacob (inheritance of the religious knowledge and Prophethood, not the wealth, etc.) And make him, my Lord, one with whom You are Well pleased!" (Allah said): "O Zechariah! Verily, We give you the glad tidings of a son. His name will he John (Yahya). We have given that name to none before (him)." He said: 'My Lord! How can I have a son, when my wife is barren, and I have reached the extreme old age.' He said: 'So (it will be). Your Lord says, It is easy for Me. Certainly I have created you before, when you had been nothing.' (Zechariah) 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.' Then he came out to his people from Al-Mihrab (a praying place or a private room, etc.). He told them by signs to glorify Allah’s Praises in the morning and in the afternoon. (It was said to his son): 'O John! Hold fast to the Scripture (The Torah).' And We gave him wisdom while yet a child, and (made him) sympathetic to men as a mercy (or a grant) from Us, and pure from sins (i.e. John) and he was righteous, and dutiful towards his parents, and he was neither an arrogant nor disobedient (to Allah or to his parents). And Salamun (peace) on him the day he was born, the day he dies, and the day he will he raised up to life (again)!" (Surah 19: 1-15)

Almighty Allah also said: "At that time Zechariah 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 Al-Mihrab (a praying place or a private room), saying: 'Allah gives you glad tidings of John confirming (believing in) the Word from Allah [Be! - and he was! (i.e., the creation of Jesus, son of Mary)], noble, keeping a way from sexual relations with women; a Prophet, from among the righteous. He said: 'O my Lord! How can I have a son when I am very old, and my wife is barren?' Allah said: 'Thus Allah does what He wills." 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 (by praising Him again and again), and glorify (Him) in the afternoon and in the morning.'" (Surah 3: 38-41)

John (PBUH) was born a stranger to the world of children who used to amuse themselves, as he was serious all the time. Most children took delight in torturing animals whereas, he was merciful to them. He fed the animals from his food until there was nothing left for him, and he just ate fruit or leaves of trees.

John loved reading since childhood. When he grew up, Allah the Exalted called upon him: "'O John! Hold fast to the Scripture (The Torah).' And We gave him wisdom while yet a child." (Surah 19: 12)

Allah guided him to read the Book of Jurisprudence closely; thus, he became the wisest and most knowledgeable man of that time. Therefore, Allah the Almighty endowed him with the faculties of passing judgments on people’s affairs, interpreting the secrets of religion, guiding people to the right path, and warning them against the wrong one.

John reached maturity. His compassion for his parents, as well as for all people and all creatures, increased greatly. He called people to repent their sins.

There are quite a number of traditions told about John. Ibn ‘Asaker related that one time his parents were looking for him and found him at the Jordan River. When they met him, they wept sorely, seeing his great devotion to Allah , Great and Majestic.

Ibn Wahb said that, according to Malik, grass was the food of John Ibn Zechariah, and he wept sorely in fear of Allah .

A chain of narrators reported that Idris Al-Khawlawi said: "Shall I not tell you he who had the best food? It is John Ibn Zechariah, who joined the beasts at dinner, fearing to mix with men."

Ibn Mubarak stated that Wahb Ibn Al-Ward narrated that Zechariah did not see his son for three days. He found him weeping inside a grave which he had dug and in which he resided. "My son, I have been searching for you, and you are dwelling in this grave weeping!" "O father, did you not tell me that between Paradise and Hell is only a span, and it will not be crossed except by tears of weepers?" He said to him: "Weep then, my son." Then they wept together.

Other narrations say that John (PBUH) said: "The dwellers of Paradise are sleepless out of the sweetness of Allah’s bounty; that is why the faithful must be sleepless because of Allah’s love in their hearts. How far between the two luxuries, how far between them?"

They say John wept so much that tears marked his cheeks.

He found comfort in the open and never cared about food. He ate leaves, herbs, and sometimes locusts. He slept anywhere in the mountains or in holes in the ground. He sometimes would find a lion or a bear as he entered a cave, but being deeply absorbed in praising Allah , he never heeded them. The beasts easily recognized John as the prophet who cared for all the creatures, so they would leave the cave, bowing their heads.

John sometimes fed those beasts, out of mercy, from his food and was satisfied with prayers as food for his soul. He would spend the night crying and praising Allah for His blessings.

When John called people to worship Allah , he made them cry out of love and submission, arresting their hearts with the truthfulness of his words.

A conflict took place between John and the authorities at that time. A tyrant king, Herod Antipas, the ruler of Palestine, was in love with Salome, his brother’s daughter. He was planning to marry his beautiful niece. The marriage was encouraged by her mother and by some of the learned men of Zion, either out of fear or to gain favor with the ruler.

On hearing the ruler’s plan, John pronounced that such a marriage would be incestuous. He would not approve it under any circumstance, as it was against the Law of the Torah.

John’s pronouncement spread like wildfire. Salome was angry, for it was her ambition to rule the kingdom with her uncle. She plotted to achieve her aim. Dressing attractively, she sang and danced before her uncle, arousing Herod’s lust. Embracing her, he offered to fulfill whatever she desired. At once she told him: "I would love to have the head of John, because he has defiled your honor and mine throughout the land. Bewitched by her charm, he submitted to her monstrous request. John was executed and his head was brought to Salome. The cruel woman gloated with delight. But the death of Allah’s beloved prophet was avenged. Not only she, but all the children of Israel were severely punished by invading armies which destroyed their kingdom.