The land of Shaam, which includes Palestine, is known as the Land of the Ambiyaa – due to the large numbers of Prophets, sent by the Almighty, who have lived therein, and fulfilled their Divinely-ordained missions there.
This section will detail the relationships a number of Messengers of Allah SWT enjoyed with the Blessed Land, corroborated by Qur’aan, Ahadeeth and historical accounts.
It is important to appreciate that the land of Palestine is innately blessed, by Allah SWT. The connection to the land enjoyed by such a large number of chosen servants of Allah, however, only serve to accentuate the known blessedness of this land.
The initial foundation of Masjid al Aqsa is attributed to Prophet Adam AS, based on the following Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad SAW:
Sayyidina Abu Dharr RA reported that he asked the Prophet SAW, “O Messenger of Allah, which masjid was built first on earth?” The Prophet SAW replied, “The Sacred Masjid of Makkah.” Abu Dharr again asked, “Which was next?” The Prophet SAW said, “The Masjid al-Aqsa.” Abu Dharr RA further asked, “How long was the period between the building of the two masajid?” The Prophet SAW said, “Forty years.” Apart from these, offer your prayers anywhere when it is time to pray, as excellence lies in it.” (Al-Bukhari)
Ibn Hajar RA also cites a narration claiming that the Ka’bah and Masjid al Aqsa were both founded by Sayyidina Adam AS: “When Adam AS completed the foundation of the Ka’bah, Allah SWT commanded him to travel to Bayt al Maqdis, where he laid the foundation [of Masjid al Aqsa] and worshipped in it” (Fath al Bari)
Ibn Hajar RA adds: “The first to establish the foundation of Masjid al Aqsa was Adam AS, some say the angels, some say Nuh AS and some say Dawood AS, and I incline towards those who say Adam AS was the first to lay the foundation of Masjid al Aqsa”.
Sayyidina Ibrahim AS is the forefather of Tauheed – asserting the belief in the Oneness of Allah SWT – and a figure revered in Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
The Holy Qur’aan says of the Prophet Ibrahim AS: “Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining towards truth, a Muslim[submitting to Allah]. And he was not of the polytheists” [3:67]
Sayyidina Ibrahim AS had his origins in what is modern-day Iraq. He however later relocated to the land of Palestine, as is mentioned in Qur’aan (21:71).
“And We delivered him[Ibrahim] and Lut to the land which We had blessed for the worlds”
Lut AS was the nephew of Ibrahim AS.
Sayydina Ibrahim AS was wedded to Sarah RA, who remained barren for much of her life.
He later took on Hajar RA(a slave of African origin) as his second wife. Although Ibrahim AS was very advanced in age, Hajar RA bore him his first son, Ismail AS.
Ibrahim AS was commanded by Allah SWT to leave Ismail AS and Hajar RA in the barren desert of Makkah, an order he duly fulfilled.
Sayyidina Ibrahim AS’s primary place of residence however remained Palestine, where he dwelt along with his first wife, Sarah RA.
Nonetheless, he made several visits to Makkah. It was during these that he encountered the Divine Test of being commanded to sacrifice Ismail AS. It was also along with this son of his that the Ka’bah was rebuilt.
When Ibrahim AS was approximately 100 years of age, Allah SWT gave him glad tidings of yet another son – this time to be born to Sarah RA.
Ishaaq AS, who also was to become a Messenger of Allah lived and fulfilled his mission in the vicinity of al Quds.
Together with his father, Ishaaq AS, was also responsible for the rebuilding of Masjid al Aqsa – a parallel to how Ismail AS rebuilt the Ka’bah with his father in Makkah.
Both Ibrahim and Ishaaq AS passed away in Palestine. They are buried in the city of al-Khalil(ur Rahmaan), named in honour of Ibrahim AS. It is said that Ibrahim AS purchased a cave area here as a burial site for his wife Sarah RA. The grave of Ishaaq AS’s wife Rifaqah RA’s grave is also located in the same compound next to his.Today, the area is known as Hebron, with the burial places of Ibrahim AS and his family incorporated into a mosque known as Masjid Ibrahimi.
Sayyidina Lut AS was the paternal nephew of Sayyidina Ibrahim AS who migrated to Palestine with Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be upon him).
They both departed from Egypt together, with Lut AS being tasked to go to the city of Sodom (Sadum), which was on the western shore of the Dead Sea.
This city was filled with evil. Its residents waylaid, robbed and killed travelers. Another common evil among them was that men had sex with men instead of with women. This unnatural act later became known as sodomy (after the city of Sodom). It was practiced openly and unashamedly.
It was at the height of these crimes and sins that Allah SWT revealed to Prophet Lut peace be upon him that he should summon the people to give up their indecent behavior, but they were so deeply sunk in their immoral habits that they were deaf to Lot’s preaching. Swamped in their unnatural desires, they refused to listen, even when Lut warned them of Allah’s punishment. Instead, they threatened to drive him out of the city if he kept on preaching.
When there was no hope of these people accepting Allah’s message, Prophet Lut AS prayed to Allah: “My Lord! Save me and my family from what they do”(Qur’aan 26:169).
