Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:132-134)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie
Islam, the Religion of all Divine Prophets– Part II
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
وَمَن يَرْغَبُ عَن مِّلَّةِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِلَّا مَن سَفِهَ نَفْسَهُ وَلَقَدِ اصْطَفَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَإِنَّهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ لَمِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ ﴿١٣٠﴾ إِذْ قَالَ لَهُ رَبُّهُ أَسْلِمْ قَالَ أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿١٣١﴾ وَوَصَّى بِهَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بَنِيهِ وَيَعْقُوبُ يَا بَنِيَّ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ اصْطَفَى لَكُمُ الدِّينَ فَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ ﴿١٣٢﴾ أَمْ كُنتُمْ شُهَدَاءَ إِذْ حَضَرَ يَعْقُوبَ الْمَوْتُ إِذْ قَالَ لِبَنِيهِ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن بَعْدِي قَالُوا نَعْبُدُ إِلَـهَكَ وَإِلَـهَ آبَائِكَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ إِلَـهًا وَاحِدًا وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ ﴿١٣٣﴾ تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبْتُمْ وَلَا تُسْأَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿١٣٤﴾
Translation: 2:130 And who turns away from the religion of Ibrahim except one who makes a fool of himself. And We had chosen him in this world, and indeed he, in the Hereafter, will be among the righteous.
2:131 When his Lord said to him, “Submit”, he said “I have submitted to the Lord of the worlds.”
2:132 And Ibrahim and Ya’qub enjoined their children to it (submission to Allah (SWT)- the Lord of worlds); each said to their children, “O my children, indeed Allah has chosen for you the religion (which is Islam and Islam means submission to God), so do not die except while you are Muslims [in submission to Him].”
2:133 Were you witnesses when death approached Ya’qub (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, Ibrahim and Ismael and Ishaq – one God. And we are Muslims [in submission to Him].”
2:134 That was a nation who has passed away. They will receive [the consequence of] what they earned, and you will face consequences of what you have earned. And you will not be asked about what they used to do.
Commentary: Many divine messengers were sent to mankind throughout history; their core message was to call people to submit to Allah’s commands and will. The Quran calls this divine religion Islam [Al-i-Imran 3:19 (إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِندَ اللَّـهِ الْإِسْلَامُ)] and Islam literally means “submission to the will of Allah (SWT)”. Adherents of Islam are called Muslims. With this definition, all messengers of Allah (SWT) were therefore Muslim and are united under the umbrella of Islam.
Nevertheless, nations tried to manipulate Islam to fit their own worldly benefits by naming the divine religion differently than what Allah (SWT) called it. For instance, Prophet Musa (AS) and Isa (AS) came to the Children of Israel and called them to worship the Lord of the universes and submit to His commands. Later on, the followers of this religion coined it as Judaism and Christianity, respectively. However, it is critical to note that God did not call His religion Christianity, nor did Prophet Isa (AS) coin his message after this name. This was echoed in the discourse between Prophet Ibrahim and Yaqub and their children when death approached them.
Although the Quran acknowledges all the divine prophets and their books, it nevertheless avows that Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) brought the last and final divine message.
Prophet Ibrahim’s Discourse with his Children: Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.) and Prophet Ya’qub (A.S.) cared deeply for the wellbeing of their children, as any set of parents would do. In the last moments of their life, they told their children that Allah (SWT) had chosen for them the religion of Islam [(إِنَّ اللَّـهَ اصْطَفَى لَكُمُ الدِّينَ)] and enjoined them to live with a submissive heart full of faith to the will of Allah (SWT), [(فَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ)]:
وَوَصَّى بِهَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بَنِيهِ وَيَعْقُوبُ يَا بَنِيَّ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ اصْطَفَى لَكُمُ الدِّينَ فَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ ﴿١٣٢﴾
2:132 And Ibrahim enjoined his sons [to do the same] and [so did], Ya’qub [saying], “O my sons, indeed Allah has chosen for you this religion, so do not die except while you are Muslims.”
