“And We did raise among every people a Messenger”
Jalees Ahmad, Al Hakam
Prophet Jacobas, also known as يَعْقُوب [Ya‘qub] in the Holy Quran, was the grandson of Abrahamas and the son of Isaacas. When Abrahamas and his wife, Sarahra, were given the news by two messengers (see article on Prophet Lotas for further detail of this incident, published in Al Hakam, 10 February 2023, issue 256) about the destruction of Lot’sas people, they also gave the glad tidings of a son, Isaacas, and grandson, Jacobas. This incident has also been mentioned in the previous article about Isaacas, published in Al Hakam, 24 February 2023, issue 258.
In the Holy Quran, we read of the glad tidings:
فَبَشَّرۡنٰہَا بِاِسۡحٰقَ ۙ وَمِنۡ وَّرَآءِ اِسۡحٰقَ يَعۡقُوۡبَ
“We gave her glad tidings of the birth of Isaac and, after Isaac, of Jacob.” (Surah Hud, Ch.11: V.72)
Israel is another name for Jacobas, son of Isaacas. The Bible states that this name was given to Jacobas by God later in his life:
“And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” (Genesis 32:28)
Commenting on this, the Five Volume Commentary states:
“Moreover, Israel, being an attributive name meaning ‘God’s warrior’, has been chosen to remind the Jews that, being the children of a great soldier of God, they should also behave like brave men and, throwing aside all petty considerations, should come forward and accept the Prophet whom God has raised for their own good.” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 111)
Judah, son of Jacobas
Explaining the word اليھود (al-yahud), i.e., the Jews, the Five Volume Commentary states:
“The word […] is either derived from ھاد which means, he turned to God or to the truth with repentance (Aqrab); or it is derived from يھودا (Judah) who was one of the sons of Jacobas. As the descendants of يھودا formed an independent kingdom at Jerusalem which became the religious centre of the Jews, therefore the Jewish religion came to be known as Judaism and the people professing that religion as يھود or Jews (Enc. Brit. under the word Jews).” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 209)
Jacobas abstained from certain foods
In Surah Aal-e-Imran, we read that Prophet Jacobas abstained from certain foods due to a dietary and not a religious issue.
کُلُّ الطَّعَامِ کَانَ حِلًّا لِّبَنِيۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِيۡلَ اِلَّا مَا حَرَّمَ اِسۡرَآءِيۡلُ عَلٰي نَفۡسِہٖ مِنۡ قَبۡلِ اَنۡ تُنَزَّلَ التَّوۡرٰةُ ؕ قُلۡ فَاۡتُوۡا بِالتَّوۡرٰةِ فَاتۡلُوۡہَاۤ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ صٰدِقِيۡنَ
“All food was lawful to the children of Israel, except what Israel forbade himself before the Torah was sent down. Say, ‘Bring, then, the Torah and read it, if you are truthful.’” (Surah Aal-e-Imran, Ch.3: V.94)
For personal and medical reasons, Jacobas abstained from certain foods as he suffered from sciatica [Leaman, O. (2006), The Qurʼan: an encyclopedia, London; New York: Routledge], and, therefore, for reasons relating to health and medical he barred himself from the use of the sciatic nerve as food. Though this was a personal matter, the Children of Israel followed it and inculcated it into their lives. (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 2, p. 31)
In the above-mentioned verse of the Holy Quran, Allah addresses an objection raised by the Jews during the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa regarding certain foods which they, the Jews, refrained from eating. (Al-Wahidi, Asbab al-Nuzul, Beirut: al-Maktabah al-Thaqafiyah, 1410, p. 61) This became a point of contention and dispute for some Jews who were hesitant or reluctant to accept Islam, as they believed these foods were prohibited in their faith; however, as this verse very clearly states, God clarifies that these foods were actually permissible for them to consume, and the restriction was only a personal matter for Jacobas son of Isaacas son of Abrahamas, which the Jews had arbitrarily imposed on themselves. By shedding light on this matter, Allah the All-Knowing dispels any confusion or doubts surrounding the permissibility of these foods, and reaffirms the all-encompassing nature of the Islamic teachings.
Jacobas admonishes his sons
وَوَصّٰي بِہَاۤ اِبۡرٰہٖمُ بَنِيۡہِ وَيَعۡقُوۡبُ ؕ يٰبَنِيَّ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ اصۡطَفٰي لَکُمُ الدِّيۡنَ فَلَا تَمُوۡتُنَّ اِلَّا وَاَنۡتُمۡ مُّسۡلِمُوۡنَ
“The same did Abraham enjoin upon his sons,—and so did Jacob—[saying:] ‘O my sons, truly Allah has chosen this religion for you; so let not death overtake you except when you are in a state of submission.’” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.133)
As Jacobas was the father of many, he admonished his sons and made efforts to inculcate the spirit of submission to the will of God. When we study this verse, “it becomes all the more binding on the Israelites to submit to the will of God and accept the Prophet who has come with the specific mission of إسلام i.e. submission to God’s will.” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 234)
This is an example for all fathers to adhere to. Often in the busy schedule of life, though one may take time to teach their children the values of life and talk to them about their day, one must also remind them about God and the importance of submitting to His will. This is important in this era as there is a rise in movements that are solely founded on acting based on their whims and desires. However, Islam is about submission to the will of the Creator and not to the will of the creation.
