Challenging God valid?

I have came across the story of Prophet Jacob wrestling with God in the Old Testemony of the Bible several times but always felt awkward of the concept itself, didnt even try to think about it except of for sarcasm. How absured the idea of wrestling with God can be? especially when it is written that Jacob won the fight!

Not until yesterday, and thanks to Paulo Coelho, while finalize reading the last couple of pages of his novel ‘The Fifth Mountain’, I had seen the light about the wisdom behind this story.

According to Paulo’s interpretation is that God likes us to challenge his well in order to toughen us. When we decide to fight him that is when we get to see his glory. It like warriors training with their intructors. The aim it to toughen our faith in him. You have to challenge his ways in order to be sure that they are the right ones.

I am not sure how much we have this concept in Islam. I have search for a Hadith and find something close

Allah’s Apostle said, “We are more liable to be in
doubt than Abraham when he said, ‘My Lord! Show me how You give life to the
dead.” . He (i.e. Allah) slid: ‘Don’t you believe then?’ He (i.e. Abraham) said:
“Yes, but (I ask) in order to be stronger in Faith.” (2.260) And may Allah send
His Mercy on Lot! He wished to have a powerful support. If I were to stay in
prison for such a long time as Joseph did I would have accepted the offer (of
freedom without insisting on having my guiltless less declared).

Narrated Abu Huraira

It seems that Prophet Abraham had the same concept as well. Challenge you faith to make it stronger. God doesn’t want us to follow him blindly. He wants each on of us to choose his own path in life.


  1. I’m sorry that I’m giving my opinion unsolicited, but I have couple of things to say …For the story of Abraham, it’s not the same thing. He said yes (I believe) but so that my heart would be reassured. He’s not challenging God, he’s challenging his own disbeliefAs for Jacob wrestling with God, and mind you “Beating god” so that god would grant him the land of Israel (Jacob is Israel). I find that to be seriously disturbing. If a human can beat god at wrestling, how did this so called god create this universe!!? That’s a tiny god if you ask me


  2. good morning the idea it self (fighting, wrisling with god) is yes very strang… but when u think of it , yes u need to have some kind of well of ur own , to have the choise of a path.thank u arab for the good idea and i think ur working on your thoughts which is a very goodkeep it going


  3. Good post, Observer! There are many times I seek God’s blessing, as Jacob did, and don’t let go until He gives it. Not just any old blessing, but the blessing of knowing more of His character or will in a certain situation. I also believes He loves to engage us this way, as it is a necessary part of our growing to trust His perfect will, even when it seems impossible, as often in Abraham’s life.Qwaider, I don’t the context would lean toward Jacob ‘beating’ God, but God releasing him knowing at what point Jacob’s heart was really bent on wanting a blessing that was not usurped as he had stolen his brother’s earlier. And knowing a new pronouncement of God’s character “I have seen God facce-to-face and yet live” was a tremendous blessing.The thing I love about this passage is that God rewarded Jacob not only with that but with a new name, he was changed from being ‘deceiver’ to Prince with God.


  4. laylow, inshalla I will keep it going 🙂Qwaider, you are welcome to give us your opinion at my blog anytime you feel like. “If a human can beat god at wrestling, how did this so called god create this universe!!? That’s a tiny god if you ask me”This is a simple logic which is valid, but when you look at it from a different perspective where it is God’s well to be beaten in such fight to teach us a lesson then it won’t be a tiny God. I think that Jacob requested God’s blessing after the fight, not granting Israel (not sure of that thought). In the bible story, God granted him his blessing and changed his name to Israel. As of Abraham, asking God to perform a mircale is a challenge for God, not challenge for his own believe. The challenge of believe is to do so in your heart without needing a proof. Isn’t there a saying in Islam to doubt then believe? I am not sure if this is true or not, I tried to search in the Hadith for it, but couldnt find it. If anyone heard about such a Hadith please provide us with it. Kinzi, I like what you said of your seeking of God’s blessing everyday like Jacob without letting him go before giving it to you. I love the whole idea of challenging God. He doesn’t seem to want us to follow him blindly. He want’s us to search, and seek, in order to get tougher, and examine things in our hands in order to be sure of the real truth. I may not be a strong believer at this stage of my life, but maybe it is the path God wants me to follow in order to lead me to him.


