"O my soul, it is only a few days, bear them patiently.A lifetime seems long but a flitting reverie"

~Imam Shafi~
" “The heart will rest and feel relief if it is settled with Allah and it will worry and be anxious if it is settled with people.” – Ibn al-Qayyim"....Say : "This is my way; I invite unto Allah with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me with sure knowledge" (Qur'an - 12:108) "Say: we believe in God and in what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma'il: Isaac, Jacob and The Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another, among them, and to God do we bow our will (in Islam)." (Qur'an, Al-Imran 3:84) . "And if he (Muhammad SAW) had forged a false saying concerning Us (Allah),We would have seized him by the right hand;And then certainly should have cut off his life artery (Aorta),And none of you could withhold Us from (punishing) him" (Qur'an,Al-Haqqah 69:44-47) "Do they not ponder the Quran! If it were revealed from a source other than Allah,certainly they would have found,many contradictions."[Holy Quran 4:82] " O man! Verily, you are returning towards your Lord with your deeds and actions (good or bad), a sure returning, and you will meet (i.e. the results of your deeds which you did)" [Holy Qur'an, 84:6] Say, "Is it other than Allah I should desire as a lord while He is the Lord of all things? And every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. Then to your Lord is your return, and He will inform you concerning that over which you used to differ." ~Holy Quran 6:164 Imam Malik (rh): “Do not look to the sins of people as if you are Lords, but look to your own sins as if you are slaves. Have mercy on the people of affliction and praise Allah for your well-being, and never say, ‘This person is from the people of Hellfire, and this person is from the people of Paradise.’ Do not be arrogant over the sinners, but rather ask Allah to grant them hidayah and rashad (i.e. guidance).” Ibn Kathir (Ra) narrated: كان نقش خاتم عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عنه : كفى بالموت واعظاً ياعمر “The engraving on ‘Umar ibn al Khataab’s(Ra) ring was: “Sufficient is death as an admonisher O Umar”. ["Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaaya]. "When you fear the creation, you run away from it, but when you fear the Creator, you feel close to Him,& run towards Him.".Ibn Qayyim . "Allahumma la‘aisha illa‘aish-al-Aakhirah": 'There is no life but the life of the next world' "And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty (i.e. death)". (Quran 15:99) “And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways.And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.” [Quran: 29:69] "... And my success is not but through Allah . Upon him I have relied, and to Him I return." ~ Al Quran 11:88
"Nothing in this world is really useful to you unless it has some utility and value for the next world"-Imam Ali(R)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Tawakkul - 1

The word tawakkul has been derived from وکالت (wakalat), meaning 'taking for oneself a representative', and a good representative generally possesses the following four characteristics: Awareness, Trustworthiness, Strength and Sympathy.

It might not appear necessary to mention that one selects a barrister for a task when the individual lacks the strength to defend himself. He therefore seeks the strength of another person and uses his assistance to solve his personal problem.

Accordingly tawakkul means that man, in the face of the difficulties of life, enmity and troubles of opponents, the tangles of existence which hinder his journey towards his objectives, and in instances wherein he finds himself unable to untie the knots, takes Allah (s.w.t.) as his support but, at the same time, does not stop his own efforts and endeavours. Rather, in those instances too, wherein he possesses the strength to perform the work, he looks upon Allah (s.w.t.) as the fundamental influencing force. This is because in the eyes of a (true) monotheist, He is the source of all strength and power.

Contrary to the attribute of 'relying on Allah (s.w.t.) ' is 'relying on other than Him' - meaning living dependently upon someone else and not possessing self independence.

Scholars of ethics state: Tawakkul is the direct outcome of 'Unity of Divine acts'; this is because, as we have mentioned previously, in the eyes of a monotheist every motion, endeavour, movement and occurrence that takes place in this world eventually finds a connection with the Primary Cause of this world i.e. Allah (s.w.t.); consequently, a monotheist regards every strength and power to originate from Him.

The Philosophy of 'Tawakkul'
In the light of our previous statements, it can be inferred that:

Firstly: Relying on Allah (s.w.t.) - the interminable Source of power and strength - causes man to become more resilient in the face of the troubles and adversities of life. An example of this is when the Muslims suffered a severe blow in the battle of Uhud and the enemies, after having abandoned the battlefield, decided to return once again midway from their journey (back home) with the aim of inflicting a final blow upon the Muslims.

The Qur’an states that when the Muslims were informed of this, those who possessed firm faith were untouched by fright in this extremely dangerous moment when they had lost most of their active forces. On the contrary, placing their reliance on Allah (s.w.t.) and seeking assistance from the power of faith, they increased themselves in firmness and resistance. As a result the victorious enemies, being informed of this, hastily retraced their advance.

Examples of such resistance, under the light of tawakkul, are observed in numerous verses, amongst them being verse 122 of Surat Ale 'Imran, in which the Qur’an says that reliance on Allah (s.w.t.) prevented the two groups of soldiers from being overcome with lassitude, in the battlefield.

In verse 12 of Surat Ibrahim it has been mentioned that tawakkul should be accompanied by patience in the face of the attacks of the enemy.

In verse 159 of Surat Ale 'Imran it has been ordered that when intending to perform an important task, initially consultation should take place; this should be followed up by a firm decision after which, one should place one's reliance on Allah (s.w.t.) (and proceed in accordance with the decision taken).

The Qur’an even says that only those, who possess faith and tawakkul, shall be able to exhibit resistance vis-à-vis satanic whisperings and not be influenced by them.

إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ لَهُ سُلْطَانٌ عَلـى الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَ عَلـى‏ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ‏
“Surely he has no authority over those who believe and rely on their Lord.”  (Nahl (16), Verse 99)

From the entire collection of these verses it can be concluded that tawakkul means that man, in the face of problems, does not experience a feeling of weakness and inferiority, but instead considers himself victorious by relying on the infinite power of Allah (s.w.t.). Thus, tawakkul is a hope-inspiring, energy-insuntiling and reinforcing factor which increases perseverance and resistance.

If the concept of tawakkul meant taking to a corner and sitting idle, it would be meaningless to attribute it to the soldiers and the likes of them.

And if some believe that resorting to various means and natural factors is not in conformity with the spirit of tawakkul, they are mistaken. This is because endeavouring to separate the effects of natural causes from the Will of Allah (s.w.t.) is a kind of polytheism. But is it not a fact that whatever the natural causes possess is from Him alone? And is it not that everything is in accordance with His Will and command? Yes, if we were to regard the causes and means to be an independent apparatus as opposed to Allah's Will, this would be incompatible with the spirit of tawakkul.

How is it possible to interpret tawakkul in this manner when the Noble Prophet (S), the leader of those who exhibited tawakkul, had never been heedless of utilizing every opportunity, appropriate plan and other exterior means for furthering his aims and objectives; all these only go to prove that the meaning of tawakkul does not have that negative dimension attached to it at all.

Secondly: Relying on Allah (s.w.t.) delivers man from being dependent (on others) - a state, which is the source of humiliation - and imparts freedom and self-confidence to him.

At this point we present some of the traditions in connection with tawakkul for the purpose of illuminating its actual meaning.


In this tradition, tawakkul has been presented as being the actual dwelling place of independence and honour.

It has been narrated that the Noble Prophet (S) said: I asked Jibrail: “What is 'tawakkul'?” He replied: “Cognizance (of the fact) that the creation (of Allah) can neither cause harm nor yield benefit; neither can it grant nor withhold (a bounty); (one must) sever all expectations from the creation (of Allah). When a person becomes such, he shall never work for anyone other than Allah (s.w.t.) and shall never hope and expect from anyone other than Him, and this is the reality of 'tawakkul'.

Once someone questioned Imam 'Ali ibne Musa al-Ridha (a.s.)

مَا حَدُّ التَّوَكُّلِ؟ فَقَالَ أَنْ لاَ تَخَافَ مَعَ اللٌّهِ أَحَداً.
“What is the extent of 'tawakkul'? He (a.s.) replied: That you do not fear anyone once you have relied on Allah!” 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Life of Prophet Yusuf (a.s)


This is a tale of intrigue and deception, of jealousy, pride, and passion It is the story of Prophet Yusuf, may God shower him with His praises. 
 The same Yusuf known from the Andrew Lloyd Webber production of Yusuf and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and the same Prophet Yusuf known in Christian and Jewish traditions.  God revealed this story to Prophet Muhammad when an Israelite asked him to tell him what he knew about Yusuf.  Stories in Quran are usually told in small bit and made known over several chapters; the story of Yusuf however, is unique.  It was revealed in one chapter, from the beginning to the end.  It is the complete story and experience of Prophet Yusuf.  We learn about Yusuf’s joys, troubles and sorrows, and move with him through the years of his life as he arms himself with piety and patience and in the end emerges victorious.  The story of Yusuf begins with a dream, and ends with the dream’s interpretation.
“We relate unto you (Muhammad) the best of stories through Our Revelations unto you, of this Quran.  And before this (i.e. before the coming of Divine Inspiration to you), you were among those who knew nothing about it.” (Quran 12:3)
Yusuf’s Childhood
Yusuf was young boy, handsome, happy and very much loved by his father.  He awoke one morning excited about a dream and ran straight to his father happily explaining what he had seen in his dream.  Yusuf’s father listened attentively to his beloved son and his face shone with joy, for Yusuf related a dream that spoke of the fulfilment of a prophecy.  Yusuf said,
“O my father!  Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating themselves to me.” (Quran 12:4)
Yusuf was one of 12 brothers whose father was Prophet Yaq’ub and whose great grandfather was Prophet Ibraham.  This prophecy spoke of keeping Ibraham’s message to worship One True God alive.  Prophet Ibraham’s grandson Yaq’ub interpreted the dream to mean that Yusuf would be the one to carry the ‘Light of God’s house”  However as quickly as the joy had sprung into Yaq’ub’s face, it vanished, and he implored his son not to relate his dream to his brothers.  Yaq’ub said,
“O my son!  Relate not your vision to your brothers, lest they arrange a plot against you.  Verily!  Satan is to man an open enemy!  Thus will your Lord choose you, teach you the interpretation of dreams (and other things), and perfect His Favour on you and on the offspring of Yaq’ub, as He perfected it on your fathers, Ibraham, and Isaac aforetime!  Verily!  Your Lord is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Quran 12:5-6)
Yaq’ub knew that his sons (Yusuf’s brothers) would not accept the interpretation of this dream or the advancement of Yusuf over themselves.  Yaq’ub was filled with fear.  The ten older brothers were already jealous of their younger brother.  They recognised their father’s particular affection for him.  Yaq’ub was a prophet, a man dedicated to submission to One True God and he treated his family and his community with fairness, respect and equitable love; however his heart was drawn to the gentle qualities evident in his son Yusuf.  Yusuf also had a younger brother named Benjamin, who, at this stage of the story, was too young to be involved in any of the trickery and deception brewing.

