Showing posts with label Jealousy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jealousy. Show all posts

Tuesday 26 February 2019

Surah Yusuf (Joseph): Exegesis of the 12th Chapter of the Holy Quran - Part II (Verses 23-35)

Sūrat Yūsuf  is the twelfth surah with 111 ayahs with two rukus, part of the 12th-13th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an.

The first part of the segmented posts on the exegesis of Surah Yusuf contained verses 1-22 which dealt with the dreaming of the Prophet Yusuf and its interpretation by his father Prophet Ya'yah (Jacob, peace be upon them both). the plot of his ten brothers and throwing him in a well by deceit and Yusuf's retrieval by a passing convoy and his selling away to a rich merchant. The merchant, sensing the little boy to be from a good family,  took him home and raised him like his own son or as a trusted slave.

When the Prophet Yusuf grew up, he grew up to be a handsome young man with captivating beauty. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)  is believed to have once said, "One half of all the beauty God apportioned for mankind went to Prophet Yusuf and his mother; the other one half went to the rest of mankind."

This beauty of Prophet Yusuf attracted the merchant's lustful wife, Zuleikha, which put the Prophet Yusuf in an awkward situation despite the fact that he remained steadfast to her advances. This second part of the Surah Yusuf (verses 23-35) explains in detail this particular incident.

Let us now read the translation and exegesis in English of the second part (For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given below):

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

وَرَٰوَدَتْهُ ٱلَّتِى هُوَ فِى بَيْتِهَا عَن نَّفْسِهِۦ وَغَلَّقَتِ ٱلْأَبْوَٰبَ وَقَالَتْ هَيْتَ لَكَ قَالَ مَعَاذَ ٱللَّهِ إِنَّهُۥ رَبِّىٓ أَحْسَنَ مَثْوَاىَ إِنَّهُۥ لَا يُفْلِحُ ٱلظَّٰلِمُونَ
(23) And it so happened that the lady in whose house Yusuf was living, sought to tempt him to herself, and one day bolting the doors she said: "Come on now!" Yusuf answered: "May Allah grant me refuge! My Lord has provided an honourable abode for me (so how can I do something so evil)? Such wrong-doers never prosper. (24) And she advanced towards him, and had Yusuf not perceived a sign from his Lord he too would have advanced towards her. Thus was Yusuf shown a sign from his Lord that We might avert from him all evil and indecency, for indeed he was one of Our chosen servants.
“Evidence of his Lord (verse 24:  Yusuf not perceived a sign from his Lord)” means inspiration from Allah to rouse his conscience to the fact that it was not worthy of him to yield to the temptation by the woman. As regards to the question, “What was that evidence”, it has been stated in the preceding verse, that is: My Lord has shown much kindness towards me. Should I, then, misbehave like this? Such workers of iniquity never fare well. This was the divine evidence that saved Prophet Yusuf in the prime of youth from that great temptation. The significance of “And he would have desired her, if it had not been that he saw the evidence (sign) of his Lord” is this: “Even a Prophet like Yusuf could not have been able to save himself from sin, had not Allah guided him rightly with His evidence. Incidentally, this verse makes plain the nature of the immunity of Prophets from sin. It does not mean that a Prophet is infallible and incapable of committing any error, offense or sin or doing wrong or making a mistake. What it means is this: though a Prophet possesses passions, emotions, and carnal desires like other human beings, and is capable of committing a sin, he is so virtuous and God fearing that he never deliberately cherishes any evil intentions, for he is endowed with such great arguments from his Lord as do not allow the lusts of the flesh overpower the voice of his conscience. And if ever he succumbs inadvertently to any of the human weaknesses, Allah at once sends a revelation to him to set him on the right path. For the consequences of his error do not remain confined to his own person but react on the whole mankind, for even his slightest error might mislead the world to the most horrible sins.

This incident took place in the life of Yusuf because this was essential for his spiritual training: "It was Our will to pass him through this hard test so that he should become immune from indecency and immodesty, for he would have to apply all his powers of piety to withstand such a great temptation, and thus become really so strong as not to yield to such things in future as well." The importance and the need of such a hard training becomes quite obvious, if we keep in view the moral conditions of the Egyptian society of that period. We can have a glimpse of this from (Ayats 30-32). It appears that the women in general and those of high society in particular, enjoyed almost the same sexual freedom as is rampant today in the civilized West and in the Westernized East. Allah made arrangements for the special training of Prophet Yusuf in the house of his master because he had to perform his divine mission in a perverted society, and that too as a ruler and not as a common man. It is thus obvious from the behavior of those women of high rank, who did not feel any shame nor modesty in openly admiring the beauty of the young slave and from that of the lady of the house who was not ashamed of confessing openly that she did her best to tempt him and would continue to do so, that they would have done all they could to allure the young handsome ruler. Thus Allah not only made Prophet Yusuf strong enough to resist such temptations in future by passing him through the hard test, but also filled the ladies with despair of gaining any success in this matter.

