Soorah Yoosuf


Name and Introduction  

This Soorah is one of the few in the Qur-aan for which the name of the Soorah is also its topic. It gives a detailed account of the life and mission of Prophet Yoosuf{footnote}Also spelled as Yousuf, Yousef, Yusef and Yusuf

{/footnote} (Joseph) ‘Alayhissalaam (AS). In that respect, it is a unique Soorah because there is no other Soorah in the Qur-aan that is fully dedicated to describing the life and mission of one prophet. Likewise, Yoosuf AS is the only prophet whose mission has been completely described at one place.

From the example of Prophet Yoosuf AS and the message of the Soorah, it is clear that this Soorah was revealed when the Makkan chiefs had started to discuss the idea of killing or banishing Prophet Muĥammad ŝall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. In those days, the Jews of Yathrib had been in contact with the Quraish of Makkah in order to counsel them against the Prophet. The Makkans did not know the details of Jewish history, nor did they know how the Israelites of Palestine ended up in Egypt. So, at the suggestion of the Jews, the Makkans asked the Prophet about it to test whether he was actually receiving the revelations from Allaah. They hoped that he would not be able to answer this question and thus his pretence would be exposed. Instead, Allaah SWT immediately revealed this Soorah, providing the pertinent historical details that fully answered their test question. Yet, while doing this, the Qur-aan maintained its principles regarding the use of historical information, which are as follows:

  • It does not provide historical facts just for information; rather, being the Book of guidance, it uses historical information to highlight and illustrate points of guidance;
  • It cites the historical anecdotes very concisely, giving only the information relevant to the guidance it is meant to impart. Even from the relevant points, those details are omitted that can be inferred from the context, understood without being explicitly mentioned or are generally known to the audience.

While the main purpose of this narration was to answer the question raised as a test, many other lessons were taught throughout the story, which are referred to at the beginning of the Soorah in verse seven: "Certainly there are many signs in the story of Yoosuf and his brothers for those who asked." In addition to the lessons given by various anecdotes comprising the story, the following overall lessons as a whole were delivered:

  1. The story provided a parallel between the Prophet’s life and mission vis-à-vis his adversaries and Yoosuf vis-à-vis his brothers. The consultation among Yoosuf’s brothers to kill him or to throw him in an abandoned well was similar to the private discussions the Makkans chiefs were having about the Prophet at the time of the revelation of this story. The anecdotes of the rest of the story such as Yoosuf’s finding a home in another city, his rise to power after difficult challenges, his brothers’  final regret and accepting of his leadership and Yoosuf’s forgiving them were precisely foretelling the stages that the Prophet’s mission was to go through. Thus, through this story, the Prophet was given the good news of his eventual success while the Makkan chiefs were told that their devious plans would fail and they would be begging for the Prophet’s kindness and mercy just as the brothers of Yoosuf did. History is witness that when the Prophet entered Makkah victoriously a few years later, he announced his clemency citing Yoosuf’s words of pardon for his brothers:  "There will be no reproof against you this day; go, you are free."
  2. The story inculcates the reality that no one and nothing can stop the execution of Allaah’s plan and attainment of its objectives. If He plans to do good to someone, people cannot stop it from happening. Often opponents do something to harm that person, but their actions become the stepping stones for the fulfillment of Allaah’s plan for him. On the surface, things may appear to go awry, but in reality they are moving inexorably to achieve the objectives of Allaah’s plans. This underscores the fact that the believers must perform their duties to Allaah and His Deen to the best of their abilities and resources without being distraught by the adversity they find themselves in and without concerning themselves with the results or worrying about the consequences -- with complete reliance (Tawakkul) upon Allaah Who will take care of the results and the attainment of objectives.
  3. The story also highlights the clear difference between the beautiful personality (such as Yoosuf’s) that belief in Allaah and the paradigm of Taqwa builds, and the personality that is the product of disbelief and the paradigm of maximizing the gratification of desires (such as those of the Egyptian authorities and their women).

In addition to explaining the proper concepts of Taqwa and Tawakkul, Allaah SWT has also used the story to indicate the levels of both Taqwa and Tawakkul that a believer should strive for. The readers should, however, remember that while Allaah SWT wants us to do our best to reach the levels that Yoosuf was able to maintain perfectly and consistently with Allaah’s help and guidance on an ongoing basis, Allaah does not expect perfection from us. He knows that sometimes we will be able to reach a desired level and sometimes we may slip. He appreciates our efforts as long as we do not give up after slipping, but continue trying our best to reach the highest standards humanly possible even after repeated failures.

Teachings and Commentary

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the name of Allaah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

This Soorah also starts with the same three letters, as symbols of the contents of the Soorah, that the previous two Soorahs of this group had started with. This time the contents have been referred to as the verses of the Book that is "al-Mubeen". Al-Mubeen is usually translated as "clear", but its meaning is more properly conveyed by a phrase such as: one which describes its teachings clearly and unequivocally and conveys its message consistently and without any contradictions. In addition, it implies that its contents and teachings are clearly understandable, sensible and fully supported by logical and rational evidence.

الر ۚ تِلْكَ آيَاتُ الْكِتَابِ الْمُبِينِ ﴿١﴾ إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ ﴿٢﴾ نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ أَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ هَـٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ وَإِن كُنتَ مِن قَبْلِهِ لَمِنَ الْغَافِلِينَ ﴿٣﴾

1 Alif Laam Raa (A, L, R){footnote}Some chapters (Soorahs) of the Qur-aan start with alphabets such as these. At the time of the revelation of the Qur-aan, it was in vogue for celebrated poets and orators to use random letters of alphabet in their literary pieces. As the Qur-aan was to dazzle the Arabs in superbness of its style over every other literary work, Allaah SWT did not leave out any aspect of style from the Qur-aan that was in vogue at that time.

{/footnote}; these are the verses of the Book that describes its teachings clearly. 2 We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur-aan so that you{footnote}This is addressed to Arabs as the first addressees of the Qur-aan. It was then their job to make this guidance available to the whole world.

{/footnote} understand. 3 By Our revealing this Qur-aan to you, O Muĥammad, We narrate to you the best of the stories, though before this you were certainly among the unaware.

For revelations of Allaah to be clear to people, they have to be in the language and vernacular of the people who are the first addressee of the message. Then, the believers from the first addressees are responsible for spreading the message to all other nations. Therefore, Allaah SWT revealed his guidance to the Israelites through Moses in Hebrew, as that was their language; then in the Syriac dialect of Aramaic because that was the language of Palestine at the time of Jesus; and to the Arabs in Arabic through the Prophet. The second verse reminds the Makkans for this favour of Allaah on them and warns them that they have no excuse for not reflecting upon the message of the Qur-aan when it is being conveyed in their own language so clearly, unequivocally and rationally. Thus, it is an admonition to the Makkans as the first audience of the Qur-aanic message, but it does not imply that it was only meant for their understanding. The message of the Qur-aan is for all of humanity and the Qur-aan as a whole has made this point very clear.

Turning to the Prophet and addressing him, the third verse declares the story of Yoosuf as the best of stories and presents its revelation to those who asked the questions and to other Makkans as a conclusive proof of him being the Messenger of Allaah.

This is a strong proof of the Prophet being the true messenger of Allaah because other than the revelation of the Qur-aan, the Prophet had no way of being aware of the story of Yoosuf. He could not have heard it from his society because the Arabs in general, and the Makkans in particular were ignorant of it. He could not have read it not only because he was illiterate but also because there were no religious or history books that contained this story in his reach in the Makkan society. In addition, the details of the story that the Qur-aan provides are not available in one book. Some were mentioned in the Bible, others were reported only in the oral traditions such as Mishnah (or Mishna) and Gemara (or Gemora) of the Jews, which were written down as Talmud somewhere between the third and sixth century CE in Aramaic and Hebrew languages.

Some people wildly speculate that the Prophet may have heard such stories when he was travelling to other cities in trading caravans. The caravans could have had the opportunity to learn the customs or traditions of a society, but it could have not been possible to learn the matters described in multiple religious books in multiple languages available only to a select few religious authorities, or to learn them in a way that the rest of the caravaners remained unaware of it! If someone picked up any information during his travels, it would be a common knowledge of the caravan. In addition, the reasonable people who understand human psychology know that such acquired knowledge, if any, would have slipped out of or surfaced on his lips sometime before the revelation of the Qur-aan. Above all other reasons, the story told in the Qur-aan is sensible, depicts high moral values and is befitting the prophetic personalities of Ya‘qoob (Jacob) and Yoosuf (Joseph) while the reports in the Bible and the Talmud sometimes present the father and the son as unethical and in a non-flattering manner, and are at times mythical and at times self-contradictory. To give the readers an idea of the difference between the three versions, appendices have been included at the end that compare the stories as per the Qur-aan, the Bible and the Talmud and give examples of inconsistencies and myths.

The Qur-aan calls it the best of stories for reasons which include the following:

  • In addition to having all elements that make a story interesting to people such as jealousy, intrigues, charm, love affair and heroism, it inculcates excellence in moral standards and Islamic values such as resisting temptations, practising patience, adopting Taqwa and responding to evil with grace and generosity.
  • The whole story depicts the humanness of the whole family without resorting to attributing any mythological notions about any of them. It illustrates how Taqwa of Allaah SWT provides the strength to withstand the strongest temptations even at the most vulnerable occasions; and it demonstrates that pursuit of excellence in conduct is an attainable human virtue.
  • It demonstrates how true Tawakkul upon Allaah equips a believer with patience and fortitude that enables him to focus on doing his best in any circumstances instead of dwelling upon the past, lamenting the current adversity or worrying about the future.
  • It presents a mirror to show both the Prophet and his opponents their present state of affairs and their future eventualities.

Yoosuf was one of the 12 sons of Prophet Ya‘qoob (AS), and the most beloved to him. He was extraordinarily handsome and was the best among his brothers in learning and practising Islam{footnote}"He became so learned that he could impart to his brethren the Halakot he had heard from his father" and "he also tried to give them good counsel, and he became the favorite of the sons of the handmaids, who would kiss and embrace him." (The Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg)

{/footnote}. Before describing the part of his story that answers the questions raised, the next three verses indicate how Yoosuf was a special person selected to be the prophet of Allaah and how that was one of the major reasons for Ya‘qoob’s special love and attention towards him.

إِذْ قَالَ يُوسُفُ لِأَبِيهِ يَا أَبَتِ إِنِّي رَأَيْتُ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ كَوْكَبًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ رَأَيْتُهُمْ لِي سَاجِدِينَ ﴿٤﴾ قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ لَا تَقْصُصْ رُؤْيَاكَ عَلَىٰ إِخْوَتِكَ فَيَكِيدُوا لَكَ كَيْدًا ۖ إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لِلْإِنسَانِ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ ﴿٥﴾ وَكَذَٰلِكَ يَجْتَبِيكَ رَبُّكَ وَيُعَلِّمُكَ مِن تَأْوِيلِ الْأَحَادِيثِ وَيُتِمُّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ وَعَلَىٰ آلِ يَعْقُوبَ كَمَا أَتَمَّهَا عَلَىٰ أَبَوَيْكَ مِن قَبْلُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْحَاقَ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ ﴿٦﴾

4 (Keep in mind the incident) when Yoosuf told his father{footnote}Jacob, Ya‘qoob, Ya’qub or Yaqub

{/footnote}, "O my father! I saw eleven stars and the sun and the moon in a dream – I saw them prostrating to me." 5 He responded, "Dear son, do not mention your dream to your brothers, lest they contrive a plot against you; surely Shayŧaan is an open enemy to human beings. 6 This indicates that your Lord is going to choose you, teach you understanding of the reality of matters, and complete His favour upon you and on the progeny of Ya‘qoob as He did earlier upon your fathers Ibraheem and Isĥaaq. Indeed, your Lord is Knowing, Wise."

The dream indicated that Yoosuf will rise to a high level of authority and power over his father, mother and his eleven brothers and will be accepted as such by them. The pause Yoosuf made before describing their prostration indicates his shyness in stating that part of the dream. Also instead of bragging about it, he quietly told this only to his father. The father also understood the message of the dream and, knowing the jealousy of his ten half brothers towards him, suggested to him that he kept quiet about it. He also happily explained all meanings of the dream to him: He knew that this kind of clear and true dream was an indication of his being chosen as a prophet. Naturally, as a prophet, he would be given understanding of the reality of matters and crux of the affairs, which included interpretation of dreams but was not limited to it. The completion of Allaah’s favour meant bestowing the full knowledge and understanding of Deen.   

The next verse points out to the Makkans who asked for the story that there is a tremendous opportunity for them to see the present and the future of the struggle between the Prophet and them in the mirror shown by the story of Yoosuf and his brothers; then the story starts from verse 8.

لَّقَدْ كَانَ فِي يُوسُفَ وَإِخْوَتِهِ آيَاتٌ لِّلسَّائِلِينَ ﴿٧﴾ إِذْ قَالُوا لَيُوسُفُ وَأَخُوهُ أَحَبُّ إِلَىٰ أَبِينَا مِنَّا وَنَحْنُ عُصْبَةٌ إِنَّ أَبَانَا لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ﴿٨﴾ اقْتُلُوا يُوسُفَ أَوِ اطْرَحُوهُ أَرْضًا يَخْلُ لَكُمْ وَجْهُ أَبِيكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا مِن بَعْدِهِ قَوْمًا صَالِحِينَ ﴿٩﴾ قَالَ قَائِلٌ مِّنْهُمْ لَا تَقْتُلُوا يُوسُفَ وَأَلْقُوهُ فِي غَيَابَتِ الْجُبِّ يَلْتَقِطْهُ بَعْضُ السَّيَّارَةِ إِن كُنتُمْ فَاعِلِينَ ﴿١٠﴾

7 Certainly there are many signs in the story of Yoosuf and his brothers for those who asked. 8 The story begins when his brothers{footnote}Ten half brothers of Yoosuf who were all older than he was.

{/footnote} talked to each other saying, "Verily Yoosuf and his brother{footnote}Benjamin, Benyamin, Binyamin or Binyameen, Yoosuf’s only full brother who was younger than him, and thus was the youngest of all the brothers.

{/footnote} are dearer to our father than we, though we are a strong group; thus, our father is clearly in error. 9 Let us kill Yoosuf or throw him somewhere, so your father’s attention becomes exclusive for you; and you can become thereafter a righteous people." 10 One of them spoke up and said, "Do not kill Yoosuf; but if you must do something, throw him into the bottom of a well, from where some passing travellers may pick him up."

