Points from the Story of Nabi Yusuf

(Chapter 12 of the Noble Qur'an)

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Contents of this page:
  1. Observations on Some Verses from the Story.
  2. The Focus on Knowledge in Surat Yusuf.
  3. Wisdom Contained in the Story.

NOTE: This page in no way attempts to represent or to replace the scholarly commentary (tafsir) of the Qur'an.

  1. Observations on Some Verses from the Story.

    Because Allah calls this story "the best of stories" it must have some significance, and is not merely a story which is enjoyable to read. Keeping this in mind, the first observation has to do with Yusuf's brothers. Allah says, "Verily, in Yusuf and his brethren, there were Ayaat (signs, evidences, and lessons) for those who ask." (Verse 7)

    A. Yusuf and His Brothers.

    I have come across two books which claim that the incident between Yusuf and his brothers originated from Yusuf's father, Yacoub, giving preferential treatment to Yusuf and his younger brother, Benjamin. However, I would have to disagree from the content of the verses. Starting in verses 4-7, Yusuf has his vision, which his father, as a Prophet of Allah himself, immediately recognized as a sign that Allah has chosen his son for a prophetic mission. As such, knowing that Prophets are often denied by their people (verse 110), he warns his son not to mention the vision to his brothers. Even this early in the story, we can see that Yusuf's father feels he has a reason to suspect the character of his other children as not being supportive.

    Verse 5: Allah informs us about Yacoub’s statement to his son Yusuf when he related his vision to his father, namely his vision which portrays the submission of Yusuf’s brothers to him (Yusuf), in addition to their showing of respect in such a high regard, to the point that they prostrate to him in order to exonerate, respect, and honor him.  Yacoub is worried that Yusuf will relate this vision to one of his brothers, and then they might be jealous, and deceive or act against him.  ...For that reason, there is a directive to keep such blessings a secret, until it can be found and exhibited.  This is found in one hadith, “Endeavor for the fulfillment of your needs by keeping them secret, for each one who receives blessings has one who envies.” (taken from the summarized version of Tafsir Ibn Kathir in Indonesian).

    This feeling is justified in the reaction of the brothers to Yusuf (verses 8-15), who is probably already a good-looking lad and possessing the character of a future Prophet of Allah. Their statement "Truly Yusuf and his brother (Benjamin) are more loved by our father that we" shows their pure jealousy for them, and their saying "But we are a strong group" is an act of clear opposition and group mentality (two camps - 'us versus them'). Their continuation, "Really, our father is in plain error" rationalizes their evil intentions by saying 'we are right!' The enmity of Yusuf's brothers manifests in their plan to commit a clear act of evil, namely their saying "Kill Yusuf or cast him out to some (other) land..." as well as their hope to obtain material benefit "...so that the favor of your father may be given to you alone."

    Again, verse seven says that "in Yusuf and his brethren," that is, not in Yusuf and his father, "there were Ayaat (signs, lessons, etc.) for those who ask." When they approach their father, he is clearly worried and saddened with their request, probably doubting the sincerity of their shaky proposal, to which they reassure him with their materialist, power-based thinking. "If a wolf devours him, while we are a strong group, then surely, we are the losers." This greed is further seen in verse 65, when they found that their expended food money had been returned to them: "What (more) can we desire?"

    However, in the end, Yusuf's own brothers admit to him (while they did not recognize him), that "Indeed we think that you are one of the Muhsinoon (doers of good)." (Verse 78). In verses 90-97, the brothers confess to Yusuf that "Allah has preferred you above us, and we certainly have been sinners." And they also confess the same to their father, asking for forgiveness, showing that the fault was with them, and not with Yusuf or his father. Finally, we can see Nabi Yusuf mention (in verse 100) that Shaitan (Satan) had sown enmity between Yusuf and his brothers. This is a reminder that anyone may become an opponent of the truth, even one's own family, if left to one's desires.