The next few verses explain the event when the woman chased Yusuf and in trying to get hold of him, she pulled his shirt from behind which tore away. While this drama was on, the man of the house along with a visitor walked in and saw Yusuf with his shirt torn from the back. Seeing Yusuf in an awkward situation, the woman straightaway blamed Yusuf for making advances on her and demanded her husband to imprison him. 
(25) Then both of them rushed to the door, each seeking to get ahead of the other, and she tore Yusuf's shirt from behind. Then both of them found the husband of the lady at the door. Seeing him she said: "What should be the punishment of him who has foul designs on your wife except that he should be imprisoned or subjected to painful chastisement?" 
When her husband heard the story of the incident, he made this proposal: As each of them accuses the other and there is no eye witness of what happened between the two, the matter should be decided by the help of the circumstantial evidence, by examining the condition of Yusuf’s shirt. Obviously this was a very reasonable way of deciding the matter, and there was, therefore, no need to resort to a miracle. According to some traditions this witness was an infant, lying in the cradle, whom Allah had given the power of speech for giving this evidence. As this story is not supported by any authority, there is no reason why the obvious, plain and reasonable thing should not be accepted that the witness was a wise and experienced member of the family of the wife, instead of having resort to a miracle based on an unauthentic tradition. 
(26) Yusuf said: "It is she who was trying to tempt me to herself." And a witness belonging to her own household testified (on grounds of circumstantial evidence): "If his shirt is torn from the front, then she is telling the truth and he is a liar.(27) But if his shirt is torn from behind, then she has lied, and he is truthful."
This is what was implied in the evidence: If Yusuf’s shirt is torn from the front, it means that Yusuf is the aggressor and she has struggled to defend her honor. But if the shirt is rent from the back, it is obvious that he must have been running away from her and she must have been tugging from behind. The circumstantial evidence implied another thing. As the witness invited the master’s attention to Prophet Yusuf’s shirt only, it meant that there was no sign at all of violence on the garments of the woman, for had he been the aggressor, there must have been some signs of violence on her garments.
(28) So when the husband saw Yusuf's shirt torn from behind he exclaimed: "Surely, this is one of the tricks of you women; your tricks are indeed great.(29) Yusuf, disregard this. And you - woman - ask forgiveness for your sin, for indeed it is you who has been at fault."

Here it may be of interest to note that in the Bible and Talmud, the incident is described differently:
  • And she caught him by his garment, saying: Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand and fled, and got himself out. And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, that she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying: See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got himself out. And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home...And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying: After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound. (Gen. 39: 12-16, 19-20).
  • In Talmud it says: ....hearing the accusation, Potiphar commanded at once that the lad should be whipped severely. Then he carried Joseph before the judges............They ordered that the torn garment should be brought to them and upon an examination of the same, they pronounced Joseph not guilty. (The Talmud Selections, H. Polano, pp. 81-82). Obviously this version is also faulty, for it cannot be imagined that a person of such a high rank would himself take the case to a court that his own slave had tried to assault his wife criminally. 
  • Incidentally, this Quranic version of the story is a clear proof of the fact that it has no copied stories from the Israelite traditions as the pseudo-orientalists allege, but has, on the other hand, corrected them and told the real facts to the world.
In verses 30-31, the incident during assembly of Zulikeha's friends is mentioned, who had started to ridicule her for having fell for a slave.