While Prophets and righteous men are eager to spread the message of submission to God, Satan is waiting to entice and incite mankind.  He loves trickery and deception and was now sewing the seeds of discord between Yaq’ub and his elder sons.  The jealousy the brothers felt toward Yusuf blinded their hearts, disoriented their thinking and made small things seem insurmountable, large things seeming insignificant.  Yusuf heeded his father’s warning and did not speak of his dream to his brothers; but even so, they became obsessed and overwhelmed by their jealousy.  Without knowing about Yusuf’s dream, they hatched a plan to kill him.

Yusuf and Benjamin were the sons of Yaqub’s second wife.  The older boys considered themselves men.  They were older, they were stronger and saw in themselves many good qualities.  Blinded by jealousy, they perceived Yusuf and Benjamin as too young and without consequence in the life of the family.  They refused to understand why their father doted on them.  The older boy’s crooked thinking made them accuse their father of being misguided which, in reality, was far from the truth.  Satan made their thoughts fair seeming to them and their utter misguidance was shown clearly, when they spoke of killing Yusuf and immediately repenting to God for this despicable act.

“They said, "Truly, Yusuf and his brother are loved more by our father than we, but we are a strong group.  Really, our father is in a plain error.  Kill Yusuf or cast him out to some (other) land, so that the favour of your father may be given to you alone, and after that you will be righteous folk (by intending to repent).”         (Quran 12:8-9)

One amongst them felt the error of their ways and suggested that rather than killing Yusuf, they should drop him into a well.  When found by some passing traveller he would be sold into slavery, thus rendering him as good as dead to the family.  They believed, in their blindness, that the absence of Yusuf would remove him from their father’s thoughts.  The brothers continued to hatch their evil plan.  Satan was toying with them, casting thoughts into their minds and whispering misguidance into their ears.  The brothers finished their discussion pleased with themselves and believing they had drafted a clever plan.  They approached Yaq’ub with   a plan to take Yusuf into the desert with them, on the pretext of letting him play and enjoy himself.  Fear leapt into Yaq’ub’s heart.
Treachery and Deception
“And Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most of men know not.” (Quran 12:21)
The story of Yusuf confirms unconditionally that God has total control over all affairs.  The treachery and deception of Yusuf’s brothers succeeded only in preparing Yusuf for the great position he would eventually attain.  Yusuf’s story describes God’s omnipotence and gives an accurate account of His power and supremacy.  The story begins with deception but ends with comfort and joy.  A fitting reward for the patience and total submission to God’s will, Yusuf exhibits throughout his long journey confronting the schemes and treachery of those around him.
The patience Yusuf learned from his ordeal made him amongst the most righteous of men.  His lineage was impeccable, his great grandfather, grandfather and father were also Prophets.  In Christian and Jewish tradition, these men are known as Ibraham, Isaac and Yaq’ub.
Deception and Treachery
When Yaq’ub’s older sons sought permission to take Yusuf with them deep into the desert to play, fear leapt into Yaq’ub’s heart.  From their first words, he suspected treachery and expressed his fear that a wolf would take Yusuf.  Yaq’ub said,
“Truly, it saddens me that you should take him away.  I fear lest a wolf should devour him, whilst you are careless of him.” (Quran 12:13)
Satan works in subtle and deceitful ways, and with his words, Yaq’ub unwittingly supplied his sons with the perfect reason for Yusuf’s disappearance.  The brothers immediately knew they would blame Yusuf’s disappearance on a wolf, and this   became part of their dastardly plan.  Eventually Yaq’ub agreed and Yusuf left with his brothers on their journey into the desert.

They went directly to the well and without remorse, picked up Yusuf and threw him down into the well.  Yusuf cried out in fear but their cruel hearts felt no pity for their young brother.  The brothers felt secure in their plan that a traveller would find Yusuf and sell him into slavery.  While Yusuf called out in terror, the brothers took a small goat or sheep from their flock, slaughtered it and wiped the blood over one of Yusuf’s garments.  Completely consumed by their jealousy, the brothers took an oath to keep their foul deed secret and walked away pleased with themselves.  Terrified Yusuf clung to a ledge in the well, and God made known to him that one day he would confront his brothers.  He told Yusuf the day would come when he would speak to his brothers about this dastardly event, but the brothers would not know they were talking to Yusuf.
“Indeed, you shall (one day) inform them of this their affair, when they know (you) not.”
(Quran 12:15)
Crying is not Evidence of Truth.
The brothers returned to their father weeping.  By this time it was dark, and Yaq’ub was sitting in his house anxiously awaiting the return of Yusuf.  The sound of ten men crying confirmed his deepest fear.  The darkness of the night was matched only be the darkness in their hearts.  The lies rolled easily from their tongues and Yaq’ub’s heart constricted in fear.


“They said, ‘O our father!  We went racing with one another, and left Yusuf by our belongings and a wolf devoured him; but you will never believe us, even when we speak the truth.’  And they brought his shirt stained with false blood.”              (Quran 12:17-18)
In a story from the righteous men that came after Prophet Muhammad comes a tale of a Muslim judge who was deciding the case of an old woman.  The details of the case are not important; however, the old woman was crying and crying.  Based on the evidence the judge ruled against her.  A friend of the judge said, “She was crying and crying, she is old, why didn’t you believe her?”  The judge said “Don’t you know from Quran that crying is not evidence of the truth, the brothers of Yusuf went to their father crying.”  They were crying but they committed the crime.

