The name Zakariyyah is not an Arabic name. It originated from the Hebrew language. It means “remembrance of Allah”.
It is the name of one of the prophets of Allah who has been mentioned in seven places in the Quran. He, may peace be upon him, was a relative of Maryam who took care and looked after her in the temple.
Who was Zakariyyah?
Zakariyyah was a prophet from Bani Israa’il. He held the office of Hekal, thus he was responsible for the maintenance of the temples and teaching the people the laws of Allah. He and his wife were both symbols of righteousness and piety.
Zakariyyah was from the family of Imran. This family included Imran and his wife, Zakariyyah, his wife, and their son, Yahya, and Maryam and her son, Isa. They are prime examples of a righteous family. And we will get into each of their stories at a later time.
His Duty to Maryam
Maryam was the daughter of Imran and the mother of Isa, may peace be upon him. Both of her parents were pious and her mother dedicated her to the service of Allah before she was born. When she was born and her mother saw that she was a girl, she still fulfilled her promise and sent her to the temple to learn religious matters.
The men of the temple all wanted the blessing of being responsible for Maryam’s education and upkeep. They argued to the point they decided to draw lots to make the decision. They drew lots on three different occasions and each time Zakariyyah’s pen was chosen and he became responsible for her.1
She was devoted to Allah and trusted him for her needs. One day Zakariyyah entered her chambers, which were not accessible to anyone else and found that she had fruits. It is said that these fruits were beautiful and ripe even though this kind of fruit was not in season nor was she in an area where these fruits grew.
Zakariyyah was shocked and inquired where she had gotten them. Her response was beautiful.
قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ ٱللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَآءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ
She replied, “It is from Allah. Surely Allah provides for whoever He wills without limit.
In that moment, she inspired her caretaker, Zakariyyah. He had been longing for a son to inherit from him but not for worldly gain. His people had fallen into evil behavior and he feared that after he was gone, there would be no one to take care of religious duties. So, he immediately asked Allah to bless him with a son who would inherit his duties.
He went to Allah in such a beautiful manner. Although Allah knew his condition better than he did, he mentioned that his hair had grayed and his bones had weakened, meaning he was old in age.
He further mentioned that his prayers to Allah were always answered. After presenting his case to His Lord, he then requested the blessing of having an heir.2
Allah answered Zakariyyah and blessed him with a son whose name was Yahya. Zakariyyah was elderly and his wife was barren. Yet, Allah cured her and blessed them with this child who was named by Allah. He was given a name that no one had ever been given before him.
يَـٰزَكَرِيَّآ إِنَّا نُبَشِّرُكَ بِغُلَـٰمٍ ٱسْمُهُۥ يَحْيَىٰ لَمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُۥ مِن قَبْلُ سَمِيًّۭا
[He was told], “O Zechariah, indeed We give you good tidings of a boy whose name will be John. We have not assigned to any before [this] name
Yahya was a blessing to his father. He taught the people and encouraged them to return to the obedience of Allah. He led a very eccentric life, staying away from worldly norms and spending much time in the wilderness.
Many people did not like his preaching. They were constantly angered with him and his father. We will cover more of Yahya’s story at a later time.
As you see, Prophet Zakariyyah was devoted to Allah and took his position as caretaker of the temple and religious studies seriously. Anyone who wants to name his son this name should do so because he wants his son to have the noble characteristics of this great prophet.