(30) And some ladies in the city began to say: "The chief's wife, violently in love with her houseboy, is out to tempt him. We think she is clearly mistaken."
فَلَمَّا سَمِعَتْ بِمَكْرِهِنَّ أَرْسَلَتْ إِلَيْهِنَّ وَأَعْتَدَتْ لَهُنَّ مُتَّكَـًٔا وَءَاتَتْ كُلَّ وَٰحِدَةٍ مِّنْهُنَّ سِكِّينًا وَقَالَتِ ٱخْرُجْ عَلَيْهِنَّ فَلَمَّا رَأَيْنَهُۥٓ أَكْبَرْنَهُۥ وَقَطَّعْنَ أَيْدِيَهُنَّ وَقُلْنَ حَٰشَ لِلَّهِ مَا هَٰذَا بَشَرًا إِنْ هَٰذَآ إِلَّا مَلَكٌ كَرِيمٌ 
(31) Hearing of their sly talk the chief's wife sent for those ladies, and arranged for them a banquet, and got ready couches, and gave each guest a knife. Then, while they were cutting and eating the fruit, she signaled Yusuf: "Come out to them." When the ladies saw him they were so struck with admiration that they cut their hands, exclaiming: "Allah preserve us. This is no mortal human. This is nothing but a noble angel!"
(32) She said: "So now you see! This is the one regarding whom you reproached me. Indeed I tried to tempt him to myself but he held back, although if he were not to follow my order, he would certainly be imprisoned and humiliated."
The incident quoted above is an open declaration of woman of the house's immoral designs and show that the moral condition of the higher class of the Egyptian society had declined to the lowest ebb. It is quite obvious that the women whom she had invited must have been ladies belonging to the upper most stratum of the society. The very fact that she presented her beloved before them without any hesitation, in order to convince them of his beauty and youth that had urged her to fall in love with him, shows that there was nothing uncommon in this demonstration. Then these ladies did not reproach her but themselves practically demonstrated that, in those circumstances, they themselves would have done the same that she did. Above all, the hostess did not feel that it was immodest to declare openly: No doubt, I sought to seduce him and he succeeded in escaping from me. Yet I am not going to give him up. If he will not do as I bid him, he shall be cast into prison and humbled and disgraced.

Surrounded by lust of the society that were homing on to him due to his beauty that attracted lustful feelings of women to him, Yusuf thus very humbly invokes his Lord to protect him from those traps of sin, for he is afraid of the common human weaknesses and cries out: My Lord, I am weak. I fear lest these temptations should overpower me, I would rather prefer imprisonment to doing such an evil thing into which they are tempting to ensnare me. 
(33) Yusuf said: "My Lord! I prefer imprisonment to what they ask me to do. And if You do not avert from me the guile of these women, I will succumb to their attraction and lapse into ignorance." (34) Thereupon his Lord granted his prayer, and averted their guile from him. Surely He alone is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (35) Then it occurred to them to cast Yusuf into prison for a while even though they had seen clear signs (of Yusuf's innocence and of the evil ways of their ladies).
At this juncture, thus Allah listened to His chosen prophet and helped in being imprisoned so that he may be saved of any harm that may come to him. In fact the chain of events right from the first verse is a continuous training and hardening of Yusuf by Allah by putting him to various tests and his landing into prison still had a meaningful impact on the life of the people of Egypt which was saved due to correct and timely interpretation of the King's dream by imprisoned Yusuf.  We will dwell on the time Yusuf spent in the prison in the Third Part in detail.

The mention of the women of Egypt that labelled charges on Prophet Yusuf will again be made in verses 50-53.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrat Yūsuf  with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Part backwards for chapters in 30th Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References1 |  2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |
An effort has been made to gather explanation of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic souses and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. However, those wanting detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to sites the references of which are given above.

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Thursday 21 February 2019

Surah Yusuf (Joseph): Exegesis of the 12th Chapter of the Holy Quran - Part I (Verses 1-22)

Sūrat Yūsuf  is the twelfth surah with 111 ayahs with two rukus, part of the 12th-13th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an.

Since this surah is based on the life story of Prophet Yusuf (Joseph, peace be upon him) and chronologically describes the events of his life, we have divided the exegesis of the surah in four parts as already described in the Overview posted earlier. In this post, we will deliberated first 22 ayahs / ayats of the surah which deal with the early life of young Yusuf, his dream and its interpretation by his father, Ya'ya (Biblical Jacob) who himself was a prophet of Allah. And later the jealousy f his brothers towards him and throwing him into a well with the intention of murdering him and telling their father that Yusuf had been eaten away by  a wolf. However, Allah saved Yusuf by a passing caravan and adopted by a rich merchant, in whose house he grew u to be a young handsome young man that put him in great trouble.

Before the exegesis of the verses 1-22 is deliberated upon, here some information about the Prophet Ya'qub (Jacob, peace be upon him) and his family as found in the earlier scriptures:
  • Joseph, son of Jacob and Rachel (the favorite of Jacob's two wives, and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin), lived in the land of Canaan with ten half-brothers, one full brother, and at least one half-sister. He was Rachel's firstborn and Jacob's eleventh son. Of all the sons, Joseph was preferred by his father, and this is represented by a "long coat of many colors (In the Hebrew Bible, the coat of many colors is the name for the garment that Joseph owned, which was given to him by his father, Jacob.)".
  • Canaan was a Semitic-speaking region in the Ancient Near East during the late 2nd millennium BC. The name Canaan appears throughout the Bible, where it corresponds to the Levant, in particular to the areas of the Southern Levant that provide the main setting of the narrative of the Bible: i.e., the area of Phoenicia, Philistia, Israel, and other nations.
  • The composition of the story can be dated to the period between the 7th century BCE and the third quarter of the 5th century BCE, which is roughly the period to which scholars date the Book of Genesis.
Let us now read the translation and exegesis in English of the first part (For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given below):