The human mind is very resourceful in justifying wrongs. Yoosuf’s brothers justified their devious intentions on two grounds:

  • In tribal areas of deserts and hills, power and status depends a lot on the number of fighters in a household or a clan. That is why the number of sons was highly valued in those societies. In this case, Ya‘qoob was giving more attention to the two youngest sons from one wife than the ten strong ones from the other wives. Ya‘qoob was basing his attention not for tribal but moral reasons because they were young and their mother was not alive. In addition, Yoosuf was extraordinarily gifted in every respect. The brothers did not see it from his perspective, but from their tribal value perspective and found their father’s attitude unjustified. They used this "error" on their father’s part as a justification for doing anything that would set the balance right. That is how Shayŧaan incites people to justify wrong deeds to blunt their conscience.   
  • Because the crime they were pondering to commit was quite serious, they satisfied the remnants of their guilt by intending to be good people after this one mistake. This is another snare Shayŧaan uses to trap people into doing a wrong. It works on those who want to be good but without giving up or changing their worldly priorities. They think. "I will do it only once for this urgent priority or extra ordinary situation, but never again." Shayŧaan knows that once a person violates his conscience the first time, his defences are compromised and he becomes prone to committing the same or other crimes more easily. That is the trap the brothers fell into.

Thus, they decided to remove Yoosuf from the scene, one way or the other, and approached their father to send Yoosuf with them for play and picnic.

قَالُوا يَا أَبَانَا مَا لَكَ لَا تَأْمَنَّا عَلَىٰ يُوسُفَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَنَاصِحُونَ ﴿١١﴾ أَرْسِلْهُ مَعَنَا غَدًا يَرْتَعْ وَيَلْعَبْ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ ﴿١٢﴾ قَالَ إِنِّي لَيَحْزُنُنِي أَن تَذْهَبُوا بِهِ وَأَخَافُ أَن يَأْكُلَهُ الذِّئْبُ وَأَنتُمْ عَنْهُ غَافِلُونَ ﴿١٣﴾ قَالُوا لَئِنْ أَكَلَهُ الذِّئْبُ وَنَحْنُ عُصْبَةٌ إِنَّا إِذًا لَّخَاسِرُونَ ﴿١٤﴾

11 Then, they approached their father saying, "O our father! Why do you not trust us with Yoosuf when most surely we are his sincere well-wishers. 12 Send him with us tomorrow that he may enjoy himself and play; and certainly we will be his protectors." 13 He expressed his concern, "It really worries me that you take him with you; and I fear that a wolf may eat him while you are not attending to him." 14 They responded, "If a wolf eats him while he is with our strong group, we would certainly be the real losers."

One crime leads to another. Despite their evil intentions, they had to lie and pretend to be sincere well-wishers and protectors. Ya‘qoob’s concern "while you are not attending to him" indicates that Yoosuf was quite young at that time, not seventeen or older as the Bible claims and which some Muslim exegetes have accepted without much reflection. Otherwise, this becomes a meaningless comment. A seventeen year old can stay with his brothers without a need to be babysat, especially a gifted one like Yoosuf. Also in that case, they could have convinced Yoosuf to come along, instead of requesting the father to send him.

فَلَمَّا ذَهَبُوا بِهِ وَأَجْمَعُوا أَن يَجْعَلُوهُ فِي غَيَابَتِ الْجُبِّ ۚ وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْهِ لَتُنَبِّئَنَّهُم بِأَمْرِهِمْ هَـٰذَا وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ ﴿١٥﴾ وَجَاءُوا أَبَاهُمْ عِشَاءً يَبْكُونَ ﴿١٦﴾ قَالُوا يَا أَبَانَا إِنَّا ذَهَبْنَا نَسْتَبِقُ وَتَرَكْنَا يُوسُفَ عِندَ مَتَاعِنَا فَأَكَلَهُ الذِّئْبُ ۖ وَمَا أَنتَ بِمُؤْمِنٍ لَّنَا وَلَوْ كُنَّا صَادِقِينَ ﴿١٧﴾ وَجَاءُوا عَلَىٰ قَمِيصِهِ بِدَمٍ كَذِبٍ ۚ قَالَ بَلْ سَوَّلَتْ لَكُمْ أَنفُسُكُمْ أَمْرًا ۖ فَصَبْرٌ جَمِيلٌ ۖ وَاللَّـهُ الْمُسْتَعَانُ عَلَىٰ مَا تَصِفُونَ ﴿١٨﴾

15 So when they had gone off with him – they agreed to throw him into the bottom of a well; and we revealed to him, "You will surely inform them of this affair of theirs one day when they will not be aware of your identity"; 16 and they came to their father at night, weeping – 17 they said, "O our father! We went racing with one another and left Yoosuf with our things, and a wolf ate him; but you would not believe us even if we were truthful." 18 They even brought his shirt with false blood upon it. He responded, "Rather, your minds have beguiled you into making up a tale; so the most fitting patience is my only option; and Allaah is the one sought for help against what you assert."

After taking him with them, they agreed on throwing him in a well instead of killing him. But to hide their crime they had to indulge in more deceit and lies. However, Ya‘qoob did not believe their story, but he had no way of finding Yoosuf. So like a sensible man reposing trust in Allaah, he decided to remain patient in a most fitting manner: without ranting, raving, tearing clothes, crying loudly, etc. Naturally, a patience fitting with the personality of a prophet is not easy for such a huge loss, he prayed to Allaah for his help in being patient as well as in helping to find Yoosuf.

To save Yoosuf from the agony of what his brothers had done, Allaah SWT revealed to him not to worry{footnote}Both the Bible and the Talmud are remiss in mentioning this important revelation from Allaah to Yoosuf. Instead, both report a lot of wailing and crying on his part.

{/footnote}. This was a part of some difficult steps that he had to go through to reach the pinnacle of power destined for him. In the end, he would be the one with the upper hand and he would be in a position to inform them of this matter when they would least expect it. Such guidance from Allaah SWT gave him the fortitude and patience to withstand this difficult period in his early life.

وَجَاءَتْ سَيَّارَةٌ فَأَرْسَلُوا وَارِدَهُمْ فَأَدْلَىٰ دَلْوَهُ ۖ قَالَ يَا بُشْرَىٰ هَـٰذَا غُلَامٌ ۚ وَأَسَرُّوهُ بِضَاعَةً ۚ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿١٩﴾ وَشَرَوْهُ بِثَمَنٍ بَخْسٍ دَرَاهِمَ مَعْدُودَةٍ وَكَانُوا فِيهِ مِنَ الزَّاهِدِينَ ﴿٢٠﴾

19 (At the well,) a caravan came along; they sent their waterman to the well, who let down his bucket and (noticing Yoosuf’s presence) shouted, "Good News! Here is a boy." They hid him as an article of merchandise; and Allaah was fully aware of what they were doing. 20 Arriving in Egypt, they sold him for a low price, a few silver coins, being content with little in this matter.

So Yoosuf’s life was saved, but he was taken as a slave. The mention of a boy who was hidden like an item of merchandise indicates Yoosuf to be a boy instead of a grown up man of 17. The people of the caravan took him to Egypt and sold him as a slave. They had picked up the boy from the well realizing that he was not a slave, so they were scared to be held responsible for human trafficking and enslaving a free man. Thus, they sold him in hurry for whatever price that was offered to them. However, the person who bought him was a shrewd man who held a high office in the court of the Egyptian king. According to the Bible, the buyer was the captain of the king’s guard, named Potiphar, which may not be true because of the unreliability of the contents of the Bible, as explained in Appendix 1. The buyer is mentioned in the Soorah later on by his honorific title as ‘Azeez (one who possesses power and authority), indicating that he held a senior position of authority.

‘Azeez had realized from Yoosuf’s appearance, personality and demeanour that he was not a slave boy but a child from a noble family. So he brought him home with the intention of not treating him like a slave but with an intention of bringing him up as a member of the family who might grow up to be a useful addition to the family or might be adopted as a son. This also shows that Yoosuf was a young boy, not a 17+ year old adult.

وَقَالَ الَّذِي اشْتَرَاهُ مِن مِّصْرَ لِامْرَأَتِهِ أَكْرِمِي مَثْوَاهُ عَسَىٰ أَن يَنفَعَنَا أَوْ نَتَّخِذَهُ وَلَدًا ۚ وَكَذَٰلِكَ مَكَّنَّا لِيُوسُفَ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلِنُعَلِّمَهُ مِن تَأْوِيلِ الْأَحَادِيثِ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ غَالِبٌ عَلَىٰ أَمْرِهِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٢١﴾ وَلَمَّا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ آتَيْنَاهُ حُكْمًا وَعِلْمًا ۚ وَكَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ ﴿٢٢﴾

21 The person from Egypt who bought him told his wife, "Make his stay among us honourable; maybe he will be useful to us, or we may adopt him as a son." That is how We established Yoosuf in that country so that We (appoint him as a prophet) and{footnote}Conjunction "and" indicates its preceding phrase is omitted as per the Qur-aanic Arabic style. The omitted part has been re-instated in the English rendering according to the full Arabic text given in verse 6.

{/footnote} teach him the understanding of the reality of matters. And Allaah is the Master of His plans, but most people do not know. 22 When Yoosuf reached his prime, We granted him wisdom and knowledge. That is how We reward those who pursue excellence.

Allaah SWT had planned for Yoosuf that when he reached an appropriate level of maturity, he would undertake the Islamic mission in Egypt. For that purpose, it was important for him to grow up in Egypt, get high quality on-the-job training among the elite of the society and understand the matters of management and governance, which he would never have had a chance to acquire at home in the wilderness. He had already learnt the essentials of the Islamic faith and practices as a child through the special attention from his father. Now he was given the opportunity at the house of ‘Azeez to acquire all the other skills that were needed for his mission. In the verse, the prophethood part was taken as granted to be from Allaah and understood as such (as per the explanatory footnote), and only the training part was explicitly stated because that was where the house of ‘Azeez had a role to play. He got his on-the-job training and he demonstrated his outstanding capabilities in this respect by managing all the administrative affairs of the ‘Azeez’s fiefdom and estate, so much so that ‘Azeez had left everything in his charge{footnote}Genesis 39:4-6 and from Talmud, "Therefore he put all the keys of his house into his hand, and he knew not aught that was with him, keeping back nothing from Joseph but his wife. Seeing that the Shekinah rested upon him, Potiphar treated Joseph not as a slave, but as a member of his family, for he said, "This youth is not cut out for a slave's work, he is worthy of a prince's place." Accordingly, he provided instruction for him in the arts, and ordered him to have better fare than the other slaves." (Ginzberg)

{/footnote}. Thus, all the hardships he had encountered by being thrown in the well and then being taken as a slave were the stepping stones for his eventual success. And he utilized these opportunities in the best manner and grew up as a capable man who was admired by everyone around him.

An important point demonstrated from these events in the life of Yoosuf is his extraordinary amount of patience and fortitude in the face of adversities and his positive attitude to make the best of the circumstances he was put in. He did not wail about, or dwell on any of the adversities. Rather, he remained patient, did his utmost best in whatever circumstances he encountered without dwelling on the past, lamenting about the present or worrying about the future. In all circumstances, he left everything to Allaah and focussed only upon what he needed to do, and did it with the best of his abilities and dedication. This is the right concept of Tawakkul. This Tawakkul is the powerhouse which makes the believers unbreakable or undefeatable, most productive and most effective in all circumstances and leads them to success in this world and the Hereafter. A true believer with a sincere Tawakkul can never be a loser because ultimately success is his. This realization alone is enough to make his spirit undefeatable regardless of what he is put through.  

For a prophet, it is essential that his abilities, trustworthiness, integrity and strength of character are generally known to people so that when he gives the message of Islam, reasonable people know that he is an honest and trustworthy person without ulterior motives. The excellence of Yoosuf and strength of his integrity was known within ‘Azeez’s household but it needed to be known in public as well as at the high places. For this purpose, Yoosuf needed to go through even more challenging circumstances than he had so far encountered.

These challenges started right at his place of residence. His extraordinary handsomeness coupled with his charming personality attracted ‘Azeez’s wife so much that she was infatuated with love for him and wanted to pursue illicit relations with him. Yoosuf would ignore her advances and keep his gaze lowered but could not avoid her completely because of the duties he had to perform.{footnote}His mistress, or, as she was called, Zuleika, pursued him day after day with her amorous talk and her flattery … But Joseph's virtue was unshaken. While she spoke thus, he did not so much as raise his eyes to look at his mistress." (Ginzberg)

{/footnote} When she could no longer contain her passion, she made a desperate attempt.

وَرَاوَدَتْهُ الَّتِي هُوَ فِي بَيْتِهَا عَن نَّفْسِهِ وَغَلَّقَتِ الْأَبْوَابَ وَقَالَتْ هَيْتَ لَكَ ۚ قَالَ مَعَاذَ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ رَبِّي أَحْسَنَ مَثْوَايَ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَا يُفْلِحُ الظَّالِمُونَ ﴿٢٣﴾ وَلَقَدْ هَمَّتْ بِهِ ۖ وَهَمَّ بِهَا لَوْلَا أَن رَّأَىٰ بُرْهَانَ رَبِّهِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ لِنَصْرِفَ عَنْهُ السُّوءَ وَالْفَحْشَاءَ ۚ إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُخْلَصِينَ ﴿٢٤﴾

23 The woman, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him from his pure self; she closed the doors and invited him, "Come!" He responded, "I seek Allaah's refuge, He is my Lord Who has made my stay excellent. Indeed, the wrong doers do not attain Falaaĥ." 24 She determinedly advanced towards him, and Yoosuf would have also advanced towards her had he not considered the clear argument against it from his Lord. This way We guided him so that We turn away evil and sexual misconduct from him. Indeed, he was of Our chosen slaves.

The clear argument (‘Burhaan’ in the Arabic verse) from Allaah is the powerful conscience that is guided by and results from the strong faith and solid Taqwa of a person. It was this superb level of Taqwa that powered Yoosuf’s conscience to such an extent that made his resolve invincible in the circumstances that would overpower even the strongest of defences. She was a woman of intellect and of extraordinary beauty; but his Taqwa powered conscience kept him pure from disobedience to Allaah and disloyalty to ‘Azeez, both of whom had been excellent to him. And it is Allaah’s law that the more the Taqwa and conscience are listened to, the stronger they become in protecting a person from evil and in helping him to excel.

The phrase, "Yoosuf would have also advanced towards her had he not considered the clear argument against it from his Lord" also clarifies the proper concept of the innocence of the prophets. The prophets are not free of desires, temptation to sin or natural human frailties. They are sin free only because of the extraordinary strength of their relationship with Allaah and of their Taqwa-powered conscience, in addition to being under constant supervision, guidance and help from Allaah in repelling the temptations to sin.

