Jacob in the Quran is one of the great prophets of God who was the son of Isaac and the grandson of Ibrahim, peace be upon them. Jacob had many sons including Joseph whom he loved a lot. Jacob had another name, Israel, and his children and descendants are known as the Children of Israel. In this article on Islam4u, we will take a look at:
Who is Jacob in the Quran
Jacob (یَعقوب) in the Quran, who is also known as Israel (اسرائیل), was a great prophet of God who came after Prophet Isaac and God mentions his name 16 times in the Quran. In fact, Jacob was Isaac’s son and Prophet Ibrahim’s grandson. His descendants came to be known as the Children of Israel. Interestingly, God gives the good news of both Isaac and Jacob to Ibrahim and his wife in the Quran:
وَامْرَأَتُهُ قَائِمَةٌ فَضَحِكَتْ فَبَشَّرْنَاهَا بِإِسْحَاقَ وَمِن وَرَاءِ إِسْحَاقَ يَعْقُوبَ ﴿71﴾
His wife, standing by, laughed as We gave her the good news of [the birth of] Isaac, and of Jacob, after Isaac. 1
God would reveal His messages to Jacob and he would follow them. God mentions his name alongside other prophets who received revelation:
إِنَّا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ كَمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ نُوحٍ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ مِن بَعْدِهِ ۚ وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ وَعِيسَىٰ وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُونُسَ وَهَارُونَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ ۚ وَآتَيْنَا دَاوُودَ زَبُورًا ﴿163﴾
We have indeed revealed to you as We revealed to Noah and the prophets after him, and [as] We revealed to Abraham and Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, Jesus and Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon—and We gave David the Psalms— 2
Jacob in the Quran’s Advice to His Sons
Jacob advised his sons to believe in one God, and not to die unless they have submitted themselves fully to God:
وَوَصَّىٰ بِهَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بَنِيهِ وَيَعْقُوبُ يَا بَنِيَّ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ اصْطَفَىٰ لَكُمُ الدِّينَ فَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ ﴿132﴾
Abraham enjoined this [creed] upon his children, and [so did] Jacob, [saying], ‘My children! Allah has indeed chosen this religion for you; so do not die except as those who have surrendered themselves [to Allah]. 3
Jacob in the Quran: Israel Forbids Certain Things for Himself
Prophet Jacob lived at a time when God had not revealed the Torah yet. Therefore, God would send revelation to Jacob and tell him what is right and wrong and what must be allowed and forbidden. The Quran states this fact:
کُلُّ الطَّعَامِ كَانَ حِلًّا لِّبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِلَّا مَا حَرَّمَ إِسْرَائِيلُ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تُنَزَّلَ التَّوْرَاةُ ۗ قُلْ فَأْتُوا بِالتَّوْرَاةِ فَاتْلُوهَا إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ ﴿93﴾
All food was lawful to the Children of Israel except what Israel had forbidden himself before the Torah was sent down. Say, ‘Bring the Torah, and read it, if you are truthful.’ 4
Jacob in the Quran: His Love for Joseph
Prophet Jacob had many sons from his many wives. Joseph was from his wife Rachel (راحيل). After a few years after Joseph’s birth, Rachel conceived Benjamin and died while giving birth. Therefore, Joseph and Benjamin were left with no mother. Jacob very much loved these two sons of his because they had no mother and needed more compassion and sympathy. Moreover, Jacob knew that Joseph was to become a great prophet. That is why he loved him even more. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him and planned to kill him. However, they eventually decided to throw him in a well.
Jacob in the Quran: His Longing for Joseph
Joseph was brought out of the well and sold to a caravan that was going to Egypt. They sold him as a slave boy to one of the officials of the Egyptian king whom the Quran calls ‘Azīz (عَزيز). Jacob was very sad that he could no longer see Joseph, but was not sure that he was dead, as his brothers did not bring his body to him. As a result, Jacob became attached to Benjamin who was Joseph’s full brother.
Meanwhile, Joseph grew up in the palace of the ‘Aziz and God raised him to prophethood. When Joseph became the treasurer of Egypt, his brothers went to see him. All of the brothers went except Benjamin. Therefore, Joseph told his brothers who had not yet recognized him that he will not give them grain if they do not bring Benjamin with them.
