Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Then Allah mentioned the dispute among the Jews concerning the religion of Abraham, saying: (Or were ye witnesses) or were you, O assembly of Jews, present (when death came to Jacob) regarding what he enjoined his children, i.e. whether he enjoined them to follow Judaism or Islam, (when he said unto his sons: What will ye worship after me?) after I die? (They said: We shall worship thy God) we worship, (the God of your fathers, Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, one God) i.e. we worship one God, (and unto Him we have surrendered) we acknowledge to worship Him and declare that there is only one true God.
When the Jews said to the Prophet (s), ‘Do you not know that on the day of his death Jacob charged his sons with Judaism?’, the following was revealed: Or, were you witnesses, present, when death came to Jacob? When (idh, ‘when’, substitutes for the preceding idh) he said to his sons, ‘What will you worship after me?’, after I die?; They said, ‘We will worship your God and the God of your fathers Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac (in recognition of the predominant [mention of the father figures] Ishmael is also counted as a father, and also because the status of an uncle is akin to that of a father), One God (ilāhan wāhidan, ‘One God’, substitutes for ilāhaka, ‘your God’), to Him we submit’ (the initial am [of the phrase am kuntum, ‘Or, were you …’] is similar to the hamza of denial [sc. a-kuntum], the sense being, ‘You were not present at his death, so how do you ascribe to him what does not befit him?’).
[Or, were you witnesses when death came to Jacobḍ When he said to his sons, 'What will you worship after meḍ' They said, 'We will worship your God and the God of your fathers Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, One God, to Him we submit'.]
Ya`qub's Will and Testament to His Children upon His Death
This Ayah contains Allah's criticism of the Arab pagans among the offspring of Isma`il as well as the disbelievers among the Children of Israel Jacob the son of Isaac, the son of Ibrahim. When death came to Jacob, he advised his children to worship Allah alone without partners. He said to them,
("What will you worship after me'' They said, "We shall worship your Ilah (God ـ Allah) the Ilah of your fathers, Ibrahim, Isma`il, Ishaq,'')
Mentioning Isma`il here is a figure of speech, because Isma`il is Jacob's uncle. An-Nahas said that the Arabs call the uncle a father, as Al-Qurtubi mentioned).
This Ayah is used as evidence that the grandfather is called a father and inherits, rather than the brothers (i.e. when his son dies), as Abu Bakr asserted, according to Al-Bukhari who narrated Abu Bakr's statement from Ibn `Abbas and Ibn Az-Zubayr. Al-Bukhari then commented that there are no opposing opinions regarding this subject. This is also the opinion of `A'ishah the Mother of the believers, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Tawus and `Ata', Malik, Ash-Shaf`i and Ahmad said that the inheritance is divided between the grandfather and the brothers. It was reported that this was also the opinion of `Umar, `Uthman, `Ali, bin Mas`ud, Zayd bin Thabit and several scholars among the Salaf and later generations.
(One Ilah (God)) means, "We single Him out in divinity and do not associate anything or anyone with Him.''
وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ
(And to Him we submit), in obedience meaning, obedient and submissiveness. Similarly, Allah said,
(And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad ) but We revealed to him (saying): La ilaha illa Ana none has the right to be worshipped but I (Allah), so worship Me (alone and none else)) (21:25).
There are many other Ayat - and Hadiths - on this subject. For instance, the Prophet said,
(We, the Prophets, are brothers with different mothers, but the same religion.)
تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ
(That was a nation who has passed away) meaning, existed before your time,
لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبْتُم
(They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn).
This Ayah proclaims, Your relationship to the Prophets or righteous people among your ancestors will not benefit you, unless you perform good deeds that bring about you religious benefit. They have their deeds and you have yours,
وَلاَ تُسْـَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
(And you will not be asked of what they used to do).''
(Whoever was slowed on account of his deeds will not get any faster on account of his family lineage.)'
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The word used in the text is "aslim," that is, "become a Muslim," or "adopt the attitude of Islam" (surrender to the will of Allah). Thus a Muslim is one who surrenders himself completely to Allah and obeys Him; who acknowledges Allah alone as His Lord, Master, Sovereign, Ruler, Lawgiver and God of worship; and who adopts the way of life prescribed by Him. Islam is the religious system based on this creed and attitude. This was the religion of all the Prophets who came to different countries and different nations.
Special mention of Jacob has been made because the Israelites were his direct descendants.
The Arabic word "din" has a much wider scope than the English ward "religion".It covers life in its entirety, and no aspect of individual or community life is outside its realm.
Though Jacob's death has been described in detail in the Bible, no mention has been made of this last will of his. It, however, has been given in detail in the Talmud and its substance is more or less the same as that contained in the Qur'an: "At the time when Jacob quitted this world, he summoned his sans and said to them, 'Serve the Lord your God, and He will deliver ye from all trouble. even as He delivered your fathers..... Teach your children to love God, and observe His commandments, for God will guard those who do justly and walk in righteousness through all his ways.....' And the sons of Jacob responded, 'All that you have commanded us, our father!, we will do. May God he with us.' And Jacob answered: 'The Lord will be with ye if ye shall depart not from His ways to the right hand or the left'." The same thing about the Prophet Jacob's will has been cited by Rodwell front Midr. Rabbah, "Have ye any doubts in your hearts concerning the Holy One, Messed be He." They said, "Hear O Israel, our Father. As there is no doubt in thy heart, so neither is there in ours. For the Lord is our God, and He is One."
Or were you witnesses when death came to Jacobḍ When he said to his sons “What will you worship after meḍ” They said “We will worship your God All of them ḍ followed one way in declaring [God's] oneness tawḥīd and submission islām. They inherited that one after another from their forefathers and [they] were the people of the house of intimacy deserving of nearness and purified in truth by God. and the God of your fathers Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac One God to Him we submit.” [Jacob's sons] did not say “Our God” out of respect for [Jacob's] special status inasmuch as they accepted his superiority and saw themselves as attached to his station maqām. [Rather] they said of themselves that they were followers of [Abraham Ishmael and Isaac] when they said “and to Him we submit.”