Both Yaq’ub and Yusuf were among the most noble of men.  Prophet Muhammad described Yusuf as the most dignified and generous of men.  When asked who was the most God fearing man he replied, “The most honourable person is Yusuf, God’s prophet, the son of God’s prophet, the son of the beloved servant of God (Ibraham). While Yusuf sat in the well, terrified, yet secure in his submission to God, Yaq’ub, many miles way, felt his heart constricted by fear and pain yet knew his sons were lying.  As befitting a Prophet of God, with tears streaming down his face, Yaq’ub said,
“Nay, but your own selves have made up a tale.  So (for me) patience is most fitting.  And it is God (Alone) Whose help can be sought against that which you assert.” (Quran 12:18)
This was a dilemma for Yaq’ub, what was he to do?  He knew his sons were lying, but what were his options?  To kill his sons?  Due to his complete submission to God, Yaq’ub knew that this affair was out of his hands.  He had no option but to trust God and turn to Him with hope and patience.
Deep in the well, Yusuf prayed.  Father and son turned to God in the deep darkness of the night.  A mixture of fear and hope filled their hearts, and the night gave way to the new day.  For Yaq’ub, the day dawned on the beginning of many years to be filled with trust in God and patience.  For Yusuf, the sunrays of dawn shone down on the edges of the well.  If he could have scanned the horizon, he would have seen a caravan approaching.  Minutes later a man lowered his bucket into its depths of the well expecting to find cool clear water.
Sold into Slavery
Lead astray by the whisperings of Satan and filled with jealousy and pride, the brothers deceived their father Yaq’ub and betrayed their young brother.  Thrown deep into a well by his older brothers, Yusuf the beloved son of Prophet Yaq’ub, clung   throughout the long night to a ledge and tried to put his trust in God.  The time passed slowly and  the heat of the morning sun beat down heavily on the scorched earth.  Later that day a caravan travelling to Egypt approached the well.

When the caravan arrived. the travellers went about their business, some tethering camels, others tending to the horses, some unpacking, and others preparing food.  The water drawer went to the well and lowered his bucket, happy in anticipation of cool, clear water.  Yusuf was startled as the bucket hurtled towards him. but before it hit the water, he reached out and clung to the rope.  Surprised by the weight of the bucket, the man peered over the edge of the well.  He was shocked and excited when he saw a child clinging to the rope.  The man called his companions to help him draw the child from the well and all were amazed at the sight of this beautiful child, not quite a youth, who stood before them.

Looking at the boy, the water bearer could not hide his excitement and cried aloud, “What good news!”  (Quran 12:19)  The man was overjoyed; he immediately decided to sell Yusuf, knowing that he stood to make a lot of money in the slave market.  Just as the brothers had predicted, the men of the caravan took Yusuf to Egypt expecting to sell him for a handsome price.  The slave markets of Egypt were teeming with people, some buying, and some selling, others just watching the proceedings.  The beautiful boy found in the well attracted many onlookers, and bidding for him was swift.  The price continued to rise beyond their expectations, and Yusuf was eventually purchased by Azeez, the Chief Minister of Egypt.
However, God tells us in the Quran that they sold him for a low price.  (12:20)This does not seem to make sense since the men of the caravan were jubilant by the price they received.  God described the price as low because Yusuf was actually worth more then they could ever have imagined.  The men did not realise just who this child would grow up to be.  They believed that although beautiful, Yusuf was insignificant.  Nothing could have been further from the truth, if they had of sold him for his weight in gold, it would have been a cheap price for the man who would grow up to be Yusuf, Prophet of God.
In the House of Azeez
The Chief Minister, Azeez, sensed immediately that this was no ordinary child.  He took him to his home, one of the great mansions of Egypt, and said to his wife,
 “‘Make his stay comfortable, may be he will profit us or we shall adopt him as a son.’  Thus did We establish Yusuf in the land, that We might teach him the interpretation of events.” (Quran12:21)
God placed Yusuf into the home of the second most important person in Egypt.  Chief Minister Azeez was more then just a prime minister, he was also the treasurer of Egypt.  God established Yusuf in the land in order to teach him wisdom and understanding.  The struggling and striving required by Yusuf to overcome the separation from his father and family, the difficulty of being betrayed by your older presumably protective brothers, the ordeal in the well and the humiliation of being sold into slavery were all trials designed to mould Yusuf’s character.  They were the first steps on the ladder to greatness.  God used the treachery of Yusuf’s brothers to fulfil His plan for Yusuf’s establishment as a Prophet of God.

The brothers of Yusuf believed they had matters under control when they put their brother in the well, but in reality, the matter was out of their hands.  God is the one in control of all affairs.  God was decisive in His action, and His plan was carried out despite the treachery, jealousy  and pride of others.  Yusuf found himself in the decision making centre of Egypt with a man who seemed kind and somehow aware of Yusuf’s special qualities.  While longing for his father and brother Benjamin, Yusuf  was well taken care, and lived in luxurious surroundings.  Yusuf grew to manhood in the house of Azeez and God bestowed on him good judgement and knowledge.
“And when he (Yusuf) attained his full manhood, We gave him wisdom and knowledge (the Prophethood), thus We reward the doers of good.” (Quran12:22)
God granted Yusuf both knowledge and wisdom.  Not one just one, but both qualities.  He was given the ability to understand and the ability to use good judgement when applying his knowledge.  This is not always the case.  There are many people throughout the history of the world, up to and including the present day, who have knowledge but do not have the ability or judgement to apply that knowledge in an effective way.


