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Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist and the wife of the priest Zechariah. Her story is recounted in Suwar 3, 19, and 21 of the Qur'an and in the Gospel of Luke. She was a descendant of the prophet Aaron.


John's conception[edit]

Elizabeth and her husband were righteous and devout followers of God, yet they did not have children. Zechariah prayed for a son and heir. While burning incense at the Temple, the angel Gabriel appeared. Zechariah was frightened, but the angel told Zechariah not to be afraid and told Zechariah that God heard Zechariah's prayers and that Zechariah would conceive a son with his wife Elizabeth. Gabriel stated that the child will be named John and that John would be a great prophet and a forerunner to Jesus. He also stated that John would be able to act while still in his mother's womb.

Zechariah doubted this, saying that his wife was barren and that he was old, and asked for a sign. Gabriel stated that John's conception is the will of God and that Zechariah will not be able to speak.

Zechariah was then unable to speak, proving that what he heard was the word of God. Zechariah was only able to communicate through gestures. Zechariah went to the people at the Temple, and they recognized Zechariah's inability to speak as a miracle from God.

Then Zachariah prayed to his Lord saying, Lord, give me of Thy goodness a goodly offspring. Yea, Thou hearest prayer.

And the angels called to him, standing in the Sanctuary at worship, Lo, God gives thee good tidings of John, who shall confirm a Word of God, a chief, and chaste, a Prophet, righteous.

Lord, said Zachariah, how shall I have a son, seeing I am an old man and my wife is barren? Even so, God said, God does what He will.

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.

— Surah 3:38–41 (Arberry)

The mention of thy Lord's mercy unto His servant Zachariah;

When he called upon his Lord secretly,

Saying, "O my Lord, behold the bones within me are feeble and my head is all aflame with hoariness. And in calling on Thee, my Lord, I have never been hitherto unprosperous.

"And now I fear my kinsfolk after I am gone; and my wife is barren. So give me, from Thee, a kinsman,

"Who shall be my inheritor and the inheritor of the House of Jacob; and make him, my Lord, well-pleasing."

O Zachariah, We give thee good tidings of a boy, whose name is John. No namesake have We given him aforetime.

He said, O my Lord, how shall I have a son, seeing my wife is barren, and I have attained to the declining of old age?

Said He, So it shall be; thy Lord says, Easy is that for Me, seeing that I created thee aforetime, when thou wast nothing.

He said, Lord, appoint to me some sign. Said He, Thy sign is that thou shall not speak to men, though being without fault, three nights.

So he came forth unto his people from the Sanctuary, then he made signal to them, Give you glory at dawn and evening.

— Surah 19:2–11 (Arberry)

And Zachariah -- when he called unto his Lord, O my Lord, leave me not solitary; though Thou art the best of inheritors.

So We answered him, and bestowed on him John, and We set his wife right for him; truly they vied with one another, hastening to good works, and called upon Us out of yearning and awe; and they were humble to Us.

— Surah 21:89–90 (Arberry)

And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. When Zacharias saw the angel, he was troubled and overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, Do not be afraid, Zacharias, because your petition [in prayer] was heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have great joy and delight, and many will rejoice over his birth, for he will be great and distinguished in the sight of the Lord; and will never drink wine or liquor, and he will be filled with and empowered to act by the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. He will turn many of the sons of Israel back [from sin] to [love and serve] the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous [which is to seek and submit to the will of God]—in order to make ready a people [perfectly] prepared [spiritually and morally] for the Lord.

And Zacharias said to the angel, How will I be certain of this? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in age. The angel replied and said to him, I am Gabriel; I stand and minister in the [very] presence of God, and I have been sent [by Him] to speak to you and to bring you this good news. Listen carefully, you will be continually silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe what I told you; but my words will be fulfilled at their proper time.

— Luke 1:11–1:20 (AMP)

Elizabeth and Zechariah conceived John as promised, and for five months, Elizabeth secluded herself.

Now after this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant, and for five months she secluded herself completely, saying,This is how the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor on me, to take away my disgrace among men.

— Luke 1:24–1:25 (AMP)

Recognizing the miracle of Jesus' conception[edit]

In the sixth moth of Elizabeth's pregnancy, Gabriel visited Mary and told her that, by the will of God, she would become the mother of the Messiah Jesus while still remaining a virgin. After Jesus was miraculously conceived in her womb, Mary visited Elizabeth. When Mary greeted Elizabeth, John leaped in Elizabeth's womb (proving what Gabriel said to Zechariah about John being able to act while still in his mother's womb), and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and praised Mary.

Now at this time Mary arose and hurried to the hill country, to a city of Judah (Judea), and she entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, her baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered by Him. And she exclaimed loudly, Blessed [worthy to be praised] are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed [spiritually fortunate and favored by God] is she who believed and confidently trusted that there would be a fulfillment of the things that were spoken to her [by the angel sent] from the Lord.

— Luke 1:39–1:45 (AMP)

Mary then thanked and praised God. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for around three months.

John's birth[edit]

Elizabeth gave birth to John, and her relatives and neighbors, who had heard of God's mercy on Elizabeth and Zechariah, rejoiced.

On John's eighth day, John was circumcised. They intended to name him Zechariah, after his father, but Elizabeth said that his name should be John: No indeed; instead he will be called John (Luke 1:60 AMP)). They responded by saying that none of her relatives are called John. Zechariah called for a tablet and wrote His name is John on it (Luke 1:63 AMP)). Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied about the redemption and salvation of the Jewish people and about the prophethood of John the Baptist as a forerunner to the Messiah Jesus.

John grew, was good to his parents, and became a prophet of the Lord.

O John, take the Book forcefully; 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.

Peace be upon him, the day he was born, and the day he dies, and the day he is raised up alive!

— Surah 19:12–15 (Arberry)