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

الٓر تِلْكَ ءَايَٰتُ ٱلْكِتَٰبِ ٱلْمُبِينِ
*Alif, Lam, Ra. These are the verses of the clear Book. (1) 

*The Muqaṭṭaʿāt (Arabic: حُرُوف مُقَطَّعَات‎ ḥurūf muqaṭṭaʿāt, "mysterious letters") are combinations of between one and five Arabic letters figuring at the beginning of 29 out of the 114 chapters (surahs) of the Quran just after the opening Bismillāh, thus also called the or occasionally called Fawatih (openers). Alif, Lam, Ra here in this surah are also part of these letters, the meaning of which is not known.
We have revealed it as a Recitation in Arabic that you may fully understand (2) 
In verse 2 above, the Arabic word Quran “to read” is originally the infinitive form of the verb qara. When the infinitive form of a verb in Arabic is used as a name, it implies that that thing or person possesses the characteristics in their perfection. This Book has been named Quran to indicate that it is meant to be read by all and sundry and is to be read often and over and over again. As for the second part of the ayat above, this does not mean that this Book has been sent down exclusively for the Arabs. What it means is only this: "Of all the people, O Arabs, you should understand the excellences of the Qur'an, which are a sure proof of its being Divine Revelation, for it is in your own language and you have no excuse to put forward that it is in a foreign language which you do not understand. "
We relate to you, [O Muhammad], the best of stories in what We have revealed to you of this Qur'an although you were, before it, among the unaware. (3) 
The verse 3 above is important to understand: This verse specifically revealed to impress indirectly on the unbelievers of Makkah the fact that the Messenger (ﷺ) did not know anything about the story of the settlement of the Israelites in Egypt, but was being informed of this by revelation from Allah. This introduction was necessary because the disbelievers had put an abrupt question concerning this matter in order to expose the Prophet (ﷺ) by this test. The answer is to this effect: Tell them, O Muhammad (ﷺ), that, though you did not know anything about the settlement of the Israelites in Egypt before this, you have now received a revelation about this from Us.
[Of these stories mention] when Joseph said to his father, "O my father, indeed I have seen [in a dream] eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating to me." (4) He said, "O my son, do not relate your vision to your brothers or they will contrive against you a plan. Indeed Satan, to man, is a manifest enemy. (5) 
Verse 5: As the meanings of the dream were quite obvious, Prophet Ya'qub (Jacob, peace be upon him) had a genuine fear that Yusuf’s ten step brothers would become all the more envious of him when they would hear this. So he warned his righteous son not to mention his dream to his brothers, for he knew that those sons of his did not bear the moral character worthy of the sons of a Prophet, and, therefore they were up to any evil design against him out of mere envy. As regards to the dream, the sun in it was Prophet Jacob (peace be upon him), the moon his wife, Prophet Yusuf’s step mother, and the eleven stars were his eleven brothers.
(As you have seen in the dream), so will your Lord choose you (for His task) and will impart to you the comprehension of the deeper meaning of things and will bestow the full measure of His favour upon you and upon the house of Ya'qub even as He earlier bestowed it in full measure upon your forefathers, Ibraheem (Abraham) and Ishaq (Isaac). Surely your Lord is All- Knowing, All-Wise. (6) 
The Choosing by the Lord here means “Blessing him with Prophethood.” The Arabic words of the text do not mean merely “the interpretation of dreams”, as has been generally understood. These are comprehensive and imply also this: Allah will bless you with the full understanding of the problems of life and their solutions and will give you the insight to reach at the reality of every matter.