The only way to avoid the sin was to run out of the room. So, without wasting time and jeopardizing the strength of his resolve, he ran to the door while she tried to stop him by grabbing his shirt from behind.

وَاسْتَبَقَا الْبَابَ وَقَدَّتْ قَمِيصَهُ مِن دُبُرٍ وَأَلْفَيَا سَيِّدَهَا لَدَى الْبَابِ ۚ قَالَتْ مَا جَزَاءُ مَنْ أَرَادَ بِأَهْلِكَ سُوءًا إِلَّا أَن يُسْجَنَ أَوْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ ﴿٢٥﴾ قَالَ هِيَ رَاوَدَتْنِي عَن نَّفْسِي ۚ وَشَهِدَ شَاهِدٌ مِّنْ أَهْلِهَا إِن كَانَ قَمِيصُهُ قُدَّ مِن قُبُلٍ فَصَدَقَتْ وَهُوَ مِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ ﴿٢٦﴾ وَإِن كَانَ قَمِيصُهُ قُدَّ مِن دُبُرٍ فَكَذَبَتْ وَهُوَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ ﴿٢٧﴾ فَلَمَّا رَأَىٰ قَمِيصَهُ قُدَّ مِن دُبُرٍ قَالَ إِنَّهُ مِن كَيْدِكُنَّ ۖ إِنَّ كَيْدَكُنَّ عَظِيمٌ ﴿٢٨﴾ يُوسُفُ أَعْرِضْ عَنْ هَـٰذَا ۚ وَاسْتَغْفِرِي لِذَنبِكِ ۖ إِنَّكِ كُنتِ مِنَ الْخَاطِئِينَ ﴿٢٩﴾

25 They both raced towards the door; and pulling from behind, she tore his shirt from the back; and they found her husband at the door. At this she exclaimed, "What can be the punishment for someone who intended to do evil to your wife except that he be imprisoned or given painful punishment?" 26 Yoosuf clarified, "It was she who sought to seduce me from my pure self". Then, a person from her own family presented the logical evidence: "If his shirt is torn from the front, then she is telling the truth and he is one of the liars; 27 but if his shirt is torn from the back, then she is lying and he is one of the truthful." 28 When the husband saw that the shirt was torn from the back, he said, "It is one of you women’s snares; indeed your snares are vehement. 29 Yoosuf, ignore this. And you (my wife), seek forgiveness for your sin, you indeed were the one at fault."

Corrupt people have no principles or loyalties except to their self interest. Thus, as soon as she perceived trouble, she instantly blamed it all on Yoosuf without any hesitation or compunction. This also shows that she was sharp in her wits; but unfortunately her intellect was channelled to serve her desires instead of moral principles. Luckily, there was a wise person in her family who tackled the issue rationally, which proved Yoosuf’s innocence{footnote}There is no need or basis for adopting the view that witness was given by an infant. That idea came from the Talmud which states that the witness was given by her own eleven month old son, who miraculously spoke to tell the details of what actually happened and then went back to his natural state of being unable to talk (for actual quote, refer to Appendix 1). But then, it contradicts itself by saying: “Asenath had saved Joseph's life while she was still an infant in arms. When Joseph was accused of immoral conduct by Potiphar's wife and the other women, and his master was on the point of having him hanged, Asenath approached her foster-father, and she assured him under oath that the charge against Joseph was false.”


As a matter of principle, something should have been done to make her pay for the crime and to compensate Yoosuf for the aggravation he had to go through. That is what Islam teaches, regardless of how influential the perpetrator or how weak the victim. But most people usually hush it up by admonishing both parties to "forgive and forget", especially when the perpetrator is powerful or influential. Thus, ‘Azeez did the same thing. This usually encourages the perpetrator to continue doing the wrong things and thus corruption spreads in the society.

Her infatuation with Yoosuf became known among the elite women of her social circle and they started talking.   

وَقَالَ نِسْوَةٌ فِي الْمَدِينَةِ امْرَأَتُ الْعَزِيزِ تُرَاوِدُ فَتَاهَا عَن نَّفْسِهِ ۖ قَدْ شَغَفَهَا حُبًّا ۖ إِنَّا لَنَرَاهَا فِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ ﴿٣٠﴾ فَلَمَّا سَمِعَتْ بِمَكْرِهِنَّ أَرْسَلَتْ إِلَيْهِنَّ وَأَعْتَدَتْ لَهُنَّ مُتَّكَأً وَآتَتْ كُلَّ وَاحِدَةٍ مِّنْهُنَّ سِكِّينًا وَقَالَتِ اخْرُجْ عَلَيْهِنَّ ۖ فَلَمَّا رَأَيْنَهُ أَكْبَرْنَهُ وَقَطَّعْنَ أَيْدِيَهُنَّ وَقُلْنَ حَاشَ لِلَّـهِ مَا هَـٰذَا بَشَرًا إِنْ هَـٰذَا إِلَّا مَلَكٌ كَرِيمٌ ﴿٣١﴾ قَالَتْ فَذَٰلِكُنَّ الَّذِي لُمْتُنَّنِي فِيهِ ۖ وَلَقَدْ رَاوَدتُّهُ عَن نَّفْسِهِ فَاسْتَعْصَمَ ۖ وَلَئِن لَّمْ يَفْعَلْ مَا آمُرُهُ لَيُسْجَنَنَّ وَلَيَكُونًا مِّنَ الصَّاغِرِينَ ﴿٣٢﴾

30 The women of the city gossiped, "The wife of ‘Azeez{footnote}An honorific title for a king’s senior officer, like other official titles such as minister, governor, king or pharaoh. Here it is used for the officer who had bought Yoosuf and brought him to his home.

{/footnote} is seeking to seduce her slave boy; he surely has infatuated her with love. We see her evidently misguided." 31 When she heard of their sly gossip, she invited them over for a party; prepared seating arrangements with cushions to recline upon; and gave each one of them a knife. Then, she asked Yoosuf, "Come out before them." So when they saw him, they extolled his awesome grandeur, cut their hands and exclaimed, "Perfection is for Allaah! This is not a human being! This is none other than a noble angel!" 32 So she said, "This is the one you were blaming me about. I did seek to seduce him, but he held himself back firmly. If he does not do what I command him, he shall definitely be jailed, and shall certainly be of those who are debased."

Instead of giving up her sinful behaviour and reforming herself, she decided to justify her passion. For that purpose, she invited the women of her social circle for a party and when they were all seated she invited Yoosuf to come to the room to serve or wait on them. That is when they cut their hands.

This begs the question: how did the presence of Yoosuf cause them to cut their hands?  There is no mention of this incident in the Bible at all. According to the Talmud, they were peeling oranges with their knives when Joseph was called in to wait on them. They were so stupefied by his awesome grandeur that they could not remove their eyes from him and inadvertently cut their hands instead of the oranges:

"She placed knives upon the table to peel the oranges, and then ordered Joseph to appear, arrayed in costly garments, and wait upon her guests. When Joseph came in, the women could not take their eyes off him, and they all cut their hands with the knives, and the oranges in their hands were covered with blood, but they, not knowing what they were doing, continued to look upon the beauty of Joseph without turning their eyes away from him." (Ginzberg)

Now it is evident that they had not seen Yoosuf before, which means that Yoosuf had no other opportunity to have any interaction with those women. However, when the king sent for Yoosuf, he said (verse 50), "Go back to your master and ask him as to what was the case of the women who cut their hands? My Lord is fully aware of their tricks." What were their tricks that Yoosuf was alluding to? Then verse 51 of the Soorah tells us that: The king asked the women, "What was your affair when you sought to seduce Yoosuf?" They replied, "Perfection is for Allaah! We knew of no evil on his part." So when did they try to seduce Yoosuf, according to their own confession? Thus, the Exegete Amin Ahsan Islahi thinks that when the women saw Yoosuf in the party, they tried to seduce him at that time. Different women tried their different ways (tricks) in seducing him including efforts and tears to win his emotional sympathy. During those efforts, some women threatened to commit suicide and supported their threats by cutting their hands.

Whatever transpired, it just underscores the extraordinary pressure Yoosuf had to resist. It also demonstrates that Egyptian society was not very different from today’s Western society in terms of emphasis on sexuality and moral decadence.

What we need to reflect upon are the two paradigms about success and the kind of personalities both paradigms produce. One paradigm defines success in terms of maximum and earliest gratifications of one’s desires and emotions. The wife of ‘Azeez and her invitees were all the product of this paradigm. Yoosuf’s brothers were also operating under this paradigm when they planned to get rid of him. In fact, all crimes in society are committed only when people make their decisions according to this paradigm.

The other paradigm defines success in terms of being able to avoid the punishment of fire and to attain entry into paradise in the Hereafter. According to this paradigm, a person always strives to do the right thing and to eliminate any thoughts, words or actions that will displease Allaah SWT. That is called Paradigm of Taqwa. It produces the personality like that of Yoosuf.

Continuing with the story, the incident provided all the justification for the passion that the hostess wanted. Now she tried to use threats to make Yoosuf surrender. At this point, Yoosuf was so desperate to run away from all the pressure to sin that he was even ready and willing to go to prison, as she had threatened. He even prayed to Allaah for that.

قَالَ رَبِّ السِّجْنُ أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ مِمَّا يَدْعُونَنِي إِلَيْهِ ۖ وَإِلَّا تَصْرِفْ عَنِّي كَيْدَهُنَّ أَصْبُ إِلَيْهِنَّ وَأَكُن مِّنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ ﴿٣٣﴾ فَاسْتَجَابَ لَهُ رَبُّهُ فَصَرَفَ عَنْهُ كَيْدَهُنَّ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ ﴿٣٤﴾ ثُمَّ بَدَا لَهُم مِّن بَعْدِ مَا رَأَوُا الْآيَاتِ لَيَسْجُنُنَّهُ حَتَّىٰ حِينٍ ﴿٣٥﴾

33 He prayed, "My Lord! The prison is preferable to me than that to which they invite me; unless You turn away their snares from me, I may fall for them and become one of the ignorant."{footnote}In the Qur-aanic terminology, ignorant are those people who behave ignorantly: without availing the guidance from Allaah SWT; whose emotions overtake their knowledge and reason; or who are blinded by their emotions.

{/footnote} 34 His Lord responded to his prayer and turned their snares away from him; He indeed is the Hearing, the Knowing. 35 So, it occurred to them{footnote}‘Azeez and his fellow elites.

{/footnote} that they should imprison him for a while, even after they had seen the signs of his innocence.

Yoosuf could have been deservedly proud of his exceptional resolve to refrain from sinning in an environment where abundant opportunities were wide open to him and inviting him all the time. But notice the humility of his attitude expressed in his du’aa to Allaah SWT. He shuddered with the fear of slipping into sin and acknowledged that only Allaah could help him avoid his emotions overtaking his knowledge and judgment and thus making him fall into sinful actions. This is the right Islamic attitude of a sincere Muslim. A Muslim recognizes his human frailty and knows that he always needs Allaah’s help to repel Shayŧaan’s instigations. Without His help, a person is continually prone to being manipulated into sin by Shayŧaan. Thus, he keeps beseeching Allaah’s help to save him from sinning, instead of feeling proud. The moment a Muslim feels proud, he gives himself up to Shayŧaan to be drawn into his snares. Because Yoosuf supplicated so humbly and sincerely, Allaah SWT saved him from the environment of sin.   

Whenever there is a scandal that embarrasses the authorities in power, they usually try to get out of it by finding an innocent person who could be made a sacrificial lamb. Action is taken against that person to deflect the crisis and return to "normalcy". This scandal had now spread, and involved many women of influence, so something needed to be done. The problem was addressed by incarcerating Yoosuf in jail. The Talmud may be right in stating that:

She begged her visitors to support her charges by also lodging complaints against Joseph, that he had been annoying them with improper proposals… In the meantime the husbands of Zuleika's friends had also spoken to Potiphar, at the instigation of their wives, and complained of his slave, that he molested them.

Potiphar himself was convinced of Joseph's innocence, and when he cast him into prison, he said to him, "I know that thou art not guilty of so vile a crime, but I must put thee in durance, lest a taint cling to my children."

One can imagine the amount of publicity Yoosuf would have received in the capital city of his residence about his excellent personality and the strength of his character. This publicity was necessary for the roles he was destined to play in the society according to Allaah’s plan.
When they imprisoned Yoosuf, they did not do it out of the goodness of their heart. They did it unjustly to cover up the women’s scandalous behaviour. It is totally another matter that Allaah SWT used their injustice for the execution of His own plan. But that does not reduce the severity of their crime, because they did not know Allaah’s plan. Whatever they did was for their own sinister motives.
Although Yoosuf was imprisoned unjustly, he continued to practice Tawakkul. Instead of brooding about injustice, expressing frustration over the continued bad turn of events, or feeling defeated or helpless, he transcended the negativity of what he encountered, evaluated how he could make the best of those conditions, identified the actions that would lead to the attainment of the objectives of Deen in those adverse situations and then put his best efforts to execute those actions.

As a result, he earned the respect of the wardens of the jail as well as the fellow prisoners. That is why when two of the king’s officials who were jailed with him saw dreams one night, they came to Yoosuf to find out what the dreams might mean. While asking for the interpretation, they even acknowledged his excellence as their reason for requesting his help in this matter.