    B. The Truth and Goodness of Yusuf

    Narrated Ibn Umar: The Prophet said, “The honorable is the son of the honorable, the son of the honorable, the son of the honorable, i.e. Yusuf (Joseph), the son of Yacoub (Jacob), the son of Ishaq (Isaac), the son of Ibrahim (Abraham).”  from Sahih Al-Bukhari.

    Narrated Abu Hurairah: The people said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Who is the most honorable amongst the people (with Allah)?”  He said, “The most righteous among them.”  They said, “We do not ask you about this.”  He said, “Then Yusuf (Joseph), Allah’s Prophet, the son of Allah’s Prophet, the son of Allah’s Khalil [i.e. Ibrahim (Abraham)].”  They said, “We do not want to ask about this.”  He said, “Then you want to ask about the descent of the Arabs.  Those who were the best in the Pre-Islamic period of ignorance will be the best in Islam provided that they comprehend the religious knowledge.” from Sahih Al-Bukhari

    Regarding Good Doers (Muhsinun) and the Truthful, we can see instances in verses 22, 36, 46, 51, 54, 56, 78 and 90, which are mentioned here:

    From these verses we can see that: the Doers of Good are given knowledge and wisdom (22); are openly called good people (36, 78); and their reward is not lost (56, 90). Regarding truthfulness: Nabi Yusuf is called the "Man of Truth"(46); admitted as truthful (51); and is given high rank and fully trusted (54).

    While in the prison, Yusuf was known to be generous, honest, trustworthy, good-looking, devoted to worship, capable in the interpretation of dreams, looked in on the sick, and always respected their rights. (taken from the summarized version of Tafsir Ibn Kathir in Indonesian)

    The good character of Nabi Yusuf is also reflected in the case of Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), after he received the first Revelation of the Qur'an from Allah. His wife, Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) , reassured him in his condition by saying: "Allah will never disgrace you. You bond the family ties, you bear the burden of the weak, you help the poor and needy, you entertain the guests and endure hardship in the path of truthfulness."

    Nabi Yusuf (peace be upon him) was not disgraced as he was chosen by Allah (verses 6, 24, 32-33, 101), he bonded family ties (v. 69, 93, 100), helped the poor and needy (v. 55), entertained the guests well (v. 59), and endured many hardships on the path of truthfulness, namely: being cast into the well, being separated from his family, sold as a slave, tempted by his master's wife, and being thrown into prison.

    Even after receiving such poor treatment from his own brothers, he did not revile them or attempt to take revenge. He did not remind them of everything they had done to him, but he instead took the opportunity to educate them, and attributed the events to their temptation by Satan.  He wanted to direct them to goodness.  He said to his brothers, "No reproach on you this day, may Allah forgive you." Abdullah bin Mubarak ever said, "A true believer seeks for goodness, while a hypocrite looks for shortcomings."

    C. In the House of Al-Aziz

    Ibn Katheer says in his tafseer that Nabi Yusuf obtained prophethood at the age of 18. 

    Allah informed of His love and affection for Yusuf, namely that He prepared a buyer for Yusuf who would pay attention to and respect him. This man, who was a wazir of Egypt's finances, saw good indications and had a positive feeling about him. His premonition led to his statement, "Make his stay comfortable." (Verse 21; comment taken from the summarized version of Tafsir Ibn Kathir in Indonesian).

    Verse 23:  The wife of al-Aziz tried to take Yusuf for herself, and she offered herself to him.  This she did because she loved Yusuf greatly, due to his good looks, good character, and intelligence.  This motivated her to make herself up for Yusuf.  (taken from the summarized version of Tafsir Ibn Kathir in Indonesian)

    Yusuf's prayer to Allah, asking Him to make their plot ineffective, was granted. He preferred being put in prison over the offer made by the wife of Al-Aziz (Zulaikah), even though Yusuf was very handsome, young, and of perfect qualities, and the woman was very beautiful, wealthy, of high social standing. He did this due to his fear of Allah and hoped for its reward.  There is a saying of Prophet Muhammad in the two "sahih's" (compilations of authentic statement of Prophet Muhammad, by Bukhari and Muslim), "There are seven groups who will be given shade by Allah at a time when there will be no shade except His shade (on the Day of Judgment):...[one of which is:], someone who was invited (for illegal sexual intercourse) by a beautiful and prominent woman, but he replied, 'I fear Allah.'"

