[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And (remember) Isma'il, Idris, and Dhu al Kifl, all (men) of constancy and patience;
2741 Isma'il is mentioned specially, apart from the line which descended through Isaac (21:72), as he was the founder of a separate and greater Ummah. His sufferings began in infancy, (see n. 160 to 2:158); but his steady constancy and submission to the will of Allah were specially shown when he earned the title of "Sacrifice to Allah", (see n. 2506 to 19:54). That was the particular quality of his constancy and patience.
2742 For Idris see n. 2508 to 19:56. He was in a high station in life, but that did not spoil him. He was sincere and true, and that was the particular quality of his constancy and patience.
2743 Dhu al Kifl would literally mean "possessor of, or giving, a double requital or portion"; or else, "one who used a cloak of double thickness," that being one of the meanings of Kifl. The Commentators differ in opinion as to who is meant, why the title is applied to him, and the point of his being grouped with Isma'il and Idris for constancy and patience. I think the best suggestion is that afforded by Karsten Niebuhr in his Reisebeschreibung nach Arabien, Copenhagen , 1778,2:264-266, as quoted in the Encyclopaedia of Islam under "Dhu al Kifl". He visited Meshed 'Ah in Iraq , and also the little town called Kefil, midway between Najaf and Hillah ( Babylon ). Kefil, he says, is the Arabic form of Ezekiel. The shrine of Ezekiel was there, and the Jews came to it on a pilgrimage. If we accept "Dhu al Kifl" to be not an epithet, but an Arabicised form of "Ezekiel", it fits the context. Ezekiel was a prophet in Israel who was carried away to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar after his second attack on Jerusalem (about B.C. 599). His Book is included in the English Bible (Old Testament). He was chained and bound, and put into prison, and for a time he was dumb, (Ezekiel, 3:25-26). He bore it all with patience and constancy, and continued to reprove boldly the evils in Israel . In a burning passage he denounces false leaders in words which are eternally true: "Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, you kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken . . .", etc. (Ezekiel, 34:2-4). Dhu al Kifl is again mentioned in 38:48 along with Isma'il and Elisha.