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Muslim Author Agron Belica Says the Prophet Yahya Was Not CelibateSalem-News.com
“The Quran does not support the celibacy of the prophet Yahya,” says Belica.
(BOSTON) - For centuries, Muslims have assumed that John the Baptist (Yahya), like Jesus, never married or sired children. This is in accordance with Christian tradition, but, Belica argues, there is no cogent reason for Muslims to accept this belief. On the contrary, he says, this view of Yahya is inconsistent with the text of the Quran.
In his “The Revival of the Prophet Yahya,” he writes: “The word ‘hasur’ used in the Quran (Q. 3:39), which is usually translated ‘chaste,’ is a misinterpretation. My research shows that the Arabic word hasur does not mean ‘chaste’ with regard to Yahya; rather, it means ‘a concealer [of secrets].’
Why the mistake in translation and commentary? As there was no extensive information given in the Quran about the life of Prophet Yahya nor in the Tradition (hadith), the commentators then turned to Christian tradition and simply repeated what they found there.”
Nonetheless, the commentators of the Quran have placed considerable emphasis on this word.
Al-Tabari interprets the word “hasur” to mean one who abstains from sexual intercourse with women. He then reports a Tradition on the authority of Said ibn al-Musayyab which has Prophet Muhammad saying the following: “Everyone of the sons of Adam shall come on the Day of Resurrection with a sin (of sexual impropriety) except Yahya bin Zechariah.’ Then, picking up a tiny straw, he continued, ‘this is because his generative organ was no bigger then this straw (implying that he was impotent).’”
Does this mean that even the prophets outside of Yahya will be raised up with this sin of sexual impropriety? How can we accept that this was said by such a modest human being, comparing a straw to another prophet's generative organ? Was Yahya impotent?
One commentator, Ibn Kathir, a renowned Islamic scholar, rejects this view and adds, “This would be a defect and a blemish unworthy of prophets.” He then mentions that it was not that he had no sexual relations with women, but that he had no illegal sexual relations with them. Indeed, the whole discussion is unseemly.
It is known that prophets of God are immune from major sins, so this statement makes no sense at all when interpreting the word, hasur.
In addition, I would like to mention the fact that in his commentary, Ibn Kathir says he (Yahya) probably married and had children. He said this on the basis of what was related in the Quran of the prayer of Zachariah.
There are several reasons why interpreting hasur in this context as “chaste” or “celibate,” as has been done by some commentators, is a misinterpretation: First of all, there is another word in the Quran for “chaste” and that is “muhsin.” As God used a different word with hasur, it must mean something different.
Secondly, God says in the Quran that Islam did not bring monasticism but that it was something that they (the Christians) invented. (Q. 57:27) Also, And verily We sent messengers (to mankind) before thee, and We appointed for them wives and offspring, and it was not given to any messenger that he should bring a portent save by God’s leave. For everything there is a time prescribed. (Q. 13:38) This is definitely not a recommendation for monasticism. Furthermore, we find in the Traditions that the Prophet said that there is no monasticism in Islam. Therefore, God would not have sent a Prophet who was celibate. In addition, it is contrary the exhortation in the Torah to “go forth and multiply.”
Thirdly, Yahya’s father, Zechariah prayed for a protector who would provide descendants (dhurriyah) for his family. There Zachariah called to his Lord; he said: My Lord! Bestow on me good offspring from Thy presence; truly Thou art hearing supplication. (Q. 3:38)
God gave him Yahya. God would not have sent a son to Zechariah who would not carry on the line of Jacob’s descendants because then God would not have answered the prayer of Zechariah.
The word hasur is used only one time in the Quran and that is in regard to the Prophet Yahya. A major Arabic-English lexicon, that of Edward William Lane (Taj al-Arus) states that when 'hasur' is used alone, it means “concealer [of secrets].”
In his translation, of Ibn al-Arabi's Book of the Fabulous Gryphon, Elmore also translates the Arabic hasur “as concealer [of secrets].” In the referenced passage, “chaste” would not have been appropriate (Gerald T. Elmore, Islamic Sainthood in the Fullness of Time, Brill 1999, P. 482)”
The full text of “The Revival of the Prophet Yahya” may be found on the website www.islammattersnow.com.
“Candid words form an Unusual and Fascinating Author on Religion.” See Geri Ahearn interview at www.Salem-News.com
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