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Islamic view of Joseph

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Yusef (circa 1610 BC - 1500 BC?) [1], (Arabic: يوسف‎, also Yusef, Youssef, Jusuf, Yousuf, Yousef, Yussef, Yusuf, Yossef, Yousov, Yusif, Yousif, Yosef or Yousaf), is a prophet in the Quran, the holy scripture of Islam. The figure corresponds to the character from the Jewish texts and the Christian Bible as Joseph and is the Arabic variant of that name. It is one of the common names in the Middle East and among Muslim nations.

Although the narratives of other prophets are mentioned in various surahs, the complete narrative of Joseph is given only in one surah, Yusef (sura). However, it is said to be the most detailed narrative in Quran and bears more details from the Biblical counterpart.

The Story of Yusef (Joseph), as told by Quranic verses

Quran depicts this story as the most beautiful of stories narrated in the Quran ([Qur'an 12:03]).The story of Yusef moves in a stream from beginning to end; its substance and form are equally coherent. It documents the execution of Allah's rulings despite the challenge of human intervention (Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most of men know not (Ch 12:21).)

This is what the story of Yusef confirms categorically, for it ends with comfort and marvels, which is described in Quran.

The Dream

The story begins with a dream and ends with its interpretation. As the sun appeared over the horizon, bathing the earth in its morning glory, Yusef, son of Ya'qub awoke from his sleep, delighted by a pleasant dream he had had. Filled with excitement he ran to his father and related it:

"O my father! Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven planets and the sun and the moon, I saw them prostrating themselves to me." (Ch 12:4)

His father's face lit up. He foresaw that Yusef would be one through whom the prophecy of his grandfather, Prophet Ibrahim, would be fulfilled, in that his offspring would keep the light of Ibrahim's House alive and spread Allah's message to mankind.

Therefore, it was narrated that Muhammad was [Yousef deg]asked: "Who is the most honorable amongst the people?" He replied: "The most God-fearing." The people said: "We do not want to ask you about this." He said: "The most honorable person is Yusef, Allah's prophet, the son of Allah's prophet, the son of the faithful friend of Allah (Ibrahim)."

However, the father was well aware of the jealousy of Yusef's brothers, so he warned him against telling his dream to his brothers. "O my son! Relate not your vision to your brothers, lest they arrange a plot against you. Verily! Shaitan is to man an open enemy! Thus will your Lord choose you and teach you the interpretation of dreams and perfect His Favor on you and on the offspring of Yaqub, as He perfected it on your fathers, Ibrahim, and Ishaq aforetime! Verily! your Lord is All-Knowing, All-Wise." (Ch 12:5-6)

Yusef heeded his father's warning. He did not tell his brothers what he had seen. It is well known that they hated him so much that it was difficult for him to feel secure telling them what was in his heart and in his dreams.

Yusef (يوسف) was very handsome, with a gentle temperament. He was respectful, kind and considerate. His brother Benjamin was equally pleasant. Both were from one mother, Rachel.

The Plot Against Yusef

All of Yusef's brothers were jealous of him for his talents and because they thought their father favored him over the others (but obviously didn't). They plotted to kill him: "Truly, Yousef and his brother (Benjamin) are loved more by our father than we, but we are Usbah (a strong group). Really our father is in a plain error. Kill Yusef or cast him out to some other land, so that the favor of your father may be given to you alone, and after that you will be righteous folk (by intending repentance before committing the sin)."

But one of the brothers felt sorry for him, and suggested they throw him into a well so that a caravan might pick him up and take him into slavery. One from among them said: "Kill not Yusef, but if you must do something, throw him down to the bottom of a well, he will be picked up by some caravan of travellers." (Ch 12:8-10)

They asked their father's permission to take him out to play, who granted them their request, on the condition that they would keep watch over him. The brothers proceeded with their plan, dropped him into a well and left him there. They brought back Yusef’s shirt, covered with sheep's blood, to tell their father that wolves had eaten Yusef. Yaqub said " Nay, but your ownselves have made up a tale. So (for me), patience is most fitting (12:18) (see 12:7)

