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Prophet Zakariyya’s sponsorship of Maryam

Question: 275330

In Qur’an it is mentioned that Prophet Zakaria was made kafeel for Maryam. Was there any direct relationship with them like brother/uncle etc. Here Kafeel includes what ?

Praise be to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah and his family.


The scholars differed concerning the relationship between
Zakariyya and Maryam (peace be upon them both). There are two views:

he was the husband of her sister

he was the husband of her maternal aunt.

See the answer to question no. 82569.

It was narrated that Zakariyya (peace be upon him) was also
one of the paternal cousins of Maryam (peace be upon her), in addition to
being the husband of her maternal aunt or sister. See: al-Hidaayah by
Makki (2/999).


Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, has told us about
Zakariyya’s sponsorship (kafaalah) of Maryam, as He said (interpretation of
the meaning):

“So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her
to grow in a good manner and put her in the care
[kaffalaha] of Zechariah [Zakariyya]”

[Aal ‘Imraan 3:37].

What is meant by kafaalah [sponsorship or taking care] is
that he looked after her affairs and needs. Kafaalah includes taking care of
the interests of the person under one’s care, spending on him, and looking
after his needs.

Ibn ‘Atiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: What it means
is that he took her into his care and spent on her. The kaafil (sponsor) is
the one who takes care of another.

End quote from al-Muharrar al-Wajeez (1/425).

Al-Waahidi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: He took her
into his care and looked after her affairs.

Az- Zajjaaj said: What is meant is that he took care of her
affairs. … The kaafil is the one who sponsors a person, looks after him and
spends on him..

End quote from at-Tafseer al-Baseet (5/203).

Ibn Katheer said: Here our Lord is telling us that He
accepted the vow of her mother, and that He “caused her to grow in a good
manner” that is, He made her good-looking and endeared her to peopler,
and caused her to be in the company of the righteous among His slaves, so
that she could learn goodness, knowledge and religion from them.

Hence Allah says: “and put her in
the care [kaffalaha] of Zechariah
[Zakariyya]”; the grammatical
structure of this phrase in the original Arabic indicates that Zakariyya was
made to be her sponsor or carer.

Ibn Ishaaq said: That was only because she was an orphan.

Other scholars stated that the Children of Israel were
stricken by a famine, so Zakariyya sponsored Maryam and took care of her
because of that.

There is no contradiction between the two views. And Allah
knows best.

The reason why Allah decreed that Zakariyya should be her
sponsor was because this would be in her best interests, so that she might
learn a great deal of beneficial knowledge and righteous deeds from him, and
because he was the husband of her maternal aunt, according to what was
mentioned by Ibn Ishaaq, Ibn Jareer, and others.

It was also said that he was the husband of her sister.


Ibn ‘Ashoor said: When Maryam was born, her father had died,
and a number of the rabbis of the Children of Israel disputed over who was
to sponsor her, for they were all keen to sponsor the daughter of their
senior rabbi. They drew lots for that, and the lot fell to Zakariyya. What
appears to be the case is that the matter of her sponsorship was delegated
to the rabbis because she was dedicated to the service of the place of
worship, so it was essential that she be given a righteous upbringing for
that reason.

At-Tahreer wa’t-Tahreer


It was narrated that Zakariyya was one of the paternal
cousins of Maryam, and he was the husband of her sister or maternal aunt. He
was her sponsor (kaafil), meaning that he used to take care of her needs and
look after her.


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