وَدَخَلَ مَعَهُ السِّجْنَ فَتَيَانِ ۖ قَالَ أَحَدُهُمَا إِنِّي أَرَانِي أَعْصِرُ خَمْرًا ۖ وَقَالَ الْآخَرُ إِنِّي أَرَانِي أَحْمِلُ فَوْقَ رَأْسِي خُبْزًا تَأْكُلُ الطَّيْرُ مِنْهُ ۖ نَبِّئْنَا بِتَأْوِيلِهِ ۖ إِنَّا نَرَاكَ مِنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ ﴿٣٦﴾ قَالَ لَا يَأْتِيكُمَا طَعَامٌ تُرْزَقَانِهِ إِلَّا نَبَّأْتُكُمَا بِتَأْوِيلِهِ قَبْلَ أَن يَأْتِيَكُمَا ۚ ذَٰلِكُمَا مِمَّا عَلَّمَنِي رَبِّي ۚ إِنِّي تَرَكْتُ مِلَّةَ قَوْمٍ لَّا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّـهِ وَهُم بِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ كَافِرُونَ ﴿٣٧﴾ وَاتَّبَعْتُ مِلَّةَ آبَائِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ ۚ مَا كَانَ لَنَا أَن نُّشْرِكَ بِاللَّـهِ مِن شَيْءٍ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مِن فَضْلِ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْنَا وَعَلَى النَّاسِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَشْكُرُونَ ﴿٣٨﴾ يَا صَاحِبَيِ السِّجْنِ أَأَرْبَابٌ مُّتَفَرِّقُونَ خَيْرٌ أَمِ اللَّـهُ الْوَاحِدُ الْقَهَّارُ ﴿٣٩﴾ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِهِ إِلَّا أَسْمَاءً سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُم مَّا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ بِهَا مِن سُلْطَانٍ ۚ إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّـهِ ۚ أَمَرَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٤٠﴾ يَا صَاحِبَيِ السِّجْنِ أَمَّا أَحَدُكُمَا فَيَسْقِي رَبَّهُ خَمْرًا ۖ وَأَمَّا الْآخَرُ فَيُصْلَبُ فَتَأْكُلُ الطَّيْرُ مِن رَّأْسِهِ ۚ قُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ الَّذِي فِيهِ تَسْتَفْتِيَانِ ﴿٤١﴾

36 Two young men had also entered the prison along with him. One day, one of them mentioned his dream to Yoosuf, "I saw myself pressing wine"; the other reported, "I saw myself carrying bread on my head, of which birds were eating." They asked, "Please tell us the interpretation thereof; we see that you are excellent in conduct." 37 Yoosuf responded:

"I will definitely inform you both of the interpretation of your dreams even before the food that is provided to you arrives. However, note that this knowledge is one of the things that my Lord has taught me. You see that I have not adopted the paradigm of the people who do not believe in Allaah and who deny the Hereafter. 38 Instead, I follow the paradigm of my fathers Ibraheem, Isĥaaq, and Ya‘qoob; it does not befit us to consider anything as a partner with Allaah in any respect; that is Allaah’s bounty towards us and towards humanity, but most of the people do not appreciate it.

39 O my two fellow-prisoners! Are multiple lords better or Allaah the One, the Dominant? 40 Whatever you worship other than Him are merely names that you and your fathers have given them; Allaah has sent down no sanction for them. Command belongs only to Allaah. He has commanded that you do not perform worship or slave-like obedience to anyone except Him. That is the proper, straightforward Deen, but most people do not realize it.   

41 O my two fellow-prisoners! As for the first one of you, he will be serving wine to his master; while the second one will be crucified, so the birds will eat from his head. The matter has been decreed concerning which you both had inquired.

Yoosuf could have simply informed them of the meanings of their dreams, but instead, he talked to them about Islam before interpreting their dreams. With this concise discourse{footnote}Both the Bible and the Talmud omit this important discourse. They are lavish in providing many extraneous and unnecessary details but miss the meaningful points of guidance. The Talmud is full of pages upon pages of fabricated myths, but devoid of rational, logical messages about the oneness of God and other important religious teachings. Through the Qur-aan, Allaah SWT confirms what is right in their contents, corrects what is wrong, adds the important contents that have been dropped, and ignores all myths, fabrications, inconsistencies and extraneous material added by the writers of those books. For some examples of these, refer to the appendices to this Tafseer.

{/footnote}, he launched his Islamic mission as a prophet of Allaah and started inviting people to Islam. By now, he had gone through the important training programs in different settings to equip him with the qualities that he needed as a prophet and the capabilities as a governor. So, not only was he fully prepared for his roles but had also established his credibility and stature in the society. He launched his mission right in the prison because a Muslim executes his mission wherever and in whatever circumstances he happens to be in. His action teaches us the following lessons of wisdom:

  1. Before giving them the message of Islam, he puts their mind to rest by assuring them that they will receive their answers before even their food arrives. This assurance was necessary so that they could listen to his message attentively without worrying about when he was going to answer their question. Therefore, the first point we learn is not to dump the message without considering what is on the minds of people and whether they are ready to listen or not. First put people at ease before delivering the message.
  2. He relates and connects his message to their question by explaining that the only reason he can interpret their dreams is because he has been given a special knowledge by Allaah SWT, thus creating a segue to talk about Allaah SWT.
  3. To add credibility and weight to his message, he mentions his father and forefathers who were known and respectable people so that people know that his message is not new or freshly invented but an authentic message that has been preached and practised consistently by great people of the past.
  4. He establishes camaraderie with them by gently and lovingly addressing them as "my fellow prisoners."
  5. He keeps his message focussed on the belief in Tawĥeed and the essence of Deen instead of talking about actions, duties or pillars of Islam.
  6. By asking them "Are multiple lords better or Allaah the One, the Dominant", he gives them a point to think about that they can easily and clearly understand through their own personal experiences as the servants of the king. He explains to them the irrationality and baselessness of their beliefs in different gods by pointing out the false mythical stories created about fabricated names which do not really exist. He impresses upon them that Allaah is the only real power, authority or sovereign who has the legitimate right to give commands to people and He has commanded that people should become only His slaves.
  7. Although he knew that one of them will be hanged soon, even then Yoosuf invites him to Islam without thinking that it is useless to convert him for a few days.
  8. Most importantly, he demonstrates that the true Muslims are always so tuned to the objectives of Deen that they take advantage of every opportunity they can get to carry out the Islamic mission regardless of what circumstances they are living under.  

As we have mentioned earlier, Yoosuf‘s life was an excellent model of Taqwa and Tawakkul. Continuing with the principle of Tawakkul, Yoosuf asked the butler who was going to be restored to his job that he should mention to the king the experiences he had had with Yoosuf, which the butler dutifully promised to do.

وَقَالَ لِلَّذِي ظَنَّ أَنَّهُ نَاجٍ مِّنْهُمَا اذْكُرْنِي عِندَ رَبِّكَ فَأَنسَاهُ الشَّيْطَانُ ذِكْرَ رَبِّهِ فَلَبِثَ فِي السِّجْنِ بِضْعَ سِنِينَ ﴿٤٢﴾ وَقَالَ الْمَلِكُ إِنِّي أَرَىٰ سَبْعَ بَقَرَاتٍ سِمَانٍ يَأْكُلُهُنَّ سَبْعٌ عِجَافٌ وَسَبْعَ سُنبُلَاتٍ خُضْرٍ وَأُخَرَ يَابِسَاتٍ ۖ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمَلَأُ أَفْتُونِي فِي رُؤْيَايَ إِن كُنتُمْ لِلرُّؤْيَا تَعْبُرُونَ ﴿٤٣﴾ قَالُوا أَضْغَاثُ أَحْلَامٍ ۖ وَمَا نَحْنُ بِتَأْوِيلِ الْأَحْلَامِ بِعَالِمِينَ ﴿٤٤﴾ وَقَالَ الَّذِي نَجَا مِنْهُمَا وَادَّكَرَ بَعْدَ أُمَّةٍ أَنَا أُنَبِّئُكُم بِتَأْوِيلِهِ فَأَرْسِلُونِ ﴿٤٥﴾

42 Then, Yoosuf asked the one whom he thought would be freed, "Tell your master about me"; but Shayŧaan caused him to forget mentioning it to his master. So Yoosuf remained in jail for several years. 43 Then one day, the king said, "I saw in a dream seven fat cows which seven lean ones are eating, and seven green ears of grain and other seven withered. O notables, explain to me my dream, if you know how to interpret the dream." 44 They responded, "They are just muddled thoughts, we do not know how to interpret such dreams." 45 Then, the one who was freed said, – he now remembered Yoosuf after such a long period – "I will inform you of its interpretation, so send me to him."

Shayŧaan does not like people doing the right things, so he did not want the butler to fulfil his commitment to Yoosuf and thus caused him to forget it. Naturally, Shayŧaan does not have power over human beings to force anything upon them but he plays on human nature, incites the wrong priorities and suggests excuses that people adopt, ending up doing what he wants them to do. So initially, the butler was too busy celebrating his freedom and the restoration of his status to even think about Yoosuf; and he could not find the right moment to talk to the king about him even if the idea occurred to him; and he was extremely busy performing his duties and then he became so absorbed in his own life that the memories faded away and he forgot all about his days in prison with Yoosuf – until his memory was triggered by the King’s quest for finding the meaning of his dreams. And that was the right moment, according to Allaah’s plan for Yoosuf.  

This shows another side of human behaviour. Many people do not perform their Islamic duties for reasons similar to the aforementioned ones. Also, they remember Allaah, Islamic scholars or the leadership of an Islamic movement only when they need help for their own worldly priorities.

We have explained the Islamic concept of Tawakkul at different places in the previous sections of this Tafseer, clarifying that Tawakkul is a mental state or attitude comprising of the following attributes:

  1. Regardless of how good or how tough one’s circumstances happen to be -- without dwelling upon the past, lamenting about the present, worrying about the future, brooding about adversities, expressing frustration, or feeling helpless or defeated due to continual apparent failures -- focussing fully and devotedly on evaluating how to make the best of existing conditions, taking the right steps towards attaining one’s goals and the objectives of Deen, putting in one’s best efforts using the best possible means and resources that can lawfully be applied, relying on Allaah for taking care of whatever is beyond a believer’s control, and then leaving the results and outcomes to Allaah alone, without worrying about the consequences, knowing only He can deliver results and He does so according to His own plan.
  2. As the circumstances change, new incidents happen or new consequences are encountered, re-evaluating the strategy and actions plans as per point one, and continuing in that manner until objectives are achieved or earthly stay expires.

Thus, according to the Islamic concept of Tawakkul, Yoosuf asked the butler who was going to be restored to his job that he should mention to the king the experiences he had had with Yoosuf, hoping that it may initiate the process of his release from the prison. He knew that he would gain freedom only according to Allaah’s plan, but he also knew that Allaah’s plan requires that people must also make efforts that are humanly possible. It is Allaah’s law that He grants help only to those who exhaust their efforts and then leave those matters that are beyond their power to Allaah. Those people who do not make the efforts that are humanly possible but expect Allaah to help them, Allaah SWT ignores their expectations and supplications.

However, the butler did not deliver on his promise and Yoosuf had to stay longer in prison. Consequently, Yoosuf continued to do his best in the prison according to the principle of Tawakkul until it was the right time for him to be free.

The Talmud, however, gives a totally invalid view of this matter. It regards Joseph’s asking the butler to speak to the king on his behalf as an act of reliance on a human being, instead of relying on Allaah and regards his stay in the prison as a punishment for his relying on a human being, instead of Allaah. Asking for human help becomes non-reliance in Allaah only when a person believes that the results are in the hands of people, instead of being in the hands of Allaah, which obviously could never be expected from Yoosuf. The Talmudic stance that merely seeking help from fellow human beings is non-reliance upon Allaah, implies that people who want to rely on Allaah should not do anything; which is a totally ridiculous concept. Another problem with the Talmudic view is its suggestion that Allaah punishes individuals for their sins right away in this world, which is another invalid view. Allaah SWT has made it very clear that He will hold individuals accountable and reward or punish them only after death.

The reason for a detailed discussion on this point is that some Muslims have picked up this misguidance from the Talmud and adopted it. In addition, they have tried to read this misguidance into the Qur-aan by misconstruing or misinterpreting the phrase "but Shayŧaan caused him (the butler) to forget mentioning it to his master (king)" in verse 42. Instead of this normal meaning that is supported by major exegetes such as Mujahid and Muĥammad ibn Ishaq from the early period, Ibn Kathir from the middle period and Abul A’la Maududi and Amin Ahsan Islahi from the last century, they take it to mean "but Shayŧaan caused him (Yoosuf) to forget remembrance of his Lord (Allaah)" implying that Yoosuf forgot Allaah SWT while asking the butler for help. Some people have tried to support this opinion on the basis of a Ĥadeeth which according to scholars is invalid because of its doubtful authenticity as well as it being against the natural principle of a victim’s right to use legitimate means to seek his freedom. The reality is that the source of this opinion is careless acceptance of the Talmudic opinions.{footnote}The following excerpt from the Talmud is the source of this misinterpretation:

Properly speaking, Joseph should have gone out free from his dungeon on the same day as the butler. He had been there ten years by that time, and had made amends for the slander he had uttered against his ten brethren. However, he remained in prison two years longer. "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord," but Joseph had put his confidence in flesh and blood. He had prayed the chief butler to have him in remembrance when it should be well with him, and make mention of him unto Pharaoh, and the butler forgot his promise, and therefore Joseph had to stay in prison two years more than the years originally allotted to him there. The butler had not forgotten him intentionally, but it was ordained of God that his memory should fail him. When he would say to himself, If thus and so happens, I will remember the case of Joseph, the conditions he had imagined were sure to be reversed, or if he made a knot as a reminder, an angel came and undid the knot, and Joseph did not enter his mind.

According to the Bible, the butler was released in three days as per the interpretation given by Yoosuf. Did Yoosuf not know that his prison term is going to be up in three days, along with the butler, that he asked him for help? Also look at the absurdity of the reasons given for the butler forgetting the mention of Yoosuf, as compared to the sensible reason given by the Qur-aan.

This is another example of the dangers of accepting any information from the Bible or the Talmud. This is also another example of how the Qur-aan corrects the misguidance propagated by the Bible and the Talmud and how it restores proper honour and prestige to the prophets of God accused of inappropriate behaviour by the misguided and ignorant writers of the Bible and the Talmud.


An important but subtle point needs to be noted here. Prophet Moosa (Moses) is the most frequently mentioned Messenger of Allaah in the Qur-aan. Whenever his encounter with the king of Egypt has been mentioned, the word used for the king has been Pharaoh or Fir‘awn consistently, without any exception. But in this Soorah, the word Pharaoh or Fir‘awn has not been used at all, only the word king has been consistently used. Conversely, the Bible and the Talmud have used the title ‘Pharaoh’ throughout the narrative about Joseph without any exception. Interestingly, the modern researchers in Egyptology have determined that the use of the title Pharaoh or Fir‘awn started during the Egyptian dynasties of the New Kingdom, particularly during the reign of the "Napoleon of Egypt" Thutmosis III or Thutmose III (Menkheperre) 1504 – 1450 BCE, while all estimations of Yoosuf’s sojourn into Egypt happen to fall during earlier dynasties when the title of Pharaoh or Fir‘awn was not in use. Thus, the Qur-aan is miraculously correct in using the word king instead of Pharaoh or Fir‘awn, while the Bible and the Talmud are guilty of anachronism. This is another sign from Allaah SWT, the knower of all seen and unseen, indicating to people that the Qur-aan is His word. As for which Egyptian king saw the dreams, the research in this respect is inconclusive so far. This is discussed in detail in Appendix 2.

So, the king had seen dreams about which he was anxious to find out what they meant. All the people available to him failed to interpret the dreams to his satisfaction, at which he was quite perturbed. That is when the butler remembered Yoosuf, told the king about him and his ability to interpret dreams accurately and sought the king’s permission to go to Yoosuf seeking the correct interpretation. This was a God-sent opportunity for the king to satisfy his quest for interpretation, so he sent the butler immediately. Now, imagine the scene how the king, his courtiers and every notable person in the city were anxiously waiting to hear what Yoosuf had to say.

