Although his father, mother and all relatives were Christians and even he himself was of that religion, Zakariya, the son of Ibrahim from some time ago felt an inclination towards Islam. His soul and conscious called him to Islam. In the end, contrary to the wish of his father, mother and relatives, he embraced Islam and submitted to the Islamic principles.
The time of "Hajj" pilgrimage to Makkah arrived. The young Zakariya left Kufah for setting out for Makkah. On the way, he went to Imam al-Sadiq ('a) in Madinah, and narrated him ('a) about his conversion and the Imam ('a) asked him: "Which aspect of Islam drew your attention?"
He replied: "The least I can say is that the following words of the Almighty Allah in the Holy Qur'an addressing the Holy Prophet (S) is applicable to me:
وَكَذَلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ رُوحاً مِنْ أَمْرِنَا مَا كُنْتَ تَدْرِي مَا الْكِتَابُ وَلا الْأِيمَانُ وَلَكِنْ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُوراً نَهْدِي بِهِ مَنْ نَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا وَإِنَّكَ لَتَهْدِي إِلَی صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ
“And thus We have sent to you a Revelation of Our Command [the Holy Qur’an]. You knew not what the Book is, nor what the faith. But We have made it [the Qur’an] a Light wherewith We guide whosoever of Our slaves We will. And verily, you [O Muhammad] are indeed guiding [people] to the Straight Path.” (Surah Al-Shura, 42:52).
The Imam ('a) said: "I certify it; Allah has guided you."
The Imam said thrice: "O Allah! Be his Guide!"
Then he ('a) added: "My son! At present, ask me whatever question that you wish."
The young man said: "My parents and family are all Christians; my mother is blind. I am frequently associated with them at the dining-table. What is my duty in this case?"
The Imam ('a): "Do they consume pork?"
The young man: "No! O descendant of the Messenger of Allah! They never touch pork."
The Imam ('a): "Nothing oppose to your relation with them."
And he ('a) added: "Take care of your mother! Act benevolently towards her while she is alive. When she dies, do not deliver her corpse to anyone else. Take personal responsibility of her funeral procession. Do not let anybody come to know that you met me here. I will come to Makkah and by the grace of Allah, we will meet each other in Mina."
In Mina, the young man went to Imam al-Sadiq ('a). There was a strange crowd around the Imam ('a). The people like the children who surround their teacher were continuously and without cease putting on their questions which they brought along with them and were receiving their answers promptly.
The pilgrimage time came to an end and the young man returned to Kufah. He had in mind the Imam's recommendation, began to devote himself to his mother and did not stop an instant treating his mother kindly. He fed her, combed her hairs and changed her dress with his own hands. This sudden change noticed in the behaviour of her son surprised the mother, particularly after his return from Makkah.
One day, she asked: "Dear son! When you had our religious belief, and we both were of one faith, you did not treat me so kindly? What happened to you! At present although we both are not having the same faith and religion, you are more affectionate towards me than you were before?"
“My dear mother! A man of the descendants of our Holy Prophet (S) commanded me to do so.”
“Is the man himself a Prophet!”
“No. he is not the Prophet but he is the son of the Prophet.”
“I believe my son, that he is a Prophet too, for such recommendations are made by nobody else except the Prophets.”
“No mother! Be sure that he is not the Prophet; he is the son of the Prophet. Basically, after our Prophet there will be no other Prophet born on this earth.”
"My dear son! Your religion is a very good religion, it is better than all the religions. Present me your religion!"
The young man stated "Shahadatayn" the testimony of faith to his mother, she then became a Muslim by reciting the Shahadatayn. The young man taught his blind mother the canonical prayer. After having learnt it, she performed the Zuhr, noon, 'Asr, afternoon prayers, she could do her evening maghrib and Isha, night prayers too. In the night, her condition of health suddenly changed; she felt ill and confined to bed.
She called her son and said: "My dear son! Teach me once more those words that you have taught me before."
The young man taught her again the "Shahadatayn" and the other principles of Islam, that is to say, the belief in Prophet, angels, the Divine Book, and the day of the judgement. The mother uttered all that under the title of testimony and confession and then breathed her last.
In the morning, the Muslims came for her funeral and ablution. It was her son, Zakariya, who performed the funeral prayer and buried her with his own hands.1
- 1. Usul al-Kafi, v. 2, p. 160, 161.