Allah SWT surely saved him with his family except for his wife who was not one of the believers.
After the Prophet left their land Allah’s most severe punishment came to the community wiping them from the face of this earth. It is believed that the area where the Dead Sea is situated today between modern-day Palestine and Jordan is the place where this community lived. One of the punishments that befell them was of Sayyidina Jibreel AS carrying the whole piece of their land high up in the sky and after flipping it upside down smashing them back on the earth. This is a plausible explanation for the area of the Dead Sea being the lowest point on this earth.
Lut AS proceeded towards Ibrahim AS who was situated deeper within Palestine. He visited him, and when he recounted the story of his people, he was surprised to learn that Ibrahim AS already knew of it. Lut AS along with Ibrahim AS continued to invite people to Allah SWT and fulfil their Divinely ordained missions within the Blessed Land.
Prophet Lut AS’s tomb is located on the banks of the Gulf of Lut, in the centre of a small town called Bani Na’im, close to the Dead Sea and five miles east of Al-Khaleel. There is also a shrine dedicated to Lut (Peace be upon him) on the southeast of Bani Na’im known as the ‘Maqam an Nabi Yatin’ (Shrine of the truthful Prophet). Local legend claims Lut (Peace be upon him) prayed at this site and imprints of his blessed feet are visible on a rock here.
Ishaaq AS was the father of Ya’qoob (also known as Jacob or Israel) AS, who in turn was the father of Yusuf (Joseph) AS.
Ya’qoob AS was born and lived in Palestine, as did all his offspring, including Yusuf AS.
However, when his brothers conspired against him and threw him in a well, Yusuf AS was sold into slavery and ended up in Egypt.
After a number of trials there, Yusuf AS was appointed the finance minister of the country. On encountering his brothers and hearing of the straitened circumstances they were facing in Palestine, he revealed his identity to them and called for them all to come back to him along with their father and entire family, to be resettled in Egypt.
This resettlement temporarily shifted the connection of Prophethood from the Holy Land to Egypt – only to be re-established generations later.
Nonetheless, tradition has it, that after his death, Ya’qoob AS was brought back to Palestine and buried in Al-Khalil(Hebron) according to his will. Yaqoub AS’s and his wife Leah’s (RA) tombs are also located in the Ibraheemi Masjid
Historical accounts also mention that the well in which the brothers of Yusuf AS threw him in out of jealousy is located near ‘Kibbutz Amiad’ in Galilee in Palestine. The site is known locally as ‘Judd Yussuf’
Sayyidina Yunus AS was a faithful Prophet of the Almighty from the offspring of Yaqub AS. He was also addressed in the holy Quran as ‘Companion of the Fish’ because of the famous story of the prophet being swallowed by a fish and being trapped inside its stomach for a number of days. Allah SWT tells us in the Holy Quran how Prophet Yunus AS cried out to Him in the depths of the darkness continuously praying “La ilaha illa anta, Subhanaka, Inni kuntu minaz-zalimin” (There is none worthy of Worship besides You, You are far exalted and above all weaknesses, Surely, I am from among the wrongdoers).
Despite being in such an unimaginable situation Yunus AS did not lose faith in Allah and hoped for Allah’s mercy which surely did reach him, and the whale cast Yunus AS out on dry land. After sometime Yunus AS was again blessed with good health and returned to his people to guide them towards Allah’s message.
The town Yunus AS was commanded to deliver the message of Allah SWT was called Nineveh, situated on the right bank of the river Tigris in ancient Assyria, across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, Iraq.
When Yunus AS departed from his people, it is said he stayed at Jaffa in Palestine and boarded a ship to take him to Tirshish, where Tunisia is located today. It was during this journey that he was thrown overboard and swallowed by the fish.
Yunus’s AS’s grave is said to be located in a city called Hulhul which is three miles north of Al-Khaleel. The mosque built by the Ayyubids, that is said to house his grave, is built on Mount Nabi Yunus, the highest peak in the West Bank, Palestine.
Yunus AS, however, is also claimed to be buried in Mosul, Iraq.
The progeny of Sayyidina Ya’coob and Yusuf AS settled and expanded in Egypt. They became known as Bani Israeel (the Children of Israel).
However, by the time of Musa AS, the oppression meted out against them by the Pharaohs in Egypt became unbearable.
The Qur’aan reminds us of the extent of this torment:
“..When we saved you from the people of Pharaoh, who afflicted you with the worst torment, slaughtering your [newborn] sons and keeping your females alive. And in that was a great trial from your Lord” (2:49)
In the wake of this, Sayyidina Moosa AS led the Bani Israeel in resistance against this slavery and fled towards the Blessed Land of Palestine.
In a Divine Miracle, the Red Sea was parted for them enabling them to cross safely, whereas the Pharaoh and his cronies who had pursued them perished when the sea returned to its normal state immediately thereafter.
“And [recall] when We parted the sea for you and saved you and drowned the people of Pharaoh while you were looking on”. (Qur’aan 2:50)
Emancipated from tyranny, the Bani Israeel were marshalled to go towards the Holy Land of Palestine.
