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Jacob (a)

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Jacob (a)
Name in
the Qur'an:
Ya'qub (a)
Name in
the Bible:
Place(s) of
Kan'an, Egypt
Burial place: Al-khalil, Palestine
Name of People: Israelites
Before: Joseph (a)
After: Isaac (a)
Religion: Monotheism
Age: 147
Repeat in
the Qur'an:
Jacob (a) went blind after the disappearance of his son

Jacob or Yaʿqūb (Arabic: یَعْقوب) or Israel was the son of the prophet Isaac and a grandson of the prophet Abraham. He is one of the prophets mentioned in the Qur'an. Shiite exegetes of the Qur'an take "Israel" to mean the servant of God, but according to the Torah, Jacob (a) was called so because he struggled with an angel and won. In some Islamic sources, it is appealed to the story of Joseph's (a) brothers asking Jacob (a) to intercede and ask God for their forgiveness in order to show the permissibility of tawassul to someone other than God. Some people have appealed to Jacob's (a) marrying two sisters at the same time to show the permissibility of such marriage before Islam. Jacob (a) died in Egypt at the age of 147, and according to his own will, his corpse was moved from Egypt and buried in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron in Palestine.

Character and Family

Jacob (a) was the son of Isaac (a) and a grandson of Abraham (a). He was a prophet. He went to Paddan Aram to his maternal uncle, Laban, served as a shepherd for a while and married two of his uncle's daughters. According to Quranic verses, before Islam it was permissible to marry two sisters at the same time. But according to some hadiths, Jacob (a) married the second sister after the death of the first one. He had 12 sons from his wives. Joseph (a) and Benjamin were born from Rachel. According to the Qur'an, Jacob (a) went blind after the disappearance of his son, Joseph (a), because he cried for many years: "And he turned away from them and said, "Oh, my sorrow over Joseph," and his eyes became white from grief, for he was [of that] a suppressor." (Sura Yusuf: 84).[1]

Annunciation of Jacob's (a) Birth

According to the Qur'an, the birth of Isaac and Jacob (a) was annunciated to Abraham (a): "And We gave to Abraham (a), Isaac (a) and Jacob (a) - all [of them] We guided" (Sura al-An'am: 84).[2] The Qur'an mentions "Ya'qub (a)" (Jacob) 16 times in 10 Suras of the Qur'an. And "Isra'il" (Israel) is mentioned twice in Sura Al 'Imran and Sura Maryam. In his Majma' al-bayan, al-Tabrisi takes "Isra'il" to be the same person as "Ya'qub (a)", adding that "Isra" means a servant, and "'Il" means God, and so the term means the servant of God. The Qur'an also mentions the story of Jacob's (a) children and his intercession for them to ask for God's forgiveness: "And if, when they wronged themselves, they had come to you, [O Muhammad], and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Accepting of repentance and Merciful" (Sura al-Nisa: 64).[3]

Jacob's Complaint to God

According to Shiite hadiths, Jacob (a) suffered a separation from his son, Joseph (a), because he and his family ignored the begging of a hungry poor man. According to other hadiths, Jacob (a) was very patient, citing a supplication by Jacob (a) according to which: "I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah, and I know from Allah that which you do not know" (Sura Yusuf: 86).[4] And "the most fitting patience" is interpreted as taking one's complaints to God, rather than people, just as Jacob (a) did.

Israel of the Torah

The Torah reports different stories about Jacob (a). According to one such story, Jacob (a) was known as "Israel" because after struggling with a divine angel he was told: "What is your name?" He said, "Jacob (a). And He said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed." (Genesis 32: 27-29).

Death and the Burial Place

After finding his son Joseph (a), Jacob (a) immigrated to Egypt where he lived for a while. Before his death, he gathered his children and recommended them to persist on the religion of their ancestor, Abraham (a), and asked them to bear witness to the Abrahamic religion. He died at the age of 147, and per his will, his corpse was moved to Palestine and was buried in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron.


  1. قالَ يا أَسَفى‏ عَلى‏ يُوسُفَ وَ ابْيَضَّتْ عَيْناهُ مِنَ الْحُزْنِ فَهُوَ كَظيم
  2. وَ وَهَبْنَا لَهُ إِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ ۚ كُلًّا هَدَيْنَا
  3. لَوْ أَنَّهُمْ إِذْ ظَلَمُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ جاؤُكَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا اللَّهَ وَ اسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُمُ الرَّسُولُ لَوَجَدُوا اللَّهَ تَوَّاباً رَحيماً
  4. قَالَ إِنَّمَا أَشْكُو بَثِّي وَحُزْنِي إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَأَعْلَمُ مِنَ اللَّـهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