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Are `Isa And Yahya (Allah be well please with them) Considered Cousins In Islam?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Answered by Shaykh Gibril Haddad

Question: Are `Isa and Yahya ibn Zakariyya considered cousins in Islam like in Christianity? Does this mean Maryam had a sister who was married to Zakariyya, while Zakariyya was also the guardian of Maryam?

Answer: `Alaykum as-Salam wa rahmatullah:

May the blessings of the second half of Ramadan shower from heaven on us and you and all Muslims.

Yes, our liegelords `Isa Ibn Maryam and Yahya b. Zakariyya b. Adi (or Awi), upon our Prophet and all of them blessings and peace, were maternal cousins, in Islam as in Christianity, per the authentic hadith of Isra’ and Mi`raj in which the Holiest Prophet explicitly called them so: “Then I was taken up to the second heaven and Jibril asked for it to open. It was opened for us and, lo and behold! I was in the presence of the two maternal cousins (ibnay al-khaala), `Isa Ibn Maryam and Yahya b. Zakariyya.”

Yes, it means that Maryam had a sister who was married to Zakariyya, upon all of them peace–her name was Ashba` (or Ashya`) bt. `Imran b. Maathaan and their mother was named Hanna bt. Faaqoodh (or Faaqood) b.Qaabeel–at the same time as Zakariyya was Maryam’s guardian just as the Qur’an states, because `Imran died when Hanna was pregnant with Maryam. All of them were from the Prophetic House of Dawud, upon them peace.

Zakariyya was reportedly 92 when Ashba` became pregnant with Yahya, while Maryam was reportedly 15 when she became pregnant with `Isa. The two were born within six months of each other, Yahya first, and Maryam died reportedly aged 53, five years after `Isa was raised up, upon all of them peace.

During their respective pregnancies, it is reported that Maryam visited her sister, whereupon Yahya, inside her belly, ‘leapt for joy’ according to the account found in Luke’s Gospel, but in al-Tabari it says Ashba` said to Maryam: “I feel that the one I am carrying in my womb has prostrated to the one you are carrying in yours.” And that is the meaning of the confirmation in the verse: {Yahya, confirming a word from Allah}.


Al-Balansi, Tasfir Mubhamat al-Qur’an sub Q 3:33.
Ibn Qutayba, al-Ma`arif (p. 52).
Al-Nawawi, Tahdhib al-Asma’ wal-Lughat (2:152-153, 2:355).
Al-Tabari, Tafsir sub Q 3:35, 3:39.

At this point the aforementioned Gospel (1:46-55) cites a famous prayer of praise and servanthood known as the “Magnificat” that Maryam relatedly raised, and which I cite here (interlinear English translation of Jerome’s 5th-c. CE Latin Vulgate translation from the NT Greek) not only because it is full of tawhid, sums up the lofty Divine relationship with the Israelite Prophets, and is one of the most moving passages in the entire Bible but also (i) because there is an invocation of blessing on our Prophet Muhammad and his House implied in its last line (”Abraham and his posterity”), and (ii) bearing in mind that the Prophet said that Maryam would be betrothed to him in Paradise:

46 Et ait Maria: [Magnificat anima mea Dominum:

And Maryam said: [My soul magnifies the Lord,

47 et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo.

and my spirit exults in The God my Savior;

48 Quia respexit humilitatem ancillæ suæ:

Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;

ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes,

for behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;

49 quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est: et sanctum nomen ejus,

Because He who is mighty has done great things for me, and Holy is His

50 et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.

And His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him.

51 Fecit potentiam in brachio suo: dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.

He has shown might with His arm, He has scattered the proud in the
conceit of their heart.

52 Deposuit potentes de sede, et exaltavit humiles.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and has exalted the

53 Esurientes implevit bonis: et divites dimisit inanes.

He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away

54 Suscepit Israël puerum suum, recordatus misericordiæ suæ:

He has given help to Israel [=Ya`qub], His little servant, mindful of
His mercy

55 sicut locutus est ad patres nostros, Abraham et semini ejus in

Even as He spoke to our fathers–to Ibrahim and his posterity forever.]

Allah knows best.

GF Haddad

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