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This Sura begins with 2 narrations of'miraculous births' of God's Elect: Yahya (John the Baptist) and Isa (Jesus). The two readings (from the Bible and the Qur'an) of this episode are complementary and serve to illuminate deeper spiritual meaning of Yahya's advent and spiritual mission. This is a very important Sura in terms of its providing a mutual, and supportive, reference to earlier revelations in the monotheist scripture, known as The Book in the Qur'an. A further matter of interest is that this Sura numerically matches - i.e. Sura 1 is paired with last Sura 114, 2 with 113, etc. - Sura 96, Al-Alaq, which is begins with a short discourse on the 'miracle of life'.
The narration of Yahya's birth is quite close to the account given in the Gospel of Luke, with a special emphasis (as in the Gospel) on the appearance of an Angel of the Lord in Al-Mihrab (holy of holies) in the Temple to Zachariah, Yahya's father, and the subsequent affirmation through the silencing of Zachariah by the Angel as a sign. Of special interest is the emphasis on the uniqueness of Yahya's name, indicated as Given by God Himself, and his succession of in the chain of the inheritors of Yaqub (Jacob) legacy, which is a reference to the spiritual guidance bestowed by Allah (God) on His Chosen Elect. Of further importance, is the specific voicing of the concerns of Zachariah for the same legacy, whereby he prays to God and voices his concern for his fellow Israelite priests unsuitability for inheritance of the Divine Legacy. (Compare with John's and Jesus's spiritual mission in confronting the scribes and Pharisees.)
It should be noted that the Arabic name Yahya is etymologically rooted in the word for life, or, living. An esoteric reading of this is indicated to be a parable of the living Imam, or Leader, of the believers, which is ever present and living in every age, as inheritors of the mantle of the Divine Guidance. Zachariah's surprise at hearing the glad tidings of a son very much illuminates his hesitation in believing in the news provided by the angel. This account further serves as a guideline to believers in regards to verification of spiritual inspiration or messages; something which is not entirely clear in the biblical account: i.e. the muteness of Zachariah was a sign of the authenticity of the good news provided, and not Zachariah's questioning of the Power of God to do as He Pleases.
This account is immediately followed, as in Gospel of Luke, by the account of the annunciation to the virgin, Mariam (Mary). Isa is much revered by Muslims as a very important prophet of Islam (but not as the Son of God). Islamic belief holds that he was born of a virgin birth but that neither he nor his mother were divine. Actually, in this sura, God describes those who say that Isa was the Son of God as saying something blasphemous, as God is the omnipotent creator and all the creatures in earth and in heaven are God's servants. Maryam is venerated as "the Lady of the women of the world" (سيدة نساء العالمين), but not as the mother of God.
The sura tells the story of the birth of Yahya (John the Baptist) after his father's desperation for having a successor. It goes on to say that God Himself named him and that he was the first to carry this name. Then the sura tells the story of the pregnancy of Maryam and the birth of Isa (Jesus) the Messiah.
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