    D . From Prison to Authority

    In the prison, when speaking to his two cellmates, Yusuf phrases his words so that they will reach to their hearts. We can read in verses 37-40 how Yusuf, when asked to interpret their dreams, begins by reassuring them that he can and will do so, by saying, "this is of that which my Lord has taught me," thereby tying his ability to his faith in Allah, as well as to educate them. He goes on to say how he has "abandoned the religion of a people that believe not in Allah," and continues (after addressing them, "O two companions of the prison," not, "Hey, inmates!") with clear argumentation: "Are many different lords (gods, as they were polytheists) better, or Allah, the One, the Irresistible?"  This is known as the methodology (fiqh) of da'wah (calling to Islam), which aims to educate, and not to embarrass anyone.  His other statement is "You do not worship besides Him but only names which you have named (forged), you and your fathers, for which Allah has sent down no authority."

    Certainly, such a truthful, concise statement, which was uttered by Nabi Yusuf, could only be made if he was guided and taught by Allah (given wisdom and knowledge--verse 22), and had attained prophethood.

    About this latter verse (about worshipping idols), Al-Ghazali gives the following analysis: "though is its known that they did not worship words which were composed of letters, but rather the things named; we say: whoever infers from this [that the names are the same as things named] fails to understand its meaning, for He did not say that they worshipped the things named without the names. Moreover, His words clearly state that names are other than the things named. If one says that the Arabs were worshippers of the things named without the things named, that would be a contradiction. But if he said: they worshipped the things named without the name, that could be understood without contradiction. Were names the same as the things named, then the latter saying would be like the first. Then let it be said: what the verse means is that the divine name they gave to idols was a name without there being anything named, because the thing named is the meaning affirmed in reality is no far as something is indicated by a word. Yet divinity was not affirmed in reality nor was it known in minds; rather its names were existing in speech, but they were names devoid of meaning. Whoever is made happy by being named wise when he is not in fact wise is said to be happy with the name, since there is no meaning behind the name. This is another proof that the name is other than the thing named, because the verse connects the name with the act of naming, and relates the act of naming to those who actively make it their own, as it is said, 'names which you have named', that is, the names resulting from their act of naming and their own activity. For actual idols were not created by their act of naming." (from the Revival of the Religious Sciences, chapter on The Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of Allah)

    Finally, Allah decreed that the King would have a dream as a means to bring Yusuf out of the prison in a manner which the people would respect and revere him. Strangely, even though the indications in the King's dream where quite clear, all of experts who were summoned could not interpret its meaning. What is important to note here is that the King's dream and the interpretation which was provided by Yusuf were a party of Allah's expansive mercy to Yusuf, the King, and all of his subjects (just consider the consequences if no one could have interpreted the dream).

    That the dream was not so difficult to interpret is based on the following points: First, the dream had to be interpreted based upon the person who dreamed it and their current condition. Because it was a king who had the dream, it would have some connection to his subjects, and not just himself. Counting the seven (fat and lean) cows and seven (green and dry) ears of corn as seven years is more evident in the case of the cows, because cows are usually used to plow fields. Planting crops is usually counted in years, or planting and harvesting seasons. It is also known that the fatness of the cows is tied to a fertile or dry season, since the cows eat from the available grasses, crops, etc. Clearly, after seven fertile years followed by seven dry years, the rains would return. Therefore, they would store up their harvests from the seven fertile years for use as food and feed in the seven dry years, and for seed when the rains returned.

