Zakariya (Peace be upon Him) was a Prophet amongst Bani Israel. He worked as a carpenter and earned his livelihood for his family. His wife was al-Yashbi' (Peace be upon her) who belonged to the family of Prophet Harun (Peace be upon Him).
Zakariya (Peace be upon Him) was an illustrious Prophet of the Israelites. He was one of the descendants of Prophet Sulaiman (Peace be upon Him). The Prophet Zakariya (Peace be upon Him) was the patron of Mary (Peace be upon Her), the mother of Prophet Isa (Peace be upon Him). He was the trustee of Hekal. He worked as a carpenter and earned his livelihood.
The Prophet Zakariya (Peace be upon Him) kept the torch of law which was revealed on Musa (Peace be upon Him). He used to pray devotionally and preach zealously. His wife and he were the symbols of piety and righteousness. The years had taken their toll on the Prophet Zakariyah (Peace be upon Him). He was now old and bent with age, in his nineties. Despite his feebleness, he went to the worship place daily to deliver his sermons. Zakariyah (Peace be upon Him) was not a rich man, but he was always ready to help those in need. His one disappointment in life was that he had no children, for his wife was barren. This worried him, for he feared there was no one after him to carry out his work. The people needed a strong leader, for it they were left on their own, they would move away from Allah’s (Glory be to Him) teachings and change the Holy Laws to suit themselves. He was also the caretaker of Maryam (Peace be upon Him), the mother of Prophet 'Isa (Peace be upon Him). Maryam (Peace be upon Him) was the niece of his wife. Maryam’s (Peace be upon Him) mother had taken a vow during her pregnancy. She dedicating her unborn child in the service of Bait-ul Muqqadas. When Maryam (Peace be upon Him) was born she was given to her uncle, Zakariya (Peace be upon Him). Zakariya (Peace be upon Him) was also in charge of the rituals of worship as well as the upkeep of Bait-ul Muqqadas. When Maryam (Peace be upon Him) grew older, he allotted her a room inside the Mosque so that she could carry out her duties at all times.
During one of his visits to the worship place, he went to check on Mariam (Peace be upon Him), who was living in a secluded room of the worship place. He was surprised to find fresh out of season fruit in her room. Besides him, no one had entry to her room. When he inquired, she told him that the fruit was from Allah (Glory be to Him). She found it every morning. But why was he so surprised, she asked him. Did he not know that Allah (Glory be to Him) provides without measure for whom He wills? This noble girl had opened this eyes to a startling idea. Could he not ask his Lord to bless him with a child in his old age? Even if his wife was past childbearing age, nothing was impossible for his Gracious Lord! Allah (Glory be to Him) says in Qur’an: “Whenever Zakariya entered the sanctuary to (see) her, he found with her food. He said: O Marium! whence comes this to you? She said: It is from Allah. Surely Allah gives to whom He pleases without measure.”Qur’an.Surah Ale-Imran 3:37
Listening this prophet Zakariya (Peace be upon Him) prayed to his Lord. Allah (Glory be to Him) revealed: “ This is a mention of the Mercy of your Lord to His slave Zakariyah. When he called out his Lord (Allah) - a call in secret, saying: "My Lord! Indeed my bones have grown feeble, and gray hair has spread on my head, and I have never been unblest in my invocation to You, O my Lord! And Verily! I fear my relatives after me, since my wife is barren. So give me from Yourself an heir, - who shall inherit me, and inherit also the posterity of Yaqub. And make him, my Lord, one with whom You are Well-pleased!" Allah said: "O Zakariyah! Verily, We give you the glad tidings of a son. His name will be Yahya. We have given that name to none before him." He said: "My Lord! How can I have a son, when my wife is barren, and I have reached the extreme old age." He said: "So (it will be). Your Lord says, It is easy for Me. Certainly I have created you before, when you had been nothing." Zakariyah (Peace be upon Him) said: "My Lord! Appoint for me a sign." He said: "Your sign is that you shall not speak unto mankind for three nights, though having no bodily defect." Then he came out to his people from Al Mihrab (a praying place or a private room, etc.), he told them by signs to glorify Allah's Praises in the morning and in the afternoon. It was said to his son: "O Yahya! Hold fast to the Scripture (The Torah)." And We gave him wisdom while yet a child, and made him sympathetic to men as a mercy or a grant from Us, and pure from sins (Yahya) and he was righteous, and dutiful towards his parents, and he was neither an arrogant nor disobedient (to Allah or to his parents). And Salamun (Peace) on him the day he was born, the day he dies, and the day he will be raised up to life again! Qur’an.Surah Maryam 19:2-15.
Zakariya (Peace be upon Him) continued preaching the religion of Allah (Glory be to Him) even in old age. The Israelites not only ignored the teachings of Zakariya (Peace be upon Him) but tortured him also. The Prophet Zakariya (Peace be upon Him) was put to death by the Israelites. Zakariya (Peace be upon Him) had taken shelter in a tree and the Jews began to saw that part of the tree. The Prophet Zakariya (Peace be upon Him) did not even sound a single cry as his body was cut into two pieces.
Stories of the Prophets by Ibn Kathir