It is here however that their insolence and ingratitude came into play, as they looked down upon the unique source of sustenance Allah SWT had blessed them with and made all sorts of outrageous demands from Musa AS.
When Sayyidina Musa AS was summoned to a communion with his Lord, the Bani Israeel’s transgression crossed all bounds. A golden calf was constructed and taken as an object of worship, All efforts by Musa AS’s brother Harun AS to thwart this waywardness was also repelled.
On his return, Musa AS took swift action to bring the culprits of this crime to book.
When they reached the outskirts of Palestine, the land of their pursuits, the Bani Israeel once again tarried in fulfilling their responsibilities.
Rather than exhibiting an eagerness to enter this sacred space, they responded to Musa AS’s command to enter the Holy Land [“O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you and do not turn back [from fighting in Allah ‘s cause] and [thus] become losers.” (5:21)] with listlessness:
“They said, “O Moses, indeed within it is a people of tyrannical strength, and indeed, we will never enter it until they leave it; but if they leave it, then we will enter.” (5:22)
Despite assurances of victory from Musa AS, the Bani Israeel refused to budge, instead taunting Musa AS to go it alone:
“Go you and your Lord to fight, we are sitting right here” (5:24)
For their obstinacy, the Bani Isra-eel were barred from entering the Holy Land for 40 years. Instead they were rendered nomads wandering aimlessly in the Sinai desert. It was only after the appointed duration has passed and the adults of the rebellious generation had passed on that the trek into the Holy Land was completed.
Musa AS was left flabbergasted by the insolence of his nation, and he reached the end of his days not having been able to fulfil his desire of reuniting with the Land of the Ambiyaa. The same was the case of his brother, Haroon AS, who preceded him in death.
Musa AS nonetheless maintained a fond longing for the Blessed Land, right until the moment of his demise. His sentiments are captured in an amazing Prophetic narration, reported by al Bukhari:
Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah RA reports that the Prophet SAW said: “The angel of death was sent to Musa[AS]. When he came to Musa, Musa slapped him on the eye. The angel returned to Allah SWT and said, ‘You have sent me to a servant who does not want to die’. Allah SWT ordered the angel, ‘Return to him and tell him to put his hand on the back of an ox and for every hair that will come under it, he will be granted one year of life’. Musa AS said, ‘O Lord! What will happen after that?’ Allah SWT replied, ‘Then death’. Musa [AS] decided, “Let it be now’. Musa[AS] then requested Allah to let him die close to the Sacred Land, so much so that he would be at a distance of a stone’s throw from it”.
Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah RA added that the Prophet SAW then said, “If I were there, I would show you his grave, below the red sand hill on the side of the road”.
When Sayyidina Musa AS passed away, the leadership of Bani Isra’eel passed to Yusha ibn Nun AS.
Sayyidina Yusha ibn Nun is not mentioned directly in the Qur’an but he is the servant of Musa who is referred to in the following verse of the Qur’an:
“And Lo! [In the course of his wanderings,] Moses said to his servant (fata), ‘I shall not give up until I reach the junction of the two seas, even if I [have to] spend untold years [in my quest]!'”(Al-Qur’an 18:60)
The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, mentions the name of Yusha ibn Nun as this servant of Musa in a number of authentic narrations.
Being a servant of Musa he was close to the Revelation, close to the teacher (Musa) and he was a righteous student of this teacher. And so, when Musa, ‘alayhis-salam, passed away, the leadership of Bani Israeel was passed down to Yusha ibn Nun, and he became their Nabi.
Under the leadership of Yusha ibn Nun AS, the Bani Israeel were made victorious and returned to the Holy Land of Shaam, an event which did not occur under Sayyidina Musa or Harun AS (who both passed away whilst Bani Israeel were still in the wilderness).
The Prophet SAW informed us that none of those from the Bani Israeel who worshipped the golden calf entered into Jerusalem. Hence, it was the new generation raised in freedom, and taught the guidance of the Taurah by Musa and Harun AS, that accomplished the feat of returning to the Holy Land.
On entry into the Holy Land, Sayyidina Yusha ibn Nun AS led the Children of Israeel against the Jababirah who were a large giant-like people inhabiting the Land. The fighting was furious and the sun was about to set. Sayyidina Yusha ibn Nun AS knew that he could not defeat these people except if the day was longer as, if night came, the Jababirah would be able to regroup. So Yusha pointed to the sun and said, “You are receiving orders and I am receiving orders from Allah, O Allah stop the sun!”
Allah SWT, caused the sun to stop for Yusha ibn Nun until he defeated the people of Jerusalem.
The full story of Yusha ibn Nun is told to us in a sahih hadith of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, recorded in Sahih Muslim. The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:
“One of the Prophets made a holy war. He said to his followers: One who has married a woman and wants to consummate to his marriage but has not yet done so; another who has built a house but has not yet erected its roof; and another who has bought goats and pregnant she-camels and is waiting for their offspring-will not accompany me … ”
This Prophet did not want any person to come with him whose heart may be attached to anything else. This is a Prophet who is not looking for numbers but rather for ikhlas (sincerity).