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, under the above-mentioned verse, explained that Abrahamas exhorted his sons, and likewise did Jacobas exhort his sons, to not limit their benevolence to themselves or their nation, but to expand it and include the whole world in it.
Further, explained in this is that one must, at all times, adhere to Islam as no one knows when death may come. Therefore, it is our duty to always be obedient to the Lord of all the worlds and live our lives in obedience to God Almighty.
Death came to Jacobas
اَمۡ کُنۡتُمۡ شُہَدَآءَ اِذۡ حَضَرَ يَعۡقُوۡبَ الۡمَوۡتُ ۙ اِذۡ قَالَ لِبَنِيۡہِ مَا تَعۡبُدُوۡنَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِيۡ ؕ قَالُوۡا نَعۡبُدُ اِلٰہَکَ وَاِلٰـہَ اٰبَآئِکَ اِبۡرٰہٖمَ وَاِسۡمٰعِيۡلَ وَاِسۡحٰقَ اِلٰـہًا وَّاحِدًا ۚۖ وَّنَحۡنُ لَہٗ مُسۡلِمُوۡنَ
“Were you present when death came to Jacob, when he said to his sons, ‘What will you worship after me?’ They answered, ‘We will worship thy God, the God of thy fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, the One God; and to Him we submit ourselves.’” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.134)
Before we delve, albeit briefly, into this section, this junction seems like a great opportunity to further elaborate on a point mentioned in the article about Prophet Abrahamas under the heading: “Misconception about Hazrat Abraham’sas father”.
In the above-quoted verse, we see that Jacobas, who, as stated above, is known as Israel, was the son of Isaacas, who was the son of Abrahamas. Here, despite being Jacob’sas uncle, Prophet Ishmaelas has been included among the “fathers” of the children of Jacobas. This, again, indicates that the word أب “father” can also refer to an uncle. Further, if one examines the verse, one finds that Ishmaelas was respected by the Israelites at the time, as they mention Ishmael’sas name before that of their own grandfather, Isaacas, and no mention of any other son of Abrahamas has been made.
Alluding to the verse, when we study its text, we see that it very clearly and simply signifies that submission to one God is not a new teaching introduced by Islam, but has been the belief held by virtuous and righteous people through the ages.
“In corroboration of what the Quran says about Jacob’s will to his sons, Rodwell quotes the following from the Midrash Rabbah: ‘At the time when our father Jacob quitted this world, he summoned his twelve sons and said to them, Hearken to your father Israel (Gen. 49:2). Have you any doubts in your hearts concerning the Holy One, blessed be He. They said, Hear, O Israel, our father, as there is no doubt in thy heart, so neither is there in ours. For the Lord is our God, and He is One’ (Midr. Rabbah on Gen. par. 98, and on Deut. par. 2)” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 236)
Jacob, the honourable
The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, being the best of mankind, held all prophets in great honour and respect. A study of his life highlights his respect for Abrahamas.
After marrying Hazrat Mariya al-Qibtiyyahra, the Holy Prophetsa had a son, whom, though he passed away at a young age, he named Ibrahimas.
Further, we read that the Holy Prophetsa once said:
الْكَرِيمُ ابْنُ الْكَرِيمِ ابْنِ الْكَرِيمِ ابْنِ الْكَرِيمِ يُوسُفُ ابْنُ يَعْقُوبَ بْنِ إِسْحَاقَ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ـ عَلَيْهِمُ السَّلاَم
Meaning that the honourable is the son of the honourable, the son of the honourable, i.e. Josephas, the son of Jacobas, the son of Isaacas, the son of Abrahamas. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab ahadithi l-’anbiya’, Hadith. 3382)
Jacob’sas love for Jospehas
The love that Jacobas had for his son, Josephas [Yusuf], serves as a powerful reminder and lesson for the bond between fathers and sons of today. As highlighted in the Surah Yusuf, which Allah explains to be the “most beautiful narration,” we are given a look into the life of the noble Josephas – through childhood to adulthood – and, in turn, a glimpse into Jacob’sas deep love for his honourable and noble son. This story is a testament to the unbreakable bond between a father and son, as well as trust in the Almighty Allah.