And mention [also] Our servants Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob — men of fortitude, vigorous in their worship, and insight, deep understanding of religion (a variant reading [for ‘ibādanā, ‘Our servants’] has [singular] ‘abdanā, ‘Our servant’, with Ibrāhīma as the explication thereof, and what follows as being a supplement to ‘abdanā, ‘Our servant’).
(And remember Our servants, Ibrahim, Ishaq, and Ya`qub, Ulil-Aydi wal-Absar.) meaning, righteous deeds, beneficial knowledge, strength in worship and insight. `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
(Ulil-Aydi) "Of great strength and worship;
(wal-Absar) means, understanding of the religion.'' Qatadah and As-Suddi said, "They were given strength in worship and understanding of the religion.''
(Verily, We did choose them by granting them the remembrance of the Abode.) Mujahid said, "This means: We made them strive for the Hereafter, and there is nothing else for them besides that.'' As-Suddi also said, "The remembrance of the Hereafter and striving for it.'' Malik bin Dinar said, "Allah removed the love of this world from their hearts, and singled them out for land remembrance of the Hereafter.'' Qatadah said, "They used to remind the people about the Abode of the Hereafter and to strive for it.''
(And remember Isma`il, Al-Yasa`, and Dhul-Kifl, all are among the best.) We have already discussed their characteristics and stories in detail in Surat Al-Anbiya', may peace be upon them, and there is no need to repeat it here.
(This is a Reminder) means, a reminder to those who will be reminded. As-Suddi said, "This means the Holy Qur'an.''
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The actual words in the Text mean "Those who possessed the hands and the insights." The hand, as we have explained above, implies power and capability. To describe these Prophets as "men of great power and insight" means that they were practical men: they possessed great power to obey Allah and to abstain from sin, and they had made great efforts for raising the Word of Allah in the world. "Insight" does not mean eye-sight but the vision of the heart and mind. They could sec and recognize the Truth: they did not live like the blind in the world, but they walked the straight path of guidance, in the full light of knowledge, with open eyes. In these words, there is a subtle allusion to this also that the people who commit evil, and have gone astray, arc in fact, deprived of the hands as well as the eyes. He only, who works in the cause of Allah, possesses the hands, and he, who distinguishes between the light of the Truth and the darkness of falsehood, only possesses the eyes.
That is, "The real cause for their success and eminence was that there was no tinge of-worldliness in their character: all their efforts, mental and physical, were directed towards the Hereafter. They remembered it themselves and urged others also to remember it. That is why Allah exalted them to such high ranks as have never been attained by those who remained absorbed in earning worldly wealth and prosperity. In this regard, one should also keep in view the subtle point that Allah here has only used the word ad-dar (that abode, or the real abode) for the Hereafter. This is meant to impress the truth that this world is no abode for man, but only a passage and a rest house, which man has to leave in any cast. The real abode is the abode of the Hereafter. He who works to adorn that abode is the man of insight and such a one should inevitably be a commendable person in the sight of Allah. As for him who in order to adorn his transitory abode in this rest house behaves in a way as to ruin his real abode in the Hereafter, is foolish, and naturally cannot be liked by Allah.
The Prophet AI-Yas`a has been mentioned only twice in the Qur'an, in Surah Al-An'am: 86 and here, without any detail about him; only his name appears in the chain of the Prophets. He was one of the major Prophets of Israel, belonged to Abel Meholah, a place on the river Jordan, and is well known as Elisha among the Jews and Christians. When the Prophet Elijah (peace be upon him) had taken refuge in the Sinai peninsula, he was commanded to return to Syria and Palestine for some important works, one of which was to prepare the Prophet Elisha for his successorship. Accordingly, when the Prophet Elijah came to his town, he found Elisha ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth. The Prophet Elijah passed by him and cast his mantle upon him, and he left the oxen and followed him. (I Kings, 19:15-21). He remained under training with him for 10 to 12 years. Then, when Allah recalled Elijah, he was appointed Prophet in his place. (2 Kings, oh.2). The Second Book of the Kings gives a detailed account of the Prophet Elisha (chs., 2 to 13), which shows that when the Israeli state of northern Palestine got lost in polytheism and idol-worship and moral evils, Elisha a pointed Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, king of Israel against the royal dynasty due to whose misdeeds those evils had spread in Israel. Jehu not only put an end to Baal-worship, but also condemned to death every member of the wicked family, including its children. But in spite of this reformist revolution the evils that had taken root in Israel could not be completely eradicated, and after the death of the Prophet Elisha they assumed enormous proportions; so much so that the Assyrians began to invade Samaria whenever they pleased. (For further details, see E.N. 7 of Surah Bani-Isra'il and E. N.'s 70, 71 of Surah As-Saaffat).
Dhul-Kifi also has been mentioned only twice in the Qur'an, in Al Anbiya': 85 and here. For our research about him see E.N. 81 of Al-Anbiya`.