John the Baptist


John the Baptist : biography

c. 6 BC – c. 30 AD

Unification church

The Unification Church teaches that God intended that John help Jesus during his public ministry in Judea. In particular, John should have done everything in his power to persuade the Jewish people that Jesus was the Messiah. He was to become Jesus’ greatest disciple. John’s failure to do so was the chief obstacle to the fulfillment of Jesus’ mission.


John is also honored as a prophet in Islam as Yaḥyā ibn Zakarīyā (), translated literally as "John, son of Zechariah". He is believed by Muslims to have been a witness to the word of God, and a prophet who would herald the coming of Jesus."Yahya", Encyclopedia of Islam His father Zechariah was also an Islamic prophet. Islamic tradition maintains that John was one of the prophets who Muhammad met on the night of the Mi’raj,Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, Mi’raj his ascension through the Seven Heavens. It is said that he met John and Jesus in the second heaven, where Muhammad greeted his two ‘brothers’ before ascending with archangel Gabriel to the third heaven. John’s story was also told to the Abyssinian king during the Muslim refugees’ Migration to Abyssinia.Muhammad, Martin Lings, Abysinnia. etc. According to the Qur’an, John was one on whom God sent peace on the day that he was born and the day that he died.


An early 20th-century European source says that John’s name in Arabic, Yahya, was supposedly present in Arabia before the Qur’an was revealed.J. Horovitz, Koranische Untersuchungen, Berlin 1926, 151-2 This claim, from an early 1900s European Orientalist source, is challenged by Islamic writers who cite and discuss with academics and modern day linguists like Professor Robert Hoberman and Dr. Geoffery Khan of the University of Cambridge "This study has shown conclusively that the names Yahya and John (Yuhanan or Yuhanna) are two entirely different names derived from two different roots." and from an exegetical standpoint "The verse at 19:7 which reads lam naj`al lahu min qablu samiyya may be interpreted in two ways: 1. Samiyy, means shabihan or mithlan, i.e., someone like him. The verse is interpreted to mean that the birth of Yahya was unlike the birth of others, as he was born to an aged father and a barren mother. 2. The name Yahya is unique, and no one prior to the birth of Yahya was ever given such a name by God, a point conveniently overlooked by the missionaries."

The exegetes frequently connected the name with the meaning of "to quicken" or "to make alive" in reference to John’s mother’s barrenness, which was cured by God, as well as John’s preaching, which, as Muslims believe, "made alive" the faith of Israel.A. Jeffrey, Foreign Vocab. of the Qur’an, Baroda 1938, 290-1

The Qur’an accords the significance of John’s name to the fact that it was a new name for mankind, in that no one previously had been named "John".Stories of the Prophets, Kathir/Kisai, Story of John Other scholars hold that John’s name, which they state connects with the meaning of "He shall live", referred to his legacy, in that his memory will remain in the mind of the faithful for the generations to Muhammad Asad’s tafsir in The Message of the Qur’an

The usage of the name Yuḥanna is well attested to in the western Arabian peninsula. In the well-documented Najran Pact one of the fourteen chiefs was Yuḥannas. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that any Arab Christian would have used the name Yahya prior to the Quran’s usage of it.

However, the Qur’an also mentions a root used in the Hebrew version of the name, ‘Yohanan’ יוֹחָנָן (Yahweh is gracious). Sura Maryam: 12-13 describes the virtues of Yahya: وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْحُكْمَ صَبِيًّا – وَحَنَانًا مِّن لَّدُنَّا وَزَكَاةً (And We gave him judgement, while yet a boy – And affection from Us, and purity.) Here ‘Ḥanān’ (حنان, Affection) is an Arabic word corresponding to the same root used in the Hebrew/Aramaic ‘Yohanan’. It is also the only time this word is used in the Qur’an.