The Jews of Medina disputed the Quran and proclaimed that Prophet Ya’qub enjoined his children to Judaism, not Islam. The Quran refutes their accusations by asking them a hypothetical question: did they witness the conversation between Prophet Ya’qub and his children [(أَمْ كُنتُمْ شُهَدَاءَ إِذْ حَضَرَ يَعْقُوبَ الْمَوْتُ)]?
The verse continues and asserts that when death approached Ya’qub [(إِذْ حَضَرَ يَعْقُوبَ الْمَوْتُ)], “He asked his children; what would they worship after him?” [(إِذْ قَالَ لِبَنِيهِ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن بَعْدِي)]. They replied that they would worship his God and the God of his fathers; Ibrahim. Ismael and Ishaq. Furthermore, they emphasized that they would believe in one God and only to Him they do submit, [(إِلَـهًا وَاحِدًا وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ)].
أَمْ كُنتُمْ شُهَدَاءَ إِذْ حَضَرَ يَعْقُوبَ الْمَوْتُ إِذْ قَالَ لِبَنِيهِ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن بَعْدِي قَالُوا نَعْبُدُ إِلَـهَكَ وَإِلَـهَ آبَائِكَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ إِلَـهًا وَاحِدًا وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ ﴿١٣٣﴾
2:133 Or were you witnesses when death approached Ya’qub (Jacob), when he said to his sons, “What will you worship after me?” They said, “We will worship your God and the God of your fathers, Ibrahim and Ismael and Ishaq – one God. And we are Muslims [in submission] to Him.”
The final point to emphasize is that every individual is responsible for his or her actions. Neither family ties nor blood relations can shelter one from the consequences of their misdeeds. This includes the Children of Israel.
Prophet Ya’qub and his children constituted the early nation of the Children of Israel. They themselves were solely responsible for their deeds and actions [(تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ)]; the later generations of Israelites would not be responsible for what their ancestors did [(وَلَا تُسْأَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ)]. Similarly, the contemporary generation of Israelites are accountable for only their actions. This holds true for every nation, including the nation of Islam.
اللَّهُمَّ أَحْسِنْ عَاقِبَتَنَا فِي الْأُمُورِ كُلِّهَا وَأَجِرْنَا مِنْ خِزْيِ الدُّنْيَا وَعَذَابِ الْآخِرَة
2:132 [وَوَصَّى] and enjoined [بِهَا] to it [إِبْرَاهِيمُ] Abrahim [بَنِيهِ] his sons [وَيَعْقُوبُ] and Jacob [يَا بَنِيَّ], [إِنَّ] indeed [اللَّـهَ] Allah (SWT) [اصْطَفَى] has chosen [لَكُمُ] for you [الدِّينَ] the true religion [فَلَا] then not [تَمُوتُنَّ] you die [إِلَّا] but [وَأَنتُم] you are [مُّسْلِمُونَ] Muslims (who have unto Him)
2:133 [أَمْ] or [كُنتُمْ] were you [شُهَدَاءَ] witness [إِذْ] when [حَضَرَ] came [يَعْقُوبَ] to Jacob [الْمَوْتُ] the death [إِذْ] when [قَالَ] he said [لِبَنِيهِ] to his sons [مَا] what [تَعْبُدُونَ] will you worship [مِن بَعْدِي] after me, [قَالُوا] they said [نَعْبُدُ] we will worship [إِلَـهَكَ] your God [وَإِلَـهَ] and God [آبَائِكَ] of your father [إِبْرَاهِيمَ] Abrahim [وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ] and Ismaeel [وَإِسْحَاقَ] and Isaac [إِلَـهًا] God [وَاحِدًا] One[وَنَحْنُ] and we [لَهُ] to Him are submissive[مُسْلِمُونَ]
2:134 [تِلْكَ] that was a [أُمَّةٌ] nation [قَدْ خَلَتْ] that has passed away [لَهَا] for them [مَا] what [كَسَبْتُمْ] you earn [وَلَا تُسْأَلُونَ] and not you will be asked [عَمَّا] on what [كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ] they used to do