19 - Maryamn (Mary)

5 Tafsir(s) related to verse 19.1


Kāf hā yā ‘ayn sād: God knows best what He means by these [letters].

Ibn Al Kathir

The Story of Zakariyya and His Supplication for a Son The discussion about the separate letters has already preceded at the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah.

Concerning Allah's statement,

ذِكْرُ رَحْمَتِ رَبِّكَ

(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 Zakariyyathat He was a carpenter who used to eat from what he earned with his own hand through carpentry. Concerning Allah's statement,

إِذْ نَادَى رَبَّهُ نِدَآءً خَفِيّاً

(When he called his Lord witha 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,

إِذْ نَادَى رَبَّهُ نِدَآءً خَفِيّاً

(When he called out his Lord witha call in secret. ) "Verily, Allah knows the pious heart and he hears the hidden voice.''

قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّى وَهَنَ الْعَظْمُ مِنِّى

(He said: "My Lord! Indeed my bones have grown feeble...'') meaning, "I have become weak and feeble in strength.''

وَاشْتَعَلَ الرَّأْسُ شَيْباً

(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,

وَلَمْ أَكُنْ بِدُعَآئِكَ رَبِّ شَقِيّاً

(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,

وَإِنِّي خِفْتُ الْمَوَالِىَ مِن وَرَآئِى

(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,

«لَا نُورَثُ، مَا تَرَكْنَا فَهُوَ صَدَقَة»

(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,

«نَحْنُ مَعْشَرَ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ لَا نُورَث»

(We, Prophets do not leave behind inheritance (of wealth).) Therefore, the meaning in these Hadiths restricts the meaning of Zakariyya's statement,

فَهَبْ لِى مِن لَّدُنْكَ وَلِيّاًيَرِثُنِى

(So give me from yourself an heir. Who shall inherit me,) inheritance of prophethood. For this reason Allah said,

وَيَرِثُ مِنْ ءَالِ يَعْقُوبَ

(and inherit (also) the posterity of Ya`qub.) This is similar to Allah's statement,

وَوَرِثَ سُلَيْمَـنُ دَاوُودَ

(And Sulayman inherited from Dawud.)27:16This 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:

«نَحْنُ مَعَاشِرَ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ لَا نُورَثُ، مَا تَرَكْنَا فَهُوَ صَدَقَة»

(We Prophets do not leave behind any inheritance (of wealth). Whatever we leave behind, then it is charity.) Mujahid said concerning his statement,

يَرِثُنِى وَيَرِثُ مِنْ ءَالِ يَعْقُوبَ

(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:

يَرِثُنِى وَيَرِثُ مِنْ ءَالِ يَعْقُوبَ

(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,

وَاجْعَلْهُ رَبِّ رَضِيّاً

(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.''

Kashf Al-Asrar

Kāf HāÌ YāÌ ʿAyn ṣād

Hearing these letters is a wine that the Real pours into the hearts of His friends. When they drink it, they seek; when they seek, they rejoice; when they rejoice, they fly; when they fly, they arrive; when they arrive, they depart; when they depart, they join; when they join, they acquire. Then their intellects are drowned in His gentleness, and their hearts absorbed by His unveiling.

Listening to the disconnected letters at the beginning of the surahs and verses is a wine poured into the cup of joy and placed in the goblet of intimacy that is given by the majesty of the unity with the attribute of self-sufficiency to His friends. When the friends of the Real drink this wine of intimacy from the cup of holiness in the garden of gentleness, they rejoice. When they rejoice, they seek. They break the cage of being and fly on the wings of passion to the horizon of the Unseen, reaching the Kaabah of union. When they reach it, they reach themselves, their intellects drowned in gentleness, their hearts consumed by unveiling. The breeze of the Beginningless blows from the side of proximity. They lose themselves and find Him.

The Pir of the Tariqah said, "For a long time I was seeking Him and finding myself. Now I seek myself and find Him. O Remembered in the proofs, O Reminder of intimacy! Since You are present, of what use is this seeking? O God, I seek the Found. I say to the Seen, 'What do I have, what should I seek, when will I see, what should I say?' I am entranced by this seeking, I am seized by this speaking. O You who are before each day and separate from everyone! In this celebration a thousand minstrels are not enough for me."

Kāf HāÌ YāÌ ʿAyn ṣād. This is the Real's laudation of Himself. With these letters He reminds His creatures of His names and attributes and He praises Himself.

Kāf: He is saying, "I am the Great [kabīr], I am the Generous [karīm]." The Great is an allu- sion to the majesty and greatness of the Unity, the Generous is an allusion to the beauty and gener- osity of self-sufficiency. The recognizers are in the unveiling of majesty, the lovers in the contem- plation of beauty.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

For comparison please see the story of Zachariah as given in vv. 34-57 of Al-i-Imran (III) and the E.N.'s thereof.

In order to understand the position held by Hadrat Zachariah, a descendant ' of Prophet Aaron, one should be acquainted with the system of priesthood among the children of Israel.

After the conquest of Palestine, the whole land was divided among the 12 tribes of the descendants of Prophet Jacob as inheritance, and the 13th tribe (the Levites) were entrusted with religious services and duties. Even among the Levites, the house that was separated "to sanctify the most holy things.... to burn incense before the Lord, to minister unto him, and to bless in his name for ever" was the house of Prophet Aaron. The other Levites were not allowed to enter the Temple "Because their office was to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of the Lord, in the courts, and in the chambers, and in the purifying of all holy things, and the work of the service of the house of the God.... And to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the Lord in the Sabbaths, in the new moon, and on the set festivals." The descendants of Aaron were divided into 24 families, who came to serve the house of the Lord by turns. One of these families was of Abiah whose chief was Zachariah. Thus it was Zachariah's duty to go into the house on his family's turn and burn incense before the Lord. (For details, see I Chronicles, chapters 23, 24).

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said regarding the interpretation of (Kaf. Ha. Ya. Ain. Sad): '(Kaf. Ha. Ya. 'Ayn. Sad.) this is an expression of praise with which Allah praised Himself. He says: Kaf means He is Sufficient (Kafi), Ha means He is the guiding One (Hadi), 'Ayn means He is Possessor of knowledge ('Alim), and Sad means He is Possessor of Truth (Sadiq); it is also said that Kaf means He is Sufficient unto His servants, Ha means He guides His servants, Ya means His hand is above His creation, and 'Ayn means He knows the affairs of His servants, and Sad means He is true in His promise. It is also said that Kaf is from the Generous (Karim), Ha is from the One who guides (Hadi), Ya is from Clement (Halim), 'Ayn from the One who possesses knowledge ('Alim), and Sad from the Truthful (Sadiq), or from the Veracious (Sudduq). It is also said that (Kaf. Ha. Ya. Ain. Sad) is an oath by means of which Allah swore.