    Before agreeing to come out of the prison, Yusuf (peace be upon him) wants to clear his name first. There are some statements of Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) which emphasize the excellent behavior and patience of Yusuf in this situation. "If I were to stay in prison for such a long time as Yusuf did, I would have accepted the offer (of freedom without insisting on having my guiltlessness declared)." [Sahih al-Bukhari, chapter on the Stories of the Prophets]

    The King's statement, "Bring him to me that I may attach him to my person," means that he will become one of "the king's men" and advisor to the King. "Then when he spoke with him," the king knew of Yusuf's superior qualities, high intelligence, physical perfection, and good conduct, "he said, 'Verily, this day, you are with us high in rank and fully trusted.'" (Verse 54). "We bestow of Our Mercy on whom We please, and We make not the reward of Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers)" (Verse 56) That is, Allah did not waste Yusuf's patience when he was beset by his brothers, and his patience when he was imprisoned due to the actions of the wife of Aziz.

    E. Yacoub, Nabi Yusuf’s Father

    When Yusuf first has his vision (in a dream), his father, Yacoub, immediately warns him not to discuss it with his brothers, "lest they arrange a plot against you. Verily! Shaitan (Satan) is to man an open enemy!" (Verse 5). He continues (regarding the vision), "Thus will your Lord choose you and teach you the interpretation of dreams (and other things) and perfect His Favor on you and on the offspring of Yacoub (Jacob), as He perfected it on your fathers, Ibrahim (Abraham) and Ishaque (Isaac) aforetime." (Verse 6)

    This perfection of Allah’s Favor on Yusuf originated from the time of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him): "And We bestowed on him (Ibrahim), Ishaq and Yacoub, and ordained among his offspring Prophethood and the books." (29:27). Ibrahim (AS) also cried out to Allah, "My Lord! Grant me (offspring) from the righteous," which was answered with the birth of Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him). After Ibrahim (AS) fulfilled his vision regarding the sacrifice his son Ishmael ("You have fulfilled the dream (vision)! Verily! Thus do We reward the Muhsineen"), the verses continue, "Thus indeed do We reward the Muhsinoon (good-doers). Verily he was one of Our believing slaves. And We gave him the glad tidings of Ishaque (Isaac) – a prophet from the righteous. We blessed him and Ishaque, and of their progeny are (some) that do right, and some that plainly wrong themselves." (Verses 37:110-113).

    So we can see the continuation of this in Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him), in the following verse: "And when he (Yusuf) attained his full manhood, We gave him wisdom and knowledge (the Prophethood), thus We reward the Muhsinoon (doers of good). Verse 12:22  However, we can assume that Yacoub understood the implication of Yusuf’s vision, that he (Yusuf) would someday have a position of authority over them.

    When Yusuf’s brothers approached their father (Yacoub) to take Yusuf away, he seems to immediately doubt the sincerity of their request. However, remembering the vision of his son and the sovereignty of Allah, he allows them to take Yusuf. After Yusuf is lost, he sets himself to patience, seeking help only from Allah. When his sons request practically the same with another of Yusuf’s brothers, Benjamin, he again gives them his permission. We can say that he was not careless because he expected the vision of Yusuf to be fulfilled by Allah. He states that Allah is "the Best to Guard, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy." Before they left with Benjamin, he made them swear a solemn oath in Allah’s name that they will return their brother to him.

    In verses 67-68, Yacoub advises his sons based on knowledge which Allah had taught him. Here he states his reliance upon Allah (tawakal). He had some considerations which he felt compelled to utter, based on his knowledge–something they could not understand. This can be supported by the following verse: "And remember Our slaves, Ibrahim, Ishaque and Yacoub, (all) owners of strength (in worshipping Us) and (also) of religious understanding." (38:45) But here he still defers to the decision of Allah on the matter.