The Prophet Muhammad SAW, continued:
” … So he marched on and approached a village at or about the time of the Asr prayers. He said to the sun: You are receiving orders and I am receiving orders from Allah, O Allah stop the sun! It was stopped for him until Allah granted him victory.”
We know this Prophet was Yusha ibn Nun AS because of a separate narration recorded by Imam Ahmad in which the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:
“The sun has never stopped for any man besides Yusha when he wanted to conquer Bayt al-Muqaddis.”
Sayyidina Dawud AS was a descendant of Judah, one of twelve sons of Sayyidina Ya’qub – who was otherwise known as Israel. Sayyidina Dawud – who is known by the Jews and the Christians as the Prophet David – was one of the many Prophets who were sent to the Children of Israel after Sayyidina Musa AS in order to keep his teachings alive.
The references to Sayyidina Da’wud in the Qur’an do not describe his childhood. Historical accounts claim he was born in Bethlehem, Palestine.
However, verses from Surah Al-Baqarah describe his killing the champion of the Philistines, Jalut, who is more commonly known by the Jews and the Christians as Goliath. The Philistines were at that stage the rulers of Palestine who dominated the Bani Israeel, who had found lodging in the Holy Land after the demise of Musa AS.
The Quraanic passage begins by describing the appointment of Talut(King Saul) as the king of the Children of Israel, by a Prophet of that time.
Although this Prophet is not named in the Qur’anic account he has been identified with the Prophet who is known by the Jews and the Christians as the Prophet Samuel, while Talut has been identified with King Saul, the first king of the Tribe of Israel, who was descended from Binyamin (Benjamin) the son of Ya’qub, and who, it has been estimated, lived during the 11th century BC. (Allah knows best)
With a small band of obedient soldiers, Talut met the larger and stronger army of Jalut. The men put their faith in Allah, knowing that size and numbers were no match for a steadfast faith in the power of Allah. Dawud , who was a very young man in Talut’s army, killed Jalut in legendary fashion. After that, Jalut’s army fell apart, and the small band of Israelites was victorious.
Sayyidina Da’wud AS succeeded Talut as king of the Children of Israeel, and during his rule all the tribes of the Children of Israeel who had become divided were united again.
Dawud AS took up residence in Al Quds(Jerusalem), and continued his mission of calling to and worshipping Allah SWT from its blessed environs.
The Qur’aan mentions the splendour of his Kingdom, as was manifested in the blessed environs of Jerusalem:
“Indeed, We subjected the mountains [to praise] with him, exalting [Allah] in the [late] afternoon and [after] sunrise. And the birds were assembled, all with him repeating [praises]. And We strengthened his kingdom and gave him wisdom and discernment in speech” (38:18-20)
Sayyidina Dawud AS also commenced the rebuilding of a place of worship at Masjid al Aqsa – upon the same site designated as a Masjid soon after the Ka’bah, and where Sayyidina Ibrahim AS too had initiated a reconstruction project.
Dawud AS would worship at Masjid al Aqsa, and arbitrate the disputes of his subjects at a special Mihrab(niche) within its sanctuary, as mentioned in the Qur’aan:
“And has there come to you the news of the adversaries, when they climbed over the wall of [his] prayer chamber – When they entered upon David and he was alarmed by them? They said, “Fear not. [We are] two adversaries, one of whom has wronged the other, so judge between us with truth and do not exceed [it] and guide us to the sound path” (38: 21-22)
Dawud AS – Prophet and King, Allah SWT’s vicegerent on earth – as described by the Qur’aan – reigned over the Children of Israeel for 40 years, from approximately 1018 BC to 978 BC.
Some accounts claim his tomb is located just outside the old city of Al-Quds on Jabel Sahyoun (Mount Zion). But, there remains a difference of opinion on whether this is the tomb of Dawud AS or simply a Maqam where he once stayed.
It should be considered, that whilst, for many Jews and Christians, the affiliation with Jerusalem begins with the inception of the Kingdom of David and his contruction of Masjid al Aqsa(referred to as the Temple); for Muslims, the contributions of Dawud AS towards the Blessed Land are seen as a continuation of a sacred trend that has its origins right at the onset of humanity and Prophethood.
The son of Dawood AS, Sayyidina Sulaymaan AS ‘inherited’ his father’s prophethood and dominion.
He reigned over Jerusalem, in a dominion that was unparalleled in history.
In addition to wisdom, Allah SWT blessed Sulaymaan AS with many abilities. He could command the winds and understand and talk to birds and animals. Allah SWT directed him to teach both men and jinns to mine the earth and extract its minerals to make tools and weapons. He also favored him with a mine of copper, which was a rare metal in those days.