يُوسُفُ أَيُّهَا الصِّدِّيقُ أَفْتِنَا فِي سَبْعِ بَقَرَاتٍ سِمَانٍ يَأْكُلُهُنَّ سَبْعٌ عِجَافٌ وَسَبْعِ سُنبُلَاتٍ خُضْرٍ وَأُخَرَ يَابِسَاتٍ لَّعَلِّي أَرْجِعُ إِلَى النَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٤٦﴾ قَالَ تَزْرَعُونَ سَبْعَ سِنِينَ دَأَبًا فَمَا حَصَدتُّمْ فَذَرُوهُ فِي سُنبُلِهِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِّمَّا تَأْكُلُونَ ﴿٤٧﴾ ثُمَّ يَأْتِي مِن بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ سَبْعٌ شِدَادٌ يَأْكُلْنَ مَا قَدَّمْتُمْ لَهُنَّ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِّمَّا تُحْصِنُونَ ﴿٤٨﴾ ثُمَّ يَأْتِي مِن بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ عَامٌ فِيهِ يُغَاثُ النَّاسُ وَفِيهِ يَعْصِرُونَ ﴿٤٩﴾

46 (Arriving at the prison, he exclaimed,) "Yoosuf, O man of truth! Explain to us the king’s dream: Seven fat cows which seven lean ones are eating, and seven green ears of grain and other seven withered; that I may return to the people so that they may know its true interpretation." 47 He explained, "You will have good crops for seven years continuously, so leave what you harvest in its ear except a little that you eat. 48 They will be followed by seven tough years during which you will eat up all that you will have saved for them except a little that you will preserve. 49 Then will come after that, a year in which the people will be given rain and they will press grapes."

The way the butler addressed Yoosuf was indicative of the respect for the excellence of Yoosuf’s character he had observed during his stay with Yoosuf in the prison. His last phrase speaks of the confusion and the consternation that the lack of satisfactory interpretation has caused. Yoosuf gave the interpretation without complaining about the butler’s disregard of his promise for all those years. In addition to giving the interpretation, Yoosuf also gave advice about an effective way of benefitting from the information provided by the dreams and mitigating the devastation that a seven-year famine could cause. The king was satisfied with the interpretation and impressed with Yoosuf’s wise counsel. He decided to utilize his extraordinary capabilities.

وَقَالَ الْمَلِكُ ائْتُونِي بِهِ ۖ فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُ الرَّسُولُ قَالَ ارْجِعْ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ فَاسْأَلْهُ مَا بَالُ النِّسْوَةِ اللَّاتِي قَطَّعْنَ أَيْدِيَهُنَّ ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي بِكَيْدِهِنَّ عَلِيمٌ ﴿٥٠﴾ قَالَ مَا خَطْبُكُنَّ إِذْ رَاوَدتُّنَّ يُوسُفَ عَن نَّفْسِهِ ۚ قُلْنَ حَاشَ لِلَّـهِ مَا عَلِمْنَا عَلَيْهِ مِن سُوءٍ ۚ قَالَتِ امْرَأَتُ الْعَزِيزِ الْآنَ حَصْحَصَ الْحَقُّ أَنَا رَاوَدتُّهُ عَن نَّفْسِهِ وَإِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ ﴿٥١﴾ ذَٰلِكَ لِيَعْلَمَ أَنِّي لَمْ أَخُنْهُ بِالْغَيْبِ وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَهْدِي كَيْدَ الْخَائِنِينَ ﴿٥٢﴾ وَمَا أُبَرِّئُ نَفْسِي ۚ إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لَأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ إِلَّا مَا رَحِمَ رَبِّي ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي غَفُورٌ‌ رَّحِيمٌ ﴿٥٣﴾

50 (Upon hearing the interpretation,) the king ordered, "Bring him to me". But when the king’s messenger came to him, Yoosuf said, "Go back to your master and ask him as to what was the case of the women who cut their hands? My Lord is fully aware of their tricks." 51 The king asked the women, "What was your affair when you sought to seduce Yoosuf?" They replied, "Perfection is for Allaah! We knew of no evil on his part." ‘Azeez’s wife admitted, "Now that the truth has become evident, it was I who sought to seduce him and he indeed is truthful." 52 When the news reached Yoosuf, he commented, "This is what I wanted to clarify so that the king knows that I did not betray ‘Azeez in secret and that Allaah does not lead the snare of the betrayers to success. 53 I do not claim to be free of desires, the mind does incite towards evil, it is only my Lord’s mercy that saves. Indeed my Lord is Forgiving, Merciful."

As soon as the Messenger of the king came, Yoosuf could have jumped on the opportunity of getting out of the prison and prospects of being an advisor to the king; but that would have left a doubt in some people’s minds about his innocence in the matter for which he was imprisoned. This could have affected his credibility in future and could be used against him during his Islamic work or in the usual intrigues that occur in the courts of kings. It would have been impossible to clear it at the time when it became an impediment. The time to clear the matter was right then at the time of release. Thus, he sent the messenger back with the message that the accusation levelled against him must first be dispensed with justice. Although he was innocent and Allaah was fully aware of his innocence, it must be clarified for public knowledge{footnote}The Bible and Talmud omit this important step on Yoosuf’s part. They rather state that he quickly shaved, changed his clothes and came to Pharaoh. (Gen. 41:14) The Talmud mentions many extraneous details such as the number of steps to Pharaoh’s throne, the veracity of which is extremely questionable, but ignores this important detail. It also mentions that an angel brought a special dress from paradise for this purpose and that Gabriel taught him seventy languages in one night so that Joseph could qualify for his appointment as viceroy. This is just to give you a glimpse of the Talmud’s myths and fantasies. It also mentions that: “The Egyptians had hesitated to make him their viceroy, because they shrank from choosing a man accused of adultery for so high an office. It was the priests that made the suggestion to examine Joseph's torn garment, which his mistress had submitted as evidence of his guilt, and see whether the rent was in front or in back. If it was in back, it would show his innocence--he had turned to flee, and his temptress had clutched him so that the garment tore. But if the tear was in front, then it would be a proof of his guilt--he had used violence with the woman, and she had torn the mantle in her efforts to defend her honor. The angel Gabriel came and transferred the rent from the fore part to the back, and the Egyptians were convinced of Joseph's innocence, and their scruples about raising him to the kingship were removed.”

{/footnote}. This is an extremely important point, especially for the attention of those who dedicate themselves to serve their Deen. Good deeds are performed for the pleasure of Allaah and it is best to keep them private. But when it comes to matters of credibility, the innocence must be established in the public’s eye, Allaah’s knowledge of one’s innocence is not enough. Otherwise, it becomes an impediment to the Islamic work.  

Although the incident was well known and many of the elite knew the truth, the king still asked the women to clarify. When, all women involved in the case confessed the falsity of their allegations and publicly acknowledged his innocence, only then did he come out to meet the king. That way, his name was cleared beyond any shadow of a doubt. The strength of his moral character and his unparalleled morality, credibility, trustworthiness and patience were duly established in the eyes of everyone from the king to courtiers to the ordinary residents of the city – an impeccable record only a prophet could possess. One can imagine how everyone would have been surprised by Yoosuf’s response to the king’s invitation and how the whole city would have been paying attention when his innocence was announced.  

Once again, his humility and acknowledgement of human frailty must be noticed. As noted earlier while discussing verse 24, this acknowledgement of natural human frailties also clarifies the proper concept of the innocence of the prophets. The mention of Allaah’s mercy underscores the fact that Allaah mercifully helps those who do everything in their power to stay away from sinning. The more they try, the more Allaah helps. If a person abandons making conscious efforts to avoid sinning, his conscience becomes weaker and weaker by the constant onslaught of temptations until he is overwhelmed and falls into a sinful activity.

Once the greatness and strength of his character became known, the king was further inspired and wanted to make Yoosuf his own special advisor. Upon talking to Yoosuf, the King was left totally impressed.

وَقَالَ الْمَلِكُ ائْتُونِي بِهِ أَسْتَخْلِصْهُ لِنَفْسِي ۖ فَلَمَّا كَلَّمَهُ قَالَ إِنَّكَ الْيَوْمَ لَدَيْنَا مَكِينٌ أَمِينٌ ﴿٥٤﴾ قَالَ اجْعَلْنِي عَلَىٰ خَزَائِنِ الْأَرْضِ ۖ إِنِّي حَفِيظٌ عَلِيمٌ ﴿٥٥﴾

54 Now the king commanded, "Bring him to me, so that I dedicate him to myself." When Yoosuf was brought, the king told him, "Be assured that this day you stand before us as an authority figure and trusted." 55 Yoosuf said, "Make me in charge of all resources of the country, I am a good guardian and knowledgeable."

The king’s comment indicates that Yoosuf was already a trustworthy person of authority in his eyes. He was willing to use him in the best possible manner. Therefore, Yoosuf presented his credentials as deserving to be the highest official after the king. The king agreed and appointed him as his vizier or prime minister.

وَكَذَٰلِكَ مَكَّنَّا لِيُوسُفَ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَتَبَوَّأُ مِنْهَا حَيْثُ يَشَاءُ ۚ نُصِيبُ بِرَحْمَتِنَا مَن نَّشَاءُ ۖ وَلَا نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ ﴿٥٦﴾ وَلَأَجْرُ الْآخِرَةِ خَيْرٌ لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَكَانُوا يَتَّقُونَ ﴿٥٧﴾

56 That is how we gave power to Yoosuf in the country, with an authority to exercise control wherever he wanted. We reach with Our mercy whom We will and We do not waste the reward of those who excel. 57 However, the reward of the Hereafter is much better for those who believe and maintain Taqwa.

The wording "authority to exercise control wherever he wanted" indicates vice-royal or prime-ministerial responsibility, not just a superintendent of grain distribution or treasury. That is why he had his own throne and was called both ‘Azeez and king as indicated by verses 72, 78, 88 and 100.  The Bible in Genesis 41 says{footnote}The details of the Biblical verses may not be totally accurate, but the statement about the extent of Yoosuf’s authority is corroborated by the verse of the Qur-aan under discussion.


40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you." 41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt." 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, "Make way!" Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.

Someone may question why would a prophet of Allaah serve under the leadership of a Mushrik (polytheist) and for what purpose? By accepting to work for the king, had he not accepted employment that required enforcing the king’s command, rather than Allaah’s commands? Is replacing the un-Islamic system with Allaah’s system not a goal of a prophet? If yes, then how can he replace the system when he himself is a part of its enforcement? If no, then, is it acceptable in Islam for a believer to become a tool of implementing or maintaining an un-Islamic system while worshipping Allaah in his personal life? Then, how does it reconcile with his speech to the prisoners stating that "Command belongs only to Allaah. He has commanded that you do not perform worship or slave-like obedience to anyone except Him"?
We know from the Qur-aan that:

  • Only Allaah has a right as the Creator to give command and promulgate a system of life for people who should merely submit to Him in complete slave-like obedience in all aspects of their lives, throughout their lives;
  • Allaah has commanded people to live only by the Islamic system of justice, peace and excellence; and
  • He sent his prophets and messengers with the sole purpose of establishing and implementing that Islamic system completely and exclusively; thus, living by Islam, establishing its system completely and making it the only dominant way of life in their society or country was their mission in life.

A prophet or a messenger starts his mission by himself becoming the first Muslim and then continues his mission until he gains enough followers and authority in the land to complete the implementation and domination of the Deen. Between the start of the mission and the final attainment of the objectives, the mission goes through many stages. One of the stages is the attainment of power and authority in the land to be able to implement Islam as a complete system of life and to make it the dominant and governing system of the country. Obviously, changeover and replacement does not happen instantly like magic. It goes through a transitional process whereby different modules and elements of the Islamic system continue to be implemented step by step according to a plan that targets to make this transition as brief as humanly possible. Thus, gaining authority over the land is a must because without authority, Islam cannot be implemented as a complete and dominant system of life, and the sole objective for gaining authority is to establish the rule of Allaah through the implementation of the Deen.

However, the difference between a prophet and a messenger must be remembered. A prophet tries to establish the Deen of Allaah but he may or may not succeed despite his best efforts. Even if he succeeds, the complete purification of a society from the disbelievers’ influence is not mandated from Allaah for a prophet. He is like a leader of an Islamic movement except that he receives communications from Allaah to guide him in his work. On the other hand, a Messenger of Allaah is mandated to ensure complete supremacy of Islam in the society to which he is sent, completely pure of any interference or influence from the disbelievers. Yoosuf was a prophet of Allaah with the same duty as a Muslim and the same mission as a leader of the Islamic movement, but not the mandate of a messenger of Allaah.

Normally, a prophet starts a grassroots movement to attract followers who are committed to live by the Islamic system of life. Through them, he also gains power and authority that has deep roots in society and draws its strength and legitimacy from people, in addition to his ultimate support and legitimacy from Allaah. In the face of a well established monarchy in Egypt, Allaah SWT used a different route for Yoosuf to gain power and authority in the land so that Yoosuf could use his power to implement the Islamic system of justice and use his influence to popularize Islamic views within the masses. That is why when the king wanted to use his services, Yoosuf asked for the top level of authority, whereby the king delegated his governing authority to Yoosuf, choosing himself to become the nominal head of state. In explaining the phrase "authority to exercise control wherever he wanted", Ibn Jareer says that Yoosuf was given authority over everything in Egypt. In addition, he quoted the famous exegete Mujahid’s opinion who thought the king became Muslim on Yoosuf’s invitation, which might have been only his guess based on the king’s unprecedented way of delegating all powers to Yoosuf.

Considering that Yoosuf was a Muslim and a prophet of Allaah, he must have dealt with people during the famine with fairness, kindness and generosity, which would have also made the citizens obliged to him and opened their hearts to the call of Islam, resulting in wide spread conversions to Islam. Unfortunately, the books that were supposed to provide those details of his Islamic work have omitted anything Islamic he had done, and have instead wasted resources on providing extraneous details. Instead, they have opted to paint an ugly picture of Joseph’s personality accusing him of exploiting the public, when they were most vulnerable, by extracting all of people’s money, cattle and land in exchange for grain{footnote}The bible says: There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. 15 When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is all gone.” 16 “Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock. 18 When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.” 20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other. (Genesis 47:13-21)

The Talmud says: The people were soon left without means to purchase the corn they needed. In a short time they had to part with their cattle, and when the money thus secured was spent, they sold their land to Joseph, and even their persons.