    In verses 83-87, Yacoub complains of his grief and sorrow only to Allah, chooses patience, and hopes that Allah will bring his sons back. This is because only disbelievers despair of Allah’s Mercy. He says, "never give up hope of Allah’s Mercy." This is similar to the saying of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him), "and who despairs of the Mercy of his Lord except those who are astray?" (15:56)  Furthermore, Prophet Yacoub says that, "I know from Allah that which you know not." This statement is proven true in verses 93-98, when he has a premonition of Yusuf, and his sons' shirt is cast over his face and becomes a healing for him. This knowledge is reiterated in his statement, "Did I not say to you, ‘I know from Allah that which you know not.’"

    Another point is that the family of Yacoub are Muslims and continue on the pure belief in Allah alone, the knowledge of which they received from their predecessors. Nabi Yusuf says, "And I have followed the religion of my fathers, Ibrahim, Ishaque and Yacoub, and never could we attribute any partners whatsoever to Allah. This is from the Grace of Allah to us and to mankind, but most men thank not (i.e. they never believe in Allah, nor worship Him)." Verse 38 This is backed up by other verses in the Noble Qur’an, such as Prophet Ibrahim’s (AS) statement, "And who turns away from the religion of Ibrahim (i.e. Islamic Monotheism) except him who befools himself? Truly We chose him in this world, and in the Hereafter he will be among the righteous." (2:130)

    That this belief was followed by Ibrahim and enjoined on his family, and by Yacoub on his sons, is evident in the following verses: "When his Lord said to him (Ibrahim), ‘Submit (i.e. be a Muslim)!’ He said, ‘I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of the ‘Alameen (mankind, jinn, and all that exists). And this (submission to Allah, Islam) was enjoined by Ibrahim upon his sons and by Yacoub, (saying), ‘O my sons! Allah has chosen for you the (true) religion, then die not except in the Faith of Islam.’ Or were you witnesses when death approached Yacoub? When he said to his sons, ‘What will you worship after me?’ They said, ‘We shall worship your Ilah (God—Allah) the Ilah (God) of your fathers, Ibrahim, Ismail, Ishaque, One Ilah (God), and to Him we submit (in Islam)." (2:131-133) In another verse, Ibrahim prays, "O my Lord! Make me one who performs As-Salat (prayer) and (also) from my offspring, our Lord!" (14:40)

    F. Allah is in Control

    "Thus did We establish Yusuf in the land, that We might teach him of the interpretation of events. And Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most of men know not." Verse 21.

    Allah’s authority, even in the face of some knowledge which mankind may obtain, is above all, as seen in the following verse: "…except that Allah willed it. We raise to degrees whom We please, but over all those endowed with knowledge is the All-Knowing (Allah)." This was demonstrated in Yacoub’s deferral to the will of Allah in the case of Yusuf, even though he had some special knowledge. In the fulfillment of Yusuf’s vision, Yusuf says, "My Lord has made it come true." This is a true admission of one who fully believes in the sovereignty of Allah over his life. Yusuf’s brother also states that, "He (Allah) is the Best of the Judges."

    Regarding the plots of mankind, we can see the plot of Yusuf’s brothers ("Nay, but your own selves have made up a tale."), the plot of the wife of Al-Aziz ("Unless you turn away their plot from me, I will feel inclined towards them and be one of the ignorant."), and the disbelievers in the prison ("You do not worship besides Him but only names which you have named (forged), you and your fathers, for which Allah has sent down no authority."), we can see the defenseless position of mankind against the will of Allah. "The command (or the judgment) is for none but Allah." and, "Verily, The decision rests only with Allah." Such planning is characteristic of the disbelievers, but Yusuf says, "and verily! Allah guides not the plot of the betrayers." (Note that Yusuf’s brothers realized their mistake and repented accordingly, asking for Allah’s forgiveness.)

