No one before him has the same name, Maryam 19.7.
YUSUFALI: (His prayer was answered): “O Zakariya! We give thee good news of a son: His name shall be Yahya: on none by that name have We conferred distinction before.”
PICKTHAL: (It was said unto him): O Zachariah! Lo! We bring thee tidings of a son whose name is John; we have given the same name to none before (him).
However, we read of a Johanan in 1 Kings 25:23, 1 Chronicles 3:15, 24, 6:9, 10, Ezra 8:12, etc. In fact, there are 27 instances of the name “Johanan” mentioned in the Old Testament. The Hasmonean Dynasty ruled Palestine in the century before John the Baptist appeared on the scene. Palestine at that time was very Hellenized and Greek became the main language. One of the priest-king of the Hasmonean Dynasty was John Hyrcanus, well attested to in many historical and classical sources. Josephus talks about a John the Essene who served as a general of the rebel force in Timna (Jewish War, 2.125). 1 Maccabees 2:1 tells us of “Mattathias son of John son of Simeon”. Mattathias also has a son called John (1 Maccebees 2:2). John’s brother, Judas, led the Jews in rebellion against Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Simon also has a son named John (1 Maccebees 16:19). All these Johns lived before John the Baptist. John was indeed a very common name.
Yusuf Ali, however, translates this verse as:
“on none by that name have We conferred distinction before.”
His explanation is that “… for we read of a Johanan … in Kings 25:23.” In other words, Yusuf Ali know that the verse is historically incorrect, and therefore changed the translation, or that he thought that the Quran verse does not mean what it literally means? How can one take such liberty in translation? And in doing so, it casts a great deal of doubt upon the accuracy of his translations and his intentions.