“And to Sulaymaan(Solomon) [We subjected] the wind, blowing forcefully, proceeding by his command toward the land which We had blessed. And We are ever, of all things, Knowing” (Qur’aan 21:81)
“And to Solomon [We subjected] the wind – its morning [journey was that of] a month – and its afternoon [journey was that of] a month, and We made flow for him a spring of [liquid] copper. And among the jinn were those who worked for him by the permission of his Lord. And whoever deviated among them from Our command – We will make him taste of the punishment of the Blaze. They made for him what he willed of elevated chambers, statues, bowls like reservoirs, and stationary kettles. [We said], “Work, O family of David, in gratitude.” And few of My servants are grateful.” (34: 12-13)
Muslim scholars consider these verses to indicate towards the building of Jerusalem and Masjid al Aqsa. There is also indication here to the role the Jinn played in reconstructing the Blessed Masjid.
The strenuous work that Sulaymaan AS extracted from the Jinn was partly a punishment for their sins of making people believe that they were all-powerful, knew the unseen, and could foresee the future. As a prophet, it was Sulaymaan AS’s duty to remove such false beliefs from his followers.
A Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad SAW mentions certain special prayers Sayyidina Sulaymaan AS made whilst reconstructing Masjid Al Aqsa:
Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Amr RA narrates that the Prophet SAW said: “Sulaymaan, son of Dawood [AS] prayed for three things from Allah, the Mighty and Glorious, when constructing Masjid al Aqsa: (i) the ability to decide cases in accordance to the Will of Allah, which was granted to him; (ii) a kingdom the like of which would be given to no one after him, which was also granted; and (iii), after finishing the construction of the masjid he prayed, ‘May anyone who comes to this mosque solely for the purpose of praying in it be delivered from all his sins as on the day his mother gave birth to him’” (Nasa’i)
Another version of this hadith includes this following: “The Prophet SAW said, “The[first] two prayers were granted, and I hope the third was granted as well’” (Ibn Majah)
Sulayman AS lived amidst glory, and all creatures were subjected to him, by the Will of Allah SWT. Then Allah the Exalted ordained for him to die. His life and death were full of wonders and miracles; thus, his death harmonized with his life and glory. His death, like his life, was unique. The people had to learn that the future is known neither by the jinns, nor by the prophets, but by Allah alone.
Sulayman AS’s effort in this direction did not end with his life, for even his death became an example. He was sitting holding his staff, overseeing the jinns at work. He died sitting in this position. For a long time no one was aware of his death, for he was seen sitting erect. The jinns continued with their sand toil, thinking that Sulayman AS was watching over them.
Many days later, a hungry ant began nibbling Sulayman AS’s staff. It continued to do so, eating the lower part of the staff, until it fell out of Solomon’s hand, and his great body fell to the ground. People hurried to him, realizing that he had died a long time ago and that the jinns did not perceive the unseen, for had the jinns known the unseen, they would not have kept working, thinking that Sulayman AS was alive.
Allah the Exalted revealed: “And We caused a fount of molten brass to flow for him, and there were jinns that worked in front of him by the Leave of his Lord, and whosoever of them turned aside from Our Command, We shall cause him to taste of the torment of the blazing Fire.
“They worked for him what he desired, (making) high rooms, images, basins as large as reservoirs, and (making) cauldrons fixed (in their places). “Work you, O family of David, with thanks!” But few of My slaves are grateful.
“Then when we decreed death for him (Solomon), nothing informed them (jinns) of his death except a little worm of the earth, which kept slowly gnawing away at his stick, so when he fell down, the jinns saw clearly that if they had known the unseen, they would not have stayed in the humiliating torment. (Ch 34:12-14 Quran).
Sulaymaan AS ruled over a united Bani Israeel for 40 years, from 978BC to 938BC, totalling a reign of 80 years shared between himself and Sayyidina Dawood AS.
The structure he completed on the site of Masjid al Aqsa(known to some as a Temple) was not a pioneering one, but rather a reconstruction of the Masjid rebuilt previously by Sayyidina Ibrahim AS, and consecrated for worship right at the onset of human existence on earth.
Soon after the glorious era of Sulayman AS, the Bani Israeel rapidly descended into a state of moral and spiritual stupor.
Though not mentioned specifically by name in the Qur’aan, some classical Muslim scholars have suggested that a Prophet by the name of Aramiyah(Jeremiah) AS was sent to correct the Bani Israeel during this period.
However, the shunned his reminders of imminent danger, as a consequence of their actions, and persisted in their indolence.
His era, according to Ibn Kathir, coincided with Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Masjid al Aqsa.
In his Tafsir of verse 259 of Surah Baqarah, Imam al Baghawi suggests that reference there is being made to Prophet Aramiyah AS and the city of Al Quds:
“Or [consider such an example] as the one who passed by a township which had fallen into ruin. He said, “How will Allah bring this to life after its death?” So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years; then He revived him. He said, “How long have you remained?” The man said, “I have remained a day or part of a day.” He said, “Rather, you have remained one hundred years. Look at your food and your drink; it has not changed with time. And look at your donkey; and We will make you a sign for the people. And look at the bones [of this donkey] – how We raise them and then We cover them with flesh.” And when it became clear to him, he said, “I know that Allah is over all things competent.”
