Imam W. Deen Muhammad
QUESTION: Would you explain the meaning of the word "Jahcubite" as it is expressed in "Message of Concern to the American People"?
— Chicago, IL.
IMAM: In my study of the Bible I came to see that the term of Jacob is used there to identify the Prophet by that name, who later was given the name Israel.
The life of this personality in the Bible seems to have been in his early years, that of a deceiver. But it seems from the Bible that this person turned to God and turned to moral righteousness. Because of the change in his heart and his devotion to upright life, he then was given the name Israel.
We will find the same Prophet in the Quran, but we won't find him portrayed as a deceitful person or a wicked person. The Quran only has one Jacob. The name is not called Jacob, but it's the same as Jacob — it's called Yacub.
Quran has only one Yacub, and in Quran that Yacub is an honorable, upright, God-fearing person. Quran does not cast him in any unfavorable light at all. So when we use the term "Jahcubite," we are referring to the early life of Jacob in the Bible and those descendants of his who follow his early example, and not his later example.
His early example was that of a deceiver, one who is always scheming and plotting, and being plotted against, too. He seems to have been more gifted or a more intelligent person than those persons who also plotted against him.
I understand Jacob in the Bible the unfavorable character the villain — to be referring to Jews who preferred to use their own intelligence to deal with the problem of Jewish survival rather than use the guidance of God. And I still find that there are Jews in the world who follow Jacob of the Bible more than they follow Israel of the Bible.
So when we use the term Jahcubite we are referring to that kind of mind in society that will use their intelligence to devise schemes and plots rather than follow what is upright and true.
The term is also used loosely in the Bible in referring to the Jahcubite tendency in the life or in the nature of all people.
All of us have a weakness and if we do not fight against it we will find ourselves overcome by it; that is the weakness that when we are faced with great difficulties and trying to achieve something, there is a tendency to sometimes seek immoral, unlawful solutions.
I think that character is mainly to show us that even though some people give themselves to that tendency, if they afterwards turn to God with a sincere heart, God forgives them. In forgiving them He gives them a new image in the world — a new name is like giving a new image.
In the Bible, the Jahcubite personality or principle repented and became a new personality and gained a new image in the world, which is Israel.
Later, we know that even Israel fell to dishonor because it too did not keep the commandments of God and God had to rebuke Israel, punish Israel for her sins.
But that punishment was given to a people or to a leader and people who had devoted to serve God in the world. They were known as servants of God whereas Jacob in his early years was not known as a servant of God.
So when we use the term Jahcubite, we are referring to that tendency in society, in Jews —and we can't limit it to Jews —to get the victory or succeed in the world by any means necessary.