Here it should be noted that the response of Prophet Ya'qub to the dream of Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon them), according to the Bible and the Talmud, are quite different from this: “And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?” (Gen. 37: 10). Even a little thinking will help one to arrive at the conclusion that his reaction as narrated in the Qur'an is worthy of the high character of Prophet Ya'qub and not the one found in the Bible and the Talmud. For Prophet Yusuf had not expressed any personal ambition of his but merely narrated his dream. If the dream was a true one, and it is obvious that Prophet Ya'qub interpreted it, believing it to be true, there was no reason why he should rebuke his own son, for it meant that it was the will of Allah and no his own ambition that he should one day rise to a high rank. Can then one expect from any reasonable person, not to mention a Prophet, that he would take it ill and rebuke the one who dreamed such a dream? And can there ever be such a noble father who would say bitter and stinging things to his own son for the sin of telling him a true dream, prophesying his future greatness?
Certainly were there in Joseph and his brothers signs for those who ask, (7) When they said, "Yusuf and his brother are more beloved to our father than we, while we are a clan. Indeed, our father is in clear error. (8) 
Yusuf's brother mentioned in verse 8 refers to Benjamin. He was the real younger brother of Prophet Yusuf, and was his junior by many years. Their mother had died at the birth of Benjamin. That is why Prophet Ya'qub paid special attention to these two motherless children. Besides, Yusuf was the only son, in whom he had discerned signs of righteousness and capabilities. Accordingly, when Prophet Yusuf narrated his dream to him, he was all the more convinced of his future greatness, and was perturbed at the idea lest his brothers conspired against him out of envy, if they came to know of his dream, which was self explanatory. For Prophet Ya'qub knew that his other ten sons were not of the right type, and this was proved by the subsequent events. Therefore, naturally he was not happy with them. It is, however, strange that the Bible gives a different reason for the envy his brothers bore against Prophet Yusuf. They were filled with envy against him because Yusuf gave unto his father their evil report.

In order to grasp the full significance of the grievance the ten sons had against their father for neglecting them, we should keep in view the conditions of the clannish life. As there was no established state, each clan led its own independent life side by side with other clans. It is obvious that the power of the head of the clan depended entirely on the number of sons and grandsons, and brothers and nephews he had to defend the life, honor and property of the family. Therefore, the one leading the clannish life naturally paid more attention to his own grown up sons, etc., than to children and women of the family. As Prophet Ya'qub was leading clannish life, these sons of his expected a preferential treatment from him, but the Prophet thought otherwise. So they remarked: Truly our father seems to have lost his balance of mind; otherwise he could not have neglected us, and loved our two younger brothers more than us, for we are strong young men and can stand him in good stead at the time of need while these youngsters are useless as they themselves stand in need of protection.

‘Jubb Yussef’ - said to be the Well of Prophet Yusuf: Located near Kibbutz Amiad in the Galilee. It consists of a dug-out pit with a diameter of one meter and depth of about four meters, roofed by a cupola supported by four pillars, and surrounded by ancient graves.[Photo/Source]

Thus the ten brothers plotted to kill Prophet Yusuf as as to gain chieftain. However, one of them was not in favour of killing and proposed to throw Prophet Yusuf in some well, from where he may be picked up by passing caravans and thus they would get rid of him.

Kill Joseph or cast him out to [another] land; the countenance of your father will [then] be only for you, and you will be after that a righteous people." (9) Said a speaker among them, "Do not kill Joseph but throw him into the bottom of the well; some travelers will pick him up - if you would do [something]." (10)
So they approached their father and to send Prophet Yusuf with them to stand guard to them while they played around: 
They said, "O our father, why do you not entrust us with Joseph while indeed, we are to him sincere counselors? (11) Send him with us tomorrow that he may eat well and play. And indeed, we will be his guardians. (12)
In the verse 12, the Quran differs from the Bible and the Talmud, according to which it was not the brothers, who requested their father to send Joseph with them but Prophet Jacob himself sent him with an errand to Shechem, where they were feeding their father’s flocks. Obviously the version of the Quran is more realistic, for Prophet Jacob could never have thought of sending his beloved son with them because he knew it well that they were envious of him, and sending him there would have been sending Joseph deliberately into the jaws of death. 
[Jacob] said, "Indeed, it saddens me that you should take him, and I fear that a wolf would eat him while you are of him unaware." (13) They said, "If a wolf should eat him while we are a [strong] clan, indeed, we would then be losers." (14) So when they took him [out] and agreed to put him into the bottom of the well... But We inspired to him, "You will surely inform them [someday] about this affair of theirs while they do not perceive [your identity]." (15)
Skeptical of his te4n sens' hidden desires to harm Yusuf, the father was very reluctant to let Yusuf go, but ultimately gave in to his sons. When his brothers threw up in the well, he received a Divine revelation of him being saved and meeting his brothers again one day when they will not be able to recognise him.

There is no mention of this in the Bible and the Talmud that Allah sent a revelation to comfort Prophet Joseph at that time of his affliction. On the contrary, the Talmud says that when he was thrown into the well, Prophet Joseph wept and cried aloud and implored his brothers for mercy, as if he was no better than any other lad of the desert, who would weep and cry if he were to be thrown into a well. But the picture the Quran depicts is that of a young man, who is destined to play the part of a great personality in history. 
And they came to their father at night, weeping. (16) They said, "O our father, indeed we went racing each other and left Joseph with our possessions, and a wolf ate him. But you would not believe us, even if we were truthful." (17) 
As feared to lose his son at the hands of his brothers,  the  band of evil minded brothers came lamenting that Yusuf had been attacked by a wolf and killed. As a "proof" they had brought back Yusuf's shirt with blood stains on it.