{/footnote}, so much so that "Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other." The Talmud claims that he refused to sell grain to the people until they circumcised themselves. We believe that these kinds of statements do not reflect the personality of a prophet of Islam such as Yoosuf, but are rather the product and reflection of the warped thinking and unethical mentality of the writers of the Genesis and of the Talmud.  

We believe that Yoosuf was a kind-hearted Muslim who, as a prophet of Allaah, spread the Islamic message of Oneness of Allaah. One piece of information from the Bible that indicates the effectiveness of his Islamic work is the number of people who left Egypt with Moosa (Moses). When the Israelites came to Egypt, they were only a total of 70 persons. At the time of Exodus, "There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds{footnote}Exodus 12:37-38

{/footnote}." If the Bible is correct, where did all the millions{footnote}Keep in mind that the whole population of Egypt (including Israelites) at that time was estimated to be between 2 and 5 million.

{/footnote} of people (including women and children) come from? The Jewish researchers themselves estimate that "the maximum number of people (men, women and children) descended from Yaacov (Ya‘qoob) at the time of the exodus would be approximately 7,500.{footnote}Jacob Gebhart of Ancient Hebrew Research Center, http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/39_exodus.html

{/footnote}" Possibly, the additional people were those who converted to Islam at the invitation and influence of Yoosuf.

After mentioning the authority given to Yoosuf, the verse reminds people that the goodness practiced by them never goes to waste. It always produces good results in the world, but the real benefit that must be the focus of a believer’s noble endeavours is the pleasure of and rewards from Allaah SWT to be enjoyed in the everlasting Hereafter.

Now that Yoosuf was in charge of the affairs of the state, He made arrangements to acquire and store extra grain during the years of plenty and set up a network of storage and distribution centres throughout Egypt. He implemented a rationing system where people were given grain only according to a preset ration per person of a household. When the famine hit, it was so severe and so extensive that even the neighbouring countries were badly affected. People from those areas also had to come to Egypt to buy grain, but only after Yoosuf’s approval. The Qur-aan leaves out all these details because they are discernable from context and common sense. Thus, the next verse starts at the point where Yoosuf’s brothers arrived in Egypt to buy grain.

وَجَاءَ إِخْوَةُ يُوسُفَ فَدَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ فَعَرَفَهُمْ وَهُمْ لَهُ مُنكِرُونَ ﴿٥٨﴾ وَلَمَّا جَهَّزَهُم بِجَهَازِهِمْ قَالَ ائْتُونِي بِأَخٍ لَّكُم مِّنْ أَبِيكُمْ ۚ أَلَا تَرَوْنَ أَنِّي أُوفِي الْكَيْلَ وَأَنَا خَيْرُ الْمُنزِلِينَ ﴿٥٩﴾ فَإِن لَّمْ تَأْتُونِي بِهِ فَلَا كَيْلَ لَكُمْ عِندِي وَلَا تَقْرَبُونِ ﴿٦٠﴾ قَالُوا سَنُرَاوِدُ عَنْهُ أَبَاهُ وَإِنَّا لَفَاعِلُونَ ﴿٦١﴾ وَقَالَ لِفِتْيَانِهِ اجْعَلُوا بِضَاعَتَهُمْ فِي رِحَالِهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَعْرِفُونَهَا إِذَا انقَلَبُوا إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ ﴿٦٢﴾

58 (During the famine) Yoosuf’s brothers came and, seeking grain, presented themselves before him. He recognized them, but they remained ignorant of who he was. 59 When he had furnished them with their provisions, he said, "Next time, bring to me your half brother{footnote}Apparently, they had asked for the ration for the half brother who could not come with them.

{/footnote} from your father as well. Do you not realize that I give full ration and that I am the best of hosts? 60 If you do not bring him along, there will be no ration for you at all, nor should you approach me. 61 They said, "We will hopefully be able to convince his father; that we will surely do." 62 Yoosuf quietly instructed his staff that they should pack the merchandise that they paid for the ration back into their saddle bags along with the grain in order to ensure that when they return home (and unpack the bags), they appreciate the surprise and come back for more.

His brothers could never have fathomed that Yoosuf would be sitting like a king instead of labouring somewhere like a slave. In addition, when they threw him in the well, he was a boy of tender age with no facial hair. Thus they could not recognize him, but Yoosuf did recognize them. Without revealing his identity, he treated them honourably and even hosted them nicely{footnote}The Bible and Talmud, once again, paint a bad picture and claim that he treated them harshly, accused them of being spies, jailed them for three days and held back Simon as a surety for their bringing Benjamin in the next trip; but then also states that “Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey.” (Genesis 42)

{/footnote}, as indicated by the phrase "Do you not realize that … I am the best of hosts". Most probably, the brothers’ wanted to buy grain for Benjamin’s (Binyameen’s) household who was not with them and it was not allowed under that rationing rules to sell grain to people who do not come personally to get it so that  people could not buy extra grain at ration rates and sell it in the black market. The phrase "Do you not realize that I give full ration …" indicates that he gave them the appropriate quantity of ration for his younger brother’s family but also used this opportunity to demand that they bring their brother with them next time if they want to buy any grain at all. To give them surprise and extra incentive to rush back for more, he ordered his employees to pack their money in their bags without telling them.

فَلَمَّا رَجَعُوا إِلَىٰ أَبِيهِمْ قَالُوا يَا أَبَانَا مُنِعَ مِنَّا الْكَيْلُ فَأَرْسِلْ مَعَنَا أَخَانَا نَكْتَلْ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ ﴿٦٣﴾ قَالَ هَلْ آمَنُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ إِلَّا كَمَا أَمِنتُكُمْ عَلَىٰ أَخِيهِ مِن قَبْلُ ۖ فَاللَّـهُ خَيْرٌ حَافِظًا ۖ وَهُوَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ ﴿٦٤﴾ وَلَمَّا فَتَحُوا مَتَاعَهُمْ وَجَدُوا بِضَاعَتَهُمْ رُدَّتْ إِلَيْهِمْ ۖ قَالُوا يَا أَبَانَا مَا نَبْغِي ۖ هَـٰذِهِ بِضَاعَتُنَا رُدَّتْ إِلَيْنَا ۖ وَنَمِيرُ أَهْلَنَا وَنَحْفَظُ أَخَانَا وَنَزْدَادُ كَيْلَ بَعِيرٍ ۖ ذَٰلِكَ كَيْلٌ يَسِيرٌ ﴿٦٥﴾

63 So when they returned to their father, they told him, "O our father! Any further ration has been categorically denied to us; therefore, send our brother with us next time that we get the ration; and we will indeed guard him well." 64 He remarked, "Should I entrust you with him as I did with his brother before? Only Allaah is the best of the protectors; and He is the most Merciful of the merciful ones." 65 Then when they opened their baggage, they found their trading merchandise returned to them. They joyfully exclaimed, "O our father! What more can we desire? Here is all our trading merchandise returned to us. We will go{footnote}Word taken as granted in Arabic, and thus omitted, restored in English.

{/footnote}, bring provision for our family, protect our brother and acquire an additional camel’s load of grain; that is such an easy addition."  

Ya‘qoob’s comment "Only Allaah is the best of the protectors; and He is the most Merciful of the merciful ones" gives his sons a message that they have lost his trust since Yoosuf’s incident. If he has to send Binyameen, he will do so trusting Allaah only, not them.  

قَالَ لَنْ أُرْسِلَهُ مَعَكُمْ حَتَّىٰ تُؤْتُونِ مَوْثِقًا مِّنَ اللَّـهِ لَتَأْتُنَّنِي بِهِ إِلَّا أَن يُحَاطَ بِكُمْ ۖ فَلَمَّا آتَوْهُ مَوْثِقَهُمْ قَالَ اللَّـهُ عَلَىٰ مَا نَقُولُ وَكِيلٌ ﴿٦٦﴾ وَقَالَ يَا بَنِيَّ لَا تَدْخُلُوا مِن بَابٍ وَاحِدٍ وَادْخُلُوا مِنْ أَبْوَابٍ مُّتَفَرِّقَةٍ ۖ وَمَا أُغْنِي عَنكُم مِّنَ اللَّـهِ مِن شَيْءٍ ۖ إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّـهِ ۖ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ ۖ وَعَلَيْهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُتَوَكِّلُونَ ﴿٦٧﴾ وَلَمَّا دَخَلُوا مِنْ حَيْثُ أَمَرَهُمْ أَبُوهُم مَّا كَانَ يُغْنِي عَنْهُم مِّنَ اللَّـهِ مِن شَيْءٍ إِلَّا حَاجَةً فِي نَفْسِ يَعْقُوبَ قَضَاهَا ۚ وَإِنَّهُ لَذُو عِلْمٍ لِّمَا عَلَّمْنَاهُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٦٨﴾

66 (At the time of departure) Ya‘qoob said, "I will not send him with you until you give me a firm covenant in Allaah's name that you will most certainly bring him back to me, unless you are surrounded, with no way out." When they gave him their covenant, he said, "Allaah is Witness over what we have talked about." 67 And he instructed them, "O my sons! Do not enter all from the same gate but enter from different gates; but I cannot help you at all against any of the matters from Allaah. Command belongs only to Allaah. On Him do I rely and on Him must all the reliant rely." 68 And when they entered in the manner their father had ordered, it did not help them at all against any matter from Allaah. It was a concern in Ya‘qoob’s mind that he addressed. He was knowledgeable in what We had taught him, but most people do not know.

Considering an environment of fear and caution created by the devastating famine, a band of eleven strongmen entering a city could have been misconstrued; hence, Ya‘qoob asked his sons not to enter the city as a band from one gate. He also took a strong covenant from them before sending Binyameen along, although he knew and believed that only Allaah is the real protector and only His plan prevails. These precautions, once again, are an example of the correct concept of Tawakkul: do whatever is humanly possible and rely on Allaah for whatever is beyond one’s power and resources; then be content and patient with whatever is encountered accepting it as Allaah’s plan.

وَلَمَّا دَخَلُوا عَلَىٰ يُوسُفَ آوَىٰ إِلَيْهِ أَخَاهُ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي أَنَا أَخُوكَ فَلَا تَبْتَئِسْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿٦٩﴾

69 Now when they went in before Yoosuf, he received his full brother to stay with him and told him, "I am your brother, so do not feel distressed over what they have been doing."

Yoosuf had hosted his brothers during their first trip and he provided them the same facilities during this trip, but lodged his brother with himself where they could talk freely and update each other about the key events that had occurred during the period of separation. Yoosuf sensed that his brother was ill-treated by the other ten. He figured that it would be too risky to send him back with them because on the way to Egypt, they had no choice but to bring him along; on the way back, however, they could do something to him as they had done to Yoosuf himself. so he decided to keep Binyameen in Egypt but without disclosing his own identity to his other ten brothers. Although Yoosuf had full authority in Egypt and full backing of the king to do so, he did not want to misuse the privileges he enjoyed. He wanted to do it in a legal manner but without disclosing his identity at the moment. Allaah put an idea into his mind, which both brothers agreed upon{footnote}The Biblical account is quite different. According to the Genesis 43, Yoosuf invited all of them for a dinner, but there is no mention of him informing Benjamin of his identity or plan. According to the Talmud, Joseph revealed his identity to Benjamin magically: Joseph ordered his magic astrolabe to be brought to him, … Benjamin … then looked upon the astrolabe, and to his great astonishment he discovered by the aid of it that he who was sitting upon the throne before him was his brother Joseph.


فَلَمَّا جَهَّزَهُم بِجَهَازِهِمْ جَعَلَ السِّقَايَةَ فِي رَحْلِ أَخِيهِ ثُمَّ أَذَّنَ مُؤَذِّنٌ أَيَّتُهَا الْعِيرُ إِنَّكُمْ لَسَارِقُونَ ﴿٧٠﴾ قَالُوا وَأَقْبَلُوا عَلَيْهِم مَّاذَا تَفْقِدُونَ ﴿٧١﴾ قَالُوا نَفْقِدُ صُوَاعَ الْمَلِكِ وَلِمَن جَاءَ بِهِ حِمْلُ بَعِيرٍ وَأَنَا بِهِ زَعِيمٌ ﴿٧٢﴾ قَالُوا تَاللَّـهِ لَقَدْ عَلِمْتُم مَّا جِئْنَا لِنُفْسِدَ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَمَا كُنَّا سَارِقِينَ ﴿٧٣﴾ قَالُوا فَمَا جَزَاؤُهُ إِن كُنتُمْ كَاذِبِينَ ﴿٧٤﴾ قَالُوا جَزَاؤُهُ مَن وُجِدَ فِي رَحْلِهِ فَهُوَ جَزَاؤُهُ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الظَّالِمِينَ ﴿٧٥﴾ فَبَدَأَ بِأَوْعِيَتِهِمْ قَبْلَ وِعَاءِ أَخِيهِ ثُمَّ اسْتَخْرَجَهَا مِن وِعَاءِ أَخِيهِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ كِدْنَا لِيُوسُفَ ۖ مَا كَانَ لِيَأْخُذَ أَخَاهُ فِي دِينِ الْمَلِكِ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّـهُ ۚ نَرْفَعُ دَرَجَاتٍ مَّن نَّشَاءُ ۗ وَفَوْقَ كُلِّ ذِي عِلْمٍ عَلِيمٌ ﴿٧٦﴾

70 When he had furnished them with their provisions, he put the king’s drinking utensil (used for measuring ration) in his full brother’s saddlebag. (On their departure,) an announcer shouted out, "O caravaners! You are really thieves!" 71 Turning towards them, they enquired, "What are you missing?" 72 The employees explained, "We are missing the measure of the king." Yoosuf added, "And for the person who finds and brings it, there will be a camel-load of grain, and I am warrantor for it." 73 The brothers assured, "By Allaah! You surely know that we did not come to commit corruption in the country and we are no thieves." 74 The employees asked, "Then, what shall the retribution be if you happen to be liars?" 75 The brothers responded, "Its retribution? The person in whose bag it is found shall himself be the retribution; that is how we punish the wrongdoers." 76 So Yoosuf started searching their bags before his brother’s bag, then he brought it out of his brother's bag. Thus did We plan for Yoosuf. It did not suit him to take his brother by the Deen (law) of the king, but Allaah made it happen as He wanted. We raise in rank whoever We wish; and over every knowledgeable person is the All-Knowing.

The servant who called them thieves might have labelled them as such on his own, honestly believing that they could be the only people who could have walked away with the measuring utensil. Also, Yoosuf could have legitimately called them thieves because they stole him from his father{footnote}According to the Genesis 44, Joseph orders the steward of his house to put his silver cup in the youngest brother’s bag. Once the brothers had left, Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? 5 Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’” Even the punishment mentioned by the brothers is “If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”
10 “Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.” But the steward suggests “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.”

