سورة يوسف   

Surah Name: Yousuf-AS Meaning: Joseph

  • Revealed at Makkah
  • • Surah Yousuf-AS is a Makkan Surah. It is one of those historical facts, which the Quran has revealed for the guidance of mankind. The incident this Surah describes is the only one revealed in a single go. Selected segments of other historical events have been quoted where needed in order to illustrate the character of various people and the consequences drawn thereupon. Since the main aim of the Quran is character-building and not merely recounting history, the historical events have also been referred to in the same context. It has also been clarified that knowledge of these events is not required merely for its own sake. Rather, they should be remembered as well as conveyed to others so as to warn people for their reformation. With this aim, recording of history becomes a preferred art. The style should be the same as that of Surah Yousuf-AS. It should neither be so lengthy as to exhaust the reader, nor so short as to mar comprehension. This Surah was revealed when the Jews demanded of the Holy Prophet-SW to answer them as to why the Ban! Israil had shifted from Syria to Egypt, and what the story of Prophet Yousuf-AS was. These answers were given in the Torah also, but the Holy Prophet-SW had never attended any school nor had listened to any rabbi. It was intended to be a test for him-SW. But Allah-SWT , the Most Gracious, revealed the entire event to His-SWT Beloved Prophet-SW, unveiling even those facts that were not mentioned in the Torah. It contains history, admonition, counselling, and describes the results borne on actions. Above all, it endorsed the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet-SW in a miraculous manner.
  • Total Number of Rukū / Sections 12
  • Total Number of Āyāt / Parts 111
  • Sūrah / Chapter number 12
  • Rukū / Section 7 contains Āyāt / Parts 8
  • Siparah/ Volume 12 & 13


وَقَالَ الْمَلِكُ ائْتُونِي بِهِ فَلَمَّا جَاءهُ الرَّسُولُ قَالَ ارْجِعْ إِلَى رَبِّكَ فَاسْأَلْهُ مَا بَالُ النِّسْوَةِ اللاَّتِي قَطَّعْنَ أَيْدِيَهُنَّ إِنَّ رَبِّي بِكَيْدِهِنَّ عَلِيمٌ

Waqala almaliku itoonee bihi falamma jaahu a(l)rrasoolu qala irjiAA ila rabbika fa(i)salhu ma balu a(l)nniswati allatee qattaAAna aydiyahunna inna rabbee bikaydihinna AAaleem(un)

And the King said: bring him to me. Then when the messenger came to him, he said: return to your Rabb-SWT , and ask him, what about the women who cut their hands? Verily my Rabb-SWT is the Knower of their guile.


قَالَ مَا خَطْبُكُنَّ إِذْ رَاوَدتُّنَّ يُوسُفَ عَن نَّفْسِهِ قُلْنَ حَاشَ لِلّهِ مَا عَلِمْنَا عَلَيْهِ مِن سُوءٍ قَالَتِ امْرَأَةُ الْعَزِيزِ الآنَ حَصْحَصَ الْحَقُّ أَنَاْ رَاوَدتُّهُ عَن نَّفْسِهِ وَإِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ

Qala ma khatbukunna ith rawadtunna yoosufa AAan nafsihi qulna hasha lillahi maAAalimna AAalayhi min sooin qalati imraatu alAAazeezi alana hashasa alhaqqu ana rawadtuhu AAan nafsihi wainnahu lamina a(l)ssadiqeen(a)

He said: what was the matter with you when you solicited Yousuf-AS? They said: how perfect is Rabb-SWT ! We know not of any evil against him. The wife of  Aziz said: now has the truth come to light. It was I who sought to seduce him. and he is of the truth-tellers.


ذَلِكَ لِيَعْلَمَ أَنِّي لَمْ أَخُنْهُ بِالْغَيْبِ وَأَنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يَهْدِي كَيْدَ الْخَائِنِينَ

Thalika liyaAAlama annee lam akhunhu bi(a)lghaybi waanna Allaha la yahdee kayda alkhaineen(a)

He said: that I did in order that he may know that I did not betray him in secret, and that Allaah-SWT guides not the guile of betrayers.


وَمَا أُبَرِّىءُ نَفْسِي إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ إِلاَّ مَا رَحِمَ رَبِّيَ إِنَّ رَبِّي غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Wama obarrio nafsee inna a(l)nnafsa laammaratun bi(al)ssooi illa ma rahima rabbee inna rabbee ghafoorun raheem(un)

Nor do I acquit myself. Verily soul ever urges to evil save that soul on whom my Rabb-SWT has Mercy; verily my Rabb-SWT is Forgiving, Merciful.


وَقَالَ الْمَلِكُ ائْتُونِي بِهِ أَسْتَخْلِصْهُ لِنَفْسِي فَلَمَّا كَلَّمَهُ قَالَ إِنَّكَ الْيَوْمَ لَدَيْنَا مِكِينٌ أَمِينٌ

Waqala almaliku itoonee bihi astakhlishu linafsee falamma kallamahu qala innaka alyawma ladayna makeenun amen(un)

And the King said: bring him to me. I shall single him out for myself. Then when he spoke to him, he said: you are to-day with us high-placed, trusted.


