When Sayyidah Maryam reached the age when her mother’s vow had to be discharged, there developed the dilemma of her guardianship. To whom should this sacred Trust (Amaanat) of Masjidul Aqsa be entrusted? Several Aabideen who spent their lives in Musjidul-Aqsa, eargerly volunteered to assume guardianship of Sayyidah Maryam. Among, them, was also Nabi Zakariyyah (alaihis salaam). He argued that it was his right to become her guardian because his wife was the maternal aunt of Sayyidah Maryam.

So enamoured were the Aabideen with Sayyidah Maryam, that they refused to accept Hadhrat Zakiriyyah’s right of guardianship. Every one of the pious devotees of Musjidul Aqsa clamoured to take possession of this wonderful and sacred Amaanat. To resolve the dispute, it was decided to draw lots. Drawing lots was considered a valid way of resolving disputes in that era. In this method of drawing lots, pens made of bamboo were used. Some words of the Taurah were written on the pens which would be cast in the river. The pens would go with the flow of the water, However, the pen which flowed in the opposite direction indicated the winner.

All the devotees including Hadhrat Zakariyyah (alayhis salaam) cast their pens in the river. This exercise was carried out thrice. Each time, the pen of Nabi Zakariyya (alaihis salaam) floated in the opposite direction. So he was the winner and custody of Sayyidah Maryam was awarded to him. Everyone was happy with this arrangement. There were convinced that custody of Sayyidah Maryam was by Divine decree.

Hadhrat Zakariyya (alayhis salaam) had prepared a room in Musjidul Aqsa for Sayyidah Maryam’s stay. The rooms attached to the Masjid were called Mihraab.

Caretakers of the Musjid as well others who devoted themselves to worship would occupy these rooms. During the day Sayyidah Maryam would engross herself in ibaadat, and every night Hadhrat Zakariyya (alayhis salaam) would take her to spend the night at his home. In the history of Musjidul Aqsa, this was the first occasion that a female had been dedicated to the service of the Musjid. All those who occupied the rooms in the Musjid were delighted by the presence of this wonderful child.

It was Hadhrat Zakariyya’s daily routine to visit Sayyidah Maryam in her mihraab with food for her. Once he locked the door of Maryam’s room and left. It so happened by Allah’s Will that Hadhrat Zakariyya (Alayhis Salaam) forgot about Maryam (Alayhas salaam) for three days. On the fourth day it occurred to him that he had locked Maryam in the room without any provisions, What has happened to her? Perhaps she may even have died? With such fearful thoughts in his mind, he hurried to the Musjid. As he entered he was amazed to see a variety of fruit spread out in her room. Maryam was engaged in Salaat. Some of the fruits were not of the season. In surprise he asked: ” O Maryam! From where does this rizq come?” She replied: “It comes from Allah. He provides rizq in abundance to whomever He wishes.”

Sayyidah Maryam had specific times for service to the Musjid. She would diligently fulfill her task of attending to the Musjid. After completing her duties, she would return to her mihraab and engross herself in ibaadat. So she passed her nights and day in the remembrance of Allah Ta’laa. Her lofty degree of remembrance of Allah Ta’laa. Her lofty degree of Taqwa became proverbial in Bani Israeel.

Hadhrat Zakariyya (Alaihis Salaam) at this time had reached very old age and he was childless. His wife too was beyond the age of child-bearing, However, when he observed the unseasonal fruit which Sayyidah Maryam was enjoying, he was reminded of the power of Allah Ta’laa. Nothing was impossible for Him. It occurred to him that just as Allah Ta’laa had the power to present Sayyidah Maryam with unsaeasonal fruit, so too does He have the power to grant him a child despite his old age and his wife’s inability to bear. He therefore made dua for a son in whom the sacred Chain of Nabuwwat would be perpetuated. Allah Ta’laa informed him that soon a son would be born to him, whose name would be Yayha.


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