God's Plan to Save Him

Yusef was rescued by a passing caravan. They had stopped by the well hoping to draw water to quench their thirst and saw the boy inside begging for help. So they retrieved him and sold him into slavery in Egypt, to a rich man referred to as al-Aziz in the Quran. The Quran described Yusef as a very attractive man (see 12:31)

"[12:19] A caravan passed by, and soon sent their waterer. He let down his bucket, then said, "How lucky! There is a boy here!" They took him along as merchandise, and Allah was fully aware of what they did.[12:20] They sold him for a cheap price - a few dirhams - for they did not have any need for him.[12:21] Al-aziz Potiphar who bought him in Egypt told his wife: "Take good care of him. Maybe he can help us, or maybe we can adopt him."
"Thus did We establish Yusef in the land, that We might teach him the interpretation of events. (Ch 12:19-21). Allah's command is always done, And Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most people do not know. (Ch 12:21) When he reached maturity, we endowed him with wisdom and knowledge. We thus reward the righteous." [12:22]
"And when he (Joseph) attained his full manhood, We gave him wisdom and knowledge (the Prophethood), thus We reward the doers of good." (Ch 12:22)

While working for al-Aziz Potiphar, he was constantly approached by al-Aziz's wife (Imra'at al-Aziz) (Presumably Zulaikha). She intended to seduce him. Yusef continuously rejected her because he feared his Lord. One day she became furious and angry to the point where she plotted trapping him in a room. Zulaikha locked seven doors and pleaded him to come into her but Yusef, as a man of God, refused.

"And she, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him (to do an evil act). She closed the doors and said: "Come on, O you." He said: "I seek refuge in Allah (or Allah forbid)! Truly he (your husband) is my master! He made my stay agreeable! (So I will never betray him). Verily, the Zalimun (wrong, evildoers) will never be successful." Indeed she did desire him and he would have inclined to her desire had he not seen the evidence of his Lord. Thus it was, that We might turn away from evil and illegal sexual intercourse. Surely, he was one of Our chosen, guided slaves." (Ch 12:23-24)

She then tore the back of Yusef's shirt. So they raced with one another to the door, and she tore his shirt from the back. They both found her lord (her husband) at the door. (Ch 12:25)

Zulaikha convinced her husband that the only way to save her honor was to put Yusef in prison; otherwise she would not be able to control herself or to safeguard his prestige. She then said: "What penalty it is for those who want to harm your family except for jail or heavy torture?". Yusef said: "She came on to me", a witness of the wife's sister's baby said: "If his shirt was torn from the front , then she is telling the truth and he is from the liars, and if the hole was from behind then she lied and he is from the truthful". Then, when they saw the hole being in the rear, he said: "This is of your schemes, indeed your (you women) scheming is grand. Yusef leave this matter, and you (Al-Aziz's wife) beg forgiveness, for you have been of the sinners." A few women in town said: "Al-Aziz's wife is coming on to her boy, her love for him has blinded her, we find her in complete illusion".

As when she heard of their plot, she invited them, preparing a place for each of them to sit, and gave them knives to cut the fruit. She then ordered Yusef to go out in front of them. As soon as they saw him they thought of how beautiful and great he was; distracted by his beauty and gracefulness they repeatedly cut their hands. They, then said: "Impossible it is, this is not a human, this is but a graceful Angel!". Al-Aziz's wife soon after replied: "That is the reason for which you blamed me, and if he doesn't do what I ordered him, he will be prisoned, or be pettily humiliated." Yusef said: "O Lord, prison is a better choice than what they (Al-Aziz's wife and the women) want me to do, and if you don't save me from it, I'll turn to their blasphemy and be from the non-believers (illiterates)." His Lord then saved him from the depths of their scheme. The male authorities and master therefore thought it would be best to send Yusef to prison for time. (12:23)

