Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Seen at Target – My Kind of Shirt . . .

Advertisements

December 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Moslems and John the Baptist

In Damascus, in one of the most famous mosques, in the very center of the ancient city, is a special area of worship devoted to John the Baptist (in Arabic, Yahyah). As I was reading the readings for today in The Lectionary, I wondered, once again, why such reverence from our Islamic brothers and sisters?


I went looking, and found this in the SoundVision website, a religious website for English speaking Moslems:

John: A Prophet of Islam

Amongst the 25 Prophets mentioned by God in the Quran, one name is Prophet John (peace be upon him). In Arabic, his name is Yahya. He is also a Prophet who figures prominently in Christianity, where he is known as John the Baptist. His story in the Christian tradition is described in Bible Luke 1:5-22.

In Islam, belief in all of Allah’s Prophets is a fundamental article of faith. A person who denies belief in any of the Prophets, be it Jesus (peace be upon him) Moses (peace be upon him), or any of the others leaves the fold of Islam.

His miraculous birth

Prophet Jesus was not the only Prophet who was born miraculously. By miraculous, we mean outside of the normal process of human reproduction Allah has ordained which requires a man and a woman to conceive a child. In the case of Jesus, this meant being born of a mother but no father.

But Prophet Adam (peace be upon him)’s birth was even more miraculous in this sense since he was created with no mother or father. Similarly, Hawwa or Eve (may Allah be pleased with her) was created from a man, her husband, and no parents.

The birth of Prophet John is miraculous because he is the offspring of a barren mother and an elderly father. His father, it should be noted, was also a Prophet named Zecheriah.

“‘Zecheriah, We bring you the good news of the birth of a son whose name shall be John, one whose namesake We never created before.’ He said: ‘My Lord! How can I have a boy when my wife is barren and I have reached an extremely old age?’ He answered: ‘So shall it be.’ Your Lord says: ‘It is easy for Me’, and then added: ‘For beyond doubt, I created you earlier when you were nothing’ (Quran 19:7-9).

“Zecheriah exclaimed: ‘My Lord! How shall I have a son when old age has overtaken me and my wife is barren?’ He said: ‘Thus shall it be; Allah does what He wills'”(Quran 3:40).

With the birth of John, Allah granted Zecheriah his desire for an heir.

“And We bestowed favor upon Zecheriah, when he cried to his Lord: ‘Lord! Leave me not solitary [without any issue]. You are the best Inheritor.’ So We accepted his prayer and bestowed upon him John, and We made his wife fit (to bear a child). Verily they hastened in doing good works and called upon Us with longing and fear, and humbled themselves to Us” (Quran 21:89-90).

The beautiful qualities of John

Allah did not just miraculously grant Zecheriah a son. He made this child a blessing for his parents and beautiful in character. Prophet John is described in the Quran as chaste and righteous.

“Then Zecheriah prayed to his Lord: ‘O Lord! Grant me from Yourself out of Your grace the gift of a goodly offspring, for indeed You alone heed all Prayers. As he stood praying in the sanctuary, the angels called out to him: ‘Allah gives you good tidings of John, who shall confirm a command of Allah, shall be outstanding among men, utterly chaste, and a Prophet from among the righteous” (Quran 3:38-39).

“‘O John! Hold fast the Book with all your strength. We had bestowed wisdom upon him while he was still a child; and We also endowed him with tenderness and purity; and he was exceedingly pious and cherishing to his parents. Never was he insolent or rebellious. Peace be upon him, the day he was born, and the day he will die, and the day he will be raised up alive. (Quran 19: 12-15).

Part of a line of honored Prophets

Finally, as mentioned above, Prophet John is one of the Prophets Muslims must believe in. He is one of the 25 mentioned in the Quran.

“And We bestowed upon Abraham (offspring) Isaac and Jacob and each of them did We guide to the right way as We had earlier guided Noah to the right way; and (of his descendants We guided) David and Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron. Thus do We reward those who do good. (And of his descendants We guided) Zecheriah, John, Jesus and Elias: each one of them was of the righteous.” (Quran 6:84-85).