The Talmud adds: Joseph addressed his brethren, snarling, "What deed is this that ye have done, to steal away my cup? I know well, ye took it in order to discover with its help the whereabouts of your brother that hath disappeared."


Two points must be noted about "It did not suit him to take his brother by the Deen (law) of the king." By using the word "Deen" for the penal system of Egypt, Allaah SWT has clarified that the Deen is not only a set of beliefs and religious rituals but is a comprehensive term that applies to all systems and paradigms of governing life, including the penal system of a government. The second point is that it is not suitable for a prophet to live by any Deen other than Allaah’s Deen even during the transitional period when he is working on replacing the human systems with Allaah’s system.

About the phrase "It did not suit him", some people translate it as "It was not possible", which is a wrong translation. The Arabic phrase used in this verse has always been used at other places in the Qur-aan, without exception, to mean "It did not suit". Also, how can it not be possible when we know that every country in the world has some punishment for thieves? In addition, in a monarchy of those days the decision of the king or authority was itself the law. Using his authority, Yoosuf could have made the decision as he wanted. But he did not want to do so. He wanted to go by the rule of Allaah SWT.

By creating the circumstances that the brothers themselves proposed the punishment, Allaah SWT helped Yoosuf in completing his plan according to the Deen of Ibraheem AS, the rule of Allaah. Yoosuf was also very careful that, in executing his plan, no misstatement of facts or wrongful action was undertaken.

قَالُوا إِن يَسْرِقْ فَقَدْ سَرَقَ أَخٌ لَّهُ مِن قَبْلُ ۚ فَأَسَرَّهَا يُوسُفُ فِي نَفْسِهِ وَلَمْ يُبْدِهَا لَهُمْ ۚ قَالَ أَنتُمْ شَرٌّ مَّكَانًا ۖ وَاللَّـهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا تَصِفُونَ ﴿٧٧﴾ قَالُوا يَا أَيُّهَا الْعَزِيزُ إِنَّ لَهُ أَبًا شَيْخًا كَبِيرًا فَخُذْ أَحَدَنَا مَكَانَهُ ۖ إِنَّا نَرَاكَ مِنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ ﴿٧٨﴾ قَالَ مَعَاذَ اللَّـهِ أَن نَّأْخُذَ إِلَّا مَن وَجَدْنَا مَتَاعَنَا عِندَهُ إِنَّا إِذًا لَّظَالِمُونَ ﴿٧٩﴾

77 They reacted, "No wonder if he steals, a brother of his did steal before." But Yoosuf hiding his reaction in his heart, without disclosing it to them, said to himself, "You are in such a terrible condition! And Allaah is well aware of your accusations." 78 They pleaded, "O ‘Azeez (your majesty)! His father is a very old man, not strong enough to handle the shock; take any of us in his place, we see that you are such a magnanimous person." 79 He responded, "Allaah’s refuge do I seek from seizing anyone other than him with whom we found our property; we would then become the wrong-doers."  

This step on the part of Yoosuf proved to be a good test of his brothers’ attitude. It is apparent from his brothers’ remark that they had not corrected their ways or attitude as yet. They unduly accused Yoosuf of stealing, just to give an impression that all the brothers were good except those two who were from the same mother as if it was somehow their mother’s fault. This attitude on their part indicates the wisdom of Yoosuf’s decision not to send his brother with them.

They tried to placate Yoosuf to let Binyameen go, but Yoosuf did not budge. Worth noting is the caution Yoosuf used in saying "with whom we found our property" instead of saying "who stole".  

فَلَمَّا اسْتَيْأَسُوا مِنْهُ خَلَصُوا نَجِيًّا ۖ قَالَ كَبِيرُهُمْ أَلَمْ تَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ أَبَاكُمْ قَدْ أَخَذَ عَلَيْكُم مَّوْثِقًا مِّنَ اللَّـهِ وَمِن قَبْلُ مَا فَرَّطتُمْ فِي يُوسُفَ ۖ فَلَنْ أَبْرَحَ الْأَرْضَ حَتَّىٰ يَأْذَنَ لِي أَبِي أَوْ يَحْكُمَ اللَّـهُ لِي ۖ وَهُوَ خَيْرُ الْحَاكِمِينَ ﴿٨٠﴾ ارْجِعُوا إِلَىٰ أَبِيكُمْ فَقُولُوا يَا أَبَانَا إِنَّ ابْنَكَ سَرَقَ وَمَا شَهِدْنَا إِلَّا بِمَا عَلِمْنَا وَمَا كُنَّا لِلْغَيْبِ حَافِظِينَ ﴿٨١﴾ وَاسْأَلِ الْقَرْيَةَ الَّتِي كُنَّا فِيهَا وَالْعِيرَ الَّتِي أَقْبَلْنَا فِيهَا ۖ وَإِنَّا لَصَادِقُونَ ﴿٨٢﴾

80 Then when they despaired of (any flexibility from) him, they secluded themselves consulting privately. The eldest of them said, "Do you not know that your father took from you a firm covenant in Allaah's name and how you failed earlier in the case of Yoosuf? Therefore, I shall not depart from this land until my father permits me or Allaah decides for me, and He is the best of the judges. 81 Go back to your father and say, ‘O our father! Your son has indeed stolen; we testify only to what we know, and we were not the watchers over the unseen. 82 Ask at the town where we were, and the caravan with which we returned, and we certainly are truthful.’"

Some people try to determine what is meant by "the eldest of them". Although the eldest in age was Reuben, the most vocal of them was Judah. They try to conclude that Judah stayed behind instead of Reuben, the oldest in age{footnote}According to the Bible and the Talmud, at this juncture, Joseph discloses his identity. As the Genesis 45 “1 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 2And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.

Here is another example of Biblical writers’ forgetfulness of events: when the brothers come with Benjamin, Joseph asks, if their father is still alive. “They replied, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him. (Gen. 43:28)

Then, in the same trip, on disclosing himself: Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. (Gen. 45:3)

{/footnote}. But it is a pointless discussion, which has no implication on the meaning or the message of the story.  

Once again reflect on the tone of the statement they agreed to make to their father, especially the emphasis on "your son" instead of his name.

قَالَ بَلْ سَوَّلَتْ لَكُمْ أَنفُسُكُمْ أَمْرًا ۖ فَصَبْرٌ جَمِيلٌ ۖ عَسَى اللَّـهُ أَن يَأْتِيَنِي بِهِمْ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ ﴿٨٣﴾ وَتَوَلَّىٰ عَنْهُمْ وَقَالَ يَا أَسَفَىٰ عَلَىٰ يُوسُفَ وَابْيَضَّتْ عَيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْحُزْنِ فَهُوَ كَظِيمٌ ﴿٨٤﴾ قَالُوا تَاللَّـهِ تَفْتَأُ تَذْكُرُ يُوسُفَ حَتَّىٰ تَكُونَ حَرَضًا أَوْ تَكُونَ مِنَ الْهَالِكِينَ ﴿٨٥﴾ قَالَ إِنَّمَا أَشْكُو بَثِّي وَحُزْنِي إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَأَعْلَمُ مِنَ اللَّـهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٨٦﴾ يَا بَنِيَّ اذْهَبُوا فَتَحَسَّسُوا مِن يُوسُفَ وَأَخِيهِ وَلَا تَيْأَسُوا مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَا يَيْأَسُ مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّـهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْكَافِرُونَ ﴿٨٧﴾

83 (When Ya‘qoob was told this), he commented, "Rather, your minds have beguiled you into making up a tale; so the most fitting patience is my only option; maybe Allaah will bring them all back to me; surely He is the Knowing, the Wise." 84 And he turned away from them, and exclaimed, "Alas, my grief for Yoosuf!" – he had lost his eyesight because of grieving, while he was keeping most of it inside – 85 the brothers reacted, "By Allaah! You will keep on remembering Yoosuf until you become debilitated or die." 86 He responded, "I cry for my distress and grief only to Allaah, and I know from Allaah what you do not know. 87 O my sons! Go and enquire about Yoosuf and his brother, and despair not of Allaah's mercy; surely none despairs of Allaah's mercy except the disbelieving people."

Although they were not guilty this time, Ya‘qoob did not believe that his son could steal. Rather, they lost whatever little credibility they had after Yoosuf’s incident. Losing the second most beloved son, despite his immense grief, he did not resort to lamenting or wailing but resolved to be patient in the best possible manner. This incident reignited his grief for Yoosuf and, despite his efforts not to express it, he could not help exclaim, "Alas, my grief for Yoosuf!" He internalized the grief, withdrew from his sons, became aloof and quiet in temperament, expressing his feelings and wishes only to Allaah. The brothers had thrown Yoosuf away to attract their father’s full attention, but they lost even what they already enjoyed. Allaah has fashioned the operational system of the world such that bad deeds do not produce good results.

Despite the sadness which was a natural human reaction to the tragedies he was encountering, Ya‘qoob did not give up his hope from Allaah of being re-united with his sons. The continuation of famine forced his sons to go for more grain; but he also urged them to make efforts to find Yoosuf and his brother in addition to acquiring grain.    

فَلَمَّا دَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ قَالُوا يَا أَيُّهَا الْعَزِيزُ مَسَّنَا وَأَهْلَنَا الضُّرُّ وَجِئْنَا بِبِضَاعَةٍ مُّزْجَاةٍ فَأَوْفِ لَنَا الْكَيْلَ وَتَصَدَّقْ عَلَيْنَا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَجْزِي الْمُتَصَدِّقِينَ ﴿٨٨﴾

88 When (they went for ration again and) entered upon Yoosuf, they pleaded, "O ‘Azeez, adversity has afflicted us and our family and we have brought meagre merchandise, but please grant us full ration and be charitable to us; indeed Allaah rewards the charitable."

Now that the pride and arrogance of his brothers was replaced by their appeal for charitable help, it was the right time for Yoosuf to disclose his identity. Their hearts and minds were now in a tender condition to react positively to his kindness and to reform themselves and their attitude.

قَالَ هَلْ عَلِمْتُم مَّا فَعَلْتُم بِيُوسُفَ وَأَخِيهِ إِذْ أَنتُمْ جَاهِلُونَ ﴿٨٩﴾ قَالُوا أَإِنَّكَ لَأَنتَ يُوسُفُ ۖ قَالَ أَنَا يُوسُفُ وَهَـٰذَا أَخِي ۖ قَدْ مَنَّ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْنَا ۖ إِنَّهُ مَن يَتَّقِ وَيَصْبِرْ فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ ﴿٩٠﴾ قَالُوا تَاللَّـهِ لَقَدْ آثَرَكَ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْنَا وَإِن كُنَّا لَخَاطِئِينَ ﴿٩١﴾ قَالَ لَا تَثْرِيبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْيَوْمَ ۖ يَغْفِرُ اللَّـهُ لَكُمْ ۖ وَهُوَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ ﴿٩٢﴾ اذْهَبُوا بِقَمِيصِي هَـٰذَا فَأَلْقُوهُ عَلَىٰ وَجْهِ أَبِي يَأْتِ بَصِيرًا وَأْتُونِي بِأَهْلِكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ ﴿٩٣﴾

89 He asked, "Do you know what you did to Yoosuf and his brother when you were ignorant?" 90 They exclaimed, "Are you then really Yoosuf?" He affirmed, "I am Yoosuf and this is my brother; Allaah has indeed been gracious to us. Certainly whoever maintains Taqwa and perseveres, Allaah does not waste the reward of those who pursue excellence." 91 They acknowledged, "By Allaah! Indeed Allaah has preferred you above us, and we certainly were those at fault." 92 He declared, "There will be no censure against you this day! May Allaah forgive you, and He is the most Merciful of the merciful. 93 Go with this shirt of mine and lay it on my father's face, He will regain a clear sight. Then come to me along with all your families."

Even when reminding them of their bad behaviour, Yoosuf does it in a way so that they do not feel blamed or offended. He rather blames "ignorance" for their bad behaviour. Ignorance in the Qur-aan usually means being overtaken by emotions in such a way that a person behaves as if he does not know the right from the wrong.

The brothers’ exclamation shows that they were already sensing or suspecting it but could not fathom any possibility of him being at that high a position so they kept rejecting those ideas or suspicions from their minds.

Yoosuf duly attributes his success to Allaah’s grace. He also makes the point that Allaah does not let go to waste the efforts of those who continue to excel in maintaining Taqwa in all kinds of the circumstance they encounter, and in remaining steadfast with complete reliance on Allaah for future circumstances. Only such people deserve Allaah’s favour, grace and bounty. This is the essence and the highlight of the messages conveyed through this story.

Once they acknowledged their fault and superiority of Yoosuf, he immediately put them at ease by declaring that no censure, much less any revenge, would be undertaken or sought. The brothers could easily believe in him because of his earlier gestures of hospitality and kindness. In addition to personally forgiving them, he also sought Allaah’s forgiveness for them. The punishment for a sin that does an injustice to a human being can be avoided in the Hereafter only when it is forgiven both by the victim and by Allaah SWT. Yoosuf initiated both types of forgiveness for his brothers. This is the kind of excellence, called "Ihsaan" in Islam, that the highest level of Taqwa develops in the personality of a believer.

Two points should be noted about such forgiveness:

Firstly, Allaah SWT encourages a true believer to forgive crimes of others against his person when he has the full authority, power and opportunity to execute proper justice for the affliction he suffered. The time for forgiveness is when the perpetrator feels totally helpless and vulnerable, recognizes his fault and does not expect any clemency or forgiveness considering the nature of his crimes. Granting that undeserved and unexpected forgiveness is what wins hearts, minds and loyalty of even the staunchest enemies. Our Prophet Muĥammad ŝall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was master of winning hearts through that kind of magnanimity and kindness. Many of his ardently loving followers were his former bitter enemies. Even when he conquered Makkah, he forgave all of his persecutors quoting the same sentence of Yoosuf. Forgiveness by someone who does not have any power to do anything, or towards a perpetrator who does not even recognize that he has done anything wrong may bring some reward from Allaah but does not necessarily create any change in the behaviour of the perpetrator.

Secondly, no governing authority of any kind – not even a prophet, messenger, president, or a ruler – has any right to let any wrongdoing go unpunished other than something personal against their own person or to forgive any crime committed against another person unless that person himself or herself genuinely forgives on his or her own accord and free will, without any pressure or coercion.

To send the good news to his father, Yoosuf sent his shirt, as a physical evidence of his being alive and well, to compensate for the lack of credibility his brothers had with his father. It was a very personal thing that had touched his body and contained his body scent{footnote}There is no mention of these details in the Bible or the Talmud. According to the Bible, the message sent by Yoosuf was: ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’ … 23 And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. (Gen. 45) I do not know why would he send all these things when he is to come right away to Egypt!

