Israeel and Bani Israeel

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

17:2-3  وَآتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلْنَاهُ هُدًى لِّبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَلَّا تَتَّخِذُوا مِن دُونِي وَكِيلًا  ذُرِّيَّةَ مَنْ حَمَلْنَا مَعَ نُوحٍ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ عَبْدًا شَكُورًا

And We gave Moosa, Al-Kitab (The Book) and We made it a guidance for Bani-Israeel (Children of Israeel), that you do not hold fast to an advocate other than Me.  (Children of Israel) are the off springs of those whom We carried with Nooh/Noah, surely he was a thankful servant.

From the above ayahs of Al-Quran, we come to know that Bani-Israeel are the off-spring of those who were carried with Nooh/Noah (a.s). Those who were carried with Nooh, are therefore Israeel. Therefore as defined by Quran, Israeel is a person/group who were in the Ark associated with prophet Nooh (a.s). Biblical beliefs which have crept into Muslim faith, make people believe that Israeel means Yaqoob (a.s), however, this is not stated in Quran. Instead Quran clearly defines Israeel from the above two ayahs. Also, common perception of people when they read the term ‘Bani Israeel’ in Quran, they take it for people labeled as ‘Jews’ in the world today. In this post, we will review from ayahs of Quran, what does the term ‘Bani Israeel’ mean as per character traits and description given in Quran.

3:93  كُلُّ الطَّعَامِ كَانَ حِلًّا لِّبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِلَّا مَا حَرَّمَ إِسْرَائِيلُ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تُنَزَّلَ التَّوْرَاةُ ۗ قُلْ فَأْتُوا بِالتَّوْرَاةِ فَاتْلُوهَا إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

All food was lawful to the Children of Israeel, except what Israeel made unlawful for itself, before the Taurat/Law was revealed. Say. “Bring the Taurat/Law and recite it, if you are truthful.”

Ayat 5:44 states that All prophets of Allah command with Al-Taurat/The Law (an attribute of Al-Kitab). Israeel the person/group who had first hand interaction with the prophet of Allah, had earlier self imposed inhibition with certain foods which were actually lawful to them, before Taurat was clarified to them. The Prophet clarifies for them the commands of Allah, and orders them with Taurat/(The Law/Attribute of Al-Kitab) and removes these self imposed yokes from the people (7:157 وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالْأَغْلَالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ…  )

In the above Ayat the word ‘ نَفْسِهِ  seems to refer to the Nafs/psyche of a single person implying that Israeel is a single person, however, it is possible that Israel implies a group and the singular reference is for that group. When a group as a whole is mentioned the singular ref/zameer is used for it, though it is actually is a group e.g Yahood, Nasara, Ulama, etc.

45:16  وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ وَرَزَقْنَاهُم مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ

And without doubt, We gave Bani Israeel / Childern of Israel,  Al-Kitab / The Book & Al-Hukm / The Command & An-Nubuowah / The Prophecy & We gave them sustenance from the good and We have favoured them over the worlds.

So, Bani Israeel are the offspring of those who were in the Ark with prophet Nooh (a.s), and prophet commanded with the Book of Allah. These offspring of Israeel, as long as they hold fast to the Book, the Commandment and Prophet-hood, they are bestowed bounties and given a  prestigious position by Allah, in the World. Those people who don’t have the Book of Allah, His Commandments, nor they believe in all the Prophets, can not be deemed as Bani-Israeel.

Which Al-Kitab/The Book was given to Bani Israeel? When Quran mentions ‘The Book’ Al-Kitab, that is the same book as mentioned in Ayat 2:2 ( ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ )

10:90 وَجَاوَزْنَا بِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْبَحْرَ فَأَتْبَعَهُمْ فِرْعَوْنُ وَجُنُودُهُ بَغْيًا وَعَدْوًا ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا أَدْرَكَهُ الْغَرَقُ قَالَ آمَنتُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا الَّذِي آمَنَتْ بِهِ بَنُو إِسْرَائِيلَ وَأَنَا مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

We took the Bani Israeel/Children of Israeel across the Sea: Pharaoh and his army followed them in insolence and spite. Until when he realized the doom/drowning, he said: “I believe that there is no god except Him Whom the Children of Israeel believe in: I am of those who are Muslims/Submitters.