Sayyidina Zakariyya(Zachariah) AS was an illustrious Prophet of the Bani Israeel. He was one of the descendants of Prophet Sulaiman AS. The name of his wife was al-Yashbi’ who belonged to the family of Prophet Harun AS. The Prophet Zakariya AS was the patron of Mariam, the mother of Prophet Isa AS. And he was the Imam of Masjid al Aqsa.
The Prophet AS kept the true teachings of Sayyidina Musa AS alive. He used to pray devotionally and preach zealously at Masjid al Aqsa. His wife and he were the symbols of piety and righteousness.
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, and hold the leadership of Masjid al Aqsa after his passing. The people needed a strong leader, for it 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 Masjid al Aqsa, he went to check on Mariam AS, who was living in a secluded room of the sanctuary. 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 of its origin, 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 woman 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 childbearing age, nothing was impossible for his Gracious Lord!
Allah the Almighty speaks of what transpired in Chapters 3 and 19 of the Noble Qur’aan:
‘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 Zakariyah. When he called out his Lord (Allah) – a call in secret, saying: “My Lord! Indeed my bones have grown feeble, and gray hair has spread on my head, and I have never been unblest 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 Zakariyah! Verily, We give you the glad tidings of a son. His name will be Yahya (John). 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.”
Zakariyah 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 Yahya! 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 (Yahya) 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 be raised up to life again! (Ch 19:1-15 Quran)
Almighty Allah also said: At that time Zakariyah 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 Isa (Jesus), son of Mariam (Mary), noble keeping away 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.” (Ch 3:38-41 Quran).
The Mihrab(niche) where Zakariyya AS implored Allah SWT to grant his needs and the location where he was blessed with the glad tidings is situated at Masjid al Aqsa.
Yahya AS was born six months before Isa (upon him be peace). His mother was the sister of Hanna, who was the mother of Maryam (upon her be peace).
When supplicating for a child Zakariyyah AS had specifically asked for a ‘pure child’ (Quran 3:38). According to his wishes, Allah SWT granted him an extraordinary son.
Yahya AS was a devout servant of Allah SWT, who was selfless and cried easily. 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.
The Prophet Zakariyya AS felt satisfied as his son grew up and became a symbol of piety. He was graced with wisdom, obedience and asceticism.
The Prophet Zakariyya AS continued preaching the religion of Allah even in old age. Yahya AS also called to Allah SWT ceaselessly.
The Bani Israeel however persisted in mischief making and wickedness. They not only ignored the teachings of these Prophets of Allah but tortured them too.
As a result both Zakariyya and Yahya AS were killed, in separate crimes.
Legend has it that a small structure within the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus houses the head of Yahya AS, who was beheaded. Zakariyya AS’s burial place is also said to be located in Syria.
The Prophet Zakariyya AS’s wife’s sister had a daughter named Hannah. She was married to Imran, a leader of the Bani Israeel. For many years, the couple remained childless. Whenever Hannah saw another woman with a child, her longing for a baby increased. Although years had passed, she never lost hope. She believed that one day Allah would bless her with a child, on whom she would shower all her motherly love.
She turned to the Lord of the heavens and the earth and pleaded with Him for a child. She would offer the child in the service of Allah’s house, the Masjid al Aqsa in Jerusalem. Allah granted her request. When she learned that she was pregnant, she was the happiest woman alive, and thanked Allah for His gift. Her overjoyed husband Imran also thanked Allah for His mercy.
However, while she was pregnant her husband passed away. Hannah wept bitterly. Alas, Imran did not live to see their child for whom they had so longed. She gave birth to a girl, and again turned to Allah in prayer: “O my Lord, I have delivered a female child,” and the male is not like the female, and I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge with You (Allah) for her and her offspring from Satan, the outcast.” (Ch 3:36 Quran)
Hannah had a big problem in reference to her promise to Allah, for females were not accepted into Masjid al Aqsa at that stage and she was very worried. Her sister’s husband Zakariyah AS, comforted her, saying that Allah knew best what she had delivered and appreciated fully what she had offered in His service. She wrapped the baby in a shawl and handed it over to the Masjid elders. As the baby was a girl, the question of her guardianship posed a problem for the elders. This was a child of their late and beloved leader, and everyone was eager to take care of her. Zakariyah AS said to the elders: “I am the husband of her maternal aunt and her nearest relation at the Masjid; therefore, I will be more mindful of her than all of you.”
As it was their custom to draw lots to solve disagreements, they followed this course. Each one was given a reed to throw into the river. They had agreed that whoever’s reed remained afloat would be granted guardianship of the girl. All the reeds sank to the bottom except Zakariyah’s. With this sign, they all surrendered to the will of Allah and made him the guardian.
To ensure that no one had access to Mariam AS, Zakariyah built a separate room for her at Masjid al Aqsa. As she grew up, she spent her time in devotion to Allah. Zakariyah AS visited her daily to see to her needs, and so it continued for many years. One day, he was surprised to find fresh fruit, which was out of season in her room. As he was the only person who could enter her room, he asked her how the fruit got there. She replied that these provisions were from Allah, as He gives to whom He wills. Zakariyah understood by this that Allah had raised Mariam AS’s status above that of other women.
