English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 19: Maryam — Mary (Revealed at Makkah: 6 sections, 98 verses)

Section 1 (Verses 19:1–19:15): Zacharias and John


بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

کٓہٰیٰعٓصٓ ۟﴿ۚ۱﴾

19:1 Sufficient, Guide, Blessed, Knowing, Truthful God.1

ذِکۡرُ رَحۡمَتِ رَبِّکَ عَبۡدَہٗ زَکَرِیَّا ۖ﴿ۚ۲﴾

19:2 A mention of the mercy of your Lord to His servant Zacharias —

اِذۡ نَادٰی رَبَّہٗ نِدَآءً خَفِیًّا ﴿۳﴾

19:3 when he called upon his Lord, crying in secret.

قَالَ رَبِّ اِنِّیۡ وَہَنَ الۡعَظۡمُ مِنِّیۡ وَ اشۡتَعَلَ الرَّاۡسُ شَیۡبًا وَّ لَمۡ اَکُنۡۢ بِدُعَآئِکَ رَبِّ شَقِیًّا ﴿۴﴾

19:4 He said: My Lord, my bones are weakened, and my head flares with whiteness (of hair), and I have never been unsuccessful in my prayer to You, my Lord.

وَ اِنِّیۡ خِفۡتُ الۡمَوَالِیَ مِنۡ وَّرَآءِیۡ وَ کَانَتِ امۡرَاَتِیۡ عَاقِرًا فَہَبۡ لِیۡ مِنۡ لَّدُنۡکَ وَلِیًّا ۙ﴿۵﴾

19:5 And I fear my kinsfolk after me, and my wife is barren, so grant me from Yourself an heir

یَّرِثُنِیۡ وَ یَرِثُ مِنۡ اٰلِ یَعۡقُوۡبَ ٭ۖ وَ اجۡعَلۡہُ رَبِّ رَضِیًّا ﴿۶﴾

19:6 who should inherit me and inherit from the Children of Jacob, and make him, my Lord, acceptable (to You).2

یٰزَکَرِیَّاۤ اِنَّا نُبَشِّرُکَ بِغُلٰمِۣ اسۡمُہٗ یَحۡیٰی ۙ لَمۡ نَجۡعَلۡ لَّہٗ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ سَمِیًّا ﴿۷﴾

19:7 O Zacharias, We give you good news of a boy, whose name is John: We have not made before anyone his equal.3

قَالَ رَبِّ اَنّٰی یَکُوۡنُ لِیۡ غُلٰمٌ وَّ کَانَتِ امۡرَاَتِیۡ عَاقِرًا وَّ قَدۡ بَلَغۡتُ مِنَ الۡکِبَرِ عِتِیًّا ﴿۸﴾

19:8 He said: My Lord, how shall I have a son, and my wife is barren, and I have reached extreme old age?

قَالَ کَذٰلِکَ ۚ قَالَ رَبُّکَ ہُوَ عَلَیَّ ہَیِّنٌ وَّ قَدۡ خَلَقۡتُکَ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ وَ لَمۡ تَکُ شَیۡئًا ﴿۹﴾

19:9 He said: So (it will be). Your Lord says: It is easy to Me, and indeed I created you before, when you were nothing.

قَالَ رَبِّ اجۡعَلۡ لِّیۡۤ اٰیَۃً ؕ قَالَ اٰیَتُکَ اَلَّا تُکَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلٰثَ لَیَالٍ سَوِیًّا ﴿۱۰﴾

19:10 He said: My Lord, give me a sign. He said: Your sign is that you do not speak to people three nights, being in sound health.4

فَخَرَجَ عَلٰی قَوۡمِہٖ مِنَ الۡمِحۡرَابِ فَاَوۡحٰۤی اِلَیۡہِمۡ اَنۡ سَبِّحُوۡا بُکۡرَۃً وَّ عَشِیًّا ﴿۱۱﴾

19:11 So he went forth to his people from the sanctuary and proclaimed to them: Glorify (Allah) morning and evening.

یٰیَحۡیٰی خُذِ الۡکِتٰبَ بِقُوَّۃٍ ؕ وَ اٰتَیۡنٰہُ الۡحُکۡمَ صَبِیًّا ﴿ۙ۱۲﴾

19:12 O John, take hold of the Book with strength. And We granted him wisdom when a child,

وَّ حَنَانًا مِّنۡ لَّدُنَّا وَ زَکٰوۃً ؕ وَ کَانَ تَقِیًّا ﴿ۙ۱۳﴾

19:13 and kind-heartedness from Us and purity. And he was dutiful,

وَّ بَرًّۢا بِوَالِدَیۡہِ وَ لَمۡ یَکُنۡ جَبَّارًا عَصِیًّا ﴿۱۴﴾

19:14 and kindly to his parents, and he was not insolent, disobedient.5

وَ سَلٰمٌ عَلَیۡہِ یَوۡمَ وُلِدَ وَ یَوۡمَ یَمُوۡتُ وَ یَوۡمَ یُبۡعَثُ حَیًّا ﴿٪۱۵﴾

19:15 And peace on him the day he was born and the day he died, and the day he is raised to life!


  1. The original Arabic consists of the letters kāf, hā, yā, ‘ain and ṣād. These stand for the words Kāf-in (Sufficient), Hād-in (Guide), Yamīn (Blessed), ‘Alīm (Knowing), and Ṣādiq (Truthful).
  2. His fear was due to their not leading righteous lives, and he feared there would be none to lead people into the ways of righteousness after him. The inheri­tance of the Children of Jacob is the inheritance of the Divine blessing of prophet­hood, which had been promised to Jacob’s children.
  3. It is not, of course, meant that one like John or equal to him was never before created in the world. According to the Gospels: “among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew, 11:11). The meaning is that one like him was not born in Zacharias’ family, because in the previous verse it is his own relatives about whom Zacharias says that he feared, and therefore an assurance was now given to him that the promised son would not be like the other members of his family regarding whom he feared. Or the meaning may be that one like him had not appeared in that age.
  4. In 3:41 the words are three days, thus showing that three days and three nights are meant. The Quran does not support the idea that Zacharias was struck dumb, because it speaks of him as being in sound health. The object of assuming silence was to be engaged solely in prayer to the Divine Being, and hence Zacharias told his people also to glorify God.
  5. The various aspects of the character of John deserve to be noted. He was pure and sinless and never disobeyed God. In fact, what is said of one pro­phet is equally true of all. They are all pure from birth, and never disobey God.