Bani Israeel are the Muslims/submitters as long as following the Prophet. Pharaoh’s wish before being doomed was that ‘I believe with the Bani Israeel and I am with the Muslims’. 

2:83  وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ لَا تَعْبُدُونَ إِلَّا اللَّهَ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَقُولُوا لِلنَّاسِ حُسْنًا وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ ثُمَّ تَوَلَّيْتُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِّنكُمْ وَأَنتُم مُّعْرِضُونَ

When We took a covenant with the Bani-Israeel/Children of Israel that you will serve none but Allah and be good with your parents and with relatives and the orphan and the needy and say to mankind good words and establish Salah/Prayer and give Zakat/Justification then except few from you, turn away avoiding it.

Allah’s covenant with Bani Israeel is to serve none but Allah, be good to parents, relatives, orphans, poor and be fair to mankind. To establish prayers and give zakat/charity. However, very few of the Bani Israeel adhere to these injunctions.

Is it not that the above ayat applicable to those who call themselves Muslims?

2:40-41  يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَوْفُوا بِعَهْدِي أُوفِ بِعَهْدِكُمْ وَإِيَّايَ فَارْهَبُونِ  وَآمِنُوا بِمَا أَنزَلْتُ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا مَعَكُمْ وَلَا تَكُونُوا أَوَّلَ كَافِرٍ بِهِ ۖ وَلَا تَشْتَرُوا بِآيَاتِي ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا وَإِيَّايَ فَاتَّقُونِ

O Bani Israeel (Children of Israel)! remember the blessing that I have blessed over you and complete your promise with Me and I will complete My promise with you and only from Me you be afraid. And believe with what I have revealed, confirming what is with you (Al-Kitab), and you do not be the first of the rejecters with it. And you do not sell My Ayahs for a little price and only from Me, you take guard/fear.

Previously we learned that Allah has bestowed Bani Israeel with Al-Kitab, the Prophet-hood and the Command. This Ayat is reminding them to remember these blessings and believe with what is with them and do not become a rejecter with it as soon as they hear it. And do not sell Allah’s ayahs for a little price. Therefore Bani Israeel are Muslims who are commanded to believe what is with them i.e Allah Book. Bani Israeel cannot be those people who have nothing to do with Allah’s Book.

2:42 وَلَا تَلْبِسُوا الْحَقَّ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتَكْتُمُوا الْحَقَّ وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

And do not clothe the truth with falsehood, and do not hide the truth and you know it.

Further the Bani Israeel are advised not to mix the Haq/Truth with false hood. So we know that Haq/Truth is from Allah and if we mix this Haq/Truth with man made stories and in light of these man made stories we devise an understanding of ayahs of Allah which is tantamount to clothing truth with falsehood. 

2:43-44  وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَارْكَعُوا مَعَ الرَّاكِعِينَ  أَتَأْمُرُونَ النَّاسَ بِالْبِرِّ وَتَنسَوْنَ أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ تَتْلُونَ الْكِتَابَ ۚ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ

And establish Salah/Prayer and give Zakat/Justification and bow with those who bow down. Do you order people with righteousness and you forget you souls/selves and you recite Al-Kitab so do you not understand.

This Ayat addresses Bani-Israeel and states that they read Al-Kitab/the Book. Is this ayat asking Muslims to establish Salat/prayers and Zakat/Charity as they read Al-Kitab or is it addressing Jews or some other community of the World today? Common perception is that Bani Israeel means Jews. However, where do we find in Quran that Bani-Israeel means Jews? Allah’s Din/Judgment has always been Islam/Peace. All prophets of Allah convey the same message. The nations of all prophets who truly follow them actually follow the same Deen/judgement, the same religion and are actual muslim/submitters to the orders of Allah. Allah asks, don’t you people use your intellect?

