Sunday, September 11, 2005


Today (11/9) is (Zakariya Day) in Iraq. It is a kind of religious-folk ceremony, based on the story of a Jewish prophet called Zakariya (Zecharias). His story is mentioned in Qur'an (the holly book of Islam). It says that prophet Zakariya was a very old man (over 90) who had no children, with a very old barren wife. He was the high priest of the Holy of Holies ("Kodesh" in Hebrew), and the one to care for Mary (mother of Jesus, later). Mary was the only female allowed to have access to the Temple (Holy of Holies), since she was totally consecrated to serve God. Zakariya was the only person who visits her at the secluded place specified for her. Each visit he finds food & fruits not of the season (summer ones in winter & vice versa) available at her dwelling. Zakariya asked Mary about it & from where she had got it. Her reply was: it is the blessing of God.

After what he saw at Mary's residence, Zakariya prayed to God asking HIM for a son to be his successor in serving & guarding the Temple. Later on, Zakariya was praying when he heard an angelic voice telling him: God accepted your request & you will be fulfilled by a son. According to God's wish, the son was to be named Yahya (John), a name which nobody had before.

Zakariya asked God to mark a sign for him through which he could thank God & inform his people about this miracle. And God ordered him not to speak to any human for three days as the sign.

Mythological stories relate that prophet Yahya (John) was a man of chastity, justice, and honor. He declared his strong opposition to the marriage of Herod the Great (King of Judaea) to his niece. The niece wanted to marry her uncle so she asked Herod for the head of Yahya as her dowry. So Yahya was beheaded.

Back to the present time, Zakariya Day is on the first Sunday in the eighth month (Shabban) of the year according to the Hegira calendar. On this day some people, especially women, fast and pray asking God for a baby or a husband/wife. People prepare a variety of dishes & sweets exchanged between them. They believe that eating from these dishes & asking God for a request is the most suitable time to be accepted. Another practice is to prepare a tray filled with lit candles and branches of olive tree or something similar. The candles are to be lit at sunset & to be kept lit till they finish. Other people go to rivers, after sunset, to float light pieces on which they put lit candles. The river reflects a nice scene with the numerous floating candles.

Let us pray to God for peace to spread all over the globe. Wishing you merry Zakariya


Blogger Kat said...

Thank you sir. That was very educational. I really enjoy these little peeks into your countries social and cultural practices.

6:44 AM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Well, my momma always told me if you wish with one hand and work like hell with the other, you might amount to something.

Oh, BTW, I have this book and it's worth the money, read this post then go check out the book.

Its worth your time.

Papa Ray
West Texas

9:52 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

More for you to read. Here is a report that is encouraging.

Press Briefing on Overview of Operation Restoring Rights in Tall Afar, Iraq

Papa Ray
West Texas

4:36 AM  
Blogger Gadfly said...


The person the Koran names as "Yahya" is, in the Christian Bible, referred to as "John the Baptist."

Amazing how elements of the one story have been preserved in three major religions.

Thank you!

9:46 PM  

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