قَالَ اجْعَلْنِي عَلَى خَزَآئِنِ الأَرْضِ إِنِّي حَفِيظٌ عَلِيمٌ

Qala ijAAalnee AAala khazaini alardi innee hafeethun AAaleem(un)

He said: set me over the storehouses of the land; I shall be a keeper knowing.


وَكَذَلِكَ مَكَّنِّا لِيُوسُفَ فِي الأَرْضِ يَتَبَوَّأُ مِنْهَا حَيْثُ يَشَاء نُصِيبُ بِرَحْمَتِنَا مَن نَّشَاء وَلاَ نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

Wakathalika makanna liyoosufa fee alardi yatabawwao minha haythu yashao nuseebu birahmatina man nashao wala nudeeAAu ajra almuhsineen(a)

In this way We-SWT established Yousuf-AS in the land so that he might settle therein wherever he wished. We bestow of Our Mercy on whom We will, and We are not to waste the wage of the well doers.


وَلَأَجْرُ الآخِرَةِ خَيْرٌ لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَكَانُواْ يَتَّقُونَ

Walaajru alakhirati khayrun lillatheena amanoo wakanoo yattaqoon(a)

And surely the wage of the Hereafter is better for those who believe and ever fear.


In The Name of Allah-SWT the Most Gracious, The Most Merciful

One Must Try To Avoid Being Accused

The King summoned Prophet Yousuf-AS for he wanted to hear the interpretation directly from him. When the royal courier informed Prophet Yousuf-AS that the King had set him free and sent for him he told him to request the King to first investigate his case. He added that the ladies of high-ranking officials who were present at the banquet must be summoned for evidence, as they knew the truth. Zulaikhah had confessed before them, and had also given out the truth about the whole incident. And whatever those ladies had entreated to convince him for giving in to Zulaikhah’s demand, was well known to Allaah-SWT . The scholars assert that wise men must avoid such occasions where there is a chance of being accused, but if it does happen, they must try hard for their absolution. Hence the Royal Court summoned Zulaikhah and all other ladies and the King himself undertook the investigation, as he had by now developed great respect for Prophet Yousuf-AS. When all concerned were asked to come out with the facts, they together proclaimed Hashalillah  (Allaah-SWT Blameless).


lt implies that those people did believe in Allaah-SWT but because they believed as they chose to believe, they were distant from Islam and faith. The ladies said that as far as they knew, Prophet Yousuf-AS was an angel, completely free from any blame. Zulaikhah readily corroborated, for times had totally changed her situation. She was now an aging widow. According to some reports Prophet Yousuf-AS lived in prison for twenty-three years. A period of forty years had lapsed between his leaving home and reunion with his family. When he was sold in the markets of Egypt he was a lad of seven years while Zulaikhah was a married woman. So these forty years had ushered her into old age. She had become a widow and no longer enjoyed the official honour.


Zulaikhah's Second Testimony

So she testified frankly and confessed that it was she who had tried to allure him. He had stood firm on a pure and flawless character. This was the second testimony of Zulaikhah in his favour. Previously she had exonerated him before the ladies at the banquet and now she was pronouncing him virtuous and truthful before the entire Royal Court. Moreover, she said that she wanted Yousuf-AS to know that inspite of her many mistakes she had not been dishonest to him behind his back, and that her mistake of accusing him before her husband had taught her an important lesson in life. She had learnt that Allaah-SWT sooner or later exposes the guile of the betrayers.


Are these the Words of Zulaikhah or Prophet Yousuf-AS ?

"Nor do I acquit myself. Verily soul ever urges to evil save that soul on whom my Rabb-SWT has Mercy; verily my Rabb-SWT is Forgiving, Merciful" The wording of this Ayah has been attributed to Prophet Yousuf by many a Commentators. But my understanding, by Allaah-SWT ’s Grace, is that these are the words of Zulaikhah. A number of scholars have also listed it as a probability. However, in his Commentary of Surah Yousuf-AS  Qadhi Muhammad Sulaiman Salman Mansurpuri has strongly asserted that these were Zulaikhah's words. It may be that an odd scholar had attributed these to Prophet Yousuf-AS while the rest simply went on reproducing it. The Ayah does not provide any pretext for the latter case. Additionally, when the King had summoned Prophet Yousuf-AS from the prison, he had not come, and had sought investigation of his case first. Hence the King called all the ladies including Zulaikhah to his Court while he was still in prison. When the investigation was over, the King ordered: "Bring him to me". So how can these words be of Prophet Yousuf-AS?