5:70  لَقَدْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَأَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ رُسُلًا ۖ كُلَّمَا جَاءَهُمْ رَسُولٌ بِمَا لَا تَهْوَىٰ أَنفُسُهُمْ فَرِيقًا كَذَّبُوا وَفَرِيقًا يَقْتُلُونَ

We took Covenant with Bani-Israeel/Children of Israeel and We send to them Our messengers. Whenever comes to them a messenger with what their nafs/psyche did not desire, some they belied and some they killed.

Allah enjoined salat and zakat on Bani Israeel. In their salat, several times during the day they promise to Allah that, ‘”only You we serve and only from You, we seek help”. However, after making these promises they mix all sort of false-hood with Allah’s Deen/Judgment in the garb of religion, fiqh, sharia etc. Whenever a messenger of Allah comes to them, making clear their mixing of false hood with the truth, they belie the messenger and kill him (kill messenger’s personality, by attributing false history to the messenger, as rejecters cannot kill a messenger of Allah, physically)

5:12    فَبِمَا نَقْضِهِم مِّيثَاقَهُمْ لَعَنَّاهُمْ وَجَعَلْنَا قُلُوبَهُمْ قَاسِيَةً ۖ يُحَرِّفُونَ الْكَلِمَ عَن مَّوَاضِعِهِ ۙ وَنَسُوا حَظًّا مِّمَّا ذُكِّرُوا بِهِ ۚ وَلَا تَزَالُ تَطَّلِعُ عَلَىٰ خَائِنَةٍ مِّنْهُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِّنْهُمْ ۖ فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَاصْفَحْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

Thus because of their breaking of the covenant, We cursed them and We made their hearts hard. They maneuver the Word from its subject and they forgot the portion of what they were reminded with. And you will never cease to get news about their dishonesty barring a few of them, which will not befall you, so pardon them and bear with them, Surely Allah loves the good doers.

When Bani Israeel breaks the covenant, Allah hardens their hearts. They change the subject of the Word (of Allah) and they forget what they had been made to remember. Most of them will remain dishonest.

2:85  ثُمَّ أَنتُمْ هَٰؤُلَاءِ تَقْتُلُونَ أَنفُسَكُمْ وَتُخْرِجُونَ فَرِيقًا مِّنكُم مِّن دِيَارِهِمْ تَظَاهَرُونَ عَلَيْهِم بِالْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ وَإِن يَأْتُوكُمْ أُسَارَىٰ تُفَادُوهُمْ وَهُوَ مُحَرَّمٌ عَلَيْكُمْ إِخْرَاجُهُمْ ۚ أَفَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِبَعْضِ الْكِتَابِ وَتَكْفُرُونَ بِبَعْضٍ ۚ فَمَا جَزَاءُ مَن يَفْعَلُ ذَٰلِكَ مِنكُمْ إِلَّا خِزْيٌ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَىٰ أَشَدِّ الْعَذَابِ ۗ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ

Then, here you are, killing your Nafs/selves and expelling a group of your people from their circles, backing them with sin and enmity and if they come to us as captives, you ransom them and it was forbidden over you to expel them (in the first place). So do you believe with a portion of Al-Kitab/The Book and you reject with a portion. So the reward for one who does that amongst you is disgrace in this worldly life and on the day of judgement will return towards the severe punishment and Allah is not unaware about your doings.

This above ayat 2:85, points out to a bad characteristic trait of Bani Israeel. If some sub-groups of them differ in matters of faith with them they expel them out of their circles of faith calling them the likes of heretics in enmity. Then they try hard to bring some of the same expelled group back to their circles of faith by preaching them their ideology. A basic principle which is stated by Quran here is, if some one says I am a ‘Muslim’, no one has the right to expel him out of the circle of faith. Allah is demanding belief on the full Al-Kitab, even though some part of it is against their sectarian teachings. Common observation is that, if some one is presented with an ayat which clashes with his present belief system, he would still will give preference to his belief system and try to distort the meaning of the ayat. Thus Allah questions them that do you believe in part of the Al-Kitab/The Book and reject part of it.

