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Yahyā ibn Zakarīyā ( يحيى ابن زكريا) is a Prophet of Islam also known as the Biblical figure John the Baptist. According to the Qur'an, believed by Muslims to be a witness to the word of God, and a righteous prophet who would herald the coming of Jesus.[1]

The name John is derived, via Latin and Greek, from the Hebrew name Yochanan (יוחנן) meaning "Yahweh is gracious". Arab Christians use the name Youhanna for John, coming directly from the Hebrew and Aramaic which was used at the time.


The veneration of Yahya prevailed amongst some Muslim groups who were partly influenced by Byzantine Christian practices. This veneration, according to Muslim scholar al-Bīrūnī, included a feast commemorating Yahya's beheading on the 29th of the Hebrew month of Av. A shrine existing through to modern times is the oratory (maqām) of Yahya, located in the congregational mosque of Damascus. Some early reports mention that Umayyad caliph al-Walid I unearthed the head of Yahya and placed it in a pillar in Damascus, which had an architectural capital shaped like a basket of palm leaves.[2]

Other sources, such as the Iraqi scholar al-Harawī, mention that the head had been transferred to the city of Aleppo by Mu'izz al-Daula Thimal bin Salih of the Mirdasid dynasty in 1043. Historians Zayd b. al-Hasan al-Kindī and Ibn al-Adīm note that the head was then stored in the upper oratory of the Aleppo citadel within a basin made of marble. The head was later evacuated to the Aleppo congregational mosque due to invading Mongol forces who had burned down the Aleppo citadel and upper oratory. There, according to Ibn Shaddad, it was buried west of the minbar (pulpit), with another oratory built for it. It thus became another spot of veneration for Yahya, and a place where some Syrians believed extra blessings (barakah) existed.[2].

See also


  1. "Yahya", Encyclopedia of Islam
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named meri


  • Meri, J. W. (2002). The Cult of Saints Among Muslims and Jews in Medieval Syria. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199250782. 
  • Rippin, A.. "Yahya b. Zakariya". in P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912. 

External links

References to John (Yahya) in the Qur'an