The story of ^Uzayr

^Uzayr, whose story was briefly mentioned in the Qur’an, was a pious Muslim from the descendants of Prophet Israel, also known as Ya^qub. This story shows God’s great Might.

The descendants of Prophet Israel, the Israelites, had split into several groups. Some stayed as they were: believing Muslims who adhered strongly to the rules of the religion.

The others blasphemed and perverted the religion. This caused great tribulation unto the Muslim nation of the time, which often led to the killing of some honored prophets at the hands of some of the Jews.

After their corruption had spread and they had unjustly ruled, and ruthlessly killed two honorable prophets, our masters Zakariya and his son Yahya, Allah inflicted upon them a blasphemous ruler named Bukhtanassar.

He came from Iraq, with a great army, to Jerusalem in Palestine, where he attacked the Israelites in their own homes, killing many of them and taking the rest as hostages. A few of them, however, were able to flee.

He then ordered his soldiers to bring loads of soil and pour it onto the Israelites’ city, until it looked like a huge mountain.

This was done in order to further disgrace and humiliate them. Bukhtanassar took the hostages with him to Babylon. Among them were Muslim scholars, descendants of Israel.

They buried the real Torah before they left Jerusalem, in a place only known to them.

Among them was ^Uzayr, the son of Sharkiya, who was later able to return to Jerusalem, but found it still in ruins.

The remaining houses had been destroyed, the tattered corpses, amputated body parts and chopped bones of its inhabitants scattered around them. He passed by them in shock, pulling his donkey behind him.

When he arrived at the city’s fields, he was surprised to find them fresh and fruitful; his amazement grew since the trees were in bloom while the people were dead.

Touched by what he had seen, he said, “Praise be to God, who is able to resurrect this city and its people after what they have come to.”

He ate some grapes and figs from those trees, and filled his baskets with them. He also squeezed some grapes in a cup and drank a little.

Then he sat down to rest under the shadow of a tree. A few moments later, he died, and was concealed from the sight of the people.

Seventy years after ^Uzayr’s death, Allah sent an angel to one of Persia’s kings, saying, “God orders you to recruit your people and take them to Jerusalem to restore it, and its surrounding land, and make it better than ever.”

So the king ordered tens of thousands of people to go rebuild the city. Soon the remaining descendants of Israel returned to it, where they prospered and increased in both number and wealth.

Many years later, in fact, one hundred years after the death of ^Uzayr, Allah, with His great Power, brought him back to life, by His great Might.

^Uzayr had died in the morning and God resurrected him just before sunset.

After that long period of time, Allah first revived his heart so he could become aware of his surroundings; then He revived his eyes so he could see for himself how resurrection takes place, and thus his faith became stronger.

Gradually, ^Uzayr watched his body come back to life.

Then he was visited by an honorable angel, who asked him, “For how long do you think you have stayed dead?”

“For a day,” ^Uzayr suspected. Then, seeing that the sun had not fully set, he added, “Maybe less than a day.”

“You died for one hundred years,” the angel explained. “Yet, look at your food!”

^Uzayr looked at his fresh fruit basket and the drink in his cup, both of which were still fresh. Then the angel said, “Look at your donkey.”

He looked at the tree to which he had tied the donkey and found it dead. Its bones were white with holes in them, its limbs scattered and perished.

Then, he heard an angel’s voice from the sky saying, “O you perished bones, come together by Allah’s Will.”

The bones were joined, and every part bonded with its corresponding parts: the ribs to the matching ribs, the arms into their places, the head in its proper position.

The nerves and veins were placed, then God grew soft flesh on the donkey’s skeleton and covered it with skin that spread on the flesh, and hair sprouted from the skin.

Instantly, the donkey got up. ^Uzayr knelt on the ground in worship to Allah after he had seen an amazing and stunning sign of Allah’s Power, which is resurrecting the dead.

^Uzayr said, “I believe that God has the Power over everything.”

At the time that ^Uzayr left his home a hundred years earlier, he was a strongly built, black-haired, forty-year-old man. He also had a pregnant wife whom he had left behind.

So after he died, his wife had a baby boy, who was one hundred years old at the time of his father’s return to life.

^Uzayr rode to where he used to live, on his donkey. But he couldn’t recognize anybody from his family, and they didn’t recognize him either.

Many people had died, and many more had been born, since his departure.

He went to his house, where he found a handicapped, blind old woman who had been his twenty-year-old housemaid.

He asked her, “Is this ^Uzayr’s house?”

She replied “Yes,” while crying, and said, “^Uzayr left tens of years ago and people have forgotten about him. I haven’t met anyone who has mentioned him in a long time until now.”

He declared, “I am ^Uzayr! I died for a hundred years, and now Allah has resurrected me.”

She was surprised by what she had heard. After a moment, she said, “^Uzayr was a pious man whose prayers were answered. Whenever he asked God to heal a patient or a troubled person, God answered his prayers.

“So ask God to give me back my health and to return my sight.”

^Uzayr did, and she instantly had sharp vision, a bright young face, and a healthy appearance. She was even able to get up on her feet as though she never had a handicap, saying, “I believe that you are indeed ^Uzayr.”

She took him and went off to the Israelites, amongst whom were his children and grandchildren, whose hair and beards had become white with age.

Some were already fifty and others were almost eighty years old. Some of his friends were still alive, but their bodies were wilted and their backs bent.

The old woman cried, “God has returned ^Uzayr, whom you had lost one hundred years ago, with a good health and the stride of a perfect young man!”

^Uzayr looked handsome, strong, with muscles and black hair. Nobody recognized him and they therefore wanted to test him.

His son approached him and said, “My mother used to tell me that my father had a black crescent-shaped mole between his shoulders, so show us.”

^Uzayr revealed his back and showed them his mole. Yet, they wanted to be even surer. So, an older man tested his honesty saying, “Our ancestors told us that when Bukhtanassar attacked Jerusalem, he burnt the Torah, and there were only a remaining few who memorized it by heart.

“One of them was ^Uzayr. So if you were ^Uzayr, recite what you have memorized.”

^Uzayr got up and led them to the place where he had buried the Torah, at the time of Bukhtanassar’s attack and dug it out. The cloth with which it was wrapped had become partly ragged.

He handed the book to the Israelites and sat down under a tree, reciting it as they followed along in the book itself. He recited the whole Torah without leaving out a single verse or changing a single letter.

Upon witnessing that, they believed him, shook his hand, and touched him, seeking his blessings. But later, many Jews, due to their arrogance, instead of becoming more faithful, disgracefully blasphemed by saying, “^Uzayr is the son of God.”

We seek refuge with Allah from that.