Allah SWT makes mention of this in the Qur’aan:
“So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zakariyyah(Zechariah). Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, “O Mariam(Mary), from where is this [coming] to you?” She said, “It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account.”” (3:37)
Thereafter, Zakariyah AS spent more time with her, teaching and guiding her. Mariam AS grew to be a devotee of Allah, glorifying Him day and night. “
Sayyidina Ali Ibn Abi Talib narrated that the Prophet Muhammad SAW said: “The best of the world’s women is Mariam (in her lifetime), and the best of the world’s women is Khadija (in her lifetime).” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
While Mariam was praying at Masjid al Aqsa, an angel in the form of a man appeared before her. Filled with terror, she tried to flee, praying: “Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (Allah) from you, if you do fear Allah.”
“The angel said: “I am only a Messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son.”
She said: “How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?”
He said: “So (it will be), your Lord said: “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).'” (Ch 19:18-21 Quran)
The angel’s visit caused Mariam AS great anxiety, which increased as the months went by. How could she face giving birth to a child without having a husband? Later, she felt life kicking inside her. With a heavy heart, she left Masjid al Aqsa and went to Nazareth, a city of Palestine, in an attempt to avoid the public.
But fear and anxiety did not leave her. She was from a noble and pious family. Her father had not been an evil man nor was her mother an impure woman. How could she prevent tongues from wagging about her honor?
Later, she was overtaken by the pains of childbirth. She saw down against a dry palm tree, and here she gave birth to a son. Looking at her beautiful baby, she was hurt that she had brought him into the world without a father. She exclaimed: “I wish I had died before this happened and had vanished into nothingness!”
Suddenly, she heard a voice nearby: “Grieve not, your Lord has placed a rivulet below, and shake the trunk of this tree, from which ripe dates will fall. So eat and drink and regain the strength you have lost; and be of good cheer, for what you see is the power of Allah, Who made the dry palm tree regain life, in order to provide food for you.” For a while she was comforted by Allah’s miracle, for it was a sure sign of her innocence and purity.
She decided to return to the city. As she had expected, her arrival in the city with a newborn baby in her arms aroused the curiosity of the people. They scolded her: “This is a terrible sin that you have committed.” She put her finger to her lips and pointed to the child. They asked: “How can we speak to a newborn baby?” To their total amazement, the child began to speak clearly: “I am Allah’s servant. Allah has given me the Book, and has made me a prophet, and has blessed me wherever I may be, and has enjoined on me prayers and alms-giving as long as I live. Allah has made me dutiful towards she who had borne me. He has not made me arrogant nor unblessed. Peace unto me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive.”
Most of the people realized that the baby was unique, for it Allah wills something, He merely says “Be” and it happens. Of course, there were some who regarded the baby’s speech as a strange trick, but at least Mariam AS could now stay in Nazareth without being harassed.
Allah the Exalted revealed: “And mention in the Book (the Qur’an, O Muhammad, the story of) Mary, when she withdrew in seclusion from her family to a place facing east. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her Our Ruh (angel Gabriel), and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects.
“She said: “Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (Allah) from you, if you do fear Allah.”
The angel said: “I am only a Messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son.”
“She said: “How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?” He said: “So (it will be), your Lord said: “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).'”
“So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place (Bethlehem valley, about four to six miles from Jerusalem). And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said: “Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!”
“Then (the babe “Jesus” or Gabriel) cried unto her from below her, saying: “Grieve not! Your Lord has provided you a water stream under you; and shake the trunk of palm tree towards you, it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon you. So eat and drink and be glad, and if you see any human being, say: ‘Verily! I have vowed a fast unto the Most Beneficent (Allah) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.'”
“Then she brought him (the baby) to her people, carrying him. They said: “O Mary! Indeed you have brought a thing Fariyya (an unheard mighty thing). O sister (the like) of Aaron (not the brother of Moses, but he was another pious man at the time of Mary)! Your father was not a man who used to commit adultery, nor was your mother an unchaste woman.”
“Then she pointed to him. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?”
He (Jesus) said: “Verily! I am a slave of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet; and He has made me blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined me prayer, and Zakat, as long as I live, and dutiful to my mother, and made me not arrogant, unblest. And Salam (peace) be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!”
“Such is Jesus, son of Mary. (It is) a statement of truth, about which they doubt (or dispute). It befits not (the Majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son (this refers to the slander of Christians against Allah, by saying that Jesus is the son of Allah). Glorified (and Exalted be He above all that they associate with Him). When He decrees a thing, He only says to it, “Be!” – and it is.
“Jesus said: “And verily Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him (Alone). That is the Straight Path. (Allah’s Religion of Islamic Monotheism which He did ordain for all of His Prophets).”
Then the sects differed (the Christians about Jesus), so woe unto the disbeliveers (those who gave false witness saying that Jesus is the son of Allah) from the meeting of a great Day (the Day of Resurrection, when they will be thrown in the blazing Fire).