2:211  سَلْ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ كَمْ آتَيْنَاهُم مِّنْ آيَةٍ بَيِّنَةٍ ۗ وَمَن يُبَدِّلْ نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ

Ask the Children of Israeel how many clear ayahs/Signs We have given them. But if any one, after Allah’s favor has come to him, substitutes (something else), Allah is severe in retribution.

How many clear signs have Allah provided to Bani-Israeel? Any who then causes distortion in these ayahs and mixes false hood with them, then Allah is sure going to punish them.

61:6  وَإِذْ قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُم مُّصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَمُبَشِّرًا بِرَسُولٍ يَأْتِي مِن بَعْدِي اسْمُهُ أَحْمَدُ ۖ فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ قَالُوا هَٰذَا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ

And when Essa/Jesus, son of Mary, said, “O Children of Israeel, I am Allah’s messenger to you, confirming the Taurat/law which is between my hands and bringing good news of a messenger to come after me named Ahmad.”  Then, when he came to them (children of israeel) with clarity (of Ayahs), they said, “This is profound magic.”

In the above ayat, messenger Essa (a.s) is addressing Bani-Israeel and giving them glad tiding of another messenger after him named ‘Ahmed’. If we ponder on this Ayat, Essa/Jesus is addressing Bani Israeel, the promise is being made to Bani Israeel of a messenger to come to them after him. Therefore this messenger should be coming to Bani-Israeel as the glad tiding was for them. Then this messenger came to whom? Obviously, he came to Bani Israeel. But when majority of Bani-Israeel will see the clear signs, they will say this is but magic/trickery/falsehood.

46:10  قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِن كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ وَكَفَرْتُم بِهِ وَشَهِدَ شَاهِدٌ مِّن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ عَلَىٰ مِثْلِهِ فَآمَنَ وَاسْتَكْبَرْتُمْ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ

Say do you see, if it is from the nearness of Allah and you reject with it, and a witness from Bani Israeel/Children of Israeel who witnessed over his example, so he believed and you seek greatness, surely Allah does not guide the people who are oppressors.”

In the ayat 61:6 above, Essa (a.s) was a messenger from Bani Israeel and he gave  witness of another messenger on his example, (i.e of another messenger coming to Bani-Israeel), however, people will still believe some other nation to be ‘Bani Israeel, looking down upon this nation.

26:197  أَوَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُمْ آيَةً أَن يَعْلَمَهُ عُلَمَاءُ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ

Is it not a an ayat/sign for them, that the scholars of the Children of Israeel know it (the Quran).

All scholars of Bani-Israeel are aware of Al-Quran, obviously as The book is given to Bani-Israeel.

Bani-Israeel differ a lot among themselves, and this Quran, shows to them a lot of things in which they differ.

27:76  إِنَّ هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ يَقُصُّ عَلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَكْثَرَ الَّذِي هُمْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ

Indeed, this Quran relates over Bani-Israeel (children of Israel) a lot in which they differ.

11:48  قِيلَ يَا نُوحُ اهْبِطْ بِسَلَامٍ مِّنَّا وَبَرَكَاتٍ عَلَيْكَ وَعَلَىٰ أُمَمٍ مِّمَّن مَّعَكَ ۚ وَأُمَمٌ سَنُمَتِّعُهُمْ ثُمَّ يَمَسُّهُم مِّنَّا عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

It was said “O Nooh! Come down (from the Ark) with peace from Us, and blessing on you and on some of the nations from those with you and (other) nations to whom We shall grant blessings, then a grievous penalty will reach them from Us.”

The nations associated with the ark of Nooh (a.s), as per Allah’s promise they are bestowed with bounties and subsequently will be held accountable for their bad deeds when they will deviate from The Book, prophet-hood and commandments of Allah.

