Did Zakariyya and Yahya, may Allaah exalt their mention, die naturally or were they killed?
Fatwa No: 34961

Question

How did Zakariyya (Zachariah) and Yahya (John), may Allaah exalt their mention, die?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu 'alyhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

 

Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him mentioned that scholars held different views about attributing the reports that Zakariyya  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention died naturally or was killed to Wahb ibn Munabbih  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him At-Tabari  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said that the first corruption of the children of Israel was their killing of Zakariyya  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention and their second corruption was their killing of Yahya  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him. However, there is no authentic text saying that they were killed. The Quran reiterates the fact that the Children of Israel would murder their prophets. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):

  • {That is because they disbelieved in the verses of Allaah and killed the prophets without right. That is because they disobeyed and [habitually] transgressed.} [Quran 3:112]
  • {But is it [not] that every time a messenger came to you, [O Children of Israel], with what your souls did not desire, you were arrogant? And a party [of messengers] you denied and another party you killed.} [Quran 2:87]
  • {Say, "Then why did you kill the Prophets of Allaah before, if you are [indeed] believers?"} [Quran 2:91]  

Scholars of Tafseer (Quranic exegesis) often draw Zakariyya and Yahya, may Allaah exalt their mention, as examples of prophets murdered by the Children of Israel. Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him mentioned that Zakariyya and Yahya, may Allaah exalt their mention, were among the prophets who were killed before Nebuchadnezzar's control over the Children of Israel. He also reported a Hadeeth mentioning the story of their murder, but he classified it as Dha‘eef (weak) and Munkar (rejected). At-Tabari and Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them mentioned some traditions reported from the Companions and their successors on the story of their murder, but it seems that they are taken from the People of the Book. The most authentic of these traditions include these:

 

* It was narrated on the authority of ‘Urwah ibn Az-Zubayr  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him that he said, "Yahya ibn Zakariyya  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him was killed for the sake of a prostitute who said to her master, 'I will never be pleased with you until you cut off Yahya's head and bring it to me.' He therefore did so and brought his head in a washtub for her." [Ibn Abu Shaybah in Al-Musannaf]

 

* ‘Urwah ibn Az-Zubayr  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him also said, "Yahya ibn Zakariyya was killed for the sake of a prostitute who was an ex-slave girl." [Al-Haakim: Mawqoof (disconnected chain) and Saheeh (authentic) (Ath-Thahabi agreed on this)]

 

Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him   mentioned the detail of this report, saying, “One of the kings of Damascus at that time wanted to marry one of his Mahram women (i.e., a sister or someone else whom it is prohibited to marry due to blood-relations  or marriage) or a woman whom he was forbidden from marrying  (for other reasons). Yahya  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention prohibited him from doing so. She thus kept having ill-feelings towards him, but then the love between them increased and she asked him to allow her to kill Yahya  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention which he did. She thus sent someone to kill Yahya  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention.”

Allaah Knows best.

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