وَجَآءُو عَلَىٰ قَمِيصِهِۦ بِدَمٍ كَذِبٍ قَالَ بَلْ سَوَّلَتْ لَكُمْ أَنفُسُكُمْ أَمْرًا فَصَبْرٌ جَمِيلٌ وَٱللَّهُ ٱلْمُسْتَعَانُ عَلَىٰ مَا تَصِفُونَ
And they brought Yusuf's shirt, stained with false blood. Seeing this their father exclaimed: "Nay (this is not true); rather your evil souls have made it easy for you to commit a heinous act. So I will bear this patiently, and in good grace.13 It is Allah's help alone that I seek against your fabrication. (18)
In the verse 18, not satisfied with the cooked up story of his ten sons, Prophet Ya'yah sad that he well bear the news with "Patience in grace.". The literal meaning of “patience in grace” which implies a patience that enables one to endure all kinds of troubles and afflictions in a calm, self possessed and unemotional manner, without complaining or crying or weeping, as is worthy of great minds. Even today when someone is in distress, he is comforted by saying" May Allah bless you to bear the grief in grace."

Here again, the Prophet Ya'yah’s reaction to the news of Joseph’s death, as depicted in the Quran, differs from that given in the Bible and the Talmud. According to them he was upset by the sad news and behaved like an ordinary father. The Bible says: And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins. And mourned for his son many days. (Gen. 37: 34). And the Talmud says that at the sad news Jacob gave himself up to the abandonment of grief, and lay with his face to the ground and refused to be comforted, and cried: Some wild beast has devoured Joseph and I shall never see him more; and he mourned for Joseph for many years. (The Talmud, H. Polano, pp. 78, 79).

When we contrast this picture with the one depicted in the Quran, we clearly see that the Quranic picture is that of a dignified and great personality. He is not upset in the least at hearing the sad news of his beloved son but at once gets to the bottom of the matter, and tells the envious brothers: Your tale is false and fabricated. Then he shows good patience as a Prophet should and puts his trust in the help of Allah.
And there came a company of travelers; then they sent their water drawer, and he let down his bucket. He said, "Good news! Here is a boy." And they concealed him, [taking him] as merchandise; and Allah was knowing of what they did. (19) And they sold him for a reduced price - a few dirhams - and they were, concerning him, of those content with little. (20)
In the verses 19-20 above, the retrieval of Prophet Yusuf from the well and his being sold for a paltry amount is mentioned. 

