Allah told the story of Yusuf (a.s.) in the Quran, and it focuses on deceit, separation, suffering, and divine interventions. Allah describes how a beloved son was taken away from his loving father and became a slave. The story shows we can overcome defiance and lack of loyalty with reliance and allegiance.
Unlike other stories in the Quran that Allah narrated in many different surahs,
The story of Yusuf (a.s.), also known as the story of Joseph, is collectively in one surah. Allah named the 12th surah of the Quran after Prophet Yusuf (a.s.); it has 66 verses.
The story of Yusuf (a.s.) is a story of immense patience when faced with hardships and difficulties. It also shows the way for Muslims to fight temptations. Yusuf (a.s.), like the other prophets of Allah, was one of the role models for Muslims in the way he conducted himself. He lived according to the rules of Allah and set an example for people to follow.
Prophet Yusuf (a.s.)’s dream as a child
The prophet had a dream. There, he saw the sun, moon, and 11 stars prostrating to him. When he informed his father about it, his father told him to keep the matter a secret from his siblings. Yusuf and Binyamin (also known as Benjamin) were Yaqub (a.s.)’s sons from his second wife.
The deception of the stepbrothers
Yusuf (a.s.)’s stepbrothers were jealous of the prophet because their father loved him immensely. Hence, they planned to kill him. They asked their father to agree to allow Yusuf to play with them. Once they had in this position, they threw him into a well. They went to the extent of bringing back Yusuf (a.s.)’s shirt that was stained by blood, and they stated a wolf had attacked him. Their father had an inkling of what may have happened. However, he pretended to accept their reasons and turned to Allah for help.
Prophet Yusuf is rescued and settles in Egypt
Some persons rescued the young man from the well. However, they also sold him into slavery. A wealthy and influential man from Egypt bought him, saying that he may be of use to him and his wife. Allah says that He provided sustenance and support for Yusuf in this strange land. He blessed him with the ability to interpret dreams. Allah is indeed All-Powerful. A politician raised Yusuf (a.s.) in comfortable conditions. Meanwhile, Allah also blessed him with knowledge and good judgment.
The prophet refuses to be seduced and ends up in prison
Allah blessed Yusuf (a.s.) with immense beauty. The lady who occupied the house that Yusuf served in lusted after him after he reached the age of manhood. Often referred to as “Zulaikha,” she was infatuated with the way he grew into a young and handsome man. She tried to allure him into committing a heinous sin. However, the prophet was resolute in his faith and sought refuge in Allah from this evil. She chased Yusuf and tore his shirt. When her husband arrived, she tried to blame him. However, it was apparent that the shirt was torn from the back rather than the front.
Gossip of this apparent relationship spread among the women of the town. The woman arranged for the ladies to come to her house to see Yusuf (a.s.)’s beauty for themselves. She gave each of the women a knife. Then, she asked Yusuf (a.s.) to enter the room. He enchanted them with his good looks, and they unwittingly cut their own hands, gaping at him.
She then revealed to the women that he had rejected her advances. Then, she threatened the prophet, saying she would put him in jail if he refused to comply with her wishes. Yusuf (a.s.) wasted no time saying he would rather be in jail, safe from her perverted advances toward him.
Continuation of dreams in prison
Yusuf (a.s.) was in jail with two other men. They had dreams and requested him to give his interpretation. One of them said that he dreamed that he was pressing grapes. The other man said that he was carrying bread on his head in the dream, and birds were eating it.
The prophet alerted them to the fact that Allah was the One Who gave him the power to interpret dreams. Yusuf (a.s.) explained that one of the men would serve wine to his master in the future. The other man would be crucified, and the birds would peck at his head. The prophet then asked the man who would be saved to mention his name to his master. However, the man failed to remember and carry out the task. Yusuf (a.s.) continued to languish in jail for a while longer.
Interpretation of the king’s dream
The King of Egypt had a dream, and he was curious about its interpretation. He said that he dreamed about seven fat cows that were eaten by seven lean ones. He dreamed of seven green ears of corn and another seven that were withered. No one could interpret the dream, but the man freed from prison was at the location and remembered Yusuf (a.s.) languishing in jail. He went to the prophet, who interpreted the dream in an instant. The king wanted to meet this person.
