Home Messengers Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) (a.s.)

Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) (a.s.)

Edited on the basis of Sayyed Fadlullah interpretation of the Surah by the same name :

This is another special story that revolves around one of the families of the prophets. It portrays the various kinds of manners and ethical variations… a story that makes you feel pure serenity contradicted by social complexities full of envy, to show that good manners coupled with piety are the most significant virtues one ought to cling to, for in addition to being good in themselves, they offer salvation in this life and in the hereafter as well.

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran, in order that ye may learn wisdom . We do relate unto thee the most beautiful of stories, in that We reveal to thee this (portion of the) Quran: before this, thou too was among those who knew it not.” (12:1-3)

The Sura starts with a clear indication to the level of thought these Quranic verses contain, revealing the right path for people to follow in their conceptions, moves or aims. For this is the role of the Book in clearing through revelation the true picture that Allah wants life to be. And this is what humans must focus on.

Allah, the most Exalted, has sent His Messenger (p.) to a nation that speaks Arabic to be the first pillar for the nation, with all that it believes in, acts upon in its jurisprudence and carries the Call to others. Therefore, clarity is essential for the understanding and grasping of the Message. As a result, The Quran must be revealed in a lucid Arabic tongue. And thus, Allah, the most Exalted, sent down The Quran in Arabic to build for the nation its intellect and thought, in order to convey what Allah wants in matters of public and private life affairs.

This story is very beneficial in that it opens the hearts and minds to Allah’s words. It unveils the blanket of ignorance and opens the soul to knowledge.

Behold! Joseph said to his father: "O my father! I did see eleven stars and the sun and the moon: I saw them prostrate themselves to me!" Said (the father): "My (dear) little son! Relate not thy vision to thy brothers, lest they concoct a plot against thee: for Satan is to man an avowed enemy "Thus will thy Lord choose thee and teach thee the interpretation of stories (and events) and perfect His favor to thee and to the posterity of Jacob - even as He perfected it to thy fathers Abraham and Isaac aforetime! For Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom."(12:4-6)

Joseph (a.s.) came to his father, and he was the favorite due to his handsomeness and serenity as well as the purity of his soul. He wanted to tell him his strange vision that caused anxiety being full of divinity, on the one hand, and vagueness on the other. So, he came to his father, whom Allah, the most Exalted, has bestowed prophecy on, to explain to him the secrets of his vision, and consequently have a clearer view of the future through what his vision reveals of issues and events. He also may have thought deep inside that it is a true vision and not a simple dream, and therefore he was trying to unravel its nature. Or, he was simply confused of whether it was a true vision or merely a dream and wanted to know its core as any human in his youthful age.

Thus Joseph (a.s.) told his father: “O my father! I saw eleven stars” from those scattered in heaven, “and the sun and the moon: I saw them prostrate themselves to me!” As people prostrate to someone of great importance to salute, honor and submit to him. What does that mean and how do such great cosmic creatures prostrate for a human like me! And what is my position in all of this…

With his prophetic sense, Jacob sensed his son Joseph’s (a.s.) future and saw in him a great person that will be elevated and distinguished from his people, to reach the level that makes his people feel that they ought to treat him as they treat great kings, since the traditions of those times forced people to pay tribute by prostrating. Jacob also knew that his other children were envious of Joseph (a.s.) because of his beauty, intelligence, purity, serenity and above all his privileged position in his father’s heart, as a result of his distinguishing properties that made him worthy of such a special treatment. He was frightened from his brothers, for the complex they feel against Joseph may drive them to conspire against him, and even get rid of him, if he spoke to them about his vision, and consequently deduced his great future in which they have to submit to him when he reaches his high esteemed position. Jacob wanted to caution Joseph (a.s.) by warning his boy not to tell his brothers about the great future to avoid their schemes.