“How clearly will they (polytheists and disbeliveers in the Oneness of Allah) see and hear, the Day when they will appear before Us! But the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers) today are in plain error. And warn them (O Muhammad) of the Day of grief and regrets, when the case has been decided, while now they are in a state of carelessness and they believe not” (Ch 19:16-39 Quran)
Implicitly referred to in the passages above are locations in and around al Quds.
As Isa AS grew, the signs of prophethood began to increase.
Once bestowed with Nubuwah, he reinforced the Law of Musa AS. In the face of a materialistic age of luxury and worship of gold, Isa AS called his people to a nobler life by word and deed.
His numerous miracles, performed by the Will of Allah, were exhibited before his people in the Blessed environs of Palestine.
Isa AS’s popularity and the kernel of his teachings, however, soon found him in confrontation with materialistic people and the oligarchy of his society, who began to plot against him.
Isa AS however continued his mission, aided by divine miracles. Some of the miracles which he performed in the Holy Land had been requested by his disciples, such as their wish for a “tablespread” to be sent down from heaven.
Allah the Exalted said: Remember when the disciples said: “O Jesus, son of Mary! Can your Lord send down to us a table spread (with food) from heaven?” Jesus said: “Fear Allah, if you are indeed believers.” They said: “We wish to eat thereof and to be stronger in Faith and to know that you have indeed told us the truth and that we ourselves be its witnesses.”
“Jesus, son of Mary, said: “O Allah, our Lord! Send us from heaven a table spread (with food) that there may be for us – for the first and the last of us – a festival and a sign from You; and provide us sustenance, for You are the best of sustainers.” Allah said: “I am going to send it down unto you, but if any of you after that disbelieves, then I will punish him with a torment such as I have not inflicted on anyone among all the Alamin (mankind and jinn).” (Ch 5:112-115 Quran)
As fomented opposition to his sublime message continued to simmer, the priests of the time convinced the Roman governor that Isa AS was plotting against the security of the Roman Empire and urged him to take immediate action against him. The governor ordered that Isa AS be arrested.
Isa AS was sentenced to death. However, the Glorious Qur’an – differentiated from the Bible affirms that Allah the Exalted did not permit the people of Israel to kill Isa AS or crucify him. Instead, he was saved from his enemies and Allah SWT raised him alive to heaven. Isa AS was never killed, but another who resembled him ended up being crucified.
Allah the Almighty declared: And because of their saying (in boast), “We killed Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah,” but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Jesus was put over another man (and they killed that man) and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no certain knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not (Jesus, son of Mary): But Allah raised him (Jesus) up (with his body and soul) unto Himself (and he is in the heavens). And Allah is Ever All Powerful, All Wise.
“And there is none of the people of the Scripture (Jews & Christians), but must believe in him (Jesus, son of Mary, as only a Messenger of Allah, and a human being0, before his (Jesus or a Jew’s or a Christian’s ) death (at the time of the appearance of the angel of death). And on the Day of Resurrection, he (Jesus) will be a witness against them. ( Ch 4:157-159 Quran)
Almighty Allah also revealed: And remember when Allah said: “O Jesus! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear you (of the forged statement that Jesus is Allah’s son) of those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you (Monotheists, who worship none but Allah ) superior to those who disbelieve (in the Oneness of Allah, or disbelieve in some of His Messengers, e.g. Muhammad, Jesus, Moses, etc., or in His Holy Books, e.g. the Torah, the Gospel, the Qur’an) till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute.” (Ch 3:55 Quran)
Prior to Qiyamah, Sayyidina Isa AS will be sent back to earth again by Allah SWT, but this time, this will be in the capacity as a follower of the Prophet Muhammad SAW.
His descent will be in the Blessed Land of Shaam, and he will play an important role in arresting the anarchy on earth during the End Days.
Al Nawwas ibn Sam’an RA narrates that the Prophet SAW said, “Before the Hour, Isa[AS] will descend upon a white minaret towards the east of Damascus in Syria, during the dawn prayer. The Muslim Imam will move from his place and request Isa[AS] to lead the prayer but he will refuse and pray behind the Imam, declaring himself as a member of the nation of the Prophet Muhammad SAW”(Sahih Muslim)
Isa AS thereafter will take up the reigns of Muslim leadership and pursue the anti-Christ(Dajjaal) and kill him – this too in Palestine.
Mujamma ibn al Harith RA narrates that the Prophet SAW said, “Ibn Maryam[Isa AS] will kill Dajjaal at the door of Ludd(a town in Palestine” (Ahmad and Tirmidhi)
Isa AS will restore peace to the earth, marry, and thereafter pass away.
According to biblical sources, Isa AS was born in Bethlehem, nearby Al Quds. The exact location is inside the Church of Nativity, located in the center of Bethlehem. The site where Isa AS was lifted miraculously to the heavens by Allah SWT, is located on the Mount of Olives in the At-Tur district of Al-Quds. There is a small round building with a dome called ‘Chapel of the Ascension’ to mark this spot.
Maryam AS’s grave is said to be located in a church at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Al-Quds, very close to Masjid-Al-Aqsa.
Check out our dedicated page on the linkages between the Prophet Muhammad SAW and the blessed land of Palestine HERE