Beauty and a Test
Although betrayed and sold into slavery, Yusuf, the son of Prophet Yaq’ub, settled into one of the great houses of Egypt.  His master, Al Azeez, Chief Minister of Egypt vowed to treat Yusuf kindly, and Yusuf, who was grateful for the relative safety, replied that he would be loyal to his new master.  He thanked God for rectifying his situation and placing him in a place devoid of maltreatment and abuse.  Yusuf went from the position of beloved son to the dark depths of the well, from iron shackles to a position of ease.  Yusuf’s life twisted and turned, but the house of Al Aziz was where he grew into manhood.

The scholars of Islam have estimated that Yusuf was around 14 years old when betrayed by his brothers.  Imam Ibn Katheer, one of the most respected Quran scholars, explained in his work, “Stories of the Prophets”, that Yusuf was most probably the personal attendant of Al Aziz’s wife.  Ibn Katheer described Yusuf as obedient, polite and exceedingly handsome.  Prophet Muhammad also described Yusuf, and called him “The embodiment of half of all beauty.  As Yusuf grew, God gave him wisdom and good judgement, and Chief Minister Al Aziz recognised these qualities in his loyal servant and therefore put him in charge of all household affairs.  All who knew him, including the wife of Al Aziz, acknowledged Yusuf’s beauty, honesty, and nobility.  She watched Yusuf grow into a handsome man and became more attracted to him as each day passed.
The Trial
“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.’” (Quran 12:23)


The beautiful wife of Al Aziz closed the doors and tried to seduce the slave Yusuf, but he resisted her advances and sought refuge with God.  He sought help in God.  Yusuf told her he would not betray her husband.  Yusuf said, “He has been good to me and treated me with respect.”  Yusuf knew that those who commit evil acts will never be successful.  The wife of al Aziz had an evil desire and tried to act upon it; Yusuf however resisted the temptation and tried to escape.  Prophet Muhammad tells us that if you make the intention to commit an evil act and actually carry out that act, God will have it written against you as one evil act.  However if you think about committing an evil act and then do not do it, God will have it written as a good act.
Yusuf drove any thoughts of sleeping with the wife of his master from his mind, sought refuge with God and attempted to remove himself from the complicated situation.  Perhaps Yusuf had been resisting her advances for many years.  A rich beautiful woman from the highest echelons of Egyptian society would not stoop immediately to such behaviour.  Her beauty, status and wealth meant that most men or boys would succumb to her desires easily.  Yusuf however was no ordinary man, and when he immediately turned to God for help, God rescued him.
“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 him evil and illegal sexual intercourse.  Surely, he was one of Our chosen, guided slaves.”   (Quran 12:24)
Yusuf is one of the leaders of those who will be shaded by God on the Day of Judgement.  Prophet Muhammad explained that the heat of the Day of Judgment would be fierce, and people will be mingling with fear as they wait to be judged by God.  There will be however, certain categories of people shaded from this brutal heat.  One of them is a man who resisted the temptations of a beautiful, desirable woman by seeking refuge with God.
Yusuf’s refusal only increased her passion.  He tried to flee and they raced with each other to the door.  The wife of Al Aziz reached for Yusuf’s shirt and tore it from his back.  At that moment, the door opened and her husband walked in.  Immediately, with out even one second’s hesitation, the wife of al Aziz attempted to turn the situation around.  She cried out to her husband, “What is the punishment for one who had an evil design against your wife?”  This was a clear lie, yet she pronounced it easily and suggested that Yusuf be put in prison.  Yusuf tried to defend himself and said, “No, it was she that sought to seduce me”.  (Quran 12:25 – 26)  One of their relatives suddenly appeared and offered a way to solve this dilemma.  He said,


“If it be that his shirt is torn from the front, then her tale is true, and he is a liar!  But if it be that his shirt is torn from the back, then she has told a lie and he is speaking the truth!” (Quran 12:27 – 28)
If his shirt was torn from the back, which it was, it meant that he was trying to escape and she was running after him, tearing the shirt from his back.  The proof was unmistakeable.  The Chief Minister, although clearly upset, was more concerned with covering up this affair.  He did not want his good name and position to be sullied by a scandal.  He asked Yusuf to be silent about the situation and told his wife to ask forgiveness from God.  This should have been an end to the matter, but as is common in more wealthy societies, people have a lot of time on their hands.  Many hours are wasted having meals and gossiping about the affairs of their friends, neighbours and relatives.

The Women

The women of the city began to talk about the wife of Al Aziz and her infatuation with her slave Yusuf.  The news was spreading and the women asked themselves how she could desire a slave and put her reputation in jeopardy.  The wife of Al Aziz thought she would teach these women a lesson and show them just how beautiful and desirable Yusuf was.  She invited them to have lunch with her, laid a beautiful table before them and handed them knives to cut the food.  The room was probably full of tension and silent looks as the women hoped for a glimpse of this slave, while at the same time considering themselves better then the wife of Al Aziz.  The women started eating, and at that moment, Yusuf walked into the room.  They looked up, saw his beauty and forgot that they had knives in their hands.  The women were so entranced by his shape and form that they cut clear through their own flesh.  They described Yusuf as a noble angel.  The wife of Al Aziz, confident and haughty said to her guests,
“This is he (the young man) about whom you did blame me (for his love) and I did seek to seduce him, but he refused.  And now if he refuses to obey my order, he shall certainly be cast into prison, and will be one of those who are disgraced.”         (Quran 12:32)
What was to become of Yusuf?  Once again, with total humility, he turned to God saying that prison was preferable to succumbing the women’s desires.  Therefore, his Lord answered his invocation.
From Prison to Palace
The story of Yusuf is an example of patience in the face of adversity.  Throughout his life so far, Yusuf faced trials and tribulations with complete trust in God.  Yet once again, he was in an extremely difficult situation.  Once more, he was forced to fend off the advances of the wife of Al Aziz, this time in front of her associates.  Yusuf called out to God for help.  He said
,
“O my Lord!  Prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me.  Unless You turn away their plot from me, I will feel inclined towards them and be one of those who commit sin and deserve blame or those who do the deeds of the ignorant.” (Quran 12:33)