He told him not to narrate his vision for it suggests your supremacy. They might deduce what I did in that they are the stars that are prostrating for you and conspire against you and try to finish you off in order to stop the future, thinking they can alter Allah’s will. This is how evil souls, filled with illusions and false dreams aggravated by Satan, think of evil and crime. And this is how Satan works through one’s complexes playing on them to lead him astray against the will of Allah, the most Exalted, ruining his life and destiny and eventually ending him in hell. Thus, Joseph (a.s.) started his long journey that Allah, the most Exalted, wanted him to follow so that he would grow spiritually and intellectually, to proceed on the path of the honorable prophets. Joseph (a.s.)’s vision was a good start, as he began to contemplate in this new atmosphere of his dreams as well of those of others. This will let him have a special influence on people, as we shall see later on. What Allah, the most Exalted, has wanted him to inspire from the beginning whether from what he has bestowed upon, or from his inner feelings or his father’s news was that He has favored him and gave him the ability to interpret dreams and know the people’s future through their dreams.

Envious from the special love Jacob had for Joseph , the brothers began to conspire against him They said: "Truly Joseph and his brother are loved more by our father than we; but we are a goodly body! really our father is obviously wandering (in his mind)! “Slay ye Joseph or cast him out to some (unknown) land, that so the favor of your father may be given to you alone: (there will be time enough) for you to be righteous after that!" Said one of them: "Slay not Joseph, but if ye must do something, throw him down to the bottom of the well: he will be picked up by some caravan of travelers.” (12:7-10)

Joseph’s brothers tried to perform a crime, and push him to his doom. They were living a life void of spirituality, belief or ethics. Eventually they met hardships that led them to ask for their brother’s help, and be subdued to him… Thus, in the end, Good triumphs over evil, love over hatred... And thus Joseph (a.s.) triumphed in his Message, spirit and devotion to Allah, the most Exalted, no matter how strong and difficult the challenge and the hardships he had to meet were. There is no place for despair or fall when you rely on Allah…

This is what Allah, the most Exalted, intended for us to learn from this story, with its complex human relations between brothers.

The Holy Quran wants to direct people to learn these themes and not to suffice with the technical part of the story and view it from the point of entertainment and intellectual fun only. For this is the way to deduce what is beneficial or harmful in life from others’ experience. Thus, the story begins by showing that the agony of Joseph started early in his life as he had ten brothers from another mother, and one brother from his own mother. Maybe, Jacob had a little special affection to those two due to the special ethical or moral values that they enjoy, as we shall observe as the story progresses, or due to their young age that inspire the fathers to swarm the youngsters with affection. But the elder brothers, generally, do not understand that. They thought that were greater in number and have the power that allows them to correct what they thought was wrong regarding their father’s feelings.

They said, as indicated by Allah, the most Exalted: “really our father is obviously wandering (in his mind)!”

We can deduce that they did not have all the spiritual respect for the personality of the Prophet in their father. Therefore, they did not think that he has no self-complex in his attitude, but rather a mental-spiritual state that is exhibited in all private or public affairs. For the role of the Prophet is to be a model in everything; he represents the message in his life as well as in his words.

An evil plan began to develop in their minds… they should get rid of him in one way or another, for this is the only way they can monopolize their father’s feelings by forgetting Joseph (a.s.) and lean towards them. This is how they discussed the issue.

Let him be lost in the forest, or die in a well or be eaten by wolves, then your father will only find you and will overwhelm you with his affection. This was the dominating idea, and we notice that they did not mention Joseph (a.s.)’s brother nor did they think of getting rid of him too. This might be due for that the big emotional feeling was for Joseph (a.s.) who has the physical and spiritual advantages and not his brother, although, he was of the same mother who was considered responsible for all that affection from their father to Joseph (a.s.). Thus, the devil benefited from their complex psychological state to reach them. First by inspiring the crime, then by telling them that they could always repent for they felt, at that moment, the fear of Allah, the most Exalted...

Some of them may had some affection for their brother but not to the extent of thwarting this evil plot, although it was enough to rule out the idea of death by the hands of his brothers and suggested such a proposition: “Slay not Joseph (a.s.), but if ye must do something, throw him down to the bottom of the well” … that is in the depth of a well that does not drown the one who falls into due to the scarcity of water in it. “He will be picked up by some caravan of travelers” of the many caravans that pass en route. Then, they will discover him when they want to drink, and accordingly take him away and sell him. Consequently, he will be nowhere to be found in a distant country and he will also lose his ability to travel due to slavery. This is the solution that liberates us from Joseph (a.s.) and relieves us from the burden of killing him. So let us start practical planning to achieve our aim, if you are determined to remove Joseph (a.s.) away from his father.