Benjamin is Taken to Egypt
Therefore, the sons of Jacob convinced their father to take Benjamin along with them to Egypt. Then, Joseph devised a plan to keep Benjamin. He put the cup of the king in his sack. Therefore, when they were leaving to go back home, the Egyptian cavalries stopped the caravan and said one of them is a thief of the king’s cup. As a result, they checked the sacks of all of them and found the cup in Benjamin’s sack. Therefore, they said his punishment is that he must be kept. The brothers then went to their father and told him how they kept Benjamin. This is when Jacob cried so much that he went blind. The Quran states in this regard:
وَتَوَلَّىٰ عَنْهُمْ وَقَالَ يَا أَسَفَىٰ عَلَىٰ يُوسُفَ وَابْيَضَّتْ عَيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْحُزْنِ فَهُوَ كَظِيمٌ ﴿84﴾
He turned away from them and said, ‘Alas for Joseph!’ His eyes had turned white with grief, and he choked with suppressed agony. 5
Jacob in the Quran Is Healed of His Blindness
Then the brothers once again go to Egypt to bring grain to Canaan and take back their brother. This time Joseph introduces himself and tells them to go back and bring Jacob and his entire family to Egypt. Then Joseph gives his shirt to them so they rub it on Jacob’s eyes so that he would regain his sight. While on their way, Jacob sensed the scent of Joseph:
وَلَمَّا فَصَلَتِ الْعِيرُ قَالَ أَبُوهُمْ إِنِّي لَأَجِدُ رِيحَ يُوسُفَ ۖ لَوْلَا أَن تُفَنِّدُونِ ﴿94﴾
As the caravan set off, their father said, ‘I sense the scent of Joseph, if you will not consider me a dotard.’ 6
So he rubbed it on his eyes and regained his sight:
فَلَمَّا أَن جَاءَ الْبَشِيرُ أَلْقَاهُ عَلَىٰ وَجْهِهِ فَارْتَدَّ بَصِيرًا ۖ قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُل لَّكُمْ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مِنَ اللَّـهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿96﴾
When the bearer of good news arrived, he cast it on his face, and he regained his sight. He said, ‘Did I not tell you, ‘‘I know from Allah what you do not know?’’ ’ 7
Jacob Moves to Egypt
So Joseph and Jacob reunite in Egypt. Joseph respects his father and says:
فَلَمَّا دَخَلُوا عَلَىٰ يُوسُفَ آوَىٰ إِلَيْهِ أَبَوَيْهِ وَقَالَ ادْخُلُوا مِصْرَ إِن شَاءَ اللَّـهُ آمِنِينَ ﴿99﴾
When they entered into the presence of Joseph, he set his parents close to himself, and said, ‘Welcome to Egypt, in safety, God willing!’
وَرَفَعَ أَبَوَيْهِ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ وَخَرُّوا لَهُ سُجَّدًا ۖ وَقَالَ يَا أَبَتِ هَـٰذَا تَأْوِيلُ رُؤْيَايَ مِن قَبْلُ قَدْ جَعَلَهَا رَبِّي حَقًّا ۖ وَقَدْ أَحْسَنَ بِي إِذْ أَخْرَجَنِي مِنَ السِّجْنِ وَجَاءَ بِكُم مِّنَ الْبَدْوِ مِن بَعْدِ أَن نَّزَغَ الشَّيْطَانُ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ إِخْوَتِي ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي لَطِيفٌ لِّمَا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ ﴿100﴾
And he seated his parents high upon the throne, and they fell down prostrate before him. He said, ‘Father! This is the fulfillment of my dream of long ago, which my Lord has made come true. He was certainly gracious to me when He brought me out of the prison and brought you over from the desert after that Satan had incited ill feeling between me and my brothers. Indeed my Lord is all-attentive in bringing about what He wishes. Indeed He is the All-knowing, the All-wise.’ 8
Ultimately, the Children of Israel live in Egypt for a long time. However, they become downtrodden and soon lose their once high status among the Egyptians, all the way until Moses is born. At that time, God delivers them.
Jacob in the Quran: In His Deathbed
While Jacob was about to die, he wanted to remind his children of God and that they must only submit themselves to him. So he asked them:
أَمْ كُنتُمْ شُهَدَاءَ إِذْ حَضَرَ يَعْقُوبَ الْمَوْتُ إِذْ قَالَ لِبَنِيهِ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن بَعْدِي قَالُوا نَعْبُدُ إِلَـٰهَكَ وَإِلَـٰهَ آبَائِكَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ إِلَـٰهًا وَاحِدًا وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ ﴿133﴾
Were you witnesses when death approached Jacob, when he said to his children, ‘What will you worship after me?’ They said, ‘We will worship your God and the God of your fathers, Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac, the One God, and to Him do we submit.’ 9
Prophet Jacob was a great prophet of God who was sent to the people of Canaan. He had a very large family of 12 sons and one daughter. His son Joseph was also a great prophet who succeeded him and became the ‘Aziz of Egypt. Jacob told his children to worship one God while in his deathbed and to submit themselves fully to God.
- Quran 11:71 (Qara’i).
- Quran 4:163 (Qara’i).
- Quran 2:132 (Qara’i).
- Quran 3:93 (Qara’i).
- Quran 12:84 (Qara’i).
- Quran 12:94 (Qara’i).
- Quran 12:96 (Qara’i).
- Quran 12:99-100 (Qara’i).
- Quran 2:133 (Qara’i).
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