Yusuf believed living in prison was preferable to living in the house of Al Aziz.  The environment was filled with lust and greed, and with unlawful beauty and seduction, perhaps similar to many societies today.  He believed prison would be preferable to succumbing to the fitnah around him.  God answered Yusuf’s supplication and rescued him.
“So his Lord answered his invocation and turned away from him their plot.  Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.  Then it appeared to them, after they had seen the proofs (of his innocence) to imprison him for a time.” (Quran 12:34-35)
Although convinced of Yusuf’s innocence, Al Aziz, chief Minister of Egypt put Yusuf in prison.  He could see no other way of safeguarding the reputation of his name and position.
Yusuf in Prison
Imprisoned with Yusuf, were two men who recognised his piety and righteousness.  Both had been plagued by vivid dreams and now hoped Yusuf would be able to interpret the dreams for them.  One man saw a dream in which he was pressing wine, the other; saw a dream in which birds were eating bread from his head.  Yusuf said, “I will inform you of the meaning of these dreams before your next meal is served”.


“He said, ‘No food will come to you (in wakefulness or in dream) as your provision but I will inform (in wakefulness) its interpretation before it (the food) comes.  This is of that which my Lord has taught me.  Verily, I have abandoned the religion of a people that believe not in God and are disbelievers in the Hereafter.  And I have followed the religion of my fathers, - Ibraham, Isaac, and Yaq’ub and never could we attribute any partners whatsoever to God.  This is from the Grace of Allah to us and to mankind, but most men think not (i.e. they neither believe in Allah nor worship Him).’” (Quran 12:37-38)

Notice the demeanor of Yusuf.  When they ask him a question about dreams he immediately reminds them that it is God who provides their sustenance, as well as his own  knowledge of dream interpretation. Yusuf is very careful to make a distinction between what is from God and what is from himself.  He makes his religion clear.  He does not believe the religion being practiced around him but believes in the true religion that includes belief in the Hereafter.  Yusuf asserts that his family, the family of Ibraham, hold the knowledge of the Oneness of God, and that his religion and family do not attribute partners to God.  Although the people of Egypt knew about God they choose to worship other deities as partners or intercessors.

After informing his companions that false gods have no substance and explaining the Omnipotence of God, Yusuf interprets the dreams.  He says, one of you will become a close associate of the King, the other will be crucified and birds will eat from his head.
“As for one of you, he (as a servant) will pour out wine for his lord to drink; and as for the other, he will be crucified and birds will eat from his head.  Thus is the case judged concerning which you both did inquire.” (Quran 12:41)
Yusuf approached the companion who destined to be close to the King and said “please remember me to your King”.  He hoped that the King would look into his case, see his oppression and free him.  However, the whisperings and subterfuge of Satan, caused the companion to forget to mention Yusuf and consequently he remained in prison for a few more years. 
The King’s Dream
The King dreamed he was standing on the banks of the Nile watching  seven fat cows emerge from the river, followed by seven lean ones. The seven lean cows devoured the fat ones. Next, the dream changed and he watched seven green ears of grain growing on the banks of the Nile.  They disappeared into the mud and on the same spot grew seven dry ears of grain. The King awoke shocked and frightened, and sent for his sorcerers, priests and ministers.  They failed to interpret the dream and reached the unanimous conclusion that it was just a nightmare. Yusuf’s companion from the prison came to hear of the dream and remembered Yusuf.  With the King’s permission, he rushed to the prison and asked Yusuf to interpret the dream.
“Yusuf said, ‘For seven consecutive years, you shall sow as usual and that the harvest which you reap you shall leave in ears, all --except a little of it which you may eat.  Then will come after that seven hard years, which will devour what you have laid by in advance for them, all except a little of that which you have guarded (stored).  Then thereafter will come a year in which people will have abundant rain and in which they will press wine and oil.’” (Quran 12:47-49)
The King was astonished at this interpretation, not only did Yusuf give the meaning but also recommended a course of action. The King demanded Yusuf be bought before him. However, Yusuf refused to leave prison and insisted the messenger return to the King and ask him, “What happened to the women who cut their hands?” (Quran 12:50)  Yusuf did not want to leave the prison until his innocence was established.

