The name Yahya is a masculine name that means the ‘one that lives and is not dead.’ It is the name of one of the prophets of Allah, Yahya son of Zakariyyah. It was given to him by Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala and no one has ever been named that before him.1
Yahya bin Zakariyyah
Yahya (John the Baptist) was the son of Prophet Zakariyya (peace be upon them). His birth was a miracle because his mother was barren and his father of old age. In the difficult part of Prophet Zakariyya’s (peace be upon him) life, he prayed to Allah to bless him with a son who could prove to be a successful heir and preacher of the religion of Allah. His prayer was promptly granted. The Holy Qur’an says:
يَا زَكَرِيَّا إِنَّا نُبَشِّرُكَ بِغُلَامٍ اسْمُهُ يَحْيَىٰ لَمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُ مِن قَبْلُ سَمِيًّا – 19:7
[He was told], “O Zakariyyah, indeed We give you good tidings of a boy whose name will be Yahya. We have not assigned to any before [this] name.”
The Prophet Yahya (peace be upon him) moved to the desert of Judea. He dressed in simple clothing, not conforming to the dress of society. He also ate simple foods and wild honey. His sermons were impressed many and crowds would gather to hear his message.
The Prophet Yahya (peace be upon him) was the precursor of Prophet Isa. He was his cousin and contemporary as well. He was serious about his mission and always fulfilled his duties. The same sermons that drew many to him also caused some to hate him and want to do bodily harm to him.
The Roman ruler Herod Antipas was the ruler of Galilee. He had an adulterous relationship with Herodias, the wife of his brother Herod Philip. The Prophet Yahya (peace be upon him) reproached him for this grave sin. Herod Antipas got annoyed and imprisoned him till his execution.
Once Herod Antipas arranged a grand feast, Herodias allowed her daughter, Salome to dance. The Ruler was fascinated with the performance of the dancing girl. He declared that he would grant whatever Salome wanted. She immediately made a demand for the head of Prophet Yahya (peace be upon him).
Herod was in a fix what to do. He had no alternative to adhere to his words. So Prophet Yahya (peace be upon him) was beheaded at the instigation of the mother of that girl with whom Herod was infatuated.
As has been mentioned, this name was given to the Prophet Yahya by Allah before he was born. Parents who want to give their son this wonderful name, do so because they want him to have the characteristics of this prophet; humility, kindness, loyalty, steadfastness and dedication
- Surah 19:7
- Surah 19:12-15