Yusef Interpreted Dreams

After being imprisoned for a few years, God had granted him with the ability to interpret dreams, a power in which he became popular amongst the prisoners. On one occasion, two less fortunate royal servants were thrown into the dungeon prior to Yusef's imprisonment. They were haunted by two ambiguous dreams and remained unaware of the dreams due to inability to interpret it until they heard about Yusef's popularity among the citizens. They went to Yusef to seek his opinion and ask him if he could help them with solving of the problems. Yusef asked them about the dreams they had, and one of them described that he saw himself in the vineyard plucking grapes, pressing it into wine, and presenting it to the king Amenhotep III). The other one said to have seen himself holding a basket of bread on his head whereof the birds were eating. Yusef reminded the prisoners that his ability to interpret dreams was a favor from God based on his adherence to monotheism. Yusef then stated that one of the men would be released from the prison and serve the King but warned that the other would be crucified.

One day, under the order of Amenhotep III soldiers came to take the two servants away. One of the servants was then the right hand man of Yusef; the King said one would be forgiven, the other will be executed. The forgiven servant then served the King. Yusef requested the one who he knew would be released to advise the King Amenhotep III, but by that Yusef did a mistake God made him stay in prison for several more years for. During Yusef's time in prison, Amenhotep III died and his son Amenhotep IV was crowned as King. Yusef and the King had met in their childhood. (see 12:36)(see 12:37)

As the days passed and everything went back to normal, one night the King was echoed by a mysterious dream. He was said to have seen seven fat cows being devoured by seven skinny cows and seven green spikes, and others shriveled. This dream haunted him every day and night turning him anxious and disoriented. When the servant who was released from prison heard about it, he remembered Yusef from prison and persuaded the King to send him to Yusef so that he could return with an interpretation.

Yusef told the servant that Egypt would suffer famine and that the King should be ready for it to have Egypt avoid great suffering. The King followed the instructions and the land was saved from the great famine.

"Yusef O truthful, inform us about seven fat cows being devoured by seven skinny cows, and seven green spikes, and others shriveled."[12:46]

I wish to go back with some information for the people."[12:47] He said, "What you cultivate during the next seven years, when the time of harvest comes, leave the grains in their spikes, except for what you eat.[12:48] "After that, seven years of drought will come, which will consume most of what you stored for them. After that, a year will come that brings relief for the people.[12:49]

Yusef became the advisor to Amenhotep IV.

Yusef Attains Prominence

After the great success, Yusef eventually turned out to become a prominent advisor to the King of Egypt. The King elected him as His Royal Treasurer due to his good record.

The King said, "Bring him to me, so I can hire him to work for me." [12:54]

When he talked to him, he said, "Today, you have a prominent position with us."[12:55] He said, "Make me the treasurer, for I am experienced in this area and knowledgeable."[12:56] "We thus established Yusef on earth, ruling as he wished. We shower our mercy upon whomever we will, and we never fail to recompense the righteous. Additionally, the reward in the Hereafter is even better for those who believe and lead a righteous life."[12:57]

The Family Reunion

Later, he would once again run into his brothers whom he would forgive. He also found that his father Yaqub became blind after crying much over the disappearance of his son Yusef. However, Yusef restored his fathers vision and returned to his family. Yusef eventually died in Egypt. Tradition holds that when Musa (English: Moses) left Egypt, he took Yusef's coffin with him so that he would be buried alongside his ancestors in Palestine.

Commentary on the Surah

The Quranic initials constitute a major component of a great miracle (see [Qur'an 12:01]) and the question "Why was the [Quran] revealed in Arabic?" and God has given the answer ([Qur'an 12:02]).

We learn from Yusef's dream that he was destined for a bright future. Thus, while his brothers met to decide his fate, his fate was already decided by God. Everything is done by God (see 8:17), and is already recorded (see 57:22).

In Chapter ([Qur'an 12:23]) Yusef worded this statement in such a way that the governor's wife thought that he was talking about her husband, when in fact he was talking about God.

Chapter ([Qur'an 12:99]) marks the beginning of the Children of Israel in Egypt. Musa led them out of Egypt a few centuries later.

See also


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External links

The great man who was handsome as half of the earth. he himself taught us muslims how to respect the Quran and God!

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