The Importance of Dreams
Prophet Mohammad said: “Every Prophet was sent to his nation exclusively, but I was sent to all mankind.” God sent Yusuf, son of Yaq’ub, to the people of Egypt and supported him with abilities that were observable and made sense to the people the Yusuf had been sent to guide.  At the time of Yusuf, dreams and dream interpretation were very important, and this is clear throughout the story of Yusuf.  Prophet Yaq’ub (Yusuf’s father), the companions of the prison and the King of Egypt all have dreams.
When the King heard Yusuf’s interpretation of his dream, he was astonished, and set Yusuf free.  However, Yusuf refused to leave the prison with out clearing his name of any wrongdoing.  He wanted his master Al Aziz to be completely sure that he (Yusuf) had not betrayed his trust.  Yusuf respectfully demanded that the King investigate the affair of the women who cut their hands.  The King became curious and called for the wife of Al Aziz and her associates.
“(The King) said (to the women), ‘What was your affair when you did seek to seduce Yusuf?’  The women said, ‘God forbid!  No evil know we against him!’  The wife of Al-’Aziz said, ‘Now the truth is manifest (to all), it was I who sought to seduce him, and he is surely of the truthful.’” (Quran 12:51)

Once his innocence was established, Yusuf appeared before the King.  After hearing, Yusuf’s words the King became even more impressed and entrusted him to a position of high rank.  Yusuf said, “Set me over the storehouses of the land; I will indeed guard them with full knowledge.” (Quran 12:55) In the religion of Islam, it is not permissible for one to ask for a position of authority or two talk about oneself in a boastful manner.  However when Yusuf asked the King to put him in charge of the storehouses he did both of those things.

The scholars of Islam explain that when you are the only person fit for that position then it is permissible to ask for it, and if you are new to a community, it is permissible to introduce yourself.  Yusuf knew the trials about to face Egypt and he knew he was capable of averting the danger inherent in a time of famine.  For Yusuf, not asking for this position would have been irresponsible.  The young boy betrayed and thrown into the well was now established as the finance Minister of Egypt.  His patience and perseverance, and above all his total submission to the will of God had already resulted in great reward.  Yusuf knew however that the greatest reward for patience and righteousness would be in the hereafter.
Yusuf Meets His Brothers
The time passed.  During the seven good years, Yusuf prepared for the time of famine to come.  The drought and famine correctly prophesized by Yusuf did not only affect Egypt, but also the surrounding lands including the place where Yaq’ub and his sons were living.  Yusuf managed the affairs of Egypt so well there was enough grain to feed the people of Egypt and those in the surrounding areas.  As life became difficult and food scarce, people began to flock to Egypt to buy the grain Yusuf was selling at a fair price.


Among those seeking provisions were Yusuf’s ten older brothers.  When the brothers were ushered into Yusuf’s presence, they did not recognise him. Yusuf looked at his brothers and his heart filled with longing for his father and his young brother Benjamin.  He greeted them respectfully, asked questions about their family and homeland, and explained that the rations of grain would be distributed per head; therefore, if they had bought their younger brother they would have received more rations.  Yusuf was hoping to encourage them to bring Benjamin, in fact Yusuf went far as to say that without their young brother they would receive no provision at all. 
“But if you bring him not to me, there shall be no measure (of grain) for you with me, nor shall you come near me.” (Quran 12:60)
When they returned to their father, Prophet Yaq’ub, they explained to him that no more grain would be provided to them unless they travelled with their young brother.  Benjamin had become very close to his father, especially after Yusuf’s disappearance.  Remembering his previous loss, Yaq’ub did not want to part with his young son.  Once again, the brothers promised to safeguard their youngest brother, and once again Yaq’ub felt his heart constrict with fear.  The brothers then found that the money they paid for the grain had been secretly returned to them.

Yaq’ub had complete trust in God and gave them permission to take Benjamin only after they had sworn an oath in God’s name to protect him.  Although Prophet Yaq’ub was particularly close to his sons Yusuf and Benjamin, he loved all his sons dearly.  They were strong, handsome, capable men, and Yaq’ub was afraid that some harm might befall them on yet another trip to Egypt.  To minimise the risks, he made his sons promise to enter the city by different gates.  Yaq’ub said to them,
“O my sons!  Do not enter by one gate, but enter by different gates, and I cannot avail you against God at all.  Verily!  The decision rests only with God.  In Him, I put my trust and let all those that trust, put their trust in Him.” (Quran 12:67)
The brothers returned to Egypt, entered by different gates and went to Yusuf for the promised provisions.  During this meeting, Yusuf took Benjamin aside and revealed that he was his long lost brother.  The two embraced and their hearts were filled with joy.  Yusuf, however, asked Benjamin to keep their meeting a secret for the time being.  After providing the brothers with their rations of grain, Yusuf arranged for golden bowl to be covertly placed in Benjamin’s bag, then according to Yusuf’s arrangements someone cried out, “O you in the caravan, surely you are thieves.” (Quran 12:70)

The brothers were astonished because they were not thieves.  They inquired about the stolen item, and were astounded to hear it was a golden bowl belonging to the King.  Whoever returned it, they were told, would be rewarded with camel’s load of grain.  The brothers of Yusuf claimed to have no knowledge of this theft.  They asserted that they were not thieves and did not come to Egypt to create mischief.  One of Yusuf’s men asked, “What is your punishment for one who steals?”  The brothers replied that under the law of Prophet Yaq’ub, the one who steals is taken as a slave.  Yusuf did not want his brother punished under the laws of Egypt but wanted the opportunity to keep his brother with him while the others retuned to their father Yaq’ub.  The bags were searched, and the golden bowl was found amongst Benjamin’s possessions.
Patience Rewarded
The golden bowl was found in Benjamin’s belongings and his brothers were astonished. They quickly realised the Chief Minister (Yusuf) would follow their own law and keep Benjamin as a slave. This upset them greatly. They were afraid of returning to their father without his beloved youngest son. One of the brothers offered to accept the punishment on Benjamin’s behalf, but the offer was refused. Another brother, probably the eldest, chose to stay in Egypt while the others returned to their homeland to face their father Yaq’ub. When the brothers arrived home they went immediately to their father and said,
“O our father!  Verily, your son (Benjamin) has stolen, we testify not except according to what we know, and we could not know the unseen! And ask (the people of) the town where we have been, and the caravan in which we returned, and indeed we are telling the truth.” (Quran 12:81-82)
Prophet Yaq’ub had heard this all before. When the brothers betrayed Yusuf and threw him in the well, they went to their father pleading and crying yet their words were nothing but lies. This time Yaq’ub refused to believe them. He turned away from them saying, “Nay, but your own selves have beguiled you into something.  So patience is most fitting (for me).” (Quran 12:83) Yaq’ub had spent years grieving for Yusuf and trusting in God. When this new sorrow overwhelmed him, his first reaction was to be patient.  He knew, without a shred of doubt, that the affairs of his beloved youngest sons were controlled by God.