{/footnote}. It may raise the question as to how Ya‘qoob would know that it was Yoosuf’s shirt and how Yoosuf’s shirt would restore his eyesight. These questions are answered by the next set of verses and comments on them.

وَلَمَّا فَصَلَتِ الْعِيرُ قَالَ أَبُوهُمْ إِنِّي لَأَجِدُ رِيحَ يُوسُفَ ۖ لَوْلَا أَن تُفَنِّدُونِ ﴿٩٤﴾ قَالُوا تَاللَّـهِ إِنَّكَ لَفِي ضَلَالِكَ الْقَدِيمِ ﴿٩٥﴾ فَلَمَّا أَن جَاءَ الْبَشِيرُ أَلْقَاهُ عَلَىٰ وَجْهِهِ فَارْتَدَّ بَصِيرًا ۖ قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُل لَّكُمْ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مِنَ اللَّـهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٩٦﴾ قَالُوا يَا أَبَانَا اسْتَغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا إِنَّا كُنَّا خَاطِئِينَ ﴿٩٧﴾ قَالَ سَوْفَ أَسْتَغْفِرُ لَكُمْ رَبِّي ۖ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ‌ الرَّحِيمُ ﴿٩٨﴾

94 When the caravan departed from Egypt, their father said, "I definitely sense Yoosuf’s scent, though you may disregard it as my senility." 95 The people of the house remarked, "By Allaah, you truly are lost in the past." 96 So when the bearer of good news came, he put Yoosuf’s shirt on his face and he regained his sight, then Ya‘qoob commented, "Did I not say to you that I know from Allaah what you do not know?" 97 The brothers requested, "O our father! Ask for us forgiveness of our sins, for we were truly at fault." 98 He responded, "I shall ask forgiveness of my Lord for you; He surely is the Forgiving, the Merciful."

Imagine that Ya‘qoob sensed Yoosuf’s scent as soon as the caravan departed.{footnote}This is how Jacob reacted according to the Bible: 26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. (Gen. 46)

{/footnote} This was a matter between two prophets who are granted special powers by Allaah as and when He wants to grant them. Ya‘qoob did not sense Yoosuf’s scent from the same distance for so long when he was grieving for him. At this moment, Allaah made it possible. Ya‘qoob’s regaining his sight is also a miraculous matter.{footnote}There is not mention of his losing eyesight in the Bible. The Talmud reports that Jacob sent a letter to Joseph in which the following was mentioned: “My children surrounded me, and begged for something to eat, but, alas, I am very old, and I cannot see with mine eyes, for they are heavy with the weight of years, and also on account of my never-ceasing tears for my son Joseph, who hath been taken from me.” But it does not mention anywhere how he started seeing again.


Also note that the bad news of disappearance of Yoosuf was delivered to Ya‘qoob using Yoosuf’s shirt as evidence, the good news of their reunions was also delivered using Yoosuf’s shirt as evidence.

The brothers’ acknowledging their fault in front of their father and asking him to seek forgiveness for them, indicates their repentance and the reformation of their attitude.

Then, as directed by Yoosuf, the whole clan packed up and went to Egypt.

فَلَمَّا دَخَلُوا عَلَىٰ يُوسُفَ آوَىٰ إِلَيْهِ أَبَوَيْهِ وَقَالَ ادْخُلُوا مِصْرَ إِن شَاءَ اللَّـهُ آمِنِينَ ﴿٩٩﴾

99 Then when they{footnote}The parents, the brothers and their families.

{/footnote} entered the presence of Yoosuf, he provided a home for his parents with himself, and welcomed all of them saying, "Enter Egypt, Allaah willing, to live in peace and security."

Yoosuf welcomes them and lodges his parents with himself. Then they all gather at his place.

وَرَفَعَ أَبَوَيْهِ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ وَخَرُّوا لَهُ سُجَّدًا ۖ وَقَالَ يَا أَبَتِ هَـٰذَا تَأْوِيلُ رُؤْيَايَ مِن قَبْلُ قَدْ جَعَلَهَا رَبِّي حَقًّا ۖ وَقَدْ أَحْسَنَ بِي إِذْ أَخْرَجَنِي مِنَ السِّجْنِ وَجَاءَ بِكُم مِّنَ الْبَدْوِ مِن بَعْدِ أَن نَّزَغَ الشَّيْطَانُ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ إِخْوَتِي ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي لَطِيفٌ لِّمَا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ ﴿١٠٠﴾ رَبِّ قَدْ آتَيْتَنِي مِنَ الْمُلْكِ وَعَلَّمْتَنِي مِن تَأْوِيلِ الْأَحَادِيثِ ۚ فَاطِرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ أَنتَ وَلِيِّي فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ ۖ تَوَفَّنِي مُسْلِمًا وَأَلْحِقْنِي بِالصَّالِحِينَ ﴿١٠١﴾

100 He seated his parents on his throne and they all fell down in prostration, and he said, "O my father! This is the fulfilment of my earlier dream; my Lord has made it true! He was really excellent to me when He brought me out of prison and brought all of you from the desert after Satan had incited strife between me and my brothers. Indeed my Lord is Subtle in fulfilling what He wants, and He surely is the Knowing, the Wise. 101 My Lord! You have bestowed on me some sovereignty and taught me understanding of the reality of matters. O Creator of the universe through rupture{footnote}The word Faatir means the One Who created out of nothing by explosion, rupture or bursting open.

{/footnote}! You are my Guardian in this world and the Hereafter; make me die as a Muslim and join me with the righteous."

When Yoosuf took his seat on his throne and his brothers could not help but bow to him, he pointed out to his father the fulfillment of the dream that he had confided only in him. Instead of feeling proud of his status, he humbly acknowledges the grace of Allaah and absolves his brothers from blame by pointing out that what they did was only because of the incitement of Shayŧaan. He earnestly seeks Allaah’s mercy and guardianship for remaining on the path of Islam and for being included in the righteous people.{footnote}There being no room for points of guidance in the Bible, it does not mention these comments or Du’aa of Yoosuf.

The throne does not mean the throne of the king of Egypt but Yoosuf’s official throne as the second in command. Prostration in this Soorah is used only in its usual meaning of bowing for respect. It is not used here as the special Islamic term designated for the prostration (Sajdah) that is performed for Allaah during worship by putting one’s knees, hands and face on the ground. Prostration in the sense of the special Islamic act of worship has been exclusive for Allaah and has never been allowed by Allaah for any human being, regardless of who the person is.

This concludes Yoosuf’s story answering the question that Makkans had asked him on the behest of the Jews of Yathrib. Allaah SWT revealed the story that answered their question, but also told it in such a miraculous manner that: it is free from all the inconsistencies and pure of all the myths that are found in the Bible and the Talmud; it is clean of any extraneous details; it corrects the nonsensical information provided by those books; it adds crucial points missed by them; and it includes very important discourses of Yoosuf omitted by those books. In addition, it imparted many significant lessons in Islamic behaviour as well as foreshadowed the result of the struggle between the Prophet and the Makkans. Now, that the story is finished, the reader can easily appreciate why the Qur-aan called it the best of the stories.  

The reader will also notice that dreams figure quite significantly in the story, indicating that the Egyptian society placed significant emphasis on dreams and their interpretation in those days. That fact is that every society or era has its peculiar emphasis on a certain expertise. When Allaah SWT sends a prophet or a messenger, he bestows upon them miracles in accordance with whatever expertise is considered a source of pride in that society. In that area of expertise, the prophet’s miracle demonstrates such an excellence that people are forced to acknowledge that it is beyond human capability and that it can only be from Allaah, thus establishing the truth of the prophet. In this case, Yoosuf was given the miraculous ability to interpret dreams accurately. The emphasis of the Egyptian society had shifted towards magic by the time of Moses, which is why his miracle was of that nature. At the time of Jesus, physical healing was considered an exceptional talent, necessitating his miracles to be of the healing kind. Because the Arabs were arrogantly proud of their linguistic abilities, eloquence and especially taking conciseness -- conveying the most possible thoughts in the fewest possible words – to its limit, Allaah SWT revealed the Qur-aan in a prose of such superior quality, elegance and conciseness that the Arabs were stunned by its standard and conceded that it was beyond human capability to compose prose of that superb quality. This Soorah itself is a beautiful example of that eloquence, conciseness and elegance.

One would expect that after witnessing such a wonderful miracle right in front of their eyes, the Makkans would accept the guidance, but unfortunately when negative emotions such as jealousy, prejudice, arrogance and egoism block the minds of people, they disregard even the naked reality.

ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ أَنبَاءِ الْغَيْبِ نُوحِيهِ إِلَيْكَ ۖ وَمَا كُنتَ لَدَيْهِمْ إِذْ أَجْمَعُوا أَمْرَهُمْ وَهُمْ يَمْكُرُونَ ﴿١٠٢﴾ وَمَا أَكْثَرُ النَّاسِ وَلَوْ حَرَصْتَ بِمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿١٠٣﴾ وَمَا تَسْأَلُهُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ أَجْرٍ ۚ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرٌ لِّلْعَالَمِينَ ﴿١٠٤﴾ وَكَأَيِّن مِّنْ آيَةٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ يَمُرُّونَ عَلَيْهَا وَهُمْ عَنْهَا مُعْرِضُونَ ﴿١٠٥﴾ وَمَا يُؤْمِنُ أَكْثَرُهُم بِاللَّـهِ إِلَّا وَهُم مُّشْرِكُونَ ﴿١٠٦﴾ أَفَأَمِنُوا أَن تَأْتِيَهُمْ غَاشِيَةٌ مِّنْ عَذَابِ اللَّـهِ أَوْ تَأْتِيَهُمُ السَّاعَةُ بَغْتَةً وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ ﴿١٠٧﴾

102 O Muĥammad! This story is from the matters unknown to you that We reveal to you – you were not with them when they reached a consensus on their action plan and were conspiring. 103 Yet most of these people{footnote}Those who asked the question.

{/footnote} will not become believers, no matter how eager you may be. 104 And you are not even asking for any compensation for your services; it is nothing other than a reminder for all peoples. 105 And how many a sign in the heavens and the earth do they pass by? Yet they ignore them. 106 And most of them do not believe in Allaah without ascribing partners to Him. 107 Do they then feel secure that there may come to them an overwhelming part of Allaah's punishment or suddenly the Moment of the end of the world may arrive while they do not suspect it? 108 Conclude by saying, "This is my path that I invite you to Allaah alone, I and those who follow me have adopted it based on rational insight; and exalted in glory is Allaah, and I am not one of those who ascribe partners to Him."

As the Makkans were attentive and listening to the story, it was a good opportunity to invite them to open their minds and make them think rationally. Thus, they have been invited to reflect on why would the Prophet lie in this respect? He had no motive to do so as he did not expect any return or benefit. It was totally a selfless effort.

Then, their attention has been drawn to the signs of Allaah in the universe. If they just start thinking rationally and reflecting on all the creations of Allaah SWT in the universe and on the earth, that reflection will be enough to guide them to the One, Unique and Infinite Creator that Allaah is. Unfortunately they do not use their minds, nor do they reflect. Instead, they continue assigning partners to Allaah while blindly following their forefathers.

One reason people do not pay attention towards the important realities that Islam point outs to them is that they are so busy and preoccupied with their worldly affairs that they cannot be bothered by such matters. They are being warned that their death or the Day of Judgment will arrive suddenly, catching them off guard, and they will be gone before they even realize it.

Thus, as a concluding remark, they are being invited to the straight and rational path of Islam. The basic reason people ascribe partners to Allaah SWT is that they do not have the proper understanding of the glory and infiniteness of Allaah SWT. Their faulty understanding leads them to assign "helpers" to Allaah in doing different things and playing different supportive roles. By words such as "exalted in glory is Allaah ", the Qur-aan repeatedly informs them that Allaah is free of and exalted infinitely above such weaknesses that their faulty understanding ascribes to Him. He does not need any helpers, partners or intercessors for playing any role whatsoever.

Many people had trouble understanding how a person who is born and raised in their midst can suddenly be appointed as a messenger of Allaah and why Allaah would destroy them if they did not listen to that messenger. The next set of verses reminds people that it is not the way of Allaah that a stranger or an angel is sent as a messenger to any locality. Allaah has always selected a person from a society to be his messenger. Once a messenger is sent, people are given the full opportunity to understand and absorb the message which is presented to them in a variety of ways and styles to exhaust all opportunities of guiding them aright. When all attempts fail, they are destroyed. On the other hand the believers enjoy success in this world and even more in the Hereafter.

قُلْ هَـٰذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ عَلَىٰ بَصِيرَةٍ أَنَا وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِي ۖ وَسُبْحَانَ اللَّـهِ وَمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ ﴿١٠٨﴾ وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ إِلَّا رِجَالًا نُّوحِي إِلَيْهِم مِّنْ أَهْلِ الْقُرَىٰ ۗ أَفَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَيَنظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۗ وَلَدَارُ الْآخِرَةِ خَيْرٌ لِّلَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا ۗ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ ﴿١٠٩﴾ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا اسْتَيْأَسَ الرُّسُلُ وَظَنُّوا أَنَّهُمْ قَدْ كُذِبُوا جَاءَهُمْ نَصْرُنَا فَنُجِّيَ مَن نَّشَاءُ ۖ وَلَا يُرَدُّ بَأْسُنَا عَنِ الْقَوْمِ الْمُجْرِمِينَ ﴿١١٠﴾ لَقَدْ كَانَ فِي قَصَصِهِمْ عِبْرَةٌ لِّأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ ۗ مَا كَانَ حَدِيثًا يُفْتَرَىٰ وَلَـٰكِن تَصْدِيقَ الَّذِي بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَتَفْصِيلَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً لِّقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ ﴿١١١﴾

109 We did not send any messengers before you except the men from the towns’ local residents, to whom We sent revelations. Have they{footnote}The Makkan chiefs

{/footnote} not then travelled in the land and realized what was the end of the rejecters of the messengers before them and that the home of the Hereafter is better for those who (believed in messengers and) adopted Taqwa? Will you not then use reason? 110 (In all those cases, the rejecters were given respite) until, when the messengers despaired of their people and the people assumed that they had indeed been lied to, our help came to the messengers and only whom We willed were saved; and Our punishment is not averted from the guilty people. 111 There is, in their stories, a lesson for prudent people. The Qur-aan is not a forged narrative, but a confirmation of the existing Scripture, a detailed exposition of every aspect of Deen, a guidance and a mercy for people who believe.


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