    By his vision, Yusuf knew what he had not known before, which gave him good news of a good end of his efforts (from Allah). This indicates that the believers must depend on Allah for what he has promised them in this world and the next, and to persevere patiently on the path with consistency and firm belief in order to obtain success (in the end). In the context of Yusuf attaining full authority in the land, Allah says, "We bestow of Our Mercy on whom We please, and We make not to be lost the reward of Al-Muhsinoon."

    "Say (O Muhammad) 'This is my way; I invite unto Allah with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me with sure knowledge'...And verily the home of the Hereafter is the best for those who fear Allah and obey Him. Do you not then understand?"  (Verses 108-9)

    This is what we are working for in this life, and what Allah is doing above it. It is the example of Sure knowledge (belief in Allah and doing good) versus disbelief and ignorance (not knowing). This is the disparity between our view as believers with hope of Allah’s help, and those "who know not" about Allah’s full power and control.

    "and Verily, for the Mutaqeen (the pious and righteous) is a good final return." (Qur'an 38:49)

  2. The Focus on Knowledge in Surat Yusuf

    Beginning with vocabulary (even in English), we can see the emphasis on knowledge for life:

    Total: 49 instances in 111 verses.
    English Translation Instances Transliteration of Arabic text
    All-Knowing (Allah) 6x al-Aaleem (3x), Aaleemun (3x)
    All-Wise 3x Hakeem, Al-Hakeem (2)
    Know 6x taAlamoon, Aalimtum (2), Aalimna, aAlamu (2)
    Know 1x taArifoonahaa
    (Endowed with) Knowledge 3x (Thee/taThoo) Eilman
    Full Knowledge 1x HafeeTHun Aaleem
    Sure Knowledge 1x baSeerati
    Understand 2x taAqiloon
    Men of Understanding 1x owleel al-baab
    Explain 2x aftoonee, aftinaa
    Inform, Tell 4x latunab-bi-an-nahum, nab-batukumaa, nab-binaa, unab-biuukum
    Teach 5x yuAal-limuka, lanuAal-limah, Aal-lamanee, Aal-lamnaahu, Aal-lamtanee
    Enquire 1x fataHas-sasoo
    Ask 1x as-saa-i-leen
    Detailed Explanation 1x tafSeela
    Lesson 1x Eibratun
    Wisdom 1x Hikman
    Know not 6x laa tashUoroon, taAlamoon (4), alam taAlamoon
    Know nothing 1x al-Ghafileen
    ignorant persons 2x al-jaahiloon, jaahiloon

    Knowledge is a gift which is bestowed by Allah. When Allah willed to demonstrated the superiority of Yusuf, and his nobility over all others of his time, He showed to the king and his people Yusuf's knowledge of the interpretation of the dream which was unable to be interpreted by all of his experts.  From that point on,  the king extended the invitation to Yusuf, give him a high-ranking position, and appointed him as the authority over guarding the wealth of the state.  Before that, the king had imprisoned Nabi Yusuf due to his good looks, and his stunning appearance. After the king was enthralled by the beauty of his knowledge, the king freed him and gave him an important position.  This indicates that the appearance of knowledge of the sons of Adam is more captivating than physical appearance, even if it the most beautiful in the world. [Certainly Yusuf was given half of all bestowed handsomeness, as it is pointed out in the authentic hadith, "Rasulullah, , passed by Yusuf in the third heaven. He said, 'Clearly he has been given half of (all) handsomeness."  From Anas, that Rasulullah said, "Yusuf and his mother were given half of (all) good looks."]  This indicates that knowledge is something which is very noble for mankind, and because of it one can gain superiority and nobility. (Taken from the writings of Ibnu Qayyim Al-Jauziyah)

    Knowledge is also bestowed at its proper time, after becoming a "real man." About Nabi Musa, Allah says: "And when he attained his full strength, and was perfect (in manhood), We bestowed on him Hikmah (wisdom, prophethood, right judgment of the affairs) and religious knowledge. And thus do We reward the Muhsinoon (does of good). (Qur'an 28:14)

