In Hebrew Zechariah; means ‘Jehovah (God) is renowned or remembered’. In Bible this has been mentioned as the name of twenty-nine Israelites, which include king, prophets, priests and others. ‘Zechariah’ the book of the Bible is attributed to the Hebrew prophet of the sixth century B.C. Prophet Zechariah (peace be upon him) was an illustrious Prophet of the Israelites (Qur’an;6:83-87) in 1st century C.E, he is mentioned as high priest in Bible (Luke;1:5, 12-17). His life narrative here is mostly based on Bible. His wife Elizabeth, was of the daughters (descendant) of Aaron (Luke;1:5), considered a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Zechariah was also the patron of Mary. He kept the torch of Mosaic Law burning. Prophet Zechariah (peace be upon him), was issueless and old, he prayed to God for the successor for the priesthood of the house of Jacob (Qur’an;3:39, 19:5-6). Allah accepted his prayers and gave him tidings of a son who was named as Yahya (John) by God (Qur’an;19:7).
He was given token of speechlessness for three days. (Qur’an;3:41, Luke;1:64). Yahya (John) was born six months before Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him). After this no more is recorded of him for thirty years than what is mentioned in Luke;1:80. John was a Nazarite from his birth (Luke;1:15; Numbers;6:1-12). He spent his early years in the mountainous tract of Judah lying between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea (Mathew;3:1-12). At length he came forth into public life, and great huge numbers from “every quarter” were attracted to him. The mission of John was the subject of prophecy (Mathew;3:3; Isaiah;40:3; Malachi;3:1). In accordance with his father’s prayer John (Yahya), and Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) for whom he prepared the way, renewed the Message of God, which had been corrupted by the Israelites.
The sum of his preaching was the necessity of repentance. He denounced the Jewish sects Sadducees (who denied the resurrection and the existence of angels) and Pharisees (extremely accurate and minute in all matters appertaining to the law of Moses, noted for their self-righteousness and pride) as a “generation of vipers,” and warned them of the folly of trusting to external privileges (Luke;3:8).”As a preacher, John was eminently practical and discriminating. Self-love and covetousness were the prevalent sins of the people at large. On them, therefore, he enjoined charity and consideration for others. He cautioned the publicans against extortion, the soldiers against crime and plunder.” His doctrine and manner of life roused the entire south of Palestine, and the people from all parts flocked on the banks of Jordan river where he baptized thousands unto repentance.
The fame of John reached the ears of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) in Nazareth (Mathew;3:5), and he came from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized of John, on the special ground that it became him to “fulfill all righteousness”(Mathew;3:15). John’s special office ceased with the baptism of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), who must now “increase” as the King come to his kingdom. He continued, however, for a while to bear testimony to the Messiahship of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him). His public ministry was suddenly (after about six months probably) brought to a close by his being cast into prison by Herod Antipas, the provincial ruler under the Roman Empire (4 B.C to 40 C.E), whom he had reproved for the sin of having taken to himself the wife of his brother Philip (Luke;3:19). He was shut up in a fortress near the Dead Sea, where he was beheaded after Herod’s stepdaughter, Salome, demanded his head as a reward for dancing for the king’s guests. His disciples, having consigned the headless body to the grave, went and told Jesus all that had occurred (Mathew;14:3-12). Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) testified regarding him that he was a “burning and a shining light” (John;5:35). Even in his young life, he was granted: ‘Wisdom’ by Allah, for he boldly denounced sin; ‘Gentle pity and love’ for all Allah’s creatures, for he moved among the humble and lowly, and despised “soft raiment”; and ‘Purity of life’, for he renounced the world and lived in the wilderness. His grave still exist in Umayyah Mosque in Syria.