Though the matter of the disposal of Prophet Joseph by his brothers was simple, the Bible has made this very complicated. It is obvious that the brothers threw Joseph into the well and went away. Afterwards a caravan came there and pulled him out and carried him to Egypt where they sold him. But the Bible says that the brothers cast him into a pit: then a company of Ishmaelites came there and they agreed to sell him to them. But in the meantime the Midianite merchantmen had drawn and lifted up Joseph and sold him to the Ishmaelites who brought him into Egypt. (Gen. 37: 25-28). But the authors of the Bible forget this sale transaction and further on in v. 36 say that Prophet Joseph was sold in Egypt by the Midianites and not by the Ishmaelites as stated in v. 28. But the Talmudic version of the matter is a little different from this. It says that the Midianites drew Joseph up from the pit and carried him along with them. As they passed by, the sons of Jacob saw Joseph with them and accused them of stealing their slave. At this a furious quarrel arose and they were ready to enter upon a bloody fray. But a bargain was concluded and the sons of Jacob sold their brother to the Midianites for twenty pieces of silver, who afterwards sold him to the Ishmaelites for the same amount. Then the Ishmaelites took him into Egypt and sold him there. Incidentally, it is this Talmudic version that has given rise to the tradition among some Muslims that the brothers of Joseph had sold him. But it should be noted that the Quran does not confirm this tradition.
And the one from Egypt who bought him said to his wife, "Make his residence comfortable. Perhaps he will benefit us, or we will adopt him as a son." And thus, We established Yusuf in the land that We might teach him the interpretation of events. And Allah is predominant over His affair, but most of the people do not know. (21) And when Joseph reached maturity, We gave him judgment and knowledge. And thus We reward the doers of good. (22)
Now we come to the last two verses of the Part I. Here again there are some differences between the earlier scriptures and the Islamic traditions.
  • According to the Bible te man who purchased Yusuf, his name Potiphar. But the Quran mentions him merely by the title (Al-Aziz). As the Quran uses the same title for Prophet Yusuf, when he rose to a high rank, it appears that the person held a high office or rank in Egypt, for the word Aziz stands for a powerful person who cannot be opposed and disobeyed. The Bible and the Talmud say that he was an officer of Pharaoh’s body guards and captain of the guard. And according to a tradition from Ibn Abbas, related by Ibn Jarir, he was the officer of the royal treasury.
  • According to the Talmud the name of his wife was Zuleikha and she is known by the same name in the Muslim traditions. As regards to the other tradition among the Muslims that Prophet Yusuf married her afterwards, it is neither based on the Quran nor on the history of the Israelites. And the fact is that it is below the dignity of a Prophet to have married such a woman about whom he had personal knowledge that she was of a bad character. And this opinion is confirmed by this general statement of the Quran: Women of bad character are for men of bad character and men of bad character are for women of bad character. And the women of pure character are for men of pure character, and the men of pure character for the women of pure character. (Surah An-Noor, Ayat 26).
  • The fact that Potiphar had a very high opinion of Prophet Yusuf from the very beginning is also confirmed by the Talmud and the Bible. The Talmud says that at this time Joseph was about eighteen years of age (and) Potiphar was very favorably impressed with his bearing and appearance. So he came to the conclusion that he belonged to some noble family and had been made a slave by the force of adverse circumstances. When the Midianites carried him before Potiphar, he said: He does not look like a slave and I fear he has been stolen from his country and his home. That is why Potiphar did not treat him like a slave, but put him in charge of his house and all his possessions. Likewise the Bible says: And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. (Gen. 39: 6).
  • This verse alludes to the special training Prophet Yusuf needed at that time for the performance of the duties of the high rank to which he was destined to rise. Up to that time, he had been brought up in the desert, under the environment of a semi nomadic life of a shepherd. There was neither any settled state in Canaan and Northern Arabia nor had there been any appreciable progress in culture and civilization, for it was inhabited by different independent clans with no settled government. Thus it is obvious that the training that Prophet Joseph had received in Canaan, had equipped him with the good characteristics of nomadic life coupled with the qualities of God worship and high morality of the family of Prophet Abraham. But this was not enough to enable him to direct the affairs of Egypt, which was at that time one of the most cultured and civilized countries of the known world and required a different experience and training for the conduct of its affairs. The All Powerful Allah made arrangements for this training and sent him to the house of an officer of a very high rank in Egypt, who entrusted him with full powers over his house and estate. This enabled him to develop all those latent abilities that were needed to fulfill his destiny, and he gained the experience that was required for the efficient conduct of the affairs of the kingdom of Egypt in the years to come.
The Part II will dwell on the details of lustful desires of Zuleikha over Prophet Yusuf and despite being proven innocent, he landed up in the prison, which will be the Part III of our future posts.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrat Yūsuf  with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Part backwards for chapters in 30th Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References1 |  2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |
An effort has been made to gather explanation of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic souses and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. However, those wanting detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to sites the references of which are given above.

If you like Islam: My Ultimate Decision, and to keep yourself updated on all our latest posts to know more about Islam, follow us on Facebook

Please share this page to your friends and family members through Facebook, WhatsApp or any means on Social Media so that they can also be benefited by it and better understand Islam and the Holy Qur'an - Insha Allah (Allah Willing) you shall be blessed with the best of both worlds.

Surah Yusuf (Joseph): Overview of the 12th Chapter of the Holy Quran

Sūrat Yūsuf  is the twelfth surah with 111 ayahs with two rukus, part of the 12th-13th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an.

Like some of the exclusive chapters of the Holy Qur'an which are specifically dedicated and named after the prophets of Allah or chapters wherein mention of prophets of Allah is made, Surah Yusuf is one such surah which entirely and exclusively narrates the story of Prophet Yusuf (Biblical Joseph, peace be upon him). It is said to have revealed in one go.

Prophet Yusuf was one of the sons of Prophet Ya'qub (Biblical Jacob, peace be upon him) and was gifted with the ability to interpret dreams. He was also extraordinarily handsome and beautiful which led him into trouble with the wife of his master.

