This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.Zacharias was the father of John the Baptist. Both Zacharias and his wife, Elisabeth, were well advanced in years and they were childless. Zacharias was a priest and one day, while he was performing his priestly duties, God appeared to him and promised him a son. However, being so old, Zacharias wondered how this could be. The Koran records,
"'Lord,' said Zachariah, 'appoint to me a sign.' 'Thy sign,' God said, 'is that thou shalt not speak, save by tokens, to men for three days. And mention thy Lord oft, and give glory at evening and dawn.'" (Koran 3:36)
"He said, 'Lord, appoint to [vouchsafe] me some sign.' Said He, 'Thy sign is that thou shall not speak to men, though being without fault [though sound in health], three nights.'" (Koran 19:11)However, in the Christian story, this sign was not given to Zacharias to bolster his faith but as a judgment on his unbelief. Also, his silence was to last until John was born, that being at least nine months away; a bit longer than the three days assigned in the Koran.
"Zacharias said to the angel, 'How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.' The angel answered and said to him, 'I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.'" (Luke 1:18-20)Of John's birth, it is recorded in the Koran,
"'O John, take [receive] the Book forcefully [with purpose of heart]'; and We gave him judgment, yet a little child, and a tenderness from Us, and purity; and he was godfearing, and cherishing his parents, not arrogant, rebellious." (Koran 19:13)It is unclear as to which "Book" Muhammad is referring to. The Koran and the Christian scriptures had yet to be written. It is possible that Muhammad was referring to the Jewish scriptures, but John came as the heralder and forerunner of a new covenant; one that was to supersede the old covenant and hearken back to the promises made to Abraham. The Koran also makes note of the prophesies made at John's birth.
"'Peace be upon him, the day he was born, and the day he dies, and the day he is raisedup alive!'" (Koran 19:15)Certainly, John found peace on the day he was born and will find peace on the day of his resurrection, but the day of his death was another story. Herod had thrown a huge party and daughter of his wife Herodias danced before them. Her dancing pleased Herod's guests and he promised her anything she would ask for. Now Herodias hated John because he had opposed her marriage to Herod, being that she was once the wife of Herod's brother Philip. Unsure of what to ask for, the girl came to her mother Herodias and asked her advise.
"And she went out and said to her mother, 'What shall I ask for?' And she said, 'The head of John the Baptist.' Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, 'I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.' And although the king was very sorry, yet because of his oaths and because of his dinner guests, he was unwilling to refuse her. Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded him to bring back his head. And he went and had him beheaded in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about this, they came and took away his body and laid it in a tomb." (Mark 6:24-29)
Not quite the peaceful death that Mohammad had promised.
More to come...