The ex-prisoner told Yusuf (a.s.) about the development, but the prophet first told him to mention the women who cut their hands upon seeing him. The prophet’s innocence was, therefore, brought into the open. He then appeared in front of the king. The king offered him a high-ranking position. However, Yusuf (a.s.) asked to be put in charge of the storehouses instead. Allah thus settled him into the land. He shows us how He grants mercy to whomever He wishes.
Yusuf (a.s.)’s stepbrothers come back into the picture
The prophet was stationed in his position at the warehouse. Eventually, his stepbrothers showed up as they wanted some of their portion of the grain. He recognized them straight away, but they failed to pinpoint who he was. He then asked them to go and come back with their younger brother in order to receive the grain. They agreed and promised to do so.
The brothers went back to Yaqub (a.s.) and asked for his permission to take Binyamin. He was reluctant to give in to their demand, remembering what happened with Yusuf (a.s.). However, they swore to do whatever they could to keep him safe, and the father relented. By now, he had gone blind due to grief after losing his beloved son.
Yusuf (a.s.)’s stepbrothers face a trial
The brothers took Binyamin to the prophet. He took his brother aside and promptly revealed his identity to him. Yusuf (a.s.) had a plan that he relayed to him. He then gave the brothers their share of the grain and proceeded to put his drinking cup in Binyamin’s bag.
It wasn’t long before people realized that something was missing, and they raised a cry. The news spread in the market that whoever returned the cup would get a camel’s load of grain. The brothers stated their innocence. As a result, the others asked them to declare a penalty if they were caught red-handed.
The brothers replied that the penalty would be enslavement for whoever’s bag contained the cup. Yusuf (a.s.) did not intend to punish his brother or anyone. However, he wanted to keep his brother by his side and let the others go. As the people searched the bags, they found the cup on Binyamin. As a result, he had to stay with the prophet.
Yusuf (a.s.)’s brothers pleaded that Binyamin should be allowed to go back with them. They asked that one of them instead should be allowed to stay back in his place. However, the prophet rejected the offer. The brothers had to tell the elderly Yaqub (a.s.) that Binyamin let them down by stealing.
Yaqub (a.s.) didn’t believe them for a moment and blamed them for wrongdoing. He expressed his grief for Yusuf (a.s.) once again. The brother pleaded with him to stop since he may harm himself in doing this. However, the elderly prophet said that he would ask for Allah’s help.
Repentance, forgiveness, and fulfillment of a dream
Yaqub (a.s.) asked his sons to seek out Yusuf (a.s.) and his brother and be aware of Allah’s Mercy. They returned to Yusuf (a.s.) and told him about their plight. They asked him to be charitable toward them. Yusuf asked them if they now realized what they had done to him and his brother out of ignorance. The confused brothers finally realized who he was.
They acknowledged their wrongdoing and that Allah favored him over them. Yusuf (a.s.), being compassionate and generous, forgave them and prayed for them. He then offered his shirt to them and told them to pass it over Yaqub (a.s.)’s face when he went back. Then, he asked them to return as a collective group.
Once they went back home, Yaqub (a.s.) could immediately smell the scent of Prophet Yusuf (a.s.). The brothers placed the shirt over his face as Yusuf (a.s.) had asked and urged him to forgive them. He replied that Allah was the Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful.
Yusuf (a.s.)’s dream was fulfilled, and the family was reunited. The prophet prayed for everyone’s safety. At this point, they bowed to him as they did in his dream a long time ago, hence proving that dream to be true. Despite immense efforts from Satan, Allah blessed the brothers and allowed them to make up for their sins. Yusuf (a.s.) acknowledged Allah’s blessings and bounties and prayed that he lives and dies as a believer.
Lessons to be learned from the story of Yusuf (a.s.)
The story of Yusuf (a.s.) contains several lessons about praiseworthy qualities that Muslims should aim to emulate.
The first is patience. Yusuf (a.s.) was dumped into a well, then sold into slavery, then jailed. He never lost faith and always persevered, knowing that Allah has something better in store for him.
The second is modesty. Despite the woman’s infatuation with him, he refused to be seduced by her. He feared Allah above all and was always modest and righteous.
The third is forgiveness. Despite everything that his brothers put him through, Yusuf (a.s.) still forgave them and prayed for their well-being. He held no grudges.
Yusuf (a.s.) was one of Allah’s prophets, and his actions clearly show that. We can learn much from his story by adopting his exceptional human qualities to get close to Allah.