    Allah has this to say about Nabi Yusuf: "And when he attained his full manhood, We gave him Hikmah (wisdom) and knowledge (Prophethood), thus We reward the Muhsinoon. (Qur'an 12: 22)


  3. Wisdom Contained in the Story

    The story of Nabi Yusuf is a guide to success in this life and the next, as well as a reminder of several types of goodness and to avoid matters which are damaging (for people’s lives). In this story, Nabi Yusuf could reach a high position of greatness, goodness, honesty, and perfection. This is because Allah makes the doing of good deeds as the way to achieve a high degree. Happiness in this world and the next depends on the way we follow the Qur’an, through knowledge and deeds, and by relying on Allah despite how our situation may change.

    Tawakal* in the Story of Nabi Yusuf

    *Tawakal is placing our trust in and depending on Allah in our worldly affairs.

    Allah wants to teach us that Allah’s command takes place in accordance with causes which He also creates.

    We can see how Yacoub spoke to Yusuf after Yusuf informed (his father, Yacoub) about his dream.  See verse 5

    After that, we can see Yacoub’s fear and apprehension for his children when they we about to depart for Egypt.  In this regard, he advised them: Verse 67

    Whether he was worried for their safety or for some other reason connected with political matters, what is clear is that Yacoub gave due regard to causality and set its outcome with Allah, as well as to Allah’s wisdom, which He placed in His creation.  This is a true example of tawakal.

    We can also see how Yusuf planned strategic steps in order to save Egypt from famine and starvation.  Towards that end, he handled it by himself.  The most important step was to increase the harvest yield for the seven fertile years, minimize distribution, and to store wheat, setting aside on a little for consumption, make a distribution policy for the length of the fertile period, so that the food stores would be sufficient for the following difficult seven years of dry fields, such as has already been told in the Qur’an:  (verse 48)

    “What you have laid by in advance”” indicates that such use must be measured and calculated, such as use of vouchers or some other means.  “(All) except a little of that which you have guarded (stored)” is an indication to set aside some of the seed for planting as long as there is still rainfall.  For what good is rainfall if there is no seed?

    Yusuf carried out his duties with a keen eye, and Allah spared Egypt and the surrounding region by Yusuf’s undertakings, thanks to the blessing of a well-planned strategy.  This is no less true because it originated from his true vision.  What is important, that vision provided the knowledge which could solve the problem and overcome the crisis, and seek after its solution.  It is that solution was the plan (which was made and implemented) by Yusuf.

    On this issue there is nothing which negates tawakal to Allah.

    *Taken from an Indonesian translation of Ath-Thariq Ilallah: At-Tawakal, by Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Cairo, 1995.



    1. The one who denies patience (Sabar) is the one who complains to other creatures (They should only do so to Allah, such as seen in Nabi Yacoub, Yusuf’s father.)

    2. Rebellion and falsifying the Prophets of Allah constitutes clear ruin on the Earth, while following them brings worldly and religious goodness.

    3. This Story is a Sunnah of Allah (that is, one can expect its truths to appear in one’s own life).

    4. This story emphasizes consistency of character (i.e. Dependence on and sincerity to Allah).

    5. This story reveals things about the nature of life, such as the experiences and guidance of Nabi Yusuf is portrayed, things which are beneficial to apply in one’s own life. For example, "You will see much which will distress you,…"

    6. Nabi Yusuf’s good looks are an Amanat (trust) from Allah.

    7. This story applies to the Prophets, or those believers who strive for the Cause of Allah with sure knowledge.

    8. The final goal will not be attained, except by passing through much of knowledge, good deeds, sincerity, guidance, and the decision of Allah, as well as fulfilling the rights of Allah and mankind.

