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.
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
June 25, 1982
(Muslim Journal/A.M. Journal/Muhammad Speaks)
THE TERM “Jahcubite” is a term that I coined. If you run into “Jacobite” in the encyclopedia or in the history books, don’t confuse that Jacobite with the term that I coined—Jahcubite. I coined this term “Jahcubite” for the community. When I coined the term “Jahcubite,” I was thinking of the cub lion. You know “lion” and “jah” is a name for god, hence “jah-cubs”-cubs-lion, “Jahcubite.” In other words, the little lion of god — the little cubs, not the big lion. Actually, I was thinking of people who try to imitate the big Satan and do a worse job than they would if they consulted the big Satan. I would call Jahcubites reckless people with scripture, reckless people with cultural knowledge. Scripture tells us that Jews were notorious for that. The renegade Jews, the devil Jews, were notorious for that kind of thing. History tells us that these Jews were condemned by the Jewish community. The Jewish community disowned them and said they had no authority to do those kind of things. There is a story about Jacobites in history. I learned of this after I chose the term “Jahcubites,” Actually the word “Yacub” inspired me to search for a people who would be Jacub or Jacub-like, and give them a new name so that we wouldn’t be hung up in this Yacub story. I started using the term “Jahcubite” to identify people who experiment and play with Divine things and do reckless things in the world, in the life of man. I wouldn’t want them to think that when I use “Jahcubite” I’m talking about the Jews. I’ve tried to correct that several times.
Imam W. Deen Muhammad March 16, 1984 (Muslim Journal/A.M. Journal/Muhammad Speaks)