19:58  أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِم مِّنَ النَّبِيِّينَ مِن ذُرِّيَّةِ آدَمَ وَمِمَّنْ حَمَلْنَا مَعَ نُوحٍ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّةِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْرَائِيلَ وَمِمَّنْ هَدَيْنَا وَاجْتَبَيْنَا ۚ إِذَا تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُ الرَّحْمَٰنِ خَرُّوا سُجَّدًا وَبُكِيًّا ۩

Those were among the prophets for whom Allah has blessed from the offspring of Adam and from those whom We carried with Nooh and from the offspring of Ibraheem and Israeel and from those whom We guided and We chose, when the Ayahs/signs of the Most Gracious are recited on them they fall down prostrating, weeping. {Sajda}

The ayat again mentions the nations that Allah has bestowed his bounties; the prophets from the progeny of Adam, those who were onboard with Nooh (Israeel), and the progenies of Ibrahim and Israeel.

17:4  وَقَضَيْنَا إِلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ فِي الْكِتَابِ لَتُفْسِدُنَّ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَّتَيْنِ وَلَتَعْلُنَّ عُلُوًّا كَبِيرًا

And We gave (Clear) Warning to the Children of Israeel in the Book, that twice would they do violence on the earth and be elated with mighty arrogance!

Two big World wars are promised in which Bani-Israeel would be involved.

17:5: فَإِذَا جَاءَ وَعْدُ أُولَاهُمَا بَعَثْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ عِبَادًا لَّنَا أُولِي بَأْسٍ شَدِيدٍ فَجَاسُوا خِلَالَ الدِّيَارِ ۚ وَكَانَ وَعْدًا مَّفْعُولًا

When the first of the promise came to pass, We sent against you, Our servants given to terrible warfare. They entered the very inmost parts of your circles; and it was a promise fulfilled.

In the first great war, strong fighting nations defeated Bani-Israeel and weakened their foundation.

17:7  إِنْ أَحْسَنتُمْ أَحْسَنتُمْ لِأَنفُسِكُمْ ۖ وَإِنْ أَسَأْتُمْ فَلَهَا ۚ فَإِذَا جَاءَ وَعْدُ الْآخِرَةِ لِيَسُوءُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَلِيَدْخُلُوا الْمَسْجِدَ كَمَا دَخَلُوهُ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَلِيُتَبِّرُوا مَا عَلَوْا تَتْبِيرًا

If ye did well, ye did well for yourselves; if ye did evil, (ye did it) against yourselves. So when the second of the promise came to pass, (We permitted your enemies) to disfigure your faces, and to enter the Mosque as they had entered it in the first time, and to visit with destruction all that fell into their power.

In the second big war, they destroyed your (Bani Israeel’s) power base completely and disgraced you and entered/took control of the Mosque.


An interesting lecture by Brother Mohammad Shaikh about ‘Bani-Israeel’ for identification of Bani-Israeel from verses of Quran:

(Lecture in Urdu)

One thought on “Israeel and Bani Israeel

  1. […] Ayat 7:160 gives information about Allah dividing Bani Israeel in 12 groups/Ummats  ( وَقَطَّعْنَاهُمُ اثْنَتَيْ عَشْرَةَ أَسْبَاطًا أُمَمًا  ). Ayat 5:18 informs about establishing 12 leaders in Bani Israeel. It could be that the span of an Ummat is recognized by its leader’s name, e.g Nooh’s Ummat span was 950 years so people living during that time period would be known as Nooh’s Ummat. Similarly there would be span of Ummat of Ibrahim A.S, and other leaders e.g prophet Hood, Salih, Shoaib, Suleiman A.S etc, whose exact time spans are not given. These time periods may not correspond with the generally understood time periods of these messengers as per history books or bible. For example, in order to recognize the Ummat of Prophet Suleiman, we will have to see how Quran describes that time period. Also, please see the post regarding Bani Israeel to understand this term as defined in Quran ( […]


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