A Mention of Lataif

A third argument in his favour has been presented by the author of Tafsir-e-Mazhari in his explanation of Nafs (soul). He writes that the human soul is the byproduct of four elements (air, clay, fire, water) but the Qalb and Ruh etc are the Lataif of 'Alam-e-Amr and their origin is beyond 'Arsh. Human soul has three states, described in the Quran namely Nafs-e-Ammarah, (Soul at Evil) Nafs-e-Lawwamah (the Accusing Soul) and Nafs-e-Mutma'inah (Soul at Peace). Elaborating further on Nafs-e-Ammarah, he asserts that if dominated by the animal soul, it acquires arrogance and fury from the fire, abjection and meanness from the clay, variety and impatience from the water, lust and cupidity from the air. Whereas if one embraces faith, its light enlivens the Qalb and Ruh and his Nafs turns into Nafs-e-Lawwamah. It begins to recognize and reprimand upon sin. because not believing sin to be sin is disbelief. However, there are varying levels of Nafs-e-Lawwamah held by different individuals and it ultimately transforms into Nafs-e-Mutma'inah through worship, perseverance and devotion to Allaah-SWT . Again each individual has his own level of Nafs-e-Mutma'inah, the highest being that of the Prophets-AS. Hence the Ayah under comment cannot be associated with a Prophet-AS, as it would indicate that he had Nafs Ammarah (Allaah-SWT forbid), whereas even every believer possesses Nafs-e-Lawwamah to some degree. For the purification of Nafs it is imperative to acquire the Barakah of the Prophethood, attainable only in the company of an accomplished Shaikh.


After the outcome of the investigations, the King pronounced his desire to have Prophet Yousuf-AS  as his personal advisor. He couldn't help admiring a person so upright that even the women were endorsing his chastity, so handsome that they had cut their hands at a single glance. And above all. he was so learned and wise as to have interpreted his dream while all the astronomers and other savants of the kingdom had failed. He had also suggested a perfect solution to the problem. He was brought to the Royal Court and the King simply fell for his charm. He honoured him immensely and deposed total confidence in him.


According to the Commentators Prophet Yousuf-AS gave out further details of the King's dream, which he did not remember or had not been conveyed to him. This was all due to Divine Revelation. Some Commentators have added a tale that the King married him to Zulaikhah, and he became very fond of her. So much so that he even complained that she did not display the same fondness anymore for him, as she had done before. She said that through him she had been blessed with the love of Allah-SWT, which had made her unmindful of everything else. But this is nothing but a myth. To begin with, he was seven years old when sold as slave, while Zulaikhah was a married woman. He spent twenty-three years in prison and by now she must have been between seventy and eighty years of age and obviously was no longer fit for marriage. Also for the myth that she regained her youth because of Prophet Yousuf-AS‘s invocation, no authentic account can be found. The Ahadith discussing the charm, piety, sagacity and the admirable character of Prophet Yousuf-AS would certainly have mentioned the miraculous return of Zulaikhah to youth had there been any truth to this tale. Besides, Zulaikhah had never loved Prophet Yousuf-AS, but was a captive of her vain desires. She resorted to harm him when she saw her designs failing. In fact, Allaah-SWT made her confess in the Court in order to establish the dignity of His-SWT Prophet-AS. A woman of such character cannot become a Prophet-AS‘s wife, as discussed before.


To Declare one's Excellence and seek Office in Public Interest is Permitted

Prophet Yousuf-AS asked for the portfolio of the Treasury from the King on the basis of his honesty, trustworthiness and sound knowledge of management. He said that he knew where from to generate and raise funds and where to spend them. In fact, he explained the duties of a Finance Minister and the pre­requisite of this Office in two phrases: he should be honest and fully conversant with the management of expenditure, and fully conscious of the lawful and the illegitimate. The King hosted Prophet Yousuf-AS  as his royal guest for one year. Meanwhile, because of the Barakah of the Prophet-AS's company and for the reverence and love he had developed for Allah-SWT's Apostle, the King was blessed with faith. The King pledged his allegiance to him and amidst a royal ceremony handed over the crown to him. Allaah-SWT declares that it was like this that He-SWT placed the grandeur of a vast empire at his feet while he had only sought the rank of a Minister. This was because of the fact that he was not pursuing power, but sought the office only for the welfare of people in the impending terrible famine. According to a saying of the Holy Prophet-SW ', the one who seeks an office must not be entertained if it is to establish his own authority. However, under certain circumstances, desiring an office is permissible. For example, if a person sincerely believes that by being in a certain position he can protect the rights of the public which will otherwise be usurped and they will be wronged, he can ask for that position.


Prophet Yousuf-AS became the king and soon justice prevailed all over Egypt. Allaah-SWT showers His-SWT Mercy upon whoever He-SWT Pleases. He-SWT may take His-SWT chosen one from the warmth of a father's lap to the depths of a well in the wilderness, or from the house of a Government Minister to a prison. Of course, such a treatment to His-SWT servants is also extended out of Mercy, being in their best interest. And when He-SWT so desires He-SWT can simply remove His servant from the gaol and instate him on the throne, as He-SWT does not let the efforts of sincere devotees go in vain. Piety is destined to prevail while evil must vanquish. However, the rewards that await the righteous in the Akhirah are far more superior than the worldly blessings. The prerequisites are faith, Taqwa and piety. May Allaah-SWT bless us with clean beliefs and the capacity to do good!