Even though he trusted God completely, Yaq’ub behaved as any father would in the same circumstances.  He was overcome with grief and wept uncontrollably. He remembered Yusuf, and wept until he became ill and lost his sight.  The brothers were concerned about his pain and sorrow and questioned his constant grief.  They asked him, “Will you cry until the day you die?”  Yaq’ub answered that he only complained of his grief and sorrow to God and that he (Yaq’ub) knew, from God, things that they did not. (Quran 12:86)
Though many years had passed, Yaq’ub had not forgotten his son Yusuf.  Yaq’ub reflected on Yusuf’s dream and understood God’s plan would come to fruition.  Yaq’ub was deeply hurt by the loss of his sons, but his faith in God sustained him, and he ordered his sons to go back to Egypt in search of Yusuf and Benjamin.
Yusuf revealed
The brothers once again set off on the long journey to Egypt.  The famine had taken its toll on the surrounding areas and people were poor and weak.  When the brothers stood before Yusuf, they too were amongst the poor.  Their level of weakness forced them to ask for charity.  They said:
“O ruler of the land! A hard time has hit our family, and we have brought but poor capital, so pay us full measure and be charitable to us.  Truly, God does reward the charitable.” (Quran 12:88)
Yusuf could not bear to see his family in this position, even though these were the men who had betrayed him.  He looked at his family and could keep his secret no longer, he said,
“Do you know what you did with Yusuf and his brother, when you were ignorant?” (Quran 12:89)
The brothers recognised Yusuf immediately, not because of his looks, for they had seen him many times before, however who else could know the true story of Yusuf, but Yusuf himself.
“I am Yusuf, and this is my brother (Benjamin).  God has indeed been Gracious to us.  Verily, he who fears God with obedience to Him (by abstaining from sins and evil deeds, and by performing righteous good deeds), and is patient, then surely, God makes not the reward of the good doers to be lost.” (Quran 12:90)


The brothers were afraid, their past deeds were grave sins, and they were now in a position of weakness. They stood in fear before the Chief Minister of Egypt no longer a small, beautiful boy named Yusuf.  Through his trials and tribulations, Yusuf, like his father, found comfort in submission to the One God.  He understood patience and the qualities of mercy and piety imbedded in true patience.  He looked down at his brothers who were trembling in fear and said,
“No reproach of you this day, May God forgive you.” (Quran 12:91)
Yusuf immediately made plans to reunite his family.  He requested the brothers return to their father and cast an old shirt of his (Yusuf’s) over his face.  This, he said, would cause him to become clear sighted.  Immediately, although the old man was so far away he turned his face towards the heavens and sniffed, believing that he could smell Yusuf in the air.  This is one of the miracles, made possible by God, of Prophet Yusuf.  When the brothers arrived, they cast the shirt over Yaq’ub’s face and he became clear sighted.  He cried out, “Did I not say to you, I know from God, that which you know not.” (Quran 12: 96)
The family of Prophet Yaq’ub gathered their belongings together and travelled to Egypt.  Yaq’ub was eager to be reunited with his sons. They went straight to Yusuf and found him sitting on an elevated throne.  Yusuf spoke to his family saying, enter Egypt, if God wills, in security.
The beginning of chapter 12 of the Quran, Yusuf, began with the young boy Yusuf describing his dream to his beloved father Yaq’ub.  He said, “Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon, I saw them prostrating themselves to me.” (Quran 12:4)  Quran concludes the story of Yusuf in the same way as it began, with the interpretation of the dream.  The eleven stars were his brothers, the sun his father and the moon was his mother.

“And he raised his parents to the throne and they fell down before him prostrate.  And he said, “O my father!  This is the interpretation of my dream of old!  My Lord has made it come true!  He was indeed good to me, when He took me out of prison, and brought you all here out of the Bedouin life, after Satan had sown enmity between my brothers and me.  Certainly, my Lord is the Most Courteous and Kind unto whom He will.  Truly He!  Only He is the All Knowing, the All-Wise.” (Quran 12:98-100)

The essence of the story of Yusuf is patience in the face of adversity and sorrow.  Yusuf faced every trial with patience and complete trust in God.  His father Yaq’ub bore his grief and misery with patience and submission.  All the chapters of Quran were revealed at particular times, in response to particular situations.  This chapter was revealed to Prophet Muhammad in a time of great sorrow.  In fact, the year of its revelation is known as “the year of sorrow’.  Prophet Muhammad had to bear the death of his beloved first wife Khadijah and his Uncle Abu Talib.  Both had provided him with comfort and support.  God was advising Prophet Muhammad that the road may be long and difficult but the ultimate victory belongs to those with God consciousness and patience.  The story of  Yusuf is a lesson for us all.  True patience, what the scholars of Islam call beautiful patience is a key to the gate of Paradise.

http://aboutislamworld.blogspot.com/

Followers