    9. Nabi Yusuf, peace be upon him, attained a respected position because Allah taught him useful knowledge, he did good deeds, and he received guidance, good character, and a good status from Him.

    10. By his vision, Yusuf knew what he had not known before, which gave him good news of a good end of his efforts (from Allah). This indicated that the believer must depend on Allah for what He has promised to the believers in this world and the next, and to persevere patiently on that path consistently to obtain success (in the end).

    11. Even though alone in a foreign land, Nabi Yusuf still has the pure and honest Iman (faith) to avoid unwanted, unlawful desires (i.e. fornication).

    12. Nabi Yusuf showed perfect patience (from the plots of others), perfect justice and goodness (as an entrusted official) and perfect open-heartedness, generosity and forgiveness (to his brothers).


    1. Ikhlas (Sincerety) to Allah represents the largest factor to obtain all goodness and to put aside all forms of evil.

    This can be seen in Yusuf's actions, which are beneficial for everyone because he truly has their best interests in mind. He is able to avoid bad consequences and fulfill all of their needs. He is capable of being entrusted, and is not capable of being corrupted.

    2. If Allah grants a person beneficial knowledge, and a straight way in his character and deeds, then his soul will come out of the characteristics of transgression and stupidity, and his heart will become calm and obey Allah and remember Him.

    3. The importance of (Islamic) knowledge is contained in every part of the story of Nabi Yusuf, and it is the reason for reaching a high degree in this world and the next, and for goodness in religion and the world. Nabi Yusuf could not achieve this except with knowledge.

    4. When at the house of Al-Aziz, Yusuf used this great chance to deepen his knowledge (after being thrown into the well). Because of this, he was able to come out of the prison as a respectable person (even to the King) and get a position which is appropriate for his knowledge and ability; that is, to fix their world, to order and regulate, and to divide and distribute based on knowledge. Furthemore, Al-Aziz saw his goodness and decided to sponsor him, which led to a benefit for everyone, while his wife became covetous, whose actions could have harmed many people. This is similar to the case of the Ansar (Helpers), who are encouraged not to be covetous and to help those who come to them (Emigrants, Muhajiroon).

    5. In the end, Nabi Yusuf depended on Allah to raise his position through knowledge. Its importance and its noble result for this life and the next cannot be underestimated.

    6. Stupidity connected to the absence of knowledge can also be connected with the absence of generosity and can consequently lead to sin. If the absence of knowledge is combined with the absence of good deeds, then a person can fall into sin.

    7. Whoever rebels against Allah is indeed an idiot, who doesn’t balance his deeds with knowledge. This is because true knowledge can eliminate stupidity and compel good deeds.

    8. Correct worship of Allah and doing good to others is a cause of obtaining knowledge and the appearance of worldly and other goodness. Allah gave wisdom and intelligence to Nabi Yusuf as an answer to his doing of good deeds (as well as receiving His Mercy).

    9. Allah makes special the believers, with guidance and mercy, because they are able to take a lesson and advantage from its essence. With Iman (belief) they obtain guidance, and Allah adds to it with Mercy.

    10. With Yusuf's knowledge (of interpreting the dream), and planning some action, they could avoid the consequences of the draught. This is a Mercy from Allah, before they could understand or prepare for it. This highlights the importance of following the Wisdom and directives of the Prophets, even without our immediate understanding.

    11. The one who is working for the cause of Allah can expect some opposition, and in fact it is a positive sign of progress, since a large part of mankind is jealous, plotting, harming, greedy, sinning, lying, and will try to drag down those who have been preferred, chosen, and taught. Most of mankind will not believe, they are averse from His signs, have no understanding, and are secure in their disbelief. They will ruin your life if you let them, or you will be inclined to join them if Allah does not turn away their plots.

    12. There is a total commitment and concern. Its sign is that all thought and action is goal-oriented and done for the sake of Allah. There is no wasted effort and there is a definite connection to good results from good intentions.

Updated April  21, 2001