This chapter of the Holy Qur'an can easily be divided into four sections as per the subject matter and we would deal with each  section separately since the ayahs / ayats are rather long and in one post it may not be possible to give out the tafsir / exegesis. These sections would include:
  • Part 1:The initial dream by young Yusuf and describing it to his father who takes it as indication of Yusuf being tipped to be a future prophet, and the jealousy of his brothers for him being specially liked by their father and his tacit abandonment by them in a well. His ultimate retrieval from the well by a passing caravan, and adoption by a merchant
  • Part 2: Seduction of Yusuf by the lustful wife of the merchant which Yusuf resisted. Although a witness defended innocence of Yusuf, the merchant's wife had him poisoned till he acceded to her dirty desires
  • Part 3: His stay in the prison and interpretation the dream seen by the king of the time. His timely interpretation comes true and saves Egypt from the ensuing drought since the King had made arrangements as forecast by Yusuf. 
  • Part 4: As a reward, Yusuf is released from the prison and the King also investigates the false case against him The wife who tried to seduce Yusuf testifies that he was innocent, and the truth unveils. Yusuf is given authority in Egypt. He then meets his brothers who had come to Egypt in search of food and is subsequently reunited with his ailing father.
Every chapter of Qur'an has been revealed for s specific purpose or to point towards a specific incident. This surah too was revealed in one go for it was the time when Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was passing through a very difficult time of his life. Although, it cannot be said with certainty the time of revelation of this surah, but many agree that it was either in the 10th or 11th year of open proclamation of Islam. This year was a sad and depressing time for the Prophet of Allah, normally referred to as 'Am al Huzun' (the year of Sorrow or Despair). He (ﷺ) was going through several hardships and three of those are the most significant. The first one is the death of his uncle Abu Talib.  Though very old, Abu Talib protected his orphan nephew from the harm that powerful pagan of Makkah could have inflicted on Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). The second tragedy was the death of his beloved first wife, Khadijah. She was the first to believe in his message and she was his comfort. The two deaths were a significant loss to him as they were the people in his life that motivated and protected him through his journey. Later on in Makkah after his uncle's death, the pagans made him face excessive hardships while he tried to call the people to Islam. Expecting a better reply from the city of Ta'if, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) went to Ta'if but was treated even more severely than people of Makkah. And was chased out of the city by throwing rocks on him. Injured and bleeding, he came back in a high state of disappointment and low morale. 

It was thus the time when this surah is said to have been revealed to show to the Prophet of Allah how difficulties came the way of Prophet Yusuf one after the other, but it was his steadfastness and resilience that ultimately made him an honourable man and ruler over his people. This surah  thus was meant to elevate his spirits and comfort Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) in his time of rejection.

The surah was also revealed to help Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) to answer questions of the pagans of Makkah who wanted to test him for knowledge of previous prophets and people could only be known to true prophets. The story of Yusuf and his brothers, was one that was not heard of by the people of Makkah. Only the Christian and Jewish had known about Prophet Yusuf (as Joseph) through their scripture. When Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was questioned, the revelation of this surah helped him to satisfy the questioning pagans of Makkah. 

In the third ayat of the Surah Yusuf, Allah tells His Prophet that he is being told what he did not know before:
نَحۡنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيۡكَ اَحۡسَنَ الۡقَصَصِ بِمَاۤ اَوۡحَيۡنَاۤ اِلَيۡكَ هٰذَا الۡقُرۡاٰنَ ​ۖ  وَاِنۡ كُنۡتَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِهٖ لَمِنَ الۡغٰفِلِيۡ
(O Muhammad), by revealing the Qur'an to you We narrate to you in the best manner the stories of the past although before this narration you were utterly unaware of them

It was another thing that they still did not believe in what he was preaching  - the word of Islam. 

Thus the possible objectives of revelation of Surah Yusuf could be two fold:
  • To provide proof that Muhammad's Prophethood, and his knowledge is not based on unsubstantiated information, rather but was gained through revelation.
  • It applies the theme of the story to the people of Quraysh (The tribe of the leaders in Makkah) and warns that the conflict between them and the Prophet would end in his victory over them. As stated in verse 7: "Indeed there are signs in this story of Yusuf and his brothers for the inquirers"
Please read our upcoming posts separately dealing with the exegesis of the Surah Yusuf in four parts as mentioned above.

You may now like to listen to prominent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan giving away an enlightening overview of the Sūrat Yūsuf  in English in very eloquent and easy manner:
You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Part backwards for chapters in 30th Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References: | 12 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
An effort has been made to gather explanation of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic souses and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. However, those wanting detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to sites the references of which are given above.

If you like Islam: My Ultimate Decision, and to keep yourself updated on all our latest posts to know more about Islam, follow us on Facebook

Please share this page to your friends and family members through Facebook, WhatsApp or any means on Social Media so that they can also be benefited by it and better understand Islam and the Holy Qur'an - Insha Allah (Allah Willing) you shall be blessed with the best of both worlds.

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