The following section is from Wikipedia:

John is also honored as a prophet in Islam as Yaḥyā ibn Zakarīyā (Arabic: يحيى بن زكريا‎), translated literally as “John, son of Zechariah”. He is believed by Muslims to have been a witness to the word of God, and a prophet who would herald the coming of Jesus.[64] His father Zechariah was also an Islamic prophet. Islamic tradition maintains that John was one of the prophets that Muhammad met on the night of the Mi’raj,[65] his ascension through the Seven Heavens. It is said that he met John and Jesus in the second heaven, where Muhammad greeted his two ‘brothers’ before ascending with archangel Gabriel to the third heaven. John’s story was also told to the Abyssinian king during the Muslim refugees’ Migration to Abyssinia.[66] According to the Qur’an, John was one on whom God sent peace on the day that he was born and the day that he died.[67]

[edit]Name
John’s name in Arabic, Yahya, was present in Arabia before the Qur’an was revealed.[68]Muslim exegetes frequently connected the name with the meaning of “to quicken” or “to make alive” in reference to John’s mother’s barrenness, which was cured by God, as well as John’s preaching, which, as Muslims believe, “made alive” the faith of Israel.[69] The Qur’an accords the significance of John’s name to the fact that it was a new name for mankind, in that no one previously had been named “John”.[70] Other scholars hold that John’s name, which they state connects with the meaning of “He shall live”, referred to his legacy, in that his memory will remain in the mind of the faithful for the generations to come.[71]

[edit]John in the Qur’an
In the Qur’an, God frequently mentions Zechariah’s continuous praying for the birth of son. Zechariah’s wife, mentioned in the New Testament as Elizabeth, was barren and therefore the birth of a child seemed impossible.[72] As a gift from God, Zechariah was given a son by the name of “John”, a name specially chosen for this child alone. In accordance with Zechariah’s prayer, God made John and Jesus, who according to exegesis was born six months later,[73] renew the message of God, which had been corrupted and lost by the Israelites. As the Qur’an says:
(His prayer was answered): “O Zakariya! We give thee good news of a son: His name shall be Yahya: on none by that name have We conferred distinction before.”

He said: “O my Lord! How shall I have a son, when my wife is barren and I have grown quite decrepit from old age?”

He said: “So (it will be) thy Lord saith, ‘that is easy for Me: I did indeed create thee before, when thou hadst been nothing!'”

(Zakariya) said: “O my Lord! give me a Sign.” “Thy Sign,” was the answer, “Shall be that thou shalt speak to no man for three nights.”

—Qur’an, sura 19 (Maryam), verse 7[74]
John was exhorted to hold fast to the Scripture and was given wisdom by God while still a child.[75] He was pure and devout, and walked well in the presence of God. He was dutiful towards his parents and he was not arrogant or rebellious. John’s reading and understanding of the scriptures, when only a child, surpassed even that of the greatest scholars of the time.[72] Muslim exegesis narrates that Jesus sent John out with twelve disciples,[76] who preached the message before Jesus called his own disciples.[73] The Qur’an says of John:
(To Zachariah’s son came the command): “O John! take hold of the Book with might”: and We gave him Wisdom even as a youth,
—Qur’an, sura 19 (Maryam), ayah 12[75]

John was a classical prophet,[77] who was exalted high by God, for his bold denouncing of all things sinful. Furthermore, the Qur’an speaks of John’s gentle pity and love for all creatures and his humble attitude towards life, for which he was granted the Purity of Life:
And piety (for all creatures) as from Us, and purity: He was devout,
And kind to his parents, and he was not overbearing or rebellious.
So Peace on him the day he was born, the day that he dies, and the day that he will be raised up to life (again)!

—Qur’an, sura 19 (Maryam), ayah 13-15[67]
John is also honored highly in Sufism as well as Islamic mysticism, primarily because of the Qur’an’s description of John’s chastity and kindness.[78] Sufis have frequently applied commentaries on John’s passages on the Qur’an, primarily concerning God-given gift of “Wisdom” which he acquired in youth as well as his parallels with Jesus. Although several phrases used to describe John and Jesus are virtually identical in the Qur’an, the manner in which they are expressed is different.[79]

December 22, 2011 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Poetry/Literature, Spiritual | 7 Comments