  5. What an interesting concept! When I studied that story, I came across what Kinzi did- that sometimes in order for us to claim a blessing from God, we have to be assertive and grab it. I think God wants to know that we truly desire His blessings and are willing to do what it takes to get them. Also, remember that God ALLOWED Jacob to win; God could have beaten Jacob. It wasn’t that God was too weak or Jacob too strong; but it was in God’s plan that Jacob be willing to fight for the blessing. Just a thought- What blessing could God be waiting to give us, if we are wiling to claim it?


  6. You can have a million explanation to any story in the world, but then you have to be logical, you have to ask yourself the basic questions first before you go for the more moplicated ones; Does the story imply a real fight taking place? If it does, then no “deeper” context will solve the logical dilemma, if you worship a god whom you can practically beat in a wrestling match, then I guess you have to think again. But if it was all meant to come as a metaphor(which is not), then you can go for the deep and the deeper contexts, that’s what I think.


  7. There are couple of concepts to ponder upon, Belief vs Disbelief and Certainty vs faith. When you believe, that doesn’t mean absolute certainty. It means that you chose to accept a given idea as truth. Despite your uncertainty about it.However, Certainty means you know for a fact that something is true or untrue. Which also contradicts with Faith, since faith, and belief are based on accepting a reality as the right one, and disregarding your uncertainty.If you’re certain about God , there is no faith, and there is no belief. There is certainty. And this is what Jacob and Abraham before him enjoyed. While we all don’t have that luxury. We only reach certainty at death, when there is no more room for repenting.Once Certain, faith becomes unacceptable in the eyes of God, faith is based on selecting something as true.It’s a deep philosophical issue if you ask me, and as Omar said, there are always a million ways to interpret a story, but the face value of this specific one is questionable, when a Human is able to defeat “a” God, Greek mythology style.Being a faithful person, I don’t like the actual implications of that, and hate to view god as anything less than an omnipotent supreme power, Wasn’t Created, wasn’t born, had no offspring and never had an equal (“Lam Yaled, wa lam youlad, wa lam yakon lahu kufwan A7ad”)That’s the god that would undoubtedly be worth worshipping, all other metaphors are not acceptable (speaking from my personal point of view, and not projecting this onto others)


  8. Emily, very well said. This is a great lesson, to know that you should claim and work hard for what you want. In the Alchemist, Paulo says that when you want something really bad, all the world conspires around you to make it happen. Omar and Qwaider, I understand what you are saying, and yes everything can have multiple interpretationsm, I agree.But there is something that Muslims in general refuse to think off, which is that omnipotent supreme power can do anything he desires. In logical terms, anything includes ability to manifest, ability to be born, and the ability to loose a wrestling fight when he wants. Now if you look at the surface of the story of Jacob, it is definatly absurd, awkward, and yes resembles Greek mythodology style God (and I want dismiss that it can be just like that), but then, the other option is valid, if you look closer, it can be a great lesson that God planned to give humanity by loosing his fight to Jacob. Work hard, and God would abide to your desires.


  9. As I remember, we studded at school about a famous Islamic Sufi philosopher Al Gazali He says that if a day passes without me suspecting the existence of god then I have lost my faith.Another story that I recall from school days is about some people from the desert that came to prophet Mohamed feeling guilty because every night before they go to sleep they start thinking of and questioning the existence of god, and prophet Mohamed assured them that that means that they are true believers.Please if any of you has more accurate material on the examples I mentioned, provide me with it 🙂


  10. Natasha, thanks for the info. It is interesting to learn that we have such way of thinking in Islam while seeing everybody around us fear of just thinking about his faith.


  11. “work hard” and there are no guarantees.I still find it hard to believe that the creator of the universe would prefer to be seen as the weaker side of a fight. For one thing, most people would stop and say, hey! This thing can’t be god, god is invincible! If he’s not, then how would he come and assist me in need. don’t you think?Yes Natasha and Observer, this is a well known fact, unfortunately, many people like to look at things at face value and prefer to instill fear instead of true understanding … specifically in the soul of the text


  12. I understand Qwiader what are you talking about how absurd the idea sounds. But one can try to look at the potential wisdom behind it. As I said before, in concept God is capable of doing anything, and if his well is to appear weak to teach us something, then why can’t it happen? In another aspect which would be a bit phylosophical, God is everything. In logic terms, everything contains weakness. A weak side that doesn’t eat of his holiness.


Do you have something to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s