Was Maryam (peace be upon her) the only child of her family? If that is true, then how could the Messiah (peace be upon him) and Yahya (peace be upon him) be maternal cousins?.
Praise be to Allaah.
What the historians and
biographers say is that ‘Imraan, the father of Maryam, was married to a
woman who was called Hannah, and Zakariyah (peace be upon him) was married
to a woman called Eeshaa’. ‘Imraan and Hannah produced Maryam (peace be upon
him) and Zakariyah and Eeshaa’ produced Yahya (peace be upon him).
Then they differed as to
who Eeshaa’ the mother of Yahya (peace be upon him) was. There are two
1 –That she was the sister
of Maryam (peace be upon her). This is the view of the majority, as was
stated by Ibn Katheer in al-Bidaayah wa’l-Nihaayah (1/438)
Based on that, ‘Eesa and
Yahya (peace be upon them) are maternal cousins in the real sense, because
they are the sons of two sisters (Maryam and Eeshaa’).
They quoted as evidence the
apparent meaning of the hadeeth of the Mi’raaj (Prophet’s ascent into
heaven) which was narrated from Maalik ibn Sa’sa’ah (may Allaah be pleased
with him), that the Prophet of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) told them about the night on which he was taken on the night
journey. Among the things he said was: “Then he went up until he came to the
second heaven, and he asked for it to be opened. It was said: ‘Who is this?’
It was said: ‘Jibreel.’ It was said: ‘Who is with you?’ He said: ‘Muhammad.’
It was said: ‘Has (Revelation) been sent to him?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ It was
said: ‘Welcome to him, what a good person has come.’ And it was opened. When
I entered, I saw Yahya and ‘Eesa – who are maternal cousins. He said: This
is Yahya and ‘Eesa, and he greeted them with salaam and I greeted them too,
and they returned the greeting. Then they said: Welcome to the righteous
brother and the righteous Prophet.’” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (3207) and this
version is his; also narrated by Muslim (164).
2 – That Eeshaa’ was the
sister of Maryam’s mother Hannah, so Eeshaa’ was the maternal aunt of Maryam
(peace be upon her). This is what was mentioned by Ibn Ishaaq and Ibn
Jareer. Jaami’ al-Bayaan (3/234). This was the only view mentioned by
al-Haafiz ibn Harar in Fath al-Baari (6/68).
Based on this view, how
could ‘Eesa and Yahya (peace be upon them) be maternal cousins?
They said: Because the
mother’s maternal aunt is like a real maternal aunt, so the mother of Yahya
was the maternal aunt of Maryam and she was also the maternal aunt of
Maryam’s son ‘Eesa (peace be upon them all). Just as Maryam was the maternal
cousin of Yahya, so her son ‘Eesa was also his maternal cousin.
Imam Abu’l-Sa’ood said in
his Tafseer (2/27):
As for the words of the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) about Yahya and
‘Eesa (peace and blessing be upon them), “maternal cousins”, it was said
that the meaning of this is that the word sister was often used to refer to
the daughter of the sister, thus the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) regarded them as maternal cousins. End quote.
Their evidence for that is
that it is well known that the wife of ‘Imraan, Hannah, had not become
pregnant and had not given birth. When she became pregnant with Maryam by
Allaah’s Leave, she vowed to dedicate the child to Allaah and to service in
the sacred House (Bayt al-Maqdis, i.e., the Temple in Jerusalem). This is
what is supported by the Qur’aanic passage.
Allaah says (interpretation
of the meaning):
“(Remember) when the
wife of ‘Imraan said: ‘O my Lord! I have vowed to You what (the child that)
is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services (free from all worldly work;
to serve Your place of worship), so accept this from me. Verily, You are the
All-Hearer, the All-Knowing’”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:35]
Ibn Katheer (may Allaah
have mercy on him) said in Tafseer al-Qur’aan al-‘Azeem (1/478):
Muhammad ibn Ishaaq said:
She (i.e., the wife of ‘Imraan) was a woman who did not get pregnant, but
one day she saw a bird feeding its chicks and she longed for a child, so she
prayed to Allaah to bless her with a child, and Allaah answered her prayer.
Her husband had intercourse with her and she became pregnant. When she
realized that she was pregnant, she vowed that the child would be dedicated
to worship and service of the sacred House, and she said: “O my Lord! I
have vowed to You what (the child that) is in my womb to be dedicated for
Your services (free from all worldly work; to serve Your place of worship),
so accept this from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing”
i.e., the One Who hears my du’aa’ and knows my intention. End quote.
And Allaah knows best.